Some days probably shouldn’t be journaled.

My first clue that today wasn’t going to be great was my Facebook status at 7 a.m.: “I made the mistake of reading the morning news headlines. People are stupid. And now I’m in a bad mood.” Note to self: Don’t do that anymore. It totally sucks the positive energy out of your day. From that point on, everything bugged me. The weather, the Cheerios on the floor, the last-minute scrambles for gloves/coats/boots on the way out the door to the bus, the lame breakfast options, the fact that I live here, and my friends all seem far away (because they ARE), old people shouldn’t be allowed to drive, etc. You get the point —–> Grumpy!

I’ve never struggled with any serious depression or anything (and don’t worry, I don’t credit myself for that other than luck), but I’ve noticed that I do have a lot more “bad days” in the wintertime. Today was one of those. I volunteered at Clark’s school with some very nice people who were kind and helpful, but I still couldn’t shake off the negative energy. So by the time I picked up Natalie from preschool, I could tell I needed to be more proactive about my mood status, so we went to a bakery and I bought a peanut butter brownie. That helped a little, except that there was this woman there who had obviously done so much plastic surgery to herself that she looked awful, and then I started hating the universe again. (I can already tell I’m going to regret this post.) I started having conversations with myself that were half-pathetic and half-existential. “I wonder if everyone in the world is weird, and I’m the only normal one?, or maybe everyone else is normal and I’m just weird?” (Remember I had read bad headlines this morning and I was already mad at those people.) So in a moment of self-pity, I said to Natalie, who was happily munching her cupcake, “Natalie, are you glad I’m your mommy?” She quickly replied, “I like daddy.” “I know you like daddy, but are you glad I’m your mommy?” She kept her head still but pointed her eyeballs up at the ceiling, “N-O, no.” She said something like, “Alright, alright, I’m just kidding…. yeeesss,” but overall, my trip to the bakery wasn’t that helpful either.

My next attempt at improvement was a little less stellar, but overall more effective.  When we got back to the house, I stuck “Olivia Takes Ballet” in the DVD player and selected “Play All.”  I told Natalie I was going to go lie down, and I did.  I quickly dozed off (Oh, how I love a nap!) and slept for about 40 minutes.  I heard Clark come home from school and I opened my eyes and knew I needed to get up and face the music.  (Music is a code word for a chaotic blend of snacks, chores, homework, squabbling, and other kid-induced discomfort.) I stared out the window for a minute and my eyes fell on my scriptures on the bedside table.  I thought, “Maybe I should read my five pages now instead of waiting until bedtime.”  It helped a lot.  I read about Lehi’s dream and how he found himself in a “dark and dreary world,” and I thought about how it really is dark and dreary sometimes, but then he prayed to the Lord and pleaded for mercy and was brought out of that darkness into a spacious field where he could see the Tree of Life and find his way to the joy that it offered.  So I thought about how we don’t have to get stuck in that dreary part or get tricked into thinking that’s all there is because the Lord can help us find bright open spots with a better view and blessings in sight.  By that time, Grant was home from school, too, and Clark burst in the room yelling about something, so I still have one page left to finish tonight.  And that’s pretty much when my day started over.  Thank goodness.

So I’m going to try to think of a bright, spacious field with a glowy, shiny tree full of joy-fruit the next time things seem dark and dreary, which happens sometimes in the winter. Peanut butter brownies, naps, and exotic beachfront getaways are nice, too.  Two out of three ‘aint bad.

GCBC Week 8: The Blessing of Scripture

General Conference Book Club Week 8:


“The Blessing of Scripture” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Elder Christofferson summarizes the history of scripture and how blessed we are to have such a great quantity of holy words within our reach, more so than any previous generation.

“The central purpose of all scripture is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ—faith that They exist; faith in the Father’s plan for our immortality and eternal life; faith in the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which animates this plan of happiness; faith to make the gospel of Jesus Christ our way of life; and faith to come to know ‘the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent’ (John 17:3).”

This talk makes me grateful for the abundance of truth and guidance that sits right on my nightstand table.  It makes me realize how much more I can do with what I’ve been given.  What does Elder Christofferson’s talk say to you?

Go here to find the media versions of the talk (audio, video, mp3, etc.).  If this is your first visit to the General Conference Book Club,  click here to learn more about it.

General Conference Book Club Week 18: Elder Perry

Today in Sunday School, we talked about Noah, and how people lacked the faith to act on prophetic advice that would prepare them for dangers that were coming, dangers that they could not see nor anticipate.  The teacher made an analogy about his high school football days when the coach would have them watch game film of their upcoming opponent to prepare them to compete against them.  I thought about the analogy for a while and raised my hand (I’m one of those really annoying can’t-keep-my-mouth-shut kind of Sunday School participants):  “The game film is actually much like the scriptures.  It shows us patterns from the past and gives us the examples of what works and what does not.  A living prophet, then, would be like if the coach watched a film of what WILL happen and explains to the team exactly what should be practiced and prepared in order to meet the opponent and all that will occur.”  And I mentioned this talk that I only vaguely remembered, but now I want to study.

The talk is “The Past Way of Facing the Future” by Elder L. Tom Perry, from the Sunday morning session of the October 2009 conference.  He said, “The lessons of the past . . . prepare us to face the challenges of the future.” Upon reviewing the talk, it wasn’t quite what I had remembered, but he relates some specific accounts from the lives of pioneers and other historical events, and then harvests important lessons from them that we should learn and remember.  And as living apostle, sustained as a seer, he must speak of principles pertinent to our future.

You can read the talk herelisten to it here, or watch it here.  Visit here to learn more about General Conference Book Club.

Referring back to Noah, what things to you find in Elder Perry’s talk that would help us to build our own arks or be protected from the coming floods or calamities?

Rules

DSCF1442I’m a rule nazi.  It’s a good thing my kids aren’t teenagers yet because they still don’t fight back when I frequently say, “Ok, I’m making a new rule!”  I mean, who knew you needed rules like don’t wipe your boogers on my bedroom wall or in the carpet, or no sticking your whole fist in your beverage glass, or even do not run up and down the stairs and throughout the house with a poopy bum when you need to be wiped; please stay in the bathroom and call me?!?  Sigh.  There must be rules.

My “main” rules are taped on the fridge [see photo above] and I make the kids look at them often.  “Grant, go look at the rules!”  “Clark, stop throwing your books and go look at the rules!”  And they do it.  They stand there and oogle at them and run through each one, often out loud, and then usually say, “Oops. I forgot that one.  Sorry mom.”  I usually make them look at them after time-outs, too, so they can pick out the rule that got them into trouble in the first place.  Even Natalie walks past the rules and reports proudly, “Mommy, no push.”  I know, I need counseling.

You know, God gives us rules, too — commandments, and then the Holy Ghost “makes new rules” all the time like pick up the toys with them instead of yelling at them to do it.  I wish I were as disciplined about returning to the rules as I make my children be.  I think I’d make less mistakes if I constantly turned back to the scriptures to help me correct and monitor my behavior.  Maybe I need more time-outs myself…. oh, good idea; wouldn’t that be nice?

(This entry was originally posted on August 27, 2008.  I’m still rebuilding my lost archives.)

Getting it right

Alright, there are plenty of things I mess up.  I’m not the most patient mother in the world, I’m always running late and forgetting things, and even Matt admits I’m no laundry maven, and well, let’s face it, that list could go on and on.  But I would like to focus on the positive here and publicly declare that there is one thing I do right:

Books.

dscf20031

I read to my kids.  A lot.  It’s the one area I spoil them in and don’t feel guilt about it.  Holiday gifts always include books.  I’m also a sucker for book orders from school.  I love that their rooms have shelves full of books that are theirs to keep and read whenever they want.  We go to the library (almost) every Monday and they check out more books.  (Due to my skill of running late and forgetting things, I also pay enough fines every few months to keep most of the library workers employed.)

And you know what?  My kids love to read now.  Grant has started trying to read chapter books, and Clark reads so well that, despite being 4 1/2, he helps Grant with the hard words like “information,” “Philistines,” and “chrysanthemum.”  Even Natalie prefers to read books on her own than be read to.  She’ll sit down, turn the pages, look at the pictures, and narrate the story by herself, making it up as she goes along.  And if I try to get them to go to bed without reading them a scripture story, they won’t let me get away with it.

I don’t usually brag.  Hopefully my readers know that.  But this is one thing I’ve done right.  And I would now like to confess that my motivation is mostly selfish.  Consider the following:

  1. When my kids are out-of-control hyper, I know I can settle them down if I offer to read them stories.  They cuddle and listen quietly.
  2. The library is a free outing that also requires a certain level of quiet.
  3. They almost always bring a book with them when we go anywhere in the car.  Translation:  quiet.
  4. Now that they are “independent” readers, I start getting them ready an hour before bedtime and then let them have reading time until lights out.  Again, extra quiet time for me.  Books are awesome.

dscf1862

So I’m curious, what’s something you do right?  Give yourself a little credit.

And p.s.  I am loving the General Conference book club.  You guys have made the greatest comments already and it’s not even halfway through the week.  Remember that you can click on the reply button under any comment if you want to respond directly to someone else’s comment.  And though many people have written long, awesome commentaries, yours can be as “small and simple” as you want.  There are no rules and I love just knowing that people are reading.  It seriously made me feel connected to a bunch of strangers to know that we’re all studying the same thing together and collectively getting inspired and motivated.  Awesome, ladies, keep it up!