2014: How’d it go?

 

 

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Yep, that picture pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject….

 

Sometimes I almost feel a rebellious impulse to not go through the goal-setting process of an approaching New Year. Then I remember how habitual I am by nature and I know that I will never change and improve unless I make a planned and persistent effort to do so. So here we go with my first phase.

Reflection Time! I usually do this every 3-4 months to see how I’m doing, where I need to revise things and perhaps be more specific or realistic in my expectations. The end of the year I like to take a whole look at the year though and see how I’ve done with my goals.

This year, like most;), did not go exactly as planned but I think I did make significant progress in many of my goals. If you’d like to see a detailed outline of my 2014 goals you can see the  post on my 2014 Life Cleanse Outline.

The good. I think I did a fairly good job with the health and fitness part of my goals at the beginning of the year. I did my Food Cleanse and also had cleaned  up my diet to the point that I felt I was eating the right things and in the right way for my body. Also, I had a fitness routine that was challenging and got to the point that I felt I was back into the physical shape I wanted to be at, actually I surpassed my expectations in this aspect.

More good. I do feel I made considerable progress with my emotional and spiritual goals. I did become better at studying and feel I have improved my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I now have moved my devotional time to mornings too which has made a significant difference in my day as a whole. I also feel that I came to several conclusions and realizations about myself as I strived to find the “roots” to my vices. I believe this will help me significantly as I make new goals for the upcoming year.

The bad. I did not do as well with my record keeping as I would have liked. This is so important for me as I’ve noticed I make progress more quickly, consistently, and permanently when I’m journaling that progress. I tended just to write when I was struggling, more as a way to vent. While not bad in and of itself, I did not usually write my solutions or progress in the struggles. The majority of my reasoning for keeping a journal is for my descendants and I don’t want to seem like a pessimist!

More bad. I also did not progress much in breaking my habit of going until I can’t go anymore. I know that this is a major stumbling block to my stress levels and thus the atmosphere in our home. I am just TOO task oriented in general and do not stop to smell the roses and enjoy the moments as I need to.

The downright ugly. As I mentioned earlier, I did a good job with my health and fitness “at the beginning of the year.” Basically by the end July you would never have known I even cared about such things! I tried really hard to stay faithful to my cleaner eating habits but as the morning sickness ensued I realized that my stomach just cannot handle the same foods when pregnant as they can normally. It took me until I was throwing up blood to realize that I just have to listen to my body and readjust. Unfortunately, I’ve taken up some pretty bad eating habits that I’ll have to straighten out again this year.

More ugly. I don’t know that I’ve ever done so little exercise during a pregnancy. I also don’t remember ever being this consistently exhausted in my previous pregnancies. Not to mention my varicose veins that rival my Grandmother’s (no joke, I checked when we visited in October) Yes, I usually take a 2-4 month break from anything routine or challenging during my sickest months, but I usually pick things back up and get back into a low-impact regular exercise routine by the end of my pregnancies. I have done some exercise and I of course have 4 young children to go and do with and for so I’m not sedentary but Wow….I am feeling the out-of-shape-ness coming on strong. I know this will make it more difficult to get back into a routine, I’m just hoping that underneath the layer of blubber I still have the muscle tone I worked so hard for at the beginning of the year.

Another thing I’ve realized during this reflection time is that when outlining my goals I separate them into my own, family, couple, and homeschooling. I think this year I’m going to still do that but see how I can integrate them more so as to better synthesize the process and hopefully make more progress that way.

So that’s where I stand at the end of this year. I’m in the process of re-evaluating and will post my goals for the upcoming year soon! In the meantime I hope you are all enjoying the festivities and spending some quality time with loved ones!

Stay tuned:)

 

 

Pregnancy: Let’s Get Real

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Real Life: Wearing my hubby’s clothes, hair not done, no make-up…Nope, I can only do two things today; homeschool while trying to keep my cookies down…

I really admire optimistic people. You know those really sunny, smiley, eternally happy people that find the silver lining in everything and don’t seem to even feel or see anything negative. I love to be around people like that, they are inspiring and really just make your day. I want to be like that so I try to surround myself with what I want to become.

However, I’m not there yet. I wouldn’t say I’m a pessimist, but I’m very realistic. I can see the positive, but I don’t ignore the negative. I also need realistic people in my life, I want someone that is going to tell me how it is, or will be. Someone that will give it to me straight. I want to know what to REALLY expect.

So with that said, these next few posts on pregnancy are going to be realistic. They are my experiences, I am not a doctor nor expert in any way. I have had 8 pregnancies in the last 10 ½ years and am just about to complete my 5th full-term pregnancy in January. Every person and every body is different so I really don’t think anyone has the same kind of pregnancy as some one else. Furthermore, in my experience every pregnancy is different, though you may have some things that are similar with each one.

So let’s get real.

1.) Morning Sickness:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           -First of all I have NO idea why it is called MORNING sickness. For me it is all day and all night sickness. Morning is worst because my blood sugar is low and I’m so tired. Evenings are more indigestion issues. I generally start to feel queasy at conception and get to the “constantly” sick point at around 6-8 weeks and it goes to more infrequent spurts of sickness around 25-30 weeks, but I have had stomach issues for the entire 9 months for each pregnancy.

2.) Energy:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -For me, the tiredness is worse when the morning sickness is worse and then again toward the end. Not sure if it’s because I’m busier with each subsequent pregnancy and have less time to rest, but it seems that with each pregnancy I have had to battle the fatigue more. I also have a very hard time sleeping in general when I’m pregnant. In the beginning my stomach issues are the biggest hurdle, I can usually only sleep on my left side or I throw up. As the baby gets heavier my sciatica and tail-bone decide to wake me up in pain. The last couple of months I have really bad insomnia and though I’m incredibly tired I have a horrible time going and staying asleep, probably because by this time my mind is working MUCH more than my body is able to keep up so I get a bit frustrated and then anxiety kicks in. After the morning sickness is not constant I do find that I can get by with more normal amounts of sleep, but I still have to lay down to rest my back and veins for a bit during the day. I have had the “nesting” phase kick in with each pregnancy 2-3 weeks before delivery in differing phases. Sometimes it’s just enough to motivate me to get prepared for the baby while other times my husband has woken up at all hours of the night to find me scrubbing the top of the refrigerator (true story)!

3.) Body Changes:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 -You could get breast augmentation or you could get pregnant. Seriously, the girls GROW! My first pregnancy I went from a small C-cup to a very full E-cup….I didn’t even know until then that an E-cup existed! My poor first born trying to breast feed…you try latching on to a beach ball! Thankfully with my subsequent pregnancies I’ve gone only up to a DD-cup, but since it’s still quite the leap and my upper back and neck definitely feel the strain. Also, by my second pregnancy the ladies shrunk down to a full C-cup generally by month 4 postpartum.

-I’m nearly 6ft tall and just generally a large person. I also carry my babies low and to the back. Thus, I don’t even look pregnant until I’m about 5-6months. I’ve been told by dozens of people that this is a wonderful thing. While I’m sure there are benefits, the cons I’ve had to deal with are sciatica, tail-bone displacement, varicose veins, and back labor. Also, though comparatively speaking my tummy doesn’t get “out there” I’ve had abdominal separation (diastasis recti) with each pregnancy, and it’s never knitted back together completely after the last three, though I have gotten close. My hips and ribs also always have grown as the baby pushes away at my insides, sometimes getting up to 4 inches wider. Thankfully they’ve gone back to position by month 5 postpartum, at the latest.

-As for weight gain, I have always lost weight (between 10-15 lbs) during the first trimester and usually don’t hit my pre-pregnancy weight again until about 5 months along. But don’t you worry! I do PLENTY of catching up in those last 4 months;) I’m not huge on weighing myself, I don’t even own a scale on purpose cause I get too obsessive. So I’m never real sure what my exact pre-pregnancy weight is but I’ve gained anywhere from 19 lbs with my second pregnancy to this pregnancy I’m currently at 44 pounds at 37 weeks! Yikes! I usually lose a few pounds at the end but suffice it to say I’ve got my work cut out for me after this one;)

-In the first trimester I generally have problems with body regulations. I don’t urinate often cause I’m vomiting up the liquids and/or not able to tolerate them, then due to lack of hydration I am generally constipated. I also am generally very cold during the first trimester and have a hard time regulating my body temperature. I get faint easily and often get headaches due to hydration issues. By the last trimester I generally just feel out of control of my body. I’m hot then cold. Gas is coming out both ends without warning. My bowels can’t decide whether to speed up or slow down. If I drink anything, or laugh, or cough, or pick up my toddler, or sit down or get up to fast, or go over bumps in the car, I have to pee. During two of my pregnancies I’ve had some swelling in my hands and feet/ankles, they’ve also been the ones in which I’ve gained the most weight, so go figure. Though I’ve always been able to keep my wedding ring on the entire time, every pregnancy either due to swelling and/or my feet actually widening, I’ve had shoes that I have to wait ‘til about 4-5 months postpartum to fit into again.

-Obviously, having a little baby inside of you is going to create some discomfort. Though the babies movements are thrilling and interesting on one hand, having someone kick your bladder, suffocate your lungs, press on your intestines and push your spine and ribs apart can be a bit disconcerting at times. I’ve found that personality tends to drive the types and frequency of movements. My more active and exuberant children have been that way even in the womb. My “dancer” today would hear one note of music in the womb and start “dancing”. Interestingly, my two children that have had the hardest time with sibling rivalry were that way from the beginning, if my toddler sat on my lap and the baby could feel her she would push at her until she moved. Thankfully, I’ve come to the point of acceptance for the most part and thankfully my last couple babies haven’t been the kick-boxers my first couple wereJ

4.) Emotions

-Generally speaking I’m a wreck when I’m pregnant. I cry over EVERYTHING. I over-react over EVERYTHING. I’m also much more “needy”, feeling lonely more easily and not liking to do things by myself. I get stressed and overwhelmed more easily. I generally hit some “blues” during all of my pregnancies, mostly due to overwhelm I think, but with two of my pregnancies I’ve had quite the battle with prenatal (antenatal) depression which seems to dissipate after the birth. I also get a bit of a “head-trip” when I really start gaining weight and my belly starts to grow. I like to be fit and seeing my body look more like the Michelin Man kind of makes me feel a little insecure, even downright ugly at times. Overall it’s a roller-coaster, I’m happy, then sad, then angry, then anxious….up and down and all around. Honestly, it’s just REALLY annoying.

5.) Spirituality

– Though incredibly related to emotions, I’m putting a separate category for this because it is truly a life changing experience. Honestly, I detest pregnancy in every other aspect other than this one. I would guess that I’ve had an overall feeling of deeper and more intense spiritual experiences during pregnancy largely because I am so intimately connected with another living spirit. Those that would argue that the fetus is not technically human, nor spiritually aware have never felt the immediate difference one feels even during the first trimester of pregnancy. There is definitely another spirit with you. With each of my pregnancies I have felt not only a presence but a definite personality and being with me. It is truly an amazing experience and it’s no surprise that when your baby is finally born it’s as if you’ve always had them in your life. God is truly wise.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is more just to “tell it like it is”, from my experience. In my following posts on pregnancy I’ll deal more with tips and advice. And still further posts on labor and postpartum.

Stay tuned:)

On Loan

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Some of the beauties that I have “On Loan” at the moment….

She looked up at me with a tear-stained face, not even capable of holding back the fountain of tears that had pushed their way up from her broken heart. “I don’t even want to try anymore,” she managed to whisper. She was still recovering from a painful miscarriage, just a little over a year after watching her son, barely a day old, die in the hospital, from what could have been a preventable infection. Honestly, I just wanted to run away. The pain was too deep and the agony was palpable in the room. I ached as I sat closer and gave her a hug. There was nothing I could do, that was the worst of it. It was all in her court. That and in the arms of the Lord. Only He could carry her through…

Being a woman, especially one with children in the home, you seem to learn more of these tragic stories either from your own experience or the other women in your circle of influence. Miscarraige, still-borns, infant death, child death…then there is a different side of the coin that is equally heart-wrenching, women who spend their whole childhood dreaming of someday being a mother and then they are unable to conceive. Some of them move forward with foster care and adoption and have to deal with the unsympathetic bureaucratic nonsense that often leaves them childless once again as they are forced to give up a child, one they have often put their heart and soul into raising and bonding with, that has become THEIR baby.
When I hear of these stories they are often close to home. I have had three miscarriages myself and nearly every woman I have been close too has a very similar story of heartache to tell. I have pondered on this subject for years. Where is the justice? Where is the mercy? What is the purpose?
When my niece died of SIDS I remember falling to my knees in prayer, nearly screaming at God, WHY!?? WHY HER? WHY THIS? That is the only time I can remember ever being angry with God. It just didn’t make sense. I knew He was a loving God, how could he allow this to happen?
The Lord comforted me and though I didn’t have answers I was able to move forward with the thought, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
It wasn’t until very recently that answers slowly began to come. I started looking at the bigger picture and as I put together all my ponderings I realized that the Lord had wanted me to find my own answer.
There were two very influential statements said during this time of pondering that helped me shape my answer. One came from a dear friend that constantly inspires me with her devoted life, amidst seemingly impossible odds. She was sharing her experience of how she began to want to change her life and become a disciple of Christ, eventually leading her to baptism in our church. She said essentially, “When I came to the funeral of my sister’s infant son I felt something different. I felt that it was time to change my life…I know that part of his (the baby that had died) mission in this life was to bring me back to Christ.” When she said that it was like a lightning strike of truth entered my being. I knew what she said was true.
I believe everyone comes to earth for a specific purpose and when it all comes down to it, our main goal as brothers and sisters in God, is to make sure that we all make it back to Him. I just had never thought about even a baby having a mission and that it could be fulfilled in just a few short hours of living. As I looked back on my niece’s life I could see how she too had become a catalyst to lead many members of our family closer to Christ.
As I pondered this on the back burner of my brain, another memory came. My dear step-father had shared with me his insights with me during my first miscarriage. He too, had lost a baby when she was a mere few hours old and he shared from his journal an insight that came to him during this time. He said basically (I’m paraphrasing horribly), “We need to remember that nothing that we’ve been given is actually ours, everything belongs to the Lord. That means even our children are “on loan” to us, they don’t belong to us, they are part of our stewardship and if we prove worthy and teach them correctly then through the mercy and power of the atonement of Christ we can all live together forever. That also means that in order to follow Christ we must as he said, be willing to give up everything, even our children, whether it be for our better good, their better good, or the good of the kingdom.”
These two thoughts seemed to fill in a huge piece of the puzzle for me. We all have a mission, even our children. Sometimes ours, or their mission in this life can be fulfilled in a moment. And sometimes the only obstacle standing between us and Christ, is our inability to let go or something that really isn’t even ours to begin with.
As I’ve tried to apply these principles to the many heartaches I have witnessed, at times it is still very hard to accept.
I know a wonderfully amazing young woman that has had her share of hardship. But never the sun goes down on a day that she has not made better for someone else. She inspires me with her dedication, wisdom, creativity and tenacity. She is also among one of the army of remarkable women who whether for a time or a lifetime, has been unable to conceive.
Instead of viewing it as a set-back, she has chosen to move forward and share her mothering and nurturing talents in the foster care system. She amazes me because she knows that these children may only be with her for a matter of weeks or months, yet she puts her heart and soul into raising them as if they were from her very own womb.

It is because she is a mother, regardless of biology, she knows that as a woman, her divine purpose on this earth is to lead and guide children back to Christ. She knows that, regardless of their origin of birth, they are children of God and she will lead them back to Him. My belief is that is her divine mission.
These children, regardless of their age or future circumstance will always remember her influence and wherever they might go in life they will know that they were loved by a woman that loved Christ and taught them to love Christ. They will feel it. I believe very strongly that through these foundations, even if they stray, they will feel the pull of their heartstrings that will direct them back to Christ. The heartstrings that she, so lovingly, tied for them.
It is a journey. This relinquishing of our own will to align with God’s purpose for us and others.
All of these ponderings finally led me back to the story of Hannah and Samuel. To me, Hannah is a woman that really understood the process of consecration, that nothing is truly ours, as she gave her only child (at the time she did not know she would have others) over to life of service to the Lord.
It is also interesting to me that Hannah only raised Samuel for a short time (she gave him over the priesthood after he was weaned). Yet, Samuel was able to remain worthy, righteous, and eventually even become a prophet, despite the wickedness that surrounded him in the priest Eli’s household.
This story gives me hope and comfort. Whether we give birth to them or not, though a child is with us for a childhood or a few days, we as mothers can make a difference in their lives. Truth will find the heart, and there it will stay. Either growing or waiting for the day when it can.

The Pebble

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Do you ever wonder if you really make a difference? Do you ever wonder if what you’re doing really matters? Do you ever feel that your contribution is meaningless?

I’ve been thinking about this subject over the past few weeks. My thoughts became increasingly poignant when I watched a video the other day about WWII and some university students that tried to protest the Nazi regime through their own propaganda. In the end, the investigation pointed to 3, but mainly 2 students that had masterminded the majority of the information and distribution of the propaganda. They were executed for their efforts. However their legacy lived on and their voice was heard and made a positive difference.

After wiping away the tears, I got to thinking….am I making a difference? Is what I’m doing really going to matter?

My first thoughts were rather discouraging. But as I started to analyze my influence a bit more deeply I began to picture a pebble being thrown into an enormous lake. True, for the most part it would go unnoticed. But, that tiny pebble would cause ripples, even a bit of a splash, and had the power to even rock a boat.

I am not perfect. But I am trying my best. I am a child of God, a woman, a wife, a mother. I may not matter to others but I do matter to some, and I do matter to God. He sees me. He cares. He knows of my efforts.

I also know that every day I am making a statement. Every day that I choose to put my God, my marriage and family first I am telling them and everyone that will take notice that I know what real success is. Every day that I choose to use kindness instead of anger, disdain, or negativity, I am testifying that goodness wins. Every day that I choose to protect and sanctify my body with healthy habits and modesty I am showing God that I am grateful for His gift to me and my family and anyone else that will take notice that our bodies are sacred. Every day that I walk out with my family I am showing that I know that we are ALL beloved children of God, that He sees us, not our skin. Every Sunday when I’m going to church and spending the day in a worshipful attitude, I am testifying of my belief in the teachings of the Bible. Every day that I choose virtue and integrity over convenience and image I am telling my children what really matters. What I say and what I do says to the world and especially to my family what and who I am.

I think as Moms we sometimes get mixed messages.

The world tells us to do all and be all. This is more in the sense of superficial success, a skin-deep perfection…..have the amazing career, the money, the “perfect” body, the “perfect” house and the “perfect” family. Not only is this a tainted view of happiness, it never really brings happiness.

On the other hand, the Lord tells us to be virtuous and true to Him, our husbands and our families. Our purpose and mission is to teach and guide and lead the children of God to be the leaders and kind of people He wants them to be. What amazing trust our God must have in us women!

While trying our best and looking to God to fill in gaps, will bring happiness and even joy as we strive to fulfill this incredible role, it can seem daunting at times and we can become discouraged. Part of this discouragement often comes from the fact that although we have basic scriptural outlines and the Spirit to guide our efforts, we will find that there is no “blueprint” for success. Every woman and family is different and there are many details that the Lord will guide us in but not mandate.

Then we have our own personal demons to root out of our being. We all have weaknesses and while a spouse and children can help bring out the best in us, if we are not careful we and they can also end up with the worst of us.

Thankfully, this is all part of the plan. Just like a precious metal or gem, we cannot reach our potential without some tempering, some heat, some pounding off of rough edges.

As I was pondering on what I needed to do to be the kind of person that God wants me to be, and make the difference that I need to make in my children’s lives especially, I then pictured the little “Refresh” icon on my computer. Every now and then I have to sit back, look around, ponder, pray, study and click “Refresh”. The beauty of the atonement is that it works for everyone. I am not perfect BUT I can try again.

The desire to change is often with me but the urgency to do so has been heightened over the past week or so. This urgency to change was especially present today as I read and heard of a young mother, not much older than myself, that died a yesterday due to birth complications. Gratefully, she was a beautiful, Proverbs 31 woman that was ready to meet her Maker. Sadly, she left behind a young husband and 6 children, one of which she would never meet in this life. As I stared at my computer through a curtain of tears I began to think, “Am I ready?” “If I died today would my husband and children really know how much I love them?” “Would they remember me in a positive light?” “Has my pebble made all the ripples and splashes it was meant to make?”

I still have much work to do. I know that I am not alone in my quest. I know that my contributions seem small, but they are needed and they matter. I will “Refresh” and be better each day. Even if my life is only a pebble, the ripples will make a difference. Now I’m going to go hug my family and tell them I love them. Good night!

P.S. Here is the link about the woman I mentioned. A beautiful young woman that has left a husband and 6 children behind, please keep them in your prayers! Our Dearest Katrina!www.youtube.comhttp://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=GqBCZckcPSQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DGqBCZckcPSQ

Stop Grunting

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So most of the sounds my three month old baby girl makes are like a cat….she gets mad, she yells (like you’ve pulled her tail!)…..she’s happy, she purrs (I’m serious, it sounds like she’s purring!) But lately she’s been trying to grab things more and a new sound has surfaced…the grunt. It’s kind of a constant grunt that she does while she’s trying to grab onto something, but it gets really loud if she’s becomes too frustrated.

Today she was trying to grab her foot and she was getting very frustrated and nearly started throwing a fit. Instead she stopped, took a deep breath, and then when she relaxed she was able to focus and get her foot!

It started me thinking of one of my struggles….trying too hard….on the wrong thing! Sometimes we don’t need to change the amount of effort we’re giving, we just need to change the focus of our efforts.

One example of this was when I was giving birth to my second child. Between the combination of exhaustion and pain, I was not putting my focus in the right place. When it came time to push I was beginning to feel like I couldn’t do it. I pushed a few times and then let out a loud grunt and my attending doctor (whom I had just met the week prior, long story….) said, “Don’t yell, concentrate on pushing.” So I took a deep breath, visualized what I needed to do and where I needed to focus and then on the next contraction I pushed with only the thoughts of “Here she comes!”. And sure enough, my daughter came out on that push! All I had to do was push away the distractions, no matter how pressing they seemed (and we know that the pain and exhaustion of child-birth are pretty intense!) and focus on what I wanted to accomplish. Not only did I accomplish my goal much quicker but I also did not seem to have as much pain and fatigue, because I was not focused on it.

My most recent example of this internal battle was this past week. My husband and I have recently been asked to help facilitate a program for our church and at the time we accepted the invitation it seemed fine. However, this past week as other life’s obstacles and obligations mounted and we were finding out more about what our responsibilities would be regarding this new assignment….well, all I could think of is “How in the world am I going to do all this?”

Unfortunately I took the wrong route, I started staying up later, skipping my exercise, not taking any “breaks” and hurrying around like a chicken with its head cut off. Where did that get me? Well, not where I wanted to be, that’s for sure!

Finally, today I (not purposely) fell asleep while feeding my baby and didn’t wake up til two hours later! At first I was panicked cause all I could think of was the lost time. But then as I realized how much better I felt with a little sleep on board, how much more clearly I could think, how much more efficiently I worked…and I started perking up. I could now focus on the job(s) at hand rather than how stressed/worried and tired I was.

Once I stopped all my “grunting” and took a deep breath/break and refocused my energies I felt like things will all work out. Besides having the Lord to help me I need to remember to help myself! I will reach whatever end I am focused on, if I am focused on stress I will just create more of it. An awful never-ending cycle. If I focus on my goal(s) and take regular breaks to refocus and release tension I will be successful. Besides grunting is pretty annoying anyway!

Your Feet Stink

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Are we really who we say we are? Or do we even know?

Today I was thinking of when I was part of a dance company several years back. I remember when I began learning pointe (the funny ballet slippers that you dance on the tops of your toes) that I was pretty self-conscious of my feet. They smelled!

I was pretty serious about dance so I was dancing nearly every spare moment and after rehearsals I didn’t like to take my shoes off around other people cause my feet stunk. Then I remember going into the changing room one day, after everyone, and the smell that wafted from the room was not a pretty one! Then I started realizing, “Hey, everybody else has stinky feet too!”

It may seem like a silly story…ok, it is a silly story, but my point is that everyone has their weaknesses. They may not be the same as mine but we all learn differently…in different ways, at different rates, and for different reasons. We’re all here for a reason. We all have a unique purpose. We don’t all have the same talents, so why would we all have the same weaknesses?

The great part about it is that we can change. Christ died for our sins. Why would we make Him suffer, even now, because we won’t really exercise our faith in Him and let Him help us change!

I am that I am. That’s how God described himself to Moses. After researching the phrase a bit and pondering on the use of it, I feel it’s safe to say the God felt that His actions spoke for themselves. He could call himself “I am” because he had become perfect, whole, at one with Himself. There were no more internal battles with the natural man. No more desire to wrong Himself or another. “I am” was saying that he had reached beyond human nature….He is God.

I’ve been pondering on this many faceted subject for several months and over the past few weeks a different facet has been staring me in the face.

I first started thinking about it when I was posting something to Facebook and read a few of the posts of some friends and some “friends”. Why the quotations? Well, there are friends that you feel actually care for you and your well-being and thus you post and read posts because you care and you know they care.

Then there are “friends”, people that when you really think about it you want to know what they are up too because you kind of want to compare. There are also “friends” that you really don’t think too much about, but you know they want to see what you’re up to because they are comparing. It’s a sad but true aspect of the natural man.

Why was I thinking about this? Because I started realizing that Facebook was affecting my mood and self-esteem, and not in a good way.

Then I started thinking about it…Why do I care? Why am I comparing myself with other people? Why try to be like someone else when I have a much better example to follow? I’m supposed to be comparing myself to myself. Am I a bit better than I was before now? And to God, am I getting closer to becoming more like my Ultimate Example? That’s what really matters.

As I was pondering on this I started thinking, “Besides, we aren’t what we really are on Facebook anyway!” Do you post all your mistakes and horrible traits? Do you post all the really bad pictures of yourself? Well, if you do, good for you, as long as you’re learning from them. But I’ll be honest, I don’t! Facebook is just what is says it is….a FACE. It’s the outside, generally superficial part of our lives for the most part. Why would I compare my life to the 1% of what I see of someone’s life on Facebook.

Then this week I expanded on my pondering when I started falling back into old habits.

I have voice issues. Not the types you’re thinking of….I have a hard time controlling the tone and volume of my voice when I’m upset or frustrated. And if you’re a parent you know that the terms “upset” and “frustrated” are felt frequently in this adventure of parenthood.

Well, I’ve been working on this weakness for several years but especially since having children. I have good days and bad days but for a while there I felt like I had been making progress when a series of events (excuses) weakened my resolve and I started hearing that nasty habit come back into my life.

I remembering hearing somewhere ( I wish I could remember where!) that how you act under stress is really who you are…well, when I started acting monster-ish again I started thinking “Is this who I really am? How sad!”

At first I got a bit down….you know, when you start beating yourself up and then you invite a few more weaknesses and pretty soon you’ve got a real good pity party going…. but then I thought, “No way! This is not who I am! I might struggle with this but I can and I will change! “ So, I am still working on it…..again….still…..but you know what? Tomorrow is a new day. And even if my feet stink, I’m going to enjoy the dance!

20 minutes

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Does 20 minutes make or break your day? I was thrown off track the other day and in trying to reprioritize my day I started thinking….wow, is 20 minutes really all it takes?

Of course there are no guarantees and there is no formula for getting life perfect every time….and really in truly my life goes much smoother if I get up at least an hour before my kids but I think the line between a day that I’m running to catch up and a day where I feel like I’m more in control lies on the 20 minute mark.

Getting up at least 20 minutes before my kids usually adds 2 hours to my day. Probably cause I don’t have to “hit the ground running” and I can get my brain working before it’s demanded to work. I also usually get all the essentials in (prayers, scripture study, exercise, self-care) without having to put off other important things.

When this thought hit me I was like “Oh my goodness, just think of what a big difference 20 minutes makes!” These are some of the things I thought really make a huge difference in my life and all of them can take more time but it seems like the minimum amount for me to feel a positive difference is 20 minutes.

20 minutes exercise ( …seems like it wakes up my metabolism and my body has less “glitches” during the day)

20 minutes sleep (…cats really know what they’re doing, the power-nap really does work!)

20 minutes study (…religious study being a must for my good days… and if I can get in secular study too I just feel like my brain is more “connected” to the day, kind of like what exercise does for the body)

20 minutes of self-care (… I take a few minutes to put on a bit of makeup each day so I feel like am a woman and wife as well as a mom and if I use a few extra minutes to  maybe apply some lotion, or an exfoliation cream, or oil-treatment for my hair, or a facial mask, or manicure, or pedicure….it’s like I’m a new woman!)

20 minutes reading to your children (…this makes a difference in everyone’s day…it makes you slow down and snuggle and enjoy each other!)

20 minutes talking with your spouse (….you mean we’re married! Ha ha! This changes my relationship from business to eternal friend and partner.)

20 minutes planning (…especially in a homeschool, this gives me SO much more time in the long run because I know what, where, and how!)

20 minutes extra cleaning (…a clean house may not happen today but it can happen one clean toilet or shower stall or garbage can or cabinet, etc. at a time.)

20 minutes extra food-preparation (…one day of spending an extra 20 minutes of cutting up fruits and veggies means AT LEAST 3 meals are 75% complete.)

20 minutes of fresh air (….the world wasn’t just creating for use, it was also created for enjoyment and I always notice a change of attitude and greater well being when I’m enjoying the outdoors daily)

20 minutes to eat (….if I take this time to eat and enjoy my food rather than gulping it down to move on to the next thing on my list I usually end up eating less and I feel like my food preparation was actually worth it!)

What other things have you found that really take very little time and lead to a successful day and life? Really if it only takes 20 minutes I think that makes it all a little more do-able and I can start with that and hopefully get a bit better with each day!