Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ponder Anew, What the Almighty Can Do

Three years ago, I found myself stressing.  In a way that I had never experienced before.  For those of you that know me, I'm very chill and usually do quite well under pressure.  But this was a different kind of pressure.  I found myself in a position of having 0% control and was at the mercy of so many things.  An algorithm (the match), my husband's choices, the residency program directors' choices, etc.  And I went to my dad and asked for a blessing.  I was seeking for something, anything to ease my fears and calm my heart.  

The only thing I remember about that blessing is that he said the Lord was aware of my family and our needs.  And that he would send us to the best place for our family.  Little did I know that that place would be a small town in rural Pennsylvania- Danville.  There have been so many, many times that I have doubted we were in the right place.  From the moment I burst into tears at our match ceremony and found out we were coming here, until the moments leading up to the match this time around.  And here I am, 3 years later, finally understanding why we were sent to Danville.  Danville is where Ben would be able to achieve his dream of becoming a surgeon and I would be able to find a support system to endure the ups and downs of not matching and of just being a surgery resident's wife.  The Lord had both of us in mind when he sent us here.  

Matched.  I'm pretty sure that's the best word in the English language. :) A word that for me, means relief, grace, atonement, progress, celebration and overcoming.  I have visualized posting "MATCHED" on facebook for 3 years now. And I was finally able to.  There is power in visualization.  There is power in never giving up hope that what you want can and will happen, through the grace of God.  

I went to the temple back in November to once again find peace during a trying time.  And the lyrics to the hymn "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" were brought to my mind.  And I haven't been able to shake them since.  In verse 4 it says, 

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee. 
Who from the heavens the streams of His mercy doth send thee.
Ponder Anew, What the Almighty Can do
Who with His love, doth befriend thee.

All things are possible to God.  Trust Him.  Even if you don't see any possible, logical way that it can happen, that's when we need to ponder anew what God is capable of doing.  As we got the news that we matched, I have been singing (belting) that song out (in my mind, I'm not a singer, LOL) in praise.  It really was possible! And the intricacies of events that happened to allow this to happen are incredible.  And I'm happy to explain to anyone who will listen, but for the sake of not making this post forever long, I will spare you the details.  But as I look back at the last 3 years, so SO many tender mercies have happened along the way to make this possible.  

Here are a few things I have learned in the last 3 years that I want to share:

1. When someone doesn't match (or goes through some other crazy trial), it doesn't help to hear of stories that happened to others in similar situations and then everything worked out.  I have heard so many stories of people who didn't match and then it all worked out for them.  And I do appreciate those stories because they were coming from people who loved and cared about me.  And wanted to comfort me.  But if anyone is reading this post and didn't match, I have something else to say to you.  Just because things worked out this way for me, doesn't mean they will work out this way for you. Putting faith and trust in other people's experiences is building your hope and trust in something false and not steady.  True strength comes from putting your faith and trust in GOD.  When you lean on Him, believing and trusting in His power, that's where you will find relief.  He knows what is best for us.  Know that and trust it! 

2. God takes us into consideration.  Maybe that's a duh moment. But in the past 3 years, I have often felt like "well I guess it doesn't matter what I do or what I think because what's going to happen is going to happen, and I just have to accept that.  And I just have to learn some lesson that I'm not in the mood to learn because God is going to do what He is going to do. I once again have no control."  But that's where I was wrong.  Praying to God is not a me asking and Him denying type of thing. He takes my thoughts, my fears, my loves, my desires into consideration when He makes things possible (or sometimes impossible).  Sometimes it feels like denying because of the timeline.  Waiting on God is so so hard.  But He always, always comes through with our best interest in mind.  

3. Sometimes marriage is hard, even though I have never found being married to Ben hard.  Let me explain.  Ben is the ideal husband.  No really, he is! He is always patient with me.  He never loses his temper.  He always helps around the house without being asked.  He is dedicated to the gospel and to doing the right thing.  He is a wonderful, wonderful father and dedicates his time and love to our children.  He always puts me first when taking anything into consideration.  He is kind, thoughtful, hard working.  But marriage in general is hard sometimes because we are at the mercy of our spouse and our spouse's choices.  Ben was determined to be a surgeon.  I have often thought "why couldn't he have chosen a less competitive specialty?!" And I was at the mercy of his choice.  But what a beautiful thing it is that Ben and I have gone through the best of times and worst of times together in our short (almost!) 5 years of marriage.  Getting through this has made us stronger and will help us face more hardships together in the future.  

4. Sharing success is so much sweeter when you have shared your sorrows and failures.  Not matching can be a shameful thing.  It can be a thing that makes you think you're not good enough and a lot of people don't want to talk about it.  Because we've been so open about our experience, however, when we finally did match, the amount of cheerleaders exploding with happiness on our behalf was overwhelming.  My phone was blowing up all day on Monday with people thrilled beyond belief for us.  When you fail, you often don't want to talk to anyone about it.  But people are kinder than you think they are going to be.  Trust me.  They are more supportive than you think they are going to be. Our group of cheerleaders only grew with each failure that we faced.  And when our time finally came, the celebration was that much sweeter because we had so many people to celebrate with.  

5. And finally, trials are an experience to build faith, not waver in it.  When the going gets tough, that is an opportunity to become closer to God, not farther.  To grow stronger with God, not weaker.  And it took me 3 years to learn that.  And I hope I remember it next time.  God allows trials sometimes because our faith needs to be built.  Our trust in Him needs to grow.  

I am unable to truly explain to you the feeling of relief we experienced this week.  And I am unable to fully express my gratitude to our cheerleaders and to God.  But what a wonderful problem that is, right? 

Friday, March 9, 2018

The mercy of failing

*inhales deep breath for courage* This post has been a long time coming.  But it's something that I feel very passionate about and want to finally share with others.  Some of you may already know this story, but that's ok, you can enjoy it again! :)

I was a golden child in high school.  Practically perfect grades, took all honors classes, made all of the right choices. I did all of the right things to get into BYU- which was what I wanted more than anything at the time.  When the acceptance letter came, I was elated! But not really surprised.

I'll spare you the sad sob story of how I got out to BYU and crumpled from the extreme homesickness I felt and my inability to cope with the new lifestyle that college brought. I'll just say that it was hard.  I thought the solution to my problem would be to move to a new place and get a fresh start, which I did.  But nothing really changed because I wasn't really addressing the underlying problem (re: my non existent social life/loneliness). And having connections with people is a huge deal.  Even the most introverted of people needs human interaction.  And not just any kind of interaction, but deep, meaningful interaction.

As my depression and loneliness slowly started taking over my life, it led to a string of choices.  It started with choosing to not go a class one day.  Then not to go to another class and another class and another one.  You can imagine where I'm going with this.  I would literally go a week without stepping foot onto campus at all.  Sometimes more than that.  As you can imagine, my grades plummeted.  I got a letter in the mail from the academic office saying that I had a warning and that if I didn't shape up, more action would be needed.  Then after another semester and similar choices, probation happened. Probation meant that I had one more chance to either shape up or get suspended.

During my probation semester, I got called as the relief society president of my singles ward.  And although it was a lot of responsibility (I had 100 girls in my ward), I truly loved it and I grew to love the girls.  Most importantly, however, I grew to love my bishopric and became very close to my bishop.  He was the one that I finally broke down and told about my academic struggles.  Not even my family really knew what was going on.

I continued to not go to class during that probation semester.  What was I thinking, you may ask? I honestly couldn't tell you except that I was not.  I just couldn't handle it.  And there would be this vicious cycle of depression which made it even harder to go, so I wouldn't, which would make it even harder to go, etc.  So towards the end of the semester, I found myself in my bishop's office, crying, knowing what was going to happen.  And he offered to give me a blessing.  In the blessing he repeated over and over that the Lord would have mercy on me.  And I remember thinking, "wow, I'm not going to be suspended! The Lord can perform miracles, so this is going to work out!" Boy was I wrong.

I got my grades back.  I got the letter.  And I got suspended for a year.

I had failed.

Do you know what it feels like to fail? In something really big? Like, I just destroyed my future, big? For your sake, I hope you haven't.  Let me try and explain it to you. I woke up every single morning after that for years with a wave of "You are a failure" washing over me.  And on top of that, I looked at how I had gotten to that point, and I had literally no one else to blame but myself.  My choices got me there.  Not my inadequacies or short comings.  But my choices.  It was entirely, 100% my fault.  And the more poor choices I made, the fewer options I had.  To the point where I had no options because suspension was chosen for me.  I would sit in church, listening to how God makes all of the difference, and thought, "well that doesn't apply to me because I put myself here."  Any dreams for my future in grad school were thrown away.  And here I was, a prisoner to my own self.  

I stayed out in Provo even though I wasn't currently attending school.  And I actually stayed away from BYU for a year and a half because I apparently wasn't ready to go back after the year.  But something happened to me that first semester back.  And lots of things happened to me during that year and a half away.  I experienced mercy.  And I learned that our God, indeed, is a merciful God.  

And even though I just took a really long time to explain my failure, what I want to focus on today is mercy.  And what I learned about all of those years ago.  During my first semester back, my relief society president (I had moved and was in a different ward now) called me and challenged me to put all of my effort into praying genuine prayers that week because she was teaching a lesson about prayer that upcoming Sunday and wanted me to share my experience.  So I agreed. And I prayed, boy did I pray.  And poured out my soul to my Heavenly Father that week, in a way that I hadn't in a very long time.  

And somehow, in God's infinite mercy, I saw a glimpse of myself.  Of my true self.  And all of the potential that I have.  And it was a huge wake up call to me.  Why would God throw away all of this potential that I have just because I had made a mistake? Or a lot of them for that matter? God needs me to be an instrument in His hands, despite how imperfect I am.  And I saw that.  I saw that even though I had failed, failing was not going to define my life. And I was still capable of living a full, joyful life.  He still wanted to use me for great things.  I still had infinite potential to accomplish marvelous things.  

But how was this possible? And a small thought entered my head: mercy.  God had mercy on me.  And that is one of the most beautiful things in the world.  And he continues to have mercy on me every single day.  And that mercy is a part of the atonement. He makes up for our failures.  Even when we are the ones that put ourselves in that position.  If we are willing to come unto him,  He will show us mercy.  Because He loves us.  Because He knew that we would make mistakes.  Just like Adam and Eve.  He provided them with a savior and way to overcome the fact that they disobeyed him.  Yes, they still got kicked out of the garden of Eden, but they still lived lives of joy.  They drew close to the Lord and were able to have posterity and happiness. He had mercy on them.  

And that, my friends, is one of the beautiful things about life.  We are all going to fail.  In big ways sometimes, and in small ways.  But that's ok, because the Lord provided a way for us to overcome that.  There is always a way back.  

Since then, I have learned so much about myself.  And I have lived a life full of joy and love.  A life I didn't think was possible when I got that suspension notice long ago.  But I'm glad that through God, all things are possible.  Through his mercy, I found love for myself, and saw the way He loves me, even if just for a moment.  He has bigger and better plans for us than we can even imagine.  And for that, I am grateful.  

Friday, March 2, 2018

"Oh I could never do that"

I am a surgeon's wife.  Or to be more specific, a surgery resident's wife.  Because of this, I am often met with people saying things to me like "Oh I could never do that," "I could never raise children being so far away from family" "I could never live with the schedule your husband works" or something along those lines.  And while I am used to hearing these things, it has really got me thinking lately.

A dear friend of mine, Emily, who was originally my Young Women's leader when I was a teenager, was diagnosed with MS years ago.  I remember being so saddened by this news (I believe I was at BYU when it happened) and thought "Wow she is so strong, I could never do that."  And then one Sunday I was visiting St. Louis in my home ward and was sitting in Relief Society.  I don't remember the topic of the lesson, or even who the teacher was.  But what I do remember is a comment my friend Emily made.  She talked about how people often say to her "you are so strong, I could never do that" (and of course I immediately thought, yep I think that), and she's like, but why? Why do you think I'm strong enough? Before I was diagnosed, I would have said that same thing, but here I am, dealing with it, and have found that you rise to your circumstances.  And with God's support, you become strong and are able to handle whatever comes your way.  (I will admit those were probably not her exact words, but the message is still the same.) But wow what a message, right?

Why do we think we can't do hard things? Of course none of us will ever wish illness upon ourselves, or any hardship for that matter, but what if we approached our trials with a different perspective? A more eternal perspective.  Two years ago I was saying things like "I can't even handle the thought of not matching." And then we didn't match.  And then a year ago I was like "I can't even if we don't match again." And we didn't.  And now here I am- I survived those two years! And I have learned that I'm approaching this year's match differently.  What if we don't match? You know what- God will  provide! He always does! And I can handle it.  I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

So yes, Ben's schedule is hard.  Super hard.  But here I am, handling it.  And you could too if you were in my shoes.  And I have children and I don't live by my parents (which sucks).  But you know what? Here I am, handling it.  And you can too.  The Lord provides and makes up the difference for when you "can't even." I have an amazing tribe of women here in Danville that have become my family.  And the Lord has blessed me with that.  It's what I needed to handle the hardships I face.

When we tell ourselves that we can't do something, we are limiting ourselves.  A girl said to me the other day that she just knows that she is the type of person that couldn't handle raising children while away from her family.  Because she knows herself.  I'd like to challenge that thinking though.  You don't know yourself like you think you do.  God knows the real you, the true you.  Only he knows what you are truly capable of.

To go off of my last post- a lot of dealing with my shyness has been in direct correlation to what I'm talking about today.  I had just accepted that I was shy and that I couldn't do certain things, like approach someone I didn't know.  Or speak out in a group of outgoing people.  But as I drew closer to God, and my confidence in my ability to overcome my shyness increased, I realized that God knew I had it in me the whole time.  I just didn't.  I thought I had figured myself out.  But I was wrong.  And I'm glad that I was.

I had a major break through with myself when I went to Israel.  I was able to break out of my shell and make some life long friends.  As I pondered on this, and thanked God over and over again for helping me reach out to people and make friends quickly, I suddenly realized that I had never felt more like myself in my entire life.  And the spirit whispered to me, "This is the Grace that I created, take her home with you."

The person that God created is the real you.  The true you.  And that person can do hard things.  I can do hard things.  And it is by doing hard things that you come to learn this about yourself and come to see the person that God created.  So just think about that the next time you think "Oh I know myself and I could never do that." Because the odds are, it isn't true.  We were all made as beings with everlasting and divine potential.  We were not made to fail.  And if we do fail (which we will), God will make up the difference.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A life lived in fear is a life half lived

The title of this post comes from one of my favorite movies- "Strictly Ballroom" and that quote is something I think of often. Because aren't we all confronted with fear on a constant basis? Maybe some more than others,  but I know I am.  Fear that things won't work out, fear that I will fail, fear that someone won't like me, fear that I'm not reaching my potential, etc. But it's what we do with that fear that defines us. At least I have found that in my life.  It's the times in my life that I have faced those fears head on and moved forward anyway that I have found the most happiness.

I often recall a life changing experience that I had at BYU. One of many, actually.  But I need to give a little background first.  I have always been painfully shy.  And trust me, it is painful. Warming up to people took a long time, making friends was super hard, and going to social events was very hard if I didn't know everyone there.  Sometimes making it so I wouldn't go even.  And this obviously impacted my experience at BYU once I left home.  Let's just say that moving out of my comfort zone across the country wasn't a fun experience.

I spent a few years at BYU, but never really felt like I fit in.  I felt lost, even.  Not only was I struggling socially, but I also had no idea what I was doing with my life and had no idea what to major in, what I was going to do after college, etc.  Typical problems people at that age go through.  So I felt inspired to ask my brother, Parker for a blessing when I saw him next.  He was a freshman at the University of Utah and lived 45 minutes away from me.  I thought it was kind of an odd prompting because my dad was actually going to be in town that weekend, and he would usually be my choice to get a blessing from. And Parker was only 18.  But I texted him anyway and asked if he could give me one when I saw him that weekend before we picked up my dad from the airport.

You guys.  This blessing literally changed my life.  I still to this day have the notes I took afterwards written down in my phone. It's a simple bullet point list, but I wanted to share it here:

I was given the ability to relate to all different types of people
I was blessed to be fearless against temptation
Reach out to the Lord, and He will do the same
Prayers will not be answered how I think they will be
My shyness and fear have inhibited my life and I can overcome this with the Lord's help
I just need to be myself
Remember that it's the Lord's timeline
My weaknesses can become strengths

And for some reason I had never thought of my shyness as a fear- but that's exactly what it is! And the antidote for fear is faith.  And thus started my journey towards conquering my weakness, shyness.  Or social anxiety, I have come to realize.  Was it easy? Absolutely not.  Not even a little bit.  But after that blessing, I felt equipped with the the tools to face my fears and I knew that I had the Lord by my side.  And as I'm reading this list again today, it's crazy how they still apply to me 8 years later. And probably always will.  I had been praying and praying to be able to figure out what to do with my life, and the answer I got was to conquer my fear/shyness.  And it's exactly what I needed because conquering that fear opened so many doors to me.  It's a coping skill that I needed to have a successful life in general.  

Conquering that fear opened me up to a life I didn't know I could have.  A full life.  And it just made me realize that what God promises us is true.  "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)

I still smile with gratitude towards God every time I tell a new friend I have made in Danville that I consider myself a shy person (it's hard to shake something you identify yourself as sometimes) and they are completely surprised and can't believe that I think that.  I just thank God that my weakness became strong through a long process, but a worthwhile process.  That's what the atonement has done for me.  One of the many things.  And I'm just so grateful that God is so good.  It gives me hope that my other weaknesses will also eventually become strengths. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Momming so hard

I'm writing this post today more as an accountability post for myself.  I've been thinking a lot lately about goals.  Ben gave me a journal for Valentine's Day that's kind of like a bullet journal- only the prompts and stuff are already in the journal and it's centered around making and accomplishing goals.  And I've been struggling to even come up with goals because being an at home mom often feels so mundane and monotonous.  I feel like when I was single or even married and working, it was much easier for me to set goals and then outline the necessary steps to achieve them.  Like getting a bachelors degree or getting a promotion.  But now that I'm at home, changing diapers and doing dishes and laundry all day every day, I often feel like I don't have any goals left in me to achieve.  Like ok- raise my kids? Make sure they make it into adulthood? What does that even look like and how do I make concrete goals to achieve that?

So I decided I need to look at being a mom like a job (yes I  know it's a job, I'm just saying...) and set some goals to become a better mom.  Because it's always good to try and be better.  I need to put my God given talents to use by putting my all into being a mom.  I have often felt lately like I have all of this potential and talent and yet it's wasted because I don't do anything but change diapers and (sometimes) clean my house.  But that's not true.

So I have thought to myself- what are my strengths? And how can I translate that into becoming a better mother/wife/member of my church congregation/resident of my neighborhood/ etc?

I am creative - I can come up with fun things for Flint (and eventually Dorothy) for me to do together.  Crafts, imaginary play, fort building. It will create fun memories for me and my kids, it will strengthen my bond with them, and it will build their imaginations and minds.

I am smart - I can teach my children to love learning and about the world around them.  I can teach them the truth about things.  I can help them in their educational goals and bond with the while doing so.  I can continue learning to keep my mind sharp, even though I am not attending a school anymore.

I am faithful - I can testify of my love of the Savior and of my knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel to my children and husband and friends.  I can share goodness and help my children develop their own testimonies of the Savior and his gospel.  I can dedicate myself to having a good thought out Family Home Evening each week to increase our bond as a family.

I am brave- I can show my children that I'm not afraid to do hard things.  I can talk to them and be open about things I go through that are hard, but that I do anyway and become better for them. I can talk with my children about the things they find hard that they are confronted with in their lives.

And the list can go on.  And if I'm not good at something, I can get better at it, which will benefit not only myself, but my family as well.  One thing I want to be better at is being healthy by taking care of my body by eating well and being more active.  By having an active family, we will grow closer together and feel better both mentally and physically.  In general, healthy people are happy people.

So I've realized I just need to change my mindset about this momming thing.  I can still use my many talents, just not in the way I used to use them.  And that is definitely a goal worth setting and achieving.  

Friday, February 9, 2018

Lessons from Moana

You might remember my post about lessons from Hamilton.  Well to continue with my Lin-Manuel Miranda fandom, I have another one for you concerning Moana.  And I have seen this movie a lot.  It used to be the only movie that Flint would sit through the entire thing.  And there are actually a lot of lessons to be learned from Moana, but I'd like to focus on one in particular today.

Moana has set off on her journey across the ocean to find Maui.  Through a series of events, she ends up with her boat capsized and feels helpless.  She calls to the ocean, screaming, "Help me!" As opposed to getting the help she was hoping for from the ocean, she is approached by big dark storm clouds and thunderous waves.  She and her boat go through a collasal storm and then she finds her self on an unknown island.  Even though she is angry with the ocean and yells and screams in frustrations, it turns out, however, that she was on the exact island she needed to be on to find Maui and go about her journey.

So the ocean did help her.  Yes, she had to go through a horrible storm, but it was through that storm that she was able to accomplish the thing she so desperately wanted.  Hmmmm.... you mean I have to like do hard things to get what I want sometimes? You mean maybe the ocean (metaphorically God) knows it was hard, but also knows that it takes us to where we want to be? Or makes us into who we want to become? Dang.  But doing hard things, is, well, hard!

As I've thought about this concept, I have realized that it has applied a lot throughout my life.  I particularly think about one of the most embarrassing days of my life.  Not embarrassing in the funny way.  Or maybe not enough time has passed for me to find it funny... Anyway.  I studied abroad in Jerusalem for a semester and part of the semester, we spent an extended weekend in the country Jordan.  So of course during that weekend we went to see Petra.  And boy was it amazing! To see one of the cool buildings, however,  you have to climb a million stairs to get to it.  At this time in my life, I was soooo out of shape.  I never exercised, I didn't try and eat healthy, and I was at one of the heaviest weights of my life.  So take all of that into consideration and you can imagine that climbing a million stairs, was, well, horrible.  The reason it was embarrassing though was because we had to be in groups of 3 or more at all times, so since I was so out shape, I slowed all of the people I was with down considerably because none of them seemed to be having the difficulty I was with getting up these stairs.  Even the senior missionary couple had an easier time getting up those stairs.  So I was so so embarrassed and humiliated.  BUT.  I did it.  And I made it up those stairs (wanting to die at the end throughout the entire time.) And I got to see this:

Pretty cool eh? Yes, I'm sporting an Indian Jones hat and holding a whip :) And although I will admit that it took me a while to appreciate it since I could barely breath, I am glad I did it.  Not a lot of people can say they've been to Petra.  And I consider myself lucky to be able to have seen this.  Not only did climbing those stairs help me achieve something cool that day, but it was also a starting point on my health journey in general.  I lost 50 lbs after this picture so that climb up the stairs helped me in more ways than I ever thought :)

There are lots of other instances of going through something hard to achieve something great in my life.  And so I have to trust that anything I go through now that is hard will also be for my good.  God does promise that all things will work together for our good.  So maybe the last 3 years of intense stress about Ben's job and matching is going to be for my good.  And God will put me right where I'm supposed to be, just like the ocean did with Moana. And just like he always will.  

Friday, February 2, 2018


I remember when I was 18, I went to attend my final youth conference before heading out to BYU.  When my friends and I got to the church, we got our shirts only to realize that they were literally the worst event t shirts we had ever seen.  Neon green (first red flag) with "You'd smile, too" on the front in a comic sans font (major second red flag) and "if you knew what I knew" written on the back in black. And that was it.  No pictures, no graphics, not even a mention of what this shirt was for, or what year it was, or anything.  And of course we all made fun of the comma on the front that seemed just so out of place.  I remember my brother in particular saying "You'd smile (insert long dramatic pause), too...if you knew what I knew." Oddly enough though, it is this shirt out of all of my youth conference shirts over the years that I remember the most.  It turned out to be one of the better conferences, despite the horrible shirts.

So why am I bringing this up? I have found myself thinking of the theme of this conference a lot recently, and in fact have thought of it often throughout my life in general.  The theme was actually an acronym- S.M.I.L.E which was in reference to "to be Spiritually Minded Is Life Eternal"- found in 2 Nephi 9:39.

I have felt that motherhood has put my brain in a fog.  As in my pregnant brain from my first pregnancy just never quite left- haha.  And I have found it very hard to stay connected with God.  In fact, I have often felt very distant from him in the last 3 years.  And I have found myself asking why. Why was I able to feel so close to God before children? What changed?  And after pondering this, I realized that my thoughts have not been turned to God like they once were- mainly due to a lack of focus.  Which to give myself some credit, having children makes it really hard to keep up the habits you once had before them.  Such as reading scriptures, praying, journaling, etc.

Another thing that has struck me is the rise in the amount of time I spend on social media.  It was so much easier to focus on God and my spirituality before Instagram existed.  And when I had a job which kept me focused on something productive during the day.  But once I made the decision to stay home with my children, it became so much easier to spend an inordinate amount of time on my phone.  And I have realized that my mind hasn't been focused on spiritual things, which makes it super hard to connect with God or feel close to him.

So I have been really focusing on doing spiritual things every single day in hopes to make myself more "spiritually minded." I will admit that at first, I felt no different.  And I even had trouble focusing on what I was even reading.  But as I have stayed consistent with reading general conference talks, reading my scriptures, and saying genuine prayers, all of the sudden I feel myself thinking spiritual thoughts more often, and in turn, I have felt happier.  And of course writing is the biggest thing for me.  Which is why I committed to write a blog post once a week.  But I've also been writing in my journal and actually writing out my prayers.  If you find yourself falling asleep at night trying to pray or saying the same sentence over and over because you can't focus due to drifting thoughts of fatigue, I highly suggest the writing out your prayers method.  I have been doing this for years now and it is a life changer.  No, I have not written all of my prayers out for years.  But every time I feel my prayers turning insincere or if I am having trouble staying awake, writing them down has gotten me back into a good habit.

As I've done these things, it has been much easier to find God in my every day life, which has made a huge difference in me and in my family.  So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm glad we had to wear those awful shifts over 10 years ago :) And it gives me hope that maybe I'm making a bigger difference with the youth than I think I am. (I am with the Young Women at church right now).  If I still think about things from when I was a youth, then maybe whatever I'm teaching them now will make them think 10 years from now. Maybe? Youth are hard to read I have learned :)

PS Thank you to all who have reached out after my last post.  Turns out Dorothy is NOT colic- praise the Lord. And she just had a couple of rough days.  But she (and I) are doing MUCH better.  She even has been sleeping every night! Game changer.  No, things aren't perfect, or even easy, but as February 1 hit yesterday, I thought to myself "wow I survived the first month." And there was something very freeing and strengthening about that thought.  Here's to surviving the next month!