Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Motherhood is hard.

Freaking hard.

I don't know what I'm doing half the time.  Often, I literally stare dumbfounded into the abyss of my infinite lack of knowledge, and question whether or not I'm cut out for it.

This is sort of what that looks like.



Add on top of this the fact that I'm a Red personality and struggle with anything I can't conquer.  Motherhood is, like, the perfect example of the unconquerable.  I'm the Don Quixote of Motherhood.  It's my giant my windmill. I'll never win, but I'll never stop.

I guess it's not so bleak as all that, friends.  I mean, it's bleak.  But not that bleak.

I have this quote hanging in my kitchen (where I tend to feel most of my overwhelming moments).


Often I read this quote, and break it down, listing each way I've done that very thing during that day to give me encouragement to keep on keepin on.

"Motherhood is a choice you make everyday to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own."
  • I got out of bed this morning.
  • I dressed the kids and did girl hair.
  • I didn't complain or comment on Cohen's wrinkled church clothes, his dirty face, or the fact that he was full on Alf-alfa in the back of his head.
  • I didn't yell.  Not once.  I wanted to.  Heaven knows I wanted to.  But I didn't.
"Teach the hard lessons to do the right thing, even when you're not sure what the right thing is..."

  • I rarely know what the right "thing" is.  Should you stay home from school today?  I don't know, do you really have a headache?  Or maybe you're overwhelmed by something?  Do you have a bully?  A gaming addiction?  Or do you just need to totally take it cool for an entire day?  Do you want to stay home to bother me, or are you going to let me force you to stay in bed all day, and, subsequently, out of my way?  If I let you stay home, and you don't really have a headache, are you going to grow up to be a hamburger flipper that requires a better salary than the Pope?  If I make you go to school, will your subconscious despise me for being a horrible mother for the rest of eternity? Ok, go to school.  If it still hurts, have the nurse call me and I'll get you.  (No phone call!  Success!)
  • You have a bully?  Did you try making them your friend?  Are you telling me you haven't done anything to annoy or otherwise tempt said bully into being a bully?  Do I intervene?  Do I teach a wise and valuable lesson I'll have to go and learn about from a book because I have no idea.  Will this end in suicide notes?  Guns brought to school?  Run aways?  Teen pregnancy?  (Boy, that escalated quickly.)  Oh, your bully didn't bother you all day today because you totally ignored them?  Sweet!  I'll tally that as a success!
"...And forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong."

This is where I almost always fail.  I lay down to bed during that special time of night, called the "let's think of all the things we did wrong today" hour, and I list them.  I yelled.  I cried.  I hid myself in my bedroom.  I didn't read all the words in the book.  I let Kembry go to school in her swimsuit.  Kian probably needed a diaper change way earlier than I gave him one.

But I almost never forgive myself.  I pray for forgiveness.  I pray to do it better the next day.  Secretly I know I probably won't (old dogs/new tricks type of thing).  I wonder if adding a fifth child to this array of misery and mistakes is really the best way to go.  (Not a pregnancy announcement, I swear.)

But I'm always blessed with a little slide-show of sorts.  Memories brought to me in pictures by my Heavenly Father.

Reading with Cohen.  Wrestling with Kian.  Dinner as a family.  Going to the bathroom alone (sweet!) Kissing owies.  The library.  Feeding ducks. Playing at the park. Swimming together.  After school arguments over who gets to tell me about their day.  Listening to piano practice.  Clean kids after a bath.  Lots of love and kisses and prayers at bedtime.  

Motherhood is not grand.  It's not perfect. 

It's messy.  Crowded.  Loud.  Exhausting.  Confusing.  Frustrating.  Hard.

It's bittersweet, full of happy and sad tears, and lots of hugs.  

So many mistakes.

And so, so much love.

Happy Mother's Day, troops.  We fight the hard fight ever day, and we're raising amazing kids because we choose to do it. Carry on.
 





Saturday, May 02, 2015

Mindfulness VS. Anxiety

This was a fantastic discussion.

Can Mindfulness Help My Raging Anxiety When My Kid Gets Sick?

I have my own personal experiences in this area.

It was about 11:30 at night when I heard the strangled cries coming from Chloe's room.  She was only 3, but she could still scream like a grown man whose leg had been cut off.  So I knew, probably instinctively, that something was horribly wrong.

Already mostly asleep, my grogginess was immediately replaced by that mom-adrenaline: panic.  She was sitting up in her bed, and I could tell she couldn't breath.  Her large eyes were bulging from her head, veins were sticking out on her fat, red cheeks, and her mouth was drawn back in a silent scream.  She looked up at me with tears pouring soundlessly out of her eyes.

My heart was clocking in at 1,000 BPM.  I grabbed her and brought her into my room, where my husband was already out of bed, waiting for whatever would walk through our door.

"Get your oil, give her a blessing," I said.  I was impressed that my voice wasn't shaking like the rest of my body.  As he did, I picked up the phone and called 911.  I had never called 911 before.  It was almost taboo.  "ONLY IN EMERGENCIES!"  But I had never in my life experienced the sense of emergency I was having now.

The operator was kind and patient.  I told her, "My daughter isn't breathing.  She's not choking, but she can't breathe."

She verified my address and said the medics were on their way.  Brett began giving her a blessing, as she laid on the bed, her little chest straining for air.  Now tears started falling from my eyes.  The sweet woman on the other line talked to me.  She asked me my daughters name, "Chloe."  Chloe.  Chloe.  Chloe.

Within one minute I could hear the wail of the firetruck.  Within seconds of that, they were in our bedroom.  They were huge, looming men and women.  Four of them, all dressed to the nines in fire gear.  They worked fast, one told the other to call and ambulance, then the biggest picked up my baby and carried her outside, knelt down and laid her across his knees.  "The cool air can help the inflammation."

Why didn't I think of that?

Tears still streamed from her eyes and she reached out to me, her lips starting to go from swollen red to a pale blue.  I held her hand and told Brett to get her blanket.  My voice was still calm.  He came back.  I looked up at his scared face and said, "Call Karen and ask her to come over to the house to stay with the kids.  Follow us in the van."  My mind worked like a fine honed soldier about to go into the trenches.

The ambulance got there.  They told Brett we were going to the Banner Gateway Emergency room as they loaded me and Chloe into the ambulance.  And then the ambulance driver said to the biggest fireman, the one who held my baby, "We have no place for mom to ride.  She'll have to come separate."

Chloe found her voice then.  She screamed and screamed and screamed.  The screaming made her chest seize up even more.  I was almost afraid for the ambulance driver when the big fireman got up in his face and said, "This mom is coming with her.  I don't care what you say.  I don't care if I get fired, or if you get fired, I don't care.  She's staying with her daughter."

I cried harder but still silently as they strapped me into a makeshift chair and buckled Chloe in.  She started crying again because she couldn't see me.  I reached over as much as the restraints would allow and started petting her head, as the ambulance jutted to life and began driving quickly out of our sleeping neighborhood.

Then I heard it.  Well, I didn't hear it.  Her crying had become strangled and quiet again.  One of the EMT began quickly filling a syringe with something, while the other pushed an intercom and told the driver to go to the nearest Emergency Room, there wasn't time to get to Banner.  The ambulance flipped around, and I just kept talking to her.

In my mind, she was dying.  In my heart, she was dying.  But my voice told her it was okay.  "It's going to be okay, baby girl.  It hurts, I know.  But it's going to be okay.  Mommy's here.  Daddy's coming too.  Mommy's here."  I sang her favorite primary songs while my heart was seizing inside of me.

For five minutes I watched as the EMTS tried one thing after another.  The big fireman said, "Her lips are blue," but I could still hear her strangled, forced cries.  She's a fighter.

I kept talking to her.  Kept praying in my heart.  Praying that she would be ok, and that I would stay calm.  Just stay calm and love her.  Help her be calm.  Help her stay calm.  Somehow, my head petting and slow, assuring words and singing helped bring her panic down.  We pulled into the emergency room.  They got us back and immediately and put on an oxygen mask filled with Albuterol.  She had petechiae all over her face from suffocation.  Baby veins had burst in her eyes from straining for air.  But she was calm.  She was breathing.

And then I walked out of the room.  I left her because if I didn't cry, if I didn't let that small scream inside of me out, I would do it in front of her, and it was upset her, and she'd panic.  So I walked out of the room, and there stood my giant fire man, the one who probably saved my babies life.  He was crying and shaking.  He didn't mean for me to see him, but he looked up, embarrassment flooding his face.  And then he said something I will forever be amazed of, and grateful for.

"You were the calmest mom I've ever seen.  Ever."

And then I cried.  I cried and cried and cried.  I gave myself that one minute of anxious pain and fear.  Then back into her room I went.  She was calmly holding her mask.  She looked over at me at smiled a little.  The emergency had passed completely.

The next day, she was nearly back to normal.  She had had croup and the combination of swollen trachea and the panic of not being able to breathe closed her lungs completely.  She was blue before we got to the hospital, almost unresponsive.

My Chloe.

Panic and muddy emotions in that moment would not have helped Chloe.  "Muddy emotions," says Dr. Orsillo, "are the ones that aren't giving us particularly useful information.  They also tend to be pretty intense and distressing."

If I had panicked, would I have had the fore site to call 911?  To recognize that my upset would fuel Chloe's fear and panic?  Would I have been able to talk and sing calmly to my suffering baby? There was a mindfulness in my calm and actions.  I know it was a mindfulness brought by the Spirit, calming me.  But wherever you find your mindfulness, know how to get to it, and fast.

Dr. Orsillo says, "Most people define mindfulness as paying attention to the present moment with curiosity and compassion, just allowing the moment to be as it is."

My mind began spiraling out of control for an instant.  She can't breathe, she's going to die.  She's suffering so much.  She's so scared.  She hurts.  I can't do anything.  I'm helpless.  My baby is going to die and I can't do anything.

These thoughts are not mindful, not helpful, but they're real.  I can, for a few minutes, suppress these emotions and let the mindfulness create a clear path for me.  But it's important to eventually acknowledge these emotions, because burying them will only cause them to fester and become stronger and more dominate.

Dr. Orsillo continues, "I think what sometimes happens...partially we think, 'It's really important for me to feel this fear, because what if, what if?'  But another part of us feels, 'I wish I could just push this away, I don't want to feel this way.'  And those responses to our emotions also make them muddy and intensify them.  There's a whole line of research that shows the more you try not to feel something, not to think it, the more you feel it and think it, and the more you're distressed by it."

Dr. Markham* says that we have to acknowledge these emotions.  We have to allow them to be.  But we don't have to give into them.  It's called empathizing.  And surprisingly, we need to be empathetic and compassionate even to ourselves.

Dr. Orsillo says we need to "[acknowledge] where your mind is going, bringing some compassion: It's hard to be a mom.  It's hard to accept that there are steps we can take to keep our children well and safe, and then, at some point, we have to let go and accept that not every scary future event is preventable.  That's hard."

It is so hard, but so much more useful than muddy thoughts and emotions.  When I panic, I get confused, frustrated, and even angry.  I yell.  I scare my kids.  This isn't something they need when they're already sick, hurt or afraid.  They need a mom who is compassionate with herself.  A mom who puts her trust in God, but who also takes all the steps within her power to secure her child's life, happiness or comfort.

I highly recommend clicking on this link and listening to the whole discussion.  


*Dr. Markham, the author of AhaParenting, wasn't mentioned in this article.  But she gives great advice and steps to help you empathize with yourself and with children.  She's my favorite!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Turn That Frown Upside Down

(That post title is way too perky.)

I'm having a "I-feel-like-I've-failed-at-everything" kind of morning.

I look around at my house, and it's a disaster.

My kids: total rag-a-muffins.

My dog keeps licking my hands because she's probably so desperate for attention, and I'm just annoyed.  Another thing that needs my already-scarce time.

And I'm mad at myself.  Not my today self, she's the one suffering.  She's the victim.

I'm mad at my yesterday-self, and my day-before-yesterday-self.  And all of my last-week-self.

Then I start to notice this familiar theme: the downward spiral into the self-loathing/woe-is-me depression.  I recognize it because I've been to this park before.  There's the "why is this happening to me" swing, and the "my life is so unfair" slide.  It's really not a great park, I don't know why I keep coming back here.

Anyway, a few years ago my present-self had a long convo with my past-self and they battled a few things out.  Present-self really thought past-self could step it up a notch, and past-self did that obnoxious thing of pointing out the obvious: no time like the present.

Start now?  Like...right now.  Help my future-self out?  That chick is so dang needy.

I wrote this post a few years ago about trying to change, and recognizing that I'm not a tree, so I can change where I am, and other catchy memes.  I'm one of those slow people who have to continually be reminded of my own good advice.  So I'm gonna take some past-me advice and move forward.

Today, I'm going to:


  • Recognize three things I did yesterday for my family, for my friends, and for myself.  It sounds like a big task, but when you think about it, "waking up" can count as a high five for myself.  Making my bed, BOOM!  Another high five.  How about that time I got to pee in privacy.  I call that a win.  Not to mention all the great stuff I did for my family last night, like getting some much over-due R&R with a pal.  How is this helpful to my family?  I think you know.
  • Recognize three small ways I succeeded yesterday, that seem to be making today easier.  Well, I cleaned a lot yesterday, but it wasn't the "out in the open" kind of clean.  I went through the clothes.  The kids clothes.  I separated, folded and stored (complete with a printed label for each!) into those nifty vacuum bags.  Sure the rest of my house was destroyed, but the top of those closets are...cleaner.  I also did some other stuff.  But I won't bore you with it.  Cause closet cleaning and clothes sorting is all sorts of interesting
  • List three things I'm going to do for my tomorrow-self.
    1. Read with the kids.
    2. Go to the library - with the kids.
    3. Make dinner and eat - with the kids.
Making these lists always draw my attention to reality and truth.  Sure I didn't out perform perfection yesterday, and I'm positive I won't today.  But I did succeed in small ways.  The small stuff, in the end, is quite literally what life is made of.  You know, like atoms and stuff.

So buh-bye life-sucks-me.  You are of no use to me here.  But I do have a self-loathing day coming up.  I've scheduled it off as "Netflix" binge.  *Need to remember to buy Puffy Cheetos*



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mormon Monday: Fast Offerings


Once a month, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are asked to fast with a purpose and give a fast offering.

This is one of the most powerful blessings given to us.

About a year ago, my husband counselled me about all the amazing blessings that can come from fasting.  He opened up to Isaiah, Chapter 58.  Read some of the promises that come from a true fast:

6: ...to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke.
8: ...Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and they righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be they reward.
9: Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am...
10:...then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.
11: And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose water fail not.

So here's the run down: wickedness can't touch you.  Your burdens will be lifted.  If you're oppressed, you'll be set free, and anything weighing you down will be gone.  Your health "shall spring forth speedily"(this resonates with me, a lot!).  You'll get the glory of God.  Heavenly Father will answer your prayers.  The darkness in your life will be as "the noonday".  And you will have Heavenly guidance, continually.

Say what?  And all I have to do is fast once a month?  Of course with every blessing, Heavenly Father asks of us an offering, a sacrifice.  In our case, we give a fast offering that is equal to or greater than the meals we would have eaten had we not fasted.

For example, if I spend $15 a  meal on our family of six, and we fast for three meals (technically the littles don't all fast for three meals.  The older really only fast for one or two...) then we would offer a fast offering of $45 or more.  Isn't it fun when religion turns to math?  I know, right?!

Anywho...the amount you offer is between you and the Lord.  But when you get in return is all the above.  Blessings are poured down upon you.  It's awesome.

Mormons use these fast offerings to lift up the afflicted, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and help the poor.  100% of the fast offerings given go directly to this cause.  It's beautiful.  I'm so thankful for Fast Sunday, however you can fast any time.  Anytime you need extra strength, and answer to an important or deep prayers, or added love and guidance.

Our Savior set a beautiful example when he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.  Having met with the greatest of temptations by Satan himself, even in his weakened state, the Savior withstood.  Truly each blessing promised by the Lord in Isaiah rained upon the Savior, and he was strengthened and blessed.  We are promised the same the blessings.  They are ours for the taking.  Anyone can do it.

In April of this year, we were blessed to hear from leaders of our Church.  One of the kindest most compassionate men, Elder Henry B. Eyring gave this beautiful talk: "Is Not This the Fast I Have Chosen?"

Again, you can leave any questions you have in the comments.  Or visit LDS.org for more information.


Magnetic Airhead

Hello Friends.

Did you know that I'm a natural blonde?

And that I also have a magnetic personality.

No.  Literally.  I produce heavy magnetic waves that essentially effect all electronics around me.  Also, I'm a ditz.  You put those two things together and you're met with a lot of broken or lost cell phones, and posts that don't get posted.

My husbands blog, which is a lot more sciency and boring than mine (just kidding, hun!) automatically posts HIS posts for him.  So I thought, "Genius!  I shall do as much!"  This is how I think.

So I scheduled my Monday blogs to go out on Mondays.  And somehow, it did not happen.  I am only just now realizing this.

Anywhoooooooo...my son threw my cell phone into the toilet.

Why are two years olds sometimes jerks?  I mean, he looked right at me when he did it.  Like, "I'm going to throw this electronic time waster into the pot, where it belongs, and you're going to watch me do it.  And you're going to like it.  Got it, mother?!"  Cause that's how he thinks.  He's a ginger.  That's how Ginger's roll.

And now I can't call out.  Le sigh.  Whatev's.  You gotta make lemonade with broken cell phones, ya know??  So I'm gonna go and do just that.




Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Mormon Monday: By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

One of the reasons I love the internet, and blogging, is that I get to meet and befriend so many people from all over the world.  Along with this blessing are ample questions brought to me about my religion.

And it's no secret that I love my religion. 2 Nephi 25:25 says it all. "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

This blog, I hope, is a testament to my love of Christ, and my desire to share that testimony to anyone who reads these posts.

So in an effort to answer mass questions brought to me daily, I'm going to spend each Monday for awhile sharing a bit about our Church.  If you want even more information, please visit LDS.org, or hunt down the handsome men and beautiful Sisters with name badges in your area.  They'll tell you everything in exchange for food ;)  If you want a free Book of Mormon, message me, and I'll get one out to you myself.  On to Mormon Monday...

One question, concern, or even sometimes accusation I get is about our tithing.  We give ten percent of our increase (for us, we choose our increase to be the gross amount of money we earn) to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Here are some of the things our tithing goes towards:

  • Building beautiful buildings where we can attend meetings each Sunday to partake of the Sacrament and learn more about our Savior and Heavenly Father.  We also use these wonderful buildings for weddings, baptisms, games, Ward activities, and occasionally they can be used for shelter.
  • Temples.  Our beautiful Temples are where we go to make promises with God, and then to help our deceased ancestors make those same promises they were denied while alive.  I'll talk more about Temples on another post.  Suffice it to say, I would give 100% of our earnings if it meant I could have a temple near me.  Thankfully, this isn't required.  I have two beautiful temples a short drive away from me, and I'm so grateful for them.
  • To sustain missionary work.  There are roughly 84,000 sons and daughters serving missions across the globe.  They need places to live, food to eat, and bikes to ride.  
  • On every tithing slip is the option to donate to specific areas, like missions, temples, buildings, education, etc. 
  • We also have the opportunity to give a Fast Offering each Sunday.  This will be it's own post as well.
Something not listed here are the enumerable blessings we've received from the Lord because we payed our tithing.  Those are sacred blessings, that I would love to share with anyone privately.  But for the sake of the audience, I'll keep them close to my heart right now.  Feel free to message me if you would like to know more.

But here is what you really need to know about tithing.  Look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Look at our fruits.  Are we purchasing jet planes to send our prophet around the world to ask for more money?  Heavens no!  Do we offer humanitarian aid across the globe?  You bet!  Do we provide help for people who are struggling?  Absolutely!  Are we, as members, provided with books about the gospel, lessons, manuals, pictures, paintings, pianos and music to help us grow to know Him more?  We sure are!  Do we do anything differently from the ancient church that Jesus himself was head of?  We do not!  

Things we do not do with our tithing funds: finance bishops or other leaders.  Our amazing leaders, who spend hours and hours away from family and home, are a  lay ministry.  This means, they do it on a completely voluntary basis.  Bishops usually serve for five years, Stake Presidents can serve for up to 10 years, Mission Presidents uproot their families and move to foreign countries to serve for 3 years.  This is all done to build up the Kingdom of Zion, it is all done "free of charge" and on a voluntary basis.  And I am eternally grateful for their service to me.

If you would like to know more about tithing, click here: tithing

I struggled with paying my tithing when I was first married.  We were already dirt poor and I often thought Heavenly Father would understand.  In the end, I am the one who didn't understand the blessings and promises that come from paying my tithing.  When Brett and I started consistently paying our 10%, we were blessed.  I know it's from our faith in this law that we were blessed with a house, that Brett was blessed with a lucrative job, and that we were blessed with innumerable other things pertaining to revelation and the Spirit.  

This is a law that should only be obeyed when it's done with faith and love.  It's hard for someone outside of the Church to feel the Spirit testifying to them of the wonders of tithing, so I'll do it for you!  It is a sweet blessing!  It is a simple thing to do!  And we are so grateful that we get to pay our tithing!  

**Interesting Facts** In the early days of the Church, shortly after the restoration, people were asked to tithe their time and work in place of money.  They each spent every tenth day building a beautiful temple.  What an amazing way to give of yourself to Heavenly Father and to your fellow members.



Friday, February 13, 2015

My War Against Depression

Friends, I struggle with depression.

Not like the, "Blech, I feel depressed today."

But the clinical depression.  The one where the chemicals in my brain make it hard for me to think straight and make good decisions.

For example, non-depressed me thinks clearly and has motivation to follow through.  I need underwear?  I'll do the laundry!  What?  No dishes?  No problem!  You spilled eighty gallons of milk?  Meh, I can handle that.

But then the chemicals in my head meet to go over this years fiscal earnings, and they get all uppity and upset and wonky and then suddenly, going to the bathroom seems like a chore.  "Why me?  Why do I always have to get out of bed to go to the bathroom?  Why don't I just call a spade a spade, and wear depends?"

Depression is a real problem.  It is for me, even if I do deny it really well.

When I'm depressed, everything is exacerbated.  Being a mom is the worst burden.  I feel like a disappointment to my kids and to my husband.  They have to pick up my slack.  All those little nagging thoughts we usually can just push to the back of our minds, come running to the forefront and become my only reality.

I've failed.  I'm a failure.  Just give up.  What's the point?

Basically, Satan just gets to have his way with my thoughts.  My guards are down, and any and every bad feeling becomes the only feeling.

But I do know one thing that does help.

My faith.  I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and it's pounded into my brain every day that Heavenly Father loves me.  We're advised to do certain things every day: pray and read our scriptures.   Pray and read our scriptures.  Pray and read our scriptures.

Some people think this is a ridiculous thing.  They wonder, "How on earth is that going to help you, in any way?  See a doctor, not an imaginary God.  Take drugs."

Well, I'll tell you.  When soldiers are trained in drills, it isn't for their health.  It isn't for fun, they don't get kicks and giggles out of it.  They don't LOVE doing it.  People wonder and may even ask the, "Why?  It's so pointless."  But they do it.  Because they know when they're in a war, under attack, being shot at by enemies, watching their friends die, and probably feeling the pinnacle of fear, they know what to do.  They know what maneuvers to make.  They know how to fall down, crawl, dig a trench, aim, fire, hide, run, fight.  These things are a part of them now because of their constant drilling and training.  Under the barrage of fire, they don't have to think.  They act.

And that's how it is for us.

Pray.

Read our scriptures.

Even in the depth of my depression, when I wonder why I ever made the decision to come down to this earth, to get an imperfect body, and to be under the constant onslaught of Satans' power, I know what to do.

Pray.

Read my scriptures.

Like a soldier trained to reach for their gun, my arm naturally reaches out and grabs my scriptures.  My legs naturally bed and my head automatically bows and suddenly, I'm no longer completely alone.  Suddenly darkness doesn't sound so appealing.  Suddenly I feel like I can do one more day.

He doesn't solve my problems, He just helps make them bearable.

He doesn't take away my chemical imbalances, but He helps me manage the side effects.

He doesn't remove the obstacles, He just helps lift me over them.  Sometimes, all I need is that encouragement.

Heavenly Father is real.  He knows us.  He loves us.  He waits to help us.  I'm grateful I've been trained like a soldier, because I am living through a war.  A literal war where Satan runs rampant, and a very personal war...where Satan runs rampant.  In my brain.

My body is heavy, my mind is cloudy, and my house is a disaster.  Most people don't understand this.  But I'm not alone.  We are never alone.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The One About Burdens

I stop myself whenever I want to blog about spiritual things.  I've become more guarded knowing less and less about the audience that reads them.  But I think if my troubles and answers helps others, then it's worth it.  Even if it's just one person.

Lately I've been pretty...we'll say frustrated, with my body.

Of course you know I had my ovary attacked by a cystic teratoma in January.  It ate the whole thing, so the doctor ripped it out.  Which was fine.  

Then February through May marked a sort of see-saw approach to getting sick.  First I'd get the stomach flu, then my back would go out trying to reclaim the house from the stomach flu.  Then I'd get the stomach flu again...well, you see how it went.  

I missed a lot of life, it felt like.

I was pretty grumpy a lot.

And then other physical ailments struck me.  I was feeling a huge desire to shout to the Universe, "C'mon!  Enough already!"

But I didn't really think I had any right to complain or be frustrated.  So many other people were suffering so much more in other ways, I just couldn't bring myself to feel, "Woe is me."

I sort of lost my own identity, if that makes sense.  I was still a mom, a wife, a Sunday School Teacher, but...when it came to me, I just had to deal.  No time to fret and worry or feel down.  I didn't feel like I deserved a pity party.

And maybe I didn't.

Maybe I don't.

But I realized recently that it's not a pity party I was denying myself.

I was denying myself a very special relationship with my Heavenly Father.

I lost that identity someone in there.  Because I didn't want to "bother" Him with this stuff.  I didn't want to sound ungrateful for a pretty great body.  I was afraid if I opened up, the "why me" statement would slip out and then I'd get the plague.  

I didn't understand that, "We are not and never need be alone.  We can press forward in our daily lives with Heavenly Help.  Through the Savior's Atonement we can receive capacity and "strength beyond our own"." -Elder Bednar, April Conference 2012

What he said later in this talk really slapped me in the face, "I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lies and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all lone - through sheer grit, will power, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities."

I feel like I've missed so many opportunities to humble myself and ask for help.  Because I didn't want to be healed, necessarily, I felt like those blessings weren't for me.  "The unique burdens in each of our lives help us to rely upon the merits of mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah."

Physically, I feel beaten.  I don't want Heavenly Father to take away my burden but I have forgotten that I can be strengthened in it.  "And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (Mosiah 24:15)

What am I going to do with this information?  I'm going to ask for a blessing from the Priesthood.  I'm going to pray and be grateful for my body in the ways that it functions, and asked to be strengthened in the area's it lacks.  I'm going to, hopefully, learn to rely more on my Heavenly Father.  Not because I don't want my burdens, or feel that I can handle them without Him, but because, why would I?  

One last quote from this fabulous talk:

"Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities - but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and short comings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us."

If you can say you don't suffer from any of these in your life, then you are truly blessed.  But if you do, then you also are truly blessed.  Because you get to rely on our Savior, the Atonement, and our loving Heavenly Father.  No better help, love or support can be found.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The One All About Brett

Father's Day.

I have many excellent fathers in my life.  My own dad, who gave me life and could easily take it away again.  My step-dad, who helped my mom raise me; not an easy feat.  My father-in-law, who taught me the art of shoving toys in babies diapers.

But most of this week my mind has been on Brett, and the type of dad he is.

When I was about to give birth to my perfect angel first born, I had low expectations of Brett as a father.  Not because he wasn't an awesome man.  On the contrary, it was because he exceeded perfection that I naturally assumed he would have to lack in some aspects of life.

Also, his dad thinks babies look like aliens with giant heads.  So, having been raised by a non-baby-lover, I thought, "Like Father like Son."

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Oh boy, I couldn't have been more wrong.

Brett held Cohen to his chest within the first minutes of his little life.  He clung to him, kissed his tiny bald head, looked into his eyes and talked to him.

Like a man.

He talked to my new born, precious angel baby like a man.  And hasn't stopped since.

His goal in life is to not let his children feel unnecessary sadness.  I mean, maybe he didn't set out to do this, but he's accomplished it.  If they're upset over something trivial, he bangs his head into the wall to make them laugh.  He pops his nose.  He makes fart noises.  He is obnoxiously loud and hilarious.  He warns them not to laugh, which, invariably, makes us all crack up.

But he also cares very much that they understand the why's behind everything.  Before any of our kids can whine, "But whhhyyyyy!"  Brett is three steps ahead, saying, "Do you want to know why we're doing this?"

Often he explains it in simple terms.

Sometimes he attaches scriptures to it.

Always, he backs it up with love.

He hugs.  He high fives.  He drives them to soccer, to dance.  He goes out at night to bring home ice cream.  He keeps us knee deep in candy.

He wakes up with them at night so that they have a happy(ish) mom in the morning.  He reads bed time stories.

He works so hard.  He chooses to work from home to be closer to us.  He takes time to be with his kids.  He takes time to read scriptures, to join FHE.

He kisses me in front of the kids.  He shows them how to love their future spouse by loving me in front of them.

He gives us all confidence.  He helps us all grow.

He is a great example of Heavenly love.  I'm so grateful for him.  And I know are kids are.

Happy Faja's Day, sweet man.  I love you.




Sunday, February 02, 2014

The One With Sulfur Burps

Today I have lysoled:

  • My entire bathroom
  • The kids entire bathroom
  • The changing table
  • The wipeys
  • The Aquaphor lid
  • The Aquaphor container
  • The diaper genie
  • Every door handle
  • Every sink handle
  • Every and any surface
The Neff House is under attack.  The Sulfur Burp Flu, or, The Aguado Flu, has hit us hard. 

Real hard.

It started with me, maybe.  It's hard to track it back.  The CDC would struggle with this one.

It hit me hard Friday night.  I have never thrown up so much, or done the...other thing so much.  And it was awful.  It was black.

And now my poor Kiki boo has it.  Break my heart.  His little belly is so bloated and hard and in between spouts of happiness is whining because he just doesn't know what is going on.  So sad.  

A picture for the grandparents.  Like kids and books, they only read blog posts with pictures ;)

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