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.

Why I can’t blog for FlyLady (or myself) and other excuses

We went camping this last weekend at Canyonlands National Park and also visited Arches National Park. I had never been to either one before and they were really cool to see. You may have already known that there is an average rainfall of only about 9 inches a year in that desert region, but what you probably didn’t know is that the entire 9 inches would fall during the two nights in October that my family chose to camp there. Yah, we didn’t know that either. Weird. By the way, little pop-up trailers/campers really do a good job of keeping you dry despite torrential rainfall. I slept horribly though, because I always think that every little noise is the footsteps of Jack the Ripper trying to break into our trailer and put our family on that Nancy Grace show. Besides that, I saw that episode of Man vs. Wild where Bear Gryllis taught that you should not camp in the desert during rainfall because flash floods can carry your tent away and toss you off a cliff. Believe me, I relived that episode over and over in my mind all night. Plus Natalie got cold and climbed in my sleeping bag with me. Both nights. You can imagine the peaceful slumber that followed all these factors. Despite my dramatic account of the accommodations, we really did have a nice trip and I’m still a fan of camping.

[Pretend I have a camera and that I just inserted beautiful landscapes and happy-family photos here.]

The post-camping aftermath, however, is always a slow and painful recovery. My hallway was full of dirty clothes, half-empty coolers, soggy bedding, and the DVDs and other items collected from the floor of the car. And when you didn’t sleep so great the whole weekend, you’d rather be washed off a cliff by a flash flood than have to face that big mess of work. So for the last few days I’ve been wandering my house like a zombie looking at piles and rooms that really need to be cleaned and wishing I lived in a parallel universe. One with a big, comfy bed and self-cleaning children and houses. I tried to make a joke to myself when I walked through the kitchen the other day: “Hey, I wonder why Martha Stewart or the FlyLady haven’t contacted you to do some guest posts on their blogs?” See, I’m even snarky to myself, except I didn’t even really think I was that funny.

Other than getting my GCBC post up late Sunday night, I haven’t mustered up a blog post since then, and let’s face it, this one here is just mostly an excuse for not writing one. I had an argument with a loved one and my feelings got hurt, and I decided I needed to write a letter to express my feelings in the right way. I like to write things down instead of having confrontations. I can choose my words carefully and say everything I really want to say without being interrupted. The process also helps me give words and meaning to my feelings, making them more tangible and more memorable. So while I usually walk around drafting blog posts in my head, I’ve spent the last few tired days drafting this letter in my head instead. And I still haven’t written it because it’s hard, but I will.

I also spent several hours today at the Children’s Hospital with Natalie.  I now know more about bladder health and bladder dysfunction than I know about my own husband.  Here’s hoping our plan of action leads to improvements.

On a lighter note, can I say how much I love that I can write a blog post called “Stuff you should do for me” and all you wonderful reader-people-friends just pop in and give me the greatest advice and ideas, or commiseration, or whatever else it is I need? So thank you. I’m on the cusp of solving my photography issue, but I’m thinking I should set up some rotating schedule or something for all you nice folks who offered to step in and do it yourself. That would be awesome. I could have monthly photo shoots, and all those “My enchanted family” portrait collectors would be so jealous because I’d have like an album-cover wall-of-fame up in my living room with glamour shots of my family in a plethora of exotic settings and matching outfits. So, yah, watch for that sign-up sheet to come around soon. (Not really, I’m joking, unless of course you really did want to take photos of our family because that’s just the funnest way you can think of to spend your time, then by all means, let’s talk.)  I may never need to buy a camera after all.

I NEED MORE CONFERENCE TALK AND PHOTO CONTEST SUBMISSIONS. I do have some, but I know there’s more talent lurking out there. You have until Sunday. Go here for more about the conference talk thing and here (see #4) for instructions about the motherhood photo contest. Email your submissions to dd.stephanie[at]gmail.com — you understand that instead of actually writing [at], you actually use the little @ symbol, right?

In case this post has sounded depressing or desperate, I wanted to share some of this cool devotional I studied this morning. I scanned a list of recent titles looking for something that might strike a chord with me, and this talk called “Avoiding Spiritual Drift” stood out to me. It was given by a chemistry professor, but give it a chance despite all the sciency analogy talk at the beginning. I really liked what he had to say. Here’s a glimpse:

“I think that one of the most insidious, yet most common, standards that we use is comparison with the lives of those around us. This corrupt standard expresses itself in a variety of ways. [He shares some cool examples from his own life] . . . I need to draw an important distinction at this point between using others as measuring sticks for our own progress and turning to the examples that others set for inspiration. We can find motivation and inspiration in the accomplishments and gifts of others without making the kind of comparisons that lead to pride or depression. . . . The pitfalls […] don’t lie in recognizing strengths or deficiencies in those around us, but in using those observations as measures of our own value.”

Okay, I’m done now.  Really.  I’m not going to write any p.s. or anything.  Okay, bye.

Late-night brain argument

I came home late tonight from a meeting at the boys’ school and everyone in the house was asleep except for Natalie, who was wandering around the house by herself.  (No comment.)  I gave her her medicine and tucked her in, jumped online to renew some library books and shoot off a few overdue emails, switched over a load of laundry, and went back upstairs to see if there was any dinner left.  I stared at the pile of dishes in and around my sink.  I groaned. This is the conversation that happened in my head:

I should probably clean these dishes.

(Rolling eyes.)  I’m too tired.

But if I don’t do it, I’ll start out the day with things already undone.

I put away all the perishable food; that’s good enough.

It still looks like a mess though, and it will only get worse tomorrow when the kids get up.  Look how quickly everything went downhill just today.

Sigh.  I KNOW, but I really just don’t want to.  Oh good, Matt cleared the table.

Man, I’ve got to get on top of this stuff.  How can I have the Spirit in the home if I can’t keep it clean?

Let it go.  You don’t need the Spirit in the kitchen sink.

So I decided to write a blog post and go to bed instead.

(Despite the color coding, I’m still not absolutely sure which one was the angel and which was the devil.  It’s debatable.)

Be not weary: the paradoxical commandment for mothers?

You know how Eve got those commandments in the Garden of Eden that contradicted each other?:  Don’t eat the fruit, and oh, be sure to multiply and replenish the earth. I’m sure there was some genuine and well-deserved stupor on Eve’s part.  Luckily, she’s smart and she got it right in the end.

Nowadays, things are only slightly less complicated.  The proclamation on the family teaches us that the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force.  In other words, have children.  And then there’s that little scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that tells us to “Be not weary in well-doing.”  Is it really possible to have children and not be weary?  In fact, if I died right now, my tombstone might accurately say, “Weary do-gooder.”

I chuckled a little inside when I heard that scripture read in church a few weeks ago (and probably made some witty comment under my breath about the impossibility of compliance when, for example, you have a newborn and a potty trainer at the same time– which I don’t at the moment, but I remember.).  I mean, telling a mom to not be weary is like telling Mike Rowe to not get dirty.  So, I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks, because, let’s face it, if I ever have a snarky reaction to a scripture, I’m probably dead wrong.

Here’s what the scripture says: 

D&C 64: 33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.

Do you think weary is supposed to mean tired and exhausted?  If so, this commandment escapes the realm of possibility because I don’t care how much faith a mother has, she’s still not going to get enough sleep.  Perhaps there’s more to it than that.

Dictionary.com defines “weary” like this:

wea⋅ry

/ˈwɪəri/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [weer-ee]

–adjective

1. physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired: weary eyes; a weary brain.
2. characterized by or causing fatigue: a weary journey.
3. impatient or dissatisfied with something (often fol. by of): weary of excuses.
4. characterized by or causing impatience or dissatisfaction; tedious; irksome: a weary wait.

Perhaps the Lord is asking us to adjust our attitude more than our physical or mental state.  He’s asking us to not get dissatisfied with our work, to not become discouraged.  We may give up sleep, but we should not give up hope in what we’re doing.  This is what I’ve decided.  With absolutely no authority whatsoever, I’ve rewritten the scripture to read what I believe it actually means:

“Don’t get discouraged in your very important responsibilities.  They are tedious, but they are an important part in my eternal plan.  What seems ordinary and insignificant to you actually has infinite and eternal influence.  Believe in it, and keep going.”

Looking at “weariness” in a new light, and with a specific twist toward my job as a mother, I loved reading these scriptures (my thoughts are in red):

Gal. 6: 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint notKey word:  in due season.  The fruits of motherhood are slow growing, but fainting is not an option if we hope to ever harvest.

(The footnote next to the word weary leads to this scripture:) Luke 8: 14 (14-15) And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. So interesting that it cross-references a scripture about distraction.  It’s easy to feel discouraged in the labors of motherhood if we give too much importance to the cares of the world.  And yet, if we choose thorny paths, we are kept from the development of perfection– both our own and that of our children.

Isa. 40: 28, 30-31 ¶ Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. . . . But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Did that say there is a cure for weariness?  Yes.  And it’s in the Lord– waiting on Him.  Consistency and patience.

Jer. 31: 25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. The Lord heals, invigorates, and blesses those who come to Him.

And, of course, Elder Maxwell says it best in an awesome talk called “Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds” :

The urgings for us not to weary in well-doing contain prescriptions to avoid such weariness. (See Gal. 6:9; 2 Thes. 3:13; Alma 37:34.) We are to work steadily, but realistically, and only expect to reap “in due season.” (Gal. 6:9.) We are to serve while being “meek and lowly” (Alma 37:34), avoiding thereby the wearying burdens of self-pity and hypocrisy. We are to pray always so that we will not faint, so that our performance will actually be for the welfare of our souls, which is so much more than just going through the motions. (See 2 Ne. 32:5, 9; D&C 75:11; D&C 88:126.)

And that my friends, is how I was wrong.  Because with faith in and help from our Savior, even us mothers can move past weary and keep doing the work we were called to do, just like Eve did, invigorated by the knowledge that we’re truly doing “that which is great.”