Monday, November 30, 2009

A Frequent Answer to My Prayers

First, a warning-- tragically, some spammers have gotten a hold of this blog. Fortunately, they have only sent comments to past posts, so I have been able to reject them and prevent them from ever showing up here.

I would like to keep the comments open for the current post, so hopefully it will stay that way. But I just wanted to post a warning that if you see any comment that looks weird, please don't click on it. So far, all of their comments have had numerous links for anything from pharmaceuticals to Russian sites. I haven't clicked on them, so I can't vouch for what you'd find. My advice is, stay away, and let me know if you see it so I can remove it promptly.


Okay, now for today's post.

I hope you all have people in your life who just seem to always be helping and making your life easier. I have a lot. Without them, I could not function. One of them is my sister-in-law Mel. She is the title of this blog. I can't tell you how many times Heavenly Father has answered my prayers through her. You should check out her Crazy Chorister Blog. It's designed for the chorister for the children at church, but it's full of fun ideas that can be applied to Family Home Evenings, or just good times with children.

Anyway, she does more than just come up with fun ideas to teach children music. Way more. One thing she does a lot is inspire me. She shared this experience with my family this summer and then posted it recently on her blog. And then she kindly allowed me to post it here with an added blurb about how it's increased the joy in her life.

And she saved me from having to think of an entire post today. The day after I returned home from a busy trip to HH's family. With very little sleep. And super sick kiddos. And a smelly smelly dog. And an empty fridge. And very low brain capacity.

So, for a million reasons--Thank you, Mel. I love you.

Before I let you read her super inspirational post, allow me to say a few words.

First of all, the book she mentions, "Preach My Gospel" is published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But I know that anyone from any faith would gain so much by reading it. It teaches great truths about who we are, our relationship to God and Jesus Christ, and how we can return to live with them again.

You can access the complete manual by clicking here or you can order a printed copy for $6 here.

When Mel shared her experience with me this summer, she unknowingly addressed an issue I've been praying about for over a year now. So, I began following in her footsteps, as I've found myself doing often since she joined my family, and I too have been greatly blessed for it. But she is fabulous with words and I love how she tells her story, so I'm going to leave it at that and let you get to know this wonderful person in my life.

Six months ago I came home from a long and frustrating day at church. I sat down in my favorite chair next to my bookshelf and pouted. I was very frustrated at my lack of the spirit. My eyes happen to wander to the bottom shelf, and there, smashed in between many other books was Preach My Gospel. I had received it from a Bishop a few years back, but never took the time to read it. I reached for it and thumbed through it. I even began reading the first chapter a bit. I came to a part where the missionaries daily schedule was laid out. I at once felt jealous. I knew there was no way I could get up early enough to beat my children out of bed to study and read the Scriptures without being so tired the rest of the day. My daily Scripture study was infrequent and could only take place after the kids were in bed. I wasn't getting what I wanted out of it because I was so tired myself. I tossed the book and went to bed that night discouraged....Then, a miracle happened.

I was awakened at 5:30am the next morning. Wide awake. I wondered why I was awake. I decided I need to go back to sleep. Then these words came into my head, "This is your time, get out of bed." I did. I grabbed my Scriptures and this book.....and my life hasn't been the same since.

Over the past 6 months, Heavenly Father has helped me arise early (this is a miracle, believe me). I have studied a spirit directed course of Preach My Gospel. I have replaced every word missionary with motherhood and every word investigator with children. It has been so helpful and wonderful in teaching me how I can better fulfill the mission I am serving right now. With each chapter I have been surprised how much I've been able to learn. I have coupled this with a daily chapter of the Book of Mormon and a Conference talk. I have filled three spiritual journals with insights and words of encouragement and love from my Heavenly Father. It has been a heart changing experience. And, my prayers to be able to share the Gospel with others have been answered many times. I have found that my inhibitions and lack of confidence in my abilities to share the Gospel have been replaced with faith and confidence.

I finished Preach My Gospel about a month ago. It was kind of emotional closing the book, it has been so exciting each morning to see what I can learn and improve on next. I've since began a study of the life of Jesus Christ using "Jesus The Christ" as my study guide. I feel closer to who I want to be. The amazing this is the more I read and study, the more I realize what I can change in my life, what I can give to the Lord, what I can repent of....and that is making me better.

I would like to challenge any one of you who read this blog to get a copy of Preach My Gospel. This is not simply for our Full-Time missionaries. This book was inspired in a way that can touch you, your spouse, and your family. I know for myself that your heart will be softened, your spiritual ears made sensitive, your ability to love and serve others increased, and your burdens made lighter. As you study this book and ponder the Scriptures, answers to prayers will come, and you'll find a joy that is sweet.

I would like to share my Testimony that I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon was written by prophets of God and Translated by the gift and power of God through Joseph Smith. I know that Jesus Christ is the only one who can provide the way for us to return to our Father in Heaven. I know his arms of mercy are extended to all of us if we repent and come unto him. I am so grateful for the power of prayer and the knowledge that we are never alone. He knows us. He loves us. He's waiting for us. He knew my desires, and he helped awaken me each morning. Is it a struggle to get up sometimes, of course. But I've come to know the joy and peace that comes with starting my day with my Heavenly Father's instructions.

Thanks again, Mel.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Would You Say I Have a Plethora of Pinatas?

I don't have any, actually. Tragic, I know.

But I do have a plethora of many many things.

HH and I are not even close to wealthy by U.S. standards. But we have more than enough for our needs and I know that is not the case for many people and families throughout the world. I really do feel very blessed.

There's a hymn that I've loved ever since I was very young. In fact, I think it's one of the first hymns I memorized as a child because it stirred very poignant feelings within every time I sung it. Last month I learned it was a favorite of my grandma's too, so now it has that much more meaning to me.

Many of you are familiar with it, but I'd like to share the text of it here.

Because I Have Been Given Much

Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live;
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me.

Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
My roof’s safe shelter overhead,
That he too may be comforted.

Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,
I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need;
I’ll show that love by word and deed:
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

I can't really think of much to add to that, so I'll just leave you with one final challenge. In the spirit of gratitude, I'm going to make an extra effort to give to someone every day this week. And not just along the usual lines of the things I do for my family, but something that really requires extra thought and effort on my part.

No one is so poor that they have nothing to give. One of the best gifts can often be a smile to a stranger. Or sharing your faith with someone in doubt. A hug. All sorts of gifts of kindness.

So, go out and show your gratitude by giving.

And have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Put It In Writing

Your "thank you", that is.

I am horrible at sending "thank you" cards. Do you want to know a horrible secret I've carried around the last 6 1/2 years?

Of course you do. Everyone always wants to know secrets.

But I'm warning you, this one is awful.

We never sent out "thank you's" after our wedding.

It's true. And terrible. And I've felt awful about it all along.

But I'm really bad about writing cards and mailing them. Shoot, I can't even keep up with my email.

So, I probably need this week's challenge more than anyone else. The challenge is to send out at least one "Thank you" card. For some reason, when you write it down, it's so much more meaningful.

I have a special folder where I keep special things. And I'm pretty sure just about every thank you card I've ever received is in there. I was in charge of the youth girls at our church back in New England for a little while. I stopped when I had Little M and a few of the girls sent me "thank you" notes in the mail. I was so touched, I cried. It just made all of the stress and frustrations totally worth it.

And there's someone from where we used to live that I really owe a "thank you" to. I've been meaning to send it since we moved here. And that's why I'm making that this week's challenge. Because if I tell all of you to do it, I have to do it.

And I'm so excited. Because saying, "thanks" always makes you feel great too!

Anyway, the phone just rang and woke up Sweet P which means I have to go. But go forth and send out "thank you's". Maybe if you all do that it will somehow make things better for me not sending those "thank you's" when it really mattered. Maybe... right?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Back Door to Gratitude

Before I forget, a new comment has been posted on "Can You Get That? I'm Too Busy Holding This Grudge."

Now, does anyone else feel like life just keeps spinning faster and faster and there will never be enough time to do everything you need to, let alone everything you want to? If anyone would like to write a post on that, please send me an email at I, for one, could really benefit.

Anyway, that kind of gives you a little peek into what I'll be typing about today.

Here we are in our month of Gratitude. I've been doing the Gratitude Countdown with my family (and we're loving it! Thanks, Mel!). But...

I've been kind of nasty lately.

I think the root of the problem is that I've been complaining too much. Way too much.

So, it probably wasn't just chance that I read an article in the gym last week about a woman with a similar problem who decided to make a change by wearing a bracelet on one wrist and switching it to the other every time she complained. I have a short attention span right now, so I never actually finished the article, but she was making great progress at the point I read to. And I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have written, or printed the article if the experiment fizzled out at the end.

So, I'm going to do that. Starting tonight when I find one of my kids' bracelets that will work for this. I promise. And anyone else struggling in this department is welcome to join me.

Because it's hard to really feel gratitude, or reap the benefits of it, when it's sandwiched in between complaints. That's why I called it "The Back Door to Gratitude." Because it's not exactly a direct route to Gratitude, but it's still totally related.

So, what other tips do you have for nipping complaints in the bud? What about when something really is wrong, how do you express it without it being a complaint? Should I extend this experiment to the rest of my family? Because sometimes (maybe a lot of the time) when they complain (usually it's directed at me, because I'm supposed to be the one who does it all and takes care of it all--oops, that was probably sort of a hidden complaint there, sorry!), I turn their complaint right back onto them. For example, "Why did you forget to wash my favorite shirt?" My response? "Why did you forget to wash your favorite shirt?" That's a really mature thing to say to a four-year old, I know.

So, what is a better way to teach her to express what she's saying without complaining?

I obviously need help here. I'm not always a complainer, just lately. And I really like to stop, so I can focus on my gratitude.

And before my family throws me out the window.

So, your advice is greatly appreciated.


Monday, November 2, 2009

It's November Again!

I can't believe it's already this time of year!

And can you believe that I'm actually posting when I said I would?!

That being said, this will be a short post. I still have a billion projects in my head from when my mom was here. I need to get them finished before I go crazy! But I'm loving every minute of it. Almost every minute. I'm not enjoying the repeat trips to JoAnn's or Lowe's, or anywhere else for that matter.

So, back to November. Those of you that have been reading this blog all along may remember that we focused on Gratitude for all of last November, in honor of Thanksgiving.

I hope it doesn't fee repetitive, but we're going to do that again. I just think Gratitude is essential in living a life of Abiding Joy and we can't emphasize it too much.

To start with, I want to share something my sister-in-law passed along to me this morning. It's focused on families with children at home, but I think you can easily adapt it to work for anyone in any situation.

The idea is to get you thinking about gratitude every day in a sort of countdown to Thanksgiving. My s-i-l had it done on cute little labels. Unfortunately, I don't know how to copy that over to this site and my computer really struggles with Adobe Acrobat (the format it was in). Because my computer is dying.

HH seems pretty gung ho about replacing my humble laptop with a pretty cool upgrade. That is something I'd be very grateful (and excited) for!

But I digress. Back to daily gratitude.

Print off the daily ideas. Feel free to design your own cute little labels for them. Then cut them out individually. Place them in a cute jar. Pull one strip from the jar each day and you MUST do what it says that day.

We're totally going to do this. I'm so excited about it! Thanks, Mel!

  • I am Thankful for My Family! Play a game together, inside or outside! (board game, hike, chalk art, etc.)
  • I am Thankful for Pies! Make some Pumpkin Pies to deliver to anyone! (unless you're delivering it to me--please, make it pecan.)
  • I am Thankful for Grandparents! Call and tell them "I love you" "I am grateful for you"!
  • I am Thankful for Prayer! Say a prayer only using the words "I thank Thee for..." and don't ask for anything.
  • I am Thankful for Computers! Send an email to someone you love, and a photo!
  • I am Thankful for my Toys! Give some of your toys to Goodwill to give to other kids. (Grown-ups--you know you have toys you can give up too).
  • I am Thankful for my Teachers! Make a plate of cookies and/or a card for your piano, Primary (church), or school teacher.
  • I am Thankful for our Car! Clean out the car, and go get ice cream cones in it!
  • I am Thankful for Turkeys! Art project: Make paper turkeys
  • I am Thankful for Neighbors! Do a secret service for your neighbor! (rake leaves, pull weeds, leave a treat, etc.)
  • I am Thankful for my Heavenly Father! Write in you journal and say a prayer expressing your love and gratitude!
  • I am Thankful for my Cousins! Call or write a letter to one of your cousins!
  • I am Thankful for the Scriptures! Have a Family Home Evening on a favorite scripture story--memorize a scripture!
  • I am Thankful for Sisters! Do something nice for her! (make her bed, do her job, play a game with her, etc.)
  • I am Thankful for Food! Go to the store and pick out a food that you haven't tried yet!
  • I am Thankful for our Kitchen! Bake something fun together in the kitchen!
  • I am Thankful for my Ears! Close your eyes and listen to music! Play some music. Enjoy it all day!
  • I am Thankful for my Dad! Do something nice for Dad! (run give him a hug when he gets home from work, write him a note, shine his shoes, clean his closet, organize the garage, etc.)
  • I am Thankful for my Hands! Art Project: Finger painting, or drawing.
  • I am Thankful for my Eyes! Watch a special movie with your family!
  • I am Thankful for my Brother! Do something nice for your brother! (make his bed, do his job, play a game with him, etc.)
  • I am Thankful for my Legs! Go outside--run and jump or ride your bike!
  • I am Thankful for my Mom! Do something nice for mom! (write her a note, good chocolate, cook and clean up dinner, do the laundry, clean any room, etc.)
  • I am Thankful for Books! Go to the library and pick out some Thanksgiving books!
  • I am Thankful for the Seasons! Go on a walk, enjoy nature, the colors, etc.
  • I am Thankful for my Teeth! Give Mom & Dad some Halloween candy and brush & floss
  • I am Thankful for a Prophet! Read a Conference talk or article in the church magazine by him! (If you are of a faith other than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, feel free to pick a different leader of a church or state).
  • I am Thankful for my Home! Clean out a hall, bedroom, or upstairs closet together--play music and have fun!

I am so grateful for this fun idea, too! I encourage all of you to take the challenge and do it. You better get started--it's already November 2nd!