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 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.

GCBC Week 25: Pride

This week we’ll take a look at one of the great talks from the priesthood session.

“Pride and the Priesthood”
President Dieter F. Uctdorf

“It is almost impossible to be lifted up in pride when our hearts are filled with charity. “No one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love.” When we see the world around us through the lens of the pure love of Christ, we begin to understand humility.”

Share in the comments some things you learned or appreciated as you studied this talk.  If this is your first time visiting the General Conference Book Club, click here for more information.

Open mouth, insert cork (to keep the foot out).

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing a tempting moment.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

I sometimes think I’m kind of funny.  In fact, I’ve long thought my wit was one of my more attractive qualities.  I can make a quick, snappy comeback to most situations and usually elicit some laughter.  I hate fighting and contention, but I love clever banter.  In fact, I often use humor as a way to diffuse a potentially volatile environment.  This will make sense to any Austen fans out there, but one of the reasons I love Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice is her gift for smart and funny conversation, like the time when she and Jane are both lamenting her single status right after Jane and Mr. Bingley became engaged:

Jane Bennet: Oh, Lizzie, if I could but see you happy. If there were such another man for you.
Elizabeth Bennet: Perhaps Mr. Collins has a cousin.

I love that kind of laughing away an awkward situation.  There’s obviously a place for humor:

“Find happiness in ordinary things, and keep your sense of humor.”  ~ President Boyd K. Packer

“There is certainly no defence against adverse fortune which is, on the whole, so effectual as an habitual sense of humor.”~ Thomas Wentworth Storrow Higginson, quoted by President James E. Faust

However, in the last couple weeks my “humor” has made a couple of bad situations worse.  My attempts to make a witty comment left some people offended, and upon reflection, in both cases I realize they thought I was making light of their struggle.  So, I’ve been eating a little humble pie Continue reading

General Conference Book Club Week 11: Elder Ringwood

(Remember that today is the first day of the 12 days of Christmas.  If you’re interested in joining us in a challenge to spread kindness, click here for more information.)

I know the holidays are a really busy time.  Amidst all of it, try to remember this advice we learned in last week’s talk by Sister Matsumori:

“If we provide a still and quiet time each day when we are not bombarded by television, computer, video games, or personal electronic devices, we allow that still, small voice an opportunity to provide personal revelation and to whisper sweet guidance, reassurance, and comfort to us.”

So whether it’s this book club, or time in your scriptures, let’s take the time to replenish our Spirits so we can keep our priorities strong amid all the bustle.  (I slacked off last week and I felt it.)

This week’s talk is called “An Easiness and Willingness to Believe” and was given by Elder Michael T. Ringwood of the Quorum of the Seventy during the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference.  Our lives can become complicated, but the gospel is quite simple; just taking the most simple, basic steps in our daily lives gives us access to the knowledge, blessings and faith we need to wade through all the complications.

“The daily living of the gospel brings a softness of heart needed to have an easiness and willingness to believe the word of God.”

“If you are like me, you will find what really brought an easiness and willingness to believe were not the circumstances but the commitment to live the gospel during [significant] periods of life.”

You can read it here, or watch it here, or listen here.  It’s also on page 100 in the November Ensign.  Share your insights and goals in the comments after reading the talk.  I missed all your voices last week.  (Go here if you’d like more information about this General Conference Book Club.)

Women’s Conference chapter 5: Humility

enos_prayingSince I spend most of my time thinking about how cool I am (just. kidding.), I thought it would be a good idea to attend a class called, “More Fit for the Kingdom:  Approaching the Lord in Humility,” taught by Sandy Jensen and David Marsh.  Here are some of my notes  (Warning:  I took lots of notes in this class.  Get a snack if you need to.  And for some reason, I had a lot of trouble with spacing on this post.  Please forgive.):

Humility is to recognize gratefully our dependance on the Lord.  We know where our true strength lies.  Humility Brings Power.

The first speaker used the story of Enos from the Book of Mormon to teach lessons about humility.   She broke the story down into 4 segments, assigned each one a key word, and the words together form a sentence.

1.  “I”Enos 1: 1-4.

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—

2 And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
Like Enos, we must recognize our standing, our existence before God.  We must establish communication. We are totally dependent upon the Lord.
2.  “Will”:  Enos 1:26.
26 And I saw that I must soon go down to my grave, having been wrought upon by the power of God that I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ. And I have declared it in all my days, and have rejoiced in it above that of the world.
Wrought– being shaped because of turning our will over to God.  In doing so, we don’t lose our identity; We find our true identity.  It’s like decluttering our soul.
3.  “Trust”:  Enos 1:5-6.
5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
God only speaks truth; Be confident in what he says.  D&C 112:10: “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.”
4.  “Love”: Enos 1:9-12.
9 Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them.

10 And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads.
11 And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites.
12 And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.
It is commonly misunderstood that humility means making ourselves small and lowly.  Humility is not about bringing ourselves down; it’s about lifting those around us up.
Sentence:  I. Will. Trust. Love.
1 John 4:16:  “God is love.”
Humility is a cardinal part of a Christ-like character.  He discussed what the Savior taught us about humility:
  • The Savior led by serving.  Phillipians 2:5-7:  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” Matthew 20:25-28:  “But Jesus called them unto him,and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:”
  • Brother Marsh told a story that as a newlywed, he would come home and be a little disturbed that his wife was receiving revelation about the family while he was gone.  He felt like he should do that as the provider and “patriarch” of the family.  Then as he thought about it, he realized that, duh, (he was making fun of himself as he told the story.), of course she’s going to receive revelation about caring for the children.  She’s with them all day.  It just makes sense.  He said that through that experience he learned that (and I love this):  “My responsibility as a provider was to protect her ability to receive revelation.”  Seriously, one of my favorite ideas from this talk; I shared it with Matt right away because it needs to be taught in every Elder’s Quorum class in the church!
  • The Savior served with all his might.  In referring to the Atonement in D&C 19:18-19, the Savior said, “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink,— Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” Brother Marsh claimed that the Savior did not ask to escape the suffering, but asked that he would not shrink, or draw back.  It was a deep thought I had not considered before, and I’m still trying to think that one through.
  • The Savior did not get credit for everything.  People didn’t recognize what he was doing or even who He was.  Matthew 16: 13-14: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” The humble don’t get much publicity or praise.  Think of all these great folks in the scriptures who barely get any mention at all:  Sam, Aaron, Omner, Himni, Zeezrom, Joseph & Mary, Elkinah and Hannah….
  • Humble people are merciful and practice love.  Awesome quote by President J. Reuben Clark, quoted by President Monson:
“I believe that our Heavenly Father wants to save every one of his children. I do not think he intends to shut any of us off because of some slight transgression, some slight failure to observe some rule or regulation. There are the great elementals that we must observe, but he is not going to be captious about the lesser things.  “I believe that his juridical concept of his dealings with his children could be expressed in this way: I believe that in his justice and mercy, he will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that he can give, and in the reverse, I believe that he will impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for him to impose.”