Brain Teaser

Ok. I’m about to show you something and I want you to take a good look at it. You ready? Here goes:

MOTHER

Now now. Don’t rush, take a good, long look…. There! Did you see it? No? Look again. No luck? Ok, fine, I’ll just tell you. There’s a ‘ME’ in there. Do you see it now? Ok, good. 🙂

For the longest time, I felt that if I took time for myself, that I would be short-changing my kids. After an afternoon spent at a Power of Moms Retreat, I realized that not only am I doing a disservice to myself with this archaic view, but I am also perpetuating these ideas with my kids.

It is not selfish at all to be joyful, passionate and fulfilled. In fact, I felt a sense of wonder that it’s taken me this long to figure out that I will actually be passing on a powerful legacy on to my children if I assert my right to be treated as an individual with dreams and needs and hopes and feelings. Won’t my girls grow up and crave this same fulfillment? Won’t they wish that I had modelled these values to them so that they, in turn, can then model them to their own children? And won’t my son need to encourage his wife to maintain her identity within their marriage? After all, what I teach them is what they learn! Duh!

What makes me really happy is the fact that my earlier post about being redeemed and restored ties in so beautifully with these new, enlightened thoughts making a home in my mind. I can almost feel the synapses firing up, building new pathways in my mind, pathways that I will strengthen from here on out.

My proverbial cup runneth over today. I am so grateful to be a daughter of God. I am so grateful that I know and feel His love. I am so grateful for every single woman who has influenced me for good throughout my life. I am so grateful for a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ which enables  me to press onward even though I fall short. I am so grateful… to be… Me.

Formulate and stamp indelibly in your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously and never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop this picture.

~ Norman Vincent Peale

Well, go on. What are you waiting for? Find yourself. And if you can’t find yourself, create yourself.

Restores Me When Wandering, Redeems When Oppressed

In my case, it’s mostly true that I sabotage my own happiness through disobedience – or in other words, I think I know better until a consequence reminds me none-too-gently that I have gone off the path. So when I have those moments when I feel a forceful compulsion to change for the better when there seems no obvious reason to be doing so, I recognize the hand of my Savior gently nudging me to the safety of the fold before some unanticipated adversity rocks my foundations.

I woke up at 5 a.m. with my daughter who goes to early morning Seminary. As I was turning off the alarm on my smartphone I saw a notification for a new email. This is what I read:

The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us—part of who we are.

~ Brad Wilcox BYU Devotional 12 July 2011

I can’t describe the feelings coursing through me as I read this quote in the still, darkness of my room. I became intensely aware of my Savior’s love – even more than I have been in recent weeks. I can’t describe the gratitute I feel for my Redeemer’s Atoning sacrifice. Would that I could truly fathom what it has meant in the life of a sinner such as I. Would  that I would be more diligent in heeding His counsel. Would that I, too, could cast my worldly net and go straightway with Him every single time He calls on me.

All I can do is my best. And most comforting is the knowledge that that is enough for Him.

What a wondrous start to the day – restored and redeemed!

So what am I going to do with this renewed strength coursing through me, I hear you ask? I am going to ‘try a little harder to be a little better’. Gotta love that President Hinckley :). And what better way than to attend a retreat empowering mothers and encouraging deliberate parenting.

Try to be aware today of how you feel restored and redeemed.

Book of Mormon Stories

As I child, I devoured the Book of Mormon reader every Saturday afternoon. Sometimes, just to shake things up, I listened to the accompanying audio cassette. I found myself lost in a land of long-ago where people just came across as unteachable and, really, when you come to think of it, quite dumb. I confess now that as a child I had no inclination to ponder on how condensed this account was of such a mighty people. I mean, there was really no break-down of the everyday nitty-gritty. So, my untrained mind just saw a bunch of people that I just could not relate to.

Fast forward a few decades, and here I sit with a kind of apprehension when I reflect on just how often my Savior has had to nudge me back into the fold. I can say without hesitation right now that the source of my failures is my refusal to recognize how like the Nephites and Lamanites of old I am. I mean, seriously. If I was being completely and utterly honest, I would say that I am like Laman and Lemuel more often than I am like Nephi. I murmur, I forget the significance of the spiritual gifts that I have been blessed with and I need to be compelled every so often to be faithful.

In some ways, I wish that I could have followed the life story of just one person in the Book of Mormon and shared their trial and triumphs to see how alike and how different we are. If I had a choice, these would be my top 5: (in no particular order)

  • Abinadi
  • King Lamoni
  • Nephi
  • Moroni (I’ll cheat here and count 2 as 1 for both Captain Moroni and Moroni)
  • Sariah

Shoot! Now I want to make it my top 10… but that would just mean I’d keep going. So, I’ll just be firm with myself and stop there.

I chose Abinadi because I was blown away as a child when I first read his story. One of my favorite (of many) Book of Mormon images is this one of Abinadi in the Court of King Noah

I love studying this picture: the opulence of Noah’s environment, the bedraggled appearance of Abinadi, the expressions on the faces of the priests, the expressions on the faces of Noah and Abinadi… I could just go on and on. I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it forever, ‘I wish I knew Abinadi!’. He is one of my first scripture heroes. I would love to have had a glimpse of his childhood, seen how he was molded into a powerful prophet who spoke boldly of his convictions in his testimony of Jesus Christ. Did he have a family? Did he hesitate to go on this mission, understanding what the outcome could have been? What were his weaknesses and how did he overcome them? So much to ask…

I chose King Lamoni for a few reason. One of them being that he was a Lamanite. Then there were his many experiences with Ammon (another favorite of mine), and last but not least, because of the impact his conversion had on the lives of so many people. I would have loved to explore the childhood of  a royal Lamanite and study how it would differ from those of Nephite children. How was the distrust and hatred toward their Nephite brethren ingrained in them? How was he prepared to receive the truths that Ammon was destined to bring into his life? Wouldn’t that be an amazing read?!

Nephi would have to be one of the most obvious choices and yet, what a wealth of experiences we could draw from him. There were the epic journeys, the care and tutelage of Father Lehi, the struggles and eventual emancipation from his older brothers, and so so much more! I also would have loved to see how life in Jerusalem would have been for his family. Can you imagine how amazing it would have been if Nephi had a blog!?

I chose the Moronis because I just LOVE them! I wonder how Captain Moroni’s wife and kids handled his long absences when he was away defending them and their liberty. For someone who is fascinated by all things medievel and ancient warfare, a journal of Captain Moroni’s undertakings would be priceless to me! What were his short-comings? Did he have any short-comings? And Moroni, son of Mormon – the last of a great and covenant people. Ah, to have followed him through his days – the all-consuming warfare, the moral and spiritual decline of his people, the fact that he had Mormon for a father! … I could just go on and on and on and (again) … Was his loneliness as bleak as I imagine it would be? Did he ever consider giving up? What does it mean for someone like me, caught up in my own loneliness, to think of  the crushing loneliness he lived through?

Not much has been shared about the women who shaped the lives of all these amazing men. Can imagine being the mother of Abinadi? I bet she couldn’t be prouder if she tried! One of the few women mentioned in the Book of Mormon was Sariah. She played a pivotal role in the exodus from Jerusalem. Can you imagine being the matriarch of that entourage? My head spins just trying to wrap my head around that idea. For starters, she was the mother of Nephi!! … and Laman and Lemuel and she bore two sons in the wilderness! That, in and of itself, would make a good read! Then there was her life in Jerusalem, a life, which by all accounts, would have probably been a life of relative ease because we know that the were quite well-off in Jerusalem. It would be wonderful to have a woman’s perspective on leaving the comforts of Jerusalem, on travelling for years through the wilderness, on watching your older sons turn on your younger son to the point of almost taking his life, on supporting your visionary husband, and on life in the Promised Land.

So, that’s about all I have to share on that, for now. I bet that if we did have a pervasive look at even one of these lives, we’d find them going through similar highs and lows and everything in between that goes on in our lives. Having said that, I have a profound admiration for these people and their conviction in their testimony of Jesus Chirst.  How grateful I am for their resounding testimony which adds strength to mine. And how grateful I am that no matter how condensed, that they did keep records.

Are you going to keep a record of your trials and triumphs, no matter how brief? Who knows who will draw strength from it?