Monday, March 6, 2017

Where I'm Meant to Be

I woke up today feeling blah. Just a few minutes into Monday morning and I already wanted the day to be over. I'm tired. I'm spent. I'm sick of cleaning up messes and feeling like the house is just getting dirtier. I don't want to organize the garage or scour the bathrooms- things I had on today's to-do list. I want to sit and hold my baby without nagging thoughts of what I should be doing. I should have exercised, I need to organize the mail, and the closets, I shouldn't have stayed up so late, I should have woken up early. I just don't have the energy for all of these shoulds and needs and wants.

I've been concentrating on my divine worth in my scripture study lately. I've been focusing on my identity as a daughter of God and trying to limit the outside voices that press on me all day long. I know I am enough. I know I have worth, right now, exactly as I am. I know that a clean garage doesn't make me any more worthy or noble. But last night I went into my study wanting to know if I'm doing what I need and should and even want to be doing right now. What is this big huge entanglement that is my life right now? There is so much going on in spite of my efforts to minimize and simplify, and sometimes I just wonder why? Why am I doing this? Is this energy I'm outputting getting me anywhere? I felt touched when I read these words by President Russell M. Nelson,

"Learn for yourselves who you really are. Ask your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ how He feels about you and your mission here on earth. If you ask with real intent, over time the Spirit will whisper the life-changing truths to you. Record those impressions, review them often, and follow through with exactness. I promise you that when you catch even a glimpse of how Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same!"

As soon as I read those words I got on my knees. "Heavenly Father, that is what I want. That is what I need right now." I want to know what Heavenly Father thinks of me, because I know that to the ever-changing yardstick of the world I won't ever be enough. Somewhere I will always fall short. He knows who I am, and he knows who I can become. I need His help to get me there, and I need Him to tell me if I'm traveling in the right direction.

Then last night I read my patriarchal blessing, and I remembered. Just like that the Spirit began to teach me about my mission on the earth. He reminded me that a primary reason I am here is to be a mother and have a family. He reminded me that even before I was married I would begin planning my family consistent with Heavenly Father's divine design for families. I am meant to be the nurturer of my family. That is my job right now. Right now I am doing what Heavenly Father is "counting on me to do for him". I remembered. Oh yes, I chose this. I chose this not just because it's what I wanted to do before I actually became a mother, I'm choosing this because it is what I was made to do. This is what I was designed for. And right now, I am in the trenches. Right in this brief period of life I am a mom, at home, in the grind. Day after day I make Nutella sandwiches, and nurse babies, I change diapers, and run baths, and drive to school and dance. And although it is draining and exhilarating and mundane all at the same time, I know it is where I am meant to be.

So feeling heavy and burdened and just tired of doing the grind I turned to my scriptures this morning to read the comforting passage in D&C 10:4, "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means...but be diligent to the end" and then my eyes drifted to the other side of the page and happened to see the words, "Do this thing which I have commanded you, and you shall prosper. Be faithful, and yield to no temptation. Stand fast in the work wherewith I have called you, and a hair of your head shall not be lost, and you shall be lifted up at the last day." (D&C 9:13-14) I cried. Chills covered my body and my burden felt light. It was in every sense of the word a direct message from the Lord to me.

Those words, that were exactly where I didn't realize I was looking when I needed them were from the Lord to me. Today my job is to be a mother. He knows me. He is aware of me. He knows my talents and potential and the desires of my heart. He has called me to this work of motherhood and today and tomorrow I will stand fast here. I will do what he has commanded me, and I know he will prosper me. He already has, and I know he will continue to do so.

I have dreams of one day writing a book, and having a voice that reaches far and wide to share the inspiration I have been blessed to receive. I want to be heard, not just by my little children and husband. I want to use and develop the gifts I have been given, and I hope they will be far reaching. Today, however, family is my far-reaching audience, and I will be faithful to that calling. I will "do this thing" which has been commanded of me and trust that my Father in Heaven knows my life's work and will lead me along as I accomplish each part of it.

I know that each of us has a personal mission on the earth. We are all here to do good and there are so many ways to accomplish it. The Lord will teach us each individually what he wants us to do. I promise if you pray and ask, you can know how your Father in Heaven feels about you and He will open the way for you to accomplish what he wants you to do.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Did I Bring Beauty Into the Lives of My Family Today?

 "The sharing of beauty can never begin too early, and the child who from his baby years has been helped to see beauty "will love all that is beautiful, and hate all that is ugly, long before he knows the reason why."  -Annis Duff

I came across this quote in my reading recently, and it has rested in me. I have thought about it intentionally, and also let the truthfulness of it linger and take root in my subconscious. I love it, because I think it is true. In my short career of motherhood, I have seen the recognition of true beauty in all three of my children from infancy on up, and I want to harness that and encourage it. I want them to see and feel real beauty, because I believe that when children are rooted in that real, true beauty, that those memories and feelings will draw them back like a lighthouse and anchor their souls to God and family and what is right and good in this world. 

This beauty is manifested in love, and goodness, and inspiration, and deep connectedness. It is evident in nature and friendship and life. It is felt in a good book and heard in classical music. This is the kind of beauty I want to expose my children to. I love that I have this opportunity as a mother. In my home I get to set the tone of my little universe, and every day I want it to be beautiful.

A mother that I know and love has taught her children to see this meaningful beauty. She has taught them to love music, and a good homemade meal. She has shown them that learning and growth and effort are deeply rewarding in and of themselves. She has shared good books, games, and the value of an impromptu dance party. She has taught them about style and decor, and how to use your own mind and hands to create things. These are the kind of things I want to show my children. I want them to see what is truly good in life. Things like: a good meal together at home, sunlight coming through the windows, the ocean, poetry, deep belly laughing, morning and evening walks, things made by hand, time with friends, classic movies, nature, holidays and special occasions. I want our home to be the backdrop of all of these things. 

Since having Oliver I've struggled with these deep desires that I have, and the inability to execute all of it. For months I've carried the weight of wanting to create beauty here in my home, and the brutal reality that there is just so much I can't get to right now with my three young children. Through prayer and God's grace I'm slowly learning to say, "we'll get to that" or "let it go" or "that can wait" and actually being OK with myself when I say them. 

I've been praying for help to manage my time, for help to know what things are actually important, and I told the Lord that I want to bring beauty into the lives of my family each day. A couple mornings ago I sat in my bed alone and I felt a quiet voice whisper to me that a smiling face and kind, gentle words are beautiful every single day. In fact, this was the single-most beautiful thing I could give to my children.

I then saw myself in my mind's eye smiling at my children and reaching out to them. I saw myself really looking at them when they spoke and showing them in my actions what treasures they are. I saw myself laughing with children at my feet. I saw us in our home that was lived in and loved, with little messes around us. In my mind's eye, we were really alive. We were living, and with a smiling face and a gentle, attentive heart, the feelings of beauty were there regardless of the backdrop.

I can create beauty for my children and husband every day. 

Yes, I will still want to set the table with fresh flowers. Yes, I will use my hands to beautify my surroundings and make special occasions out of every day events, but now I know that the truest, strongest beauty will be felt and seen in the way I treat them, in the way I look at them, and in the way I live. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Goals for 2017

This year I have a couple goals that I'm working toward. After a few weeks of January, this is what I've felt pulled and prompted to do: make more things with my hands/exercise creativity in my home, have people over to my home more, and LET GO of the way things look, and focus on being present. Love and genuine, thoughtful interaction is more important, more rewarding, more satisfying than making things look a certain way. If I continue to fall for the lie that things will be more gratifying when they look just right I'm going to miss out on the best things life has to offer...namely: sincere, meaningful relationships. I want to invite people over and not spend the whole day cleaning the house to prepare, because they don't care, and because actually being together with the people we love is what we really want and need, not a spotless house. I don't understand why this is such a hang up for me. So my goal is to be open armed. I want not only to share what I have by giving, but invite people into my home to share with me. I think my eyes are going to be opened to the absolute abundance of this beautiful life around me.
"Let there be something of a light tone in your life. Let there be fun and happiness, a sense of humor, the capacity to laugh occasionally at things that are funny. In all of living have much of fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.
Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine." -Gordon B. Hinckley

Our Weekend in LA

Last weekend we went to LA with BJ because he had a work event and the company had gotten him a hotel room for a night. My favorite thing about staying in a hotel is that I, as the mom, can relax. When I'm sitting down or laying down I don't have visual reminders staring me in the face of what still "needs" to be done. (I'm working on figuring out what that "needs" actually means... aka really, truly being more present.) Also, I love having a change of scenery every once in a while. There's an automatic excitement when we go somewhere new, and it feels nice and refreshing to be excited about something.
Relaxing with Oliver on the bed

We left in the afternoon around one, and drove to LA through a crazy rain storm. We left poor Jovi at home in the backyard with only a chair under the patio cover to keep her dry. Her own little island amongst the rain. We got to the hotel and checked in, and hung out while BJ and his dad put on their tuxedos for the work event. I had never seen BJ in a tux before. He looked spectacular! I wish I could have been on his arm that night, but I wasn't invited!
I loved watching these boys get ready together. It was really a cute sight.
I took the kids to The Grove. I had wanted to take them to Griffith Park because it is somewhere we'd never been, but it had been pouring all day, it was going to be dark soon, and I didn't want to risk getting myself in a stressful or precarious situation with the three babies and no husband. I know The Grove fairly well, and knew we could do a little shopping and get dinner. It was only about 6 miles from the hotel. Ellie picked out a popcorn stand from the American Girl Doll Store. Lorenzo chose a set of miniature dinosaurs from Pottery Barn Kids. Then we ate at The Cheesecake Factory, watched the water show for a few minutes, and headed home. It went really pretty well at first, but got stressful and overwhelming at standing up! and Lorenzo wanted help eating and was crying about something, and things were unraveling fast.

We came back to the hotel and I let them play with their toys for a little while while I got Oliver down, then we did the routine for them, and around 9:30 I finally got to eat my dinner while watching You've Got Mail on my phone. I fell asleep around 10, and BJ got back to the hotel around 11.

The next day we got up and got ready, checked out of the hotel, and got breakfast at some blast from the past diner we stumbled upon, and then spent a few hours at the LA Zoo. It was such a great weekend together as a family doing some special things. Funny how 24 hours can wear you out!

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Work as a Mother

It was a good, full day of homemaking and mothering. After a tip from a friend and my mother-in-law, I've decided to try doing all of the laundry just one day a week rather than a little bit every day or two. Today I stayed home and ran the washer and dryer from 7 am to 10 pm. The final load is still spinning in the dryer. I washed everyone's sheets, Oliver's blankets, and all of the dirty clothes and towels. In between loads I made the kids breakfast: hot chocolate and toast that I had promised them the night before. Read my scriptures, packed Ellie's lunch, talked to my mother in law, and got myself and the kids (except Lorenzo- he was in pajamas the entire day) ready for the day. We took Ellie to school and dropped Lorenzo off at a friend's to play. I folded laundry, called the doctor, made a Valentine's day bunting for the fire place, and vacuumed the upstairs. Picked up Lorenzo and brought a friend home with him to play. Snacks for the boys, more laundry, and lunch. Picked up toys, started pizza dough for dinner, and greeted Ellie and her friend home from school. Put clean sheets back on the bed, layed down for a couple minutes, talked to BJ, helped Ellie with sight words, ate dinner, had Family Home Evening, said family prayer, danced in the kitchen and ate ice cream bars, bathed the kids, brushed teeth (for Lorenzo's first time today), read Little House On the Prairie, put the kids down. Looked at my phone for a minute, folded clothes while watching Barefoot Contessa, cleaned up the kitchen while listening to Heaven Is Here, and put the house to bed. All throughout the day I held Oliver, fed Oliver, changed Oliver, made Oliver smile, and put him down for naps. I held Lorenzo when he had a hard moment and I hugged Ellie when her umbrella broke. Now I'm sitting in bed talking to BJ, listening to Oliver and Jovi sleeping, and feeling the best kind of tired. There is so much to do to run this house and keep this family healthy and happy and thriving. It is the best kind of work I've ever done. It is a work that is constant and steady and unrelenting, yet ennobling, important, and gratifying. I love the feeling I have of bringing something that is pure and good and holy into this world. That is the feeling I have when I am about my business as a mother. Sure it is exhausting, and daunting and never-ending, but being the safe place that my children and husband get to come home to is so satisfying. Today I came across this line: "In raising my children I have lost my mind and gained my soul." That is truth.

(Artwork by one of my favorite artists Brian Kershisnik )

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Our Christmas This Year - 2016

We spent our very first Christmas this year with just our little family. It was really neat, yet really different. It was so fun to be together, and feel such an intimacy with our little family. It was hard though pulling everything off ourselves. It was exhausting! And nothing looked the way I dreamed it would. I envisioned perfect decorations, a fancy, gorgeous meal, and plenty of perfect photo ops. Instead, our desperately-in-need-of-a-deep-clean house was partially decorated, our meals were semi-homemade, and beautiful photos just didn't happen. It was such a fun and memorable year though.

Two days before Christmas BJ gave me an early present that he and Aaron Tolman had made for me- something I've wanted for years. A swing for the tree in our front yard!! I am thrilled about it!
Then later that afternoon we sent Ellie and Lorenzo to the Anderson's house so we could set up the swing set we were giving them for the family gift this year.
(Running to Kyla's!) (Setting up the swing set was hilarious. BJ hated it- obviously...but was such a good sport about it and he grumbled and joked and we laughed our way through the whole thing.)

The next morning was Christmas Eve and we knew were going to be leaving to Utah on Christmas morning, so we let the kids see and play on the new swing set. It was a huge hit! They love it. Especially that glider.

Then we went to Romp-O-Rama, came home, and BJ's parents came over to visit. The kids played some more, and then I made dinner, we ate, opened Christmas pajamas, read Luke 2, and read the new Christmas Eve books the kids got (Crictor and Extra Yarn) and put the kids to bed together in Ellie's room.

(See what I mean about these photos? Definitely not what I was picturing in my head! :)  )
On Christmas morning we opened presents, had velvet crumb cake for breakfast, and then hurried and got ready for church and got packed. We went to a beautiful Christmas sacrament meeting. BJ spoke and did a great job, and afterward we ran home, put everything in the truck and jumped on the road for Utah!

Not the most glamorous Christmas day spending it on the road, but we were happy to be together, and when we drove into Utah at 11 pm, it was a winter wonderland! More than anything we felt full of love and gratitude for one another and our Savior.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Day at the Park

On Saturday morning BJ was busy helping his brother move, so I decided to go on an outing with the kids to the park. Rather than going to the park at the end of our street we went to one the kids love that's just over a half mile away so the kids could have a fun bike ride on the way to and from. I pushed Oliver in the stroller- something I haven't been able to do nearly as much this time around being more busy and occupied with the other kids. We packed a lunch and finally made it out the easy task with three young children.

It was an absolutely idyllic park day. It was in the high 60's with a light breeze. It had been raining all week, so the sunshine warming our bodies felt restorative and invigorating. The sky was the clearest, most beautiful blue and there were just a handful of perfectly white clouds. The kids were thrilled to be playing outside after being cooped up for the last couple of weeks.

The kids climbed and played while Oliver napped in the stroller. They rode their bikes around and then we laid out our picnic lunch: turkey and cheese sandwiches, green grapes, fishy crackers, and juice, with homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies later for dessert.

We've been to the park hundreds of times together, but on Saturday all the stars aligned, and it felt uniquely great. Life's simple pleasures truly are the best. This adventure together, outside, moving our bodies in perfect weather, playing, enjoying nature, and eating good simple food just filled my soul. Everything about it was perfect, and we were all so happy.

(I know it's funny to admit, but I took this selfie because I felt so beautiful. I was just so happy, so filled with contentment, so fully and completely happy and in the moment. My hair was blowing in the wind, and I felt like my whole being was singing from the rooftops. When I looked at the picture, what I saw wasn't anything impressive, but I see it I can recall that feeling. Not something I want to forget!)