Wednesday, August 31, 2016

You Can Do Hard Things

One of the best things we have done as parents was taking a "Love and Logic" class. Serious. Even better, we were able to take it together and it was free. I love free! But this is something I would be willing to pay big bucks for--it is that worthwhile!

Anyway, one of the things we learned was to not get into arguments with a child. Seems obvious. But at least for me it was not. Devin keeps asking questions to bug me or he tries to argue or whine or complain or beg. He knows it will get a reaction out of me and he wants that attention.

Love and Logic taught us to calmly repeat a short phrase in response to the child's grumblings... regardless of what they say. You just keep saying the same phrase (or mix it up with a few phrases), lovingly, back to them. The goal is to neutralize the arguments while remaining calm. It sounds crazy. But it works. And Devin now responds with, "I hate when you say that!" and drops it. Yes! Parenting win!

These are a few of my favorite phrases I use....
* That's so sad
* Ooooohhh (kind of like a sigh)
* Nice try
* I love you too much to argue
* What did I say?
And my very favorite... that was not learned from the class but rather something I say and realized it fit this argument stopper perfectly...
* You can do hard things

Most important! Remember when you speak any of these phrases, you have to do it calmly and lovingly. With a smile helps!

Let me give you a few examples of this in practice and then I will share my favorite phrase.
But I really want to watch Paw Patrol. (After I already told him no once.)
What did I say?
But Mom! Please! I will clean up my toys.
Nice try.
But I really want to watch it.
Nice try.
Please, please.
I love you too much to argue.
If Devin persists, I won't continue at this point. Instead he gets a count towards going to timeout. Honestly though, he normally drops it by the second or third whine. You can use the same phrase over and over. You can change it up. I do some of both.

Now for my *favorite* phrase in my mom toolbox.

Why do I love this phrase? You can do hard things. It builds his self confidence and I still do not engage in a battle. Here are some examples of what Devin would say when I would use this.
I can't do it. (Said as whiny as possible. You know the voice!) 
It's too hard.
I can't wait.
I don't get it.
I don't want to.
My feet hurt.
It's too heavy.
I'm too tired.
I think you get the picture. To all of these and countless others, I simply and sweetly respond with, "You can do hard things." I don't get into a debate about how he really can do it or it is not that heavy. I don't try and argue with him about how two minutes ago he was running around like crazy. No verbal battles on my part. Only confidence building assurance that he really can do it. And then normally he does it. He knows I believe in him and that gives him courage to try.

And you want to know. I use that phrase for myself as well. When I think of something I would rather not do. Or I'm tired and loosing my patience. I just tell myself, "You can do hard things." And set off on the doing rather than the dreading.

P.S. This skill takes forever to master. I still don't have it down. Sometimes Devin will sneakily engage me in a debate. It takes practice. And time. But try it and stick with it!!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Temple Attendance for the Youngest of Saints

Yesterday, Casey and I made the time to attend the temple together. Since moving, temple attendance and date night in general, is fairly sparse. So last night was a blessing! 

I excitedly printed some family names to do. Some of my own names! These people want their work done and were longing for it to happen. While I was printing off cards (because I forgot to print them at home), I was pondering how can I involve Devin in this sacred work? He is FOUR years old. Too young to actually attend the temple. Plus, he can't read so doing family history work is something he can only do if I sit there and tell him exactly what to click. But. I really wanted to let him participate because of the promised blessings.

"Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple and stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances.... I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in you life."  --Elder Richard G. Scott General Conference October 2012

This is exactly what I want for my Little Loves. It is a scary world out there. And the adversary is intense! I want them protected and to eliminate the influence.

Well, sitting by Devin and telling him exactly what to click seems like a start. He is participating in family history work, even if he doesn't entirely understand what he is doing. However, I wanted something more. Because he is so young, attending the temple is not an option yet. Only eight years to go. But I did not want to wait eight years for the blessing and protection. I want my Little Loves growing up with it, always.

While we were in the temple yesterday, the thought came to me that I can still take my children to the temple. Anyone can enter the lobby. And if I purposefully leave family name cards that we just completed, then Devin could ask a temple worker to go get them. He could help in the work by retrieving the cards of the completed ordinances. This is exactly what I want for my Little Loves. To instill in them a love for the temple at such a young age. This idea seemed perfect and was exactly what I was searching for.

As Devin was getting ready for bed, he was telling me that he wanted to go to the temple too. It was like he read my mind the entire time we were gone. I asked if he wanted to go on a date with me to the temple so he could get the family name cards. He loved the idea.

This morning, we both got ready in our church clothes. From FHE lessons, Devin understands that you need a temple recommend to go in. He took his "temple recommend" with and off we went.

Upon arriving at the temple, I explain to the sisters in the reception area what we were doing. I asked nicely if someone could go get my cards that we purposefully left here the night before. (Leaving Devin alone in the lobby was not an option.) The cards were intentionally left behind so Devin could have his own temple experience.

Gratefully the sisters were kind and graciously agreed. We sat down on one of the couches in the lobby and read through his Future Temple Recommend Quiet Book. We talked about the blessings that come from attending the temple and how we have to live worthy to enter. I explained how family history and temple work are connected. When the sister finally found my cards, she brought them to Devin and gave them to him. She talked to him for a minute about how he was doing family history work now too (by collecting the cards) and how families are eternal. Her sweet comments meant a lot and helped emphasize what I was teaching him.

It was a wonderful experience for both of us. I am determined to attend the temple monthly with my own family name so my Little Loves can attend as well.

Temple attendance for a four year old!
He took his recommend and we were able to pick up the cards.

So grateful that he already loves the temple so much!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Choosing Forgiveness

Let's be honest. We live in an imperfect world. With imperfect people. Who sometimes speak without thinking. I have so been there. I think we each have. 

I have wished I could vacuum up my words. I didn't mean them. They were said in the moment. Or without thought. But there is no voice vacuum so instead it is apologies.

And it hurts to be on the receiving end of another's blowup. I have been there too. Recently in fact. Very recent. The words filled with hatred and anger. It brought me to tears. When one's words are unkind and untrue, it hurts. Whether written or spoken. It hurts. Inside my heart. And the sting in my eyes. Words cause pain just as much as sticks and stones. But the pain is less visible to the world. So sometimes one might think they can fling bitter words around because you can't see the wounds to the heart. 


I am choosing to forgive.

Not because apologies were offered. And not because the words shared were true.

Forgiveness does not mean I need to change. It means I need to let go. It means letting the Savior heal my wounded heart. It means moving forward with life.

And it means to not be offended. Even if offence was intended. Forgiveness is moving above.

So I choose to forgive today. And tomorrow. And every day. Because people make mistakes. And I can't tarnish my precious time with their wrong doings.

Also... if I have said something that needs vacuuming up, I offer my sincerest apologies. Life is too short to walk around being bitter. And I sincerely hope I am not the cause of another's tarnish. Please choose to forgive if you have found offence when offence was never intended.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It's Time for a Reunion! (...oh wait... we facebook...)

I'm 28 years old. Twenty-eight. TEN years ago I graduated from high school. At the time, high school graduation was the biggest deal ever. Now though... looking back... it doesn't mean so much. It was a milestone. For sure! But it was not the ONLY milestone in the past TEN years.

And life has changed.

When we graduated from high school, I just barely got my first cell phone. Facebook did not exist. And gmail required a special invite to be able to create an account. We chatted using MSN messenger or calling the home phone number. As friends when on missions, I sent letters through the mailbox. Life was different ten years ago. And when you stop and think about the technology changes, it truly is amazing! But that is a post for another day.

Saying goodbye to friends on graduation day actually meant goodbye. No one had my brand new cell phone number. MSN messenger was obviously not allowed on missions so although I never went on a mission, I stopped using it too. Just because there was no one to talk to on it. 

I grew up hearing stories from my mom of her wondering what happened to this friend or where so and so was living now. I thought that would always be the case for me. I never could have imagined the boom of facebook.

Truthfully, I had to be convinced into facebook by my college roommates a few years later. I thought it sounded dumb. Reluctantly I made an account. And people that I barely knew were asking to be my friend. Even weirder was when people I knew but they were far from my friend in real life sent a friend request. And slowly but surely the number of "friends" grew.

Well, our time has come for a high school reunion. And somehow the excitement of it is lost. I already know who is living where and how many kids they have. I already know who is still in school and who has been divorced. I already know where they work and what trials they have gone through. I already know their successes, tears, laughs, life.... I already know their life!

There once was a time when high school reunions meant something. It was anticipated and thrilling to finally have a chance to catch up. When I graduated, I thought I would be living in that time. But technology changed. And with that change, I wonder if we lost some of the excitement. We are still undecided if we will even go to our high school reunion. Not because I hated high school and don't want to go back. But because we barely see the point. 

And... just for the record... we did go to our five year reunion.... While we both had facebook, the reunion was before it took over. Haha. 

And before life changed... and life happened.... and new friends happened.... And I'm really wondering why we should even go to our upcoming reunion....

Monday, August 15, 2016

I Was The Stranger

I was the stranger. 
And I felt every sense of that word.
Let's rewind a bit first though.

March 26, 2016.
General Women's Broadcast.

I sat all by myself for the broadcast. I was at our old stake center. It was extremely dark. I stood by the door awkwardly straining to try to find anyone I knew. I don't know if it was because very few people from my ward were at the broadcast or because the room was so dark that I couldn't find them. Likely some of both. I finally decided to sit near the back so someone would see me and come join me. It never happened and I sat by myself for the whole meeting. (And just a note... being by myself is not a terrible thing. I still had no children crawling all over my lap. I was able to concentrate.) However... Knowing that we were moving next Saturday, I already felt lonely. And sitting there made me feel so alone.

At this meeting the topic of "I Was A Stranger" and helping the refugees was introduced. A few things were mentioned about how to help the refugees. One that I remember was that they needed a friend. Now. Lets just be clear. In no way do I consider ourselves refugees. We are blessed beyond measure with a lovely house that is quite honestly pretty close to my dream house. Casey has a wonderful job. And we can afford to keep me home as a full time mommy. No. I'm definitely not in the same boat and can't even imagine. But... in that moment... the only thing I needed with the upcoming change was a friend.

April 1, 2016.
Moving. (And General Conference.)

That morning after sleeping so little the night before in our new house, I woke up crying. I felt so alone. Casey was at our old house trying to clean and finish up. The kids were asleep. And my body ached. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to lift a single box. I was completely drained from loading everything the day before. I was overwhelmed. Exhausted. Alone. And scared. 

What if my new ward was clique-ish and I never fit in? What if my kids don't? What if I never make friends? What if I'm not accepted? What if I never feel at home?

To say I was scared would be such an understatement. I was a stranger.

And then the whole army appeared. More people than I even can remember came to help us unload. We were able to park our cars in the garage that night because these strangers took us in instantly. They moved everything out of the garage and truck and into the correct rooms. Somehow, I'm honestly not sure how, they squished the couch down the stairs. Casey claimed it wouldn't fit. But somehow they wiggled it in and out of the rooms until it magically appeared in the family room. (And just for the record, it is a super great thing that the couch is nearly brand new. Because it is seriously never leaving that room!)

Later that night, blessings poured down from heaven. I was still a stranger.

A dear, dear sister showed up with dinner and salad and these amazing blondies. She thought that we might need a home cooked meal after moving. Words can't even express how much this meant to me. It was so much more than food. It was love and acceptance and comfort. We saved the food for the next day, Sunday, so we could have something to eat when we couldn't go out.

Two other sisters came and wanted to make sure that we had beds to sleep in and basic things unpacked. I was the stranger and they just came. Angels is what they were honestly.

Fast forward a week or two. 
I was a struggling stranger.

The excitement and adrenaline of moving had finally worn off. Casey had gone back to work. Due to General Conference then Stake Conference, we still had not really gone to our ward. I was home with our Little Loves. And once again I was crying. With the timing of conferences, I was not making many friends because we were not attending "normal" church. And I felt alone. I prayed for someone to come to me. I had no idea who I could call for friendship. So I prayed.

And the missionaries came. These missionaries kept coming. We were far from inactive. But they saw the need. And so come they did. So many hours of service. I'm not sure when we became old enough to have the missionaries help us. But service with a smile they did. 

Another day a sister called to invite me to go with her to RS.
I swear someone always sat by me in RS on Sundays.
Kind words.
Text messages.
Personal play dates.

The other memorable experience was while I was sitting at a near by park for a mommy and me ward play date. The park is in walking distance to our home but is not within our ward boundaries. We were considering buying a house that was right by that park. While sitting there and chatting I mentioned that we had thought about a house up there. Without even missing a breath, the sweet sister right next me commented how grateful she was that we didn't buy the house near the park. I still felt vulnerable and outsider-ish. But. That day. That comment. Something changed.

I was accepted. I was loved. My kids were as well. We all were making friends. Friendships to literally last a lifetime because no one plans on moving out.

"...I was a stranger, and ye took me in." (Matt 25:35)

Four and a half months later. 
August 15, 2016
The moving dust has settled. The boxes are far and few between. Our old insurance has finally canceled. (Ugh! Insurance....) Weeds have been pulled and air vents cleaned (granted both could probably use it again). Closets are filled. Furniture arranged. Homemade bread.

And truthfully... truthfully we are home. I can't explain it. I don't know what it is exactly. But somehow it just feels different than anywhere we have lived. We are home. Our ward is home. I was taken in. I was welcomed. I once was the stranger.

I am loved.