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Thankful Thursday – Things That Made Me Smile This Month

Happy Thankful Thursday! Today I’m grateful for things that made me smile this month:

1.  Reading the Frog & Toad book to my 5 yr-old.  I just love the simple quirkiness of these two friends, and I always smile when I read their stories.

2.  I bought some cara cara oranges for the first time ever this month.  One child of mine, who is not a huge fan of many fruits, and who has not wanted to eat the cutie oranges I usually buy, ate the *new* orange and then asked for seconds!  Then said, “can you buy these again?  They are good!” 

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3.  My current calling is in nursery, and I couldn’t help smiling when a small child, initially reluctant to part from her dad, was more willing when I offered to hold her for a bit.  These little ones are so cute and so sweet!

4.  Eating Coconut Curry Chicken after a long day of fasting on Fast Sunday.

5.  A surprise snow day. Here in Virginia, it doesn’t snow a whole lot, so it’s always an event if it does.  And we almost always get out of school for it too.  One morning, as I awoke early in the AM, and groggily set out to get my kids up, I noticed out the window that my car and driveway had a blanket of snow.  I said to my husband, “Did you know it was going to snow?”  He normally keeps a good eye on the weather, but had not heard about this, so it was a surprise to both of us!  Then the phone rang with the message school was out.  So, all of a sudden I was off the hook for my whole (not-so-pleasant) early morning routine of waking kids, helping them with breakfast, packing lunches, and keeping them on track so they don’t miss the bus.  Instead, I got to enjoy some quiet time before they all woke up on their own.  I loved it!  It definitely made me smile.

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6.  And, speaking of being up earlier than everyone, this past Saturday I woke up super early and went grocery shopping while everyone was still in bed.  I don’t get go to the store by myself very often, even though I find it a bit stressful to take people with me.  It was a big shopping trip, I found myself pausing more than once to just enjoy the fact that I was there completely on my own!

7.  The sky, with so many different variations really makes me happy.  I love the different colors in the morning and evening, and the clouds in various shapes and shades.  One day as I was crossing a bridge I could see fog in the distance.  But it was unique, because I could actually see clear sky above it.  Another time I walked outside in the evening to take my kids to their church activities.  It seemed so much darker than normal to me, and then I realized it was because there was complete cloud cover with no moon or stars out.  A different night, we left at the same time with clear skies and it was so much brighter!  (I live in the country, without much man-made light, so I can really notice stuff like this, and I am amazed at how much light the moon and stars actually give).

8.  Pictures my daughter drew.  I just love these pictures (and other similar ones that she draws)!

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9.  Comments and likes on my blog.  I always smile when I see someone has taken the time to comment on or like a post, and it was true this month too.  Thank you!!

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Procrastination Lessons

Happy Thankful Thursday everyone!  It has been so long since I’ve written a Thankful Thursday post.  I’m still practicing being grateful though, and with November 1st in just two days, it is a good time to focus on it even more!  Today I’m thankful that I’ve had this blog for one full year!  I love my blog, and I’m so glad I started writing it.  I’m also thankful for some lessons that I learned as a result of my own procrastination a  few weeks ago.  I’ve been wanting to share them, and today is the perfect day to do that!  So here goes….

Every year on the first day of school, after my family leaves the house I have to pause for a moment and enjoy the quiet.  I love my family, but I love quiet and stillness too – and I just don’t get a lot of that during the summer.

This year was no different.  The house was perfectly quiet and perfectly still for quite awhile because my youngest one slept in a bit that first day.  It was lovely…

…until the telephone rang.

My husband was calling to tell me that my daughter’s school had not received a record of her vaccinations and that she was not supposed to be in school without it.  However, he also said that the school’s phones were down, so I couldn’t just have the doctor’s office fax them over.  So I had to call the doctor’s office, get my little one ready, pick up the record, and drive them over to school.  Since I live 20 minutes away, and my daughter is not very fast when it comes to getting ready or at running errands, this was not a quick process.  When I got to the school I learned that my daughter had not been allowed to attend class and instead was sitting in the Principle’s office, just waiting for me to arrive.

You can imagine that I felt pretty bad.  Yes it would have been better for everyone if the phone had been working, but I had received a letter a few weeks before school started telling me they didn’t have those records and needed them before the first day.  I could have (and should have) taken care of it prior to the first day of school, making the non-working phones a non-issue, but I just put it off for one day, and then another and another.  Then the doctor’s office was closed for the weekend, and suddenly it was the first day of school.  Yeah – talk about mommy guilt.

But it was OK – my daughter got through it and so did the school officials.  Even though it was stressful in the moment, as far as I can tell, we were all able to move on from my mistake pretty quickly.

However – the next day I learned of another thing that I had procrastinated over the summer.  I won’t go into detail, because it would be difficult to explain everything adequately.  But I will say the consequence was a certain amount of confusion, embarrassment, and wasted money.  And it was all 100% my fault – once again due to my procrastination.

Especially at the height of confusion and frustration, I had a very difficult time forgiving myself.  If only I had someone else to blame or could just chalk it up to “that’s just the way things go sometimes.”  But no, it was my own doing (or rather, not doing).

That evening when I was home, my stress level reached it’s peak, and all I could do was cry.  Recently I’ve been making a bigger effort to turn to the scriptures when I feel unhappy or stressed, and so when I had a chance, this is what I chose to do.  I just started reading from where I was (Mosiah 26), not looking for anything in particular, but as I read I felt the message was personalized just for me.  Here is what I learned:

  1. The Lord will forgive us as many times as we choose to repent (Mosiah 26:30).  I was mad at myself because procrastinating important things is a habit for me, which means I’m guilty of it over and over and over again!  But I could see here, that the Lord wasn’t holding that against me, and that he would continue to forgive me.  In fact, I felt in my heart that He had already forgiven me of both of these instances!
  2. I am required to forgive everyone, including myself! (Mosiah 26:31).   To me forgiveness doesn’t mean going into denial and pretending a mistake wasn’t made.  But rather it means letting go of the anger, blame, and other negative thoughts and words that seem to always appear along with the mistake.  And I truly believe that when the Lord says that He requires us to forgive everyone, that He means ourselves as well.
  3. I should “give thanks in all things” (Mosiah 26:39).  Give thanks in ALL things?!  Here I was, feeling like this moment in my life was the worst thing ever, and I’m supposed give thanks!  Except luckily I was starting to feel a little better from my earlier reading, and so I was able to do it.  I said a silent prayer thanking my Heavenly Father for the experience and the lessons I was learning from it.  And guess what?  My stress nearly melted away!  I felt so much better!  I could see that while it was something that needed to be dealt with, it was really not the end of the world.
  4. Replace my fear with faith (Elder M. Russell Ballard).  At this point I had switched my reading over to talks from General Conference.  The talk I was reading was about missionary work, and again chosen simply because I was reading them in order.  But when I read the words, “…by replacing our fear with real faith,” I knew they applied to my situation too!  My anxiety was a result of fear – fear of embarrassment, fear of inconveniencing others, fear of wasting money that was in short supply – but I could choose to have faith instead!  At this point I realized that I was not alone; I did not have to solve the problem I had created all by myself, but instead could rely on the Lord to help me through it.

And now, about two months later, I can honestly say that He did help us.  Just about everything has been resolved; and the situation is behind us. But the lessons remain, and I’ve found myself using these strategies in other stressful situations as well.  After-all, as much as I would like the lesson to have been to never procrastinate or make any similar mistake again, I’m getting better, but I’m not there yet.

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What are some positive ways you have learned to cope with mistakes? 

Temple Flowers

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Today is “Thankful Thursday!”  And I’m thankful for the pretty flowers at the temple!  Our family went to the Washington D.C. Temple a few weeks ago.  Our youth had a temple trip, and my 12 year old son was able to participate for the first time!  My husband was also going along to help out, and so we decided to make a family trip out of it, with our 2 girls and me staying in the Visitor’s Center.  Knowing how nice they always keep the grounds, I brought my camera along so I could “play photographer” while we were there.  And I wasn’t disappointed!  They had planted some really beautiful flowers.

I love being at the temple!  There is such a peace there, even outside, and I think my whole family noticed it on this day.  My son was so excited for his first “youth temple trip.”  He asked so many questions about what it looks like inside the temple!  I mean, he wanted me to describe everything from the front door all the way to the baptismal font* (and since this is a big temple, there actually is quite a bit to describe!).  I did my best, but in the end he just had to see for himself.  Afterwards it was his turn to describe to his sisters.  I was so glad that he had such a good experience, and it was a nice day for us all.

*note – when I was a youth, we entered the baptismal font through a door leading directly to it in the back of the Washington D.C. Temple, but apparently now they walk through the front door and walk through the temple hallways to the baptismal font.  This is why there was so much for my son to see, and I think he really enjoyed that. 

What about you?  Do you have a favorite experience of visiting the Temple with your family?

Little Things

This week I’m thankful for the little everyday things.  For example, I’m thankful for . . .

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1.  . . . the sunshine – OK, I could easily start to sound like a broken record with this one, but I really do love it when it is warm and sunny outside.

2.  . . . Ibuprofen – What I’m really grateful for is that I don’t need it very often.  But when I do (like this week for a very sore and very stiff neck), I’m really glad that it is there.

3.  . . . running water – It’s so great that we can just turn the faucet and out comes clean water.  It’s easy to take for granted, but our lives are so much easier because of it!

4.  . . .  cameras – I love my camera, although I don’t claim to be a photographer.  I just love that I can preserve memories to look at in the future.  I also love other people with their cameras – and all of the awesome pictures that they share on the internet (like the one I added to today’s blog post – click here for the source).

5.  . . . sunglasses – My eyes are so sensitive to bright light!  While I love the sunshine, sunglasses make being outside in it a lot more comfortable.  And, I get “squinting” or “sun” headaches much less often, making it so I don’t need the Ibuprofen as much (lol)!

What little things are you thankful for today?

Blessings That Come From Focusing on the Savior

These past few weeks all of my blog posts have been “Thankful Thursday” posts!  This happened once before when I first started blogging, and it caused me some stress.  I felt like my blog was off-balance, and over-saturated with one topic.  Part of me is feeling this way again, but another part of me feels OK about it too.  I mean, if I’m going to over-saturate my blog with any topic, being grateful is probably the best one.

I don’t require myself to write every Thursday, but recently doing so has lifted me up.  It has helped me to focus on the good things in my life.  And I hope that it has helped others focus on the good as well.  Although my specific day-to-day blessings might be different than those who read what I write, I always hope that it will spark a memory of something similar (or even totally different) in your life to be thankful for too!

At times, what I have to be grateful for is something that we all share in common – and that is the case today.  Of all of the things that I am thankful for in my life, more than anything else, I am thankful for the Savior of the world.  Although we may all have varying knowledge and understanding, He is the Savior of us all.  He knows and loves each one of us, and our need for Him and His ability to help each of us is equal to each other.

I first realized the importance of focusing on the Savior in my life a few months prior to serving my mission for my church.  This was a very difficult time for me; in fact I would say one of the most difficult times in my life.  I didn’t feel any real direction, and my grades were slipping in college.  I felt like I should serve a mission, but I didn’t really want to.  I decided to take a break from college for a bit in order to “figure it all out” and went home.  But I continued to feel anxious and stressed, and I allowed discouragement to take over.  One day in my frustration I said to my dad that I didn’t know if anything I had learned about my church was really true any more.  His response to me was that “sometimes when we pray we like to do all of the talking, and that we forget to listen too.”

When he said that, I realized that I did need to listen a little better when I prayed.  So, I said a prayer about what I should be doing with my life, determined to listen.  And I remembered some council given by our prophet at that time, Howard W. Hunter.  He had said,

I invite all members of the Church to live with ever more attention to the life and example of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially the love and hope and compassion he displayed.  I pray that we will treat each other with more kindness, more patience, more courtesy and forgiveness. . . .  Let us study the Master’s every teaching and devote ourselves more fully to his example.” 

This made all of the difference in my perspective!  Suddenly the details didn’t matter anymore – I knew that I just needed to focus on the Savior.

As time went on, I began to focus more on serving others, and I felt a lot happier.  Things started falling into place for me.  I started preparing for my mission – there was no longer a “decision to be made,” but it just became the natural thing to do.  After my mission I finished school, and after my graduation met and married my husband.  Now we have 3 happy and healthy children, and I am so grateful for each one!

Life hasn’t been without bumps and trials, and I feel that I have fallen short of remembering to do what Jesus would do so many times.  But what I have learned over the years is that keeping my focus on the Savior brings clarity and direction.  It brings peace of mind and heart.

So, with Easter being on Sunday, today I am thankful for . . .

1.  . . . my Savior! 

2.  . . . President Hunter for reminding me to focus on Him.

3.  . . . my dad, for always being a great listener, and for giving me wise council to “listen as I prayed”  when I needed it.  Thanks, Dad!

When have you felt that a focus on the Savior has brought clarity or peace in your life?

 

 

“It Is Usually Through Another Person That He Meets Our Needs”

President Spencer W. Kimball once said, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.”  I feel like I saw this quote in action this week through several different people, and I am thankful for all of them!

Why I’m thankful for my friend

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about what I would write about for “Thankful Thursday” today,  but nothing has seemed quite right.  Also, I’ve had a lot other stuff I’ve been needing to do this week.  So, between those two obstacles I thought that maybe I would just skip it today.

But then, a friend of mine showed up at my door this morning completely out of the blue.  She had come out of her way (I’m in the country, so it was really out of her way!) to bring me my family two freezer meals and some Rice Krispie Treats!!  It was so unexpected!  She explained that this very kind gesture was prompted by a Sunday School lesson which she had taught this past week.   So after she left, I knew that I had to write today and say how thankful I am that I have such a kind-hearted friend!  

Why I’m thankful for my daughter

Yesterday, I was bothered by some things, so in the middle of the day I said a prayer about what was on my mind.  My 4 yr-old daughter came looking for me, and when she saw me praying asked what I was praying about.  I responded, “oh, nothing too much.”  Then she said the most surprising thing – “But Mom, if you are praying, it’s because you want Jesus to help you with something.  So, what is it that you are asking Jesus to do for you?”  I was so surprised, and amazed by this!  Kids really do understand a lot more than we give them credit for sometimes!  I told her that (among other things) I felt like I have a lot of work that I need to do, and was asking for help to be able to do it.  Her response to this was – “I will help you with your work!  I will load the dishwasher for you!”  So sweet, right?

Her good intentions gave way to her 4 yr-old attention span, so she really did more playing than loading, but I was so grateful that she was aware of my feelings and wanted to lift my burden!  I told her last night before bed that she had done just what Jesus would have done – and that she did a good job of “trying to be like Jesus.”  Her whole face lit up, and she said, “I did?  I am?”

Why I’m thankful for the Sister Missionaries

On Tuesday I was trying to make a detailed menu plan for my family which would be for all meals of the day and include all of the food groups.  I was attempting to think of several meals that I could just rotate through, so that I don’t have to keep “re-inventing the wheel” every day.  When I started the project in the morning, I thought it might take a couple of hours – but it was taking much longer than this, and I was getting frustrated.  At the same time, I didn’t want to quit, because I really wanted a finished product that day.  So I just kept working at it.

Around lunch-time, the Sister Missionaries called.  They said that they were going to meet with one of my neighbors at 1:00, and would I like to come?  They told me later that they knew it was last minute, and so almost didn’t call, but then decided to just try anyway.  And to be honest, I’m really glad now that they did. . .  but in the moment I felt a little bit of apprehension about putting off this project.  As I said, I just wanted it to be done, so that I could move on to other things.

But I said “yes” to them, and after I hung up tried to guess in my own mind which neighbor we were going to see.  When they showed up I was delighted to find out that we were going to see my children’s bus driver who lives at the end of the road!  I really like their bus driver; she’s wonderful!  But I’ve never been to visit her.

When we got to her front porch, I was very surprised to see the view of my neighborhood from her house!  It was so beautiful and amazing!  She lives up on a hill – just a little hill – but enough of one to see for a long ways.  I just loved it, and was really happy.  I thought to myself that if I lived in her house, I would want to sit on the front porch all the time just to look at everything!

But she wasn’t at home, so I didn’t get to visit with her . . . maybe next time?  But still, the outing turned out to be really good for me.  It got my daughter and me out of the house; we walked, so I got some exercise; and I was able to visit with the Sister Missionaries, which I enjoyed (and they seemed happy too).  Also, when I went back to work on my “menu project,” I realized that it was “good enough” and I that didn’t need to do much else to it.  I added a couple more things, and printed it out.

And so, I’m thankful for the Sister Missionaries for being brave enough to ask me to come with them at the last minute, and for the service they are giving by teaching others about our church.

When have you seen the Lord meet your needs through another person?

“I am a Child of God”

This past Saturday I attended the General Women’s Meeting at my local church building with my 10 yr-old daughter.  I was really excited when I heard the announcement that now all women and girls 8 yrs-old and up would be attending these meetings together.

In anticipation, I expected a few things – first, I expected that I would love the meeting, and second, I expected that those who planned it would present it in a way that would be appealing to the younger girls attending.  And I was absolutely correct!

But I did not expect that the choir would have the primary-age children singing by themselves for part of the time, and I did not expect that they would ask all of the Primary age children (even those not in the choir) to sing “Teach me to Walk in the Light.”  I really loved this part, and found myself being a little teary-eyed (actually I was teary-eyed for most of the meeting, but it started here).

It was a very uplifting meeting, and I was so grateful to be able to attend with my daughter.  And so, as inspired by this, today I’m thankful for . . .

1.  . . . my daughter being able to attend the meeting with me.

It was fun for us to be able to do something with just the two of us.  It seems that we usually have either her brother or sister (or both), along whenever we go somewhere.  So, we enjoyed the one on one time.

Also, she really liked the meeting!  She said she loved the music and that she “actually understood what they were saying.”  I said, “Did you like the videos?,” to which she responded enthusiastically, “Oh yes, I forgot about those!”

2.  . . . my youth leaders for teaching me to take notes during General Conference.

When I turned 12, the youth leaders were actively encouraging all the youth to attend all sessions of General Conference and to take notes.  Most of them responded very well, and so even though these leaders were released shortly after I became part of the group, I followed the example of the older girls and did the same.  I have always been so grateful for this!

I love taking notes during these meetings (when I don’t have little ones on my lap trying to take my pen and paper away from me – lol).  I mean, I do realize that they will be printed later for me to read, but I get so much out of my own notes!  I not only write down what stands out to me from the talks, but my own impressions and thoughts as well.

3.  . . .the reminder that I am a precious daughter of Heavenly Father.

Those who attended the meeting will remember that they often spoke of us all being daughters of our Heavenly Father.  Though we may have different interests and talents, and even be different ages, we all share this in common.  I loved the video of different women as they sang “I am a child of God,” and it reminded me of one I had seen awhile ago at lds.org.

So, of course I had to include it today.  I seriously love this video and have watched it so many times.  My favorite part is at the end where they sing “I am a child of God,” and then the words appear on the screen “And so are YOU!”

Happy Thankful Thursday!  Don’t forget to count you blessings today!