Monday, June 20, 2016

The truth about today

The truth about today...and about all of the days I've experienced recently, that I wish I weren't living them at all. Not to say that I wish I weren't physically here - but that being emotionally and mentally so distant from where I want to be makes me long for an extended vacation. 
Extended like for the rest of my life. 
That's a thing, right?
Hawaii, anyone..? 

Maybe it's actually that I'm NOT truly living my days - I'm just getting through them. Have you ever felt like that? Like you're scraping yourself out of bed in the morning and dragging yourself through them and frump-ing (not a verb, but you know what I mean) into bed at the end of them? Just to repeat the process again and again?? How do you even break that cycle??

A friend emailed me the other day and told me I seem so happy on all of my social media, and that she's happy for me to be so happy. That same day, another person in my life told me that I'm the most dramatic, negative person ever and that everyone hates my social media (??) <--this doesn="" font="" like="" me="" much.="" obviously.="" particularly="" person="" t="" very=""> It struck me as interesting that I had two people comment on that with such different perceptions in the same day. My conclusion was that they were each looking at my social media through the lens of their own experience, and that's how they were coming to such different conclusions about me/my life.

I wish it were easier to apply lessons like that to myself right now. I wish I could just look at situations in my life and say,"Well, self, this isn't ideal; however, it could be way worse! Look on the bright side!" without wanting to punch my optimistic self in the face. Or, "Hey, self, you get to choose the way you view your life! Why not count your blessings instead of eating an entire two-tiered box of Godiva chocolate by yourself?" <--this font="" happened.="" have="" may="" nbsp="" not="" or="">
You know what I mean?

The great, fantastic, absolutely wonderful news about little pockets of rainclouds in life is this: they pass. They always do. They're not fun, they don't come with a calendar for you to count down to sunshine, they aren't my favorite - but they pass. I'm doing my best to get enough sleep, not poison myself with chocolate-overload, etc....and sometimes that's all you can do.

I guess the point of this post is just to throw it out into the universe that I'm having a rough time, and I hope that if you're having a rough time, too, that you know that you're not alone. We're both just hanging out in the rain, waiting for the storm to pass. There are things to be learned in every season of life, and with every challenge there's an opportunity to grow. 

(Don't ask me what we're supposed to be learning right now, because honestly - I don't freakin know.)
(Try me after the storm passes.)

Good luck, my fellow storm-friends. At least we're not in this alone.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Where We Belong

I distinctly remember the feeling of walking into church that first Sunday after having filed for divorce. Holding tightly to my two year old's hand, I walked into sacrament meeting to a row near the overflow section and prayed that no one would talk to me. Nothing had changed, and yet everything had...we had been separated for months, but I had never opened up to friends or ward members about my marital struggles. That Sunday, after everything had been decided, I suddenly felt like I was wearing a huge neon sign blaring the news of all my failures and shortcomings. The absence of my wedding ring on my left hand felt shameful and embarrassing. I knew it was only a matter of time before someone would ask, and I could either choose to continue to skirt the truth with excuses - or I could face the horror of saying out loud that my dreams of eternity had come to an end. I felt vulnerable and exposed; I felt like I was wearing a huge bullseye, and I waited for the shots of judgement to hit me.

When I was in my twenties, I desperately wanted to get married and have a family. It felt like everyone around me was realizing that dream - but I couldn't seem to figure out how to get married myself. By the time I was 25, I felt like a total black sheep amongst my fellow church members. Every sacrament talk, every Sunday School lesson and every Relief Society meeting seemed to focus on the importance of family, being a mother, raising children, etc...I couldn't escape the sinking feeling that I'd never realize my FULL potential without getting married and having a family. I felt forgotten by the church curriculum - and constantly reminded of my shortcomings. It was a difficult time for me. All I wanted was to feel like I really belonged; like I belonged to another person, like I belonged within the demographic that all those lessons catered to, like I truly belonged at church.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about belonging lately. It's easy to look out across the congregation at church during a talk about the importance of eternal families, identify how many beautiful, happy, two-parent families are sitting together on pews, and to feel like the sorely out-of-place single Mom on the back row. I feel intensely aware of curious eyes, and often I feel defensive over questions or comments that I'm sure aren't meant to offend me. "Do I really belong here?" I've asked myself.

The answer has come to me in waves - and is consistently reaffirmed to me when I open my heart up to hear the truth.

I belong to God; and therefore, I belong here.

I often deny myself permission to belong. I think we all do sometimes. We find reasons to separate ourselves because of our experiences - our trauma, our burdens, our sins. We imagine that people can't understand us because the path we've walked is different than their's. We wait for money to be right, clothes, education. We wait for the right marital status. We wait for grief to pass. We wait for the right calling (or any calling). We wait for an apology we feel we're owed, or for someone to notice us.

But...what do we value most within the walls of our church buildings? Is it the friendships our children make? The supportive social network we find there? The familiarity and the organization? The spirit we feel? Are we just struggling through three hours so we can say we went..?

(If you're like me, it's probably a mix of those things depending on the day haha.)

The thing I have to remember to value above everything else when I go to church is...who I am and what I mean to God - in spite of all of my many shortcomings. Do we actively remember that the value of each soul in that building, including our own - regardless of our circumstances - is of "great worth" in God's sight? Do we take time (easier said than done with a toddler!) to connect with that truth each Sunday?

Over time, I've realized no one is judging me as harshly as I judge myself - I'm the one casting most of the judgement (taking aim and firing at my own personal bullseye over and over again). People generally don't have the time or energy to spend thinking about/judging me. And if they do? (because, let's be honest...sometimes it happens...) Well, I feel sorry for them. Their life must be pretty boring (and their understanding of who is worthy enough to judge others needs some work).

The truth is: We are known and understood perfectly by a God who knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves. He loves me (and you) not in spite of our failings, but including them. He is the creator of each strength AND weakness we have, having given us talents and flaws to help us learn and grow. He loves us; we belong to and with Him.

I don't have to be anything to belong (perfect, married, covered in children, physically beautiful, wealthy, educated)...I belong because I am His. There is no other approval, no other acceptance, no other understanding that will ever matter in light of that truth.

(Now if someone could remind me of that this coming Sunday, I'd appreciate it.)
(It comes in waves, remember?!)

Love to you all.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Book Review: Everyday MOMents - Jessica Poe

Some of you might remember seeing this posted on my Instagram a few months ago with the following text:


'I think God must look at my anxious scrambling in life like this. I'm freaking out about getting all of my proverbial stuffed animals into the pretend bathtub, and He's watching me like, "Aw! You're adorable. Now calm down - none of this is as big a deal as you're making it.'

I frequently find myself thinking similar things each day as I interact with my toddler - 'God must look at me this way...' 'I'm sure Heavenly Father feels similar frustration when I act out, the way she does.' 'I wonder if Heavenly Father feels this kind of love for me...' I'm not sure when I started having those thoughts, or's just been a natural part of my motherhood experience.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened Jessica Poe's new book - Everyday MOMents - and realized that the entire thing is an extension of (and expansion of) that same thought process!

Here's a candid (haha) photo of me reading the book. You can tell it's the end of a very real day of mothering because my hair is in an amazingly greasy ponytail and I've avoided including my tired, bleary-eyed face in it. (you're welcome.) 
Important: very annoying pomeranians love this book. (look at his intense little face!)
Also important: I recommend reading this book with a very large caffeinated beverage from Sodalicious and an equally large chocolate fudge cookie. (it is worth mentioning that I recommend most daily tasks be done with a very large caffeinated beverage from Sodalicious and an equally large chocolate fudge cookie.)
I digress. Back to reviewing things:

Jessica had my attention right from the Introduction where she addressed the struggle we all face as mothers everyday - finding the balance between what we know in our hearts is the most divine and incredible experience of our lives (mothering God's children on earth), staying spiritually connected to that perspective, and living real life. 

"Too often the daily goo and sticky fingerprints muck up my mind, so I'm not seeing the spiritual side of my mothering life...It's all about seeking symbols in His sight while experiencing the everyday mommy moments." Everyday MOMents - Introduction (p2)

I completely believe that my role as a mother is the most important calling I'll have during this lifetime. It's interesting to me, though, that as much as I believe that...I still find myself sighing in frustration, comparing my experiences to other peoples', rubbing my temples and longing for bedtime at least a half dozen times each day haha. Why is that?? 

I know I'm not alone among my mommy friends with those thoughts and struggles - and Jessica Poe suggests an awesome solution to the perspective problem: grab a spiral notebook and title it " Seeing the Divine Details in my Everyday Life." Sound a little too intense/time consuming to you..? It isn't! She outlines how to join her on the journey in simple, easy-to-follow steps at the end of each chapter.

Throughout the book, Jessica walks the reader through her daily experiences as a mom and gives real-life examples of finding God in all of the frustrating, wonderful, mundane, overwhelming, quiet, awesome moments that motherhood gives each of us. While I, personally, lack some of the extensive scriptural knowledge that she seems to draw upon naturally and easily in those moments - I found her perspective to be enlightening, helpful and motivating.

I love how real Jessica's writing reads - her voice in my head is familiar and friendly, her experiences relatable and dear. I can't tell you enough how encouraging I found her book to be. I love that it was concise enough that even a VERY tired and scatterbrained Mom like me could get through it and actually feel like I retained information from beginning to end (haha - that's a pretty huge accomplishment for me).

So...if YOU feel like you could use a little help with your daily mothering perspective, if you feel like you could use some help in 'discovering Christ in the details of motherhood', and if you like reading real-life (and real-encouraging) books about moms and for moms, then find yourself a copy of this book. You won't be sad about it. (plus it'll look great on your nightstand - please look at the adorable artwork and text on the cover of this thing!)

I loved reading this book, Jess! Thanks for writing it! And I'll close this review in the words of Jessica herself (at the end of each chapter she extends a short challenge  - mine to you is to read this!): YOUR TURN!

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