Sunday, March 29, 2015

Crossing the Ocean

My sister, posts a writing prompt every Sunday, and I try to get on and take the challenge, but I'm not always so good at it. However, her prompt from today comes from the quote, by Christopher Columbus, "You never cross the Ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." This quote really speaks to me, because many of my siblings and children have always seen me as fearless and outgoing. I have people skills, and so many times they think it is just part of my personality, and I guess part of it is because I desired at some point in my schooling to learn how to make friends. However, I was super shy through out my grade school years. I didn't start breaking out of that shy mode until Jr. High. My parents networked in Amway, and so consequently they started feeding us kids some of the positive self help books that they read. I ate them up! I think Norman Vincent Peale was one of my favorite writers that they had us read. The stories really inspired me. But I can't remember which book, maybe it was "How to Win Friends and Influence People", but there was a line in one for the books that said, "everyone is insecure about something". I pondered that a long time, and that was a changing point for me. When I realized that I wasn't alone in the 'feeling alone boat', I started looking for others that might be feeling alone, and was able to talk to those that I felt were super popular. The key was looking for things I had in common. Now that I'm older, it still isn't super easy to talk to people. There are some times that I want to hide out at home, but when I force myself to go I never find it hard to talk to others because I can find common ground with just about anyone. Life experiences have made that possible, and seeking guidance from the Savior on how to reach out to others. While it's not easy for me, I love interacting with others. It's a challenge, but it can be so rewarding. I love learning from others, as they share their ideas and experiences, and I love getting to know others from their opinions. Probably why I chose book club to start getting to know people in my community apart from church. I get to read, another love, and I get to really interact with people as we exchange ideas on a variety of subjects. So while it's not been a quick journey for me, but a talent that has developed over the years, it has been a journey. I can remember my first foray into overcoming that shyness in Junior High. I took a deep breath, and turned to the guy who had a locker next to mine, Curtis Foster, and said, "I'm so excited! today is a great day! Isn't it?"
And that was it! I made a new friend. Over the next years, he let me borrow his cool shirts, and we would talk every once and while between classes. I didn't share a lot of classes with him, but our interactions were always positive, and I think that was the key. He was the first to notice if I was upset, because that wasn't that often. I started getting involved in extracurricular activities that gave me more opportunities to talk to others. I think when it became the easiest was after I had kids, and got remarried. It's never easy to talk to others when you aren't happy. But sometimes you haven't to push through that unhappiness by looking for things that make you happy to overcome the unhappiness. For me it was dancing. I can totally get a party started on the dance floor. Nothing makes me smile more than twirling around and around in my husband's arms. And don't get me started on dips! (wiggling my eyebrows). Just wish we were spring chickens and could do lifts, but I think we will have to wait till we have resurrected bodies for that, lol. But I digress. One of my best friends took me with her to a dance for the first time while I was a young single mother. She was counting on what she believed was my natural out going personality to make it through. We walked in, and nobody was dancing, and various people were sitting in small groups at tables. She turns to me and asks, "So what do we do now?". I look at her with an incredulous face, and reply,"I don't know! I don't know anyone." She starts cracking up stating that she thought I was so outgoing. Well I don't give up, if that's what people mean by out going. So I spied the food table, and said, "let's get some food". Then I promptly looked for the smallest group of people sitting at a table and asked if we could sit there. I introduced us and the rest is history. It wasn't a big deal, but I felt like a warrior that had just fought an amazing battle and won! I feel like that every time I have to go to a large meeting of people. The self doubt never goes away, and sometimes I feel like I totally bombed my interactions, but I just dive in every time. People are important, not because of what they do, but because we are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father. It's the biggest commonality that we all share. I want to be a positive influence in this life, and so I have to keep pushing forward and forgetting that there is even a shore.
A picture of our family at one of those events that I always have to step out of my comfort zone to attend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Biggest Mistake

It's hard to admit when you've made a mistake, so it's double hard to write about. I've made plenty of mistakes in my life. Some real "doozies", you could even say. However, as I look back there is one mistake that led to many downfalls for me, and some hardships that maybe I would have avoided. Right after high school, my Mom and Dad got me a job as a nanny in San Antonio. I was excited to have a job that would allow me to go to school at the same time, but I was also nervous and scared. It was a house that was full of contention. They had a son that was my age, and he was angry that I was there. I guess because he realized that their shouldn't be a need for me because he should have been taking care of his little sister, but whatever the reason he made my life miserable there from day one. I was immature and self centered during that time, and very scared. It was the first time that I had been away from home with no family, and even though I knew this family a bit, it was still like living with strangers. I could have made a big difference. I could have been a light. Instead, I let my fears and their sons treatment of me justify me quitting and going back home. I have often wondered where I would be if I had stuck with it. If I had turned to my Savior and asked him how to make my circumstances better. The only positive that I felt that came out of that experience was my friendship with Amy, the daughter that only remembers that I spent a lot of time on the phone instead of playing with her in the evenings. I guess I thought since her parents were home that I wasn't needed. Those phone calls were between me and my now ex-husband. I wish that her memories would have been those walks home from school, or me having fun with her on her karaoke machine that she loved singing on night and day, but I can see why my shut door in the evenings as I escaped feeling insecure by talking to someone who said they wanted to marry me, and made me feel desired. If only I had put down that phone. and stopped thinking about my love life and focused on that little girl who needed me and desired my company. Maybe then I would have found the strength and gotten at least a 2 year degree. Who knows, but it haunts me to this day. I hope she forgave me a long time ago. I have always cared for her, and kept up with her, but never said, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for quitting. I'm sorry for giving up. I'm sorry for not making a big difference in your house hold when I could have.".
I am thankful though that I can take away from that experience to never quit something unless you feel that's the way the spirit is leading you. To give people your all, and not your half heart. To not let your fears and insecurities rule you. And when you feel far away from those you love, and feeling needy yourself that the Savior is there for you, and you can feel his and our Heavenly Father's love for you if you just reach out to him, and that love will fill you with comfort and peace. Pictures of my boys and I tubing with Amy just outside of San Antonio. That water was SOOO cold! I do believe by the end of the trip that my booty was numb, Amadeus and Isaac were blue, Amy lost her red hat, and I lost my favorite cover up. Ahhh the memories!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Tradition of Fall


SOME FUN FALL PICTURES OF FALL TRADITIONS

























I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Fall! I was trying to figure out why. I mean I love winter, too. It's when Christmas comes. It's a time of much giving and hot chocolate and cookies. Valentines Day is in there too with lots of fun sharing love with a little more strength on that given day to our special loved ones. Then there is the spring which is just as cool as the Fall, sometimes even cooler (I'm referring to the temperature of course and this being relative to Texas weather). The spring is also the time to celebrate the Atonement and Resurrection of our Savior. Then we have summer, lots of family togetherness as school is out and we get to go on vacation together and get projects done. Family reunions are usually held during this time, and it's the best time for one of our family favorites...swimming! So why am I very passionate about the Fall? It does have very beautiful warm colors for a warm season. I know you are saying, "now wait a minute you just said that it was cooler". True, the weather starts cooling off, which would definitely contribute to my loving the season. And after the scorching heat of August, those first couple of cold fronts lead to some wonderful bursts of activity. However, by warm season, I mean it's a time for counting blessings, for beginning to be service oriented again within the community as our wandering around trying to create vacation memories comes to an end. It could be that our family comes together for eating a yummy feast full of food saved and savored only once a year. Or that we get to dress up in fun costumes, and my birthday gets celebrated. But no, even though I love all those things there are similar things that occur during other seasons of the year, with the exception of my birthday of course, but as you get older a birthday isn't as big a deal anyways, until your really old and it's a big accomplishment to keep going year after year, lol. But I digress. What it boils down too, I believe, is a combination. It's the harvest. A time to work and prepare for the seemingly long winter months ahead. It's a time to reflect and count blessings (one of my joyful past times ;) ) It's coming together. Like in a science experiment of molecules. The heat causes molecules to scatter and move apart, but as it cools the molecules start to come together. That is Fall. We are coming together after being moved apart by the heat. We know from biblical and current prophetic teachings that the earth and its seasons move in cycles, and it is the same of the Lord's work. The earth actually symbolically teaches us about His work. I believe that we are in the Fall season. He is speedily gathering those to him that will believe in Him and do his work. It is not a time to goof off, or be nonchalant. It is time to be passionate, get moving, choose a way to use your talents to bring others to the truthfulness of His gospel. This is my Fall tradition, working hard! Whether it is to put up decorations to help others enjoy the season, inviting others to activities to help them feel connected, baking cookies or meals for those that need an uplift or a little kindness, reaching out a little more, lengthening and strengthening my stride, all these things are helping me and those around me look forward and be prepared spiritually for our Saviors coming. I am so thankful for the time we do have to prepare.
"If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).

Monday, September 22, 2014

Love letters

 


      My eldest son and I were at logger heads this past week, and knowing him and myself. I didn't want a conversation over his choices to disintegrate to a huge battle of ugly words. So I started praying. Some words of advice from another situation weeks earlier rang in my ears, "write a letter".
     I have in my possession some of the most beautiful love letters ever written (in my ever so humble opinion). Some of them are the simple, "I love you" with hearts from my children and the sweet drawings that accompany them that express what words do not. Some of them are from my husband, thanking me for things that I've done and expressing his love and gratitude for being blessed with me in his life. A recent one is a beautiful tribute penned by my step daughter for Mother's Day. I also have one given to me by a stake president many years ago expressing his admiration for my never give up attitude and the belief he had in me that I would be able to achieve my goals. Another one is from my brother, while on his mission, telling me how he looked up to me and admired me for the changes that I had made in my life, and the strength that I had as a single mother. I have some sweet ones penned from my younger sister and older sister as well. Offering me strength when I needed it. My father left all of us children with a loving letter of farewell and admonishment before he passed from this life. All of these letters have had a profound effect on me over the years, and helped me to believe in myself, strengthened me, and given me the love and courage that I've needed in the past. I occasionally still look back on them and read them gathering that love to me again and again.
     Back to my experience with my son. With those letters in mind I penned what I hope will be one of many love letters that he will cherish over the course of his life. How do I know that I was successful in listening to the spirit as I penned that letter? It is because the letter had the desired effect to draw him back to me in love. There was no accusation or anger in our ensuing conversation, but honesty, understanding, and love.
     I thank God for all of the people in my life that he has prompted to send me such encouraging, personal, and loving correspondence. And I thank God, for helping me express that love to my strong minded teenager in a way that would gather him to me instead of pushing him away. What an amazing effect written words of love can have on our lives. They give lasting power and spiritual strength to us in away that spoken word cannot, as our frail human minds have a tendency to forget. If we have any questions on that subject, we need look no further than the love letters of the scriptures of our Father in Heaven who has written to us of our divine worth and our potential lest we forget.




image found at: http://www.wozax.com/3810-cartoon-valentine-colouring-pages-printable-for-little-kids.php

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Grateful for Chocolate!

Better sugar understanding is needed for sugar-free chocolate success


I mean who isn't! You take one bite of that velvety rich bitter and sweet goodness and you know you've died and gone to heaven! But seriously, chocolate is responsible for so many blessings in my life. Well maybe not responsible, that's not a good way to put it. More like, it's been a connector. Last Christmas because everyone loves great chocolate desserts I started getting together with a friend occasionally to make yummy desserts and take them home to our families. She's not a super outgoing person, not an introvert mind you, but just not always looking for away to start a party like me, lol. Anyway, because of our mutual love for Nutella and chocolate it's given us a chance to be friends. Then we expanded to invite others and we are turning this love for chocolate into a way to cheer people up and socialize. Just hope we can keep it going with crazy in session school schedules and more people involved.
There are so many jokes about chocolate being the thing for ladies, and I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, but it's true we do love chocolate. It helps my husband and I bond when we find a kind of chocolate that we both agree is the balm. I just bought some Belgian truffles from Sams, (yes I have some left Mom. It's in bulk there remember?lol) and we, meaning me, are sharing it with everyone. This is so we don't kill our diets by over dosing. Can you believe that 4 are a serving size!?! Who made that rule? Anyways, I haven't gotten turned down yet. Chocolate helps bond people! I think I want John to do a study about that for his next science project. I think it would be a good study. I know there have been studies as to how it effects the pleasure centers of the brain, but it also is a bonding tool. Maybe because it has the same effect on so many people that it is almost a universal commonality, but whatever it is, I am grateful for God giving me taste buds to enjoy it, the gumption to invite others and bless others with that enjoyment of one of the sweets of life, and the physical fitness to work it off!
Have a sweet week everybody!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

In Battle You want to Know that You are Part of a Well Oiled Machine



  




We went to see the USS Alabama and the submarine the USS Drum. While it was super hot, being the last week of August, I truly enjoyed climbing up and down those narrow stairs and exploring each nook and cranny
and imagining life aboard a military vessel during a war. There was a mess area and a place for doing laundry. A store for clothes and a store for gum, cigarettes and other things that might be considered treats for the men aboard the vessel. There were storage lockers for the men to keep a very small amount of personal items. I loved that they had a soda shoppe area with ice cream. There was a time out area to help the men cool off if they got into a fight (my kids loved that), and a brig for the really bad apples. I mean they really thought of everything when they put this ship together! They knew they would have to boost morale and help the men stay upbeat especially when it was hot. One thing our family has learned over the course of many summer vacations is that HEAT can cause tempers to flare in a second!  But the areas that really impressed me were the battle room, the contingency area for if they were hit, and the medical area. The battle room was just as impressive as any movie depiction that I'd ever seen. I could imagine the admiral and his commanding officers in there deciding their movements. The contingency area was right across the hall and from here they could quickly communicate with the officers and other crew members if they had taken on damage and who needed to be sent to fix the problem. The medical area was stocked even with an operating room and an area to quarantine. As I thought on how this huge ship had been so well thought out and had been successful in transporting so many men into battles and back home again coping with the everyday needs and special needs of it's mission, a comparison occurred to me.

The Lord has restored His church upon the earth as it was when He, Christ, established it upon the earth during his ministry. I know many people believe that they don't need church, and as long as they keep the commandments they don't need to go. So then why did Christ bother to restore it? Why do we need it? We have families, and that is essential to Heavenly Father's plan. So why do we need church? Here are my thoughts as to why.

God and our Savior knew that families were going to be under fire. Satan knows that they are integral parts of God's plan for us. So of course, in these latter days the heat is being turned up!!! What did I say about heat? That's right, tempers flare and sometimes as individuals we need support. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is set up to help each of us stretch and grow and to develop our teaching and leading and other skills that are essential for helping us get our families back to Heavenly Father. To prove faithful. Now is it possible that some families don't need it? Yeah probably. But someone else's family needs that family's example to help them keep their family on the straight and narrow. The funny thing is that the family that doesn't need it, is the family that will never say they don't. That's because they realize that each of us are spirit children of our Heavenly Father and part of our testing in this life is to see if we will do our part to help those that haven't received the message yet. We also need those awesome bishops just like in the contingency area of the ship. They help get things repaired and people to the right person to help with healing. Even if that might be just with them or to an addiction recovery meeting or a counselor. The church is always having activities for youth and members whether single or married to boost morale and help us  to build relationships, so we can learn from each other and enjoy one another.

I am so thankful that Heavenly Father gave us such a well oiled tool of machinery to help us be a community in these latter days. I hope that as a member that I can be more than efficient in the areas that I am called to serve.  I have personally benefited from being an active member and so has my family. I know that the organization of it is inspired and that it contains the keys of the priesthood that we need to get back to Heavenly Father.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blended


My step daughter is visiting, and as I watch her play with little Will and take Jamie on scooter rides; it makes me thankful for our blended family. I love that word blend. I don't think of it in the sense of a blender that causes all sorts of chaos and noise and then turns out a lovely fruit frappe. Although I'm certain at times you could see that analogy with our family. However, when I think of blend, I think of one color moving together into another color, creating a smoothness in transition. I feel our family has just about become that. I know we have moments that it's more like the blender, like when one of the little ones invade the cooler older brothers den of sacred space and  the bear comes out bellowing. But there are so many more tender moments that have come about because we have been working at applying the eternal principles of the gospel to our family. I love that Isaac and his best friends have no problem with his 6 year old brother coming out and hanging with them in the pool. I've looked outside to see Isaac tossing the happily screaming boy in the air for a big splash. I've watched my wonderful Alicia doing experiments with the kids, to the delight of Alexis, James, and John. I've seen Amadeus spend a night in the hospital with me to help me take care of a newborn, so he didn't miss any precious time with his new sibling before leaving on his mission. I've had Gregory give piggy back rides and neck rides when the boys became tired from walking. We have all set together in family prayer and scripture study. I have loved hearing the prayers of each from oldest to youngest as they think on each other and the struggles we might be having and to pray for them. John has given me cause to kiss him as he prays for me to be able to get some sleep and the baby to be comfortable, so his teeth don't bother him, (Does that mean that I've been a bear?) . James, 4, has prayed for help to choose the right and to not hit his sister. Lexi has prayed for her brother Amadeus even though he's been out of sight for 4 months. And there have been many other sweet examples of their being prayerful for each other that just warms my heart.
 I love introducing my step daughter in church every time she comes for a visit. There is always that part of me that wants to drop the step, but I know that might cause some raised eyebrows. However, in my mind that step isn't there. When I talk to the kids I never say your step brother or sister, and you can feel that those distinctions aren't there. We accept each other as a whole. I love that Alicia thinks of Amadeus and Isaac on their birthdays. They are her brothers too. Amadeus before he left was loving the opportunity to get to know them and share his thoughts. I could sense how accepted he felt with these two older siblings and I know that it meant a lot. It's amazing to me that just 7 years ago my husband and I had two preteens in our lives to nurture and now we have eight to nurture ranging from 5 months to 31. Takes my breath away! Each one is beautiful and talented and smart and adds their own uniqueness to our emerging eternal portrait. Not that any of us are perfect, but that's where I think we truly blend, as each of us step up with our strengths to buttress up the others weakness. To give when it's needed and make so many beautiful memories painted forever on the canvas of our minds.