Sunday, September 25, 2016

No More Arm Armor

Dan got his cast off last Wednesday.  He is happier about it than this picture suggests. He always seems to have dizzy spells after having Doctors work on him, so he spent five minutes after this picture was taken lying on the hallway floor with his head on my lap. Then he was off to school where everyone in the office was super happy to see him.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Remembering I Can Hear

Picture from Google Images
I went through a period of time fairly recently where, when problems arose, or difficult challenges came to me, or a member of my family, the thought would come that I should pray.  Unfortunately, the next thought was that I would not hear the answer.  I justified my doubt by saying that I knew Heavenly Father would answer, I just didn't believe that I would hear the answer.  When this happened I would tell myself that this was not the voice I should be listening to, but I would find myself putting off those specific prayers.

Finally I realized that I needed to trust that not only would Heavenly Father answer, but that He would help me to receive the answer.  I started praying for that trust, and praying for the guidance that I felt I so desperately needed.  Whenever I would start to feel panicky about a problem, I would pray for trust and calm.  God is faithful, and as I went through the days I started to notice that He did answer me -- a little here, and a little there.  I received inspiration, ideas, and more faith that God is near, and I do not have to deal with hard things on my own.

The answers have never been the whole solution to the problem all outlined for me, but they have always helped me to move in the right direction, and to hope and believe that eventually each problem will be solved, and each challenge conquered.  I still have moments of panic, but I am getting better at remembering to pray for trust, and to move ahead with faith that I will be able to receive those answers when I need to.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Battling for Joy and Peace

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Image from Google Images
I like to think that I am a happy person, and I am.  I love my life. However, for years I have struggled with depressed, crying days, where I hid in my house and felt unaccountably sad, and unlovable.  After trying everything I could think of on my own to feel better, I went and got help, but there are still hard days.  The good news is, the more I study, learn, and practice, the more tools I have to do battle with, and the more I am able to be the joyful, peace filled, optimistic person that I want to be.

Lack of sleep and fatigue are the enemies of joy and peace for me. Once I get too tired I seem to lose my ability to think in a positive way.  Just learning that sleep is the real problem has been a big help, but I have also been practicing changing those awful thoughts that make me feel so sad.  Thoughts create our feelings, and naps just aren't always an option.  So here are just a few of the things that I have learned that help me.

1.  Breath Prayers.  I do this with deep breathing when I start to feel stress and anxiety because it not only helps me calm down, but it helps me to remember that I am not alone.  Heavenly Father listens, and His and Jesus' love is certain.  I simply pick a scripture, and then say the words of the scripture, or a summary of it, as I breathe. My favorite right now is a variation of Proverbs 3:5-6.  I think as I breathe in, "I trust in thee Lord" and as I breathe out "And thou will direct me".
2. Exercise:  If I am feeling too down, I often have trouble getting myself to move, which doesn't help my thoughts get unstuck.  If I can get myself to, then I do one of two things.  I either do Tai Chi, which keeps my mind and body occupied without being overly taxing, or if I can make myself get a move on, I really push myself at something.  This is very effective and can even help with my headaches sometimes!  It is helpful for me to remember that it is better to do 5 minutes of something, than to do nothing at all.
3.  Talk to someone or go where the people are.  People can be distracting, and conversations can help me to feel understood, or to get my mind on something besides me.
4. Do something - anything -  productive.  Clean.  Write notes.  Make music. Do a craft. Work outside.  This keeps my mind away from negative thoughts and as a bonus I have gotten something done!
5.  Be Entertained (either by a book, a movie, or a game).  For me it is best to let myself be entertained for an hour, and then get moving before I have time to fall back into a negative thought pattern. It always feels better to me if I am as productive as possible, so I try not to choose this kind of distraction all day, or guilt might creep in.

We are all in a battle for joy and peace.  On really hard days, we may need to remember that a person who is lying wounded and immobile on the battlefield is still a part of the army, and is still important and valuable to the others who battle on from a standing position.  We do our best to help ourselves, but we also allow others to help us.  Then, as we get the help we need, and start to heal, we can join the battle more in the way we want to. We just can't give up on the battle for joy and peace.  It is worth fighting.

I liked a quote from a talk I listened to by Jessica Gemino "Yes, depression is real, but hope is real, courage is real, resilience is real".

Friday, September 2, 2016

Dan Turns 10

Dan's birthday was on Monday!  It has been ten whole years since I got to hold one of my own brand new babies.  That is sad.  But Dan's birthday was happy.  Here are some of the pictures of our very creative, energetic, and imaginative Dan the Man.  

This is his first birthday cinnamon roll of the day, eaten at snack time.
Snack time is at about 3:30 p.m. in case you haven't implemented that in your house.
We were waiting for his candle to relight, because he wanted the trick candles.
I should have read the directions!
Dan had to wait until Derek got home from work to open his presents.
That was hard, but he didn't complain -- much.
Dan likes to do different characters.  He does a terrific Police Officer Dan.
We gave him a costume.  He was surprised and pleased.
He plans to make a youtube video series with his friends.
Dan got fake mustaches for Christmas, and on his birthday list he wrote
"more fake mustaches (I'm going to need a lot)"
Police Officer Dan is supposed to have a mustache!

I had read the instruction to the candles by evening when Dan got his second birthday cinnamon roll.
He loved those candles, and he laughed and laughed as he blew them out over and over again.
The house slowly filled with smoke, but Dan's enjoyment of the candles was worth it.

Here is Dan after he opened his costume.  He was pleased.
Dan has has an enthusiasm for life that we enjoy very much - except maybe when it ends in broken bones!  You never know what is going to happen next when you have a Dan, or which character he might decide to create and be on any given day.  He has plans to be an author like his uncle Brian, and to have his books made into movies.  He certainly has a lot of interesting ideas!  I love my Dan Thomas!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dan's More Dramatic First Day of School

Dan and Jake are both awesome -- but Dan is definitely more dramatic.  Add to that the fact that Dan fell off the high bar at the elementary school playground an hour before school got out and broke his arm, and you have a day that is a bit more dramatic than Jake's.  Dan didn't really get the cast until today (See last picture).  Naturally he broke hi left arm (more his wrist), and Dan is left handed. Happy 5th grade to Dan.  I hope we are getting the drama all out of the way so we don't need to have more.

Jake's First Day of School

This is Jake on the first day of 9th grade.  He came home cheerful, and I very much enjoyed talking to him when he got home.  He had a break, did his homework while I did mine (signing all the papers), and then went to play at a friend's house.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I Stand All Amazed

Artwork by Luigi Santucci
This past fast Sunday we sang the Hymn I Stand All Amazed to help us prepare to take the Sacrament.  This has been one of my favorite hymns since my youth, and I have it memorized, including the alto part, and so it is one of those few hymns that I can sing with my eyes closed.  So, as I sang, I closed my eyes and thought of Jesus.  I tried to picture Him in my mind because this often helps me to understand things better, or to make them more real.  I pictured Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

As I viewed Jesus in the garden, the lesson I learned many years ago from Elder Maxwell came to mind.  He taught that Jesus loves us so much as individuals, that even if only one of us needed the atonement then Jesus would have done it. That means Jesus loves me so much that He would have suffered and died, just to save me.  Next I thought of all of the pain Jesus endured, and I remembered the pain I have had in my life, and how much I wanted to get away from it.  I know that Jesus did not like the pain He felt, which was much worse than any pain I have had. I imagined Him desperately wanting to run away, and then calling my face to mind, and deciding to stay.  How can I even comprehend a love as great as that?

What does Jesus ask of me?  To come to Him, to remember Him.  Why?  It is not because He has a big ego.  It is not so I will compare myself to Him and find myself lacking.  I believe it is because He never wants me to be alone, especially when things are hard.  He knows me.  He knows the good parts, and all of the dark hidden parts I don't want anyone to see.  He knew those things when He was in the Garden (as incomprehensible as that is) and He stayed.  Everything He asks of me is to help me.

I left that meeting hoping that I really would always remember Jesus and that wonderful love He has for me.

"Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me!  Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me."
words by Charles H. Gabriel