Mom Shame: Whom the Lord loveth, He maketh cry like a baby.

I paraphrased that scripture in the title a little bit.  It really says “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,” but I was just trying to make it more accurate as it relates to me.

(Deep breath.)

I’ve been drafting this post in my head for five days, and it’s still going to sting a little.  In fact, as soon as “the incident” happened, I knew I was going to have to blog about it, but that I would have to wait until I had recovered my dignity.  I don’t know why I feel so compelled to tell this story, but my best guess is that it has something to do with confessing and moving on.

I’ve been busy. There’s the regular busy:  the meals, laundry, carpool, church responsibilities, volunteering at kids’ schools, homework and chore supervision, etc.  On top of that, I have several writing projects going on, many of them with deadlines (even if they’re self-imposed). I’ve also had some lesson and teaching preparations happening on the side. I’ve been doing some behind-the-scenes research and really-small-scale activism about some social issues that have captured my attention and that I feel strongly about. It seems like I’ve had a really long ever-growing list of emails to reply to and appointments to make and stuff that just keeps taking a few minutes here and a few minutes there.  Other tasks and details added to my juggling efforts, and I started to feel a little out of balance.  You know, the nagging feeling that maybe I needed to pause and refocus, but I was too busy to do that, so I just left the thought hanging and kept on going.

Fast forward to Friday.  I was hosting a girls’ night party at my house that night, so I was engaged in must-get-the-house-clean-and-do-party-prep mode.  I got sucked into some emails and other online “business” in the morning that I kept going back to and checking on in between chores.  The boys were at school and Natalie was working on her own chore chart and then I turned on a show for her.  The phone rang and I talked to my good friend for a while.  Toward the end of our conversation, I told her I would email her a link about something we were discussing, and I headed toward the computer to log in and pull it up on the screen.  When I walked over to my desk, I saw this note taped to my keyboard.  It knocked the air out of me.

It felt like a kick in the stomach. I stumbled through a quick goodbye to my friend, hung up the phone, and carried the paper into the family room.  Natalie was sitting on the couch.  She saw the paper, and her eyes were wide waiting for my reaction.

I started to cry.

“I’m sorry, Natalie.  Do you feel like I think the computer is more important than you are?”  She nodded yes.

“Have I been a bad mom?”  Yes again.

I cried more and said I was sorry more.  She looked a little worried, but she hugged me, and she mostly seemed relieved for having voiced her grievance and been understood.  I, on the other hand, was mortified.  Here I was writing a book about motherhood, blogging about motherhood, trying to find ways to fight pornography and protect my children, and frankly, forgetting to be a good mother.  I felt it deep.  You can talk it away and rationalize, but I know it was a necessary, personal wake-up call.  It was a guilty flame that burned out a little hole inside of me, and God was giving me a chance to fill it back up again with the right stuff.

I talked to a friend.  I talked to my mom.  And when I thought I could tell the story without crying, I told Matt.  I was wrong.  We all came to the same conclusion.  I was doing good things.  I really was, but I neglected the most important things.  It was a classic case of good, better, best, and I failed.  It’s not like I had abandoned my children and all household responsibilities, but I could have done better.  I should have done better.  I like to think that God heard my silent heart-prayers about feeling out of balance and not quite knowing where to fix it, and then He sent me a lightening bolt answer.  It wasn’t a fun answer.  It was humiliating.  But it was the right answer.  It was just hard.

Natalie and I have talked about it more, and we’ve come up with a system that allows me to work on some projects, but still gives her the time and attention she needs from me.  It will take a little time for me to change some habits, remind myself often what matters most, and get things balanced again.  It’s totally worth it.  Maybe even the shame part.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” –Luke 12:34

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A few post-scripts:

1.  The girls’ night was fun!  Natalie joined in and loved it.
2.  Next weekend is the Story @ Home conference in Salt Lake, where my friend Jana is teaching this workshop: “Striking a Balance with Real life and Online: It’s unacceptable to put our families in crisis or fail and give up on our dreams, both can work.  Come learn five essential principles for following your dreams and striking a balance while keeping God and family first.”  Coincidence?  I think not.  Come join us.
3.  The book I contributed to is still at its special pre-sale price.  Here’s a link to know more and buy a copy or two.  :)

GCBC Week 22: “Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit” by Brother Matthew O. Richardson

I got to substitute teach the 5-year-olds in Primary today.  It was great.  I love to teach. I love to bear testimony.  I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I’m grateful for the Holy Ghost that makes the message more powerful than the teacher or the delivery.

The Spirit has been an important part of teaching experiences I’ve had with my children, too.  Last week, during all the carpool hours, I had great opportunities to discuss some important principles with my kids.  I could feel the Holy Ghost helping me and helping them.  It gave me the confidence to testify about things I know are true.

Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit by Brother Matthew O. Richardson, 2nd counselor General Sunday School Presidency

“While we are all teachers, we must fully realize that it is the Holy Ghost who is the real teacher and witness of all truth. Those who do not fully understand this either try to take over for the Holy Ghost and do everything themselves, politely invite the Spirit to be with them but only in a supporting role, or believe they are turning all their teaching over to the Spirit when, in truth, they are actually just “winging it.” All parents, leaders, and teachers have the responsibility to teach “by the Spirit.”2 They should not teach “in front of the Spirit” or “behind the Spirit” but “by the Spirit” so the Spirit can teach the truth unrestrained.”

What points stood out to you as you studied this talk?  Share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.

FOUR talks left.  Can you believe it??

To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.” If you want to learn more, go here, and join the discussion here each week.

Sharing

Just a couple things I wanted to pass along.

Today at 6:00 p.m (corrected!). MST, Sister Elaine Dalton will be doing a live webcast with Voices for Virtue via Facebook.  If you’d like to watch or participate by asking questions, that link gives all the info.

Montse and Jocelyn will be hosting a celebration of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  In preparation for that event, they are inviting people from all over the world to submit video clips of themselves/their families quoting snippets from the Proclamation.  Check out all the details at either one of their blog links (Click on their names above).

Also, you know that recently I shared some of my feelings about fighting pornography.  I’ve since come across a few more ways to do that, but one simple way is to go sign this petition to Congress about enforcing the laws related to the pornography industry.  It’s a quick way to make a difference.

Have a great weekend, everyone.  I know I will.  :)

The Manner of Happiness: A Lesson from the Book of Mormon

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Yesterday in Sunday School, we were studying 2 Nephi chapter 5, which describes what happened to Nephi, his family, and all those who followed him after they separated themselves from Laman, Lemuel, and their families.  This was a short time after the death of their father, Lehi, right after he had exhorted his children to listen to and follow the counsel of Nephi.  However, a few days after his death, Laman and Lemuel were again complaining against Nephi and threatening his life.  And so their family broke in half, and they started over.  This was probably not an easy time for them.  They had lost Lehi, who had guided them on this amazing journey across the wilderness, across the sea, and into a new land.  Their future probably seemed uncertain, and they must have worried for their lives and safety, especially under the threat of the angry half of the family.  I’m sure there was mourning and anxiety.  But here’s the fascinating part– in verse 27:

And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.

I attended a CES workshop once where the teacher broke down this chapter into ingredients for that happiness.  Here are some of the notes I have in the margins:

(from 2 Nephi 5)

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God, because of the anger of my brethren.

PRAYER +

5 And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me.

PERSONAL REVELATION and FLEE FROM EVIL +

6 Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.

FOLLOW THE PROPHET +

10 And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses.

OBEDIENCE +

11 And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind. (see also verse 17)

WORK +

12 And I, Nephi, had also brought the records which were engraven upon the aplates of brass; and also the bball, or ccompass, which was prepared for my father by the hand of the Lord, according to that which is written.

SCRIPTURES +

13 And it came to pass that we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land.

MARRY AND RAISE FAMILIES +

16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.

TEMPLE =

27 And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.

THE MANNER OF HAPPINESS.

The world is a complicated place, but I really think the answers are this simple.  I’m not naive enough to think that their lives were free of pain or suffering or difficult times, but these ingredients can bring us peace of mind and a steadiness of character, and the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  Just one more reason I love the Book of Mormon and know that it’s true.

GCBC Week 21: “Teachings of Jesus” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

I love Jesus Christ.  What has he done for me?  Everything.  All the goodness of His life, all the pain of His sacrifice– all for me.  And you.  All of us really.  The more sorrow and suffering I see and experience in the world around me, the more I have learned how important He is to me.  I love Elder Oak’s testimony of the Savior’s invaluable roles and contributions to our happiness and salvation.

Teachings of Jesus by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“There is no middle ground. We are followers of Jesus Christ. Our citizenship is in His Church and His gospel, and we should not use a visa to visit Babylon or act like one of its citizens. We should honor His name, keep His commandments, and ‘seek not the things of this world but seek … first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness.’”

What think you of Christ?  What are some of your thoughts and testimony after reading this talk?  Share your thoughts or insights in the comments below.

I saw this video message today and absolutely LOVED it.  It would be worth 3 minutes to watch this message and hear the testimonies of modern-day prophets and apostles about the divine nature of Jesus Christ and His power to heal us and lift our burdens.

 

As a side note, we only have FIVE talks left.  And then it’s General Conference AGAIN.  ALREADY.  Yay!  Thanks to all of you who have participated in GCBC, especially to those of you who have hung in there since the beginning.  I hope it has strengthened you to study these talks each week.

To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.” If you want to learn more, go here, and join the discussion here each week.

Remember that time I gave you a free book?

It was only a couple days ago.  You should totally remember.

Cue my infomercial voice.

Wait. There’s more!

For way less than the price of signing up one of your kids for T-ball (which might cause you hours of painful observation), you can have this amazing book, which is guaranteed to give you hours of reading pleasure:

Okay, all joking aside, I’m excited to tell you about this book.  I feel a little sheepish because I’m one of the contributors and I’ve never been super comfortable with blatant self-promotion.  (Subtle self-promotion, yes.  But “Hey! Look at me! Look at me!,” not really.)  It’s a book that gives insight into the lives, families, values and humanity of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

DeNae has compiled all the essays and contributed some of her own.  If you’ve read her stuff before, you know that there will be some laugh-out-loud humor involved.  Some of the other writers involved are Becca Wilhite, Debbie (a.k.a. Crash), Ken Craig, Kazzy, Melanie Jacobson, Jana Parkin, Annette Lyon, and more.  They do not disappoint.  I had the chance to read through a draft of the book before it went to publishing and there is a fine collection of heart-wrenching, head-nodding, and flat-out funny essays.

The book will be officially available on March 10th, but you can order it now (switch infomercial voice back on) for 30% off of regular list price.  This is a special pre-order price.  That’s right folks, for only $10.50 + shipping, you can add this treasury to your library! 

The book will be available for $15 after the release date, and I believe it will also be listed on Amazon at that point.  The discounted price ($10.50) comes for ordering early.

Now, if I were a blogging genius, I would have figured out by now how to put a link to order the book on my sidebar.  Since I am not, I’ll just direct you to DeNae’s blog page where she has a handy-dandy link to paypal.  Please don’t let the extra click deter you; go order a book (or two or more– there are deeper discounts for bulk purchases).  To recap:

Go order the book by clicking right here!

Thanks, friends.

Love and Marriage Manual: A Free Download

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I have a little present for you.

I wanted to share with you what I like to give as a wedding gift when an LDS couple gets married.  I put together this FHE manual for newlyweds, a collection of talks and articles about topics that are important for married couples to study and discuss and understand.  There are some really great talks in there!

I print it out, hole punch it and put it in a 3-ring binder.  I print out the title page (above) and write a personal note to them about how these messages can bless their marriage and have blessed mine.  I usually get one of those binders with a clear plastic pocket on the front cover, slide in the title page, and tie up the whole thing with a pretty bow.

You can download the title page by clicking on the picture of it above, and you can download the whole manual (as an 80-page .pdf file) by clicking on the table of contents below.  When you click on either one, you will probably get a dialogue box that pops up asking if you want to save the file.  When you click Save, it will download to your computer.  Then you can open it and print it.

Anyway, I think it makes a great wedding gift, but I also think it would be a great Valentine’s gift to your husband, and something that would definitely strengthen your marriage if you study it and discuss it together.  All of the talks are by prophets, apostles, general authorities, and general auxiliary leaders.  (All are cut-and-pasted from lds.org or BYU devotionals or Women’s Conference talks.)  Even now, I can still think of more talks I love that I wish I had included, so feel free to print out your favorites, hole-punch them, and add them to the binder.  I love the doctrines and principles that are taught in these talks.  I hope you will too.

“Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some married couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully. . . . . When you as husband and wife recognize the divine design in your union—when you feel deeply that God has brought you to each other—your vision will be expanded and your understanding enhanced.”– Elder Russell M. Nelson