Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Grateful for the Glass

Yesterday, I finished a wonderful book series called The Walk Series by Richard Paul Evans.

There are five books in the series, and they are written as if you are reading the diary of a man as he walks across America after losing everything in his life.

He meets a lot of interesting people on his walk and learns about forgiveness, hope, healing, love, and a lot of other things.

One young woman he meets particularly caught my attention because of one thing she said. As they walk together for a while, she explains how she has been in and out of foster care and is on her own now. She grew up in an abusive home and had a lot of challenges in her life.

Yet, as they talk and as he gets to know her, she is a very happy, hopeful person who prays in gratitude to God every night and comes up with a lot of ridiculously punny jokes. :)

The one thing she said that caught my attention was after she shares her story and Alan (the main character) says something along the lines of, "You're one of those people who sees the glass as half full, aren't you?"

She replies, "I'm just grateful for the glass."


I don't know why this line was so powerful for me, but I had never thought about the glass of water analogy in that way before. What if, instead of looking at the glass and judging it as half full or half empty, we were just grateful that there is a glass to hold our water in?

I know I'm not alone in having challenges, and for me, this year has been a bumpy road where I've been tempted to see the glass has half empty or even totally empty. After reading The Walk Series, I gained a lot of insights including the importance of gratitude.

Regardless of how much water I have in my glass, I'm grateful to have a glass to put it in. A constant in my life I can always rely on.

You may disagree with what I'll say next, but as I thought about what the glass could be in my life, I came to the conclusion, that the glass represents my relationship with God.

I believe in a God who is my Father in Heaven and who is aware of all the challenges I face. He knows when I feel sadness, fear and heartache. He also knows when I feel happiness, joy, and healing.

God is always there for me regardless of what I've done or how I feel. Just like the glass is always there regardless of how much water is in it. God listens to my prayers and no matter what else is happening in my life, He is the one constant I can turn to.

I believe that God is also there for you. You might not believe in God, and you might feel like you don't have any water left; but, remember that there is someone who loves you and who is watching out for you.

*Note: All credit goes to Richard Paul Evans for the quotes I shared from his book.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Even Jesus Got Tired

If you're a mom like me, you probably find yourself wondering where all your energy went and why you're ready for bed at 2 p.m.

Maybe you're not a mom, but you still know what I'm talking about.

You may be a dad working two jobs to provide for your family.

You may be a student staying up late to keep your grades up and complete assignments.

You may be an involved community leader working to balance volunteering, events, work and family.

Or maybe you're all of these things combined.

Whatever your situation may be, life can be tiring. Any time we do something we use up energy, and it often seems like I don't have enough energy to do all the things that I like to do.

For me, it's struggling to find enough energy and time to care for my son and husband, study the scriptures, go to the temple, exercise, socialize, run errands, clean the get the idea.

Now, I'm not blaming my circumstances for my lack of energy because I always have the choice to decide what I spend my time doing. No one is forcing me to take care of my son and husband or clean my house; I do the things I do because I choose to spend my energy in doing those things.

But sometimes, I get REALLY TIRED.

A few weeks ago, I had a day where I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and at the brink of tears.

I had the thought to read out of a book my mom got me before I had our son. Covenant Motherhood by Stephanie Dibb Sorenson. She focuses on how the roles and responsibilities we fill as mothers relate to the roles and responsibilities Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry.

What I read in that book was an answer to my prayers:

"Even Jesus Christ was weary at times. After He learned about the death of HIs beloved cousin, John the Baptist, Jesus sought solitude. 'When Jesus heard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart.' A mother of small children can understand that solitude is often hard to find. The people still 'followed him on foot out of the cities.' Jesus 'saw [the] great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them,' and He taught them and healed them. After awhile, His disciples tried to turn the crowd away, but Jesus said, 'They need not depart.' When we make the same concessions with our own children despite our weariness, the Savior will sustain us and send the Holy Ghost to consecrate our teachings for their good and for our strength."

Even Jesus Christ got tired as He went about teaching and doing good. He put others' needs before His own and served them which left His own desires for solitude and rest unmet. 

I'd never really thought of Jesus Christ getting tired, but it is comforting to me that He knows what it feels like to be tired after a long day of caring for others, working, studying, volunteering or whatever we do each day. I know that He is there to sustain and support me as I continue to follow His example of unselfish service.

I hope that this touched you in some way and gave you the courage to continue one day at a time and remember that the work you do to help others, in whatever capacity it may be, is important.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nothing is more important

Recently I've been struggling a lot with figuring out what is most important in my life and what I should focus on.

My last blog post talked about how finding true life balance isn't about doing an equal amount of everything, but it's about living in harmony with God, yourself and others. It would be nice if after writing something like that down, it instantly became a reality in my life. The thing is I'm still working out how to find that harmony. I guess it's something that will be a life-long journey.

Last weekend, I watched the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's a semi-annual gathering of all of the members of the church across the world. We get to hear messages from our prophet, apostles and other church leaders. If you want to learn more about that, click here.

Each time conference comes around, I try to pray to the Lord to give me answers to questions and struggles I have. This time I prayed to know what He wanted me to focus on in my life. What His will was for me to become a better person and to be more able to serve Him.

The answer to my prayer came from Elder Richard G. Scott's talk, "Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority." He said that our first priorities should be prayer, scripture study, family home evening and temple attendance.

Elder Richard G. Scott 
"Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority"
He said it so emphatically and sincerely, that I knew it was something he had lived in his own life. I felt confirmation from God that these were the things I needed to focus on in my life to help me achieve my divine potential.

I wanted to share a few quotes from his talk about each priority that really stuck out to me:

"Our Father in Heaven has given us tools to help us come unto Christ and exercise faith in His Atonement. When these tools become fundamental habits, they provide the easiest way to find peace in the challenges of mortality." (What a promise!)

1. Prayer

"Choose to converse with your Father in Heaven often. Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him. Tell Him everything that concerns you. He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life. Share with Him your full range of feelings and experiences."

(It hasn't always been easy for me to talk to God about the hard things in my life, but I'm trying to get better at talking with Him like I would a good friend. After all, He is the best friend I could have.)

2. Scripture Study

"Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!"

(This point really struck a chord with me. Sometimes I do give into the Satan's lie that I don't have time to study God's word. But, it helps bring me closer to God which helps me through the rest of my day, so really I don't have time to not read.)

3. Weekly Family Home Evening

"The structure of your evening is not as important as the time invested. The gospel should be taught both formally and informally. Make it a meaningful experience for each member of the family. Family home evening is a precious time to bear testimony in a safe environment; to learn teaching, planning, and organizational skills; to strengthen family bonds; to develop family traditions; to talk to each other; and more important, to have a marvelous time together!"

(Family home evening is something we've struggled with. Since our son is so young, I've felt like we really can't teach him anything. I love what Elder Scott said that the structure is not as important as the time invested.)

4. Temple Attendance

"We all know there is no more peaceful place on this earth than in the temples of God. If you don’t have a temple recommend, qualify to get one. When you have a recommend, use it often. Schedule a regular time to be in the temple. Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there."

(I love that he counseled us to pick a time and then not to let anything keep us from going to the temple. I've been wanting to go more, but it's been hard to find a regular time. I talked with my husband and we were able to find a day that we'll trade off each week, so we can take turns going.)

I've already seen blessings in my life from just one week of making these things my first priority. I feel closer to the Savior Jesus Christ and more in tune with what Heavenly Father wants me to do. I have felt the "peace in the challenges of mortality," and I know it is because I'm trying to live closer to the Lord.

I challenge each of you to make these things a priority. And, if you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you want to find a way to find more peace and direction in your life, start by praying to God and then I invite you to search out the Church's missionaries in your area or go to to learn more.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Seeking true life balance

My husband recently started practicing the martial art Aikido. It is a unique martial art in that the purpose is not to hurt your opponent but to harmonize with the energy and movement of your opponent, and then redirect that energy to protect yourself.

This Saturday my husband invited me to join in his Aikido class. It was difficult for me to get the movement down and focus on reflecting and redirecting energy instead of attacking as I'd learned in prior karate training. It all seemed counterintuitive, but with some practice, it became easier.

During a demonstration, the sensei shared something that caught my attention. He was explaining the importance of having balance so you can properly redirect your partner's energy. He said, "Balance is key. It doesn't matter how strong you are, if you're off balance, if you don't have a good position, you are going to fall."
My husband drew this for his art class last semester, and I think
it captures the meaning of true balance.
The sensei's comment caused me to think about how the balance lessons of Aikido could apply to the rest of life.

I've often felt that for my life to be balanced, I had to spend the same amount of effort and time on everything I did (working two jobs, cooking, cleaning, being a mom, taking time for myself, eating, exercising, going on dates, socializing, serving in church, reading scriptures, etc).

For me balance=total equality.

Here's the problem with that thinking. If I have to spend an equal amount of time and effort on everything, then I run out of those resources quite quickly.

For example, I've committed to work at least 10 hours a week at one of my jobs (roughly 2 hours a day). If I use the total equality mentality and do everything on my above list for 2 hours a day, that adds up to 22 hours! That leaves only 2 hours for me to sleep, and we all know that won't work.

The total equality mentality also leaves no room for flexibility. If I've already played with my son for 2 hours in the morning, and he wants to go to the park in the afternoon, well, too bad, so sad. Or if I have an unexpected work call or a friend wants to come over, it will throw my time balance out of whack.

With the total equality mentality, no matter how strong I am, I will eventually "fall over" because total equality is not really what balance is.

So what is balance?

After thinking more about the sensei's comment, I realized balance is more synonymous with harmony. Balance is not about having capability or strength to do everything you want to do or everything on your to do list.

Balance is more about keeping the different areas of your life in harmony. Connecting with some things and redirecting others to focus on what is most important.

It also helps to look at balance from a holistic perspective. I may not be able to do the laundry, finish a work project, spend time with a friend, and have personal time in the same day, but I could do all those things in a week or even a month as I connect and redirect the energy of the things I'd like to do.

If you think about a chord in a song as a one day in your life, focusing on getting harmony in one day is a good thing but only part of the picture. Our internal, personal harmony with God, ourselves, and others is the beautiful symphony that gives meaning to the daily chords. It is the foundation that gives us the firm position to direct the energy and movement of our lives.

So whether you want to think of balance as a strong position in Aikido or a holistic symphony, remember that it is not about doing everything all at once. It is about focusing on the foundational harmony of being at peace with God, yourself, and others.

"For it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength" (Mosiah 4:27).

"Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundationwhereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A simple, one-word question

This post is about a simple one-word question that has the potential to change your life. It's already changed mine. That question is, "When?"

How many of you have ever said to yourself or someone else something like, "We should go camping sometime. Let's get together with so and so someday. Want to go to Hawaii sometime? I'd love to learn to paint someday."

If you are anything like my husband and I, we have a lot of dreams and goals and things we want to do. Until recently we found ourselves expressing a lot of wishes, but not actually doing anything.

Then we discovered the power of asking the question, "When?" We had gone on a hike and ran into a friend. We talked about getting together sometime and then he said, "When?" We replied, "Maybe sometime next week?" He then said, "Well, I was thinking about tomorrow." We were slightly surprised because that is not usually how a conversation like this goes. We thought through our schedule and the next day worked, so we went and enjoyed a wonderful hike. 

That experience got us thinking about the importance of choosing a specific time to do something. It seems that our culture seems to follow the mindset that our schedules control us and that we can't choose between the activities we want to do. We decided we wanted to take more charge of choosing our schedule, and it's been great!

Our conversations changed from, "We should go camping sometime." "Yeah, that would be fun," to "We should go camping sometime," "Okay, when?" "How about next weekend?"

By asking the question, "when?" we gave ourselves the opportunity to choose a time to actually plan and do what we wanted. It's liberating to choose how we spend our time and to do things together we've been wanting to do for a while.

We went camping. My husband is starting martial arts. I'm actually writing this post. :)

An important part of this one-word question is also how you answer it. You can't answer it with "later", "sometime tomorrow" or "in a little bit." Unless you decide on a concrete time, you'll likely get distracted with other little things, and it won't happen. Instead, you could answer, "this afternoon", "after I get home from work", "when my son takes his nap", or "next weekend."

The power of the question "When?" doesn't apply only to large goals or trips. It also works for day to day tasks.

As a mom working from home, I find myself getting overwhelmed with trying to find balance and plan my day. I've found it's almost impossible to schedule my day hour by hour the way I used to in college because with a family my schedule is unpredictable. I'm not the only one involved in my day anymore. So instead of planning out what I'm going to do at exactly what time, I keep track of things I'd like to do and then ask myself when I'm going to do them as they come up.

For example, I remembered I've been wanting to write a blog post for a few weeks. I asked myself, "Well, when am I going to do it? How about now?" And voila, here I am. :)

This may seem like a simple thing, but I believe there is a lot of power in deciding when we are going to do things instead of just leaving it up to fate. We can't control everything, but we do have choices. Don't forget that. I've already noticed a difference in the amount of things I get done during the day. I waste less time on social media, and I'm not as frustrated at the end of the day because I actually did a few things.

Now, I still don't get everything done, and there are still trips and activities we haven't planned. We're still practicing, but it's making a difference. So next time you think of something fun you'd like to do or a friend you'd like to call, ask yourself "When?" and then do it.

Remember there are seven days in a week and "someday" isn't one of them. Get out there. Follow a dream. Go to Europe. Take dance lessons.

Don't let your somedays turn into nevers because you didn't think to ask a simple, one-word question.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

You don't have to do anything

You might have read the title of this post and thought I'm crazy.

"What do you mean I don't have to do anything? What about the laundry on the floor, the dishes in the sink, the project at work, the party to plan, the lesson to prepare, the tub to clean, the kids to put to bed? You mean I don't have to do any of that?"


Now before you dismiss me as a lazy lunatic, let me explain.

Our society's discourse is overrun with "have to's," "need to's," and "must's." This vocabulary has created the incorrect idea that all of the things on our to-do list, wish list or whatever you want to call it have to be completed or we're terrible.

We have to get the laundry done. We need to finish up our project at work. We must go to the grocery store.

When we have this mind set and talk to ourselves about tasks in this way, it makes anything we do seem mandatory, that we have no choice in the matter. And on top of that if we don't complete everything that we have to do, then we are failures.

I'm realizing that I'm as guilty as anyone in having this mindset. A lot of the time I feel overwhelmed by everything I have to do and then criticize myself when I don't do it all. After a recent discussion with my husband and a friend, I realize that this is not healthy perspective. More than that it is inaccurate.

I don't have to do anything. I get to choose to do anything. I am an individual with choice and control over what I do. I am not controlled by things that are on my to-do list. (Try telling yourself that each morning and see how you feel.)

Sure, it would be nice to get the laundry put away; it would be good to go to the store. But, if I don't, I'll still be here, I'll still have my wonderful husband and son, and I am still a wonderful person.

As I've tried to liberate myself the past few days from the looming, overwhelming cloud of "have to's" and "need to's", I've noticed a change in my stress and worry level. I feel a lot more control and gratitude in my life. Control because I am the one choosing what I do with my day. Gratitude because when I do get to things that would be good to do or that I hope to do, I feel grateful.

I find that this attitude is a lot better for my happiness, and I feel more liberated. I am doing a work project because I want to be creative. I take my son to the library because I chose to spend time with him. Sure some things have deadlines, and I won't do everything, but I am choosing my priorities and how I will spend my time. No one is making me do anything.

I challenge you to try redefining your mindset. (I'd love to hear how it goes). Anytime you catch yourself thinking, "Ugh, I have to clean the bathroom," or "I need to pick up the kids from soccer," replace the limiting phrase with a liberating phrase. I can...I choose...I hope...It would be good if...I'd like to...

Try it right now with the next thing you plan to do after reading this post. Isn't it liberating? :)

You are an individual who has the capability to choose and create your life's path. It might sound cheesy, but it's true. You have roles and responsibilities, but you get to choose how you will fulfill them.

You don't have to do anything, but you can choose to do whatever you want.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

To be a mom

Today is my first official Mother's Day. Last year my kiddo was growing inside me and now he's out and it's been wonderful to feel the true joy of being a mom. These are thoughts I've had running through my mind today. It's not exactly poetic, but I hope it expresses how blessed I feel to be a mom. And I know I also wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my wonderful mother who exemplified motherhood and womanhood as a disciple of Christ. I'm so grateful for her.

To be a mom is a wonderful thing, filled with joy and happiness.
But not every day is happy and fun.
To be a mom is also tiring, emotional and hard. 

To be a mom is to have good days and bad days. 
Sometimes you shower, sometimes you're in pajamas 'til five.

To be a mom is sometimes to have a clean house and kids in bed by eight.
Other times it means not getting the laundry done or toys put away
Because time was spent wiping runny noses and drying tears.

To be a mom is not for the faint of heart.
To be a mom is to also be a therapist, a taxi driver, a chef, a doctor.

To be a mom is not to be perfect,
but to realize that despite imperfections we can make a difference. 
We can be the difference. 

To be a mom is challenging but worth it. 
It's not easy staying up all night with a sick baby to then continue through the next day.

To be a mom is to watch children learn, grow and discover. 
Sometimes it means letting them learn the hard way, and our heart breaks with theirs.

But God provides a refuge for moms for the hard days when we doubt.
He watches over us, strengthens us and helps us do what we cannot.
To be a mom is a divine partnership with Him, and He never fails on His promises.

To be a mom provides a glimpse of heaven, a glimpse of God's love. 
To be a mom is to have the most profound influence in the life of an individual. 

To be a mom is to be an angel, to be a nurturer, to be a friend. 
To be a mom is to find divinity in yourself, to grow into the woman you're destined to become.

Through the ups and downs, through the laughter and tears,
to be a mom is not easy, but it's fulfilling.
It's not always glamorous, but it makes me beautiful. 

How grateful I am God gave me the chance to be a mom.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Don't forget to laugh

It's been a while since I've blogged, and I had an experience I felt to share.

Tonight I was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated as a mom. My son was screaming, and I could not figure out what was wrong. I had fed him, changed his diaper, etc. I was also trying to get work projects done, so it was hard to balance his needs as well.

Sometimes being a mom is a lot of guesswork, and I had done a lot of guessing as to what my son needed. When I reached the point where I was too frazzled to think clearly, I finally put him to bed, so I could have a moment of peace to collect myself and then try again.

Turns out going to bed is what he needed all along. :P

So after cleaning up dinner, I pulled out my computer to start on some work projects. I saw this in my Facebook feed, and it was a perfect outlet for me to laugh at myself and the sometimes hectic lifestyle of being a mom.

It puts it in the extreme, but I love the conversation between the mom and dad.

Dad: "You're job..."
Mom: " hard. I know."
Dad: "...important. That's what I was going to say."

Being a mom really is important. It is the most important job in the world. Name one other job where you can have such a personal impact on an individual.

Even though it's hard, I wouldn't change being a mom for anything in the world. And in those hard moments, I need to remember to smile, put things into perspective, and laugh at myself. And besides, I have a lot more of the fun moments like this that make it all worth it.

So to my fellow moms...Remember to laugh. Remember to love. Remember you are loved. And remember you are wonderful.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spatulas and pencils

A laptop charger. A spatula. A pencil. What do these things have in common?

They capture my 8-month old's attention for hours.

Ever since our son figured out how to army crawl, he has been exploring everything. At the beginning he would crawl toward something new, look at for a minute and then move on to the next new thing. He loved to explore.

Now he is in the investigative stage. He'll grab a spatula or a spoon and stare at it intently, turn it over, put it in his mouth and try to figure out how it works. As a mom I find it funny how enthralled he is with such simple things.

Children have such an amazing sense of wonder. They are always asking seemingly trivial questions: "Why is there glass in the window?", "Why is the sun yellow and not purple?", "How did that get there?"

We might get annoyed with the questions, but wondering is how children learn. They wonder about everything and wonder in everything. They take time to notice the world around them and then take the time investigate and learn.

I am amazed with the small details my son notices, and what he wants to explore (such as a piece of carpet fluff or an escaped cheerio). He notices the small things, and I've thought how different my life would be if I took a page out of his book and noticed more details in the world around me.

God has created such a beautiful world for us to live in, and we should take the time to wonder in awe at His glory and power. He created this beautiful world so we could see a small daffodil or the deep green of a towering evergreen and remember Him.

We often get busy as adults and forget our childhood sense of wonder. Sometimes it might seem painful to unplug from technology, social media, work, or whatever it is in order to take time to wonder. But imagine how much you could learn if you took even 5 minutes everyday to wonder about something.

Do something today to rediscover your sense of wonder. Go on an adventure. Climb a mountain. Sit outside and do nothing but enjoy the sun. Put away technology and just listen. Paint a picture. Dance in the rain. Foster a sense of wonder in others and do it yourself.

I wonder...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A little bit of light

So a while ago my husband and I were watching the Winter Olympics (yeah, a while ago) and suddenly GRROAAAN...POP! The power goes out. It was instantly dark, and my silly brain starts reminding me of every scary movie I've seen and I begin imagining all the worst-case scenarios. (ridiculous, I know) Luckily, I have a wonderfully level-headed husband who kept my thinking rational.

We went outside to see if we could figure out what the groan/pop noise was and to see if other people on our street had power. We also racked our minds as to where/if we had flashlights. We found one small and very dim flashlight and our vanilla cinnamon candle. (Yay for being prepared...haha) It's a good thing we live with my grandparents or those would have been our only light sources. We couldn't remember where they kept their flashlights, but we did find more candles. 

Not very bright, but even a little light makes a difference.
We live in a more elderly neighborhood, and my husband felt he needed to go around to make sure everyone was okay. He helped one neighbor turn off a fire alarm that was going off (don't worry, no fire), and we found out that the power outage was due to one of the transformers at the nearby power plant going out. Our neighbors said we were supposed to get power back in a few hours.

While my husband was gone, I took sometime to write in my journal and reflect on this experience. I realized how utterly unprepared we were. A dim flashlight and a scented candle...yikes...

I thought I'd share a few of my thoughts from my journal.

"It's weird that when I turn the lights out myself it doesn't matter, but when and outside force does so, I instantly felt scared and not in full control...this is a blessing in a way because it's teaching me to not fear even in dark times."

"Even though it's small, the candle whose light I'm using overpowers the darkness, and my eyes are making the other necessary adjustments, so I can see. Even when times seem dark, if there's a little light we need to hold onto it and make adjustments in our perspective to let more light in."

"I don't need to fear or feel out of control because the Lord is in control, not in a way that restricts my choices, but in a way that assures us we will be blessed if we faithfully keep our covenants and rely on Him. He is that light we can hold to when it's dark."

"I'll be more grateful for electricity when it's back. And I know that after my trials I'll have a greater understanding of God's love for me and I'll be a better person."

I enjoyed having the time to think and ponder. It didn't take too long, but I was able to learn a lot. I think God was trying to tell me to slow down, turn off distractions and listen to Him. I definitely want to be more prepared for emergency situations, but I also want to be more prepared to listen to God when He wants to talk to me. It's funny, but as I wrote in my journal...

"Sometimes it takes something as dramatic as a power outage to get a lightbulb to come on. :)"

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Just a little hug

My son is not a snuggler. Sad, I know.

Gone are his newborn days when he would fall asleep on my chest, head nestled under my neck. Now any time I try to hold him close for too long he pushes back and turns around so he can see everything around him.

I miss those precious moments I had to hold him close, soak in his newborn smell and nurture our mother-son bond.
 But, I'm also glad that my son isn't needy. I'm glad he knows we are here to take care of him, but he doesn't need us to hold him 24/7. I'm glad he has a sense of adventure and wonder. He wants to learn about the world around him and be independent.

I hope my son knows that no matter what his dad and I are always here to help him. But we'll also let him out of our arms to explore, fall, bump, cry, etc., so he can learn and grow to reach his potential.

Despite his non-snuggling nature, my son has recently started to give me hugs. Occasionally when I pick him up he rests his head on my shoulder as if to say, "Thanks mom. I love you." I squeeze him back and say, "Thanks buddy. I love you too."

They are small moments, but I cherish them all the same.

As I thought about this new sign of affection, I thought about our Father in Heaven.

I know there are times when I feel that I'm alone, like I'm out of my Father's arms trying to make it through life. But just like I'm helping my son by letting him be independent so he can reach his potential, God is helping me learn and grow by letting me make choices, make mistakes and become better.

Sometimes it hurts when we have to learn things on our own. But those lessons are the ones we remember most. God is always keeping a watchful eye over us, so He can help us when we turn to Him. When we're feeling lost and weary, afraid and hopeless, He gives us a little hug to remind us He is there.

His hugs come from the service of a neighbor, the smile of a stranger, the beauty of a sunset, the majesty of the mountains. Whatever touches your hear and reminds you of Him. That's His little hug for you. That's the moment He's inviting you to cherish and remember Him.

"My child, I love you."

He'll let you keep learning. He'll let you keep working through your challenges, but He'll always be there for you with a little hug along the way.

Photo credit:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Believe you are wonderful

Have you ever experienced the following situation?

Someone pays you a compliment such as, "You look great today", "You are a valuable asset to our company", "You are a great mom" or "You are such a kind person."

Out of your mouth comes a gracious reply such as "Thank you", "Oh, you're so nice" or "Haha thanks."

But in your mind you're thinking..."Haha, yeah right. If they only knew what I know about myself" or "Could they really be talking about me?"

I've had a few of these moments this week. When someone has paid me a compliment, I initially believe them and am sincerely grateful, but then the doubts enter in.

"What, me wise?" "You think I'm pretty? I haven't showered in two days and my hair is greasy."

Tonight I had an experience that sparked the idea for this post. My grandma passed on a compliment from a friend of hers who I met just a few days ago.

Her friend said, referring to me, "Before she opened her mouth to say a word, I knew she was a wonderful person."

I felt grateful she would say that about me, but I didn't really believe it. Let me tell ya, I sure don't feel wonderful right now. I'm tired, stressed, overwhelmed, messy hair, messy house...yeah, not feeling super positive.

As I started to have these negative thoughts, I had an important realization. These thoughts were not coming from God. They were coming from someone who wants me to be miserable, someone who wants me to feel worthless so I'll doubt myself and turn away from God.

Satan wants me to think I'm worthless because he knows how much worth I have. He wants me to stop trying because he knows how much I can accomplish. He wants me to reject God because he doesn't want me on God's team. So I decided I'm going to do better at believing in myself and believing the positive things people say about me.

Sure, we are our own harshest critics, but we can also be our own biggest cheerleaders. So cheer away! Tell yourself you are wonderful. Believe the compliments when they come. Kick out the negative thoughts and doubts. When someone pays you a compliment, it is God's way of telling you He loves you and reminding you He's there. Sometimes we don't hear His quiet whisperings in our heart, so He uses the voice of another to send His love:

"I made you. I believe in you. I love you."

Believe you are wonderful. Believe you are capable. Believe you are incredible. Believe you are [insert every positive adjective here]. :)

Marianne Williamson beautifully states:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

Belief has power. So believe you are wonderful, and help others do the same. :)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Baby meets dog

Our son had his first encounter with my husband's family dog two weeks ago. Until now, Roxie has been outside whenever we were over because our son was so young. Here's a picture from the encounter.

We also took a video, but I can't get it to upload after multiple tries. Our son was pretty excited and liked touching Roxie's fur. He pulled it at one point. Oops! 

Roxie liked his binki and knocked it out once and almost twice. :) At one point it sounded like our son was talking to Roxie. It will be fun to see him interact with her and other animals more as he grows up. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Taking pictures with my heart

I'm definitely one of those moms who LOVES taking pictures of my baby! :) Whenever he starts doing something cute, my instinctive reaction is to grab the camera.

Cameras are great to capture moments like these. :) 

However, what usually happens (I'm sure I'm not alone in this) is as soon as my kiddo see the camera he stops whatever he was doing and starts trying to reach for the camera. What is it with babies and black, shiny things? ;)

An article I read recently got me thinking about WHY I take so many pictures of my son and if I really need to take as many as I do.

I had a few moments this week where our son has done something adorable, and I wanted to take a picture, but I realized that me getting up to get the camera and leaving his side interrupts the memory we were creating. When he's smiling at me and babbling away, he doesn't want me to leave to get a camera. He wants me to stay. He wants me to listen. He wants me to be there and share in a special moment that he saved just for me.

Those moments he saves just for me are one of the most fulfilling joys of being a mom, and I don't want to miss any.

So now when those moments come, I'm going to leave the camera on the shelf and start taking pictures with my heart.

The memories and pictures I have in my heart will be with me for a long time (considering I don't get amnesia anytime soon). When our son is a rambunctious toddler or an ambitious teenager, I can pull out my heart's photo album and remember his cute baby smiles and the cherished moments we shared looking into each other's eyes. Mother and son. Together.

I'll still take plenty pictures of my son as he grows, so we can preserve his cute chubby cheeks, record his milestones and share with others. But in a world so focused on connecting through digital means and sharing everything with everyone, we often forget to connect with others heart-to-heart and share a special moment with the people who are making it special.

So take pictures of your life with your camera, but don't be afraid to put the camera, tablet or smartphone away and capture the memory with your heart. Chances are, those pictures will be the ones you cherish most. :)

Capturing a moment is good, but living it is even better.

*If you're interested in reading the article that started my thoughts, click here. It's from Relevant Magazine "5 questions to ask before posting to social media."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Solid food adventures

So we started our son on solid foods about a month ago. He's been having a lot of fun exploring new tastes and textures. I think it would be interesting if we could remember what it was like when we tasted food for the first time. Sometimes I wish I knew what he was thinking, but these pictures do a pretty good job of showing his thoughts...

Rice cereal was a success. He wasn't sure about the texture at first, but he likes it now.
We tried carrots next (a homemade puree), and I think these pictures
explain his feelings pretty well.
"Bleck! What are you putting in my mouth!?!" 
"Ewww!" (Shaking his head no-hence the blur)
So yeah...he didn't like carrots.

We tried mashed avacado, and he liked that.
Sometimes he also just likes eating his foot. :)
After about a month of cereal and pureed foods, we decided to let him explore some non-pureed foods.

He really likes bananas.

So it's been one of the fun, messy adventures of parenting. It's exciting to see him explore and try new things, and the faces he makes are priceless! :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

My New Year's K.I.S.

Below is the traditional New Year's kiss. :)

Don't worry, this post is not about that kind of kiss. (Although I did get one of those too.) :) This is a post about my approach to New Year's resolutions for 2014.

K.I.S.S. is a common acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. Figuring out my goals was becoming really overwhelming. My list of "things I can do better" started to get long: spend focused time with my hubby, keep the house clean, fold the laundry the same day it comes out of the dryer, spend more purposeful time with my son, exercise more, get more sleep, organize our closet...yeah, you get the idea.

With my mind circling and wondering how I would do everything I wanted to without going insane, I remembered the beauty of simplicity, and altered the common abbreviation to K.I.S. (I spelled it with one "S" instead of two because I didn't want to call myself stupid all year whenever I remind myself about my goals.) Being positive has power too! :)

So I narrowed my goals down to four areas (1) intellectual, (2) physical, (3) spiritual and (4) social. This idea actually came from my husband who shared a scripture with me a few months ago. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52). For me, Jesus Christ is the prime example of how I want to live my life. I figure the best way to improve is to try to grow in the same areas as He did. 

So here are my goals for this year:

Intellectual-Read at least two books a month
Now that I'm not in school, I can read whatever I want. Yay! I want to read at least one fiction and one nonfiction book to expand my knowledge and imagination. I'd love recommendations if you have some!

Physical-Exercise 3x a week for 30 minutes 
It's small, but I'm working back to exercise after having a baby. I think I can do at least this much. :)

Spiritual-Go to the temple with my husband and on my own once a month
Being a member of the LDS Church is a huge part of my life. As I said in my first post, God is my anchor during life's adventures. It is hard for me to rely on Him if I do not have a strong relationship with Him. The temple is a place I feel close to Him, so I want to make an effort to go more often. If you don't know what a temple is, click here.

Social-Get together with friends once a month 
This may sound like a weird goal, but I spend most of my time at home now with our son (which I love), but I also want to spend time with creating meaningful friendships. I'm discovering I can only babble with a baby for so long before I need some adult conversation. :)

These are my goals. Short. Simple. Possible. Of course there are always other things I'd like to do or do better, but I wanted to keep it simple this year. These are things I'm going to work on all year, and as new adventures come up, I'll continue to make positive changes. 

If you're feeling overwhelmed with your New Year's resolutions, K.I.S. your worries goodbye and try to simplify. Remember it doesn't take a lot to make a change, you just have to start somewhere and keep moving. :)

"By small and SIMPLE things are GREAT things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6)

Baby's first Christmas: Part 2

So here's part two of our wonderful Christmas! 

After a busy Christmas morning with my family, we headed over to my in-laws' house so we could talk with my husband's sister who is serving an LDS mission in Honduras. It took a while to get Skype going, but we were able to do video chat.

While we were waiting for the video to work, my husband thought it would be fun to a chat conversation on behalf of our son. :)

Meeting his aunt for the first time. :)

We also took time to give and receive presents with my husband's family. Our son started to get the idea of ripping the wrapping paper. :)

Our kiddo got a board book of "You are Special" by Max Lucado

We got a great family gift of a camping stove that we are excited to put to use this summer. Camping is something my husband and his family LOVE, but we haven't been able to do it yet. My husband's gone on a few campouts with the scouts and with his buddies (The Manly Man Excursion). I'm excited to do it with him this summer. 

We had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. Christmas has so much more meaning as a parent. When we were wrapping our son's gift I got really excited. I can't wait to play Santa! Next year when kiddo's a little older it will be fun to see him experience and understand the magic of Christmas. :)

Among all the visits, presents and adventures we made sure to take time to reflect on the Savior and His life. He is the greatest gift the world has ever known. We know He lives and is watching over us. Merry Christmas!