Monday, May 30, 2011

A Distracted Disciple Seeks an Outpouring

On the weekend I watched a documentary on how digital media is affecting us, especially our ability to focus and attend. It talked about how we are training our minds to constantly be on alert, just incase something even slightly more interesting comes available. The whole time I watched, I was distracted, checking my email, answering notifications on my Facebook, basically illustrating their point.

See! I got distracted! That is a good blog post though, on the same topic I wanted to write about. I found it because I was searching for Sister Beck's quote (seriously I love her!)

"In the past year I have met thousands of Latter-day Saint women in many countries. The list of challenges these sisters face is lengthy and sobering. There are family troubles, economic tests, calamities, accidents, and illnesses. There is much distraction and not enough peace and joy."

NOtably , this quote comes from her talk entitled: “And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit”

THAT is what we are bring distracted from--the still small voice! The scripture she used in the title doesn't talk about a sprinkling of Spirit, maybe on Sunday, it prophesies a pouring! a drenching! We are to be IMMERSED in the Spirit in THESE days. The other day I was struck by the fact that in my quest to align myself with Heavenly Father's will, He has given me the opportunity to "at all times" have a member of the Godhead with me! Do i listen? DO i tuen in to His guidance and direction, and tune OUT other "alluring and deceptive messages"?

A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently.

Confidence. I think one of my biggest distractions is just DOUBT. I get overwhelmed, almost in palpable waves of fear/anxiety, wondering/obsessing about whether I'm doing enough. THAT is Satan's way of not only distracting but discouraging disciples of Christ.

I love Mormon's words, at a time when he could have been so full of despair and frustration with the wickedness and failure about him(almost like he's reminding himself): “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life” (3 Nephi 5:13).

It's such a powerful declaration of who he is;yet, immediately it turns outward to his duty to help, teach and lift others.

I love how Sister Beck using the title of Handmaids. Women who do HIs bidding. Women who hear His voice, and respond, "Behold the hand maid of the Lord"..."Speak Lord for thy servant heareth".

The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.

Do I spend the time I need to practising and acquiring this most important skill? I guess the trick is remember to do it all the time.

Revelation can come hour by hour and moment by moment as we do the right things. When women nurture as Christ nurtured, a power and peace can descend to guide when help is needed. For instance, mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention, but they can be distanced from the Spirit if they lose their temper with children. Being in the right places allows us to receive guidance. It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the Spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks. Personal revelation gives us the understanding of what to do every day to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek those who need our help. Because personal revelation is a constantly renewable source of strength, it is possible to feel bathed in help even during turbulent times.

I remember my mother-in-law, a champion of mothering in my eyes, sharing with me her gratitude for the mundanity of her everyday "routine tasks", how she felt they were a tender mercy, a gift from the Lord, a way that we as women could, even amidst all the demands upon us, we could set our minds (which let's face it not a lot of brain-power goes into folding laundry or doing dishes for the thousandth time!) on the things of eternity. With our bodies busied by the tasks of daily living, our minds and heart could contemplate things of godliness. When she shared that, shortly after she herself, after decades of dedicated mothering found herself thrust into the role of provider, she said it almost with longing. She missed having that time to ponder.

As I have started exploring a little into this world of lds and other Christian mommy-blogs, it is so apparent to me that we have so much to think and feel about. Post after posts of attempts to connect and clarify our hopes and roles, to evaluate our lives and our priorities.

Speaking of kids are waking up. Time to go put it to the test. My two year old has a stomach bug, making him come out both ends, my baby just spit up, my oldest needs to get out to school, I'm way behind on know the list. But today I will see if in all the potential distractions (diarrhea leaking out of diapers qualifies right?), if I can keep my focus on my discipleship. If I can remember that "when I am in the service of my fellow beings [even little tiny ones] I am really in the service of my God" (paraphrasing Mosiah 2:17)

I will try a remember Sister Beck reassurance:

Promised personal revelation comes when we ask for it, prepare for it, and go forward in faith, trusting that it will be poured out upon us.

I'm more accustomed to daily spills, but today I'm gonna try and get poured on instead.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Me and my boys

I am the mother of three sons. Me and my boys.

A friend of mine(also the mother of only boys) was at Time Out for Women a few weeks ago. She noticed on teh write up about one of the presenters, Heidi Swinton(who wrote Pres. Monson's biography) that she raised four boys. My friend went up to her and said "How did you do it?!?!" To which as my friend recounted this too me, I, just as anxious as her to know the answer blurted out, "Well! What did she say?!?!" My friend paraphrase, and now I paraphrase, so hopefully I get the gist : You just have to wrap your head around the fact that THEY ARE BOYS! To stop expecting them to act like all the "well-behaved" little girls you imagine that you see everywhere, and just think of them as rolly-rough cuddly bear cubs, and you'll make it through."

I appreciated that a lot. Anyone who's seen my youngest, who was 20lbs at around 3 months, could see how the rolly bear cub thing really worked for me.

I love being the mom of boys. (Truth be told, little intimidated by the whole girl daughter possibility, seeing as I feel like half the little girls in nursery dress more stylish than I do! Rotating plaid and strip shirts is way more in my fashion comfort zone).

I will always remember being pregnant stuck in the Denver airport with my oldest, then two. I'd flown home from where we were living in the states for the summer to Canada for my sisters wedding, and an ultrasound, where I had found out that Bretzke-baby number two was a boy. This lady, after watching me for a while, chase my toddler with my bulging belly asked if i knew what I was having. When i said boy, she smiled at me knowingly, and then (in what I remember as kind of an Italian accent) she said, " Oh, the boys...they LOVA THEIR MOMMAS!" Two teenage sons heads where asleep resting on each of her shoulders. IF you heard that story before, its cuz I'll never forget it.

These three boys were meant for me. And I, was meant for them.

Me & Aaron

Me & McKye (an old one, but a fav...think it shows how much he looks like me)

Me & Levi (who is also so much bigger already, but right now still reserves the right as my "baby")

Me & my Boys

Probably my most favorite quote on parenting....

Any one who knows me, knows I love Sister Beck. I think she is not only brave, but almost fierce in her stance for what is not just right, but what is most important. She has taught me that the only things that are truly essential in our lives are things of eternity. In her talk "Nourishing and Protecting the Family",17884,662-1-5131-1,00.html

She quotes President Joseph F. Smith. "He lost his mother at a young age, and he said this: "No love in all the world can equal the love of a true mother. . . . It was life to me; it was strength; it was encouragement; it was love that begat love or liking in myself. I knew she loved me with all her heart. She loved her children with all her soul. . . . Whenever . . . temptations became most alluring and most tempting to me, the first thought that arose in my soul was this: Remember the love of your mother. Remember how she strove for your welfare. Remember how willing she was to sacrifice her life for your good. . . . This feeling toward my mother became a defense, a barrier between me and temptation."

But that isn't my FAVORITE quote, this is (from the same talk, still quoting Pres. Smith)

He also said: "If you wish your children to be taught in the principles of the gospel, if you wish them to love the truth and understand it, if you wish them to be obedient to and united with you, love them! . . . You can’t do it any other way. You can’t do it by unkindness; you cannot do it by driving. . . . You can coax them; you can lead them, by holding out inducements to them, and by speaking kindly to them, but you can’t drive them; they won’t be driven. . . . You can’t force your boys, nor your girls into heaven. You may force them to hell, by using harsh words in the efforts to make good, when you yourselves are not as good as you should be. . . . You can only correct your children by love, in kindness, by love unfeigned, by persuasion, and reason."

"Our homes," Sister Beck sums-up, "because we know we are building for eternity, should be homes based on love."

D&C 121 has for long time for me, not just been about Priesthood, but about it's counterpart: Motherhood. It, and this quote have the same message. Parenting is not just about making our kids behave, or even make good choices, it is about them becoming something (yup the DOObee-doobee talk again!) And they will NEVER BECOME what we want them to become if we don't first(or probably more accurately, along with them. We can preach til we're blue in the face. They won't love the gospel unless we do! Parenting is a journey of becoming all it's own. Maybe that's why it's the "hardest thing I've ever done" because it's made me rethink what I am. I thought of myself as relatively patient, generally nice...but mommying has put it to the test. I didn't know it would only take a two year old approximately 40 seconds to turn me into a completely unreasonable screaming lunatic ( uh oh, it's out, I yell at my kids). I thought I was pretty compassionate, fairly empathetic, even considered it a strength...well, let me tell you compassion runs dry around 3 in the morning (sleeplessness is the rule not the exception at our house).

I'm drifting. What I love about the quote, is that it's that truth--the truth that moms have a hard time with-- I can ONLY change ME. Trying to control our kids into being something (usually our own expectations VS their unique divine selves) we will only be frustrated. If we on the other hand try and change ourselves, try and become more loving (not through will power alone...that'll only yield more frustration) but by coming to our Savior and through the atonement becoming a Saint (don't picture a halo around a mother in a white dress reading to her cherubic children...picture a mom in yoga pants, she considers an "outfit" cuz they match the bags under her eyes, making it through a day that without the Spirit might have killed her).

I'm trying to be like Jesus. Trying to BECOME like HE is. Cuz that's who I want my kids to be like. All the Jesus stories in the world aren't going to drown out what they SEE everyday...ME!

And what do I want them to see in me? LOVE. That's all. Love of God and love for them. Just love.

"One of the greatest tragedies of life....

... it seems to me, is when a person classifies himself as someone who has no talents or gifts." A strong statement from Elder Mavin J. Ashton.

My next Relief Society lesson is on talents. So it's been on my mind, swirling around, making me wonder about myself. I have lots of's the developing part I stink at. I do not think of myself. or refer to myself as a perfectionist (someone recently told my mother-in-law that they felt "perfectionism" was one of Satan's greatest tools against lds-women. perfectionism doesn't know how to ask for help, it gives no room for error, or more importantly compassion. Yet, I still feel my talents held back, or rather avoided/procrastinated/anxiety filled, because of some idea that wiggled it's way into my brain. For instance, I love to write. Always have. If you ever read any coming of age stories for girls, a fair share of them celebrate a female protagonist that fancies herself becoming a writer. So because I read those, and I'm the female protagonist of MY I am once again decided I SHOULD write a blog.

The problem? I think I could write all day. And I have a very big problem staying!) on topic. (OBVIOUSLY!!! Cuz this was going to be on talents, and now its all about my insecurities in starting a blog!) I'm very good at thinking/writing/talking about things, ie the gospel, mothering, marriage, etc...and I want to be more of an actual DOER (my favorite conference talk was the one of doing and being: I refer to it (at least once a day) as the doobee-doobee talk).

Well...I COULD write all day, IF my kids would let me. Which they won't. Right now there's a diaper change with my name on it. Sooo instead of re-reading and editing this post and realizing how all over and rambling it is, I'll just finish posting the rest of the quote that inspired this and go back to life.

Elder Ashton's awesome list of "Talents" you may not have thought of before...

"Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.

We must remember that to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us."