Month: January 2019

You’re Amazing: Celebrating Who You Are and Where You Are

It’s been a long time since Brad, and I have planned out the new year without including plans for infertility treatments, foster care, or adoption. It’s strange. We have a lot of mixed emotions about it. On the one hand, we’re relieved. We can relax and find another path. On the other hand, we’re sad and frustrated because we fought so hard and for so long and it didn’t work.

We’re working on accepting all the emotions that accompany our situation. However, we have to continually remind ourselves of how amazing our life is right now, and all the progress we made getting here. Here is a look at how we’re trying to celebrate who we are and where we are in life.

Count Your Blessings

Brad and I have a lot of blessings. We could sit around and stew about how we don’t have kids (and sometimes we do) but, it’s crucial for us to remember the blessings we do have. It’s not about discounting our trials, or “at least-ing” our way to happy thoughts. It’s about sitting down and genuinely feeling gratitude for Heavenly Father’s blessings.

Build Each Other Up

Sometimes it feels like the world only wants to talk about what you’re not. Comments like “Oh, you’ll have kids one day, I’m sure.” Or, “It’s too bad, you would have made wonderful parents” can make you feel pretty bad about yourself. That’s why it’s so vital for Brad and me to take every opportunity we can to talk about each other’s talents and positive attributes. We try to build each other up with sincerity to help negate some of the world’s focus on what we’re not.

Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is one of the things I struggle with the most. However, it’s also one of the most powerful tools for improving self-esteem. I’m working on it. I consciously try to think about the skills I have, the qualities I like about myself, and my worth. My goal is to celebrate myself as a Daughter of God, a wife, a writer, a sister, and all the other amazing things that I am.

“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of man” (D&C 18:10.) 

Be Here

Heavenly Father put us here, so here is where we are supposed to be. We try to practice being in the moment and finding the joy and the unique opportunities in our current situation. There is joy in the journey if you look for it. We try to focus on this part of our journey and find as much joy as we can.

Sometimes, it’s not easy to celebrate who you are and where you are. However, there are hosts of things to celebrate about yourself and your life. The key is to work together moment by moment. It takes practice, but it’s worth the effort. Remember, you are a child of God. He loves you and wants you to be happy. If you follow Him, and trust in Him, he will lead you to joys beyond your wildest dreams.

Don’t Forget to Play: The Power of Couple’s Game Nights

Family Home Evening is still relevant even if there aren’t little ones running around your house. It’s time to connect, bond, and grow together. One excellent option for FHE is a good, old fashioned, couple’s game night. Here’s how the power of games can help you bond with your spouse.

Connection

Playing a game is an excellent chance to connect with your spouse with something fun. Make memories, laugh at yourselves, and have a good time. You don’t have to sit and worry about the bills, or the chores, or anything else. Just relax and have fun.

Healing

There’s evidence to suggest that playing games can help you heal from trauma. I’ve you’ve experienced trauma together in the past, playing games might be good for both of you.

Improved Cooperation

Playtime teaches kids how to cooperate. The same rules apply to adults. Playing games together, especially co-op games, can help you and your spouse improve your cooperation skills. It helps you learn how to work through problems together, support each other, and work toward one goal, side by side.

My husband and I love co-op games because they allow us to work together instead of against each other. There’s far less chance of hurt feelings or arguments.

Options

If you and your spouse would like to give a game night a try, here are a few suggestions of fun games that work well for two people.

Boss Monster

This card game is a fast, fun game for two to four people. Play as an old school video game monster and build a dungeon to defeat heroes.

It’s easy to learn and quick to play.

Legends of Rayman

If you own a Wii U, this game is fantastic. Work together to save “Teensies” while crawling through fun, colorful platforms. You can both play as heroes, or one of you can play as a supporting fairy named Murphy. (I prefer to play as Murphy.) You can get this game for other platforms besides the Wii U.

Don’t Starve Together

This game is a sandbox style game that also has a storyline. Work together to survive the seasons, build shelters, craft tools, and most importantly, avoid starvation. It’s cartoony, and it has an excellent dark sense of humor. It’s loads of fun.

You can get this game on Steam, or for the PS4.

Playing games together is an excellent way to connect and grow together. So, have some fun, shake off some stress, and dust off a game together. Your marriage is worth the time it takes to play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mourning With Those That Mourn: Some Helpful Hints

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we have a commandment to “mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort (Mosiah 18:8-10.)” It’s easier said than done. Sometimes we don’t know how to comfort people, and we’re not sure how to mourn with them. It’s difficult. We don’t always know what to do or say, and we’re often afraid we’ll say the wrong thing. However, there are a few things to do, and a few things to avoid that make it go a lot more smoothly. Let’s take a look.

Act In Empathy

Empathy is the ability to connect emotionally, take the perspective of someone else, and internalize it to seek a better understanding. It’s all about connection.

It’s important to note that empathy is the opposite of sympathy. This short video features Dr. Brene Brown’s explanation of the difference.

Sympathy is acknowledging the problem from the point of emotional distance, and though sympathetic people are trying to help, they’re making it worse. Sympathetic people stand on the doorstep, try to point out the silver lining, and drop cookies without taking the time to listen.

Empathy is a skill that we all need to work to cultivate. It takes practice, and we won’t be empathetic all the time. We’ll say things that make the situation worse. We’ll do things that don’t help. The point is to practice and do your best.

Listen

One of the best things you can do to comfort someone is practicing active listening. Sit down with them and let them express themselves. Let them talk to you without interruption. Open your heart and your mind and allow them to connect with you.

It’s hard. You’ll likely want to dive in and say something that makes it better, but you can’t. So, stay quiet. When they’re done, say, “I’m so sorry that this is happening to you. I love you. Thank you for telling me.”

Offer Something Real

Change the way you offer help. Instead of “Do you need anything?” try, “What can I do to help you through this?” Their response might be “pray for me” or “keep listening.” It could be, “I hate to ask, but could you help me clean my house?” or “Would you mind going out to lunch with me?”

Of course, if they’re suffering, they need something. That person needs love and support. Give those freely. However, if you want to offer more, then do so sincerely with willingness and an open heart.

Pray

Prayer is mighty. Pray for the people who need blessings. Pray for empathy. Pray for understanding. Pray for guidance about how you can help those people who need you the most. Just pray.

Do Your Best

When it comes down to it, all you can do is your best. Even if your response isn’t perfect, people will love that you’re trying to help. So, pluck up some courage and some strength and reach out the people who need some love. Do the best you can. Your efforts won’t go unnoticed.

 

The Road Less Traveled: Celebrating the Less Traveled Paths of Life

There are some extremely beaten life paths out there. That’s because they work. In the community of the Church, I’ve noticed a few roads that are so beaten we’ve practically paved them. You’re born into the church; you attend faithfully while you go to school and grow. Then, you graduate. You either go on a mission, go to college, or get a job. Later, you get married, have kids, take them to church until they’re grown, become “empty nesters,” and either go on a couple’s mission, or you throw yourself into your church callings and community for the rest of your life.

The truth is that the easy paved road is far less attainable than you might think. We’re not a people of the beaten path. It might seem like it when you look at all the facades people try to throw out there. However, if you get to know people, they’re far more complicated than they seem.

We’re a Trailblazing People

Early Saints carved out our cushy lives after walking across the United States, arriving in a scrubby desert and terraforming it so that it was fertile farmland. They were part of the newly restored gospel. They sealed their testimonies with their blood, sweat, sacrifices, tears, and often, their lives. There wasn’t a path, except for Heavenly Father’s direction and guidance.

If we look at the Book of Mormon, many people didn’t have a path either. Lehi had to leave everything and “wander” in the wilderness. Notice the word “wander” which indicates the lack of a clear directional path. He had direction from Heavenly Father, but no trail. Then, Nephi had to build a boat with only the direction of Heavenly Father while his brothers mocked him.

The only clear cut detailed path ever mentioned in The Book of Mormon is the Iron Rod which leads to The Tree of Life.

In our modern times, all we have to worry about is holding on to The Iron Rod, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and staying on the Covenant Path which is what will lead us to eternal happiness. Those are the paths that you have to care about the most.

Plans Aren’t Paved Roads

You are an individual. Heavenly Father’s plan for you is unique. You will do, experience, see, create, find, and live through things unlike anyone else in the world. Isn’t that wonderful? We’re all different. Heavenly Father needs that difference. So, embrace it.

When it comes to marriage and family, you might be feeling like you’re missing something. Sadly, not everyone gets married in this life. Of all the couples who do get married, some of them will divorce. Even if you have a wonderful marriage, you might not be able to have kids, and adoption may not be an option for you.

No one has an easy life laid out before them. That’s because Heavenly Father’s plans are not smooth, paved roads. In a way, we’re all Pioneers trailblazing our way to our promised land. It’s never easy. It can be painful. We’ll have to make sacrifices along the way. However, if we trust in the Lord, and hold fast to the gospel, we will be blessed in the end.

The Good News

The Children of Isreal wandered in the desert after fleeing Egypt. Lehi and his family wandered in the Wilderness. The brother of Jared and his people got into strange sea vessels and prayed that they’d end up where Heavenly Father wanted them to go. The Pioneers followed Brigham Young on foot and by wagon across the plains of the United States and ended up in a desert which they turned into a home.

None of them got lost. Why? Because they followed the direction of Heavenly Father with faith, and they kept the commandments as best as they could.

We only have to worry about The Covenant Path and The Iron Rod. If we’re staying on those two paths, Heavenly Father will guide us through everything else. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

 

New Goals for a New Life: Setting Goals for a New Start

Last year, Brad and I had very different goals. At the start of the year, we got our Foster Care License so, a lot of our goals revolved around getting adequate toys and clothes and bedrooms set up for potential foster kids. Our objectives were still rotating around finding a way to become parents. This year, things look different. A lot different. We have a whole new set of goals to reach by the end of next year. We’ve decided to change our lives and make a new start this year. Here’s what we’re doing with our goals to start fresh in 2019.

Fun 

There’s no reason for not having fun. So, as part of our New Year’s goals, we’re making a fun bucket list of all the things we want to do and see before 2020. (They can spill over.) Go to a play, hit a theme park, go on an out-of-state vacation, eat at x number of new restaurants. The list can have anything fun that we want to do on it. We want to live more, and experience all the happy things life has to offer. We want to play.

Sit down with your spouse and come up with all the fun things you can do this next year and then get out and do them.

Clearing Out

We have hundreds of pounds of baby stuff in our house. At this point, is a physical manifestation of all the sorrow we’re holding inside. Yes, I still find baby socks around the house and cry. This year, we want to clear out the baby stuff and fill our home with things that bring us joy. At the same time, we want to clear out our hearts and fill them with happiness.

If you’ve got items that bring up sorrow, get rid of them. Give them to neighbors, sell them online, donate them to shelters. Do whatever you can to free your home of the shadows of a sad past and replace them with joy.

Organization

Along the same lines of clearing out the baby stuff, we want to get a little more organized. Clutter drives me nuts and a lot of it builds up in our space. We’re going to re-organize our home while we re-organize our hearts and minds.

If you’ve got clutter like me, and it drives you nuts, get rid of it. Re-organizing can help you feel more at peace in your home.

Soul Work

I am terrible at working up the motivation to go to church and to stay the whole time. Yes, it’ll be more comfortable with the new two-hour block, but the time commitment isn’t the point. I need to work on myself so that I have joy in the Sabbath. Currently, I have dread in the Sabbath. I love sacrament meeting where nobody talks to me. Sunday School and Relief Society, on the other hand, can be a struggle. There are so many comments that drag up challenging emotions in me. It’s a problem with me, not with other people. They’re not doing anything wrong; I’m just sensitive about the fact that I’m not a mom. It’s easy for me to feel like I’m on the outside looking in.

My goal is to work on my confidence and re-focus my Sabbath on worshiping the Savior. It’s going to be hard work, but I hope at the end of it I’ll feel more comfortable with where I am, and feel joy in the Sabbath.

If you don’t feel comfortable at church due to your lack of kids, you’re not alone. Do some soul searching to find out what’s niggling you the most about being at church. Then, address those issues. You deserve to feel comfortable at church. You’re there because Heavenly Father needs you, and so do the other people in your ward. Let’s all work together to find joy in the Sabbath.

Goals can help us all reach new heights and find new strength. My goals are all about finding joy in my life again and finding better ways to live. Your goals can be about anything that makes your life better.

Do you have some exciting New Year’s Resolutions? Tell us about them in the comments below.

Happy New Year!