Monday, February 8, 2010


Now that Grant is a year old, he's decided to display his wisdom and opinion on everything. For example, naps used to be such a glorious time. I would feed him a bottle, often spoiling him with being rocked and cuddled, and he would blissfully slumber for a couple of hours. Lately he's taken up the attitude of, "(scream) But I'm not tired! (scream) See? Watch how much energy I have! (runs frantically, trips in his exhaustion, more screaming) Please don't put me to sleep! (screams turn to hysterical sobbing) Trust me, Mom! I'm a whole year old, and I know myself better than you do. (more hysteria) I can handle this! I don't need a nap!" And by this time he has spent all of the little energy he had and is pulling out all of the reserves to fight and run and go crazy, all to prove to me that he isn't tired. It is a very convincing show: all it really does is convince me of how right I am and how clueless he really is.

Why is it that I do the same thing with Heavenly Father when I don't want to do something, or when I really want something? "But I can handle it! I'm twenty-seven, and I know what I'm doing. No one knows better than I do what I need. Trust me. I can handle this!" Heavenly Father often says, "Fine. Have it your way, if you're so smart." And pretty much every single time I do I end up miserable.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." Good advice from Proverbs, I think. He knows more than I do, so why don't I trust Him? Because I'm human, I rely on myself or what I can observe with my physical senses. So part of the reason I'm here on this earth is to learn to trust those things I cannot see or feel or touch or hear; past experience has proven that all these things are true, so I can go forward with faith.  If God has never let me down before, He won't in the future! He knows me more than I ever will in this life, because He knows who I have always been. He also knows all things past, present, and future. How could I ever begin to think I know more than he does?

I guess all broken commandements follow the same pattern, don't they? It's a matter of us trusting ourselves over our loving Father, and as hard as it can be to allow things to be out of my control, it seems to get easier the more I do it. And it definitely makes my life happier!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Self, Soup, Shots, Steering, and Success

Due to a recent bout of car screaming, I hooked a plastic mirror to the head rest in front of Grant's seat in the car, and it has worked like a charm! He stares at himself, waves, makes faces, laughs as if he's with an old buddy, and when he's mad he screams and then peeks open his eyes to see if his buddy is doing the same thing.  In fact, sometimes it seems to have worked a little too well. I've begun to feel like I'm the third wheel, to be quite honest, as if he and his reflection are conspiring against me. He started crying yesterday and I started sticking out my tongue in the rearview mirror with hopes he would pick up on it. He heard me, and without even giving me a second glance, he started sharing his new trick with the mirror buddy as if he'd come up with it on his own. The nice grocer gave us a Smarties, so when Grant screamed later on I handed one back to him--again, he snatched it right up without tearing his eyes off of himself. If I sing or clap, he shares that moment with himself.

I'm not in the least sad or concerned about all of this self-infatuation. It is expected at this time of life! As a one-year-old, Grant's entire world is centered on himself and his needs and wants. Toddlers seem to thrive on the same thing, and as frustrating as it is, at least we can know that they've only had a few short years of life and don't know how to look past themselves. Teenagers often haven't moved out of this phase of life, and even some young adults are stuck there. I think all of us have experiences that help us to grow up, to spend more time with humans than in front of the mirror, and to notice people other than ourselves. For me it has been a decade of church callings, my marriage, and especially motherhood that have helped pull me outside of myself--and who'd've thought reaching out would actually make me feel more fulfilled in life?

"The Good Shepherd said, 'Feed my lambs.' So a woman feeds her loved ones, providing succor and sustenance just as the Savior would do. Her divine gift is to nurture, to help the young, to care for the poor, to lift the brokenhearted....To help another human being reach one's celestial potential is part of the divine mission of woman. As mother, teacher, or nurturing saint, she molds living clay to the shape of her hopes. In partnership with God, her divine mission is to help spirits live and souls be lifted. This is the measure of her creation. It is ennobling, edifying, and exalting." [Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign (CR), November 1989, 22]

Along these same lines is another thought I've had recently. I remember when I was a child and my mom would tell me if I looked at the bowl of soup I was carrying, it would be more likely to spill than if I focused ahead of me at the table (something I wish Grant could learn since he loves drinking from a cup). I was taught in Drivers Ed that I had to go against my natural impulse to stare right in front of the car, and to look quite a ways in the distance. And I, like nearly everyone on the planet, have a phobia of needles, so when I get a shot I have to look at and direct all my focus toward something next to me, like the strange hairline of the cartoon teenager posted on the wall.

All together, these remind me that my instincts might cause preoccupation with myself (as Grant has proven), but true success comes when I focus beyond that narrow mark. The next example isn't of motherhood, but it has helped me make sense of all of this.

When I was younger I had a difficult time prioritizing things in life. I had a lot on my plate (more than I probably should have allowed), and I'm a perfectionist and absolutely could not conceive of not giving my all to every single one of those things. I knew I needed to put God first in my life (through reading my scriptures, praying, visiting teaching, etc.), but I knew that I needed to study, too, or someone else would get the better grades or scholarships. Or that I needed to rehearse during every waking moment or someone else would get the part in the show I wanted. Or perhaps that I needed to get even a few hours of sleep or I wouldn't be able to function the next day. Sometimes I did the right thing, but sometimes I let all the other things overtake the things of God simply because there wasn't time for everything. It didn't take me very long to learn, however, that if I would focus on God instead of myself, everything else fell into place. Even though I had less time to spend on everything else, my grades were better. My performing opportunities were better. My relationships were better. I found even more time to sleep. It often has seemed counterintuitive, since we are self-loving creatures, but it has never failed me. If I focus on Him first, I always succeed in the areas I need to.

So right now I let little Grant have a bawl with his reflection in the mirror, but one day I hope to be able to teach him that self becomes more complete when you take time to add others and God.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stop Hurting Yourself!

This morning Grant thought it was hilarious to hit himself in the head with his sippy cup. He would laugh and then do it again harder. It started hurting him, but he wasn't about to stop this fun game, so he would cry and then do it again. I would tell him to stop hitting himself, but he would just look at me like it was my fault he was hurting, and then would do it again. It got to the point that it was as if he really couldn't stop himself from bashing his head with the cup, so I had to intervene. This experience reminded me of something I read in Isaiah 1 a few days ago:

 4 Ah asinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, bchildren that are ccorrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto danger, they are gone away backward.

  5 ¶ Why should ye be astricken any more? ye will brevolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart cfaint.

  6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been aclosed, neither bound up, neither bmollified with ointment

We forget and forsake Jesus Christ, and He asks, "Why will you keep allowing yourself to be hit? If you would just turn to Me, I would heal you!" That same idea is shared by the Savior to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 9:13:

Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may cheal you?

It is childish that we keep hurting ourselves (or at least allowing ourselves to be hurt), and all the while there is peace, comfort, and healing in store if we would only return to the Savior. Even worse than that is when we blame God for not taking away the pain! That gives us an excuse to not have to change or repent, because it wasn't actually our fault, right? The Nephites displayed this in Mormon 2:13:

But behold this my joy was vain, for their asorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the bsorrowing of the cdamned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take dhappiness in sin.  

Sometimes, we spiritually get to the point that we know we are out of control. We know we are hurting ourselves, but we don't know how to fix it. Luckily, the Savior does, and He will be there to help us as soon as we ask for His help. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Great Mouse Detective--Fear or Protection?

As I wrote on my regular blog, I saw a mouse this week in my living room. My first reaction? Panic. I have a ten-month-old baby who crawls to every corner of the house--what if he got into droppings and somehow got infected with whatever the mouse might be carrying? Where on earth would I put traps where he wouldn't find them?

My life instantly became overwhelmed by fear. I was scanning every room before entering, and never stopped checking every corner as often as I could. I was even more wary when I put Grant down to play. Worry consumed my every thought, even though we put out traps and cleaned up every crumb we could find. I knew there was nothing more we could really do to protect our son, so why was I so worried? Because there is a lot we can't control in life.

I've been thinking--do I wish I didn't know about the mouse? Like Jake told me, chances are that it's been in our living space for a while now, but since I didn't know about it I went about life normally. I wasn't riddled with fears every moment because I had no clue that there was anything to even be afraid of! Is that the better way? Ignorance? Of course not! The better way is to know that the mouse is there so that I can now actively fight it. I can't protect my baby from something I don't know exists, but now I can. I don't really like it, but I'd never pretend to think that ignorance would somehow be better than this. Grant still has no clue, and that's fine. I'll take care of the work and worry!

I've also been thinking--do I wish I didn't know about Satan or his horribly wicked, clever, scary tactics? I have to admit, sometimes watching the news is unnerving and makes me wish I could just live in a bubble. But would ignorance or pretending that he isn't real ever suffice? Of course not! So now I'm faced with the fear of raising a family in a degenerate and frightening world, and sometimes it feels like that fear might consume my life. But this is the better way! It is the only way, because now I can actively fight against him and prepare my children as well as I can. I can't protect my children from something I don't know exists, but now I can. I don't enjoy the fear or the reality of Satan, but knowledge of him is really a way Heavenly Father helps protect us against him.

Look at the rest of the world! So many people struggle and suffer and fall for his traps simply because they never knew.

Here are a few of Lehi's words to his son, Jacob, in 2 Nephi 2:

5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they aknow good from evil.
17 aangel of God...had bfallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a cdevil, having sought that which was evil before God.
18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.
26 And the aMessiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may bredeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are credeemed from the fall they have become dfree forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon...
27 Wherefore, men are afree according to the bflesh; and call things are dgiven them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to echoose fliberty and eternal glife, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be hmiserable like unto himself.

Because we have been instructed sufficiently and are given all things necessary to succeed, we are free! We will undoubtedly face fear, but we can fight that fear with our faith in Jesus Christ. Through Him and with Him we can never be forced to follow Satan or become miserable like he is. If we were to live under the false pretense that there is nothing wrong, we would be denying ourselves all of the protective abilities that come with knowledge. Knowledge truly is power. Through awareness and understanding of truth, and especially through the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, we have the power to act before the bad comes instead of just reacting to Satan as he throws things our way.

I guess I'll choose knowledge (that might cause me fear) over ignorance (that will surely cause unpreparedness), for in this is the protection that has the ability to save my family.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Computers, Donuts, and Defiance

I know you've all see it happen. Today it was sneaking up to the laptop that I unfortunately left on the couch, pounding on the keys with all his might, turning his head to look at me with his big brown eyes when I reminded him yet again that "no, babies don't play with Daddy's expensive computer." He kept those puppy dog eyes focused on me, and after a moment I saw his hand reach slowly back toward the keyboard. Another no, another pause, another attempt at hitting the keys--all while looking straight at me. Was it a look of, "I'll keep her distracted with my eyes while my hands play with the computer and she'll never notice," or was it a look of, "I don't need you telling me what to do all the time"? Maybe even just an, "Is she really going to take this away like she said she would?"

It is one thing to make a poor choice or do something wrong without really knowing what you've done. We've all had those times--where as soon as we've done it we know we were in the wrong. I'm not saying that we should ignore the seriousness of such occasions, but I think there's a far greater danger in knowing exactly what we are doing when we go against what we know is right. We've been "instructed sufficiently that [we] know good from evil" (2 Nephi 2:5), and I think we would all agree that a significant portion of our poor choices each day are things we know perfectly well are wrong. But we do them anyway.

In the past we looked our parents in the eye, assuming they would never be able to see through us, and with an air of defiance did things we knew were wrong. Now we do the same to spouses, children, doctors, bosses, professors, police officers, store clerks, road signs, government officials, bishops, apostles, prophets, and even Deity. Our thoughts may include the following:
  • "no one will notice"
  • "really, what are they going to do?"
  • "so what?"
  • "the consequences can't be that bad"
  • "I don't need people telling me what to do all the time"
My personal favorites:
  • "but I'm different than everyone else"
  • "I know what I'm doing"
We have been instructed sufficiently but "a knowledge of truth is of little value unless we apply it in making correct decisions. Consider for a moment a man, heavily overweight, approaching a bakery display. In his mind are these thoughts: The doctor told you not to eat any more of that. It’s not good for you. It just gives momentary gratification of appetite. You’ll feel uncomfortable the rest of the day after it. You’ve decided not to have any more. But then he hears himself say, 'I’ll have two of those almond twists and a couple of those chocolate doughnuts. One more time won’t hurt. I’ll do it just once more, and this will be the last time.'” (Elder Richard G. Scott, Conference Report, October 2007)

Altogether too often, and with that air of defiance, I take the donut (both literally and metaphorically, sadly).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Love of a Parent

I've heard this from parents my whole life, but now I know how true it is. There is nothing Grant could do right now (or ever) to diminish my love for him. Even after a sleepless night, I find that the frustration and exhaustion are overwhelmingly overpowered by the love I feel for him. I believe that is because the more I serve him, the more I love him. My stake president growing up once said, "Love the verb preceeds love the noun." My coworker, Alan Casper, told me that if that principle of service and love is true, perhaps no child will ever love their parent as much as the parent loved them. But the cycle continues as each generation of parents loves their children more than their own lives, and those children then do the same with their own children. God's love for each of us is so powerful that nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). I wonder, will I ever be able to love God as much as He loves me? King Benjamin tells us that even if we serve him with everything within us, we will never be able to break even and give Him back as much as He gives us (see Mosiah 2:21). I don't know if I can, but I will try!

I often wonder if God sees us the way we see babies. For example, Grant is constantly crawling under the piano bench and bashing his head against the bottom edge. I do all I can to keep him from it, but he finds a way. Even though he's learning that it hurts to go under there and knows that I told him no, he still does it; and I still want to kiss it better, even though I'm saying, "I told you so!" in the process. I do plenty of stupid things in life, and Heavenly Father knows this, but He still comes to my aid to help me. I'm so thankful for that!

Every day that passes I have the opportunity to become more like Heavenly Father, who is totally and completely dedicated to helping His children fulfill their eternal destinies. Everything He does is for, as we can see in 2 Nephi 26:24: "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world." As I focus on doing everything I can for the eternal benefit of my family, I am walking in His ways and preparing myself for my own eternal destiny.

I Want That

Grant always knows what he wants. I take that back--he thinks he knows what He wants. All nine months of his existence have been filled with trying to get what he thinks he wants. Sometimes it is my food, which I will gladly share with him unless it is unhealthy for him (like peanut butter) or if it is something I know he won't like and will spit back out (like bananas)--but he's always begging, even after he's spit it out. He always wants to hold the object that someone else is holding, even if the fancy noise-making, light-up toy he is holding is so much more interesting than the piece of paper I've got.

He used to be distracted easily, but lately he is determined that he will get what he wants. I've wondered, "Why don't you trust me? The things I give you are so much better than the ones you want!" Of course, he doesn't, and he probably won't trust me for twenty years.

I'm pretty bound and determined to get what I want in life, but what makes me think I know more than God? "Heavenly Father, trust me. I know myself, and I know what's good for me." That is pretty much leaning upon my own understanding in life (Prov. 3:5), and it always leads me to unhappiness. Or it leads to happiness that isn't as wonderful as it could have been. I've learned over and over that this quote is true:

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, and pour out peace." (President Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of..., Bookcraft, 1988, 361)

So I'm trying to trust Heavenly Father more, and to accept His opinions and answers to my prayers. Let's face it, He really does know more than I do.

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