Saturday, April 26, 2014

Family First Friday #16 (on Saturday...again) Growth and Development? Really?

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
 As you know, this week has been really full for me.  My friend (25) lost her husband on Easter Sunday.  We have been planning the funeral and taking care of the details.  She has had so many decisions to make.  I am sure I am not aware of even half of them.  Her family and his have rallied around her and those little boys to support them during their time of need.  Brothers and sisters have taken 2 weeks off of work and out of their lives to be here for their mourning.  One week down, one week to go.  Today is the funeral.

But then what?  Yes, she and the boys will have support during a very difficult time, which is wonderful and not to be negated.  But when everyone returns to work and their homes and their lives, what then as my friend tries to return to normal life, that suddenly isn't normal anymore and isn't what she planned?  Then what?

Those are tough times, places where the grief strikes without warning, where frustrations mount, and loneliness and despair can set in.  Those are the times where the 'usual' people in her life will need to be more sensitive and more aware and more capable of helping.  Unfortunately, the 'usual' people don't usually do that.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

These will be the times when my friend enters her own personal Garden of Gethsemane, where she has to reach deep into the recesses of her soul and connect with her Father in Heaven.  If she is willing to pay the price and do the work, these times will be precious and hallowed ground for her.  If she does not, they will be remembered as times of bitter sorrow and anguish, when she felt no one was listening or even cared.

It is so very interesting to me that when we have trials in our lives, we tend to turn one of two directions----either to God or away from him.  Our reactions speak volumes about where we are spiritually and how we feel about God.  Those who are humble and seeking understanding turn their hearts to God and become sanctified through their grief and sorrows.  Like the Savior, they submit their will and their attitude to what they feel 'God has allowed to happen' in their lives and they reach for understanding and open their hearts to learning about His love.  The flip side of that, is turning from God, or worse yet, cursing Him because life has not dealt with us the way we think it should have happened.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

I kind of liken it to my two-year-old.  Most of the time, he is pretty upset that life is not going his way.  He yells, he stomps, he throws things, including throwing himself, thrown on the floor screaming and crying.  Luckily, he is still only two, and when he comes to his senses, he apologizes, changes his heart and his attitude and will submit to the things 'I,' as his parent, choose to inflict upon him (Mosiah 3:19).  Little children will do that---change on a dime, relinquish their desired heart agenda and submit, eventually, which I suppose, is why we are commanded to become as little children.  Adults?  Not so much.

The more attuned I become to my emotions in a current situation and circumstance, the more I recognize that I still behave a lot like my two-year-old.  I don't throw things, or kick people, but there is A LOT of internal yelling going on and some serious attitude about why my life is looking a certain way.  Luckily for me, I also behave like my two-year-old, in that I eventually submit my will.  My head knows that submitting is the right answer and the proper course of behavior.  It usually takes my heart quite a while longer to agree with my head, and that is when I am having an attitude problem, but at least I know that is the issue.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

I have to pray for strength and desire to change my attitude.  It is not an easy fix.  Sometimes I have to pray to love someone I think has wronged me.  Sometimes I don't pray for love, I just pray for tolerance, and sometimes I just pray for understanding and to treat them properly when I bump into them.  (I certainly don't want to add more sin to my plate by behaving badly.  Fixing my attitude is enough!!)

It is interesting to me that you can see these very attitudes in children and adults at any point in their lives.  When you really ask them how they are feeling, you can measure their attitude and usually tell how they are responding to the situations in their lives and if those difficulties and tragedies will be for their growth and development, or whether they will succumb to the natural man or woman within. 
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

I am grateful that the gospel teaches us that God is not some obnoxious creature out there messing with us mortals to gain pleasure.  Wouldn't that be miserable?  But that is not who He is.  When we understand that He is our Father; that He loves us, more than we can even possibly love our own children (3rd Nephi 10: 4-6); that He knows us, strengths, weaknesses, desires, all of it; that His purpose is to 'bring to pass the immortality and eternal life' of us, His children (Moses 1:39); that He does not give stones and serpents, but only bread and fish (Luke 11: 9-13); that He is perfectly just, perfectly merciful, perfectly loving, perfectly honest; that He has 'sent forth the winds and the waves' that will drive us to our promised lands (Ether 2:24-25); and that He 'has prepared a way' for us to accomplish the things which He has commanded us' (1st Nephi 3:7); when we know those things about our Father in Heaven, we can know that in our times of trial, our Gardens of Gethsemane, we can turn to Him!  We can submit our will to His and 'all these things will be for [our] growth and development'.

He is our Father.  He loves us, warts, baldness, bad attitude and all.  We do not have to pretend for Him, He knows us already.  There are no secrets, no closets, no skeletons.  No hiding!  Hide and seek with God is useless, so don't try.  Give that up right now!

I hope my dear friend continues in her submission.  For now, her heart is pliable and God's plan is working.  She is changing and growing, even though this time is very painful. 

My greatest hope, however, is that my heart remains pliable.  I have not been too keen on the 'growing experiences' the Lord has planned for me.  They hurt!  (And you already know about my attitude..............'nuff said about that.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Roller-coaster Emotions

Well, this weekend has been quite the experience.  On Thursday we had a sweet young couple and their two children over for dinner.  They have been learning about the church and the gospel.  Things have been slow, but he works for a member, with other members so he has been talking about the gospel in his daily activities a lot.  For her, the information is all new and foreign.  It is confusing.  We had them over to give them a place to ask questions without pressure.

On Saturday, we attended the wedding of our friends' children.  The wedding was so very sweet!  Both parties were older and had lived rough, unhappy lives.  They had grown up in member homes with the gospel, but chosen different paths as adults.  They were unhappy.  Things changed.  They renewed their acquaintance and romance blossomed and bloomed.  They were obviously very in love and very happy!  The wedding was themed around the movie "The Princess Bride."  How can you go wrong with that theme?!  It wasn't in the temple, but hopefully some day they will chose to be there. 

I didn't know either the bride or the groom, but we are friends with both sets of parents.  The groom is in his 50's.  I don't know how old the bride is.  But they are both so very happy and I am sure their relationship is closer to being eternal than the paths they were previously on.

Sunday morning I attended the other ward which meets in our building because a friend was speaking.  She did a great job.

After I arrived home, my sweet, bishop husband received a phone call.  We received the news that the husband of the sweet couple we had over for dinner on Thursday had been in a motorcycle accident early that morning and had been declared dead at the scene.  Our hearts broke.  We went over to visit his sweet wife and their two little sons (2 and 7) before our meetings.  Now we are helping her to plan the funeral and take care of the things she will need to manage over the next week and beyond.

All I have been able to think about for the last 24 hours is my dear friend and her grief and pain and the things she has to be thinking about.  When tragedies strike, the rest of the world stops and we see the things that seemed so very important yesterday, really do not matter at all.  Her little guy's birthday is next week and they were trying to get the backyard ready for the party they were having.  Now she doesn't even care, which is fine.  I just feel so badly for her.  My heart aches.

I am so very grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ, for our knowledge and understanding of the Plan of Salvation, for our understanding of life after death, for the blessings and peace that come from knowing we have made temple covenants that bind us to God and each other for eternity.  These are all things my dear friend is learning and searching for during this tragedy in her life---things I will share with her, when the times are right.

And if that wasn't enough for the roller-coaster ride, we also found out this morning that our missionary is finally going to be on his way to Brazil!!!  His visa has only taken a year (plus) to get!  But he is leaving at the end of this month!  He is so excited!!! I think Slim is more excited (returned missionary from Brazil.)  Now for my Mother's Day phone call/Skype, he will have already arrived in the country and have a couple of weeks under his belt to tell us about!  Life is good and hard, all in the same weekend------and so the ride continues!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Family First Friday--#15--Seeking and giving forgiveness

As earth begins to shed the winter here in the Northern hemisphere and spring is blooming all around and we are celebrating the resurrection of our Savior this weekend, I just thought these two videos shared two amazing aspects of Jesus Christ's atonement.  It is through His healing power that we can both be forgiven of the things we have done wrong and receive comfort and healing from the wrongs of others that have affected us deeply.   As I go about my walk in mortality, I pray to be able to continually access both of these parts of the atonement and the blessings such access brings to my life, joy from sorrow and peace.

Enjoy both of these videos.  Have an amazing weekend as you contemplate the blessings of our Savior's atonement in your life!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Learning to nurture.

Yes, I know!  I missed Family First Friday last week!  Wait until I tell you the story of what happened!  But not today.  I have other thoughts:

So the crazy food allergies and not sleeping continues at our house.  It has been pretty crazy and some nights we have had as little as 3 hours of sleep, which may be expected if you have a newborn, but when the child is 2 and 1/2???!!
check out this awesome photo from Karen Larsen!  See how she did it on her website:

Most nights look like this:  Spike goes to bed sometime between 8 and 8:30.  He sleeps until 11:30-12:00 a.m.  Then he wakes up crying, sometimes screaming because he cannot breath, or his feet itch, or he just cannot sleep.  Because his medication for breathing makes him grouchy, and he is having allergic reactions, and he is tired, he is completely unreasonable and simply screams because we cannot understand what it is that he wants or needs.  It is a guessing game to help him and the more times we guess the wrong thing, the more upset and angry he becomes.  Finally, by some miracle and divine help, we figure out something that will work and he then settles down back to sleep.  This process usually takes about an hour.  Sometimes he sleeps the rest of the night, but usually, he is up again in about 2 hours and we repeat the same cycle.


Usually, as I am holding him and trying to converse with him about what I can do to help him, he is yelling and screaming, "No Mommy!  No!"  My dear husband who is in the room the entire time, (Oh side note, Spike has been sleeping in our room for the past 2 weeks with Sun because we have a house guest.) will finally tell Spike, "Quit yelling at your mother or you are going to have pepper on your tongue."  Sometimes that threat works, other times it doesn't and then my sweetheart gives Spike pepper and the screaming increases.

You see, Spike is ultra-sensitive to other people's emotions.  He can tell if you are angry at him by just a look or the tone in your voice.  If you are frustrated with him for any reason, just or unjust, it hurts his little feelings and he is mortally wounded, until reparations are made to the relationship.  It really is unusual for such a little person to be so aware of relationships.  But it is who my little man is.  Thus you can see how dramatic and exhausting it would be to try and reason with an emotionally aware, sleep deprived, two-year-old having an allergic reaction, night after night, after night (going on 10 nights now but who is counting?).

We have had a little bit of a break through in that my prayers have been "Help me to know what to do to help him (first breath and then) not scratch his feet so bad that they are bleeding."  The first was to increase his breathing medication and to move the air purifier to my bedroom, and quit giving him almond milk, which we did and it has helped.  The second was to use aloe-vera for his little feet and put socks on him in the middle of the night.  His feet are improving, slowly.  But he is still itching and scratching and he is not cooperative when I put that stuff on his feet.

Two nights ago, while I was rubbing the inside of the plant on his feet and he was screaming, my husband instead of threatening to give Spike pepper for screaming, told Spike that if he would quit crying, Drew would let Spike play one round of  'Angry Birds' on the I-pad.  Spike loves 'Angry Birds'!  He asks to play that game every day when Drew gets home.  It is a treat!  Spike immediately perked up and said, 'yes, Dad, I play angry birds.'  And he did, one game, and then he settled down to sleep!

This is so much more in line with the way I think Heavenly Father operates!!!  Yes, there are consequences for bad behavior.  There are consequences for disobedience, but they are not arbitrary consequences.  They are usually very logical---have more than one sexual partner, risk getting sexual diseases.  Smoke?  Have black lungs, risk cancer, and lose your ability to breath.  Simple.  But be obedient and have blessings.  Do something really difficult and make sacrifices?  Serious blessings to follow.  The problem is most of us want to define what those blessings for obedience look like.  I am paying my tithing, so I want to have enough money to do all of the things I want to do.  That is just not how it works.

We do not seem to always understand the scripture, 'My ways are not thy ways, nor my thoughts thy thoughts.'  Heavenly Father gives us amazing blessings but they are things like wisdom, faith, testimony, peace, happiness.  Sometimes they are temporal, especially when we need them.  They are not usually money, new cars, fame, fancy houses, or winning the lottery.

If we are thinking that there are no real blessings for obedience to our Heavenly Father's wishes and commandments, then we probably are just not recognizing them.  We may need to pray for help to see what they are.  Sometimes you can just look around at the people near you and see from their choices some of the blessings you enjoy.  This isn't to compare and contrast, but we are sometimes close enough to others to see some of the obvious, negative consequences for their choices.  And if we are close to them, sometimes they will share the blessings of testimony with us they have received from their obedience.

Back to Spike, Spike.  Like most of us, he responds better to rewards for positive behavior than consequences for not stopping bad behavior.  In disciplining our children, try to offer positive blessings for positive behavior.  If it is a big change and you are asking for big behavior, compensate your child accordingly.  It doesn't have to be with something monetary.  Our children get to stay up late on a particular night or watch a special movie, or spend the entire day driving.  It really just depends upon what your child needs and wants.  Some of them may be perfectly happy spending the day with you and just hanging out doing something fun.

Anyway these are my thoughts today as we try to catch up on sleep and house cleaning :-)  Have a great day!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Figuring out food allergies....

Well.  We have been having just a lovely time here at our house!  My little Spike Spike has horrible food allergies that we have been trying to pin point.  Some of his allergies cause a skin rash, eczema, that is nasty red and puffy and it itches.  He is just two so he scratches it and scratches it until it is cracked and bleeding.  There isn't a lot we can do to keep him from scratching it because he usually does most of the damage at night while he is suppose to be sleeping.  And yes, with all of our experience on the subject we have tried almost every cream, lotion, oil, or prescription known to man.  The tops of his little feet have been horrible and recently his rash has spread to the creases of his knees and elbows.  Poor little guy.

Other allergies cause his nose to be completely stuffy and congested with mucous, including fluid in his ears.  It is really annoying.  Still others cause him not to sleep.  Sheesh!  This week, we have all three: eczema, stuffy nose, and not sleeping!

Drew and I are both allergic to milk.  So far, each of my children have been too.  It is definitely a problem when they are little.  They can tolerate it as they get older, but even the oldest boys have decided they too are really allergic to it and they have started cutting it out of their diets too.  The only milk Spike Spike was getting was butter.  He wasn't eating any other milk products:  No ice cream, sour cream, creamed soups, breads with milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese (Parmesan or other, even in salad dressing--no ranch, blue cheese, Caesar, etc...)  I stuck all of that out there because if you are trying to eliminate milk, it is everywhere and you really have to be careful.  Read every label!!  Anything with whey ---- that's milk!

Drew still drank milk and so did some of the kids once in a while and periodically, I would break down and purchase cheese.  With Spike Spike's allergies just going crazy, about a week ago, I declared our house officially dairy free!  The kids all kind of panicked, but they got over it.  I was hoping that by eliminating all of it, once and for all, Spike's eczema would dissipate.  It hasn't!  Drat!

So on we move to other eliminations!!  I took honey out, thinking that might help.  Nothing so far.

Of course, my best ally is prayer!  I pray to help me see things that will lead me to the offending culprit.  Please help me figure out what this child is allergic to!!!  With Spike, here is our list so far:  all nuts (especially peanuts and walnuts) [the others of our children who are allergic to nuts are not allergic to almonds, interestingly enough----however, I am beginning to suspect that is not the case with Spike], all milk products, any processed meat (I think it is the nitrates, but don't know for sure).  This week, when I changed from cow's milk to almond milk, specifically, Spike's nose has been clogged and his skin is drier and itchier, and he hasn't been sleeping for five nights now.  Exhausting!

Last night, we finally had a break through in that I decided to give him a different nasal decongestant and it worked!  Benadryl was not working.  I think he hasn't been sleeping because even when he is asleep, he insists on trying to breath through his nose.  Then he wakes up because he isn't getting enough oxygen.  Falls back asleep, tries to breath through his nose, tosses and turns because he isn't getting enough oxygen and then wakes up again, repeat 100 times.  (That was last night in between the doses of medication that worked.)  My personal philosophy, however, is to administer as few medications as possible.  But in order to do that, we have to find the offending item, which is a lot more work than just medicating my child.  But then when we do the work, we never have to worry again because we can just eliminate the culprit!

Yesterday, as I realized that most of these issues began when I made the switch to almond milk and then when my brilliant brain put the two together, I decided to eliminate the almond milk and see how things go.  The trick with eliminating things is remembering that once you have been exposed to the allergen, it usually takes a full four days to get it completely out of your system.  So it is best to eliminate it for about a week before you try to add it back.  Yesterday was day one.  Three more to go before I will know if eliminating it makes a difference.  Six more days before Spike goes there again.

Another issue that might get in the way of figuring things out is if you have multiple people feeding your little one or heaven forbid, they are already old enough to make and get their own food.  It is best to figure it out when they are little and you have total control over what they are eating.  If you send them to daycare, even if you give instructions, there is no guarantee they are going to follow your wishes.  They will probably say, ya, sure, and then do what they want and what works best for them.  Because the truth be told, they are not watching your child because they are concerned with what is best for the child.  I have had to let all of my older children know, "These are the no-no foods for Spike this week!" and then remember to tell each of them because they are not usually in the same place at the same time!

Scuff told me a few years ago that every morning of seventh and eighth grade he went into the breakfast room after I dropped him at school and got a pop-tart!  That boy is allergic to corn and pop-tarts are laced with them!  It is no wonder that his middle-school years were so difficult to manage.  (His allergy manifests itself as behavior issues.  He is the most wonderful and happy person unless he has had corn.  Then he is defiant, belligerent, uncooperative, feisty, he hits, throws things, yells, screams----it is really, really ugly!)

Of course, with all of this, it is possible that my little guy just has a cold!  So we have to wait that out too and weigh it into the equation.  Good thing I was an adept student and really understood that whole 'scientific method' thingy.  I never thought I would use it as a mother!  But in my attempt to uncover food allergies, that principle has been one of my best friends!  I could not have had as many children as I do without being able to eliminate so many offending issues!

The first two boys had tons and tons of skin issues as I was learning and figuring things out.  Poor Spanky was a miserable little baby because I think I kept feeding him things he was allergic to.  The colic and screaming and not sleeping----it was just awful!  But by the time Scuff showed up, I had the idea that maybe what I was eating was bothering the baby and we began to try to figure it out.  It was a good thing too because Scuff (at first) just didn't sleep when he was exposed to corn.  It took me six weeks and many, many doctor visits, and a lot of prayer to finally figure it out.  That night where I loaded the entire dinner with corn and the baby didn't sleep all night was pretty helpful too!  It at least gave me a reference point to begin with and I started eliminating corn from my diet.  Whenever the baby wouldn't sleep well, I would go back through the last 24 hours worth of food and read all of the labels and almost always find corn.  It was scary how many things had corn in them, but it was validating when I would find it on the list.  Around three years-old, the allergy changed from not sleeping to behavior.

Well, now that you have read this and it is huge and you may or may not have allergy issues in your house, you know what has been happening here.  Wish me luck and pray for me as we figure the next little bit out.  I just really need to figure it out before May because I'm heading off to Slim's college graduation!!!  Four days!!!  But other people will be feeding my little Spike, so I need to know what to tell them for sure, and make the separation as easy for him as possible!

Thanks for listening!  If you have any allergy questions, feel free to email me.  By no means am I an expert or a trained professional, but I do have plenty, plenty of personal experience.  We know what anaphylaxis is and how to use an epi-pen!  We also have some asthma related issues.  Periodically, that is a problem too.

Allergies are just nasty (my personal opinion!)!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Changing corrupt communication to ministering grace--Elder Zwick

I just wanted to post some of my thoughts about Elder Zwick's talk before I forget what they are.

Elder Zwick told an amazing story of their early married life, where they were driving an 18 wheeler over a steep path.  Their drive took place before infant car seats were required and before seat belts were a regular installation in automobiles and trucks.  His wife, was holding their infant son in her lap as they came over the pass.  Suddenly and without warning, the cab of the truck began to fill with choking smoke.  Elder Zwick was doing the best he could to stop the truck, but brakes alone would not stop a fully loaded 18 wheel truck and the engine was not working.  As the truck was slowing down and he was getting it onto the side of the road, to his horror, his wife flung open the door and jumped out of the moving truck with their infant son.  He panicked, but did his best to get that truck stopped.  When it was stopped, he jumped out of the truck to go and find his wife and child.  Thankfully they were both breathing, but her arms and elbows were scraped up pretty badly.  For a short while, he just held them, thankful they were alive.  When he could speak, he declared, "Why did you do that?!!  Do you not know how dangerous that was?!!"  To which his wife replied, "I was trying to save our son."

He then documents how after several days of the 'silent treatment' (because each was thinking they were in the right), they were able to move past that place in their relationship.  He recognized, as he listened to her that she thought the truck was on fire and was going to explode.  Her actions, in light of her understanding, were the bravest thing any person could do.  He recognized the problem with the truck was simply electrical.  There was no fire and there was no danger.  To him, her reaction was irrational.  Then he discusses the need for each of us to put ourselves in the others' shoes and recognize that their situation was not a matter of 'who was more right'.  Each acted to the best of their knowledge to do what was best in the given circumstance.  But their knowledge and understanding of the situation was different, thus their actions were different.

He goes on to share with us how when we communicate with one another, we need to 'turn our corrupt communication into ministering grace'.

He also uses the example between Sariah and Lehi to illustrate his point.  When Nephi, and his brothers return to Jerusalem to retrieve the plates of brass and they are taking longer than expected, Sariah complains to Lehi that  'her sons are no more' and that 'he is a visionary man who has taken them to perish in the wilderness'.  Given her level of stress, having just traded her comfortable and wealthy home for a tent and left the land where her husband's life was at stake, to then send her children to return to that land, it is no wonder that she was more than a little worried about the welfare of her children.

I noticed as Elder Zwick shared his thoughts and insights about this story, that in effect, Lehi had burst Sariah's emotional bubble by his response.  'I know I am a visionary man, but --'

All of these thoughts, had a greater effect on me because it seems to be the lesson I am currently in the process of learning.  I have long been able to put myself into another person's shoes and see things from their perspective.  But in my incidents with Ms. P, I have had to work at seeing things from her perspective and in many cases, I have had to pray for help.  When I have done so, I have been able to turn my words to her into 'ministering grace' and burst the emotional bubble that seems to be corrupting our communications.  When I have not, the situation simply explodes.  The contrast is striking!

As my recent words have potentially had the ability to heal our interaction and minister to her relief (I will not say that they have, because since she isn't talking to me, I cannot know if they are or not, however, since the interaction ceases, I will assume they are doing the right thing) it completely dissipates the current conflict.  Poof!  Gone!  Just like that.  Where before she was in a fighting posture, ready to defend her territory against the awful, evil enemy (me), she just suddenly walks away from the conflict.  (Which in reality is not a conflict, it is simply a disagreement about how something should be handled.  I am really not that unreasonable of a person.)

I LOVE General Conference!  I love listening to the Brethren and Sisters and understanding how their words can be applied to my life!!  It is amazing the thoughts and impressions I have while they are speaking and as I reread their words over the next six months or so.  Simply amazing!

Currently, you can watch or listen to Elder Zwick's talk over on this page  but the written address is not up yet.  Onto today's teachings from the prophets!!!  Amazing! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Family First Friday---#14---turning sadness into power!

I have been pondering my childhood a lot lately.  Things weren't horrible, but things weren't always rosy either.  I always had plenty of food and clothing to wear.  Our house was warm when we wanted it that way and cool when we didn't (usually).  You know, we think of these things as necessities, when in actuality, they are a luxury that many even in today's world do not always have ready access to.  Most of the issues and frustrations we have (at least in the United States) are first world problems, not third world problems (trying to care for the basics).  I mean, I am frustrated that it has taken two weeks to get my lawn mower fixed because by the time I told the boys to pull the dumb thing out of the garage and mow the lawn, it was already becoming a jungle, and I actually have time in my day to read blogs, like this one!

As I have pondered about things, I have realized some things that I have always believed to be true, aren't really true.  My perceptions of my parents, for both good and bad, aren't necessarily accurate.  As I have made these new discoveries and been sad in some cases and happy in others, I have also recognized that I am the kind of mother I am because of the kind of parents I had.  I have made significant and positive changes in the way I treat others, because of the ways I perceive I was treated.  I have turned the negative things that have happened to me, into positive, life changing behaviors that have blessed the lives of others.

There is a woman who lives here in my area.  She is an amazing person.  I truly stand in awe of the difficulties she has overcome and her service to her fellow men and women because of her experiences.  She was born in one of the Asian countries.  Her father was in some sort of political trouble.  I believe her parents were executed and at the tender age of 5, she and her sister (7, I think) were left as orphans.  Because of her parents involvements, no one would take the two girls in.  They were homeless at 5 and 7!!!  They lived at the dump and scavenged what they could from their city's refuse to feed themselves, and to take care of their basic necessities.  Because of her deprivations as a child, she is the greatest advocate of our homeless population I have ever seen!  She drives around town everyday feeding the people.  She gathers clothing for them and helps to figure out shelter for them.  She has built a shower house in our community so they can bathe.  She is tireless and loving and compassionate.  Her poverty and difficulties as a child have made her the advocate she has become.  She did not allow her negative experiences to give her permission to wallow in self pity.  Instead, she has turned her experience into knowledge and used it to bless the lives of others.

Her example is the embodiment of what a transitional character is.

But what I wanted us to think about today is:  How can I use my negative experiences to positively change the lives of others?

When we understand the doctrine, that each of us is a beloved son or daughter of God, who cares about and loves each of them, regardless of their life's station, nationality, race, life choices, or morality, and that we are commanded to love God, and love others as ourselves, when we put those two things together, we have a better grasp and understanding as to what our behavior should be toward others, even when they do not behave that way toward us, or those we love.  It takes a ton of self-control, I will give you that.  The natural man or woman is plenty prepared to defend and protect ourselves and those we love against injustice.  But usually we do it without regard for the rights or feelings of the perpetrator of the injustice.  Lucifer would love us to justify our anger, outrage, and wrong behavior toward them because then we misbehave in the name of defense.  Now this is not to say that we allow others to abuse us or others.  Turning the other cheek does not mean lie down and let them walk on you.  But it does require us to look inside of ourselves, to really evaluate our thoughts, motives, and behaviors and to repent when we are out of line in our treatment of others, even when they have mistreated us.

That is hard work!

Thankfully, as we listen to the prophets, pray, and read our scriptures, the Holy Ghost will help us to know when our behavior is out of line.  With my last Ms. P incident, I sat down to type a nasty email back and the Spirit said, "Maybe you should write that later."  Ya', in my anger, maybe I should cool off before I respond.  It took more than 12 hours and a good night's sleep with scripture study and prayer for me to put together the proper response.  My Ms. P incidents are training for future use.  I know it.  I have been told that is the case.  So instead of perceiving them as serious annoyance and irritation, they need to be viewed in light of emotional training and calisthenic, my spiritual and psychological work out.  (If only I would put that much effort into my physical training.  But I digress.)

Anyway, that is my emotional challenge to you today.  Think about something that is a negative experience for you.  Evaluate what you learned from the experience.  Determine if you have used that information and learning to benefit the lives of those around you.  Have you made positive changes in your life because of that experience?  How can you change it to be a positive thing?  We do not want to invalidate the emotional feelings from the experience, but how can you take it and learn from it and then use it to give you power in your life?

PS  If after thinking about it for a while, you are still drawing a blank, use those thoughts as some of your questions for General Conference.  The Lord will help you to see some of the things He is hoping you have learned from the negative ways you have been treated by others. 

And I'm going to post this without photos or links----because I have that kind of a day. If I get back to it, I'll fix it and if not, well, that's how it goes :-)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I have been having a difficult time lately.  I think that is part of why I have not been blogging as much.  Blocking my feelings has been a definite part of the last three weeks.  And revelation has seemed far, far away.  As I have pondered my sorry state, I have recognized a couple of things.

One:  I have been comparing myself to others.  Major no-no in the happiness game.  It is funny because I do not compare myself to the people who live around me.  They are somehow in a different category.  I compare myself to those women I went to college with.  Where are they today?  What are they doing?  How are they changing the world?  How many children do they have?  What???!!!  Their children are all almost gone and grown and out of the house???!!!!  Oh......................wait.............................they have three, right?  I have a few more than that.  Just a few.  Anyway, comparison of ourselves with others and then 'seeing' how their lives are so much better than ours, that is one sure formula for depression.  So I have to cut that out.

Two:  Lack of gratitude.  Along with that whole comparing thingy........I have not been very grateful for the blessings I do have and the places I do make a difference.  A complete lack of acknowledgement on my part.  Ya'-------I had better get over that one too.

Three:  Eating.  I have not been controlling my eating.  On the bright side, at least I have not been eating the things I'm not suppose to eat.  Well.............except for that bite-sized Heath candy bar..........but we aren't talking about that.  Oh, yes we are!  Whatever.  For the most part, I am not eating things I am not suppose to.

Do you have that issue?  Are there things you are not suppose to eat, not that they are against the Word of Wisdom or anything, but just things that you know for your body you are not suppose to eat?  For me, milk, and all milk products, even butter.  I have eliminated almost all of the milk, except butter, and the occasional bite of chocolate.  But I need to get rid of all of it, because I am allergic to it.   Stinky.  Milk is my favorite food!  Interestingly enough, I read somewhere (cannot tell you where because I read so much that I do not always remember the source I read it from) but, I read somewhere that foods you are actually allergic to, your body can become addicted to them.  Weird, huh?  But definitely true in my case.  Milk and I have a long history, with them being all of my very favorite foods, like real mac and cheese, pizza smothered in cheese, lasagna, chocolate, etc...  When I am having a hard time with my emotions, I want to self-soothe with a fatty bowl of real ice-cream, whipping cream, and caramel sauce, with a banana for good measure.  But I am digressing from the topic at hand.  The point:  do you self-soothe with your favorite foods?  This might be a trigger for you to watch.  When you just cannot get enough of that food, maybe you are hiding your true emotions or struggling more emotionally than you care to admit.
It has helped me to remember, in my depression overview, that even Nephi and Alma, on occasion, wished they could be somewhere else, doing something else.  [2nd Nephi 4; Alma 29]  Unfortunately, sometimes wishing for those things also contributes to depression and a lack of gratitude.  I need to remember that 'these are my days'.  I was saved from the foundations of the world for this time and this place.  Out of billions of our Father in Heaven's children, I was saved to come forth in these latter days, to declare my undying love for the Savior and to stand tall and strong in the face of the wickedness of the world.  In Sister Dew's book "No one can take your place," she quotes Elder Maxwell as saying:

By divine appointment, these are [our] days (Helaman 7:9), since 'all things must come to pass in their time' (D&C 64:32).  Moreover, though we live in a failing world, we have not been sent here to fail.  Recall the new star that announced the birth at Bethlehem?  It was in its precise orbit long before it so shone.  We are likewise placed in human orbits to illuminate.  God is in the details!"  (Encircled in the Arms of His Love, 17-18)

A couple of articles from this month's Ensign have been helpful in changing my focus:

Lasting Happiness (p. 16)
Beyond the Bubblegum Machine (p.49)
(remember that in the search bar after 'lan=' you can change it from eng to the first three letters of your language spa for Spanish, etc and read it in your language) (I want bubble gum!)

I LOVED Beyond the Bubblegum Machine because I believe a lot of us get stuck into thinking that if we do what is right, life should be easy.  Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but it is not.  Life is just plain hard.  It is hard for me and it is hard for you.  But with the gospel and the Spirit and the right perspective, it is still possible to be happy even though it is hard.  Happiness doesn't come from a lack of trials, but from the ability to weather your trials well, to know that when all is said and done, we have faced and slain the dragon.  We have become master over self, that is where the true happiness lies.

Side note:  Please do not interpret this post to mean that you can overcome all depression with positive thinking.  Sometimes that is true, you can.  But sometimes you need professional help because of imbalances within your body.  That is valid too.  I do believe that positive thinking will help both situations and perspective changes and understanding too.  But sometimes more is needed than just thinking.