Friday, July 31, 2009


Balance is something I am not good at. I mean, I can stand on one foot and ride a bike and everything. But balancing life doesn't come so easy to me. When the balancing act gets overwhelming I tend to shut off. It's not pretty. This last week wasn't pretty.

Before the week began I looked at my calendar and besides a presidency meeting Friday afternoon there wasn't much going on. A friend had mentioned that she was going to start potty training her son who is close to Jack's age and it got me thinking. Jack is a smart boy. Lately he takes his diapers off multiple times a day and pees or worse on my floor. What's the harm? I don't have anything else to do! So I made a plan, talked it up to Jack and bought supplies.

Our first try on the potty was a success!! And then came failure after failure for three days straight. I was frustrated, to say the least. Then, some personal family stuff came up during the week that added about 10 tons of stress to my already frustrated shoulders. I spent two days in tears trying to figure out a solution to this dilemma. When I finally did, the added stress was lifted, but I was left deflated.

Jason called me Thursday night from work to say he would be home Friday afternoon around one and that he would have the option to take Saturday off. However he would have to work Sunday regardless of working Saturday or not. This was good news/bad news. I needed him home with my. I didn't want to wait until Saturday night. I was thrilled that he'd be home a day early! But I needed him Sunday. Church is hard enough with the kids by myself, but with the added responsibilities in primary and other Sunday meetings it can get seriously crazy! On a normal week, I would have been disappointed, but fine. This week wasn't a normal week. The news was just one more straw on this camels already broken back.

Throughout the week I was giving Jack every second of my attention, trying to catch every accident and rush him to the potty. I couldn't get anything done. I was too anxious. If I showered, he had an accident. If I made a meal, he had an accident. If I answered my phone he had an accident. I let the house go all week. Toys were everywhere. Dishes were piled high. I hadn't straightened, let alone cleaned! And I had a meeting Friday afternoon with my primary presidency.

Now that I knew Jason would be home, I called my presidency to reschedule for the evening. This would give me time to get the house together after Jason came home. One of us could be watching Jack while the other cleaned and everything would work out. I was finally catching a break!

Friday morning came and as diminished as I felt I was hopeful. Jason always helps me to feel better. He helps me to get things done around the house, he helps with the kids, he cheers me up, and just having him at home brings a completely different spirit. Then he texted me to say that they had gotten a late start. He'd be an hour later. Then they still hadn't started and it would be an hour later. And another hour. There was no time left to get anything done.

I wondered if I should just change the location of our meeting so I didn't have to worry about my house. I wondered if I should just try anyway to hurry and clean the house. But what I really wanted was to give up.

So I did. I called my presidency members, apologized profusely for rescheduling only to bail on them. They were more understanding than they needed to be. (I really have the most incredible presidency EVER).

Jason finally got home around six thirty Friday evening. I cried, relieved, when he walked through the door. He told me to relax, picked up some dinner, bathed the kids, and put them to bed. All while I did absolutely nothing. I don't deserve him.

Saturday morning I woke up to most the house already being clean. He dealt with the kids all day so that I could take care of some primary stuff and plan my sharing time lessons (at the last minute). That night he put the kids to bed again and stayed up late with me just talking and laughing and being together. I was finally starting to feel like I'd be okay, even with him leaving at 3:30 the next morning.

I spent most of the weekend wondering why the week had been so hard on me. Yes, stressful things had happened during the week, but there was no reason that I should have shut down the way I did. I felt depressed and dark and scared and miserable all week. I recognized the source of these feelings, but still I didn't understand. I had read scriptures and said prayers each day that week. I didn't think I was committing any sins that would have allowed the spirit to be driven from me like that. But I wanted to understand it. I wanted to know so that I could avoid it ever happening again.

Earlier in the week, one of my closest friends had posted a talk on her blog. (I would link to it so you could all see how completely amazing she is, but for very good reason her blog is kept private). The talk was Unleashing the Dormant Spirit by F. Enzio Busche. It was a BYU devotional from 1996. It was LONG. I told myself I would eventually find time to read it, and I did. But I wish I had read it sooner!!

I finally made the time Saturday afternoon to sit and read this talk. I had printed off a couple of talks earlier in the week on balance (both of which were wonderful and can be found here and here), thinking maybe they would help me to understand myself a little more, and help me to bring myself out of this funk.

As I studied I realized that balance and exercise/practice are so connected. I need to continually practice, prayerfully balancing and prioritizing all the responsibilities in my life. I'm never going to wake up one morning and be a pro. And I may very well have weeks like this last week every now and then. But as I continue to improve little by little, exercising those spiritual muscles, added one pound at a time and increasing my ability, eventually balancing what seemed so overwhelming this week will feel light and simple.

One profound thought taught in the talk by Elder Busche was the concept of having the spirit to be with us always. Always. He told this story:

I remember the day I began my service as a mission president. On that morning I had the zone leaders coming to the mission home. In my enthusiasm and excitement, understanding the importance of the Spirit in our work, I asked the missionaries, "How much of a typical day in the service are you normally under the vibrating, powerful influence of the Spirit?" I remember their reaction. They obviously did not know what to say. They acted like I caught them by surprise. Having been converted as an adult and, therefore, not having served as a young, full-time missionary myself, I assumed that it was natural that a missionary would be always under the influence of the Spirit. How surprised I was when, after a time with no missionary daring to say anything, one of them finally said, "Last Thursday night, while we were teaching the Lehman family, we were feeling the Spirit."

I remember my immediate response was, "That was it? How about the rest of the day?" I immediately understood that we cannot have a successful mission experience until we learn how to behave or learn what to do so that the Spirit will endow us with power and all the other gifts. None of us can afford to be without them. None of us has enough wisdom, enough intelligence, enough knowledge, enough skills, or enough courage, by ourselves, to master our lives and even to succeed in life unless we learn what it means to surrender ourselves into the arms of the Lord and be filled with the Spirit. He wants to empower us with the gifts that he has promised to give to each of his disciples who has made sacred covenants with him.

All too often I am the missionaries in this story. I feel the spirit during moments or events, maybe even for a day or two at a time. And then life resumes and I wait for the next surge of that "vibrating, powerful influence of the Spirit" to come.

Satan knows me. He knows he won't be able to get me to commit a moral sin. He won't get me to drink, smoke, or try drugs. He won't even likely catch me with a swear word or an R-rated movie. But he knows that. And he tries what he knows will work on me. He waits until I am overwhelmed and stressed and ready to give up. He knows that in those hard moments he can slip dark thoughts into my mind. He knows that if he can keep me miserable for long enough that maybe, just maybe, I'll put down my scriptures. That I'll climb into bed exhausted, without kneeling for prayer first. And he knows that if he can get me to that point that it is only a few more steps before I am his.

How I need to try, with every ounce of effort I can muster, to keep that Spirit with me always! I know that it doesn't take much for Satan to slip in and drag me down. I must be armed with it's power and ready to fight at any given moment.

I have no doubt that as I strive to keep the Spirit with me always, and as I prayerfully, with His guidance, manage my responsibilities as a wife, mother, member of His church, and daughter of Him, that I will succeed in finding balance and happiness in my life.

I am so grateful for these men (who wrote the above mentioned talks), for the leaders of His church, for my family, and for dear, dear friends who have sought diligently to have that Spirit with them always. They share with me their inspired thoughts and testimonies and strengthen me constantly. Weeks like last week are bearable only because the Lord has placed these and incredible relationships and resources in my path. What would I do without this gospel?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy Pioneer Day!!

Our stake youth just got back from a Pioneer Trek to Martin's Cove. Thinking about Pioneer Day over the weekend and then hearing the testimonies of a couple of the ward youth today in Sacrament meeting got me thinking.

I don't know how most people feel but when I graduated from high school I was done with Young Women's. Although I still felt very out of place in Relief Society. Our ward was doing a Trek that August and had asked me to go several times, but I just didn't want to. I wasn't a "youth" anymore, but I wasn't one of the adults either. My brothers were still in young men's and would be going on the Trek. My dad was going as a leader. Mom was staying home with the little girls who were still just 3 1/2 and 5. And mom made me go.

I complained and complained and complained. I wanted to stay home and work and hang out with my friends and figure out who I was. But I still lived at home which meant that Mom and Dad still had the final say in my life. I am SO grateful that they did!!

I don't think I ever recorded my experiences from the Trek. I have a dvd with clips and music of the whole thing, but I never sat and wrote down my personal experiences. Unfortunately, it's seven years later and I don't remember all the details. I couldn't even tell you where we went or how many miles we walked.

What I do remember is having a wasp (or bee or hornet or yellow jacket...whichever one it was) fly up my bloomers the first evening. I started dancing around to get it out and one of my leaders started swatting at my behind with a rolled up paper of some kind. This angered the bug and it consequently bit or stung me in the rear 6 times before the leader grabbed my pants and yanked them to my ankles. (This story is, sadly, not one bit exaggerated).

On the second day of the Trek, we passed a creek. It was hot. We were sweaty. The water was cold and refreshing. We stood barefoot in the river and splashed our faces. It was heaven. Some boys standing on the riverbank opposite me started to throw rocks into the river to splash a girl near me and myself. We threw rocks back. All in good fun. Until...I slipped in a mossy rock. I grabbed the girl next to me for balance to avoid falling in face first. It worked. Only I ended up smashing my face into the rock she was holding. It hurt. A lot. I didn't cry. Until...I spit half of my front tooth out into my hand. I ran to my dad crying that my mile was ruined. I had been asked so many times over the years if I had worn braces. I hadn't. I was proud of my teeth. I spent the rest of the Trek with a hillbilly smile. And a terribly sensitive exposed nerve. Ouch. Minutes after it happened one of the men on the Trek (namely Steve Shrader) found a deer skull with the same front tooth missing. He held it up to my face to make "funny" comparisons. In the moment, it was not so funny. Another man commented (these were LEADERS, not boys!) that I shouldn't worry. If no one would marry me I could always just serve a mission! This seriously offended the sisters standing nearby who HAD served missions. :) I waited a good four days to get that tooth fixed. You can still see the ugly crack down the middle. Yuck.

Each "family" (we were assigned a male and female leader, a "Ma" and "Pa" who were the older ones like me, and two children per handcart, if I remember correctly) was given a flour sack baby at the beginning of the Trek. After a couple of days, ours burst along the trail. We buried our "baby" and held a graveside service. At the end of the Trek a prize was given to the baby who was kept in the best condition. We joked and argued that the pioneers could have done their absolute best with their children and still lost them along the way. We had had a real pioneer experience and should be considered for the prize!! It didn't work. But our funeral service was caught on video. It's pretty funny.

I remember crossing a river. With 6-8 of us pushing and pulling a loaded handcart through the water and stones, we couldn't make it. So we all (the older and stronger "pioneers") pulled together until one cart was across the river and then we turned around and worked on the next handcart. It was hard work. It was time consuming. But we felt so united. United to each other as we served alongside one another, and united with our ancestors who had blazed this incredible difficult trail for us.

Another day two uniformed men rode up to us on horseback. I remember Brother Thurgood calling himself Colonel Focker. Ha ha ha ha!! Everyone gasped and we all laughed. They called away all the "men" to fight in some battle or war. (These are the details I can't remember). We joked and laughed and waved a sad goodbye to our "Pas" and "Brothers" as they went off the fight. When the boys were gone, we girls and women were left to pull the handcarts. It was a little harder but no huge deal. Until we saw the mountain ahead of us we had to climb. Again, we worked together to push and pull one handcart at a time up that hill with a reverence for those women who had gone before us. Those incredible women. Soon after we began our bishopric arrived. They symbolized the help those women received from beyond the veil. We worked quietly, with tears streaming until each handcart was up the mountain. Later that night the boys and men returned and spoke of their experience watching us reverently from a distance, unable to help.

I don't remember much else from the Trek. There was a testimony meeting. We received letters from home. We cooked out own meals. We laughed and cried and gained an appreciation for the sacrifices made on our behalf by these courageous men and women.

What I thought over and over again today was what a shame it was that I wasn't recording these kinds of experiences for my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. I keep this blog and record all kinds of silly other things. But the truth is, I don't usually record things that are worth recording. The same can be said looking back at my junior high and high school journals. So today I'm recording what I can remember of a worthwhile experience and setting a personal goal to record these more often so that I can return and remember the feelings that I had that are truly worth remembering.

Hopefully I'll find time in the upcoming weeks to record some other experiences that I should have recorded years ago. My experiences at Nauvoo and in Palmyra New York. The day my family was sealed for time and eternity in the Mount Timanogas Temple. The incredible things I've learned through the spirit in the previous days and weeks and months and years in quiet moments of study and prayer. Unlike what I think of a popular tv show or what I've eaten that week, those are things worth recording and remembering.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Be careful what you wsh for!! :)

Yeah, I know. I hardly blog anymore. A) I realized I was spending WAY too much time on the computer and not enough time getting things done around the house or not spending enough time with my kids. And B) I've been insanely busy. Seriously.

So what have I been so busy with lately? Let me tell you. Weekend trips back and forth to family weddings in Utah, summer activities with the kids, cleaning, laundry, more cleaning, more laundry, some more cleaning, and you guessed it! Some more laundry.

And another reason I've been so busy? Remember this post here? Ha! Turns out I absolutely ADORED every second of teaching my sweet CTR8 class. I think those five kids were the absolute best in the primary. Literally. Everyone was jealous of my class. :)

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago the bishop called me into his office. They had just reorganized the RS Presidency and the YW presidencies. I assumed calling. And I hadn't been in the primary long so I thought it would just be something that I could do on top of my primary calling. The bishop asked me how I was doing and how my testimony was and then said, "Well, thanks. I just wanted to see how you were doing."

Huh. That was weird. I figured that must just be something the bishop here did to keep in touch with members of the ward. Well, a week later on Sunday afternoon the ward clerk called and asked if I could meet with the bishop that Tuesday. The bishop called Tuesday night and asked me if Jason was available to come along with him. Luckily he was off that week.

I sat across from the bishop thinking, "So it must be what I thought before. Calling. Maybe he was just...testing the waters at that last interview?"

Then the bishop asked me if I would accept a call to be the ward Primary President. Ha! I literally laughed in his face. Quite irreverently. After a moment I composed myself and just shook my head. "Okay. What do you want me to do first?"

INSANE!! I have gone through so many thoughts in the last few weeks. First, just wondering WHAT ON EARTH the Lord is thinking!! Then feeling humbled and realizing that there is much I need to learn from this experience. Overwhelming stress jumped in somewhere realizing all the work I had to do in the upcoming few weeks.

But most prevalently I have had an overwhelming knowledge that my Heavenly Father knows me. Each of us. He has given me an incredible opportunity to draw near to Him, something I had been praying for. (Obviously I didn't think THIS would be the answer!)

As I have knelt in prayer, attended the temple, and had hands laid on my head as worthy men who hold His priesthood pronounced profound blessings upon me, as well as each member of my new presidency, I have had witness born to me of my Heavenly Father's love for His children. Those in the Green River 5th Ward Primary as well as each of us.

I hope to never forget these feelings. I hope that the testimony I have now will only continue to be strengthened and that I will have continuous opportunities to share it with His children.

I know the Lord lives and loves us. I know that without the tiniest doubt. I know that he answers prayers in ways that are better than what we want for ourselves. He hears us and listens to us and comforts us. He wants us to grow near to Him. I know that the way to do this is through studying His word, praying diligently, and serving His children.

These are the things I want my children to know more than anything else. I hope that as they watch me try to do these things, imperfectly, that they will come to know and love their Savior and Father in Heaven. I hope that they will learn to search, ponder, pray, and serve. I hope that they will love. Love themselves, love their neighbors, and love their Father in Heaven and older brother, Jesus Christ. I hope they will know what I know. I hope they will feel these truths so deeply in their souls that they can never deny it.

I can never deny it.