Invigorating?

PrayerDraw1[image credit: Jenny Stevning]

Nick Galieti, who interviewed me about my book a while back (you can listen to that here), wrote me this morning to let me know that he had written an article about it in the Deseret News.

That was a fun surprise.

There were also a couple other surprises.

The title of the article was “LDS author Stephanie Dibb Sorensen invigorates motherhood with practical doctrine”. I love that he used the words motherhood and doctrine together because that’s really what I hope makes the book different. I tried hard to steer away from fluff and to just show through scripture and personal experiences how our daily mothering is really the doctrine of Jesus Christ in action. The word “invigorates” made me laugh a little because, although it’s a great word and it felt like a compliment, the idea that I “invigorate motherhood” just humors me. I spent several hours this week doing yard work. This made me feel old and sore. Ever since I got home from church today, I’ve been fantasizing about taking a nap. I fantasize about naps on most days. So I don’t consider myself a very invigorating specimen of motherhood, but I’m so glad Nick thinks I am. :)

The other surprise from the article was the discovery that I apparently speak out loud in very long run-on sentences. I should really learn to punctuate a little bit when I speak. I am a fast talker, especially when I’m nervous, but now I know that I also craft paragraph-sized sentences effortlessly.

Warning: subject change….

I’ve been blogging for a long time, and one thing I’ve learned is how thoughtful and smart my readers are. There are many times that your comments have encouraged me or helped to me to gain insight into circumstances and principles. Some of you may have read a recent post I wrote called “An open letter to two real moms.” Among lots of other run-on sentences, I whined a little about book signings and I shared a few lessons I learned from general conference, including this one:

President Packer testified of the power of mothers’ prayers. Sure that means prayers for our children, but I also think it means prayers when we need help being a parent. God will honor those prayers.

Well, this morning I got a comment on that post that is still in my moderation queue, and I’ve been thinking about it most of the day. I have a variety of ideas, but I’m not sure I know how to answer her. I decided that I’m going to open it up to you to help answer her question.

Where is the help, I need it now! I have been poring out prayers to heaven. They say we have this power as a mother to get help from heaven. Well, where is it. I need it, and have been asking for it for years.

I will allow her to remain anonymous and I will email her and let her know that many wise mothers will be sharing some thoughts with her. Be kind to her and answer as if she were your own daughter, because I think she could use a little “invigorating.” Just share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks, friends.

GCBC Week 10: “Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel” By Elder Larry Echo Hawk

Okay, we’re in the holiday season, so admittedly, we’re all dragging a little bit. I mean, I’m in charge of GCBC, and even *I* haven’t made any comments. So just stick with me for the next couple of weeks, and at least read the talks, and then come January 1st, we’ll all make a New Year’s Resolution to do some good studying, pondering, and discussing.  Deal?

This week’s talk by Elder Larry Echo Hawk was one of my favorites. His simple powerful testimony was inspiring to me.

“Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel”

By Elder Larry Echo Hawk

As a 17-year-old boy reading the Book of Mormon for the first time, I focused on Moroni’s promise: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4).

As I knelt in prayer, I received a powerful spiritual witness that the Book of Mormon is true. That witness has helped me chart my course through life.

I exhort all people to read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

What stood out to you from this talk? How about any goals or applications? Please share in the comments below some of your insights.

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

GCBC Week 25: “The Privilege of Prayer” by Elder J. Devn Cornish

[image credit]

Next to LAST talk.  Conference is coming.

You will remember this talk if I give you two hints:  fried chicken and a quarter.  See?  It was a great story that helped us learn that Heavenly Father cares about everything that we care about– even things that might seem insignificant.  I love Elder Cornish’s testimony and stories about prayer.

The Privilege of Prayer by Elder J. Devn Cornish

” When we truly believe that God rules His kingdom and that He has all power and all glory, we are recognizing that He really is in charge, that He loves us with a perfect love, and that He wants us to be happy. I have found that one of the secrets to a joyful life is to recognize that doing things the Lord’s way will make me happier than doing things my way.”

What are some of your favorite insights from this talk?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

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 then join the discussion right here each week.

GCBC Week 19: “Stand in Holy Places” by President Thomas S. Monson

Traditionally, the prophet is the final speaker during the Sunday morning session of general conference.  It’s always exciting to hear what is the message that the living prophet will teach us.  It’s funny how we sometimes expect to hear something new and exciting, but the Lord uses his mouthpiece most often to remind us to lay hold upon doctrines that have been taught many times before.  There is power in this kind of repetition, though.  I always feel like the prophet is helping us to focus on what really matters most.  He points us to the doctrines that most have the power to save us, to protect us from the current ills of society, and to prepare us for the challenges to come.  I’m so thankful for a living prophet, and I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God.

President Monson’s message explores some of the shifting values of our world, and then testifies:

“Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change.”

Stand in Holy Places by President Thomas S. Monson

” I declare to you, however, that there is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the Spirit which can come to us as we follow the Savior and keep the commandments. That Spirit cannot be present at the kinds of activities in which so much of the world participates. . . .

As a means of being in the world but not being of the world, it is necessary that we communicate with our Heavenly Father through prayer. He wants us to do so; He’ll answer our prayers.”

How have these principles, and others he taught, blessed your life?  What changes do you feel like you can make to better heed the prophet’s counsel?  Share your thoughts or insights in the comments below.

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.

Preparing Yourself for General Conference

[image credit]

Here’s the thing about General Conference that’s key:  The talks can answer your prayers and give you specific, personal direction for whatever you’re dealing with in your life.  When you open your mind and heart to the possibility of finding those answers, they are there.  Totally there.  This is where my deep love of General Conference comes from– some of my most specific, immediate answers to prayers and heart-musings have come through living prophets speaking straight to me right through my TV screen.  Those answers have come in the form of reassurances, gentle chastenings, practical ideas, reminders, and simple expressions of love.  The Holy Ghost helps me feel what the message is for me.

Here are a few disjointed thoughts and suggestions that might help you get more out of your conference experience.

  1. Pray.  A lot.  Just ramp it up a little this week.  Any time you find yourself worrying or wondering or stressing about anything in your life– no matter how small– make it a matter of prayer.  Even a quick turn-your-thoughts-upward prayer will do.  Lay that concern out for Heavenly Father and ask Him to help you find some kind of answer or direction as you listen to conference.
  2. Write those questions down.  This can help you keep them in your prayers and thoughts.  It can be a list or a collection of scrap paper.  One year I wrote individual questions on post-it notes and stuck them in my scriptures.  You might even want to keep those written questions right on your lap as you listen to the conference talks.  Keep looking at them and keep listening for related content.  Continue reading

En boca cerrada, no entran moscas.

(photo credit)

Translation: In a shut mouth, flies cannot get in.
Interpretation: Sometimes silence is the best option.

Even though my mind has been really busy, none of it has seemed very blog-worthy, and no one wants to bore others on purpose.  So here’s a brief report of the happenings around here lately:

  • Matt is on his way home right now from finishing day two of the Bar exam.  It was hard.  He feels nervous.  I gave him a hard time about “You’d better pass or I’m getting a nanny and going to Hawaii for two weeks to recover,” (because I’ve been single-parenting for so long while he’s done law school and studied for the test, and because I’m so supportive like that), but I know he really did his best and we just have to wait for fate to play itself out.  I really am proud of him, regardless of the outcome.
  • When it’s a school holiday and you are trying to keep your children under control so your husband can study, might I suggest driving an hour and a half to an indoor swimming place and letting them swim for FIVE hours?  They will be so tired that they can’t even speak on the way home and then you simply have to tuck them into bed on arrival.  Plus you get to sit in a chair and read books while you “supervise” them.  (I fully admit that I have entered a new stage of life where my children are big enough to need minimal supervision.  This would have never been possible in the last 8 years.  I acknowledge the new-found blessing, and I embrace it.)
  • I have been using MyJobChart.com for a few weeks and it has worked so well with my kids.  I just want to mention how much it warmed my heart when Grant — the child I have been butting heads with lately– spent his very first hard-earned job points on “Mom time.”  I still can’t believe it.
  • Have you ever noticed that even though you complain a lot about something and even have small-scale tantrums about it, as soon as you make it a matter of prayer, progress is made, and then you feel like an idiot for complaining so much in the first place?  Cases in point:  1.  Boo hoo, poor me, I’m new and it’s hard to make friends. –> More people than I ever imagined signed up for my girls’ night out and made me feel like a rock star, plus some little doors cracked open and I’ve felt some positive opportunities for new friendships.  2.  I’m annoyed with the school situation here. I wish I could find some better options for my boys. –> I got a phone call saying that they had both (literally) won the lottery and were accepted into a well-reputed charter school.  3.  I feel a little “underwhelmed in the kingdom.”  I miss teaching. –>  I got an invitation to substitute for an Institute class at BYU and some random emails with loose invitations for possible speaking assignments.  Common ingredient in all three “solutions”: prayer.
  • I think I might have been marked in the pre-existence as “the one who will always have library fines.” I’m just faithful at fulfilling my destiny, that’s all.
  • I am so sick of filling out medical history forms.  Shouldn’t there be some big database out there for that?  Kind of like ancestry.com, except it’s more like diseasesofyourancestors.com.  I should really market that.
  • Clark just came into the room singing about how happy he is.  When I asked him why, he replied, “Grant said he’s going to run away because he hates me.”  I’m so proud of the loving family I’ve raised. *shaking head*

See?  Sometimes silence is the best option.

In which I am not a child psychologist, but I still think I’m right about this.

I’m still going to kind of ignore my blog this month, but I’ve been learning something(s) important, and writing it down helps me to learn it all the way.  And it helps me to remember it.

1.  Children need you to listen to them in a not-freaking-out kind of way.  If this is true with small children, it must be triple true with teenagers.  Grant had his first incident with bullying this week.  I could tell something was wrong,  and I had to ask a few questions before the whole truth came out, and it still took a couple of days before the story was ready to be told.  I also learned that when the “lioness at the gate” finds out one of her cubs is getting knocked around, she doesn’t feel very docile at all.  But since lionesses wandering the halls of elementary schools swiping at naughty children with her claws and growling at unobservant teachers is kind of frowned upon, I had to take a more civil approach.  I will also rely more heavily on child-specific prayers than before.

2. Children today are much more savvy about the world –both the good and the evil– than we give them credit for, but they don’t really know what it all means.  They know stuff is out there; they see it and hear about it, but it’s hard to make sense of it all.  I think this is partially because we live in a mass-media generation and a whole spectrum of news, music, pop culture and images are hurled upon them before they can possibly know how to navigate it all.  (That just reminded me of an awesome Elder Holland quote.  I’ll dig it up at the end of the post.)  This is why point #1 is important.  They need the help of someone older and wiser to help them make sense of all the mixed messages they get from the world.  You’re the best candidate for that if you’re a listener and they know it.  I’ve also learned this week that sometimes they won’t know it unless you just tell them that you’re a listener and then prove it.

3.  This is a weird topic to bring up, and believe you me, I did not expect to have hour-long discussions with my children about it while they are this young, but anyway . . .  Did you know that all the messages out there (both in popular culture and in the teasing words that children say on the playgrounds) can confuse young children about issues like gender-identity and sexual orientation?  Remember how when we were little, it was really normal for children to go through a “cooties” stage– where girls think boys are yucky, and boys think girls are gross?  I’ve realized this week, that in the context of current social culture, it is very easy for children to become confused about what that means.  If a little boy doesn’t like girls and just likes to hang out with boys (which is TOTALLY normal at certain levels of development) he could be teased about being “gay.”   Since children are much more aware of issues like homosexuality and same-gender attraction than we were in generations past, (again I emphasize that awareness does NOT equal understanding), they may not know how to reconcile those issues with their own feelings.  Lest you jump to weird conclusions, all this stemmed from Grant being called a slur at school, not really understanding it, and not knowing if that word was a true label for him or not.  Talking about it openly and honestly helped him to get a much clearer picture of himself and his own feelings.  My point is:  Holy buckets, it’s a hard world to be a child in!  Can you even imagine all the crap (sorry, I couldn’t think of a better word) they have to try to sort through and figure out?  And at such a young age?  To not be misunderstood, this is not a battle cry for homeschooling or any kind of parenting movement other than BEING AWARE and LISTENING and ASKING QUESTIONS, and for goodness sake, PRAYING a LOT!

4.  I realize that points 1, 2 and 3 all kind of ended up being the same thing.  Whatever.

5.  Thank God for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  When I can draw upon the scriptures and the family proclamation and the teachings of living prophets to help my children navigate this crazy world they live in, I feel adequately armed.  (I am still scared, but I’m so glad I can call on divine help.) I can give them a context and framework for all they see and hear and feel.  I can share my testimony and express confidence in them.  I can say, “You can come and talk to me and your dad about anything and we will listen and we (you and us together with God’s help) will find the answers.”  I can stand in the shower and plead with Heavenly Father to help me understand their little hearts and help me to say the right things.  And He hears me and helps me.  I just realized that He’s the one who teaches me how to listen.

“In such times as we are in, whether the threats be global or local or in individual lives, I too pray for the children. Some days it seems that a sea of temptation and transgression inundates them, simply washes over them before they can successfully withstand it, before they should have to face it. And often at least some of the forces at work seem beyond our personal control.

“Well, some of them may be beyond our control, but I testify with faith in the living God that they are not beyond His. He lives, and priesthood power is at work on both sides of the veil. We are not alone, and we do not tremble as if abandoned. In doing our part, we can live the gospel and defend its principles. We can declare to others the sure Way, the saving Truth, the joyful Life. We can personally repent in any way we need to repent, and when we have done all, we can pray. In all these ways we can bless one another and especially those who need our protection the most—the children. As parents we can hold life together the way it is always held together—with love and faith, passed on to the next generation, one child at a time.”  — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland