While I’m not sleeping

This is a middle-of-the-night brain bleed of sorts.

I went to bed with a migraine and woke up with the remnants of a tension headache.  I’m guessing I must be a little stressed out, but I’m not really sure about what.

I have now deleted and restarted this point of my post at least a half a dozen times because I don’t want it to turn in to a list of my frustrations and challenges right now, especially because when I line them all up in my head, they pale in comparison to the “real” struggles I see other people going through.  Then I just feel wimpy, so that doesn’t help.  Plus, I don’t want my mom and others who know me well to read this and think, “Oh dear, Stephanie’s losing it,” because that would be embarrassing.  And it’s not true.  I think.  See?  I already want to delete this paragraph and start over again, but it’s 2:30 in the morning and I should really finish and get back to bed. (There’s definitely going to be a debate about whether or not to hit the publish button when I’m done with this one.)

So.

I’m going to be intentionally vague here.  Sometimes God tells you that you should do something that you’re not super comfortable with, but you do it anyway because you have faith that He will not lead you astray even if He will lead you away from what you think you want.  And if you’re naive (like me), you think that once you take that leap of faith, things will probably fall into place and God will bless you and it will all be just fine.  And it probably all will, still.  But in the meantime, it’s a lot harder than you thought it would be, and there are challenges you didn’t really expect at all, so you have to try hard to keep the same trust you had in the beginning when you closed your eyes and jumped.  And that’s not easy.  And maybe it makes you wake up in the night with a headache.

I’m totally going to change the subject now, because I think that will be helpful.

Last night, Clark taught our Family Home Evening lesson.  He’s six, by the way.  He used some leftover props/handouts from his last Primary class and did it all completely on his own.  It was about covenants.  At one point he said, “This is the third time I’m going to say this, but promises are really, really important.  You should really keep your promises, especially if they are with Heavenly Father.  You should never break them, but if you do break them, make sure you repent.”  My favorite part was when he said, “Heavenly Father never breaks a promise.   Sometimes people break promises, but that’s because they’re not perfect like Heavenly Father.”  I love that kid.

You know what?  I love my children a lot.  I have a fantastic husband.  We have a lot of really great blessings.  I wish I did a better job of showing love and gratitude where it’s due.  I just sat here and reread this post, and these are the thoughts that came to me:  humility and prayer, priesthood blessing, grace (I’m reading a book about this, and I’ll tell you more about it soon), and relax.  Go back to the trust.  And go back to bed.

Good night.

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GCBC Week 4: Follow the Prophet

“Obedience to the Prophets”
Elder Claudio R. M. Costa
Of the Presidency of the Seventy
Saturday morning session

and

“Our Very Survival
Elder Kevin R. Duncan
Of the Seventy
Saturday afternoon session

 

It was interesting that both of these speakers based their talks on this same talk by President Ezra Taft Benson:  Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet

I thought it would be appropriate to study both of their talks together this week and take an up-close look at the importance of placing our trust in the Lord by heeding the words of his servants.  President Henry B. Eyring said the following specifically about listening to the messages we hear at General Conference:

“There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety. And there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. … Those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety…

“In our own time, we have been warned with counsel of where to find safety from sin and from sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated.

“One of the ways we may know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention…”  — Henry B. Eyring, “Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997, 24

So, since this message was repeated so obviously in these two talks, and then also mentioned in several other talks during general conference, it certainly begs our careful attention.

“This world is full of so many self-help books, so many self-proclaimed experts, so many theorists, educators, and philosophers who have advice and counsel to give on any and all subjects. With technology today, information on a myriad of subjects is available with the click of a keystroke. It is easy to get caught in the trap of looking to the “arm of flesh” for advice on everything from how to raise children to how to find happiness. While some information has merit, as members of the Church we have access to the source of pure truth, even God Himself. We would do well to search out answers to our problems and questions by investigating what the Lord has revealed through His prophets.”  — Elder Duncan

“We are privileged to have the words of our living prophets, seers, and revelators during this wonderful general conference. They will speak the will of the Lord for us, His people. They will transmit the word of God and His counsel to us. Pay attention and follow their instruction and suggestions, and I testify to you that your life will be completely blessed.”  — Elder Costa

What rivets your attention in these talks?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What stood out to you as you studied them?  What do you think is the warning associated with this repeated message?  What did it make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it, and then join us.

The faith and fear theory: I beg to differ.

We moved two weeks ago.  Two weeks seems like nothing and forever at the same time.  Matt is at his new job; he likes it.  My boys will be home from school soon.  Natalie is watching Maggie and the Ferocious Beast (it’s a preschool cartoon), and I’ve been hanging out at the computer desk for longer than I should have today.  The last 12 days or so have been a frenzy of unpacking boxes and putting every thing in its new place.  Somehow during this same time, the boys convinced Matt that they needed to buy some guinea pigs since they had to leave their beloved fish, Colors, behind in Minnesota.  Don’t ask me how I feel about the new pets.

My bedroom is the last room to unpack, except for some “storage” boxes in the basement.  I can’t bring myself to do it; I’ve been avoiding those last dozen boxes or so for about 3 days.  At first I thought it was because I was just feeling tired and a little bit lazy, and who likes to organize a closet anyway? (I know some of you might actually like that kind of thing, and all I can say about that is:  How much do you charge?)  However, after a little bit of gloom today and a little bit of reflection, it dawned on me:

I don’t want to finish unpacking because then I live here.  Really live here.

And then I realized that the thought terrifies me a little bit.  That seems ridiculous because, hello, I’m already here, but everything happened so fast.  I’m not sure I ever really got a chance to process it all.  I think I might be afraid. Continue reading

Here she is… Miss I-crossed-America

I made it.

I am alive.  And I finally have Internet access.

Here is a little time-line to point out the whirlwind the last two months have been (and to record this insanity for my posterity):

June 21:  Matt gets his new job offer.  We negotiate and ponder for a few days and decide to accept it, contingent upon selling our home in Minnesota.  I begrudgingly accept the possibility of moving to Utah, but only if our house is sold first.

Beginning of July:  Contacted by relocation team with realtors, inspectors, movers, etc.  All a little overwhelming, but things get rolling.  We work like crazy to get our house in great shape to go on the market, including painting, packing, garage sales, storage unit, landscaping, small repairs throughout, etc.

July 16:  FOR SALE sign goes up and house is officially on the market.  I take the kids over to my mother-in-law’s house to sleep (so our house stays CLEAN).

July 17:  Drove two 11-hour days to get to Atlanta (where my parents live) so that we could spend time with them and the house would stay clean for showings.  Matt drove with us, we got a flat tire and had to replace all our tires.  He flew back to return to work (which he was not allowed to quit until our house sold).

July 23:  Our house sold.  What?!!  The first people that came through for a showing put in an offer.  Negotiations made and accepted by both parties.  I was shocked.  I probably need not describe the current market conditions and what a miracle it was.  This is the part where I realized that God was totally in charge, and He had plans completely independent of mine.

July 28:  I leave the children with my parents and fly to Utah to house hunt.  I look for 3 days and then Matt joins me.  We find a house in an area I had not considered at all.  (Matt found it online and I finally consented to go see it after crossing it off the list several times and being annoyed at his lack of focus in the housing search.)

July 31:  Put an offer on the house.  A few days of negotiations, then accepted by both parties.  We feel really blessed that we were able to find something we both liked at a really great deal. I went back to Atlanta, and Matt went back to Minnesota.

Week of August 1:  House inspections, mortgage initiation, lots of paperwork, more negotiations, hundreds of cell phone minutes logged.  Matt puts in his notice at work.

August 6:  Matt flies to Atlanta, and we all begin the drive back to Minnesota.  Two more long days in the car.

August 11:  Moving company arrives and packing begins.  (Yes, that quickly.  And no, I could not have done it without packers.  Thank heavens.)

August 13:  Moving company loads up the van with all our items.  The house is left empty, and we head out of town by 8 pm.

August 16: We finally roll into the Salt Lake Valley after 4 days of travel that included all of the following:  3 children, two cars, a trailer in tow, 3 nights in hotels, thousands of Sturgis bikers on the roads and in the hotels, loading and unloading all the contents of our 2 vehicles every night (except for Matt’s toolbox which I accidentally left in the hotel closet in Rapid City, SD), altitude sickness at the Continental Divide and pulling over several times because I thought I was going to faint, children with short tempers and leg cramps and even some fever, and finally, an overheated truck resulting in 2 hours at a truck stop and the rest of the journey with no air conditioning.  Bet you wish you could have joined us.  Next two nights spent sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags at our new house waiting for our stuff to arrive.  I also registered the kids for school.

August 18:  Moving truck arrives with our stuff.  Hallelujah.  Next few days spent unpacking box after box after box.

Today:  Still unpacking, starting to feel settled in the house.  Haven’t ventured out much yet because there’s still so much to do here.  The children are all irritable and naughty, which given the circumstances is no big surprise.  I’ve been pretty darn irritable and tired myself.  Matt starts work next week and the boys start school.  Hopefully we’ll fall into a nice routine soon.  And hopefully that routine involves naps for me.

Lessons learned:  Even in a world full of billions of people and turmoil and mind-numbing events, Heavenly Father is still aware of us as individuals and families, and somehow manages to find the time to put His hand in the details of our simple lives and make things as they should be.  And though insignificant by comparison, He lifts us through our trials and struggles and helps us survive them all.  Maybe even better off than we were before, but that remains to be seen.  Trusting Him goes a long way.

(I’ll slowly fall back into the blogging routine, maybe at a new pace.  I’m so sorry about the neglected GCBC; I’ll try to pick up where I left off soon.)

Jumping in

Sometimes, even when you know something is the right thing to do, it’s hard to step forward.  Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in anxieties and the possibility of worst-case scenarios.  Sometimes you can start a journey with confidence, but a few steps in, you find yourself dragging your feet and looking back over your shoulder.  Sometimes faith and courage don’t come as easy as you thought they would.

Sometimes you’ve got to close your eyes, feel it deep, and just jump in.

“Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that ‘leap of faith,’ as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two.”  ~ Elder Boyd K. Packer

“Beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now…  Face your doubts. Master your fears. ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence.’ Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.” ~ Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

I can do this.

Right?

What I learned at a dating etiquette dinner

etitableLast night I was asked to participate in my ward’s dating etiquette dinner for the youth.  I have two theories why:

1.  I dated longer than most people and am, therefore, an expert.  (which only truly means that I loathe dating more than most people.)

2.  My husband was hoping to spice up my current dating life and submitted my name.

Either way, they asked me to speak on dating.  It was actually quite fun.  In the process of preparing, despite my “expert” status, I learned a couple things myself.  Take for instance this advice to young women about how to treat young men:

“Young women, can you see beyond young men’s occasional awkwardness and immaturity and imagine them as future leaders in the Church and in their homes? Are you treating them as they can become? There are many ways you can show respect for the priesthood and manhood.”

And I thought to myself, You know, this doesn’t just apply to young men.  It really applies to husbands too.  And children. The phrase “see beyond” stood out to me.  Oh, how I need to do this more with weaknesses, frustrations, trials, obstacles, whatever . . . .  I need to look past them and see things and people as they really are.

As I discussed with the youth the dating standards that the Lord has established through His living prophets, I acknowledged that I know it is way different from the way their friends approach dating, and that’s okay.  It is different because it’s right.  And I told them that God is not out of touch; He knows exactly what they need to be the best person they can be and to qualify for the most blessings possible.  It’s really about trusting Him.  This leads to the other lesson I learned.  While I was driving there that night and thinking through my conclusion, this concept of trust is what came to mind.  I realized that it is the reason we follow any commandments or standards at all.  So I told the youth last night this newly-clarified lesson that I was reminded of in my car:

If you are struggling with whether or not to trust Him and do what He asks, you simply need to get to know Him better.  Because once you know Him, and understand what He’s like and how much He loves you, it’s easy to trust Him.  You’ll find him worthy of that trust.

And so it is for each of us, and for any commandment—  dating or whichever commandment seems to be the tough one in my post-dating life.  It all comes back to the basics.  Am I reading my scriptures and praying and listening for his voice in my life?  Am I working hard at building a relationship with my Savior?  Because when I am, and when I know Him and feel Him close, it’s easy to trust Him.

Oh, and I also learned that you’re supposed to pass food from the left to the right, and you should take the piece of bread closest to you when they pass a bread basket, and you should never blow your nose in your napkin.  See?  A very educational night.