Monday, September 24, 2012

You Are AMAZING!!!

For a woman so full of words I cannot see why they seem to be hiding from me.  I’m struggling to write the novel that I am working on.  Writers block?  Maybe.  But writers block usually follows after someone is stuck, frozen in the moment and not able to envision the story beyond.  Not me.  Not now anyways.  I know completely what comes next and then next beyond that.  In fact I have every aspect of the story set.  Maybe I am not satisfied with the story I’ve outlined you ask.  Not true either.  I am excited with writing it.  I can’t wait to see it ended and I can’t wait for my vision to be, my characters to live.  So, why am I struggling?
I think in the past whenever I have lost my words it’s been Satan’s way of keeping me sedimentary and the sad thing about it is that I usually let him, for a while until something sets me back on course.  Well, perhaps this time that something has to be me.  Perhaps it is time for me to take responsibility for my laziness before God will help me back on course.
So then, why am I still here, lost without words? 
I’ve had a lot of time to reflect lately on who I am and what my testimony is.  Even as a little girl I knew who God was and never doubted his existence.  To this day I do not doubt him.  At times I doubt myself but never him.  I’ve had conversations as of late with fellow sisters who are struggling to understand themselves and their role in God’s world, some asking how I can be so confident in who I am.  The word lucky comes up a lot.  Sometimes even blessed, which that I am, but I need to stress here that although I know  that knowing who I am and knowing how much I can shine in a world that seems to take shiny things and tarnish them is most definitely a blessing, one of my greatest blessings, it didn’t come without years of very hard work.  Some of the most heartbreaking work that I have ever done.
As a child I was bubbly and happy and never had a problem making friends.  Confident.  Then my parents moved to a new town in a new state and for a time, what seemed like forever to me as a child, I was completely on the outside.  No one wanted an outsider.   Now I don’t blame that little town we moved to, I don’t even blame those kids, unfortunately it was just human nature to make fun of the one who doesn’t belong.  In fact I so don’t blame any of them that when the chance came for my husband and I to move back we jumped on it as quickly as we could.
It wasn’t forever that I was on the outside.  Only a few years, but it was enough to form my little impressionable brain around.  My high school years were filled with lots of good friends and lots of good memories.  In fact I grew up in such a good grade that it should have been easy for me to love myself because I had great kids around me every day, but by that point the damage was already done.  Needless to say I had a hard time believing that I mattered and I wondered how God could love me so much, but I knew that he did because I knew that the gospel of Jesus Christ was true.  So if he loved me so much how come I couldn’t love myself?  And even more how great of a sinner was I for not believing that I mattered.
I was a good girl.  Very mindful of others feelings, but the first one to throw aside my own.  So how did that change, you ask.  Well, it started with a plea from a very amazing brother.  In fact he doesn’t even remember saying it to me but he changed my life that day none the less.  When Ken left on his mission, just a day or so before, he asked me to be happy.  He said, “Happiness is a choice and if you choice it often enough it becomes a habit.  Will you choose it for me?”
Easier said than done.  But I did it all the same.  Every day every time a sad thought, mostly about my pitiful self, popped into my head I chose to put a happy one in there instead.  Took me forever.  Whoever said that creating new habits only took a few weeks or months or even a few years was a totally lying!  But with a constant effort I made that choice day in and day out year after year.  When I stumbled, very lucky me had a very amazing hubby who would not let me say or even think one horrible thought about myself.  That started twenty years ago.
Now most people who know me think of me as confident, easy going, happy, the glass half full kind of gal, and they are very surprised when I tell them the struggle, especially in my teenage years, that I had with depression.  When I think of that girl I used to be I hardly can believe that it was me either, while at the same time I am sad at all the joy that that girl missed out on.  I’ve learned to create joy and to love myself whether or not anyone else does.  I’ve learned that I am beautiful and can look at myself in the mirror and smile because I like the face that is smiling back at me.  I’ve learned that even when I am at my ugliest, my hair wild from crazy sleep or twenty extra pounds to loose from a new baby, I am still amazing and most of all that I matter.
A couple years back as I was on my knees having a very heartfelt gratitude prayer and I asked my Heavenly Father how I could share what I had learned with everyone.  Every daughter who has forgotten who she is.  Every woman who doesn’t know how she can shine.  You see, the joy I feel sometimes is so overwhelming that my heart feels like it can’t contain it all, and the journey it took for me to get here was so long and so painful that I want everyone to have what I have.  Everyone to understand just how much God loves them.  When I see even the smallest glimpse into his love for me I am overwhelmed.  Do you know what I know?  Do you know that you are amazing?  Do you know you can be happy just by choosing it even when you don’t think that you can?
Sure a new dress or those sexy pair of 4 inch heels can make you feel like you shine.  Heck I love getting all decked out, but when those outer sparkles come off do you still shine, because you should.  You are beautiful!
Now look how easily those words came.  Funny because some years ago I would have laughed if you would have told me that I could write the very things that I have.  God loves me.  I am amazing and so are you!!
Now if only I can fill the pages of my book that easily.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Millions of Little Things

Here I am yet once again writing in my blog, watching the world around me and wondering what might happen this week.  It’s hard not to feel hopeless after all, by the actions of such few we see what conflicts can fall upon so many.  When have we become such a hard people that we cannot respect other’s beliefs and religion?  I know that was not the voice of the whole world, in fact just so very few, but in reality so many more were destroyed and set to unrest because of their bitterness.  And for what?  The desire for entertainment?
Then I have to ask, how are we, as a world that is, so angry that we can let the wickedness and bitterness of a few people who think they have the right to defame another’s beliefs through what they call art, set us into such a fury that we forget the sacredness of life.  Every day I read online the unrest that continues.  Can you imagine the fear and the pain that those innocents are facing right now.  I can almost feel the anger like a heavy dose of adrenaline running through the crowds as I look at the pictures.  All in the name of free speech and religion.  One wrong, horrendous as it may be, is never made right by another.

Now in this light it would be so easy for me to be sad, downright depressed even, but there is so much good that goes on about me every day that I would be showing very little gratitude to my Heavenly Father if I didn’t find joy in his world that he made for me and all of us.
Nan, yes sweet little Nan that I spent most my last blog about, has taken it upon herself to teach Sam how to play football.  Luke is off in the military and I think that Nan has seen how much Sam is missing out on not having his older brother around.  Now Nan has not always been my most coordinated one, but somehow she has managed to find the way that makes the most sense to her brother and has really taught Sam a thing or two.  It is great fun for me as a mother to watch her teach him how to kick a ball, usually barefooted even.  When he gets frustrated and says he will never be able to do it, most often flopping on the ground forlorn, Nan is beyond patient and gets him right back up.  Huge improvement has come and now the whole family is involved.  Sunday night everyone was on the front lawn, Jason and me included though I mostly watched, throwing the football and tossing the Frisbee.  Now if that isn’t something to find joy in I don’t know what is.

The house is a little quiet with everyone at school and I think that perhaps I could be a little sad with that too, but there seems to be plenty to take up my time and by the time the kids come rushing through the door at the end of the day I am happy and ready to see them.

Yesterday I was able to help in Jenny’s class at the high school.  They were doing a botany lesson and needed someone to drive them around.  Something I wouldn’t have been able to do before when I had little ones running to and from school all day long but now that they are all in full time school I have the freedom to do a little more.  It was amazing watching Jenny with her class and watching them all interact.  It was good getting to know the boys that road in our Suburban and watch their politeness and as a mother be grateful that such good kids are around Jenny every day.  And it was fun to watch the kids as their teacher Mr. Baird taught them about the native plants and weeds around them and how they produce and what people and animals can use them for.  Not to mention spending some time with one of Jenny’s friend’s mom who also helped drive, a friend of mine I don’t have the chance to talk to very often.  Another simple something for me to find joy in.

I think if we look it isn’t hard to find a million things in just one day to be happy with.  My yard and the fruit trees getting so big, finally producing enough fruit to can.  My house and my new kitchen that I have been saving for since we moved into this house.  A clean bedroom across the hall that I didn’t even have to get on my little girls to clean this morning.  Breakfast that went smooth and scripture time with only a few little whispers which in themselves was something to smile about.  How about the beautiful weather and the changing leaves.  A four wheeler ride through the mountains with my amazing hubby and all only minutes from our cozy home.  The view out my front door.  Nebo on the left and the Red Cliffs on the right.  Someone’s little kids cutting through my yard to rush to the bus stop, laughing and giggling on the way.
Easy to see the sad in the world?  Most definitely.  Too much bad goes on every day.  But even easier to see the good every day, absolutely.  God loves me.  This I know, and if everything else fails around me, that would be enough.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Giggles…thousands and thousands of giggles came from up my basement stairs.  Stephanie, my nine year old, had a late summer birthday and chose to wait until school was back in session to have her friend birthday party.  More kids to invite therefore more gifts, right?  Well Jason being the ever ambitious man that his is has to step in and make every birthday party just a little bit more if you know what I mean.  Stephanie had decided to watch the Lorax for her party.  It isn’t enough that our basement is a home theatre with an actual movie screen and stadium seating.  No that wasn’t quite enough.  So….

Instead Jason set up the green screen and after finding the perfect picture of the Lorax with his hands out as if he was presenting something or in this case someone, then and only then was Stephanie’s party acceptable.  Well, I let Jason know exactly my thoughts on this.  Explaining to him that every party we throw seems to have to be grandeur than needed.

This is where as the grumpy wife I need to apologize.  Really, it wasn’t that hard to set up the green screen that we own for BYU parties in the garage and really it was all his effort that found the picture and laid it out on the computer, not my own.  And even more, it was Jenny and Nan who took the pictures of the girls individually in the garage with Stephanie not me.  And quite frankly it was an awesome party favor to send home with the kids.  They were completely amazed watching it instantly print out.
So.  This is one of many times I have to say to the most amazing husband in the world, thank you, thank you, thank you for making our sweet little girl’s party amazing.  And I was wrong, and I am sorry for giving you a hard time.
I’ve been writing again.  Working on the second book in my Traditions of the Fathers series and of course I have had to delve deeper into the scriptures once again.  When you are struggling to develop a story along what historically happened you have no other choice than to read and study and research.  And as I think of the characters that I am developing I place them in my mind’s eye as if they were really there.  Suddenly Moroni is someone more real and Morianton’s wickedness is more threatening than I had once imagined.  Helaman is ten feet taller than he already was in my mind and the Gadianton robbers a million times more evil.
It is amazing to think of the reality of the lives that these people lived.  In my studies with my children we are not very many chapters away from Helaman and his stripling warriors, only forty years or so, but already there has been one war after another.  Repentance and peace followed by prosperity and wickedness and then again repentance so on and so forth.  I asked the kids, was their time any different than our own.  Was their time really any different than the whole history of the world?  What is it about us humans that we are so quick to forget God and think only of our own abilities?  Isn’t it that very God that we tend to forget who has blessed us with any abilities that we may have?
Wars seem to rage in the world as they always have and perhaps with my oldest now in the army I think more on it, but I have to wonder how we as humans can forget that we are all one people, in God’s eyes anyways.  Why would we want or need to kill each other?
And just when I feel maybe the most lost.  When the Nephite’s wickedness creeps up on me reminding me of the reality of our own world’s fallen state I remember the good people around me who haven’t forgotten who they are or the fact that God’s children are everyone around them, no matter how hidden they might be in this wicked world.

Now, I have to ask myself, am I like them? 
Nan and one of her friends had a conflict with one of her teachers yesterday in school.  Now I have to paint a little picture for you of my Nan for you to understand.  Nan is extremely tender and compassionate beyond what might be considered humanly possible.  She’s fun and giggly and a glass half full kind of person, very quick to forgive and always willing to love.  She is as sweet as they come, someone I thank God every day for giving me.
Now yesterday when she came home from school crying over very clearly a wrong that had been committed against her and this friend by this teacher, I instantly jumped on the Mother Hen bandwagon and wrote this teacher a not very nice email and called my husband who let the principal know exactly what had occurred.  Although I do not think that what I had done was wrong by any means, I was not at all compassionate and should have gone about it more forgiving.  Later when the teacher called to apologize which was very brave of him after my nasty email I talked a little to Nan about forgiveness and how he had made a mistake but she should forgive him because we all make mistakes and hopefully others will forgive us.  Nan of course said she understood and agreed but part of me cannot help but wonder when she sees that teacher today how much anger will be left and how much of that will be because as her mom I dropped the ball and forgot to be more like Helaman and a little less like Angi.
Hopefully tonight Nan and I can talk again and I can explain to her where I was wrong and hopefully God will give me the words that I will be praying for all day, because I want to be like those stripling warriors’ moms and teach my children faith and love and patience, because don’t we all need that?  Doesn’t the world need that?  Maybe if we all forgave a little quicker and judged a little slower we would have more tolerance for one another.  Maybe if mothers like me took a little longer to breathe before we jumped to the defense, our children would grow up to lead the world a little less like we have in the past and a little more like Christ might.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Millions of Peaches

“Millions of Peaches.  Peaches for Free.”  That song seems to be the only one going through my head right now.  Jason was singing it a few days ago and the kids thought that he was crazy, even crazier than they originally believed.  Of course in our “Advanced Years,” the music we know and the music that they know are not always the same.  But even that song is way beyond our usual musical vocabulary.  Why was he singing it you ask?  Because our house is filled with millions of peaches, all of which were free.

Last week every time that the wind blew, which it does a lot in Nebo Heights where we live, I would look up at our peach tree and beg it to stop dropping fruit.  I wasn’t ready for it to be ripe.  I was already putting up salsa and grape juice and didn’t have time for more.  But it didn’t listen to me and eventually I went out and picked up all the fallen peaches and saved the ones still on the tree, that is with the help of my daughters in and amongst the rain and some lightening I might add.  Now why that tree wouldn’t listen to me, I don’t quite understand.  After all I am the one that waters it and feeds it fertilizer in the spring and in the fall and keeps the grass and weeds free of its base.  You would think that it would be a little beholden to me, at least a little bit.

Then again, perhaps it was thinking to itself, not out loud of course because peach trees cannot talk, “Why can’t you just be happy that I paid you back for all of your hard work with hard work of my own?  See all of these beautiful peaches?  I made them just for you.”

I think more often than not I am that way about life.  “Why God can’t you give me what I asked for.  I’ve read my scriptures and said my prayers.  I’ve been going to church and fulfilling my callings.  I’ve given service and called a neighbor in need.  I’ve done all of this hard work, and what have you done for me?”

Now I don’t come right out and say that.  In reality I try very hard to remember everything that he has done for me, but sometimes, way too many times, I ask for things in an attitude of expectation instead of gratitude and humbleness.

So perhaps I should say to that tree, “Thank you for your nice fruit that you are giving to me.  Perhaps it is not the right timing for me, but you know best when your fruit is ready and I am more than happy to reap the rewards.”

And perhaps when blessings come upon me and opportunities to serve present themselves, instead of wishing that maybe they could spread themselves out a little bit so that they don’t seem more like chaos instead of blessings, I should just be happy for the goodness that God has showered upon me and when I fall into bed at night exhausted beyond wonderful belief, I should thank him for the blessings that filled my day, chaos that they might be, blessings still the same.

“Millions of Peaches,” Millions of Blessings, but never for free.  I will try to remember that.  Christ paid a price.  And everything he gives us, every mistake that we are forgiven of.  None of that came for free.
Now I’m off to clean the stickiness from my counters and stack the endless jars of peach pie filling, grape juice, grape jelly, and salsa along my shelves in my storage room.  And as I look at all the pretty colors of all the canning that I have done smiling back at me, I will try to thank the peach tree instead of criticizing it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Labor" Day

Nan: What are we doing today?
Me: Cleaning up the basement.
Nan: But it’s Labor Day.
Jason: That is labor.
The weekend started off with a few major disappointments. Rain. Need I say more? What was going to be Friday night at a dance in Nephi for me and at BYU for Jason, both supposed to be outside, turned into stress hoping the gear wouldn’t get rained on. I ended up indoors, but Jason not so lucky spent the whole night not only trying to mix music, but watching the clouds and the internet for any sign of rain. The last seconds of putting the gear away was ended with drops of rain that turned into a down pour once he left the field at BYU. FEW!

Needless to say, the camping trip that was planned for the weekend was shelved. Saturday turned into a trip to Home Depot to find parts to replace some lights in the garage, hoping to lower our electric bill, followed by a deep cleaning of the garage and putting up new, L.E.D, can lights.

  Then, of course Sunday started by mad dash to get ready for me and getting kids up and going while I went to an 8:30 meeting. Followed by finding shoes and black socks for Sam, pulling Steph’s hair up into a quick pony, ironing, and a sprint to Sacrament meeting.

But then…well then there were the great moments in between that stand out. Always in chaos there is something amazing that makes everything worth it. Like the rain…yes I said the rain. That same rain that ruined our camping trip also turned into a massive down pour and gutters filled to flowing running down our street. And when you live where we do, on a hill, that turns into mini rivers, and lots of wet kids, young and old, splashing through puddles.
That was Saturday in and amongst all the garage cleaning. Then Sunday, after church and before the best phone call from Luke, was taking off the toper from the little grey truck. Loading it to overflowing with seven bikes, and driving to the top of Bear Canyon. We left the suburban below and coasted about 3 or 4 miles down the most amazingly beautiful canyon road.

Now today, Labor Day, we are all laboring at my house in amongst the groans and moans. All so I don’t get stuck with the unbearable mess tomorrow while kids are off at school. Jason is finishing the graduation videos for the High School that need to be done. I just finished washing counters, sweeping floors, hanging clothes, picking up dirty ones, and cleaning my own filthy room. But this afternoon, as a family, we will sit down and watch Hunger Games that we just bought (possibly Sam and Steph the Lorax in the other room so we don’t scar them for life,) and all the “labor” and the disappointment will be mixed with one more of many great memories.