Entries for the ‘spirituality’ Category

Paint and repeat

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Every weekday morning for two week I have sent the kids off to school, dressed in paint clothes and gone to work on the new house. I typically spend 6-7 hours a day working at the new place. It is more physical labor than my body is used to, I wake up each morning with sore muscles. We’re making progress, the bedrooms are ready for the carpet to be installed. (and Yes, it turns out we ARE ceiling painting people, thanks to three GREAT friends who came to help me.)

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I took last weekend off and didn’t step foot in the new house, I just needed a break. I spent my Saturday evening watching the General Women’s Conference that my church puts on twice a year.  The older I get the more I enjoy the experience.  I felt so moved by each of the talks, so many things I felt applied to me and ways I needed to become a better person. One of my favorite things about conference is to marry my favorite quotes with beautiful pictures- I just love making those memes!

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I’m looking forward to this weekend which is two more days of talks by LDS church leaders…and maybe a little “eye resting” on the couch.

What Morning Looks Like

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

scriptures

Maybe eight or nine years ago my Grandmother, who has a very deep love for the Book of Mormon, challenged her children and grandchildren to read the Book of Mormon again as a family.  I had one reader and one non-reader at the time and thought, ugh, the stories of the BOM don’t always make sense to me, how on earth can I read this to my children and have them get anything out of it??

I have a deep love and respect for my grandmother and I just could not ignore her challenge. My husband suggested we start reading together before we put the children to bed. That lasted maybe a week before we switched to reading in the mornings. By the time bedtime rolls around I am so ready for everyone to GO TO BED AND LEAVE ME ALONE, that I really struggled with putting on a good face and reading the word of God to my kids.

We started reading two, maybe three verses every morning before the kids went to school.  I would read the verses to them and then we’d talk about what we read, I would try to summarize it in a language that they would understand. I’d relate the wars to the people of Tempe feeling like they didn’t have enough land, so they started a war with Chandler to take over some of their land- anything to help bring understanding to my kids.

Our reading has evolved over the years, I think it took us something like five or six years to finish the book as a family, and then we started over again. These days, with three kids and only one sort-of not quite a reader yet, our mornings look something like this:

6:45 am my alarm goes off, I literally drag myself from slumber and shuffle down the hall to open the doors to my children’s rooms where I mumble something like “Rise and Shine” but more like “get up”.  I usually have to sit down in the girls rooms and rub their cheeks to get them to wake up and then we all shuffle to the living room. My daughters take up the couch, my son is buried in a blanket on a chair, while my husband and I take the two remaining chairs.

My husband who is infinitely more alert in the mornings than I am, opens his scriptures and reminds all of us what page/verse we are on. This is the moment where it dawns on my kids that they need to have their scriptures with them- so then there is a slow stumble to the book shelf to collect the books. Then my patient husband has to tell us all again about ten times what page/verse to turn to.

We each take turns reading a few verses of an entire page. My husband, the alert one, will sometimes ask questions to see if the children understood what they read (um, we didn’t even try asking during the Isiah chapters of 2 Nephi).

Then, in theory, we all kneel together around the coffee table for family prayer.  What it really looks like is my husband kneeling at the coffee table with one daughter perched on his back (as if he were giving her a horse back ride), my son, still covered in a blanket kneeling at the chair, the other daughter curled up next to me, while I get as close to the floor as I can without actually looking like I am laying on the floor- and then we pray.

Its a whole lot of effort- especially for someone like me who is not a morning person, but I know that it makes a difference in our daily lives. It helps my children think beyond themselves, it helps them to put their problems into perspective, and I know when we invite God into our home we are kinder to one another.

King Benjamin (in the book of Mosiah) had three sons Mosiah, Helorum and Helaman, whom he taught the language of their fathers- which was Egyptian. He wanted his children to know Egyptian so  they could read the records of their people-which were the plates passed down from Lehi. If they couldn’t read and understand Egyptian they wouldn’t be able to (as Mormon writes) ” read and understand His (God’s) mysteries, and always have his commandments before our eyes”. Benjamin didn’t want his sons to grow up and raise their children in unbelief, he wanted a faithful posterity. I have the same hope for my posterity, and I know if I don’t teach my children to understand the language of the BOM (and the Bible) then they will not be able to understand the mysteries of God.

 

Post Easter Thoughts

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

heatherhalesdesigns.com

This is what Easter Sunday looked like at my house.  Somehow I got the focus wrong and the only shots that turned out were the “goofy” ones!

During our Easter services one of the speakers asked the questions: What does the Atonement mean to me?  I spent the remainder of the day pondering that question.  The simplified answer is- To me, the Atonement means that its ok for me to make mistakes.  I can mess up and pick myself up, dust off my pants and try again- and that God doesn’t love me any less for it.  To me this is HUGE.

I grew up understanding that I could not make mistakes.  Mistakes meant you were weak and weakness was not tolerated.  I don’t think my parents intentionally set out to create these boundaries, but none-the-less they were there and I knew it.  How this played out in my everyday life is a long story for a memoir I may one day write!  Suffice it to say I grew up trying desperately to hide my flaws and my weaknesses, rationalizing them away or denying that they existed. But I knew I wasn’t perfect and the self loathing that came from secretly acknowledging my mistakes did a number on my self esteem.  I began to define myself by all the things I couldn’t do right- never even acknowledging the things I was good at.

I continued on this path until I was in my mid-thirties.  And then I had a moment of clarity and I began to recognize the good in myself.  I suddenly saw myself in a completely different light, as if my strengths were being hit by a giant spotlight.  I slowly realized that I had been choosing to define myself by my faults; which was ridiculous!  I thought about the Atonment and how a loving and benevolent God does not define us by our mistakes, but our successes!  It is through the power and wonder of the Atonement that my mistakes are blotted out from that great record book.

The epiphany continued when I realized what my example may have been teaching my own children.  My heart broke as I recognized certain behaviors in them that I knew stemmed from a fear of making mistakes.  I made a conscious choice that this would STOP with me and that I would NOT pass this on to my kids.

What does this look like in action?  When my daughter comes home and tells me she is stupid because she can’t do math and failed her math test- we talk about how the test went, did she understand the material? Does she recognize what she did wrong and know how to fix it? She then continues to lament (in her dramatic 8year old way) that she is just stupid, stupid at everything.  I begin to ask her more leading questions.  Well, you failed your math test and that is a total bummer, but are you still a good big sister? (yes) Are you still really helpful in class- always helping people in need? (yes) What about art, are you still really good at putting colors together and drawing animals? (yes).  I point out to her that while yes, she failed a test, she is still really amazing at so many other things.  Those other things are the ones that define who she is as a person, not the fact that she flunked today’s math test.

I do NOT want my children defining themselves by their mistakes.  We all make them, but they are not who we are.  I talk openly about the mistakes that I make each day- when I yell, I apologize.  I tell them mommy messed up, but tomorrow is a new day and I will try to do better.  I want them to know that they too can make mistakes- and then pick themselves up, dust off their pants and try again tomorrow.

And that is what the Atonment means to me.