Monday, November 30, 2015

25 days to a more Christ centered Christmas

Where are you Christmas? Why can't I find you? This is what Cindy Lou who wondered as she searched for what Christmas is all about. Every year I try to keep the focus on Christ. That is why I do the 25 days to a more Christ centered Christmas. It does take some effort and reminders. How many of us get lost in the hustle and bustle of Christmas? We get wrapped up in our over packed schedules. We must never forget the true meaning of Christmas which is the celebration of his birth. It was and is the greatest gift ever given! The questions and focus of our minds should be changed to Where are you Christ? Why can't I find you? What are we doing to remember him? What are we doing that may make us lose focus a little bit?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in his talk How to focus on the true meaning of Christmas suggests "three things we may want to do to study, ponder and apply in this season of preparation. First, rejoice in the birth of the Savior. Second, ponder his influence in our lives today. Third, look steadfastly for his coming.

Challenge: I am going to use these three things to keep my focus where it should be and to get to know my Savior even more. My goal is to make it more personal for me and my family. It is a time to reassess and look within our lives. I hope you join me in rejoicing and proclaiming that joy!

Isaiah 7:14-17
 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
 17 ¶The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How can we face the storms of life?

I find my mind spinning and twisting with thoughts like the clouds gather before a storm. The wind blows and the clouds are pushed in whatever direction it wishes. The winds of change also blows in a like manner. I feel a storm inside me. It can only be described as such, because of how it is tearing me up inside. A tornado of thoughts that tear through and leave only debris and what once was. Once I felt hope and promise. I feel that has been ripped away from me by the choices of others and by default , my own thinking. I have born the weight of it for so long. I thought this storm would pass in a few days, but it still darkens my feelings and perception. I wish it would pass!

I have been hunkered down with self pity and despair. It has such a hold on me that I fear the winds will take me away. It is all too easy to be swept away by such strong emotions and feelings that I have. I apologize for the vagueness of what these feelings might be. Many stem from the Fibromyalgia flare I find myself in. Another contributor is the lack of connection I feel with my children because of their strong will. Everything is a fight. A fight to be independent. A war of wills. A fight to not let failure pull me down even further. Perhaps it is all in my head and will soon pass. I wonder though, if something is brewing that will follow me and my children through their lives. I feel like when I nag and discipline it is like thunder and lightning and only spurs further resistance and distance. So what can be done? I want to do what is right but I don't know what that is. What does God desire for me and my family? All I can hope and pray is that tomorrow I will feel calm and the storm has gone.

 "Sometimes God calms the storms and sometimes he lets the storm rage on and calms you"

How I wish for that calm now.

On further reflection, I wonder, why is it that some people can accept life and weather the storm and some of us fight life and the storm seems to toss us to and fro? How do they find true peace when the tempest is raging? Which one describes you? Have you ever felt this storm within? I have not found one simple way to find lasting peace. There is always something with depression that pulls me back in. All I know is I have a choice, when I find clarity during the storm, whether I chose to take care of my needs or not. There are so many things going on around me too. It is not just all on the inside. I have to take shelter from those storms as well. They can be storms of the heart, family, work and many more. I find my answers when I look inwardly on my knees. Yes, prayer is the only way to find that clarity. It is the only way to snap me out of it and find that calm. It does not happen overnight. There are bits of me that are weary and worn away. It is a process.

I choose whether to stay under the refuge and guidance of my Heavenly Father or to step out into the storm and let all the fears, doubts and pain pound down on me. I can't handle that weight seeping into me and drenching my perception with such negative thoughts.

Is it raining on you today?  If you are going through any kind of storm; come in from the storm and seek shelter. There are many kinds of storms. He is our refuge from them all. There is no describing that calm you feel after a storm is finally over. Everything is still and quiet. If you can do nothing else today seek that calmness within you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

2 ways you can recharge your relationships today!

Have you ever been in the middle of vacuuming and you reach the end of the cord and yank it out of the wall? I have! I always want to get the job done as fast as I can so I stretch the cord to the limit when I could easily unplug it and move it to a new outlet. This is how I parent sometimes. I get going along thinking that I am doing what is best and then I yank the cord and see the light go out of my child. I know I went too far. It is a heart breaking feeling. In my last post I mentioned how I would like to fix my relationships with my family members that I feel may not be as strong. When we are connected we can work together but when we become unplugged and disconnected that is when relationships suffer. So we need more connection and less correction. We can adjust our thinking and feel empathy. By doing this we plug into them and what they need. I can be very authoritarian and strict at times and that is because I thought that was the only way to teach them and have it stick. My intent unknowingly, however, was to punish and not really teach them. When I am plugged into my children and their needs I look at their behavior and why they may be acting that way. I need to listen and connect.

My best power source is from heaven and I have been trying to keep myself plugged in so I won't make too big of a mistake and lose my temper. I keep making them! I keep trying! Where is this disconnect happening?! I feel the desperation of the situation. I do! Parenting is such a balancing act! If I try to put to much emphasis on discipline and not enough positive reinforcement, I tip the scale. My energy this week has not been where I would like it to. When my energy is gone it is hard to not feel drained. This already tips the scale because I am not feeling well.

What I am saying more or less, is that there is two ways that a relationship can be off. It is either a strain on the relationship or it is off balance somewhere. These don't sound like easy fixes to me! Also I am sort of set in my ways as far as parenting. The thought  'You can't teach an old dog new tricks." comes to my mind. Well the old part of that saying  is true for me, anyways. It is a matter of  retraining my brain. My head hurts just thinking about that! Any one who has ever done training for an event or work knows it is hard. You have to start slow and then build up gradually. So lets say we are training for a 5k run. We know to run the whole thing is the goal. Start by running short distances and increasing that distance. The goal for our families should to see the end picture in mind. Imagine 5 or 10 years from now. What do you see and want? I want to see happy children and happy Mommy. I want to see us singing and laughing and making cookies. I want the children to want to be home and not play their video games or watch their shows. I want to go on a date with my husband each week and have special dates with our kids. This is just a glimpse into my plan. Write how you will get there and think about all the aspects of your life.The more specific the more you have to hold onto. Once you have that clear picture in your head, hold on to it. Don't just live in imagination land. Write it down and dream about it. We can find 5k ways to connect with our kids. There are a few things you need to give you a jump start and time to re energize before you can start this marathon.

Here is what I suggest. Your relationships might need a recharge. To do this I am going to mention a few ways to go about this. Just like there are 2 prongs on an electrical cord, there are two ways you can bring you and your relationships back to life.
  1. Unplug to plug in- Unplug and turn off  your devices. Your children need to do this too! Take a few minutes to connect with your child. Talk, laugh, hug and be aware of it. You can soak it all in like a mommy sponge. Pick an amount of time 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes. Whatever you choose make it attainable. Ask them about what they like to do. Remember watching a movie together doesn't count! Let your children be plugged into you. You are their emotional outlet. They feed off your energy and how you feel emotionally and physically. This should help with a strain in a relationship.
  2. Recharge your batteries- If something is off with your family it could be you. Have you taken time for yourself to feel charged physically and emotionally. Do something that calms, restores and rejuvenates you. Then look at your big picture and figure out what is most important from there. When something is off it is best to look at ourselves under a "magnifying glass" to see if we are doing anything to contribute to the situation. In order to dive into this inward search we have to be ready and rested. This important step should help you feel more balanced.
These 2 ways should immediately create this spark within you and your child. Go plug into what matters! Once you are connected then you can work on what needs to be corrected. What relationships do you have picked out in your mind? What can you do to take better care of yourself?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Each child is like a work of art

I noticed that it was a little too quiet during quiet time. I don't know where my toddler got a highlighter but guess what my little artist did? My walls within a few seconds were the proud display for my child's artwork. Not to mention my Kindergartner had previously written his name all over his room too. He is getting quite good with that. Well my little creators got to scrub the walls as a result. It took a while too! Some areas they really had to scrub. As a parent I have moments where I to try something new and it ends up in a mess and relationships damaged. Unlike my wall, my children have feelings, although sometimes they are a stubborn as a brick wall, it takes a little more elbow grease and had work to fix my mistake.

Mistakes do not have to be permanent. That is something that I am learning. The relationship between a child and a parent can be symbiotic. Children are training to be adults but we can learn a lot from our children. Each child is a work of art. Each is unique and beautiful. Yes, they make my hair turn grey and my blood boil, but they are precious.When admiring any masterpiece you need to take a step back and think of what is being interpreted there. If we stop in our tracks and ask our child how he/she is doing physically, spiritually or emotionally we might understand them a little better. It is like taking that step back. Each vibrant color, each stroke can be like an emotion that your child feels. If you can ask about their artwork or how their life looks from their own eyes, you can learn more about your child and how they work.The hard part is coming up with the right questions and this takes practice. One question I always ask is what is most important here and what do I want to teach?

Your relationship is what matters.I felt like a had a break through with one of my children a couple of days ago. This child was grounded from screen time because of failing to turn in their homework. This is baffling to me because they do the work and then not turn it in? What? Is their back pack a black hole or something?My child decided they were going to sneak into their room and play video games anyway. Again it was too quiet and my mommy senses were tingling, The door was shut when I checked on them. I opened the door hoping to see my children reading or playing well together. Instead I saw the infraction mentioned above. I was mad. It is really not that difficult to be mad at your kids. It is scary how easy it is really. It is like a chemical reaction. Take one or two disobedient children add anger and bubble bubble toil and trouble. I was mad but I didn't ground him further or yell. I just said I was disappointed and I would need to think about what action I needed to take. I prayed for help and guidance and a few minutes later, calm and collected, I called my child. I don't remember all that was said the words just came but I asked questions and finally asked if he/she knew what they did was wrong. The tears rolling down this sweet child's face said it all. Then I said do you think me taking away another day of video games would teach you anything? What punishment do you think you should have? Stunned I am sure my child said they would pray about it. Later we agreed on a punishment that was fitting. It was a real eye opener for both of us.

I have been thinking about this experience a lot lately. It is so easy to treat our children like objects that are broken. They don't need fixing. They need our hugs our gentle touch and words. They are not the problems they cause but a spirit and son and daughter of God. Anger is unstable. This is true whether you are the parent or the child. Anger is a tool of destruction. It dismantles the relationship bit by bit. Then, you have to put it back together again and hope it isn't damaged beyond repair. We do not want our children feeling like there is something wrong with them do we? In my opinion, raising a child to feel loved even when they make mistakes, is one of the most significant things a parent can do. They will grow up feeling loved and raise happy grand children for you. That is my focus. I want to see their strengths, not their weaknesses.Does it feel weird to ask your child if they feel loved? It did a little for me at first too! It made me realize maybe I need to implement a time to talk. A time less like an interview.

More time away from distractions.

More time to listen.

More time to snuggle and breathe in these quiet moments.

Just the two of us.
A bond...
begun in the womb.

This time we are being reborn. A new relationship.

A new masterpiece.

What is one step you can take to fix or strengthen one of your relationships with your child? Don't wait for the right time. The right time is now!