GCBC Week 16: “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson

First of all, thanks to all of you who checked in to the roll call last week.  I’m glad to know there’s still a little army marching along.  🙂

I really, really like this talk by Elder Christofferson.  Maybe it’s because the Lord teaches me often through chastening. The “naggings” of the Holy Ghost have frequently been the means by which I finally get my act together and do what I know I should be doing.  And I’m grateful for that.

“As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Some of my favorite quotes in this talk were:

Divine chastening has at least three purposes: (1) to persuade us to repent, (2) to refine and sanctify us, and (3) at times to redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path.

If we sincerely desire and strive to measure up to the high expectations of our Heavenly Father, He will ensure that we receive all the help we need, whether it be comforting, strengthening, or chastening.

What parts of his message stood out most to you? How do you think we can apply these lessons?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  If this is your first visit to GCBC, visit here to learn more about it, and join the fun.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Amy

This week we get to meet Amy, whom I also had the privilege of meeting in person at our girls’ night out in the Spring.  I was impressed with her happy demeanor and genuine friendliness.  I’m excited you get to meet her too.  Here’s Amy:

Hi! My name is Amy Hughes and I am a 35-year-old, married ten years last week to the most amazing man. I couldn’t have chosen a better husband than Brandon. I am the mother of two little boys that I couldn’t imagine living my life without. Kaalam (KAY-lem) is four and a half years old and he is the sweetest, kindest, most polite little whirlwind you’ve ever met. He never stops! But he’s nice, so it could be a lot worse and that makes up for a lot. Xander (Alexander) turned two last week and is the polar opposite of his big brother. He’s quiet, with a devilish sense of humor that I know is going to be dangerous in a few years and he hardly ever speaks a word. He can. He just doesn’t want to. While Kaalam is outside learning stunts on his bike, Xander is happily curled on the couch reading a book. But the two of them somehow fit together in the most beautiful way. I love to watch them be together. I am so grateful to get to be a mom! For a very long time it looked like I’d never get that chance.

I started life as a BYU baby, but I was raised in Canada. I was the second oldest of 6 children and the first of five of us in five years (no multiples). I had one sister and four brothers and because we were all so close in age, we basically grew up in a pack. Being surrounded by so many brothers meant that I was a tom-boy then and I’m still learning about how to have girly friends now. It’s a skill that I’m trying hard to develop. I lived in Lethbridge Alberta until I graduated high school, moved away to Provo for a couple of years and I haven’t really been back since. I served a mission in Las Vegas Nevada where I learned that dry or humid, 126 degrees is just too hot for any reasonable human being to withstand. I have companions that have moved back to Vegas and I have to admit that I really don’t get it. I loved the work, I loved the people, but I was not made for that kind of heat. Give me a winter I can bundle up against any day! And I say that having experienced -70 degrees. Not that -70 is comfortable either, but if I had to choose. Educationally, I’ve had a long and random history. I worked as a veterinary technician for a couple of years before my mission. After my mission I studied Herbal Medicine for a year, ran out of money and got married. My husband then convinced me that if I couldn’t be learning how to use the plants, I could at least learn how to grow them so I got a degree in Landscape Design that upon graduating I decided I didn’t want to have to use. It was a heat thing. I don’t like doing landscaping work outside in the heat 12 hours a day. After a break from school to renovate a house, we were still childless and I wasn’t sure what else to do with myself so I went back to school again. This time for an English degree. Though I think I may have taken more psychology and history classes than English. I was halfway through this last degree when we were finally able to adopt our first son. I’ve been at home ever since. In the last 16 years I’ve lived in 2 provinces and 5 states and though we’ve recently landed in Utah, we don’t think it’s where we’ll stay. Which makes both of us sad. We never thought we’d choose Utah, but it’s felt like home faster than any other place we’ve been in the last few years. I hope we get to stay for a while.

1.     What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

My favorite part of being a mother has to be that I get to be one.

2.     What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?

I really thought I was going to answer this question with housecleaning, or laundry or something but this Sunday I realized that I was wrong. If I could subcontract out just one thing, I think it would be Sacrament meeting. You know that scene in Shrek2 when they’re in the carriage on their way to Far Far Away and they can’t get Donkey to keep his mouth shut for more than 10 seconds at a time? I realized with some degree of horror this week that Donkey is my son. I’m raising Donkey. My two-year old will walk into Sacrament, sit himself down on the bench with his arms folded and listen quietly through the whole hour. But I have a feeling he’s only doing to make his brother look bad. My four-year old is physically incapable of sitting still or shutting up for more than 10 seconds at a time and if I could pay somebody to deal with him through that hour I would jump at the chance. Unfortunately it’s the Sabbath and we aren’t supposed to cause others to work so I’m stuck with him. Someone shared a quote this week about gauging your spirituality by what you think about during the sacrament. I’m sure it was a prophetically inspired quote, but I’m thinking there’s got to be some degree of leeway for mom’s with little kids. If there isn’t then I hope I don’t die until they’re grown.

3.     Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

I would love to be a published author. I went to a writing camp with Orson Scott Card a couple of years ago and I impressed him. I made him like a story in a genre than he has despised his entire life. Then he tore my work into little pieces anyway because that’s what we were there for. But it gave me the confidence to know that I really can write. If only I had the time in which to write.

I want to own chickens. I want to live on a little hobby farm somewhere and have chickens and a goat and maybe an alpaca or two for yarn. It would have to have a little orchard full of fruit trees too. I’ve wanted that life all my life and now my husband has bought into it too. Maybe if I ever publish that book. J

4.     Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

I’m good at most things I try. And I hate to say that because I know it sounds really awful, but really there are few things that I’ve wanted to try that I haven’t been able to master. My biggest problem is that I’ll try something, get really good at it, then get bored and go look for something else to do. So I’ve done nearly everything at some point of another. Right now I’m designing knitted hats to open up an Etsy shop in the fall. We spent the week at my in-laws house and apparently I’m a nervous knitter because I came home with 7 finished hats in a single week.

 5.     Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why?

“If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men” (Alma 48:17). First off, my little teenage heart fluttered over the Captain Moroni in the seminary video the first time I saw it. But it also reminds me Continue reading

Baloney.

This post may seem like a rant.  It’s not intended to be.  I’m not even angry.  It’s just me analyzing life in general and trying to get past the myths of motherhood. (For the record, I know how bologna is really spelled, but this alternate spelling seemed like the best fit when used as an exclamatory phrase.)

Do you know what one of my least favorite pieces of “advice” is when I complain about something I’m struggling with (because I am a horrible person and I do complain)?  It’s this juicy morsel:  “Just wait.  One day they’ll be grown and gone, and you’ll miss it.”

That’s a bunch of hogwash.  (a.k.a. Baloney.)

I happen to believe that parenting is a little like cancer, not only because it slowly kills you (I’m kidding. Kind of.), but because it comes in stages.  (On the bright side, anyone who has had cancer or any other life-changing trial will testify that it is a refining fire and brings them closer to God.  Also, I haven’t really thought this analogy all the way through, so take it with a grain of salt.) Stage 1 is a very physically demanding stage– it’s the baby and toddler years where everything you do is awash in a haze of diapers and sleepless nights and picking up toys and doing laundry. You wonder if your body and mind will ever return.  I’d say there’s about a 50% chance of full recovery.

Stage 2– where I am now– is when your children finally break free from total dependence and start to exert a tiny bit of functional intelligence.  It means you can step outside and talk to your neighbor on the driveway for 5 minutes and leave your children unsupervised (with an obvious level of assumed risk).  It means you can give out chores and instructions and expect that they can be done.  Unfortunately, this functional intelligence does not come with a social compass or any real common sense, so you spend most of your day listening to your children argue with each other about absolutely meaningless things or constantly talk about poop, farts, or how hilarious it would be if so-and-so tripped and fell in the toilet, etc.  As far as I can tell, this is the mentally exhausting phase because, for the most part, you are required to have conversations throughout the day that make your brain want to explode if you haven’t already self-combusted due to a completely depleted reserve of patience.  You also find yourself repeating the same requests and family rules over and over and over and over and over again and wondering if your children’s brains will ever work rationally.  Again, I’d say there’s about a 50% chance.

Stage 3.  The teenage years. I haven’t been there yet, but I’ve spent a lot of my years working with youth either professionally (as a teacher) or in church callings.  All I can say about this stage is that it seems like it will probably be the most emotionally challenging one.  There will be much to worry about as you watch your children grow and make decisions of their own– often wrong decisions.  You will be in the line of fire of their own hormonal and emotional roller coaster.  There are clearly some things to look forward to (like *maybe* kind of real conversations and camaraderie), but let’s not be naive– it will be challenging.

Stage 4.  This is the stage that Matt and I fantasize about the most– the one where they go off to college or on missions and we only have our very own messes to clean up at home.  I obviously have no real experience with this stage either and I know that like every other stage, it is fraught with challenges.  Adult children still make lots of dumb decisions and come face to face with a cruel world, and you probably struggle with how much to help and how much to let them struggle.  I imagine it is a stage of worry and anxiety with respect to your children, and perhaps a little longing to be more a part of their lives.

However, I promise that when I am in stage 4 parenting, I will not miss stage 1 and 2 parenting.  Will I miss my children and the joys that were a part of that stage?  Absolutely.  I will sometimes crave the sweet little newborn head that fits just right in the crook of my neck.  I’ll miss the eyes that stare up at me with unending trust and love while the baby nurses.  I’ll miss the giggling, the tickling, the hugs and kisses, the holding hands.  Oh, the holding hands.  It’s one of my favorite things– how they reach up for your hand instinctively as you walk them to preschool or through the Costco parking lot, how they choose to be connected to you.  I’ll miss looking over and seeing them sitting on the couch with their arms around each other reading a book together.  In short, there are plenty of things I’ll miss.

But I won’t miss what I’m complaining about in each stage.  I can’t imagine myself in my golden years reaching for the TV remote and wishing that someone had hidden it under the couch cushions.  I won’t walk into a room to find it exactly the way I left it and then wish that there were Legos and wrappers from sneaked food on the floor.  I won’t do a project from start to finish and wish I had been interrupted for 3 diaper changes and argument arbitration.  I’ll admit that I sometimes might think it’s too quiet.  Maybe.

So in summary, when young mothers whine about their exhausting struggles, please don’t tell us that we’ll miss them when our children are grown.  Should we wish it all away?  No.  Should we cherish the parts we love in every stage we’re in?  Absolutely. We will miss our children and the loveliest points of parenthood (and of course there will be new challenges at every stage), but we’ll happily kiss the hard parts goodbye.  President Monson says I’m wrong.

“If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly.”

I can’t help but think that when he says “them,” he means the children, and not the fingerprints and laundry. Am I delusional? What do you think?

GCBC Week 15: “The Spirit of Revelation” by Elder David A. Bednar

One of the things I love about Elder Bednar is how he takes gospel principles and breaks them down into really digestible steps or categories.  This approach makes the application of those principles seem much more manageable or understandable.  He’s a great teacher that way.  In this particular talk, he analyzes the nuances of receiving revelation through the Holy Ghost.

“The Spirit of Revelation” by Elder David A. Bednar

Some of my favorite quotes were these:

“These tools of the adversary can impair and eventually destroy our capacity to recognize and respond to the subtle messages from God delivered by the power of His Spirit. Each of us should consider seriously and ponder prayerfully how we can reject the devil’s enticements and righteously “apply unto it,” even the spirit of revelation, in our personal lives and families.”

“We frequently may press forward hoping and praying—but without absolute assurance—that we are acting in accordance with God’s will. But as we honor our covenants and keep the commandments, as we strive ever more consistently to do good and to become better, we can walk with the confidence that God will guide our steps.”

What parts of his message stood out most to you?  Did he help you better understand your own experiences with revelation?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  If this is your first visit to GCBC, visit here to learn more about it and join the fun.

ROLL CALL:  We’re a little more than halfway through all the talks since April’s general conference.  It’s typical that by now, some of our participants and comments are starting to dwindle off.  It’s a busy time of year and easy to lose momentum.  I’m curious to know who is still “playing along” in GCBC, even if you’re not commenting.  If you’re still reading the talks with us, say hi in the comments just so we can all get a better sense of GCBC community.  And if you haven’t been and want to start now, or recommit, this is your chance, too.  The more, the merrier.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Lara

Okay, blog friends, I’m really excited to introduce you to Lara. Once you get to know her and read her blog a little, you’ll start to be mad at yourself for not knowing her sooner.  She’s a remarkable woman who sees herself as incredibly ordinary.  But to those of us who have read about her adventures, we know better.  She is a talented singer, a gifted photographer, a great writer, and a down-to-earth, full-hearted mother.  She and I have discovered that we were in a lot of the same places at the same time and even got married just a few weeks apart, but alas, we’ve never met in real life (we think).  Someday, Lara, someday. Here she is.  Meet Lara (Isn’t she lovely?):

Hi!  My name is Lara (rhymes with car-a, not core-a) and I am going to be 37 next month (not sure yet how I feel about that, but it is what it is).  My husband, Joel, and I just celebrated 12 years of marriage last week and we have three daughters:  Bria (10), Chloe (8) and Sophia, who will turn 5 in a couple weeks and just lost her first tooth.  We have lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (which makes us Yoopers) for the past two years and hope to finally stay put after never being anywhere more than 3 years.

I grew up in Orem, Utah as the oldest of four children and the only girl.  This meant two things: 1) I was teased mercilessly and 2) My dad never got mad at me.  I like to say that the reason I was sent three little girls was to make up for all of the torture that my brothers put me through growing up, and to somehow let me experience what it might have been like to have the sister I so desperately wanted.  I went to BYU and majored in music (vocal performance) and then served a mission in Bucuresti, Romania.  I actually met my husband just before I entered the MTC because he had just returned from his own mission in Romania.  He also majored in music, so when I got home and finished up school, we ran into each other a lot.  We were married after a year and a half of dating, and then we put Joel through two more music degrees, and he is now an orchestra conductor and professor of music at the university in our town.  I teach voice lessons at the university and in our home and perform when I can (it pays to be married to the local orchestra conductor when it comes to getting gigs), but spend the bulk of my time “staying at home.” (Whoever decided to call it that, anyway?)

What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

My favorite part of motherhood is my children.  I absolutely love learning who they are, what they think about, and what interests them.  I love watching them learn about the world.  I lovelovelove all of the crazy and wonderful and astute things they say.  I love the things they teach me on a daily basis.  I love how when I am looking at them in a quiet moment and my heart just bursts with surges of love for them.  I love the cuddles and the conversations we share.  I love them.  They seriously make every difficult thing about motherhood completely worth it to me.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?

My initial reaction would be laundry, but my husband has offered many times to do it for me and I won’t let him.  I guess I am a little anal about how the laundry must be done, so I probably will never be able to let go of that control, no matter how difficult it is for me to stay on top of it.

My second choice would be cooking, but I actually have subcontracted that out to my husband.  He loves to cook and gladly does it unless he has to work late.  In which case my kids will often get scrambled eggs or mac-n-cheese or cold cereal for dinner.  But they don’t mind, and I don’t have to “cook!”

Besides, now that I think about it, neither laundry nor cooking is really part of motherhood—everyone has to have clean clothes and food. So I guess the part I really wish I could have someone do for me is bedtime.  I really hate bedtime.  Especially in the summer, because it doesn’t get dark up here until nearly 11 pm and do you know how hard it is to make kids to go to sleep while the sun is still shining?

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

Much to my husband’s chagrin, I think the number one thing on that list is to learn to play the bagpipes.  I adore the bagpipes, and I will learn to play them one day.  I’ve even found a teacher up here already: don’t tell Joel!  I’d also love to travel as much as possible.  We’ve been able to do a little bit, but not nearly enough!  I would also like to record a CD of lullabies someday.  I want to serve a mission (hopefully to Romania) with my husband.

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

I can sing.  I am a pretty good photographer.  I love to learn.  I will do as much research as I can about whatever is interesting to me at the moment, and can go on some pretty voracious learning sprees (or “kicks” as I like to call them) which is how I’ve obtained many of my talents.  I forgive easily.

What are you loving lately?

Greek yogurt, fresh berries, John McWhorter’s latest book (What Language Is), Tosca, Stephen Sondheim, Flavia de Luce, summer weather (finally!), Instagram, and my husband’s new grill.

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why?

I love to read all of Moroni 7 as often as I can.  I feel like it helps me center myself on what is important in this life.  It’s so easy to get bogged down in the mundane tasks that must be done and sort of lose the eternal perspective.  I particularly love verse 48:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ, that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.  Amen.”

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

Reading.  I love to read as much as I possibly can.  When life is relatively calm, I usually read about 3 or 4 books a week.  When it is crazy (as it seems to always be), I hope to still get through one book a week.  My husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas and it has been incredible to have!  Hooray for carrying around 100 books in your purse!

The computer (reading blogs, Facebook and email) is also something I tend to do in my spare time.  I think it still counts as reading, though.

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?

That as much as I love spending time with friends, I crave my alone time.  I am an introvert to the core and I need time to myself.  It’s even taken my husband a really long time to figure this out (even though he is just like me this way) and he now realizes when I just need to go do something all alone.  It’s refreshing for me.

I also hate talking on the phone, so if I don’t call you often…don’t take it personally.  It’s just one of my (many) neuroses.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

That Heavenly Father is aware of me and my needs.  He knows me personally and answers my prayers just how I need them to be answered, even if it isn’t what I thought I wanted.  That tithing is a true principle and we are blessed beyond measure when we pay it.  That Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer and that by living His gospel we will find true joy in this life and in the life to come.

Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight.  What would you eat for your last meal?

Fettucine Alfredo with chicken and broccoli.  Lots of bread.  And pumpkin pie for dessert. (Yes, you’ve read that correctly—no chocolate.  I don’t really like chocolate that much, possibly another of my neuroses.)

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?

Cleaning the kitchen.  I have no idea how one little room can be such a mess in a matter of minutes!  It feels so good to have all of the dishes clean and put away, the counters wiped off, the floor swept and mopped…just so that we can make and eat dinner and turn it into a crazy mess again!  But I sure do enjoy those few minutes every day when it is actually spotless.

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it?

As a girl who pretty much lived in the same house for her whole life (and most certainly in the same town), I never thought I would move so much once I got married.  I also never really thought I’d live so far from Utah.  While I wish my mom lived across town on a daily basis, I know that I am a better person for it.  I’ve had to break out of the introverted shell and learn to make friends.  I’ve had to become closer to my husband and children.  I’ve had to learn to rely on people that aren’t my mom for help, which may have been the hardest thing for me.  It’s hard to let others serve you, but I have learned that it is truly a gift to learn to allow others the blessings of service, and to receive it with a grateful heart.

Tell us about your blog.

I have been blogging at Overstuffed since 2005.  It got its name from the very full plate I always seem to have, but also because my life overflows with blessings.  I blog about my experiences as a wife and mother, but also as a singer, a photographer (I take as many pictures as I possibly can) and a daughter of God.  I try hard to recognize the lessons that the Lord wants me to learn and I consider my blog a way to remember those things.  It astounds me how much I have already forgotten whenever I peruse my archives, and I am so thankful I have kept a record.  I also have an unhealthy relationship with parenthetical statements (perhaps you’ve noticed?)

Isn’t she fantastic?  Thank you Lara! A question for readers to answer in the comments:  Based on this interview, If you and Lara went out to lunch, what topic do you think you’d end up talking about?  (This is my attempt to suck more comments out of you.  These find-a-friend Friday interviews are so fun to read, but a little hard to know what to comment about.  And if the volunteers are like me, they probably click over 47 times to see if anyone had anything to say.  So say something. 

Was that too bossy? :))