Monday, December 23, 2013

This Is How We Grow by Christina Hibbert

A few weeks ago I was talking to my sister Natalie about what books we were reading. She mentioned how most books written by moms are of them looking back and telling the reader how fast time flies. We really wanted a book from a mom right in the middle of kids, working husband, trying to have a life and  going totally crazy! This Is How We Grow was just that! The author Christina Hibbert is my sister-in-law's sister-in-law. So reading about her family, hearing names and putting faces to so many people in this book made it that much more fun to read. I guess "fun" isn't the correct word since the book was an emotional roller coaster! There were some days I just couldn't read it because I knew it would make me cry and I didn't want to ruin my makeup.
Christina Hibbert, a psychologist, takes the reader through a few years of her life dealing with the grief of losing her sister and brother-in-law and having the overwhelming job of raising her two nephews now (in addition to her own four kids!). A majority of the book is her own personal journal entries smack dab in the middle of it all. For anybody that has experienced any kind of loss and tried dealing with the grief and unknown feelings that come with it will really enjoy this book.
One of my favorite things Dr. Hibbert does is instead of making a list of New Year's resolutions she picks one thing to focus on. For example A Year of Patience or A Year of  Gratitude. I think for 2014 I am going to try the same thing. Let's face it, my goal of going 30 days without cussing went right out the window the moment I got pregnant and my hormones starting raging! At least I have stopped cussing in front of Hazel....that has to count for something right? So after thinking about what I wanted to focus on I think I have decided to have A Year of Positivity. I believe changing my way of thinking and looking at things in a positive light will drastically change my mood, my attitude toward mothering some days and being a housewife. Especially with the new baby coming and all the changes that go with it.
I loved this book so there are a lot of favorite quotes:
"The question I find more helpful is 'How?' How do I carry on? How do I do what I'm being asked to do? How do I learn from this? 'How' is a question of commitment, a question of action, a question of faith. 'How' is acceptance, willingness, and patience. Though we may not understand 'why,' the answer to 'how' is always there, if we will simply ask."
 "The key to learning patience is learning to accept what is."
"I love every moment of being a mother. I even love the moments I don't love."
"Introvert or extrovert, there are times when all of us need connection, and times when we all need solitude. There are many times when we need another to lift, teach, amuse, and love us, and plenty of moments when we need to lift, teach, amuse, and love ourselves."
"Anger, like any emotion, is neither 'good' nor 'bad.' It's how we express our anger that gets us into trouble."
"If I want to be more loving, kind, generous, assertive, I can. If I want to be a leader, a hard worker, a motivator, I can. All it requires is choosing to work on and improve that trait."
"I know bad can happen. I know it will again, someday. So, I am fully invested in enjoying the good while I have it. I'm making the most of each day by turning my face to the sun."
"I've recently avoided several unnecessary moments of anxiety by telling myself, Quiet down in there, I'm trying to relax! And I actually minded myself!"
"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."
 Carl W Beuchner
"I'm realizing that this is 'normal' life. I need to expect life to be like this - a little chaotic, a very quick pace, full, unpredictable - and rewarding."
"I want to die used up, with nothing left to give, knowing I left it all on the playing field."
"Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God."
"That brings us full circle. In order to give love, we must receive love; as we receive love, we learn to love ourselves; and as we love ourselves, we have so much more love to give."
"I submitted. I accepted that this was where we were, and it was a relief."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Brothers by Chris Stewart

My friend Heather recommended the Great and Terrible 6 part series. I just finished the first book called The Brothers and was blown away. In this first book the LDS (short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) author, Chris Stewart, has taken our beliefs of the premortal world (aka our spiritual existence before we came to earth) and added fictional characters to tell a more vivid story. In the LDS church we believe that before we came to earth we lived in heaven. Our Heavenly Father presented us all with a plan to come to earth, gain a body and experience life in a way we couldn't in heaven with only our spirits. Our eldest brother Jesus Christ volunteered to come to earth and lead the perfect example and die for us that we may return back to the presence of the Father but wanted us to have our agency to choose for ourselves.  Our other brother Lucifer also volunteered but his plan was to take agency away from us and force us all to live perfectly on earth under his rule and glory. We were all then faced with a choice. We all chose to follow Jesus. But some chose to follow Lucifer. This time of picking sides is referred to as the war in heaven. Lucifer aka Satan and his followers could not stay in heaven and did not get to come to earth and receive a body. We don't have all the details or know what life was totally like in heaven, but I believe we were excited to follow Jesus and excited to come to earth. SO, this is the time frame of the first book. It was so cool to have kind of a different picture painted for my imagination on something I have been taught and believed all my life. It really made me think deeper about what life could have really been like there and maybe the struggle some people had with choosing which brother to follow.
Here are a few thoughts I had while reading and quotes I enjoyed:
1. I wonder if I sat with the Father and was shown what my life was going to be like on earth. Was I scared of the trials I would face or did they seem much smaller because I was still in heaven and could see the bigger picture? Did the Father have to comfort me and promise not to give me more than I could handle or did he smile at my confidence that I could handle it all?
2. "When it comes to talents, I wish all of Father's children could be just a little more like Beth: not afraid of failing, not embarrassed for their weakness, not so prideful in their efforts to improve." Could you imagine how much better and kinder we all would be if we had those talents. If we would try anything even if we knew we would fail.
3. "Many of our brothers and sisters are simply not that interested in the battle for good. Many will pretend and say the right words; some will commit, but then quickly fall away; others will go through the motions only to please their family and friends. But in the end, when it's over, few will have the faith to make the sacrifices that are required to stand next to Christ." When the time came to choose, where was my conviction? Did I jump right away at the chance to follow Christ? Did I have to think about it? Did I do what my friends and family were doing? I would like to believe that it wasn't hard for me. I believe I was a follower of Christ from the beginning.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Life is Too Short for Linoleum by Connie E Sokol


Life is Too Short for Linoleum is another fun book by Connie E. Sokol about lightening up as a women and as a mom. She always knows what to say to relate to how crazy I feel! Being a mom is hard and it is always a good reminder that life isn't perfect, kids aren't perfect, and I am not perfect...and that is ok. One line in the book made me laugh out loud referring to raising kids.

 "But our policy is, when the children graduate they'll get $3,000 for therapy and we'll call it good." That is an on going joke between my sister and I...nothing a little therapy can't fix right!

Another chapter in the book is exactly what I needed right now. Moving away from family, friends, Bunco group and coed softball team was hard. I was enjoying life and felt more balanced when there was something for Cheryl to do. For a while I had a friend here that was my work out and racquetball buddy. But after she moved I was back in a slump. Connie talks about the importance of big dreams and also small weekly activities. Just because I am a stay at home mom doesn't mean Cheryl disappeared. So I found a class at Michael's for cake decorating, convinced a friend to join with me (because everything is better with a girlfriend!) and will be taking one night a week to recharge.  Her main point was we needed to make it happen. Make it a priority. In the end a better, happier me will lead to a better, happier mom and wife.

  Favorite Quotes:

"When we stop comparing, we experience more life contentment."

"Anger and resentment - even when justified - suppress our natural joy and motivation to live, love and do." 

Get rid of the emotional weight that's holding down, whether it's a grudge or a fear or something in between. And enjoy the fresh new energy you gain." 

"Forget being a martyr and start having more fun in daily life." 

"That's our parental stewardship, to ensure that home is a soft place to land, with positive words and warm affection, a safe harbor from the world." 

"Being an advocate for your child starts as simply as asking a question and listening to the answer."

"Try being a "B+" in life. It's fabulous! Enjoy not being a neurotic "A" in things that aren't vital, and you'll have more quality of life." 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mafia to Mormon by Mario Facione

Mafia to Mormon is the conversion story of Mario Facione. He tells of how he became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had to leave the mafia.  It is a short quick book, but cool to see when God has a plan for you He will make a way for you to fulfill it. Once Mario Facione was converted there wasn't anything that was going to stop him from going to the temple. Even risking losing his life. 
"Everything still comes down to a deal in my life, only this time the deal is between me and the Lord. Everyone who's been baptized in this Church has made the same deal. We agree to live by the commandments and the Lord gives us great blessings."
"You set your sights in the way the Lord wants you to do it, not the way you want to do it, and it works out. Do it the way the Lord has set for you and you'll succeed every time."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Work and the Glory by Gerald N. Lund

The Work and the Glory is a nine part series written by Gerald N Lund. I have just finished the first 2 books, Pillar of Light and Like a Fire is Burning. These books take a fictional family and place them back in the 1800's at real historical events. The author tells, "as accurately as possible, the story of Joseph Smith and the rise of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." The first book starts in 1827 after Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and is waiting to receive the gold plates, that is now the Book of Mormon and the second book takes you all the way to the first temple being built and dedicated in 1836.  It has always been amazing to me the faith the first members of the church had. To join an unknown church lead by a farm boy who saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and translated golden plates.  It seems like such a crazy story but once you know, you know! I am so thankful to be living in a time and place now where I can openly be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not fear for my life. I am not getting kicked out of my home, losing my property or being abused for my beliefs.  I am thankful for my ancestors who joined the church and passed on a legacy to me that I am proud of.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Sure Foundation by Dean M Davies

Dean M. Davies
In the LDS church we do not have a preacher that preaches on Sunday. The members are asked to prepare talks and share their testimony. Usually a week in advanced you are asked if you would speak, are given a topic and a time frame of usually 10 to 15 minutes. You do not have to accept and I used to say no. I have always had a fear of public speaking. About 6 years ago when we lived in New Mexico I said yes to give a talk and was so stressed out about it my mouth broke out in fever blisters and I still have a scar. So I vowed never to do that again. When we moved to Arkansas last year we ended up in a fairly small ward. It is kind of tradition when you move into a new ward they ask you to speak and also to introduce your family. So I knew they were going to ask and I had to decide what my answer was going to be. I decided to say yes this time. After all, I was almost 30! It was time to grow up! And a small ward would be the best place to start. I was still crazy nervous but didn't spend the whole week stressing about it. When they asked me to speak again this last Sunday, I didn't want to do it, but I was able to say yes with a little more confidence. I was still nervous but felt like I held it together a little better this time. I would love to one day say I enjoy speaking in church and then maybe that confidence will lead me to be able to conquer my fear of singing in public.
So with all that said. I was asked to base my talk on one given in this last General Conference by Bishop Dean M. Davies. You can click here to read his talk called A Sure Foundation. 
Here is my talk, but to warn you it is 10 minutes long:
“In the development of modern-day temples, careful attention is given to the design, engineering, and use of building materials. Thorough testing of the soils and geology takes place on the site where a temple will be built. Studies of wind, rain, and changes in the weather for the area are considered so that the completed temple can withstand not only storms and climate common to an area, but the temple is designed and positioned to withstand the unexpected earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and other natural calamities that may occur. In many temples, concrete or steel piles are driven deep into the earth to anchor the temple foundation.” (Dean M Davies)
 “About two decades ago when a temple was to be built in Mexico City, architects faced a great challenge. Because Mexico City is situated on a basin over water, some of its buildings settle and become tilted with the passage of time. Construction of a temple there required a special foundation. Two hundred twenty-one large, reinforced concrete piles were driven more than 100 feet deep into the ground. Onto those pilings, steel straps were anchored and fastened to a unit that can be adjusted if need be to keep the building level. With this unseen but sure foundation, that temple today stands steady and straight.”
“A firm foundation is necessary for any building, institution, or individual to endure.”(Russell M Nelson)
Like the temple foundations we need to build our own spiritual foundations ready to withstand not only common struggles but also the unexpected calamities.
President Monson tells us “If we do not have a deep foundation of faith and a solid testimony of truth, we may have difficulty withstanding the harsh storms and icy winds of adversity which inevitably come to each of us.”
How do we then develop that deep foundation of faith and solid testimony of truth? Bishop Dean M. Davies in this past April conference gave us 3 basic principals that if applied to our lives “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo.” (Heleman 5:12)
Bishop Davies gives the first principal of prayer. He says “Prayer is one of the most basic and important foundational building blocks of our faith and character. Through prayer we are able to express our gratitude, love, and devotion to God. Through prayer we can submit our will to His and in return receive the strength to conform our lives to His teachings. Prayer is the avenue we can follow to seek His influence in our lives, even revelation.”
Alma, a prophet from the Book of Mormon taught, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 37:37).
When I was younger (probably about 12) my parents had to go into Phoenix so that meant they were going to be gone most of the day and I was in charge of my little sister. We had plans to go swimming at the neighbors for a while so we locked up the house and headed out.  When we got home we ran around back to get the hidden house key from the barn, but it wasn’t hanging on the hook. We did a quick check of all the doors and windows to see if there was a way in, but everything was locked.  My parents had always taught us to pray so my sister and I knelt down in the backyard and prayed to find a way into the house. The second we ended our prayer my little sister jumped up and ran back to the barn.  She had a thought that the key might just be hanging on a different hook…and it was! That night my mom pulled me aside and told me how proud she was that we thought to pray for help. And she took the time to teach me one more lesson. We then knelt together and she thanked Heavenly Father for watching over us and answering my prayer.  My parents started my foundation at home teaching me how to pray for things that I need, trust that Heavenly Father would answer my prayers and to remember to say a prayer of thanks.
We have all heard the saying “If you want to talk to God, pray. If you want Him to talk to you, read your scriptures.” So it is fitting that the second principal Bishop Davies talks about is scripture study.  He tells us “While reading the scriptures is good, reading by itself is insufficient to capture the full breadth and depth of the Savior’s teachings. Searching, pondering, and applying the words of Christ as taught in the scriptures will bring wisdom and knowledge beyond our mortal understanding. This will strengthen our commitment and provide the spiritual reserves to do our best in all situations.”
Elder Scott teaches that “pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior.
“Scriptures can communicate different meanings at different times in our life, according to our needs. A scripture that we may have read many times can take on nuances of meaning that are refreshing and insightful when we face a new challenge in life.”
Over the last few months I have been doing scripture studies with Sarah Good (who just moved out of the ward). We would each on our own read a set number of chapters and then get together to discuss what we read. We were amazed at how often we both would highlight the same versus and could apply the teachings to each of our situations…Sarah a navigator in the Air Force and me a stay-at-home mom.  Both faced with different challenges and backgrounds, yet we could both find answers and direction in the same scriptures.
“The scriptures have been given to us to help us find peace and reassurance in times of crisis, to help us find solutions to our everyday challenges, and to strengthen us in times of temptation.” (Janette C. Hales)
Elder L. Tom Perry said “The scriptures are one of our greatest treasures. They contain God’s instructions to His people from the beginning of time. In a world so full of the doctrines of men, how grateful we are to have a sure anchor on which to build our faith!”
Bishop Davies concludes with the third and “one of the most important steps we can take to strengthen our lives and remain firmly attached to the foundation of the Savior. It is to worthily partake of the sacrament each week. The sacrament ordinance affords every Church member the opportunity to ponder his or her life in advance, to consider the actions or non-actions that may need to be repented of, and then to partake of the bread and water as sacred emblems in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a witness of His Atonement. If we partake with sincerity and in humility, we renew eternal covenants, are cleansed and sanctified, and receive the promise that we will have His Spirit to be with us always. Worthily partaking of the sacrament strengthens our personal connection to the foundation rock, even to Jesus Christ.”
Again, Elder L. Tom Perry teaches us that “During the administration of the sacrament, we set aside the world. It is a period of spiritual renewal as we recognize the deep spiritual significance of the ordinance offered to each of us personally. If we were to become casual in partaking of the sacrament, we would lose the opportunity for spiritual growth.”
He continues “Parents, you have the responsibility of teaching your families the importance of attending sacrament meeting weekly. It should be a regular family practice. Every family needs that time of renewing and committing to live the gospel in accordance with the teachings of the Savior. Families, properly prepared, will attend sacrament meeting with a spirit of reverence and with gratitude for the opportunity of partaking of the sacred emblems.”
As I was studying and preparing my talk this week one thing kept coming back to me. My basic gospel foundation was established at home. My parents tried hard to get all 7 kids up for family prayer before dad left for work in the morning. They tried hard to have scripture study with us and going to sacrament wasn’t an option. It was what we did every Sunday. Sometimes that meant they cut our vacation a day short so we could be home Saturday instead of Sunday. I know us kids didn’t make it easy for them and we were never perfect at it. But they started the foundation. I can only hope to have the same influence on my children.
I am thankful the gospel is in my life and for the knowledge and testimony I have of prayer, scripture study and partaking of the sacrament. I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father and for my Savior Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Whom the Lord Loveth: The Journey of Discipleship by Neal A Maxwell

Neal A Maxwell was an apostle from 1981 until he passed away in to 2004.  This book was published the year before he passed. He was known for his "extensive vocabulary and elegant writing style" which was evident in this book! I am not going to lie, this was a hard book for me to stick with. Probably why I started in 2003 when my parents gave it to me and never finished.  I had to read some of it over and over because it was hard to follow at times. The saving grace for me was each chapter was only 1 to 3 pages. So I could read a little and put it down when my brain was on overload. Definitely a great small doses.

Favorite Quotes

"God, a loving Father, is mercifully willing to give all that we are willing to receive."

"When, like a big boulder, a large blessing rolls visibly into place, it is certainly noticed, appreciated, and counted. Meanwhile, however, the less-noticed, pebble-sized blessings mount up, layer upon layer. Cumulatively, the latter may out-mass many of our large blessings. Those seemingly smaller blessings are the frequent, subtle signals that He is mindful of us."

"Sometimes we get so busy discussing the doctrines that talking about them almost becomes a substitute for applying them."

"He who was most wounded knows how to heal us."

"...we mortals should not dismiss God's higher ways, as if we can gavel out of existence all that which we cannot comprehend."

"Faith, indeed, is the moving cause of spiritual action."

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

My friend from back home sent me this book for my birthday. Not sure if I am supposed to read into the title?! She may know too much about my family! Thanks Audrey.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown in all honesty took a few chapters for me to get into the characters. It is about 3 sisters in their 20's/30's who end up moving back home to "help" their mom through cancer, but in reality it is to get away from their own messed up lives. I kept waiting for something big to happen. Maybe a 4th sister that died or maybe one of them finding out they have a different dad (I blame reality TV).  But it was a pretty straight forward story about a family...or maybe it felt straight forward because I come from my own crazy family! Once I stopped trying to predict the big twist I really enjoyed just following their stories. It was fun to pick out bits and pieces of my sisters in the characters. Having 4 sisters and 2 brothers I really love the dynamics of siblings. There is nothing like the connection, love and friendship between siblings. The way each of our lives and personalities are shaped because of where we fell in line. It makes me wonder if my personality would be different if I would have been the oldest or the baby of the family. But I like being number 6 of 7 kids in a family and I love growing up in a big crazy family!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ensign - March 2013

Favorite quotes from this months Ensign

"Praise your children more than you correct then."
President Benson

"Behold, I say unto you that you shall let your time be devoted to the studying of the scriptures."
D&C 26:1 Book of Mormon

"The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."
President Packer

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Life is Too Short for One Hair Color by Connie E Sokol

Connie Sokol has become one of my favorite writers. I love her sense of humor and take on life. This book is put together by the newspaper articles that she writes, so each page or two is a new topic and story about surviving being a woman, wife and mother. And the title is literally how I live my life! I know it seems like I am reading the same kind of books over and over, but I feel like I almost need this daily reminder to relax and just enjoy being a woman and mom. I love my daughter, but sometimes I forget to really enjoy her and remember to have a sense of humor at the crazy things she is doing because she is 2!

Here are my favorite quotes:
"There are two types of guilt: healthy and pointless. Healthy guilt prompts you to change wrong behavior. Pointless guilt prompts you to eat a box of Ho-Ho's."

"Let go of unnecessary control and reclaim normaldom."

"Neal A Maxwell once said that we are here to learn how to taste of the bitter cup without becoming bitter."

"It means that you will think twice before you sacrifice the self-esteem of another person for a Home and Garden appearance."
(This quote/chapter was great. Talks about kids or husbands helping with chores and instead of constantly telling them how to do it or how to fix it let them do their best and praise them for it.)

"What matters is to occasionally give up the agenda."
(When I die my headstone will read "What is the plan?". Is anybody else like this? I always want to know what the plan is, what is going to happen next, what are we going to do or get done. If we are not going to do anything...that is fine too...but I need to know that not doing anything was the plan! I hate being late and joke that my husband is in his own time zone and it really gets me. But more often then not everything works out and if we are late the world doesn't end. Just relax a little Cheryl!)

"In our children's emotional development, being an example of growth is more positively life changing than pretending false perfection."