Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rescued From Foolish Pride

My family a few months before this story.
When Derek was Bishop, and I was pregnant with Dan, I had five other kids, and a big giant church bag.  It was a heavy bag even when it wasn't full, but usually it had quite a few things in it.  Jake was 4, and he did not like church.  I was really good at getting us all there on time, but I was not good at getting Jake to enjoy Sacrament Meeting.  Therefore, I usually spent that hour and ten minutes wrestling with Jake in the foyer until, somewhere towards the end of the meeting, we could come back in, and he would sometimes fall asleep.

Bishops are busy, and as soon as the meeting was over Derek would be surrounded by people who needed his help with various things.  He could no longer help me get the kids where they needed to go, or help carry the heavy bag.  I think in my mind I had stubbornly decided that since Derek couldn't help, I would just manage by myself.  So, my older four kids would go to class, and I would try to figure out how I was going to get a sleepy four year old, a big bag, and a big belly down the hall to class. 

Of course, people are kind, and my Mother-in-law would come over and ask me if she could help.  I always said something like, "No, I can get it".  She would head to class while I berated myself for being a fool.  How was I going to get to class without help?  I needed help!  Why had I said no?  And then, while I was thinking this, my friend Shellie would come and offer to help.  Unfortunately, even though I knew I really could use the help, I would hear myself saying, "No thanks, I can get it".  And then, after she looked at me doubtfully, and asked again, I would assure her I was fine, and then nearly cry when she left.  Even friends from other wards offered to help.  These people were all doing the right thing by offering, and I knew that they were sincere, and willing, but my pride just wouldn't allow me to admit, out loud, that I needed help.  I could get to class, but it was really, really hard, and I should have accepted help.

The really foolish thing is that I would do the exact same thing week after week.  I would go home so tired from the day and frustrated with how hard everything was.  I was even frustrated that I couldn't seem to accept help when it was offered.  And then, my children came to the rescue.  Somehow they recognized my plight, and started picking up my bag after church and announcing that they would drop it off by my class.  I never had to manage everything again, and I was, and am, so proud of these kids who, week after week, carried a heavy bag so that I would not have to, and rescued me from my foolish pride.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Knock On The Door

Random front door from Google Images
Pretty though!
When I was having such a hard time being pregnant with Dan, I used to go on walks.  I hoped that getting out of the house and moving would cheer me up, and help me have more energy.  Unfortunately, our neighborhood often seems rather deserted during the day, and sometimes this just made the feeling that I was alone worse!  I remember glancing at my friend's house as I walked by.  I was feeling quite upset, and was headed home so I could hide properly, when I had the thought come to "go and knock on the door". 

This happened on two different occasions, with two different friends who I hadn't seen in quite a while.  I was greeted by both with joy and kindness.  They invited me in, and listened to me, and were sympathetic and kind.  Not only that, but they talked to me, and made me feel like my visit was really important to them, and that they were so thankful I had come.  At this particular time I had such a hard time feeling useful, and these nice ladies helped me feel important to them.  I visited with them as often as I could after that, and this was very, very helpful to me.

I really feel like the thought to knock on their doors was a tender mercy from a loving Heavenly Father.  He knew that I needed the people behind those doors, and it is even possible that they needed me too.   They continue to be good friends whose examples of love and kindness I hope to follow if someone should ever feel prompted to knock on my door.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tender Mercies

In April 2005 Elder David A. Bednar gave a talk in the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints about tender mercies.  He said they are "the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ."

I have had many tender mercies in my life, but almost every time I think of the tender mercies I have received, I think back on a time when I was pregnant with Dan.  I think I have mentioned before that I had a hard time during that pregnancy.  I was so tired, and it hurt to walk, and it was worse to just stand, and I felt fairly useless.  Sometimes I cried uncontrollably at night without really knowing why.  On top of that I felt guilty, for stressing Derek out, and for not doing "enough"  I tried to do what needed to be done, but only felt marginally successful.  On top of all of that, and maybe the worst thing for me, was that I didn't feel like anyone knew how I was really doing.  I tried so hard to put on a good face, so that was my own fault, and really, things weren't always terrible!  But on the day of this story, I was feeling kind of alone in my suffering.

I needed to go to the store.  I didn't want to.  I was not sure I could manage walking all over the big Walmart and standing in a long line (which seemed to average 20 minutes every time I went back then!).  I got in the car and went.  As I arrived, and drove down the row I always park in so that I won't lose the car, I found that the very front parking spot was open.  That rarely happens!  I was so happy not to have to walk farther.  I went into the store, got the things I had to get, and then walked towards the front.  There, right in front of me, was an empty line with a cashier waiting just for me.  I didn't have to stand there for long at all!  Somehow I knew as I got in my car that even if nobody in the whole world understood exactly how I was doing, Heavenly Father did.  Those things that some would think of as lucky coincidences, to me were proof that Heavenly Father understood, and was taking care of me.  They were tender mercies.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dan Says...

...a lot of things in his prayers lately.  He is very thankful for many things, and his prayers are long.  The other day it was particularly long, and Derek and I peaked at each other wondering if we should stop him.  I mean, Derek had to go to work some time!  And the bus would eventually show up!  We did not stop him, and he eventually was done listing the many things he was thankful for.  I wish I could remember the list, I'm sure you would love it.

That night I was in his room having prayer with him before bed.  When he got done he said, "I didn't have so much to say tonight.  Remember when I said that nine minute prayer?  I was thankful for a lot of things!  It was a little more than nine minutes, it was almost ten minutes!"

Tuesday I wrote a Christmas song.  Dan loves it.  He told me so, and even asked me to sing it for him Friday night.  He thinks I should have my own radio station for my songs.  He was imagining me playing my song for the Primary kids.  He is sure they would not believe that I actually wrote that song.  He imitated for me what he thought they would say, "NO! That was so good!  You didn't write that?"  Yes, Dan is good at making me feel talented!

Friday night we were making up verses for my thankful song "The Things that I Like".  When we were done Dan said, "You are so funny!  My stomach hurts from laughing".  Jake was laughing too, so either I was really funny, or Dan laughing so hard was really funny (which is what I think).  Whichever it was, it made for a fun evening.

Finally, Saturday night at dinner Dan said, "Do you remember when I said that nine minute prayer?"  Ha! Ha!  He remembers!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Avoiding The Appearance of Evil

When I walked in to my first apartment at BYU I was a little shocked to find that the window sill was decorated with what appeared to be wine bottles.  They, of course, were not wine bottles;  they were bottles from non-alcoholic sparkling cider, but they looked like wine bottles and I believe wine cups sat along side of them.  The honor code at BYU, which every student agrees to keep before attending the college, has each student commit to standards of honesty, chastity, and dress.  It includes agreeing to abstain from alcoholic beverages, and other addictive substances. 

The honor code was being followed by my roommates.  Still, it is possible that somebody who knew the honor code could look at the window, and wonder.  At home I was taught that we should avoid the appearance of evil (and doing something you have promised not to do would be wrong) and so the decoration bothered me.  I do not think my roommates were bad for having decorated in that way.  They had probably celebrated something with each bottle, and it was more of a happy memory.  But eventually, we changed what was in the window.

My thought is simply this.  It is good to think about how other people might view something before we do it, and it is most important to ask ourselves if what we do will be a witness for the Lord that we are trying to serve.  If we do this, we will be able to "abstain from all appearance of evil" as the apostle Paul counseled.  (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

Getting Rid of the Scary Zombie

*This was written a few months ago and I just never posted it
**Also imagine me as a scary zombie.  I don't take pictures of myself when I feel like that!

A couple of times this week I have gone to bed early.  Maybe as much as two hours earlier than usual.  I was done with the day -- or "done in".  Derek was home, and he could take care of things, and I was really glad.

When Tia was a new baby she was lousy at sleeping.  I walked around in a constant fog of exhaustion -- at least that's how I remember it.  Luckily she made up for this behavior by becoming the most excellent napper the world has ever seen.  Before Kayli was born I lived in dread of becoming, once again, a person living in a tired, zombie like state.  Then a miracle happened.  Kayli was born and she was a most excellent sleeper from the very beginning.  She was never a world class napper like Tia, taking two two hour naps a day, but she was really very good at sleeping.

This mini story is just to point out the rather obvious fact that sleep can make a huge difference!  When I'm well rested I am a lot less likely to be scary.  I don't snap at people, cry over things, and have pity parties nearly as often if I've had adequate sleep. I really enjoy not feeling zombie like, though I have learned that it is a survivable state of being.  It is also helpful for me to remember, when I go getting all grumpy, that the solution to not acting like a scary zombie might be sleep!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When you Think Nobody Likes You -- Think Again

I have the bad habit of feeling, and believing, on hard days, that I am unlikeable.  On those days I have a hard time thinking anybody really likes me at all -- even if I know they did yesterday!  This is not logical, and does my terrific friends and family a disservice, but it happens just the same.

This is where something I learned from Sister Virginia Pearce comes in handy.  She suggested in her book Through His Eyes that when we are feeling down and discouraged, we ask ourselves, "What am I believing right now?"  Once we decide what we are believing, we should decide if it is really true.  Is it true that Heavenly Father would believe I am unlikeable?  No, but Satan would be okay with me thinking that I am!

So, one day when I was feeling down I asked myself what I was believing, and I realized that, at that moment, I was believing that nobody liked me.  When I said this aloud it made me laugh because I know better than that!  I felt better immediately.

There can be multiple reasons for how we are feeling on any given day, but it is always good to check and make sure that the things we are thinking and believing are really true -- otherwise we might spend a lot of time suffering needlessly!

*Picture from Google Images

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Trisa's Birthday

Trisa's birthday was almost an entire month ago!  She is now the same age I was when she was born.  Time just flies right by!  Here are some pictures.  We had Travis sit next to Trisa in front of everyone, but we gave him a present too.  He was a good sport, but had started to look like Santa by the end of the present opening.  My parents were there too, but I forgot to take any pictures of them!  These pictures are of dessert and presents.  Lasagna dinner was later.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Confidence From a Friend

When I was about 14 my family moved to Missouri.  When we moved there I did not feel very confident in myself.  I had buck teeth, and never thought I was very pretty, or clever, or even particularly interesting.  The very best thing about that move, for me, was that my cousin Julie lived there.  I have always thought that she was SO talented, and beautiful, and fun!  My family got to stay at their house that first summer.  It was a big cousin party all summer long.  My Aunt and Uncle have 10 kids.  Most of them still lived at home, and there were five children in my family.  Our parents were probably all miserable, but it was very fun for me!

The miracle for me was that somehow, this cousin that I admired, liked me.  I mean, we are cousins, but cousins do not have to like you.  Julie and I had so much fun together!  We used a tape recorder and made up silly characters for "The Dating Game".  We laughed and laughed and were probably generally annoying to everyone older than us, but we were having too much fun to really notice. 

I tried things with her that I would usually not have done.  I tried riding a pony bare back, and was really not very successful.  I rode horses, and got kicked by one.  I swam in lakes, avoiding drowning because I'm really good at the back float.  I even got to go on vacation with their family to Kentucky Lake once.  Julie and I went to church dances, and youth activities together.  Always we talked, and laughed, and had a lot of fun.  She was a great friend.

A few years later, after my family moved away, I realized that because my fun, beautiful, smart cousin had been my friend,  I had more confidence that I could make friends, and that I was worth making friends with.  She did not become my friend to give me confidence, or even because she thought I needed it, and that is one of the reasons why her friendship made a lasting difference to me.  She seemed to like me just like I was.

Now Julie lives far away on the other side of the country with her family.  I have not seen or talked to her in a long time, but I still admire her for the good person that she is and the good things she does.  Mostly though, I am just thankful that, long ago, she chose to be my friend.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Listening Ears

This last little while I've had moments where I have felt incredibly stressed over several things, one of which is Trisa's wedding reception (no worries Trisa!).  What if I decorate Trisa's wedding reception, and it looks stupid?  What if nobody wants to help me decorate, or they can't because it's right before Christmas?  What if I annoy someone and they wish they didn't know me?  (I'm really good at worrying). 

Thankfully, I have also been the beneficiary of good listeners; people who are sympathetic, and understanding, and encouraging.  People listening to me in the midst of their own stresses has been very helpful.  I also found it helpful to listen to them in my turn, because when it comes right down to it, I am thankful that I have my problems, and not theirs! 

When someone listens to me it helps me put things back in the proper perspective.  Trisa is a kind and easy going bride.  My friends probably aren't all going to ditch me when I need to decorate.  I might accidentally annoy someone, but hopefully not bad enough that they'll wish they didn't know me!  And the wedding is really the important part.

I am thankful for good people, who have used their listening ears on me.