Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Power of One

I can't express how much I love this example. (Tee - it is a South Florida branch)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Time Machines

So when I came home last evening, Ryan had completely torn his room apart and was deep cleaning and purging. He does this about twice a year although I've never seen it to quite this extent. If fact he couldn't finish it all yesterday and is finishing the last bit today. I love that he is not a pack rat. I love that he has his own messy breaking point, although his is a bit further down the line than mine. I guess he is growing up as this time he purged all of his bookshelves and had garbage bag full of books that he had "outgrown". I looked through the bag and memories came flooding back. Suddenly I was sitting in the recliner reading "Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?" to him sitting on my lap until we had most of it memorized. Sweet, sweet memories.

The other day I opened a tiny sample of baby lotion that had come in an order of stuff. Instantly, memories so real I could actually feel them came crashing around me. Lotion-ing Ryan when he was tiny. He was such a spindly little thing and would snuggle into my shoulder after I got him dressed. Lotion-ing Shelby on my bed. I could feel her fat baby thighs and rolls. I could hear the giggles of the girls as I wrote lotion letters on their backs and it tickled. Sweet, sweet memories...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Joyful Fast

Today's lesson in Relief Society was about Fasting. The first sentence in the manual caught my eye - "What can we do to make fasting a joyful experience?" I've had a conversation with a friend for a while now about joy - that sometimes we (I) make the gospel too hard and suck the joy right out of it. So I have really been noticing the word joy every time I come across it.

I've been to many a lessons on fasting. I've taught the principle. I am not sure that I have ever thought of it as a joyful experience. More like the feeling after completing something really, really hard. Like a huge final exam or running a marathon. An incredible feeling after it is over. So glad that I did it, but glad to have some time before doing it again. Yet, I have had some very sacred experiences with fasting. I always feel so incredibly close to the Savior during a fast, especially the last couple of hours. I want to want that feeling. I want to look forward to fasting and have the entire experience be joyful. So, I started to brainstorm...

*Saturday - use it! I would like to put Sunday dinner in the crockpot (in the fridge) or have it sitting in the freezer so that I don't have to cook a lot when I am fasting and I can instead read my scriptures. Also, make sure I have everything on hand for the next day so that it is a special day. I would like to clean my kitchen after the Saturday lunch meal and mop my floor so my kitchen smells clean!

*Decor - I want to frame a cool picture & quote and put it on an easel on my kitchen counter to remind us it is fast sunday. Maybe another one for the fridge. Light some candles. Write a message to my family on the white board or leave a question that all can respond too.

*Music - I am spending some time this afternoon to make a Fast Sunday playlist of my favorite hymns/music. Something extra special for just that one Sunday a month.

*Different Day - These are some ideas I came up with to make it a special day.
Listen to John Bytheway talks, an LDS movie, Conference or devotional talks.
China Dishes - we used to do this and loved it. I think I will bring it back.
Make homemade bread - I have a super easy bread recipe. I love the idea of having fresh, homemade bread on Fast Sundays. And I love how it ties into fasting.
Service - My bread recipe makes 4 loaves. I love the idea of taking 2 or 3 loaves and delivering them to others in the evening of Fast Sunday. If not bread, maybe some cookies. Or make some cards and drop them off.
Sweet Treat - have a traditional family treat on fast sundays. Something super easy and fun to have after deliveries.

*Remember - We have a Christmas Gratitude Journal that we have had since Tim & I got married. Each year, everyone with us on Christmas writes some thoughts down. I think it would be great to start a Fasting Journal to record our fasts and impressions. Maybe to include our testimonies. What a treasure that would be in a few years!

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Please feel free to add any to my brainstorm. I really want to work on making this day each month a truly joyful experience to be cherished and remembered.

I've shared the first before, but I really love these slideshows. I love how many times Christ is joyful. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thoughts and Convictions

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving home from dropping off Ryan at visitation. Often I will turn off the music and just think for the hour and a half drive home. My thoughts turned to Molly and Vic Jackson and their sweet Lucy who passed away after choking on a bit of apple almost two years ago. I've followed their journey of grief, my own grief often paralleling theirs. My mind thumbed through the events, pictures, posts and emotions they have shared and I began to pray for them while silent tears slipped down my face. Sometimes life is just so hard. The next day I opened my reader and found this post from Molly. And again, I felt a twinge of similarity. First, I was grateful that I had heard the whisperings of the spirit and been thinking of their family at a time of unbelievable hurt. Many times I feel like I live in my own world, impervious to the spirit and others around me. Second, was the feeling of "yes, that". I haven't posted much of my writing lately for a variety of reasons. One is that it has all been said and what good comes from re-hashing the same hurt? The pain of it all has subsided to an ache most of the time. Except those times when it catches me unawares and feels like it was yesterday. When does life move on? Will I always be caught stranded in this no-man's land of divorce?

It is interesting that my feelings about marriage are so incredible strong, much stronger than when I was married. Why is it that it has taken a divorce for me to begin to understand what marriage is? I know that everyone has their struggles but I really want to hurt people when they complain about their spouse, trivialize their marriage, make mountains out of inconsequencials, and completely miss the miraculous blessings of their marriages. I seriously can't trust myself to speak. Partly because whatever I say will be too harsh. Partly because I will cry and that will shift the focus off the importance of my words to an unwanted pity for me. Partly because they have to feel the truth for themselves.

So what is it exactly that I ache for? (These are in no particular order and some are things I did not have in my marriage but I truly, deeply feel are a part of marriage)
*Faith and Trust
*Prayer- I miss praying for a spouse, I miss hearing prayers, I miss praying together
*Priesthood- I wish I could express how much I have missed this.
*Pillow talk
*Status checks - phone and life.
*Shared History and memories
*Shared address book - someone who knows everyone I know.
*Partner - parenting, financial, spiritual, vacation, goal, dream, fitness, us against the world
*Plans - dreams, vacation, goals
*Laughter - a shared sense of humor
*Going to the temple together
*Pictures - I am the one taking the pictures which means I am now not recorded in pictures so much. Most of my pics are all the weird self portrait angle now.
*How do I look? - I miss someone to zip me up, fasten my bracelet, tell me my slip is showing, give final approval before I walk out the door.
*Cooking - I really don't cook for one and it is hard to even cook for two.
*Homemaking - I didn't realize how many things I did to create a home for Tim and our kids - made beds, ironing, FHE, music, meals, gardening, decorating, reading together, traditions, bargain shopping, budgeting, yard work, home remodeling. It is a full time job and I miss it.
*Dates - dressing up for someone special. Being with someone who thinks you are special.
*Talking about the Priesthood and Relief Society lessons from church. And the priesthood session of conference
*Talking period. Sometimes I go days without speaking out loud.
*Road trips and drives
*A not aloneness - someone else is there.
*Respect - a likemindedness, someone who respects my opinions and goals.
*Working together
*Sense of Family - a feeling of purpose, permanence, building, bonding, belonging, the sense of eternity.

I went to a Relief Society meeting this past week and took away a few thoughts. It was brought up that most of us, if not all, will have times in our lives where we are alone. It was comforting to think that these lessons, aching, missing, is part of the plan and universal.

It was also brought up that marriage doesn't complete us. I understand what they were saying, but I disagree. Or maybe just see it differently. I have seen tons of photo tutorials in blogland lately. They will have a before pic. straight from the camera and then a second with altered focus, different lens, lightning, or enhancements. The subject didn't change. The subject is complete by themselves. But the different lens or lighting or whatever, makes the pictures STUNNING. That is kind of how I see marriage. Yes, I am 'complete' by myself but marriage changes the light and focus just enough to make an ordinary Julie sparkle, shine, vibrant, and beautiful.

I realize that I have little worldly credibility to say anything about marriage. I failed at mine. While I have never seen Christ, I know that he is real. I may not have worldly credentials or years of success but I do know what marriage is. I cherish it, long for it, respect it and will fight for it. I am not ashamed to say I desire it - does that make me desperate or real?

So why haven't I blogged much lately? Partly because I can't find my camera recharger and I would really like to post some pics with my posts and my battery is dead. Partly because I am still aching and I know most of you want/need for me to move on already. Believe me I would like to. Partly because I am stuck. I feel very much like a huge chunk of clay that Heavenly Father is molding into something. I've given up telling him what I want to turn into and I've ceased to ask questions, why this and why that. Right now, I just feel like I am observing his work - watching chunks of myself shaved off here and there, feeling his fingers push and press. It is kind of an out of body experience as I see bits of myself shaved off - kind of like "Oh, I thought I needed that and there it goes." Have you ever watched an artist or sculpturist work? They do things that don't make any sense to me because I don't have the vision. I can't see what they see. That is how I feel about my life right now. I still can't see what he is creating. I do feel like he has rebuilt my frame from the strongest iron. I feel like some of my frame was already strong - my testimony, my mission, my childhood, but I definitely feel like the marriage framework was very weak. I feel like he has ripped it out and rebuilt my spine.

I challenge each of you to straighten your marriage spine. When you finish reading this post, go and do something to let your spouse know you cherish them. A note, a service, a kind word, plan ahead for time alone. Say a quick prayer of gratitude for your marriage. And those of us who are recording our life straight from the camera, we can define marriage. We can understand marriage. We can fight for marriage. We can trust.

Step by Step

Day 20 Stumbles - Temptations - For a while I've wondered about personal temptations. It has felt like Satan wasn't really worri...