Testimony Sunday

When I knew that I wanted to come back to church, I worried that I would be judged because I have tattoos. There are LDS people that have tattoos, especially nowadays. But I still worried because I have noticeable ones. Ones that I can’t hide unless I wear long sleeves all the time and shoes that cover the top of my feet. I worried, until I found the Tattooed Mormon’s blog. Her name is Al Carraway. When I found her blog, my thought was – “If she is this popular with mormons, I can walk into one church.” My point in telling you this is that she has also posted that everyone should bear their testimony every fast Sunday – even if it’s just to yourself. Ever since I read that, I’ve thought it’s a great idea. Because our testimonies should be growing and changing and evolving all the time.

So here’s my first one –

I know without a doubt that this Gospel is true. When talking to my mom last week, one of the things she said was “exciting things started happening the moment you committed your life to the Lord”. Boy, was she ever right. I was thinking about my life since I made the decision to come back to church. I knew I wanted to before I made the real commitment but that commitment has seemed to open a door to the Devine that I really had never thought possible. There is no doubt in my mind that God is real, Christ is real and risen, and the adversary is very real.

I have had numerous experiences in the last year that has proven this to me time and time again. One of those was when I had the flu, I was stuck in the bathroom (tmi, I know) for hours in the middle of the night. I felt awful and I was so tired. I finally said a prayer telling my Heavenly Father just that. That I was tired and I just wanted to go to bed and sleep. I immediately felt this real physical calm wash over me from head to toe and my whole body calmed down. I felt fine. I stopped and paused and thought “maybe I should just sit here for a while and make sure” and then my next thought was “nope, I’m going to go lay down while I feel this good and if I have to get up again, I have to get up again” but I didn’t. I slept the rest of the night and felt just fine by morning.

God’s grace is real. God’s grace is amazing. And a lot of times, most times, it’s not a big flashy thing. It’s as simple as – now I feel well enough to leave the bathroom and finally sleep.

We all have this grace in our lives. I see it in mine all the time. It’s when we get too busy, too distracted, too caught up in the world that we don’t see it for what it is. Because most of the time, it is these small things. People tell me all the time how overwhelmed I must be with 10 kids. And I do get overwhelmed. I get stressed. I feel really busy most of the time. But it is only by God’s grace that I really don’t feel overwhelmed most of the time. I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I know that I can find joy in the busyness that comes with having 10 kids. I know that I can teach my kids to find that joy in their lives no matter what – because of God’s grace.

I love this Gospel. I love my God and my Savior. I love what this Gospel has brought into my life. I know that my life has been guided by God since the moment I was born and I am (maybe slowly) learning to let God have the reigns completely. My job in this life is to be still. To listen. And then to act upon what I know and feel to be true and to let God decide and lead me where He wants me to be.

I say these things with all the love in my heart, in the name of Jesus Christ – amen.

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Can’t hide the tattoos. And that’s okay!

CTR and Summer

 

I used to think that CTR rings, necklaces, WWJD bracelets, etc were silly. I don’t particularly like crosses as jewelry… but that’s a whole ‘nother post for another day. I used to think these types of jewelry were silly. Why? Because why would someone need that except to be flashy? To be trendy? I didn’t get why anyone would need jewelry to show they loved Christ. Wouldn’t that just be something you needed to feel and not flash around to everyone else?

CTR stands for Choose The Right. It’s something that was designed for kids to help them to remember to choose the right, make good choices, and follow Christ. Except ever since I’ve come back to church I’ve felt like I needed a CTR ring. It’s taken me nearly a year to buy one. Part of that reason was I still felt like it was silly.

Until I went to dairy queen for ice cream with the little ones the other day. The older kids were having parties at school and the tiny ones were feeling left out – ice cream fixes everything, right?! Our cashier was a woman a little older than me. She looked like she might have had a rough past (absolutely no judgement here, just a simple observation), she had a tattoo on the back of her hand (again… never gonna get judgement for tattoos from me!) and she had a CTR ring on. I almost said and I wanted to say “Wow! I’m so proud of you!” This was literally the first thought that came to my mind. And I was a little taken aback by my own thoughts. I also wanted to ask her to be Facebook friends with me but I’m still trying to figure out how weird I can be about religion with people. lol No seriously, I am definitely that weird in general with people and make friends pretty easily wherever I go but I still feel a little awkward talking about religion with people I don’t know, don’t know well, or even people from my past that knew me when I wasn’t active in the church. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to offend people or make people feel awkward about it. I’m slowly getting over this but it really has been a struggle. Silly, I know.

Anyways, my next thought illuminated as to why that was my first thought and reaction to seeing her CTR ring. These rings aren’t just to remind us. They are a statement of our values. An outward statement of our beliefs. My next thought was “you need one”.

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So I got one today. It’s these little things that show others (and ourselves) who we really are. It shows the world who we are striving to be. It shows our Father that we are willing to stand and say, Yes, Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.

And that’s why I’ll probably be treating this ring just like my wedding rings and it won’t be coming off.

Step by step just like line by line, we learn and grow.

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Today was the last day of school for these kids! Summer is officially here!

We went to the park to play after school although I didn’t get very many pictures since everyone was running around in opposite directions!

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After the park, we decided to go celebrate National Donut Day.

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I’m sorry if you ever get stuck waiting in line around us…
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love these kids!

Then we had pizza and movie night to celebrate the beginning of summer. I’m actually looking forward to not having to worry about school for a few months. I think this will give us all a chance to learn to work together, to get along a little better (a mama can hope!) and create some good family habits before the next school year begins.

A Mother’s Faith

I texted my mom today and told her a few things that have been stressing me out. Some things that felt big. At least, they felt big until I heard her response.

After being inactive in the church for about 16 years, my mom and I didn’t talk about the gospel, church, Christ, anything related to religion, really. Being able to now almost shocks me sometimes. Her faith is amazing. She is a rock and she truly listens to the Spirit.

She didn’t give me any easy answers. But she gave me the best answers. I could tell that she really thought about what to say before she said it and then what she did say was perfect. She told me to have faith. She told me that God will and always does provide. She gave me hope and specific things to look forward to. She suggested a few activities, like reading the scriptures with the kids every night, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, that I haven’t been doing every day. Yes, we say our family prayers every day – multiple times a day – but I’ve been struggling trying to get everything done.

And you know what – she’s so right. I need a priority shift. Because that is definitely something we should be doing together every day.

My mom and I have have always had a great relationship. Even through our trials and disagreements, I’ve always known she always loved me regardless. Being able to talk about our faith just makes that even better.

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Our two 3 year olds blowing bubbles together today

I found this article tonight too that I LOVED. Give it a read (or a listen! love that you can do that with all of the conference talks), for sure! It’s called Joy and Spiritual Survival by President Russell M. Nelson from 2 years ago. I am constantly shocked by how inspired this man is. Everything he says and talks about just hits me to the core. I really love our prophet. He is definitely meant to be our prophet of these times.

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This tiny one cracks me up!

Read this one too. It’s called Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives by Russell M. Nelson as well. It’s from the April 2017 conference. Just a few months before I came back to church. Yes, I do read and listen to conference talks a lot. I have a lot to catch up on! 😉

One last thought – I’m really loving being able to write here. All of the little things that seem irritating or annoying during the day.. as I reflect here on what to write about – they just don’t seem important. It’s almost cathartic to sit and review my day. Those little things, even the kids fighting (because they do do that) just doesn’t seem that big anymore. This is good. God is good. I’m glad I listened to that still small voice that kept telling me to put this up… more than once. (Remember the whole stubborn thing? yeah… I’m working on it.)

Laundry, Steam, and Social Media

If there was one chore that I could pay someone else to do all the time… it’d be the laundry. I’ve never really enjoyed doing laundry. I mean, I don’t mind putting it into the washer and flipping it over to the dryer. But putting it all away… never been my favorite activity. I think it’s just because it’s so monotonous and takes so much time. And now there’s 12 people in the house. I mean, John is gone a good chunk of time and Jordan does his own so I guess it’s really more like 10. But 10 people worth of clothes is a lot of laundry.

I’m not really telling you this for any other reason than to complain and say I dislike doing laundry. lol so there’s that.

I went to the gym today for the first time in way too long. I have to say, I feel so much better emotionally when I can get work-outs in. I usually go to the gym for 2 hours. I walk at an incline (totally don’t like running so I just increase the incline to make it more difficult 😉 ) for at least 30 minutes. Then I do various weights for arms, legs and core. I do squats and pull-ups and then I leave the last 20 minutes or so for the sauna. I’ve always loved the sauna. It’s just sitting in a hot room sweating a lot but it’s so relaxing to me!

The gym closest to my house now only has a steam sauna. I’ve only ever been in a dry sauna but I gave it a go today anyways because… sauna.

When I went into the sauna, I was the only one in there. I decided to sit and pray while the room filled with steam. There’s been a lot on mind lately – which I’ll write about sometime soon, I’m sure, but praying felt like a good idea. So I prayed for a few minutes. Maybe 5, maybe 10. I couldn’t really tell. When I opened my eyes the room was full of steam. I could barely see a few feet from where I was sitting. It was a room of white haze. It was so beautiful. So peaceful. I don’t know why but I immediately felt more at peace and just sat and watched the steam for another 10 minutes.

Another random thought for ya – I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love staying in contact with friends and family, I love my oily community, I love following gospel related people and organizations to get uplifting content in my feeds throughout the day. One of the things that I’ve noticed within the last year is that when I’m having a stressful time, there will always be a story or quote or picture or whatever that pops up that is exactly what I need, exactly what I’ve been contemplating. It really blows my mind that this keeps happening. The fact that God uses social media to help us – #mindblown but I’ll take it!

One of those quotes that popped up today was from Gordon B. Hinkley saying, “If we complain about life… we are thinking only of ourselves.”33992804_10103364497482068_6425437225625845760_n

This one was a little bit of a gut shot. I mean, not all messages we are meant to receive are going to be easy pills to swallow. Right? And I’ve been cranky this week (and last week, if you recall! Man…) So apparently I needed this. I needed a reminder that complaining is not only being selfish but doesn’t help anyone be in a positive mood. And no, I’m not saying that you can never complain (go re-read the first paragraph up above lol) or that you’re a bad person if you do. We all complain sometimes. But if that is interfering with your life. Then it’s time to reassess. I needed the reminder.

And then here was another one –

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I needed someone to tell me that it isn’t easy trying to… not stay because I feel like that isn’t the right word but maybe ‘seek to accelerate’? on the path of righteousness. But it is oh so good and oh so worth it!

Oh and kids are good! Last day of school for everyone is on Friday. Summer is only 2 days away…

Lots of random thoughts today. I promise I’ll try to organize my mind a bit better in the future. No promises though.

 

Sundays Are My Favorite

I woke up this morning and remembered that Tahlia was supposed to give a talk during primary at church today. The talk was supposed to be on how Prophets teach us to live the Restored Gospel. I did a little googling but didn’t really find what I thought I was looking for. I decided to play some music while I got ready for church and went to turn on Pandora. When I unlocked my phone, I had a thought that I should listen to an old conference talk instead. I almost ignored the thought and then thought to myself “no, I told myself that I would listen and act on any promptings no matter how small”. This has been taking a lot of effort. I mean, you wouldn’t think so right? But man, it’s so easy to just jump right into habits – like listening to Pandora. It takes real effort to stop, listen and make that choice. Even with these seemingly tiny things!

Anyways, getting way off track here. Back to the point. I brought up my LDS Library App instead. I went to the conference talks section. I didn’t really want to listen to any recent ones since I’ve been listening to those pretty often lately, so I just swiped up on my phone and let it scroll down. As it scrolled, I randomly touched my finger down and stopped it. I stopped on October of 1999. I clicked on that and scrolled through the talks. “Spiritual Hurricanes” jumped out at me. So I clicked on that one and hit the “play” button.

Wouldn’t you know it… here was everything I needed for Tahlia’s primary talk. I quickly wrote out her talk while I was getting ready, went and talked with her about it and we were all set!

Here’s how it went –

Just like weathermen and storm watchers who keep people safe from danger, our prophets are our spiritual watchmen. They help teach us to be like Jesus, to protect our spirits, to prepare, to read our scriptures, to pray, and to choose the right.
They tell us what our Heavenly Father wants us to know.
Amos 3:7 says – surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
If we follow the prophet and listen closely, we will know what to do!

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my shy girl!
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love her!

Yep, I snuck a few pictures while waiting to help her give her talk. I tried not to get other kids in the photo, that’s why it’s so off-center. I never know how other parents will feel about me posting photos with their kids in them so I always try my best to get photos with only my kiddos in them. It usually works!

Today, this same little girl told me that she wasn’t sure if she believed in Jesus because her dad keeps telling them that he doesn’t. This broke my heart. I told her how much Jesus loves her, that He is very real, that He lives and that He can’t wait to see her again someday.

If anything, this definitely strengthened my resolve to focus our lives on Christ as much as possible. Sometimes, it’s one comment, one negative moment, etc that will stick in your mind more than a hundred positive ones. We know this to be true with everything else in life. It doesn’t matter how many people tell you that you’re capable, brave, strong, fearless, pretty – anything! That ONE person who says you’re not. Who puts those thoughts of doubt, negativity, or sadness into your mind – our minds latch onto those. We play them over and over in our heads. We focus on them. On why they would say those things. Why they would believe those things. The negative always feels bigger than the positives a lot of times. And for kids, this is so hard. I am determined to override my children’s minds with Christ. I want them to know without a doubt that He lives and loves them so unconditionally that no comment will ever cause them to doubt this fact. Don’t worry, we will get there.

Sundays are my favorite. I love getting my kids into church. I love going to church. I love singing the hymns. I love being able to participate and take the sacrament. I love sitting in Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society. I love coming home and making (okay sometimes forcing) my kids to take a break, relax, watch inspiring movies, read the scriptures. I love reading my scriptures throughout the day and being interrupted by the kids while I read. Because this means that they see me read my scriptures. Does everything always go perfect on Sundays? Of course not. I mean, there’s a lot of bribes that go into getting so many kids to sit and be quiet during sacrament meeting (and jokes aside  – the bribes don’t even work half the time) but we go. Till the end of my days, I will thank my Heavenly Father for the opportunity to take my kids to church. Because going from being inactive and raising kids outside of the Gospel to coming back and seeing them in the Gospel. It’s different. It’s good. And I’m so so thankful.