Monday, January 29, 2018

39 Trips Around the Sun

I woke up this morning to my three year old giving me nose kisses as we were both snuggled up under the big, fuzzy blanket on my bed. He kept turning to me and saying, "Mom! Hold your nose still, I have to give you nose kisses!" Then he'd kiss my nose over and over again while telling me Happy Birthday.
He is the best cuddler and I can't think of a better way to start my birthday. Then my 11 year old came in and turned on the ceiling light, blasting bright rays of unwelcome light into my eyeballs while yelling,"HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!" Gah!! Not the best, but a close second.
Next came my 9 year old who jumped on the bed, patted my legs, and then asked me which birthday song I wanted first: "So do you want the short song, the sad song, the original song, or the Spanish song first?" I chose my order and he went through each song, singing his cute little heart out. I think my favorite was the Spanish song. He only knew two words to it and sang them over and over... Cumpleanos Feliz, Cumpleanos feliz, cumpleanos feliz....
The short song was pretty good, too. It goes like this: This is your birthday song, it's not very long. Hooray! The sad song is the same one my mom likes to sing about misery and people dying everywhere, and the original song is well, the Happy Birthday song. I loved every second of it. 
My 7 year old was downstairs wrapping my birthday present. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I think it involves hot glue and Popsicle sticks. :) My favorite!

I feel like the luckiest lady on the planet to have these four wonderful children in my life. They are the cutest, sweetest, most beautiful souls. Each one of them brings light and happiness and joy into my life. 
My sweet husband baked me a chocolate cake and has planned a little party for tonight with our kids. 
As an adult who no longer uses facebook, you don't really go out advertising that it's your birthday so I am spending most of my day just doing normal stuff. So far I dropped Malachi off at the Play center for a few hours, went to the gym, got myself a smoothie, took a shower, and now I'm writing on my blog.  I think I like it this way: just a quiet, normal, peaceful day filled with the ones you love the most.

*I had to pause my blog writing  to go pick up Malachi but I am back. However, I came back with the cutest story. Upon picking him up he told me he needed to go to "that store where the lady cuts fabric." I asked him why and he replied,"To get a pwesent for your Birfday."
I knew he didn't have any money and that I would probably be the one paying for it, but I took him anyways because I wanted to see what cute, 3 year old  idea he had in mind. 

When we walked into JoAnnes he knew exactly what he was doing. He walked right up to the rows of fabric, picked out one he wanted, and then took it to the counter to get cut. I could hear him saying,"This is the perfect color for your birfday! Your favorite color!
Picking the fabric

Waiting for the cutter
 When the worker asked how much he wanted cut he didn't really know so he looked at me for answers. I had no idea either, so I just said, "One yard, please."  
He also picked out some turquoise thread on the way to the cashier, which he said could also be for my birfday. He asked me several times not to look at my presents and I assured him I would not. If you saw me in the store you'dve seen that I was smiling non-stop the entire time. 
We finally paid for the items and started to leave the store, but not without him stopping to look at the Beanie Boos on the shelf. "Mom, will you buy me a Paw Patrol Beanie Boo? I really, really need one."
Oh man, how could I say no? Afterall, I just bought myself one yard of fabric and some thread, why not buy a special Beanie Boo present for my sweet Malachi, too! I'm not sure what I'm going to make with my one yard of polka-dot turquoise fabric, but I know I'm going to cherish it the rest of my life. 

Before I sign off I thought I would just mention that Oprah Winfrey and I share a birthday. I'm not like this huge Oprah fan, which is why I think it's funny that I try to mention the fact that we share a birthday at least once a year. 
So, since I share a birthday with Oprah Winfrey I thought I would answer that question she used to always ask her guests at the end of her talk show interviews. You know that famous Oprah question, What do you know for sure? Well, It's my turn to answer it.

1. I know for sure that I don't wear stripes. I've never liked wearing stripes. Nothing against stripes, they're just not my thing.
2. I know for sure that money does not motivate me towards creating value in the world, people do. I feel my best when I am creating value in the world by helping, influencing, or inspiring other people.
3. I know for sure that I love de-cluttering. I am constantly trying to get rid of stuff because I feel more liberated and less constrained when there is less stuff around me..less piles of papers, less clothes in my closet, less Nick knacks lying around the house, less crap on the floor, and less of anything that could consume too much of my mental energy trying to clean it or maintain it or fix it.
4. I know for sure that I love reading. My book club has been such a blessing in my life. It keeps me accountable to read at least one novel a month, even when I feel too busy.
5. I know for sure that I love being a mother more than anything in the world. The fulfillment I feel taking care of these little people is my ultimate happy place.
6.  I know for sure that the gospel is true and when you live by it's precepts you are given the opportunity to grow spiritually, beyond what you ever thought possible. 
7. I know for sure that when you follow your gut instincts you are always right.
8. I know for sure that I married the right guy, at the right time, and in the right place. I love my husband beyond what words can even describe. He has taught me what true, married love is and it's the best thing in the world.
9. I know for sure that I have a banana addiction. I can't stop at one banana and when we're completely out of bananas the world feels out of whack.
10. I know for sure that life is what you make of it. To a certain degree I believe in destiny and fate but I also believe that you have to constantly tweak it in the right direction. Every decision we make has to be conscious and thought about to achieve what we truly want in our lives.
11. I know for sure that God is watching over me every single day, guiding my path, and helping me to make the best choices in my life. 
12. I know for sure that I love boots. Winter boots, fuzzy boots, knee-high boots, church boots, snow boots, and even the boots I wear to pick up dog poop. I never wore boots growing up because...Hawaii, but I can tell you right now that boots are awesome. 
13. I know for sure that the things I consume from the world should feed my spirit with positivity, love, and light..i.e. the books I read, the music I listen to, the shows I watch, the materials I choose to study or view should be positive, uplifting, knowledgeable, and worth my while. I don't want to waste precious mind energy on stuff that is lame.
14. I know for sure that exercising my body lifts my mood and keeps me sane,  and I need to do it every day. When I  get out and jog or bike or hike up a hill or swim or dance or aerobicize or lift weights, everything else naturally falls into place.
15. I know for sure that I love the ocean. (I miss you, ocean.)
16. I know for sure that being truly honest with yourself and with others solves a lot of problems. 
17. I know for sure that I like to have fun. Sometimes I get louder, crazier, and more hyper than my boys and that's just me.
18. I know for sure that I am getting better at surviving through the winters. The snow doesn't bother me as much and I am enjoying the changing of the seasons.
19. I know for sure that I love shopping at thrift stores. I love finding interesting or useful things that have a history to them, even though I may not know what that history is, it's still fun. I also really like finding funky clothes that match my personality. 
20. I know for sure that anything you choose to do, weather it be something big and important or small and seemingly insignificant, if you do it with purpose and intention, it becomest personally fulfilling.

I guess that's it for now. If I think of anything else, I'll be back.

Tonight I'm looking forward to a little birthday party with my cute kids and husband to celebrate that I've made it, 39 years around the sun!
My silly eleven year old even wrote me a happy message on the kitchen white-board. (Yes, he really can spell)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Fifth Funeral

This past year since I've been in the Relief Society presidency I've been honored to help serve at four different funerals which were held at our church building.  I've learned over the past year that serving at a funeral is just as much a blessing for myself as for those we serve. I love the spirit of Christ that is present at these funerals. I always walk away feeling a stronger sense of connection to life beyond this world. I am reminded again that life on earth is so fragile and that family is everything.
Seeing families and friends come together to celebrate and remember their loved ones is touching and beautiful. As they walk away grieving, yet knowing they will see each other again in the next life, I am reminded how short our time is here on earth. I am reminded  that this is the time to prepare to meet God and that our focus should always be on that goal. I am grateful to get to be a part of these funerals, as small as my role may be.

As a presidency we help coordinate the luncheon which follows the services, set up the tables, decorate the cultural hall with flowers, and do anything else that they may need help with. There is always roasted ham, funeral potatoes (if you don't know what those are look them up- yum!), green salad, Jell-O salads (yes, we live in Utah), warm rolls,  and then cakes and cookies for dessert.  The food is all provided by members of our church who volunteer to make it and then drop it off before the funeral. 
The purpose of the luncheon is to provide the close family and friends a place to gather and feel closure after the burial. It's a way for them to be able to relax, eat, and finalize their day together. I think the luncheons are a beautiful service that Relief Societies provide to these families. I remember when we attended the funeral of my brother-in-law's wife, how grateful we all were to be able to sit down and eat lunch together-to not have to worry about finding food, but to be able to just enjoy each other and feel closure on the day's events. 

At times I am asked by our compassionate service leader to prepare food, though I have limited experience with Utah funerals. The first time I was asked to make funeral potatoes I followed the recipe all wrong and they never got done in time. When asked on another occasion to make a Jell-O salad I decided to play it safe and just make a fruit salad instead. It was a good thing because I found out that by "salad" they meant Jell-O mixed with cool whip and various fruits, sometimes even pretzels and nuts are involved. This is an unexplored universe I'm not quite ready to enter into.

 For one funeral I was asked to make the program. I had never done that before so it was a new experience, which I enjoyed. But for the most part I like to  help set up, serve food, and then help with clean up. I also enjoy talking with the family and friends that attend, and of course giving hugs where needed.  

The funerals this past year were mostly for folks in our ward who were were either sick or elderly.  However, today was the fifth funeral I've served at and it was for a newborn baby who passed away shortly after birth this week. 
I can honestly say I struggled with wanting to serve at this funeral today. I thought of excuses of why I should stay home and not help......  Afterall I'm not terribly close to the parents. I know them but I don't know know them.  It would be too sad. I would cry too much. I would feel awkward around the grieving family. I wouldn't be able to handle the unexplainable pain and heartache of losing a newborn baby.
Just like Jell-O salad, attending a funeral for a baby was unexplored territory. I wasn't sure if it was even my place to be there.

Well, I fulfilled my duties anyways, and along the way found out that this funeral was exactly where I was supposed to be.  It was the most amazing, most sacred, most life-changing experience. I expected it to be sad, but I didn't expect the Spirit to be SO powerful. It was almost overwhelming the way the Spirit of Christ penetrated the room, bringing peace and clarity
It was a spiritual experience that changed me in ways I hadn't expected. It was an experience that was an unexpected answer to prayers. It was an experience that strengthened my testimony of the Savior and the sacred purpose of this beautiful, short life. 
It was an experience that I needed to have and I'm so grateful and honored that I got to be there to witness the strength and testimonies of this amazing family. 

Both of the parents spoke, bearing testimony of God's love for them and their beautiful, perfect, baby boy.
They bore testimony of the after-life, that they knew their baby was in the arms of a loving Heavenly Father.
They bore testimony of eternity-that families can be together forever through the sealing powers of the temple.They promised to live a life that would make them worthy to live with their baby again in the presence of God. 
They bore testimony of the strength of the gospel and how it brings peace during the hardest of times.

I did cry at this funeral, but not because it was too sad. I cried because it was the most beautiful, spiritual, hopeful experience.
It made me think of my older sister who also died during her birth, under similar circumstances. An otherwise healthy, thriving, baby girl who passed away while my mother was in labor.
It made me think of the pain and heartache my own mother and father felt when their baby was taken away too soon, yet also how the promise of eternity was placed before them.
It made me want to live the gospel more perfectly, with all my heart and soul, for my sister.
I can feel her watching over me at times. I can feel her in the Temple. I can feel her strength and love when I'm struggling, telling me to keep going. Don't give up. Father is watching over you. I am watching over you. This life is shorter than we realize and we'll all be together soon.

Before the funeral started, there was a viewing. I didn't feel comfortable going in, especially because it was only close family and friends that were invited to attend. I wasn't sure I wanted to see the baby as I had never seen a baby that wasn't alive and I was scared at how I would react.
However, I felt drawn to peak my head in and I'll never forget what I saw: A teeny, tiny, perfect baby lying in a little casket and a picture of the Cedar City temple on the wall. Suddenly the two images were interchangeable, one and the same. The baby and the temple were two perfect, sacred, holy, representations of God's eternal plan. 

The temple binds us together forever, for eternity. Temple marriages and covenants seal us together.Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father's glorious plan.
Thank you to this family for allowing me to have this sacred experience. 
And of course thank you to my Heavenly Father for giving me the experiences I need to grow closer to Him during this short, wonderful, challenging, and beautiful life on earth. 

 "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed."    Alma 34: 32, 33

Thursday, January 25, 2018

So, I have a life coach

I recently discovered something (or should I say somebody) life-changing in my life and she is seriously rocking my world!
 It was about a year ago that an acquaintance of mine on facebook recommended listening to a life coach named Jody Moore saying that I would probably really resonate with the principles she teaches. I took a quick mental note and filed it away for another day.  
In other words, I completely forgot about that conversation until about a month ago when I was at the gym and decided to start listening to podcasts to distract me while I tortured myself   worked out on the StairMaster. Suddenly I remembered Jody Moore's Bold New Mom podcasts and I've been hooked ever since. 

I started out by listening to #116-Should you have more Babies? mostly because that's the big question I've been asking myself a lot lately. I instantly felt like I had hit a gold mine of valuable, insightful, sensible, and refreshing advice based on timeless principles that applied to so many other areas of my life as well! 
Not only did she help answer that question, but she has also helped me to clean up my thinking, make more rational daily decisions, eliminate negative self-talk, and start to pave out a clearer future path for myself. 
Since first listening to that podcast I've listened to other ones on subjects like anxiety, self-confidence, money matters, relationships, marriage, physical health, and spirituality. 

I can't say enough about how grateful I am for the work Jody is doing to connect with and help other women, mainly mothers. One of her main missions is to help mothers find joy in their journey as they learn the skills they need to manage their emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual selves. 
There are certain things and people on the Internet who miraculously find their way into my life and of whom I feel are truly inspired, and she is one of them!
 Whatever inspired her to become a life coach, well, there are thousands of people who are grateful she followed this path and whos lives are being blessed because of it! 
Another bonus for me is that she is LDS, which means she often tackles issues mothers face as members of the LDS church. She coaches members and non-members alike and her principles apply to everyone, but I find it refreshing that many of the examples she shares from her life, I can really relate to as an LDS mother. 

My only disclaimer is that, like anything you hear, not everything will apply to you. There are some things she says that I really can't relate to and frankly don't quite understand, but, I like to practice the old trick of "take what applies to you and leave the rest behind," to get the most out of my podcast sessions. 

Check out her podcasts here.  And her website here. 
Happy listening!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Relief Society Activities 2017

When I am in the planning stages of a big event or activity, I am in my element! I get so excited about getting people together and doing fun and purposeful things that sometimes I can't contain myself. :0 I'll wake up at 3 in the morning with my eyes bulging, thinking about all the things I need to do to get ready for the activity and then not be able to go to sleep until it's all written down, organized, and prioritized into checklists.
One of my fellow counselors told me that one thing she loves about me is that when I think of something to do, I then make it happen. This was such a huge compliment for me because I'm pretty sure there was a time when I was super flaky, didn't follow through when others depended on me, and bailed out on projects. I'd like to think that being dependable is one of the better skills I have acquired over the years!

Here's a short video I put together for our Relief Society sisters, recalling all the activities we had in 2017. I had such a great time planning all these activities and look forward to a great 2018!

January: none
February: Bread and yogurt making demonstrations
March: Relief Society birthday party-The theme was green. Everyone brought green foods to share and eat. I turned this interview from the Ensign into a skit. The young women sang.
April: Home organization and meal planning. 
May: Gardening lessons. Everyone went home with a tomato plant they planted.
June: Soap making. Everyone went home with soap they helped make.
July: none--Summer vacation
August: D.I fashion show and free swap meet. We had about 20 sisters model clothing they got from D.I. Everyone brought used items to swap from home. (This was my favorite!!)
September: Salad social. Everyone brought salad ingredients and we shared. We played Relief Society BINGO.
October: Days For Girls Service Activity
November: none-Temple Dedication
December none-Ward Christmas party

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

No Greater Joy

This talk below, given by Brett K. Nattress is one of my absolute favorite General Conference talks ever. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten on the treadmill at the gym or jogged up the big hill and decided to listen to this one again and again and again. It picks me up when I'm feeling blah, it inspires me to be a better mother, and it fills me with hope and love for the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The title is "No Greater Joy Than to Know that they Know," and I agree... 100%! There really is no greater joy than to know that my children have faith in and love for their Saviour Jesus Christ. I want them to know with all my heart that He is the source to look for in their lives when they need answers, that He is the way, the truth, and the light! He truly is the light of the world and will direct them on the paths they need to go. Oh how I want them to know that, all of their lives!

In this talk, Elder Nattress speaks about the struggles his own mother had with raising (6) children! He recalled how she was patient, loving, and consistent with teaching them the gospel even when they were rowdy and hard to teach. He recalled that he, personally, was a tough kid to raise because of his rambunctiousness, but his mother stayed persistent.  The perseverance of his mother is inspiring to me. It makes me want to be more diligent and more persistent in living, teaching, and being an example of what I truly believe. It's not always easy to feel like you're doing all you can do for your children, but Elder Nattress assures us that if we have faith in Christ and if we faithfully pray and read our scriptures every day, we really can't go wrong. The powers of Heaven will bless our homes and our children.

He goes on to say,
"I don’t know if anything in this world could bring more happiness and joy than to know that our children know the Savior, to know that they know “to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” That is why, as members of the Church, “we preach of Christ” and we testify of Christ (2 Nephi 25:26).
  • That is why we pray with our children every day.
  • That is why we read the scriptures with them every day.
  • That is why we teach them to serve others, so that they can hold claim upon the blessings of finding themselves as they lose themselves in the service of others (see Mark 8:35Mosiah 2:17).
As we devote ourselves to these simple patterns of discipleship, we empower our children with the love of the Savior and with divine direction and protection as they face the fierce winds of the adversary.
I just love this. I love the spiritual power we are given as parents to discern the truth and to be able to teach our children the truth. I love that we can spend this time when they are little to pray with them, read with them, and teach them the divine sources they can go for happiness. 
We had the opportunity to hear Elder Nattress at our Stake Conference last month! He traveled to our Stake building in person!
 The funny thing is, though, that I didn't make the correlation that he was the same person who gave one of my favorite conference talks  ever. I just didn't make the connection until days later. So, when he was walking around the large congregation, shaking hands, and greeting members, I simply shook his hand and smiled.  Pffffffffft. 
If I had known he was the same wonderful, spiritual giant of the Quorum of the Seventy who gave this talk, I would've not only shook his hand and smiled, but I would've blabbed on and on about how much I love this talk and how it continues to inspire me day after day and how I listen to it all the time, and how much I love his mother, and how I can relate to her goals in life (be more patient with...Jonah), and how it's my favorite talk right now ever!! (If we could turn back time....)
I am grateful, however, that I got to shake his hand. Throughout Stake Conference I could feel an amazing spirit coming from this man of God, especially concerning his love and concern for little children. I could tell he is a person who loves his family and wants the best for all families. I could feel his love for our families and his desire to see us succeed as we raise our children in the gospel.
One funny memory we'll always have from this Stake Conference is of Malachi. When Elder Nattress went to shake his little hand he wouldn't respond. After Elder Nattress's first failed attempt to shake Malachi's hand he then tried to give him a High-5.  Again Malachi just stared at him with utter refusal. Then, right as Elder Nattress was about to move on to our other kids, Malachi looked him in the eyes with total confidence and said,"No, It goes like this." He then engaged Elder Nattress in the "Up high, to the side, to the other side, down low, too slow!" hand jive. We were all laughing so hard. That's our Malachi!
If anyone has a chance to listen to, read, or watch Elder Nattress's talk today, I promise you, it won't disappoint.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Giving up the fight

When you struggle with depression like I do, sometimes you want to give up the fight. I found this out recently as now I'm scrambling to get out of a deep-ish hole I've dug for myself. It really sucks to get to this place and I want to avoid it with all my heart and soul...but sometimes I get tired: tired of fighting, tired of stretching myself beyond what I feel I can do, and tired of focusing so much on myself and all my seemingly endless needs.
 When I get really sad for no apparent reason I have this mental check-list I have to go over to help myself feel better. 
I say in my head, "Hi depressed Sally, you are depressed for no apparent reason...have you forgotten to:
 Eat wholesome meals?
 Take your medication?
 Do something social?
Get adequate sunshine/Vitamin D?
Read your scriptures or other uplifting materials?
Do something nice for yourself?
Make sure the house is de-cluttered and clean?
Get out in nature?

Sometimes I don't want to go over my check-list one bit. Sometimes I don't feel like anything will help me, anyways, nor do I want to put in the effort. Sometimes I just want to sleep in, ignore my children, stay in my pajamas all day and dwell on all the negative and horrible thoughts going on in my head. Sometimes all I want to do is cry all day. Sometimes I want to let my depression consume me and see if Heavenly father will really rescue me in my sorrows. Sometimes I want to be destructive and dishonest and let darkness overpower me. Sometimes I want to give up trying because nobody cares what happens to me anyways....

This is what giving up the fight looks like and I've been doing a lot of that lately. Except for that it's really hard on my husband and children and of course my spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being. How can I just stop and go over my (seemingly) needy, selfish, and annoying mental checklists when I'm too busy running around taking care of everyone else? So instead of fighting the good fight, I stay busy taking care of everyone else while I slowly let my depression consume me. Good plan, Sally. Good plan.

Time to dig myself out of the hole. Again.

It's really hard, this depression stuff. I try not to beat myself up about it. When I start to  judge myself and wish I was better at handling it, I try to compare myself to someone who might be struggling with diabetes or Lupus or any other physically debilitating disease. I'm sure they have good days and bad days and days when they don't want to try. I'm sure they have days where they feel inadequate beyond reason, not by anything they've done to themselves, but because the disease has a voice of it's own! That voice is always there to remind you that you are completely dependent on various treatments, check-lists, and medications to keep you put together. 

I don't want to feel like I'm bound to my illness, but I don't want to deny that it's part of me.
I don't want to give up fighting, but sometimes I do.
In Relief Society yesterday a sister made an inspired comment (our lesson was on faith) that I needed to hear. She said that when she was struggling with post-partum depression she would get on her knees and beg and plead with God to help her. Her prayers became so desperate and needy that she felt almost angry that they weren't getting answered quick enough. (I could relate immediately) Then she realized something. She realized that she didn't need to beg or plead or feel desperate because Heavenly Father was already invested in her happiness. 
I know this. I know He is with us even when we don't realize it. I know He is continually shedding light on us even when we are enveloped in darkness.
I know He stays with me, answering my prayers every single day, even when I've given up for awhile.

Happy New Year! Here's to being okay even when you're not okay but you really are. xoxox sally