Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother's Day

Okay, so I think it should be a rule that mothers shouldn't have to clean up throw up on Mother's Day. Thanks, Haley, for that one. It wouldn't have been so bad if it was because she was actually sick. But no, it was just because Britton grossed her out. Lovely.

And, I also think Mother's Day shouldn't be on a Sunday.

That's my two cents.

Mother's Day

Last year, I had to give a talk on Mother's Day in our branch in China. I thought it was such a mean thing to make me speak on a day that I should be able to rest and be praised by everyone :)
But, as I just re-read my talk, I am so glad that I got that opportunity to reflect on motherhood and what it means to me.

Here is a copy of my talk so that I can have a record of it.

I remember very clearly the moment when I became a mother. The first time I saw Britton’s face and looked into his eyes, I was flooded with the most powerful love that I had ever felt, more powerful than anything I could ever imagine. It was so amazing that I could love so intensely someone I had just met and really knew nothing about. In that instant, my life changed forever.

Being a mom is the role that I cherish most in my life. Motherhood is the most sacred role given to woman. It is described by prophets as “the highest, holiest service assumed by mankind.”

The work of mothers is very rewarding, but it can also be very challenging, scary, and overwhelming. I think every mother wonders at one time or another if they are doing things right or doing enough. It is easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed. But, luckily, we are not left alone in this work. It is Heavenly Father’s work and He is there to lead us and guide us and bless us.

In my talk today, I want to focus on 3 things that we can do as mothers that will bless our families. These things are learning who we are, learning the language of the Spirit, and prioritizing our lives.

The first thing is learning who we are. From the time we are in Primary, we learn that we are children of God. This truth is taught throughout Primary and then in more detail in Young Women as “Divine Nature” is one of the values. It is reiterated over and over again because it is so important. As mothers, it is vital that we remember who we are and what that really means. One of my favorite quotes is by Marianne Williamson. She says, “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. ... We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are 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.”

A mother who knows her divine role and nature and acts accordingly will automatically bless her family. Her children learn who they are and what that means merely through her example and presence. As children of God, we are endowed with power from on high. We each have specific talents and abilities given to us that we must discover and use to bless our families. There are many ways we can learn about who we are—through prayer, scripture study, attending the temple, patriarchal blessings and other priesthood blessings. As mothers, it is our responsibility to understand who we really are and because of that, the blessings that are available to us.

The second thing we can do to bless our families is to learn the language of the Spirit. The Spirit speaks to us individually and in different ways. It is up to us to learn how the Spirit speaks to us. To do this, we must be worthy to receive inspiration, able to recognize promptings when they come, and willing to act on those promptings. We also must be actively seeking inspiration from our Heavenly Father. Sheri Dew “Our ability to hear spiritually is linked to our willingness to work at it. President Hinckley has often said that the only way he knows to get anything done is to get on his knees and plead for help and then get on his feet and go to work. That combination of faith and hard work is the consummate curriculum for learning the language of the Spirit. The Savior taught, “Blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost” (3 Ne. 12:6; emphasis added). Hungering and thirsting translate to sheer spiritual labor. Worshiping in the temple, repenting to become increasingly pure, forgiving and seeking forgiveness, and earnest fasting and prayer all increase our receptivity to the Spirit. Spiritual work works and is the key to learning to hear the voice of the Lord.”

With practice, we can be fluent in the language of the Spirit and this is the most valuable tool a mother can have. We do not have all the answers to all the problems we will encounter in mothering. We cannot be with our children at all times, ensuring their safety from harm and evil. But, through the Spirit, we do not have to live in fear. Heavenly Father will guide us and prompt us to do things. These things will bless and maybe even save the lives of our children.

Story of the mom

Are we in tune enough with the Spirit to recognize when He is speaking to us? Are we fluent enough in His language to not doubt or question what is being said, but just to act? Our families will be blessed if we have open lines of communication with the Spirit.

The next thing mothers can do for their families is to prioritize their time. In recent General Conferences, we have been given very wise counsel on how to use our time. The talk “Good, Better, Best” comes to mind immediately when thinking about this. There are so many good things that we can use our time on, it is very important to carefully and prayerfully evaluate our habits and how we use our time to make sure we are doing the best things for our families instead of just good things. In Elder Ballard’s most recent conference address, he spoke about mothers. He said, “I am impressed by countless mothers who have learned how important it is to focus on the things that can only be done in a particular season of life. If a child lives with parents for 18 or 19 years, that span is only one-fourth of a parent’s life. And the most formative time of all, the early years in a child’s life, represents less than one-tenth of a parent’s normal life. It is crucial to focus on our children for the short time we have them with us and to seek, with the help of the Lord, to teach them all we can before they leave our homes.”

While our children are young and living with us, we need to really make them the focus of our lives. We may have to sacrifice other things for a time, but it will be worth it.

Sister Beck gave good advice to mothers. She said, “ Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all.”

In a world where we are bombarded with ideas of so many different things we should be doing as mothers, it is nice to have some advice that tells us to “do less”. Our families will be blessed as mothers start trying to do less so that the essential things in life are not left out. Elder Ballard said to mothers, “don’t overschedule yourselves or your children. We live in a world that is filled with options. If we are not careful, we will find every minute jammed with social events, classes, exercise time, book clubs, scrapbooking, Church callings, music, sports, the Internet, and our favorite TV shows…Families need unstructured time when relationships can deepen and real parenting can take place. Take time to listen, to laugh, and to play together.”

He also adds, “even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children.” It is so important for mothers to heed the advice of church leaders and put their family first on their priority list.

I know personally of the great influence mothers can have on their children because of the influence my mother has had and continues to have on me. I am so grateful for her example and the many things she has taught me and blessed me with. She has given me so many wonderful gifts in this life.

She gave me the gift of self-esteem and confidence. Because she knows undoubtedly who she is, she instilled in me a knowledge of who I am—a child of God. This gift has been priceless throughout my life.

She gave me the gift of a giving heart. My mother has always been a generous person with her time and her money. She has sacrificed a lot so that she can give to others, especially her family. There have been numerous times in my married life when her generosity has been an answer to prayers.

She gave me the gift of trust. From the earliest time I can remember, my mother has trusted me. She allowed me to make my own decisions and respected my opinions. Because of her complete trust in me, I never wanted to let her down or do anything to break that trust. Her trust in me allowed me to trust myself.

She gave me the gift of wisdom. My mother is not only one of the smartest people I know, but also one of the wisest. She thinks things through and always has insightful advice. When she talks, people listen. Whenever I have a difficult decision or situation, I find myself thinking, what would my mom do? Or what advice would she give me? And this always leads me to the correct course of action.

She gave me the gift of a calm home—a safe haven to grow up in. My mother is very slow to anger. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I have ever seen her angry. I have never seen her yell or fight or argue. There was never contention in our home. What a great blessing it was to grow up in a peaceful place.

She gave me the gift of the gospel. I learned the gospel in my home from my parents and by attending church with my parents. I am so grateful for my mom’s testimony and faithfulness.

My mother has given me so much just because of the person she is. Her presence in my life has made me who I am. In my eyes, she is perfect. She is the perfect mom for me.

I am so grateful to be able to be a mother and to be influenced by so many wonderful mothers in my life. I learn so much everyday through my calling as a mother. Being a mom has broadened my perspective on just about every principle of the gospel. It’s helped me draw nearer to my Heavenly Father and get a small glimpse of the incredible love that He has for each of His children, including me.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Haley's Birthday

Okay, so we're going way back to the beginning of March for Haley's birthday. Am I really 2 months behind in posting? Wow!

This first picture is the only one I got from her friend birthday party. There was one other little girl there too who didn't want to be in the picture. Notice how there's really only 3 friends and then Chloie and Britton. I really tried to keep it simple and easy, but it still wasn't. It was still crazy and stressful the whole time. At least Haley had a blast.

All the rest of the pictures are from the family party we had at my mom's.

With some of her presents
Her cake
On a nature walk. I just thought these pics were so cute.

With Chloie and Lizzy
I am just so in love with this little girl! She is so much fun.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A bit of randomness

It's been forever since I have blogged and the longer it goes, the more stressed out I get about going back and posting about everything. So, I'll just do it little by little. But, today will just be a random post.

The latest thing our family has been enjoying is going to Classic Skating. A couple weeks ago, Britton's school had a free family night there, so I took the kids. I was a little nervous about being there myself with two kids when none of us are very good on rollerblades. But, when I got there, it was so different than I had pictured. They also allow scooters and strollers on the rink, so it can really be a whole family affair. So, I rented a scooter for Haley and she was off! Britton is a natural on rollerblades, so it just took a little warming up and he was good. The whole night was such a blast! So much so, that this Monday we went again but this time with Jason, too. Haley brought her own scooter and the rest of us rollerbladed. By the end of the night, Britton has trying all kinds of tricks--jumps, spins, etc. I was amazed. He is so funny to watch because he's really fearless and pretty much clueless to anyone else around him so there are always some near misses of him just plowing people over. He also gets so excited about the different little games they play on the rink--the dice game, wipeout, and blackout. It's fun to see him having so much fun and getting so much energy out. I really can't believe that we had never been there before.

Doing things like that always reminds me about what good ages my kids are at right now. I think sometimes I forget that we're not toting around babies and toddlers anymore. And things are so much easier and more enjoyable. I really need to take advantage of that this summer and do tons of fun things. They are at such a fun age and they are capable of doing everything for themselves. Nice.

Jason has been really busy with work lately (which is really good) and it doesn't seem to slow down at all. We have been so blessed since he started his business that I need to sit back and express my gratitude. He's been working so hard and I'm really proud of him.

I really cannot wait for summer! I am so excited to just be able to play with my kids all day everyday. We've really missed Britton a lot this year while he's at school. Speaking of which, I am so proud of how Britton is doing in school. He's come a long way since the beginning of the year. He loves school now and is always saying how fun it is. The other day he was even laughing and joking about how nervous he was on the first few days of school. I am so glad about this because it really is hard on a mom having to send your kid somewhere for the majority of the day when you know they aren't comfortable with it.

I just finished a book called "Stick Figure" by Lori Gottlieb about a young girl's experience with anorexia. I loved it and it was a very insightful look into the mind of a struggling 11 year old. I hope I don't forget some of the things I felt from it about parenting and loving our kids exactly the way they are. And it really made me miss all of my great students from Center for Change. Oh how I loved that job.

Well, I really will go back and post all about all of my pictures because we have been doing lots of really fun things. But, I'll just end this post with something Haley said yesterday. I walked in the room and she said, "Mom, I love you. Do you know why? Because you're so nice to me when I say 'Can we make brownies?' you always say yes" And then she gave me a huge hug and a kiss. I'm glad she's so easily pleased. :)