Friday, March 29, 2013

some things i love about my life

  1. Waking up to Chris' exclamation of "oh!" He forgot what side of the bed he was on and there was a person instead of the floor when he pulled back the covers. Teehee.
  2. People's indifference to my totally ugly cake for Relief Society. It was supposed to be centerpiece worthy and mostly it was just a wreck instead. But it was delicious and we laughed about it, so it didn't even matter.
  3. My increasing flexibility. I say this with a LARGE measure of humility, because I am certainly not a very adaptable, easygoing person. At least, not yet! Yesterday I fashioned a desk for Chris out of our coffee table, plus some plastic bins and cardboard. Then I rearranged our living room to accommodate. I'm pleased to say Chris loved the fresh new look and the desk. I figured it was kinda the least I could do when he's so sweet about spending more time at home while he studies.
  4. In-laws. We had a fantastic visit with them and I am excited for the next time we visit with them. I'm sure we'll play lots of board games, try new restaurants, and even work on my father-in-law's novel. So glad I married into this clan.
  5. Making friends! The longer we live in this ward, the more I see that we are in fact developing relationships with these people, not to mention social skills. We've got game nights, temple visits, and dinners as proof that there are opportunities to get to know people everywhere. Now we just have to work on returning the favor!
  6. Chatting with my parents, just because. Last Saturday was a hard day for Chris, so I kidnapped him for a long drive. We didn't have a destination in mind, but privately I decided I'd drive the hour to Indianapolis if he didn't stop me before then, and if he didn't stop me at Indy, I'd drive clear to North Carolina to visit my parents! We took an exit about 20 minutes down the freeway, but I couldn't help but wish we'd kept going. I'd love to give my parents a big hug. For now at least, I'll just anticipate visits from them in May or June, and call them just to say hi in the meantime!
  7. Web communities. Many LDS women in the greater Lafayette area (plus some not-LDS women) subscribe to an e-mail list, where people post activity announcements, free stuff, and questions. I love the warmth and trust in these e-mails. It makes me grateful to live where we do.
  8. My job. I'm still writing articles for, and still loving it. It's frequently a challenge to sit down and write, but I love the opportunity to grow, as well as share the tiny bits of wisdom that 25 years of life has given me. It's fun to see my readership get a huge boost when the FamilyShare social media specialists (hey, Jared!) post my work. I love knowing that I may have not only brightened the day of so many people with my cheerfulness, but also given them some practical thoughts for making family life more joyful -- like it should be.

Monday, March 25, 2013

more than fair

I came back from dropping Chris off at campus, through a foot of snow over the icy roads, with the scriptures on my mind.

Sometimes I have a hard time deciding what to read for personal study. Days can go by without me thinking to do it at all, so when I remember, I want something meaningful. However, if something isn't actively pressing on my mind, finding a topic to study challenges me. Cover-to-cover reading discourages me, since I get bored and/or lose which chapter I'm supposed to be reading. And I forget the option to read the Relief Society manual altogether.

So when I woke up this morning with a desire to read the word of God, I was troubled with the question, "yes, but what?" I mulled it over as I pushed through the shin-deep snow between my car and apartment building. By the time I made it back upstairs to 152, I'd decided I'd look at my Sunday School lesson. I won't teach for two weeks, but it doesn't hurt to start to prepare early. Besides, I reasoned, if I don't find something that really reaches my heart, at least I'll have the utility of getting familiar with my lesson. 

This choice of study meant that I opened up my laptop. In true If You Give A Mouse a Cookie fashion, opening my laptop also meant deleting e-mails and scrolling through Facebook and Pinterest before I'd even thought it through.

After a few minutes, my brain caught up with me. Hey! I cried internally. You got on here to study! 

I know, I know, came the grumbled, regretful reply. Gimme a minute.

By the time that minute (or 5) had come to an end, I was sitting in rapt attention. I watched a talk someone had posted -- Elder Holland's "Because She Is a Mother" -- and wept freely as I listened to his sensible, heartfelt words of encouragement.

I knew, again, that God knows how to guide my path, even with my skewed sense of direction.

This was my mantra during the spring of 2011, and the words came back to me today. I might be weak enough to get sidetracked with social media, but I am also strong enough to want to learn meaningfully from the word of God. I believe that Heavenly Father uses our weaknesses to guide and bless us just as much as He uses our strengths. He can use my compulsive computer use, coupled with my honest desires for connectivity and obedience, as a way to give me exactly the kind of enriching experience I'd been praying for.

So what else might He be capable of, in His infinite wisdom and boundless love? How might He give my husband the perfect job, using Chris' weaknesses as well as his dogged determination to overcome them and provide for his family? I don't know. But I'm grateful for the reassurance that we will find out.

I'm also grateful for the reassurance Heavenly Father gives me in general. I didn't realize it until after the fact, but I was prepared to go to my scriptures this morning with the idea that He was going to tell me what I was doing wrong. I think one of the most valuable things about gospel study is that it gives us the framework we need to think differently. However, I forget sometimes that it's not just "you think you're doing enough, and doing right, and you're actually not." It's also "you think you're not doing enough, that you're doing something wrong, but you're not." That was the message this morning as I listened to Elder Holland's talk.

I have been scared to be a mother for a long time. I know that motherhood is putting everything you have and are on God's altar. I didn't think there was any way I could possibly handle that with sufficient grace, and I didn't want my kids to have to cope with a mother who resented the sacrifice she made for them. The sacrifice of the happy, exclusive little life I have with Chris. The sacrifice of my independence and freedom. Of my health. Of my sorely-fought-for successes against my temper and lazy streak. I've long feared that motherhood would mean giving all of that up. And in a way it does, but it's to Heavenly Father.

So there's the question: what might He give back?

What would He give me in exchange for my tiny, contented family? For my independence? My health? My willingness to take risks and have faith?

What would He give me in exchange for my everything?

His everything.

And today I'm in awe of that.

Monday, March 4, 2013

dream big

Yesterday, Chris and I were such goofballs. For probably 40 minutes, I threw cereal for Chris to catch in his mouth from greater and greater distances. (I'm avoiding bad puns about him being a great catch. You're welcome.) The limiting factor ended up being the size of the room -- not our skills. We giggled and cheered each other on and just played. I love having a husband who can be tremendously silly with me.

In contrast, we also spent a few hours listening to an audiobook, all about streamlining your life (via careful goal-setting, organization, focus, etc.) so that you can have more time to do what you really want to be doing. We love this book's funny examples, but yesterday it was the practical advice that really engaged us. Chris sat down and set goals, which functioned as guiding principles as he checked that his day-to-day actions aligned with them. By the end of it, he was a little stunned by how empowered he was now -- and how much more accountable that made him.

He might have been a little overwhelmed, but I'm still beaming with pride. I loved helping him identify his strengths and talk about ways to use them that would truly make him happy. I loved watching him commit to how he's spending his time, meanwhile acquiring paradigm shifts and new dreams. Truth be told, I need to sit down and do the same thing, but I love that my husband is such an example to me of vision and courage. I hope to be brave like my husband as I figure out what to do now that I have received my rejection letter from Purdue. Like him, I want to dream -- sincerely and big.