Fight or Flight

So yesterday was a hard day in a mothering sense.  By 3 p.m. I wasn’t really fond of any of my children anymore.  Something deep down inside of me (the love child of anger and frustration) really, really wanted to:

A)  Beat people up,

or B)  Book a private jet and escape to a Carribean island.  Alone.

Option B would probably make me feel better, but Option A is a lot cheaper.  I didn’t do either, but I wanted to.  Instead I just lost my temper and barked my disappointment and sent people to their rooms indefinitely.

I hosted a Relief Society Spiritual Literacy meeting at my house last night and we studied some of the recent conference talks.  My study partner and I read “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”  I know what you’re thinking:  It made me feel all guilty and penitent.  It probably should have, but it didn’t (except for that one little part about “Discipline comes from the same root word as disciple and implies patience and teaching on our part. It should not be done in anger.”).  Honestly, the talk gave me some hope, some advice, some direction.  I’ve been really frustrated with my kids lately.  I feel like we’re in a cycle of the same mistakes over and over again — both theirs and mine.  I’m losing patience with them and with myself.  What I loved about this message was a fresh new perspective.  It gave me a better way to look at discipline and at praise and at my children themselves.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes.  Don’t be lazy and skip them; read them:  🙂

When children misbehave, let’s say when they quarrel with each other, we often misdirect our discipline on what they did, or the quarreling we observed. But the do—their behavior—is only a symptom of the unseen motive in their hearts. We might ask ourselves, “What attributes, if understood by the child, would correct this behavior in the future?…”

—-

Through discipline the child learns of consequences. In such moments it is helpful to turn negatives into positives. If the child confesses to a wrong, praise the courage it took to confess. Ask the child what he or she learned from the mistake or misdeed, which gives you, and more important, the Spirit an opportunity to touch and teach the child. When we teach children doctrine by the Spirit, that doctrine has the power to change their very nature—be—over time.

—-

A sweet and obedient child will enroll a father or mother only in Parenting 101. If you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree, you will be enrolled in Parenting 505. Rather than wonder what you might have done wrong in the premortal life to be so deserving, you might consider the more challenging child a blessing and opportunity to become more godlike yourself. With which child will your patience, long-suffering, and other Christlike virtues most likely be tested, developed, and refined? Could it be possible that you need this child as much as this child needs you?

Anyway, as I read these quotes and the rest of the talk, which is excellent, I felt some of my anger slipping away.  I felt the Spirit telling me that these principles are true, and there is a better way to approach our recent trend of disobedience and disrespect.  I felt like I could (with the Lord’s help) do it the right way and get the results I’ve been wishing for.  And isn’t it the truth that our children have the greatest power to develop God-like attributes in us … if we will let that happen?  I’m going to work on this.

I might buy some boxing gloves just in case, though.  Unless anyone has a private jet I can borrow.  Anyone?

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GCBC Week 13: “Finding Joy through Loving Service” by Elder M. Russell Ballard

Believe it or not, we are already about halfway through the talks.  Crazy, huh?  This talk is one of many from conference that reminded me about the importance of charity.  There seemed to be a lot of emphasis on service.

“Finding Joy through Loving Service” by Elder M. Russell Ballard

May we show our love and appreciation for the Savior’s atoning sacrifice through our simple, compassionate acts of service.

One of my favorite quotes from his talks was in his introduction of his topic of charity:

Brothers and sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ is simple, no matter how much we try to make it complicated. We should strive to keep our lives similarly simple, unencumbered by extraneous influences, focused on those things that matter most.

This is a principle I am struggling with a little bit right now, and I know that, just as he said, I simply need to focus on “what matters most.”  It’s so easy for those details to get lost, just like the story he told about the gold flakes.

What stood out to you as you read?  In what ways do you think he’s asking us to apply this message?  Share your thoughts and conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Makamae

Today I get to introduce you to someone with one of the coolest names ever.  I’m so impressed with the vision and heart of this young lady.  Meet Makamae:

My name is Makamae (rhymes with Rock-a-bye, and I’m going to go ahead and answer your question, “What does that mean?” It means Precious, in Hawaiian.  And yes, I am part Hawaiian), I’m 27, and I am “currently” living in southwestern TX in a border city.  My husband and I will be moving our things to Florida in a few weeks before he deploys to the Middle East, but I will be living with his parents in Colorado while he is deployed. I’m not a bona fide mother yet (though I hope to be in the future), but I like reading this blog anyway.  My husband is in the Air Force and because of that, life is truly an adventure.

I grew up in Southern California, and while I love visiting home, I do not think I would ever voluntarily choose to live there.  I am the middle child of five kids (three sisters, one brother), and that was a pretty fun adventure.  We didn’t have a lot growing up, so we were creative little bedlamites.  I went to school in the good old town of Rexburg at BYUI.  I majored in elementary education, and before I go any further, I have to say that choosing that major was a struggle for me because I did not want to do what everyone else was doing.  In fact, I purposely avoided doing this major for about 2 years before I gave in and was true to myself.  I picked that because I knew it was a major that would help me to be a better mother, and that was something I felt I needed to pursue.  I graduated from there and taught for a while in Utah County, and that is where I met my husband.

1.     What’s your favorite part of motherhood? I am not a “real” mother, so I do not think I could ever answer this question the way any of you could or would.  But I’d like to share things from the daughter perspective.  My own mom died about five and a half years ago, and I guess you could say that no matter how long it has been, that void can never be filled.  You don’t “get over” the death of your mother.  But my mom was a great example to me and what I loved about her motherhood was that she was always there for us and protected us in any way she could.  I know mothers don’t get the immediate gratification they might want, need, or deserve.  But maybe I could speak for your kids when I say that the work you are all doing as mothers is greater than any other occupation on earth.  Mothers are the unsung heroes of the earth & I can’t wait to join y’all!

2.     Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.) One of the things I want to do, and am terrified that I won’t be able to do is to be a mom.  I’m not saying I don’t think I can, I just don’t know what God has in store for me but I’d like to have my own kids.  Another one is to train in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).  Maybe that is a bit unconventional, since this is not really a womanly thing to do.  My purpose would not be to get into the octagon to get beat like those men like to do, but really just to get a different work out and to be able to defend myself if I needed to do so.  I would also like to write a book.  I love children’s literature, and every time I read a book I think to myself, “I could totally do this.”  And yet, I haven’t.  But I hope to someday.

3.     Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at? I am pretty good at cooking.  I will whip up something in the kitchen if I get bored (and yes, I do get bored.  Remember, I’m not a mom yet).  I am also pretty good at dancing, which is sort of an unfortunate thing since my husband hates dancing (sad face).  I get that out of my system by doing zumba.  I’m also awesome at cleaning.  I can’t tell you how many people have enlisted me to help them clean their houses before they move out (and its a lot; I live on an Air Force base).  And I’m good at laughing at things that should make me angry.

4.     What are you loving lately? Nieces & nephews.  I have two nieces on my husband’s side and two nephews on my side.  And they are all so adorable.  I love to dote on them and spoil them, and then give them back to “mom & dad” when they get ornery.  I know my day will come (or so I hope), but for now, being a fun auntie is something I love & enjoy.

5.     Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why? I have a lot of favorite scriptures, but the one that came to mind today was 1 Corinthians 15:22.  When I think of this scripture, it automatically makes me think of my mom.  “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  Its a reminder that I will see her again someday.

6.     What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time? I read blogs, check facebook, edit photos, etc. And when I have access to a piano, I play that.  I’m trying to have genealogy be something I just automatically do, but that has proven to be difficult.  I’m working on it.

7.     What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend? I am annoyingly competitive (and I hate that I am… I wish I didn’t care about winning sometimes), but I deny that I am.  Can I just say right here that my husband is so good & patient with me?

8. Friends are great for venting.  What’s been frustrating you lately? I don’t want to complain about the Air Force, because they do provide a job for my husband, and they did pay for him to become a pilot.  But the statement, “You never know…” is becoming so true for my life & experience in the Air Force.  In short, the only thing I can be certain of in the Air Force is that life is uncertain.

9. What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of? I am sure that God loves us all, regardless of what race, religion, or socioeconomic status we hold.  I am sure that Jesus Christ died for our sins, our pains, and our weaknesses.  I am sure that He speaks to us today through a prophet of God.  I am sure that temple marriages are meant to last forever, and that it takes some work on our parts to make it an eternal marriage.  I am sure that eternal families are part of God’s plan, and these families are what help us along the way to become better people.  I am sure that repentance works, and that even when people give up on us, Jesus Christ never does and never will.  I know that this is the true Church, run by people chosen of God.

10.  Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight.  What would you eat for your last meal? Is this a three course meal? If so, I would have a chopped antipasto salad from Buca Di Beppo’s, BJs Favorite Pizza-Deep Dish from BJ’s Brewhouse & Restaurant, and a slice of red velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory.  And I would eat every last bite.

11.  What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it? My husband was assigned to Whiteman AFB in Missouri “flying” drones this fall.  When a pilot “flies” unmanned planes, he controls the airplane from a room in a building on the Air Force base where he is assigned.  This assignment meant less deployment, a “normal” 8-5 work day, etc.  This assignment was given in January, and then the beginning of May, we are told that he is no longer going to be doing that assignment, and that he would be flying MC-12 (a reconnaissance airplane that is heavily undermanned right now) for 6-9 months in either Iraq or Afghanistan, maybe even Saudi Arabia.  And then we were also told he would be flying the KC-135 (air refueler) upon his return out of Florida.  I honestly have no idea why I ever trust the Air Force when they tell us that something is going to happen, because my experience has been that almost always they are going to change on you.  As a result of this changed assignment, I went on vacation for a month and a half (I still am; I am at my in-laws in Colorado right now) while he did survival & water survival training in Washington state.  Dealing with him being gone is always easier when I am around family.  And the whole Florida thing makes me pretty happy.  Season passes to Disneyworld!

12.  If your life had a theme song, what would it be and why? “This Too Shall Pass” by OK Go.  Life is hard (even when you’re not a mom).  And one thing I love about the scriptures is that it always says, “And it came to pass…”  It never says, “It came to stay…”  There are good times and hard times, but its what we choose to do with it that makes life better or worse.

Tell us about your blog:  I actually have a few blogs, but the one Stephanie has read periodically is Sweet & Simple Truths of the Gospel.  I started this blog as a means to do missionary work, and to provide a place where my friends could read about what I think and believe about God and Jesus Christ (non-confrontational style).  If they had questions, they would ask. Often times, I’ve found myself just writing my thoughts concerning spiritual matters on there not necessarily just straight doctrine.  And I’ve been terrible at posting on that, so forgive me for that.

This one is called the Mormon Military Wife, since that is what heavily defines me these days.  I actually just started this a week or so ago, because I thought some other women would benefit from shared experiences that I had, have, and will have in the future.  It is like a sisterhood in some senses.  But I plan on just writing my experiences of being a military wife, more specifically a military pilot’s wife (not that my husband being a pilot makes him better than any other military man or woman, its just different is all).

Thank you, Makamae.  Another remarkable woman. Say hello to Makamae in the comments here or at one of her blogs.

Surviving Summer (in a nutshell)

I have a love-hate relationship with summer.  I will explain.

I love the sunshine and the absence of snow.  I love the parks and the leisurely pace and the fun summer family programs.  I love the freedom to schedule outings and day trips and vacations completely uninhibited by school calendars.  I love building a schedule made up of all the priorities I don’t seem to have room for during the school year.  I love my children having time to play outside and play with each other. I love the longer days, and I love that the kids get more playtime with dad. And I love watermelon, strawberries, and popsicles.

Now for the parts that are harder to celebrate. . . .  longer days mean later bedtime, and, frankly, after I’ve spent an entire day with all three children by myself, I’d kind of go for a 6 p.m. bedtime.  Vacations are fun, but they are hard work.  As in, if you’re a mom, the only things that really do “vacate” are your brain and your energy.  Plus, has anyone else noticed that children are just really naughty for several days after a vacation?  It’s exasperating.  I find it difficult to coordinate babysitting or go to appointments or make some time for myself when all my children are at home all day.  The gym, for example.  (Have I mentioned before that I loathe gym day-care?  I have issues.)  And since I never have any quiet time during the day, I stay up too late at night wasting my brain on mindless stuff just because I’m relishing my alone time. Oh, and let’s not forget that when siblings get to spend oodles of time together, they fight like cats and dogs.

Sigh. Sorry my cons paragraph seemed quite a bit longer than the pros.  I tend to get a little dramatic when I complain.  Anyway, in light of this summer paradox, I have a few questions:

  1.  Do you think that maybe there’s a really fine line between children being naughty and children just being annoying?  I think I lump it all into the naughty category and get more fed up than I need to be.
  2. One thing that saves my sanity is scheduled and enforced reading time.  My boys are 6 and 8 and both read really well.  I’ve found that a lot of books that are at their reading level have kind of inappropriate content.  They’re not quite ready for pre-teen literature.  Do you have any suggestions for some good chapter books or series for boys?
  3. Any post-vacation tips?  Because, seriously, we have a few more coming up and I don’t know if I can handle the sassy, lazy aftermath.
  4. We have a lot of great kids in our neighborhood, but I don’t know much about the rules of play date “etiquette.”  If a child invites another child to play, is it presumptuous to want to play at the home of the invited?  I always think it’s kind of odd when a kid shows up and says, “Can so-and-so play?” and you say yes, and then the kid just comes on in.  Oh, you meant here?  On the other hand, I know my own children would like to go play at their friends’ houses, too (One word: Wii.), but I never want them to invite themselves over.  Am I being weird about this? because I worry that I’m making more of it than I should.
  5. We like to do several small weekend camping trips during the summer.  After Elder Perry’s last general conference talk, I committed myself to make sure that even when we are traveling, we should always go to church and take the sacrament.  This past weekend, we took a wrong turn on the way home, lost some time, and didn’t get back in time to take the sacrament.  I feel sad about that.  I need the sacrament.  This is not a question.  I’m just saying how it is.
  6. I’m hoping it’s normal to be in a summer blog slump.  I don’t know if there’s less time for writing or if I have less ideas, but I dont’ feel very bloggy productive.  And reading blogs?  Only minimally.  Anyone else feeling that way?  I’m sorry if anyone I love has been feeling neglected.
  7. Last question.  Do you have any favorite quotes or scriptures about patience?  I’d love to hear/read them.

GCBC Week 12: “More Than Conquerors through Him That Loved Us” by Elder Paul V. Johnson

We have a special request for GCBC this week from one of our participants, Michelle:  Would you consider Paul V. Johnson’s talk for this next week? I have been asked to speak in Sacrament on the the 26th…would love others insights as I prepare. 

So, let’s hear your best thoughts, GCBC folks…  I know you’ve got some great ones.

“More Than Conquerors through Him That Loved Us” by Elder Paul V. Johnson

What stood out to you as you read?  How can we apply his message?  Share your some conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.

The completely non-essential mid-week report

I taught at EFY this week and got back tonight.  The first day of teaching was kind of intimidating because there were only 3 teachers, and the other two besides me (him and him) have both published books and talk tapes and fancy stuff like that, and I– well, I have a blog and I can teach a mean FHE lesson . . . ugh.  Plus I had some technical difficulties with my slide show, and when mentor #1 gave me constructive feedback for my first day of lessons (which I asked for), what he said was absolutely true and stuff I already knew about my teaching style (99.5% doctrinal, .5% entertaining), but because I was already feeling a little insecure, I interpreted it to mean .5% interesting.  I worried that I wasn’t holding the kids’ attention.  He told me today he had a dream last night that I was offended by his feedback and didn’t show up for the second day of classes.  I wasn’t.  I appreciated it.  And I showed up.  It helped me tweak a couple of things for my last two classes that I think made them better.  I bought a smokin’ new outfit to wear for that first day of teaching (smokin’ modest of course).  I loved it until I actually started teaching.  The cute hot pink blouse happened to fit under my armpits in such a way that it was like a giant receptacle for nervous sweating and I had the hugest, wettest armpits all day long which was all kinds of not awesome.

Day two went much better.  I made sure to wear about five levels of clothing plus a blazer to contain my failing antiperspirant.  I taught about two of my favorite topics– missionary work and the Atonement.  The morning devotional given by the aforementioned mentor was about not comparing ourselves to others, which frankly was a tender mercy for me and helped me re-establish my confidence in myself. I was a little more emotional than I like to be (I came home with one of those cry-headaches), but I just can’t help myself when I start talking about stories from my mission, and hello, who can be all straight-faced and emotionless when you’re testifying about the doctrine of the Atonement and how much the Savior loves us?  I got some neat feedback from some of the youth and was able to walk away knowing the Lord had helped me to answer some questions and build some testimonies, so I felt good.  I’m always traumatized by the EFY experience; it stretches me a lot in a good-but-hurting way.  I tell myself that if one or two youth were improved by something I said then all the worry and angst was worth it.

So that’s it.  I will now recover by loading up all my children in a pop-up camper and retreating to the mountains for four days.  Yeah right, if recovery equals taking a worn-out body and mushed-up brain and making them worse.  It’s okay though, some good memories will be made and Matt will let me take a nap every day.  Right, honey?

Thanks for tuning in to the completely non-essential mid-week report.  Carry on.

GCBC Week 11: “Desire” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

I loved this talk by Elder Oaks.  He laid out an excellent framework of the connection between our desires, our choices and our actions.  It made me take a good look at what I really want and how well those priorities are reflected in the life I live.  It’s a real thought-provoking message.

“Desire” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

What did you learn from this talk?  Share your thoughts and conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.