Monday, March 15, 2010

Proud Parent Moment

This Sunday Erin gave her first talk in Primary. I was starting to wonder why she had never been assigned a talk before since it's her third year in Primary, but I just assumed they didn't ask the younger kids. Then one day I saw a Sunbeam giving a talk so I knew that wasn't the case. I mentioned it to someone and the next week one of the presidency came back to me saying, "yeah, we asked Erin to give a talk and she just said no." I guess I wasn't aware that they had much of a choice at this age. Apparently other kids jump at the chance? Unbeknownst to me, they had asked Erin a few times before and she always said no, but they didn't tell her that her parents could help her or anything. I think it was just the unknown. But I figure that Primary is the time to learn how to give talks, not in Young Women in front of the whole congregation or heaven forbid as an adult. Plus, if she always said no, what kind of example would that set for her younger siblings?

I told them that she could do it, and even though I knew she'd do a great job at home, I really hoped that she wouldn't freeze up at the last minute in front of the primary. The topic was about prophets so she picked three of her favorite prophets (Noah, Samuel the Lamanite and Daniel), told me what she wanted to say about them and then I wrote it. I got a phone call near the end of the talk writing so she just finished it up on her own and folded it up as many times as she could.

She practiced it several times at home and then decided she needed to wear a lot of lipstick so that she could look pretty for her talk. She got some great comments about her 5 year old makeup job at church, but she didn't seem fazed by it.
When she got up in front of everyone it did take a little time to unfold and flatten out the paper, but once it was open she read it all, front and back, perfectly and confidently while Jared held the pictures. She said that she wasn't even nervous. That was definitely a proud parent moment! For one because she is doing so well with reading, but more than that was how much she has come out of her shell as far as doing things in front of people. Two years ago for her preschool graduation she cried the whole time even though I knew she knew every song and even everyone else's speaking parts. A year ago at her next preschool graduation she said everything she was supposed to, but you could tell that she was really nervous. To see her get up like that now is really amazing for her, especially since it took me years in school and church to not feel so nervous to be in front of people. I think Erin's Kindergarten class is helping her a lot. Anyway, we are just proud of her! (sniff, sniff) How we got so lucky to have such great kids is beyond me, but I sure love them.

Just a side note: this is the first year that I have been really grateful about losing an hour for daylight savings, only because we have 1:30 church and Sunday mornings are sooo long! Too bad Jared had to go to another ward at 8:30 and had 7 hours of church; at least I liked it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Little Things

Life is special, and children are one way God allows us to see a glimpse of His love for us, as well as what he desires for each of us.

Here are just a few of the recent "glimpses" I've had of life's special moments given to me through my children:
  • My 20 month old laughing as she welcomes me home from work ("daddy hooome!").
  • The crafty look of my 5 year old telling me a joke or kidding around with me.
  • The complete focus of my 3 year old putting together a puzzle.
  • The laughter of my children as they play a newly discovered game. (This does have a tendency to end in tears as one or more of them begin to disagree with the "rules")
  • The sweetness when one of my children gives my wife a hug after a long and difficult day.
  • The excitement of my 5 year old when sees one of her friends as she is walking to school and just can't wait to start talking to her (By the way...after dropping her off at her school I can't help but watch her until she disappears around the corner out of sight - she really is growing up quickly).
  • The excitement on the faces of my children when they find out they are going somewhere, especially to play at a friends house (maybe we should get out more often???).
  • The happiness my kids find in playing in the rain, and then coming in to take a bath.
  • The scrunchy-eye look on my kid's face as they try to go to sleep...and then fail.
  • Seeing my 20 month old come running out of her room in the morning happy to be awake, and knowing full well that she cannot climb out of her crib...the 5 year old actually takes her out!
  • Hearing a little voice say, "Hi Daddy" and then give you a great big hug.
  • Helping your kids work through their disagreements and being surprised at the creative ways they come up with to work together.
  • Opening my eyes in the morning just to find my daughter standing right next to my bed (sometimes a little too close) asking for breakfast.
  • Watching my children as they learn and struggle with new challenges - even if they do get upset and frustrated on occasion.
And finally:
  • Hearing my children say "I Love You" as I tuck them into bed at night.
Certainly the little things in life really do matter - without them life just wouldn't be the same.

What are the little things that really make a difference in your life?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Disclaimer: This is an extremely personal post which I wrote as a form of therapy. I made the decision to post it not because I want any type of sympathy, but because I feel it may be able to help someone who reads it. I only hope I don't regret this decision...

It is the middle of the night, but I can't sleep and this blog entry is floating around in my head. This weekend I got to go to Time Out For Women up in Orlando with some friends. It was, as always, a great spiritual experience. I received promptings for things that I didn't even know I needed. I came home feeling recharged and ready to implement the "new me" that was sure to result from the spiritual promptings I had experienced.

The next day, I was changed. The most influential talk for me was by Wendy Watson Nelson who talked about how we should ask ourselves what a holy woman would do in different situations during the day. I resolved to try it and really did feel a difference in how I reacted to various circumstances. It was great... till I neared the end of the day and I realized two things: 1) that I wasn't a holy woman and 2) that this was way too hard to keep up. So I gave up. (Incidentally, she did suggest that we ask this question about one situation during the day and not everything like I did. Much more reasonable.)

That night and for the next two days I fell. And I don't just mean that I stopped asking what a holy woman would do, I mean I sunk deep. Really deep. Deeper into a depression than I have fallen in a long time (let's just say it made sliding down the wall in the handicapped stall look fun). I cried on and off the whole time. This depression happened for a variety of personal and somewhat valid reasons, but suffice it to say, it happened. I tried to draw close to Heavenly Father in every way possible, but I still felt loneliness and despair. Not only that but I began to doubt my own worth and purpose in life. This weekend we were talking about everyone's strengths and someone jokingly said to me, "You have strengths; I can't think of any, but I'm sure you do." This started me wondering about whether I did have any worthwhile abilities as I compared my weaknesses to others' strengths. (Not a fair comparison by the way.)

This is a pretty personal topic that is hard to share, but I know it affects more people than just me. Also, this kind of stuff usually doesn't make it on the blog--like I said, I'm a little nervous about sharing this. I have never considered myself a depressed person, but I am prone to go through short periods of depression like this one. Luckily, I am usually able to cope with them and do things to pull myself out before it drags on too long.

The way I deal with these emotions has never changed since I was a child, though maybe it should. I tend to close everyone off and push people away that try to help. I want to run away and sometimes I do. But the truth is that while I do this, I really want and need people to talk to, accept me and love me. I guess I crave attention, but my personality is such that I will do anything to avoid drawing attention to myself. Bad combination?

One time when I was 10, I was feeling mad or sad or something, so I ran away on my new white 10-speed bike to the park--that would show my family, I thought. I rode around for a long time, played on all the equipment numerous times, walked around and sat on the grass until I was so bored I knew it had been an outrageously long time. A long enough time for my family to realize how they had mistreated me, feel terrible and send out a search party. So I rode home. To my utter disappointment, nobody said a word to me when I walked in the door. They never even knew that I was gone! My point is that this method doesn't actually work.

As an adult, I take the car. But I still fall into the same trap of wanting to escape or give people the silent treatment, even though I need people. I usually go down my list of good friends and family members but I never call anyone because I don't want to drag anyone else down. Amazingly, in the middle of a lonely and teary moment, my friend called me at almost 10 pm last night even though I just spent the whole weekend with her, and that helped a little... until Jared got home from racquetball. Poor Jared that has to live with me. He tried to talk to me over and over again, but I resisted. I even avoided eye contact for two days! (I'm making myself out to be a great wife, I know. Sorry guys, I'm taken.) I really felt that I had good reason to take it out on him in this way. I was stubborn and depressed and I wouldn't soften my heart, even though everything inside me was screaming "YOU NEED HIM!"

Tonight I did leave for a while until I got bored and cold just sitting there in an empty parking lot. After being home for a while Jared made another attempt to talk to me and though it was hard, I finally opened up and talked to him. More tears were shed as we talked about the reasons for my feelings. But it ended up being one of the best conversations I have had with him or anyone in a long time. I realized so many things. One is that I don't want to go through the hard times without Jared. So why do I push him away during those times? We both feel so much more strength when we are united (and are willing to look each other in the eye). He also pointed out some of my strengths that I hadn't been seeing. Why do we compare ourselves with others and beat ourselves up for not being like them, instead of realizing our own talents?

I also realized that I was desperately wanting and needing to feel spiritual promptings, but I simply couldn't because my heart was too hard. The opposite of hope is despair, and I wasn't willing to (or at least I couldn't at the time) let go of my misery. It wasn't until I softened my heart and let Jared help me before I began feeling the spirit again, and ultimately the happiness that I had lost. I feel so much better after letting Jared in during such a dark time and am thankful for his persistence and love for such an emotional wife.

There is a chance that you will think less of me for writing this, or perhaps confirm any previous doubts you may have had about my sanity, but I guess that is the risk I am taking. (gulp!)