Tuesday, June 26, 2012

6 years ago, my perfect boy...

...was handed to me. He wasn't squished, or red or purple or waterlogged. He was perfect. 

I can still remember those first few days and the moments I'd be completely overcome with how much I loved this little person, for no other reason than he was mine, and I was his. 

And in 6 years, so much has changed and yet somethings haven't changed at all. 

I still look at him and marvel at the perfection. His own sort of perfection. Not the kind of perfection that heeds expectations or shoulds or oughts. But is it's own. Complete in itself and its own utter uniqueness.

I still have moments where I am overcome with how much a love this "getting so big" person. For not other reason than he is mine and I am his. 

Along with Aaron's development our relationship, in ways, has got to stay in that infantile infatuation (just longer, stronger).  Wordless staring. Meeting needs- feeding clothing. Sharing love--holding, hugging, kissing. He's getting to be a size that it looks strange for me to hold him, to rock him--even though we both love it. 

He's my baby. My first. The one who ushered me in to my motherhood. 
And he's been here 6 years.  Happy Birthday Aaron. 

I have a friend. An adopted grandpa, who has offered me ana incredible amount of love.
He's also a poet. He says just a ol' cowboy poet, but...he wrote this.  And I asked his permission to share it. Because it was too beautiful to keep to myself. 

A tribute to (or perhaps from) Aaron and  (or perhaps to ) his family.

My thoughts will go to wandering,
Deep in the stillness of the night,
And problems seem beyond my cure,
When seen only by starlight.
But the sun will come up tomorrow,
And in the brightness of the day,
Those problems all will disappear,
And once again I’ll find my way’

Deep within my childlike mind,
My true identity is hid,
But God knows of my where abouts,
And I’m very close very Him.
One day I’ll furl celestial wings,
Then soar to exalted heights,
I’ll want you all there with me then,
For surely you have earned the right .

You’ve cared for me throughout my years,
You’ve buoyed me up, you’ve dried my tears.
You’ve kept my feet firm on the path,
You’ve fed my soul and made me laugh.
You’ve prayed for me on bended knee,
With faith, with hope, with charity.
For all these things you’ve given me,
The Tree of  Life I now will see.

Our Saviour's love will not forsake,
And from that Tree we will partake.
We’ll hold fast to the Iron Rod,
And find our way home, to live with God.

With heartfelt love, June 26, 2012.
From Sheldon L. Oviatt

Success= love

Ben had on some motivational stuff. And it's good....but. 
He was talking about great people doing great things...BIG things.
And I was looking around at the laundry that was waiting to be folded. 
Let's just say I wasn't feeling terribly motivated.

I left for my run and picked a random conference talk to listen too. 
Elder Wirthlin's voice, wasn't intense or dramatic like the motivational speaker, it was old and sightly monotone, but full of wisdom and full of the Spirit that seemed to flow through my earphones past my run-quickened pulse in my ears, into my feeling rather weary mind and heart.

He spoke on Love. The great commandment. 

He quoted scripture:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity,” he told them, “I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”2Paul’s message to this new body of Saints was simple and direct: Nothing you do makes much of a difference if you do not have charity. You can speak with tongues, have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and possess all knowledge; even if you have the faith to move mountains, without charity it won’t profit you at all.3
He told about the pharisees asking,  
“which is the great commandment in the law?”5The Pharisees had debated this question extensively and had identified more than 600 commandments.6 If prioritizing them was such a difficult task for scholars, certainly they thought the question would be impossible for this son of a carpenter from Galilee.
I thought about all I should be doing, all I want to be doing, the many things I leave undone. All the things that roll forward on my to do list (that I should call my "hope to list"). All the things that overwhelm me and get me feeling like it's impossible, no matter what. The days when I feel I should leave the dishes and head to the park, and other days when the best things I can do for my family is get the house back in order. The endless weighing of choices and tryign to align my priorities daily, hourly, even moment to moment as a million things demand my attention, my time, my brain power, my physical, emotional and spiritual strength.
But the answer from our Saviour was simple:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.“This is the first and great commandment.“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”7
Love it was matters. 

Prophet Joseph taught that “love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God."

I thought back to those "great" things people had done that the motivational speaker spoke of and I thought, what is my mission? what is my real goal? 

It's to be like my Heavenly Father. 
And to do that, I have to love. 

I thought-- what if I made my decisiosn based on whether or not they were based in love?
Laundry, dishes...life's everyday necessities really are based in a desire to love and serve my family.
But other desicions I make, may be more about how I am perceived as a mother, and are more based in my pride or need of validation. 

Love is usually very small things. The ordinary things. 

Which made me think of one of my favorite quotes:

To do well those thing which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness. 
To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman...We should never be discouraged in those daily tasks which God has ordained to the common lot of man... Let us not be trying to substitute an artificial life for the true one.”                                                                           ― Joseph Fielding Smith

Making smoothies with my kids is common, changing diapers and kissing boo boos, is nothing unique, but it has been designed to make me godly! How I treat my ordinary duties will be the measure of my true success. 
Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the pathway of discipleship. It comforts, counsels, cures, and consoles... In the end love leads us to the glory and grandeur of eternal life.
I slowed to a walk as Elder Wirthlin told about an elderly man and woman who had been married for many decades. Because the wife was slowly losing her sight, she could no longer take care of herself the way she had done for so many years. Without being asked, the husband began to paint her fingernails for her.
“He knew that she could see her fingernails when she held them close to her eyes, at just the right angle, and they made her smile. He liked to see her happy, so he kept painting her nails for more than five years before she passed away.”
It was then that I realized I was crying. 
Because THAT was the kind of great I want to be! Ordinary, simple service that shows extraordinary and profound love.
Sometimes the greatest love is not found in the dramatic scenes that poets and writers immortalize. Often, the greatest manifestations of love are the simple acts of kindness and caring we extend to those we meet along the path of life.
The most cherished and sacred moments of our lives are those filled with the spirit of love. The greater the measure of our love, the greater is our joy. In the end, the development of such love is the true measure of success in life.
 ... This is the central object of our existence. Without charity—or the pure love of Christ—whatever else we accomplish matters little. With it, all else becomes vibrant and alive.
As I try so hard to daily build a life worth living, one filled of that which matters most, one I can consider a success, I need to remember that my capacity and determination to love  is what all else "hangs on". 
When Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment to “love one another; as I have loved you,”  
He gave to them the grand key to happiness in this life and glory in the next. 
Love is the greatest of all the commandments—all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives.

As I untied my runners, I was filled with a greater desire to love more and love better...even during the hour before super.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

HIs way---a good reminder

  On an impromptu early morning walk with a child who decided to rise with the summer sun, I picked a random conference session to listen to on mormon channel.

As I walked in the fresh stillness of the morning, this talk "The Way" by Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge made a deep impression upon my mind. It was a strong unequivocal message from scriptures, a plea from our Saviour to recognize He is the way, the only way.
There is only one way to happiness and fulfillment. He is the Way. Every other way, any other way, whatever other way, is foolishness. 
Only God can bless us. Only He can sustain us. Only He can cause our hearts to beat and give us breath. Only He can preserve and protect us. Only He can give us strength to bear up the burdens of life. Only He can give us power, knowledge, peace, and joy. Only He can forgive our sins. Only He can heal us. Only He can change us and forge a godly soul. Only He can bring us back into His presence.
We live in a world that professes that everyone can go their own way, and ought to--that any overarching principles are oppressive and based in manipulative pressures to conform.  
So instead everyone should just choose their own path and wander off to their own kind of self-found happiness. How egotistical of us? How self-involved? How blind to the sources of true direction and guidance we could have constant access to!
Nothing in this life is of greater worth than the supernal gift of the Holy Ghost. It is the source of joy, peace, knowledge, strength, love, and every other good thing...Every good thing depends on getting and keeping the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives.
We've been duped into thinking high moral standards are just too hard, and we're scarred to set ourselves up for failure. I love how Elder Corbridge explains the source of this misgiving, and then clarifies the profound difference between our earthy endeavours and those urged and assisted by heaven.
...the Lord said, “I am the way.” 16 He said, “Follow me.” 17He said, “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” 18 
Don’t think you can’t. We might think we can’t really follow Him because the standard of His life is so astonishingly high as to seem unreachable. We might think it is too hard, too high, too much, beyond our capacity, at least for now. Don’t ever believe that. While the standard of the Lord is the highest, don’t ever think it is only reachable by a select few who are most able. 
In this singular instance life’s experience misleads us. In life we learn that the highest achievements in any human endeavor are always the most difficult and, therefore, achievable only by a select few who are most able. The higher the standard, the fewer can reach it. 
But that is not the case here because, unlike every other experience in this life, this is not a human endeavor. It is, rather, the work of God. It is God’s work and it is His “glory … to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” 19 There is nothing else like it. Not anywhere. Not ever. 
No institution, plan, program, or system ever conceived by men has access to the redeeming and transforming power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, while the Lord’s invitation to follow Him is the highest of all, it is also achievable by everyone, not because we are able, but because He is, and because He can make us able too. “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind [everyone, living and dead] may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” 20 
And then this line, that has echoed in my head ever since I heard it
The Lord’s way is not hard. 
Life is hard, not the gospel.
Do we get confused? Do we feel the weight of callings and responsibilities and mislabel them as part of the burden we are pulling, our load of "things that make life hard"? When in reality the gospel is actually the yoke that ties us to the Saviour who makes our immovable load pull-able?

“There is an opposition in all things,” 21 everywhere, for everyone. Life is hard for all of us, but life is also simple. We have only two choices. 22 We can either follow the Lord and be endowed with His power and have peace, light, strength, knowledge, confidence, love, and joy, or we can go some other way, any other way, whatever other way, and go it alone—without His support, without His power, without guidance, in darkness, turmoil, doubt, grief, and despair. And I ask, which way is easier? 
The gospel is the easier way. Life is hard, not the gospel. The gospel is what grants the perspective, the assurances, the sustaining power and daily even hourly strength we need to make it through the tough things life throws our way.
[Christ] said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; … and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 23 
I don't think the promise of "light" is just referring to weight. But of the brillant light that comes into our lives to illuminate the path, and grant us glimpses of where we headed.
Life is hard, but life is simple. Get on the path and never, ever give up. You never give up. You just keep on going. You don’t quit, and you will make it. 
There is only one way to happiness and fulfillment. 
Jesus Christ is the Way. Every other way, any other way, whatever other way is foolishness. 
I bear record of Him, even Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of the living God, He is the Bread of Life, He is the Truth, He is the Resurrection and the Life, He is the Savior and the Light of the World. He is the Way, the only Way.

I know the gospel way is the only way to real peace and joy. I know that because when I look into the faces of my children and primary children and feel overwhelmed with a love for them that wants everything good for them, that wants so badly for them to find beauty and fulfilment and avoid anguish and heartbreak... when I look in their faces and tell them, "come this way", "take my hand and I'll show you the path, I'll bring you to Jesus, who has taken my hand and walked with me"--when I plead with the energy of my soul with them to choose this path, that is when
I know it is right.

It is not just a choice I have made, a culture I feel comfortable in. It is the way. The only way.
And when I am filled with pure desires for those little ones that I've been blessed to love and teach, it is when I point them to the Saviour that I receive anew that witness that I am indeed pointing them in the only sure and true way.

I remember sitting in the Houston Temple, my oldest son on the verge of a life-altering diagnosis,  my next soon-to-be-born-son softly hiccuping inside my swelled pregnant belly, the spirits of my other children also seeming to linger near. I was overwhelmed. I wanted healing for Aaron--out of a fearful desire to avoid the unknown more than anything--but I also felt a loss of any pretence of control. I was paralyzed by the realization that I couldn't  shield my children from the crushing blows of mortality (no matter how much I wanted to), that I could not save them, that I was powerless to keep them safe from all they surely would face.

I remember my turmoil of thoughts trickling out into one repetitive prayerful plea,
"Help me save my boys! Help me save my boys!"
The only desire of my heart. I'd give anything.

I remember looking up at a large painting of the Saviour.
It was all pastels and gentleness. So bright and beckoning.

And then the answer, soft and kind. And clear.

"Bring them to me."

He is their Saviour. He will heal them. He will save them.  He can do what I can not.

From that day, that has been my quest. That is all I can do. I can not save my children, but he can. And my only job is to "lead them, guide them and walk beside them", as they make their way to Jesus Christ, my Saviour and theirs.

He is the way The only way. 
I'm grateful to have felt that message again and be reminded.
That His way is not hard. 
Life is hard, not the gospel.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day repost.

When  I saw this on pinterst, I knew I had to make one for Ben.

This post from last Father's Day is one of my favorites.
 So here is is again:

I remember being asked when I was single. What I was looking for in a future husband.

My answer?

A good father. (I may have already of had Ben in mind)

So tonight (with half an hour left of Father's Day) I thought I 'd just list a few things 
Ben has taught our kids.

1. When your wife wants you to smile for a picture, just do it. 
You may not want to, but one day they'll be good memories:)

2. To work hard and provide well

3.That they are accepted just the way they are.

4. To feel safe.

5. How to be a problem solver and a good listener.

6. To love technology.

7. Patience.

8. That family is everything.

9. That all dads are really just big kids.

10. that sometimes you just hafta go for it! 

11. that he'll always be there beside them 
as they experience new things.

12. to eat meat (often and love it)

13. to get an education

14. that real men kiss on the lips 
(actually Ben thinks it's gross that I let our kids smooch us on the lips)

15. how to hang out...

..and just enjoy a good laugh!

 most of all. he is just there. Even though he has to be gone a lot, 
he somehow manages to make sure he is a presence in our kids lives.  
Maybe not always there physically, but  still there for us, in every way.

And that he'll carry us through,  and love us no matter what!

He is for them (as he is for me) a stable influence for good. 

support. A friend. An example. 

 A dad.
 Happy Father's Day Benny!

A few more recent photos of Ben's daddy-ing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Healthy Attemps

In accordance with the Bretzke family schedule thus  far--
I'd be pregnant again by now.
With three "active" (total euphemism for CRAZY!) boys  and a bunch of praying, we've decided to enjoy where were at for just a tad longer before adding to our family, slightly extending the 2 year gap we've had between  our kids thus far.
The problem? Once I stopped nursing Levi, I quickly realized how many extra calories that boys was sucking outta me, and when I didn't adjust my eating habits (hello holidays!) and I didn't have a new pregnant belly to hide behind, I realized I was gonna hafta make some effort.

Ben was also feeling a need to get more healthy and admittedly my track record so far for supporting him in such efforts has not been great (what is it about a spouse trying to eat good that makes you so darn snacky?!?)

We've had better days and weeks than others, but in general it's been a move in the right direction. I'm super proud of Ben who walks every morning now (he's so much better as being consistent then me!)

We'd got home late from date night (around day 12 of our 20 day shred--hence the title of this post is "attempts" right?) and I was ready for bed! Ben starts putting on his workout cloths. Seriously? Yup we did it at 11:30 at night. 

President Thomas S. Monson, a counselor in the First Presidency, quoted an important principle when teaching about the impact of reporting progress in reaching goals: 

“When performance is measured, performance improves. 
When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 107).

This handy little app, helped me be accountable.
(Plus it let me save up for when I really wanted brownies and ice cream!)

Funny enough one of my best motivators, or ways to "report" my progress/efforts was posting pictures of the food I was eating. Healthy food is so pretty!

Snagged some awesome recipes form a friends cook book 
(although I never follow exactly)

This was our made up recipe to replace our 
traditional after-church nachos.

One of biggest changes was giving up all our yummy sauces.
Instead of BBQ sauce on our steaks we tried grilled grape tomatoes.

All the produce in our fridge I think encouraged our kids to eat healthy too.

I should wrote this post back when I was doing good (maybe I'm looking for more motivation)
cuz lately there's been a lot more hotdogs than salads;)

Again-- healthy attempts.

I have loved running more.
I never go very long--there's this little window after Aaron's off to school and Ben goes to work, that  I go run around the Sunridge lake.

Another handy app to help push myself.

I wicked wanna do this colour run when it comes to Calgary!

So those are my attempts.

I remember a talk where the speaker related a time when he offered a class of relieving guilt. Not sinful guilt--- more the nagging voice in our head that reminds us of all the things we wish we were doing. Tons of people showed up. And he realized he'd hit a chord.

He taught a lot of principles but one I remember was how he encouraged his students to pick one thing they feel guilty about not doing and do something about it for 10 minutes a day. So the goal was not finish 10 years of scrapbooking, or complete 10 generations of family history. Just do something. It wasn't about what his class ended up accomplishing,  as much as it was about how they felt about their efforts. Instead of feeling bad about the tasks they kept putting off, because it seemed to overwhelming, they felt good that they were actually trying.

So maybe my runs are measly, and maybe we could be stricter about our diet, but I feel good that we're at least trying. That it's on the radar. Ya know.

Ah I can hear Jillian yelling at me know calling this post a "false message of lethargy."

Too bad Jillian.