Monday, January 20, 2014

My One Word

I am lucky that even though I am just a sub at my kids' elementary school, the other staff have taken me in and included me in so many things outside of the classroom.  It has been a true blessing in my life, something that I truly needed after moving here.  One of the things they have included me in is our GAG group - Gals Achieving Goals.  Each week we get together, discuss goals we worked on the previous week and set new goals for the coming week.  They can be related to anything - spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, whatever we want to work on.  Then we help each other with ideas if we are struggling with something in particular.  We also take turns do a little presentation or something so we all leave feeling refreshed and full of new ideas.  I personally love it and I will be really sad when summer comes and we don't do it!

I had posted earlier about my feelings on goals and new year resolutions.  This year I wanted to do it differently so I was kind to myself and my imperfections.  Last week during our GAG meeting we learned about My One Word.  It is something I had heard of before but didn't really pay attention to until it was presented in our meeting.  It all kind of clicked and I decided that was how I could still have success this year in my goals but be kind to myself at the same time.  I listened and found the word that I loved.  It was actually one that she talked about during her presentation.  My one word?  ENOUGH!

Enough.  I am good enough.  I have had enough.  I am strong enough.  I am doing enough. No, that's enough.  It can be used in so many areas of life and twisted so many different ways.  I have always struggled with not feeling good enough or feeling like I am not doing enough.  I am not a good enough mother.  I am not a good enough wife or friend or neighbor or anything.  I am always so busy that it is hard to find time to do what I feel is important.  Now I have a word that I can focus on.  A word that can bring strength when I don't feel strong enough; comfort when I don't feel good enough; and peace when I have had enough.

I didn't stop with myself though.  We are always talking to our children about growing, learning, changing, and becoming who God wants them to become.  We try to teach them the gospel.  We try to teach them right from wrong.  We try to teach them service for others and love for all.  We try to teach them who they are - children of God.  We try to teach them to be strong and confident, to work hard and always give it their best.  Sometimes it seems to sink in and other times it doesn't.  So, I thought I would give this approach a try with them.  Last night we talked about My One Word.  We talked about how it can change them into what they want to be and into what God wants them to be.  We talked about how just one word can encompass so many areas of their life.  If we each have one word that we focus on throughout the year, at the end of the year we will be amazed at the changes we feel in our lives.  So, I sent them to bed with instructions to think about a word and to pray to Heavenly Father about a word.  After all, He knows better than anyone who we are and what we have potential to become.  They did and this afternoon we shared our words.  We made signs for each of their words to hang in their rooms by their beds.  I told them to write the words on their mirrors and dry erase boards, write them on their book covers and bookmarks, put them in places where they will see them and be reminded of them constantly.  They all seemed excited about it.  I know it won't mean as much to the younger ones as it will the older ones but we are all going to do it anyways!

So here are our words...



Makenna: FAITH

Zane:  HAPPY


Zeke:  TRUTH

Olivia:  LISTEN

I must say, I was impressed with the words they came up with and if you know my kids, you can see how each word fits them and their personalities.  These are words that can/will have great meaning in their lives and in their own personal interests. 

How will we incorporate this into our daily lives so that we can remember these words all year?  Aside from having the words posted around the house, it will become part of our daily/weekly devotionals.  Every evening before bed we read scriptures as a family and say family prayer.  Each week we have Family Home Evening.  That consists of prayer, song, lesson, sometimes activity (I kind of slack on that) and a treat.  Everyone takes turns each week doing the different things.  So, each evening we can ask - what have you done to be fearless? have faith? be happy? show obedience? tell the truth? be grateful?  listen? and be enough?  The kids love to share their accomplishments and I love to see their insight into life and how it affects them. 

I am very excited to do this and see the growth that we each have over the year.  I feel that them choosing a word (and Michael and I too) will help them feel empowered.  It is not me or Michael telling them what to do anymore.  It is them choosing to work on something that they feel is important.  It is them seeing how THEIR choice of word is helping them grow.  It does not require perfection.  It does not encompass the ability to fail.  It is a progression.  We have good days, we have off days.  At the end of each day we can look back and see how the word has affected us or maybe even how lack of the word affected us.  If we forgot to look for ways to be happy what kind of day did we have?  If we chose to be fearful instead of fearless, how did our day go?  I think no matter what, this word that we all chose can help us whether we remembered to act on it or not so no matter what, we have learned and grown.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Zeke's Birthday!

On the 6th of this month Zeke turned 8!  He was so excited for this birthday to come.  Turning 8 is a big thing.  He got to join scouts with his brothers, he got to be baptized and he got a build-a-bear from Michael's mom.  He also got his own set of scriptures and a journal for him to write in.

To make the day even better, we had a snow day!  It was supposed to be the first day back to school after Christmas break but because of wind chills in the negative 50's and 60's we all got to stay home.  All the kids woke up early so he could open his presents before Micheal went to work.  We knew he wouldn't be able to wait all day so we did it early!

We spent the day inside because of the cold weather and the kids enjoyed one more day of break before they headed back to school.  Zeke picked out finger steaks and macaroni and cheese for his birthday supper.  Then he wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting  with nothing on it for his treat.  That made it easy for me!

The Sunday after he turned 8 he was baptized.  Michael baptized him.  He chose Dillon to give a talk on baptism and he chose Maddi to give a talk on the Holy Ghost.  He got to pick out the songs he wanted to sung too and he chose Zane to give the opening prayer and I got to give to closing prayer.  It was a very special day.

 They dressed alike that day - cute huh?
Zeke is a very special boy and we are so thankful to have him in our family.  He is a boy with a great understanding or the gospel and what is right and what is wrong.  He is very caring and loves to make people smile with his funny jokes and his kind deeds.  He loves to help me and everyone else and is always willing to step in when needed.  I love him so very much and I am so proud of him and who he is becoming!

Boys Only Weekend

For Christmas the boys got tickets to a Vikings game from Michael's mom.  Dillon was excited being a big Vikings fan!  Zane questioned it since he was a Packers fan and Zeke questioned it too since he was a Colts fan.  They went to the last home game of the season and the last game to ever be played in the Vikings Stadium.  They left Saturday morning and headed to the cities.  It was a boys only weekend - no girls allowed!  (Michael did say us girls could come but I thought it would be fun for the boys to go without us)  They went to the hotel and swam most of the evening, got to eat supper at TGIFridays and then enjoyed playing around in the hotel room.

The next morning they headed to the stadium.  Zane and Zeke's questioning ended once they got there. They were just as excited at Dillon as they headed inside!  They had a blast and it was a good day to go because the Vikings somehow managed to win (that hasn't happened a lot this season)!  Here are a few pictures of game day:

They all came home with a flag from that they were giving away to everyone as they came in to the stadium.  Dillon also found a purple feather on the ground and he took a chip of purple paint from the railing.  When they got home they were all talking at once telling me about what they thought were the coolest plays of the game!  Zane thought it was cool that he was not the only one wearing a Packers jersey.  He also thought it was funny when a man came up the stairs in a Packers jersey and everyone booed him! Now all they talk about is the next game they want to go to.  Zane is determined to make it to a Packers game :)  Maddi was jealous that she missed out on the whole thing but us girls had a day out on the town too while the boys were gone.

Thanks Munu for the tickets and Stacey for the hotel!  They had a great time!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Great Thou Art

This week has been a different week to say the least.  Monday morning started out like Monday morning should - crazy.  Last minute schedule changes and frustrations, trying to figure out how to get everyone where they needed to be when they needed to be there and then back home again and trying to get myself and the kids to school on time while Michael took a quick business trip to Idaho.  However, what I thought was going to be the worst part of the day ended up being nothing in comparison to what others had to go through.

One classmate lost his grandmother to a heart attack, we lost a friend to cancer and some of the faculty lost a dear friend to a sad tragedy.  Hearts were broken, lives were shattered and my messed up schedule became a walk in the park compared to the pain that others were going through.  It was hard to watch those I cared about go through this pain.  I'm not good with words and emotional stuff so I didn't really know what to say and I struggled with how I could help them.  My thoughts turned inward as my mind raced with different emotions.  Some of their struggles hit home in ways that I did not expect and others were not and are not aware of.  So my mind raced and my heart ached.

Things kind of all came out Tuesday after school and I left with a very heavy heart.  Again, emotions were stirred in ways that I didn't expect as I listened to others talk about their struggles.  So much of what was said hit home because they were things that I had experienced and gone through in one way or other.

Wednesday I woke with the song "How Great Thou Art" in my head.  The words somehow helped me understand and organize my thoughts.  Last night and this morning I tried to write them all down - the song with my thoughts.  It may have no meaning to anyone else, but I am going to share it anyways because it does for me.  As I wrote, my mind and heart were filled with thoughts of my friends that were going through so much this week.  I saw their eyes filled with tears, heard their words of sadness and watched them grieve.  I also saw them hug each other, comfort each other and lift each other up.  It was an amazing week in so many ways.  Amazing in the fact that life can change so quickly and so tragically.  Amazing in the fact that these friends care so much about each other that even though they are grieving they still reach out to help those around them.  Amazing in the fact that we all find out that we are stronger than we think and if through these trials and struggles we keep our faith in God we can make it through.

So here are the words that I felt as the words to "How Great Thou Art" played in my mind over and over:

Oh Lord, my God,
Please hear me as I cry
When I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
Hold my trembling hand in Thine as my world crumbles all around me.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Whisper peace and comfort to my aching heart and soul
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Lift me from this darkness and help me feel Thy warmth

When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
Lead me through the thorny paths to safety in Thine arms
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
Let me hear Thy soothing words of love and understanding
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
Look down on me from Heaven above
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze
Wash me free from this grief and pain.

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Fill me with this love so constant and unchanging
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
Oh Lord, my God, I feel Thee ever near me
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
This path I walk, was walked before by Thee
He bled and died to take away my sin.
Thy blood was spilt to make me whole, Thy suffering to keep me clean

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
Thy perfect light brings freedom from my dark abyss
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
I look to Thee and gladness overcomes me
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
Then to my knees I fall in gratitude and humility
And there proclaim; "My God, ho great Thou art."
No words express my true emotion, tears stream down my face.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee
I know that for me You came, You suffered, and You died!
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
You felt my pain and sorrows, You felt my sins and grief.
The sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
You did for me the things I could not do myself,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
With eyes toward Heaven and heart now free I, too, sing;

"How great Thou art, how great Thou art!"

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Well, a new year is upon us.  Time for goal setting, pondering, and fresh starts.  Time for cold weather, basketball season and flu bugs.  Yes, this year starts just as last year ended.  Life is just as busy and hectic January 1, 2014 as it was December 31, 2013.  So why put all this pressure on ourselves with high goals and extreme life changes?  Why do we set ourselves up for such a fall? 

Now I am not saying that we should not have goals.  Goals are very important.  They drive us when nothing else can.  They give us focus and direction.  They are the means to success.  BUT, only when they are realistic and properly done.  And that is different for everyone.

I can't sit here and think that because it is all of a sudden a new year that my schedule is going to somehow miraculously clear so that I can have time to achieve all those wonderful things I would like to achieve.  I can't sit here and think that just because it is now 2014, that things will become easier and that I will magically and effortlessly arrive at my destination, 60 pounds lighter with long flowing hair and a six pack that would make Vin Diesel jealous.  It just isn't going to happen!

I am still a mother of six kids. Six busy kids, who play sports, sing in the choir, play in the band and are involved in church groups and scouts.  I will still have to go to work and even though I am just a substitute teacher there is rarely a week this year that I have not had to go in at least once.  My days are busy and they will continue to be busy for quite some time.

I know some people are really good at setting goals and achieving them.  They are unstoppable.  I am not.  I get down on myself, put too much pressure on myself and then feel guilty when I do not accomplish all that I set out to do.  Do I have goals?  Of course I do.  Am I starting the year out with new resolve?  Yes.  But in a different way than before. 

I am, of course, still on my weight loss journey.  I am still on my betterment journey.  I always will be.  There is always a way to improve and be better.  But there are no deadlines in my goals this time.  Maybe that contradicts good goal setting.  I don't know.   But I know that deadlines in these areas don't work for me.  I can say I want to lose 20 lbs by the end of April.  It is very achievable in all actuality.  But if I don't meet that deadline what happens?  I get down on myself.  I see myself as a failure, again.  I undo all that I had been working to do with one carton of ice cream.  See what I am saying?

So, in order to not fail I am changing my goals.  This year I will continue my journeys but with kindness and understanding, for myself.  I brought my treadmill in the house yesterday and cleaned it up.  I walked on it this morning.  One of my goals is to use it at least 3 times a week.  It is an ongoing goal.  One that I restart every week.  One that if I don't meet one week I don't feel like a complete failure.  It's small.  It's obtainable.  It's forgiving.  Yes, I hope to lose weight from it but that isn't my focus.  My focus is to be healthy, to be active, to feel good.  I know I feel good when I exercise.  My focus is there, not on what pant size I wear. 

Another goal is to quit drinking so much pop.  I love diet Dr. Pepper.  It's is my go to after a long day.  I know that is it not good for me though.  Again, I am focusing on health and how I feel.  I am  not banning it.  If I do have one, I have not failed.  My goal is to be able to go for several days without one.  Sounds silly I know, but this is actually a hard one for me.  I have connected Dr. Pepper to relaxation.  If I can sit down and drink a soda, then I can relax for a while and no one can bother me - a very needed thing for me when life is so crazy!  I have had to slowly distance the two so that I know I have the right to relax without having to have a soda. 

It goes the same for food.  When the kids were little (six under the age of 7) things were kind of crazy!  I was drained most of the time.  I couldn't do anything without at least two children accompanying me - bathroom, changing clothes, making supper, it didn't matter.  I love my children and I am very grateful I could be home with them but they still wore me out!  Eating was my only escape!  If I sat down to eat, then Michael would be the one to change the diapers or get the milk.  If I sat down to eat, I didn't have room in my lap and I could just breath for a few minutes.  Food became my "me" time.  It has taken a long time but I am slowly disassociating those two things too.  It is hard, but I am having to see food in a different way.

Along with that comes the process of trying new foods that are healthier.  I had oatmeal today with strawberries in it.  Not the microwave kind.  I bought steel cut oats (I had never tried them before) and cooked a serving.  I topped it with frozen strawberries and it made a wonderful meal.  It was out of my routine of cold cereal with milk.  I bought tuna fish and light bread.  I had carrot sticks for a snack and yogurt.  Will I still eat a treat?  Of course!  It's not about banning and being strict.  It is about making better choices most of the time.  Monday is my son's birthday.  He wants finger steaks and mac & cheese.  Followed by chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Will I eat it?  Yes I will!  And I will love it!  And I will not hate myself for it.  Why?  Because I have not ruined my goal or my life for doing it.  I made a kind goal.  I am trying to change my way of thinking - not just with exercise and eating, but with all areas of my life.

The other day, I was feeling quite unattractive.  I was apologizing to my husband for how I looked.  He took me in his arms and told me I was gorgeous!  That is a word that I have never used to describe myself!  It brought me to the realization though that he loves me for who I am (I already knew that, but I saw it differently this time).  If he only loved me for my toned body he would have left me after our first child 13 years ago.  He sees past my hips and thighs and stretch marks and sees me.  And loves me.  I have to learn to do the same thing.  If I am constantly down on myself for my failures and shortcomings how can I do that?  I can't.  I haven't.  I won't.

Hence, the new focus.  Instead of setting myself up for failure, I am trying to help me succeed by changing the focus.  I am trying to heal, learn and grow in more than just weight loss and nutrition.  I love to write.  I want to do more of that.  I love to bake.  I want to do more of that.  I love to take hot baths (only during the cold months). I want to do more of that.  I want to read my scriptures more.  I want to exercise more.  I love to try new recipes.  I want to do that more.  I want to yell less.  I want to take time to play games with my kids.  These are all my goals.  How do I accomplish them?  One day at a time.  If I fall short one day, I have the next.  If when this year ends and I still have 60 lbs to lose with out a six pack in sight, I will not have failed.  If I can play games one day a week, try a new recipe once a week, write every Sunday (or when the inspiration hits), go one day without raising my voice, I have succeeded.  If I can do those things then I am becoming the person I want to be.  My insides are way more important to me than my outsides.  Yes, they are connected.  But if I focus too much on my outsides, my insides suffer.  If I focus on my insides, my outsides follow along. 

So, here's to 2014!  May we all find ways to improve and be successful in whatever ways work for us.  May we learn what is important in our lives and reach out towards it.  May we be kind and forgiving to ourselves (and others).  May we find happiness and peace in our many different journeys.