Table talk.

dinner[image credit here] Image discredit: This looks nothing like my family at dinner.

Plates spinning.

Balls juggling.

Irons in the fire.

Call it what you want, but life has just felt BUSY. And even when it’s not busy, my mind is so busy. (Why must my mind constantly to-do list? Why?) My children are still relatively young, and I try desperately not to overbook them, but the calendar still makes me dizzy some weeks. Cub scouts, parent-teacher conference, homeowners meetings, visiting teaching, etc.

President Uchtdorf said:

Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Ugh. I don’t think it’s a badge. If it were, I could take it off, and I would. Oh, I would. And I know it’s not a superior life, because my idea of a superior life has something more to do with beaches, books, and not a calendar to be found. But I’m not blameless, and I know I can always use a little prioritizing and my to-do list would benefit from some erasing. The quote continues…

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.

People. Time. Purpose. One of the things I cling to during the busy seasons is dinnertime. At least we can sit down together and all look at each other in the face and remember we belong to each other. We do scripture study early in the morning too, but sometimes people don’t look at each other, on account of their eyes being swollen shut with sleep and all. But at dinnertime, we can finally breathe a little and try to talk over a meal. I am still light years away from making those meals much to brag about (tonight was mac&cheese), but we set the table and sit down and eat. My children are just young enough that a lot of their table talk makes me wonder why family dinner was a good idea in the first place (farts and boogers, anyone?), but at least it’s entertaining.

[I recently received a copy of book called “Table Talk” by John and Tina Bushman, and it’s full of ideas of NORMAL and halfway intelligent questions to discuss with your kids over the dinner table. Some of them are a tad advanced for my little ones, but some can lead in to cool conversations, like after Matt’s grandma died, we could talk about stuff like “What do you believe happens to a person’s soul when they die?” Anyway, you can find it here if you’re interested.]

In my fantasy world, someday my children will look back with nostalgia at our time sitting around the table together. And I’m sure they will all be successful, happy, and glowing because of it.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks cautioned,

The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.”3 Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs.4 There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you.

I think what my children really want for dinner is cinnamon rolls and orange soda, but I’m hoping Elder Oaks is right and I will suffice.
So sit down with your kids and have a nice dinner conversation. If you’re craving mac&cheese, come on over.
(Feel free to leave one of your favorite fast/easy dinner recipes in the comments.)

GCBC Week 7: “Of Regrets and Resolutions” By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone. I know it will be a busy one, but I think this talk might help us keep focused on what matters most.  It’s now week 7 of general conference book club, and we’ll be studying President Uchtdorf’s message– the last talk from the Saturday A.M. session:

Of Regrets and Resolutions

By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

 

President Uchtdorf talked about some of the things that people seem to reflect on the most when they are facing death. He pointed out three major common regrets:

  1. I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love
  2. I Wish I Had Lived Up to My Potential
  3. I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier

Which one of these stood out to you? Number 3 was a great reminder to me because I tend to get frustrated with my children when days seem full of setbacks and pushback, and I have a hard time letting it go and moving forward with any measure of cheer. This was a good reminder to me to spend more time choosing to be happy even when things, or even whole days, go wrong.

Because we make mistakes, most days will include something we regret doing or saying. Even though it wasn’t a major focus of the talk, I felt the importance of apologizing, repenting, and carrying on with minimal regret so that we’re not stockpiling regrets until the end of life.

What did you like and learn from this talk? Please share in the comments below some of your insights.

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

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.  🙂

Freeze frame!

Summer is coming and this is my favorite time of year, except for the part about swimsuits.  The other day I was outside in the yard while the kids were playing.  It was sunny and warm and breezy and beautiful– the kind of day that just makes me feel content.  And then, suddenly, I felt a little bit panicky because it’s ALREADY JUNE and it’s going so fast and summer’s going to be gone and it’s going to be snowing again before I even know it.  STOP THE CLOCK ALREADY!  I really wanted to freeze the calendar and stay in June 3rd for a long, long time.  I keep thinking about that song by the Steve Miller band that says, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future . . . ”  And I thought about the Book of Mormon, where it says (somewhere, I’m too lazy to look it up) that in the last days, people’s treasures will become slippery.  Time is a treasure Continue reading