Sunday, December 2, 2012

I am precious and so are you

It's been one of those days.  Nothing major.  Everything will feel better tomorrow but it has definitely felt like the whole world is conspiring against me.  On days like today, I find comfort in a sweet memory from last year. 

I enjoy attending institute in a neighboring stake on Monday mornings.  I don't really know anyone else in the class but it is worth the drive because the instructor is terrific and so knowledgeable about the scriptures.

One day when I was in the midst of alot of turmoil (this was before Brent's life changing surgery), I was plagued with sadness and fear about what was going to happen next.   I was probably even wallowing a little in self pity if you want to know the truth.  It was just a downer day.

On one of those Monday mornings while I was sitting in the chapel attending Institute, a sweet elderly woman (probably in her 70s) sat down near me in the pew.  I have to admit that I didn't really acknowledge her except for a vague, quick smile and then I went back to taking notes.

In the middle of class, she leaned over, patted my hand, looked me straight in the eyes and said,
"You are Precious". 
 I didn't know what to say.  I was speechless.  I didn't even know her but somehow, she knew EXACTLY what I needed to hear at that moment.  Tears welled in my eyes and, a little self conscious, i thanked her. 
When I finally got to my car and had a moment of privacy, I cried.  I was so grateful for that reminder.   It helped snap me out of my funk and realize that my Heavenly Father was aware of me and my family and everything that we were going through and although he might not take it all away, He was mindful of us.
 
I wondered for a few days after that if, perhaps, this woman just walks around saying that to everyone she meets?  Or was it a unique  message to me at that moment because she felt prompted?   I never asked her but several months later I saw her again.  I went up to her after class and asked her if she remembered our little interaction many months before.  She smiled at me with a twinkle in her eye and assured me that she did. 
 
I also wondered if there have ever been times I have felt prompted or had a thought to lift another or pass along a kind word to someone but have failed to do it out of fear.  What an example she was to me of having the faith to act on a prompting, however random.
 
I am precious. 
So are you. 
We all need to be reminded of that every now and again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

oops! jar

Every once in awhile I get fed up with my children.  Mostly they are terrific kids and I would'nt trade em for the world.  But sometimes they fight, leave their stuff lying around the house, have to be asked multiple times to do stuff, say unkind things to each other or - the one I dislike the most- say, "I'm bored",  I borrowed an idea from the blog of another mother who must have this problem in her house too.

She has a list of tasks that are punishments that her kids have to pull and then do when they are caught doing any of the above. It sounds so much better to say " go get a job from the oops jar" then a nagging tongue lashing.  And if they start to debate their cause, just keeping adding tasks.

Here are examples of what is in my jar:
 
Clean out Mom's car of trash and cups
Pull weeds in back yard for 10 minutes

Pull weeds in front yard for 10 minutes
Rub dad’s feet for 10 minutes and do, ‘this little piggy’ to him.

Clean a sibling’s room for 10 minutes
Wipe down a bathroom toilet
 
Clean a bathroom mirror while singing any song.

Clean out silverware drawer

Wipe down outside of fridge and have a treat afterwards.
You are free but this is a WARNING!
 
Vacuum mom’s car
clean upstairs bath
Give mom and dad a hug and say,
“I will never leave my stuff out again.”
Wipe down walls by garage door
Wipe down garage door inside and out
Empty all garbage’s
Write a letter to someone who has done a service for you and tell them thank you.
water the plants
find matches in mismatched socks under dryer
Sweep front porch and ride your bike around the block.
 Play with Brady for 10 minutes
clean out a junk drawer
Dust living room
windex glass door

You are free but this is a WARNING!

You are free but this is a WARNING!

Tell all of your siblings 3 things you love about them.

Write 50 times “I will not leave my things out.”

Do 25 jumping jacks while singing, “I am a cleaning machine.”

Run around the house for 1 minute and see how many things you can pick up and put away.

Clean the dining room table with furniture polish.

Clean out the dishwasher

Clean out a heater vent.

Do research on the computer about how to clean with baking soda.

Choose 2 items of yours to donate to Goodwill.

Vacuum the office.

Scrub an air vent with a toothbrush.

Scrub your toilet while singing, ‘whistle while you work’.

Pick up backyard, do a flip on the trampoline and beg your mother for forgiveness.

Sweep back patio

Organize dad’s shoes.

Vacuum stairs


Thursday, November 15, 2012

40% control of our happiness

 
"People are just as happy as they make
 their minds up to be."
- Abe Lincoln
 
As I sat at my desk this morning and paid bills, i remembered an article I read once about the correlation between happiness and contentment. 
 
Did you know that according to a recent research study of 60,000 adults that was published in 2009, genes are responsible for only a portion of a person's sense of well being? 
 
50% of our happiness is biologically driven.  Some people are just born prone to a happy disposition.   My hubby is this way.  Remember in a past post how he amazed DRs. when he was super sick because he was the ONLY IIH patient they had that wasn't suffering from depression and needing a rx for anti depressants? 
 
HE ALWAYS SEES THE BRIGHT SIDE. 
 
(Me, not so much.  I like to think of myself as the REALIST of our family, the yin to his yang- however, I digress...)
 
Another 10% of our happiness is connected specifically to life circumstances.
 
  That leaves 40% of our happiness quotient unaccounted for. 
 
40% of our happiness, we have control of. 

Some might think that this 40% is greatly determined by income.  But, studies show: not necessarily.  Hope College in Michigan found that there is "little correlation between cash and contentment (for most Americans there is not much emotional benefit to earning more that $75,000.00 a year)". 
 
I look at that statistic and think maybe once our basic needs are met, having MORE doesn't really bring our quotient up.  
 
(And now that I think about it, I know alot of wealthy. but unhappy, people.) 
 
The trick to upping your happy quotient (HQ) is to figure out what things make you feel happy and do them more often. 
 
Here are mine:
reading a good book
listening to music
being with my family
feeling in control of my surroundings (clean house, organized schedule, living on a budget)
spending time with my best girlfriends
(who, by coincidence are like Brent and were born happy)
date night with Brent
making people feel special
(remembering a birthday or serving a friend)
being productive
and exercising.
(It NEVER, EVER makes me happy WHILE i am exercising but overall it helps my outlook be positive and it is a great source of stress release.)
 
And although I agree that having more money doesn't make me happier, I LOVE the feeling of being able to pay my bills and then have a little extra for an emergency.  There have been times in our married life when we didn't.  It was super stressful.  I think you appreciate having enough so much more after you haven't.  (And I can also tell you from past experience that -WITHOUT A DOUBT-being in debt does not lend itself to happiness.  It most defintely lends itself to UNhappiness and happens to be one of the top reasons why people in the US commit suicide.  Sad.)
 
My prayer this Thanksgiving is that we will all reflect on what we have - not what we DON'T have; that we can pinpoint those things in our lives that bring us each, individually, more moments of happiness and then do them more.  Life was meant to be enjoyed.
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eighteen

Happy EIGHTEENTH Birthday to this gal.

 Tanner refers to her as the "chosen one" that is going to lead the rest of us to Heaven.  He's only halfway joking.  She really is the most amazing girl.
 
How lucky are we that she was our first so that she could be a great example to her four younger siblings?  It makes our job as parents so much easier.
 
We celebrated her big day by eating at FUDDRUCKERS and seeing the latest James Bond movie.  It was fun.
 
Eighteen things we like about her:
 
1.  She always has a smile on her face.
2.  She has a great attitude about EVERYTHING.
3.  not a shallow bone in her body
4.  never has to be asked twice
5. uber responsible
6. the peacemaker of the family
7.  takes Tanner's teasing about her driving with a grain of salt
8.  super dependable
9.  everyone's favorite babysitter
10.  smart as a whip
11.  loves the scriptures
12.  beautiful singing voice
13.  not a respecter of persons
14.  My #1 helper around the house and usually without being asked
15.  likes to watch LMN channel with me. :O)
16.  kind to everyone
17.  oozes with compassions
18. a heart of Gold
 
We love you Jenner Penner Poo Poo!
 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Turning TWELVE

 Today, we celebrate the birth of our
Beloved McKinley.
She got a few presents
(see em stacked in the background).
She is most excited about the nickel free earrings (she claims it so hard to find cute ones that are nickel free) and the sparkly eye shadow. Twelve is a big hallmark in our house if you are a girl because you get to start wearing a touch of eye makeup.  :O)
 Another fun surprise was that her friend, Caty, KIDNAPPED her bright and early for breakast before school.  Such a lucky girl to have such a sweet friend.  (Caty's mom, Cheri, is pretty sweet too -for being the brains and the driver behind it all.)


Cheers to turning TWELVE.  Young Women here she comes! 
Ready or not!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Not the Bread We Expected

From one of my favorite talks by S. Micheal Wilcox, "The Fourth Watch".

Have you ever looked back at a time in your life, when you thought Heavenly Father wasn't answering your prayers but then after some time had past, realized that he did?  Just maybe not the way you wanted him too?

I'm guilty of that.
 
In Luke 11:9-
"9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil , know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give athe Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
 
Sometimes we pray for bread.  Heaveny Father gives us bread but it wasn't the KIND of bread we wanted and because we kept thinking about the kind of bread we wanted, in our minds, its tantamount to being given a stone.  Or we ask for fish but we are not given  the flavor of fish we wanted so we turn it into a serpent.  Or you ask for an egg but it's not cooked the way you wanted it cooked so in your mind it might as well be a scorpion.
 
CS Lewis said there are two kinds of good:   
The EXPECTED good and the GIVEN good. 
 All things given from God are GOOD. 
 
God does not give stones.  When you need bread a stone is useless.  Only bread is given.  It might not be the kind of bread we wanted.  God does not give serpents or scorpions, those are harmful.  He only gives bread and fish. 
 
Right now I am personally praying for several people that I love, friends that I care about that are going through HORRIBLE things.  A friend whose adult daughter isn't speaking to her because of a difference of opinion - she wonders when she will see her and her granddaughter again, a young middle school aged girl I know of that is being bullied at school and desperately needs a good friend, a young girl that I used to work with in our church's youth program many years ago who recently became separated from her husband, a wonderful woman who is going through a devastating diagnosis that will forever change her quality of life. 
 
I also am praying for a family in my church congregation that lost their twelve year old son last week to tragic circumstances.  I do not know them but I mourn with them as a mother.  I pray for them to feel arms around them and comfort from loved ones.
 
What does this have to do with bread?
 
  Because even though I don't think for a minute that Heavenly Father INFLICTS this kind of thing upon us, I think sometimes they are allowed.  I look back at some of the best people I know that have suffered through severe hardship and wonder if the hardship was the thing that made them awe-inspiring to me and everyone around them?
 
One of my favorite quotes (and I'm sorry if you have read this before on my blog, I posted it several years ago and I shared it in Institute a month or so ago) is from President Spencer W. Kimball.  He was no stranger to physical trials.  He said this:
 
“I’m grateful that my priesthood power is limited and used as the Lord sees fit to use it. I don’t want to heal all the sick—for sickness sometimes is a great blessing. People become angels through sickness. “Have you ever seen someone who has been helpless for so long that he has divested himself of every envy and jealousy and ugliness in his whole life, and who has perfected his life? I have. Have you seen mothers who have struggled with, perhaps, unfortunate children for years and years, and have become saints through it? … No pain suffered by man or woman upon the earth will be without its compensating effects if it be suffered in resignation and if it be met with patience” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [1982], 167–68).

This quote is true of anyone who suffers in this life.  Whether it is physical or emotional.  I don't know why the people I care about are going through what they are.  It is hard to see them suffer.  But I know that one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed is when people lean on the Lord and trust in the power of His love to get them through hard times.  It is truly Awe inspiring to watch the change take place.  Like President Kimball, I have witnessed people become angels and I think I am about to witness a few more. 
 
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lessons from Job: His Grace is Sufficient

In my very last session with Brother Hinckley, he asked me:
 
"if you could sum up what you have learned from this whole experience in one phrase, what would it be?"
 
I thought for a minute. 
And then it came to me.
 
"HIS grace is sufficient". I said.
 
Brother Hinckley smiled.  "Oh, I love that!"  "But tell me what that means".
 
I went on. 
"It means it doesn't matter if it is a day that I don't think I will ever be able to get through by myself, 
a longing to be forgiven of something I have done wrong, 
a task or feat that is given to me that I feel overwhelmed by,
a change I want to make in my character,
or a feeling of impending doom.
 
If I put my trust in HiM, He has always seen me through.  His Grace is sufficient."
 
I continued:
 
When something not-so-great would happen to me I used to panic and say to myself, "oh GREAT! It's another red letter day for the ARGYLES, here we go again!".

"Now, I say, Well.... we've done all that we can do, it will be interesting to see how Heavenly Father helps us work through this." 
 
That is not to say that it is always easy.
 
Just last month, as we sent off a check for our FINAL medical bill to cover Brent's surgery and cash flow was a little tight because of that, I glanced through my budget for the remainder of the month, realizing that there wasn't alot of wiggle room for some unexpected expenses that were coming.  The old Shahna would have let that ruin her day and possibly would have gone into a full blown panic attack. 
 
The New Shahna said, "Well, we have paid our tithing and a generous fast offering and we have been careful to follow our budget, it will be interesting to see how Heavenly Father is going to help us work through this".  
 
I left it at that.
 
Two days later my mother called and told me that she had inherited more from my grandmother's estate than she had anticipated and she had decided to send some of the surplus to me and my brother and sister. 
 
Yep.  After we do all that we can and exercise FAITH, His grace is sufficient. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lessons from Job: The old me is never coming back

Here is another thing I've learned in the last year:
 
It came to me like a lightbulb moment when I was in Brother Hinckley's office one day.  I told him that I just wanted the "old Shahna" to come back.  The girl that was perky and happy all the time -not this one that was somewhat cynical and jaded.
 
He smiled.
 
He grabbed my hand from across his desk,
held it in his hand like a loving Father, 
looked me in the eye and said,
"listen to what I am going to tell you: 
"the OLD SHAHNA is NEVER coming back." 
 
I reacted with tears.
 
"We don't want her to come back either."  he said. 
 
I was confused.
 
"The new Shahna has learned some things through her last six years that the old Shahna never knew.  We dont want to go back to that.  We want to explore some of the things that you have learned that have made you better and celebrate those things." 
 
I thought about that for a long hard while after I left his office.  In fact,  and he gave me a homework assignment to ponder upon that and study the story of the Fall in Genesis, paying particular attention to what Eve was like before and after the Fall.
 
Later that week I had lunch with a dear friend.  I was a little disheartened because I had grown really fond of Teri and had the chance to work closely with her in the Stake Primary for the previous year.  She had just been released to be called to be her ward's Relief Society President.  For those of you who are not memebers of my church, this is  a HUGE responsibility.  Teri would now be responsible for all of the women ages 18 and up in her church congregation.  She works closely with two other women in her ward that have responsibility for the sunday instruction as well as seeing after the temporal welfare of several hundred women.  If there is a woman that has surgery or lost a job or is suffering through a chronic illness,  or whatever the situation might be; the Relief Society goes in, assesses needs of the individual, and then calls on other women in the congregation to help her.  Sometimes it might require you to be privy to things in families' lives that they might not want to be public knowledge and you have to keep matters confidential.  Being a Relief Society President is a huge honor but it is not something any of us aspire to.  It is a big job, a large time commitment and requires a great deal of compassion.
 
Teri and I were at lunch, talking about her new responsibilities when I started to say something that I have said a thousand times before.  I laughed when Teri said that I would probably be next to be called to serve in this particular area and started to say "I feel sorry for any group of women I am called to be a Relief Society President for because I don't have any compassion...." 
 
That is what I started to say.
 
But then the Holy Ghost came over me. 
It stopped me in my tracks.
 
Before I could finish the sentence I heard a reminder in my mind that I was different now.  After caring for Brent for so long, I now had compassion for others who struggled physically.  After working through medical bills, and living on a shoe string budget, and working hard to save money and get out of debt, I had gained EMPATHY (not just sympathy) for those who might be struggling with the same thing.
 
Brother Hinckley knew what he was talking about afterall.
 
Over the last few months, I have become aware of other ways that my trials have changed me for the better.  That being said, I have realized that I need to also be aware of the ways it has possibly changed me for the worse and try to prayerfully ask for Heavenly Father's help and my Savior's grace to overcome those weak areas. 
 
I believe the Lord when he says,
 
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men (and women) weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is suffucient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then I will make weak things become strong unto them."  (Ether 12:7)
 
I feel like that has happened to me.  I have become aware of my weaknesses. I have humbled myself, exercised faith in him (and replaced all of the fear I was feeling), and now I bear testimony that through His grace and power, I am stronger. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lessons from Job: Faith and fear can't dwell together

One of the first things I figured out, while talking to Brother Hinckley - my therapist, was that I was so afraid of what was coming next, I was living in a constant state of FEAR.  As I thought about that, I realized that although I could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life, I could not remember the last time I had felt COMFORTED by him.  I could pinpoint specific times over the last few months when I had felt help in making decisions with respect to my kids, my responsibilities at church, when others had shared spiritual experiences.  I knew the Holy Ghost had been influential in that.  I knew I wasn't doing anything sinful that would prohibit the Holy Ghost from being a companion to me. 
 
I realized that in order for me to feel comforted by the Spirit, I had to dispel the FEAR and make room for FAITH.
 
How to do that?
 
Well, one of the things that helped alot was surrounding myself with FAITH FILLED things.  Music has always been a huge mood lifter for me.  I immediately made a playlist on my ipad of music that was inspirational and had a positive message.  63 songs to be exact.  For several days, while the kids were at school, I would play that playlist throughout the house while I was home and in the car when I was running errands.  Some of the songs were from my favorite church artists but others were secular that had a good message. 
 
I read talks about faith and strength and hope.  Here are a couple favorites.
 
 
 
 
Before I knew it, I wasn't having anxiety attacks anymore.  Before this "experiment", I was having three or four a week.  Once I surrounded myself with these words and messages of encouragement, I immediately felt stronger and more hopeful. 
 
I also love this video clip on youtube:
 
 
I especially love the last part where Elder Holland says,
 "Trust God and believe in good things to come".
 
Whether you are a member of my faith or not, I think there are principles in these talks and this video that are universally helpful and meant for us all.  God loves all of His children and wants to help and ease our burdens.
 
In summary, lesson number one was that FEAR and FAITH can't dwell in the same place.  We have to constantly be working to create a place in ourselves for the Holy Ghost to help us and comfort us.  The way to do that is to fill our lives, surroundings, and days with FAITH FILLING things. 
 
Lesson #2 tomorrow...










Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lessons from Job: Part One

Shortly after Brent had his life changing surgery and had his health fully restored, I started having anxiety attacks.  Regular, frequent anxiety attacks.  I felt like I was having a heart attack and didn't know how to make it stop.  It was usually triggered by something benign, something that normally would not even phase me.  One day it started because one of my children had lost her jacket at school.  I know, weird.

I couldn't figure out what was going on.  For SIX YEARS, while Brent was sick, I was a rock.  I was the one that constantly held our family together and was incessantly chasing the dark cloud out of the room during that entire time he was ill.  I was the one that kept things going.  Why, NOW, was I falling apart?

After much prodding from a loving aunt, a concerned husband, and a thoughtful mother, I scheduled a session with my Institute teacher who is a licensed family therapist. 

At the first session, he asked what brought me there (to his office).  I explained, "basically, I'm married to Job".. and then I brought him up to date on the last six years.  Brent (ahem JOB) had suffered through being chronically ill, unemployment, under employment, financial reversal, lawsuits, being deceived by employers, being buried in medical bills.  You name it.  He pretty much had had it inflicted upon him and consequently, I was affected to.  I went on to explain that Brent reacted to all this tribulation and trial like Job did too.  He faced everything with so much faith and hope.  He never wavered.  He was long suffering and patient and obedient the whole time. 

But me?  I felt like I had come out of the whole thing somewhat jaded and fearful about what was coming next.  What horrible thing was lurking around the corner next for us?  I told him I felt like I was living my life hopelessly.  I had never stopped reading my scriptures or going to the temple or attending my meetings.  I explained that I was trying to constantly find others who were in a crummier situation than me to serve in an effort to not be self-absorbed.
BUT, I didn't feel like my happy perky self anymore.  I felt cynical and fearful.

I asked him if he could "fix" me.  With a smile he said, "yes".   I think I can help you but I am not going to try to "fix" you.  He went on, "This is going to be FUN". 

"Fun?", I said.

"Yes, fun".  "You are going to learn alot about yourself and what you gained from living with Job."

I asked the therapist, "Do you think I am depressed?". 

"No", he said.  "I think you are depleted".  "You have been giving and giving and giving for so long that you have nothing left in your reserve.  Now that the trial is for all practical purposes over, you CAN fall apart, so you ARE.  For the first time in a long time you have the option of falling apart when things go wrong so you do.  Even things that normally would not bother you are having that affect on you because you have held that natural response in for so long. "

I got goose bumps.

That made so much sense to me!  Of course! 

"The next thing we need to do is help you figure out what FILLS you back up, so that you won't feel depleted anymore".

And thus my journey began...


 

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's usually through another that He meets our needs

President Spencer W. Kimball explained:
“God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs”
 (“Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, Dec. 1974, p. 5).

My sweet friend, Cheri, just shared an experience that she had last week that I think reflects this oft quoted thought above from President Spencer W. Kimball.  I love to document these things so that I can go back and see the hand of God in the lives of His children.
 
Cheri teaches institute to the young single adults in my stake.  She loves the calling and the young single adults love her.  Cheri also has a hubby that has to be out of town sometimes.  Last week she was feeling torn between her calling and being the extraordinary mom she is and always wants to be.
 
As she was preparing her lesson and getting ready to go to teach her class, she found herself in humble prayer to Heavenly Father.  She had one daughter, Caty (age 11) that had not been feeling well earlier that day and another, Kelsea (age 13) that was cheering at one of her last home games.  Her husband, Eric was out of town.  She wanted to go support Kelsea and she felt really bad about leaving Caty while she was ill.  She poored her heart out to Heavenly Father, expressing her concerns to Him and noone else.
 
After praying, she felt assured that if she would go and do what he needed her to do (teach her lesson), he would take care of the rest.  She wasn't sure what that meant but she was obedient and did just that.  She finished preparing her lesson and got dressed for institute.
 
Then she got a suprise text from a friend telling her that she was at the game with all of her family, watching Kelsea.  Also, they had picked Caty up from a rehearsal at the school.  Caty was feeling better, and could Caty stay with their family and watch the game and they would get her home?
 
A few minutes later she heard that another friend had gone later in the evening to watch Kelsea cheer. too. 
 
Kelsea's YW president showed up with her husband and two children. 
 
Kelsea BY FAR felt the most love that night of all the girls on the cheer squad.
 
And Heavenly Father answered a mother's prayer.
 
Cheri shared this sweet experience with me with tears in her eyes and expressed how grateful she was that her friends acted on a prompting to support Kelsea and take care of Caty and for a loving Heavenly Father who heard and answered her prayers. 

I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers but it is usually through others that he meets their needs.  :O)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

guest post from Hilary Weeks

This is from Hilary Weeks.  One of my favorite church composers and/or artists.  She is also one of my favorite bloggers.  I has the fantastic experience of meeting her through my friend, Whitney, a member of the LDS singing group, Mercy River.  Through Whitney, I got to eat lunch one afternoon with Hilary and really get to know her.  I loved her before but once I got to actually visit with her, I loved her even more and felt like she was someone I could really relate to.  Since then I have been a follower of her blog.  This week she had a post that I just loved and I felt like I could have written it myself.  I, too, had an experience where I was told through a priesthood blessing that the end of a trial was approaching and to be patient.  I am so glad at the time that I didn't know it was going to be another FIVE years before we would find an end to our ordeal.  Here is her post:

Be Brave.

“Most of our obstacles would melt away if instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” 
~Orison Swett Marden
My husband used to own an online stroller/carseat store - they sold every kind of stroller you could think of. My husband is an entrepreneur at heart so he loved owning this business – and there were perks! I remember one afternoon when our daughter threw up in the car – all over her carseat. I nauseously called my husband to ask the best way to clean the carseat cover. He said, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll bring a new one home.”
Now that is a perk.
A good one.
In 2007, when the economy crashed, so did his online business.
It was so sad for us, just as it was for many business owners during that time. We watched the business dip quickly and then further deteriorate each month. Tim tried to revive the company however, after three years no amount of life-support was going to bring the company back. It was heartbreaking in many ways.
I recall a weekend during that time when I was at a TOFW in St. Louis, Missouri. The event was over and I sat in my hotel room feeling completely distraught, scared and alone. What were we going to do? How would we ever pay back our investment? What did the future hold…because it sure didn’t look very bright. It was a financial future that I didn’t really want to step into.
I was scared.
Alone and worried, I knelt next to the hotel bed, and prayed. I can’t remember what I said. But I remember exactly – word for word – what Heavenly Father said. (I used the room pen and pad to write it down.)
“Be brave and trust a while longer and the benefits will be worth it.”
Okay. I can do that. I can be brave. I can trust – I know Heavenly Father loves us and won’t let us down. A “while longer” didn’t seem too far off. I wasn’t sure how long a “while longer” was going to be - perhaps 3 months? 6 months? Maybe a year?
Five.
Five years.
Thank goodness Heavenly Father only said “a while longer,” instead of be brave for five more years and then the blessings will come. I don’t think I would have gotten up off of the floor. I might still be in that hotel room wondering how I would make it that long. But since I didn’t know exactly how long I had to endure, I just endured. I watched, looked and prayed for the blessings to come.
After a lot of blood, sweat and tears (Tim was responsible for the blood and sweat – I took charge of the tears), we finally sold the business last summer.
There is still a road of recovery in front of us, but I feel the promised blessings coming. I have watched some of what must be the “benefits.” And I feel grateful. Very grateful.
Perhaps the Lord is asking you to be brave and trust a while longer too. It is scary sometimes, I know. But you can do it. Don’t quit. Never give up. Keep praying. Always believe.
The blessings will come, and the benefits will be worth it.
Blog to you soon,
Hilary

Thursday, May 31, 2012

basically we are all like icebergs

(I found this today in a blog I follow and felt it was worth remembering.)  

My old Stake President was a Phychologist. He spoke once to us mothers, and said something that really stuck with me. 
He said to
imagine that each of us is an iceburg.
When you look out across the ocean, you see the top 10% of the iceburgs in the water. That 10% is the part that we want others to see.
He said that it is important to remember that
each of us has another 90% that we're "hiding" below the surface.

He told us "Never compare your 90% to someone else's 10%. It's not a fair comparison."
Isn't that great? We all show our best selves, our best 10%, but we all struggle with different things, and we all have weaknesses and insecurities. The trick is to remember that what we usually "see" in others is their best 10%, too.

Monday, May 14, 2012

me, surrounded by greatness


This past mother's day I wrote a letter to thirteen terrific ladies who have shaped me and what kind of mother and woman I am. Here is an excerpt.

I have been thinking about writing this note to you for some time.  As Mother’s Day was drawing closer this year and because of some things I read recently in my own patriarchal blessing, I have been thinking about you and what a blessing you have been to me.
I don’t know whether it was because Heavenly Father knew I would need good female role models with me throughout my life or perhaps I expressed concern to him before I came to earth that I would have the cards stacked against me, but I think you were a compensating factor in my life.  You are a gift from an all knowing God.
From the time I joined the church as a youth, I have been blessed  with extraordinary women who have “shown me the way”:  the way to be a righteous woman of God, a devoted wife, and a loving parent.
I am certainly not the perfect mom.  My kids are just as “damaged” as any.  I don’t presume that you are perfect moms or women either.  But I feel like I am a much better mother and woman because of your influence and what I have learned from your example over the years.
When I think of the short list of women that I have felt prompted to write this to, I am reminded of a young woman’s president who was a much needed adult example to me at an important stage of adolescence.  It was from being in her home as a sixteen year old girl and spending a great deal of time with her that I started forming ideas about what kind of mother I wanted to be, what kind of home I wanted to have.  I think of friends who showed me what it means to have compassion and to be mindful of others when they have needs.  I think of women who devote time regularly to scripture study, temple worship, daily prayer and who share that knowledge and testimony with their families.  I think of women who serve diligently in the church to bless the lives of others.  Who sacrifice greatly for their loved ones.  Who are strong voices of influence in their communities and homes.  Women who honor the priesthood, love the Lord with all their hearts, and honor the covenants that they make with great fortitude.  I think of women who bear affliction with faith.

I wanted to take the time to think you for helping me be a better woman and mother this mother’s day because of the woman that I have watched you each be.
I hope you realize what an influence for good you each are, not only to me, but to countless others that you probably aren’t aware of.  For me, you have made all the difference.
(To Sherry T, Sheri L, Cheri P, Vali, Diane P., Diane S, Catherine, Stacey, Betsy, Christi, Steph, Marianna, and Nancy, I love you and Happy Mother's Day.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

proof that money isn't where its at people!

I just want to start by saying my heart really goes out to Pilar Sanders.  She is the beautiful (estranged) wife of Deion Sanders and they are residents of our town.  My Reagan goes to school with her son Shedore.  I regularly see her at the school at parties, field trips, and picking her ten year old up at the end of the day.  She seems like a very hands on mom that genuinely loves her children.

Sadly, She and Deion have been engaged in a HORRIBLE divorce battle that got so ugly this week that Pilar was arrested and spent the night in jail, Deion had charges of assault brought upon him, and they were one of the lead stories on the national news.  I don't want to add to all the news that has already been out there. 

What I do want to remember, however, is how this family LOOKED like (from all outward appearances) that they had EVERYTHING.  Deion was just inducted into the Hall of Fame, he played two different professional sports, they shared a 23,000 square foot mansion here in Prosper and everytime I drive by I see at least 200,000 worth of cars in the driveway.

But they sure don't seem they live such a charmed life this week.   News reports claim that he had an affair.  Pilar found out he wanted a divorce on TMZ. - not from him.   Reagan said she overheard Pilar on the phone outside the school talking to someone (while she was waiting for her son).  She said that Deion is trying to avoid giving her anything of their multi million dollar fortune.  Both of them have lost their reputations and have been humiliated.  They both have been disgraced.  Their kids are caught in the middle.  It is one of the saddest things I have ever seen and I just had to write about it to remind everyone out there.  Things aren't always what they seem and money is certainly not the source of true happiness.  I'm adding her name to our family prayer jar of people we are praying for right now.  And her son, Shedore.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

headache free

Well its been a long hard road but we finally made it and as of 1:30 yesterday, April 9, 2012, Brent is FINALLY headache free. 

So many thoughts are rushing through my mind.
The biggest of which is gratitude.

Gratitude for our friends and family who have fasted with us, prayed with us, brought us dinner, treats, helped with getting kids where they needed to be.  I am grateful for visiting  teachers and home teachers.  Emails and texts and phone calls of encouragement (I have saved every single one of them in a file).   I'm grateful for Priesthood holders who at a moments notice were worthy to administer to Brent and make beautiful, peace-filled promises of comfort, "instant relief", and healing.  I am grateful for skilled surgeons.  Not just Dr. Batki who did the surgery yesterday but Drs. Weiner, Herzog, Konen, Biddiwalla.  They have all gotten us here where we are today.  Next Monday night we are writing thank you notes.  Lots and lots of thank you notes.  Because we are all so grateful for so many beautiful people.  We are most grateful for our loving Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ who we have felt carry us though some really rough patches.

Miracles  happen.

We are living proof.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fasting for Brent

Here is an email I sent out today to everyone that I could think of in my contact list.


Beloved friends:

I have to start by telling you that as I scroll through my contacts, trying to decipher who to send this to, tears well in my eyes and my heart is so full. As I click on your name to include you in this email, I am reminded of our little army of angels that has weathered this storm with us for the past six years. Some of you are from our old ward. You took in our children, fed them, distracted them with fun activities while Brent was initially hospitalized all those many weeks. Some of you are my book club gals that have held my hand and listened each and every month as I updated you on the latest thing the doctors were trying. Some of you are our new friends that we have made in our new ward family here in Prosper. Regardless of how we know you, you are included in this email because you have consistently inquired about Brent's health and whispered words of encouragement along the way. We love you and appreciate each and every one of you!

That being said, Brent is having surgery monday. It is a BRAND NEW procedure. He will be the tenth IIH patient to have this surgery and they have had a lot of success. It's not a sure thing by any means. There are some risks involved. It is pretty invasive - but we are cautiously optimistic and it is the most promising straw we have had to grab at since he was diagnosed.

Our family is fasting this Sunday on Brent's behalf. We are fasting for the surgeon, Dr. Baktik, who will be operating on him. We are fasting that Brent will recover well from the surgery so he can return to work as quickly as possible (He just started a new job three months ago). We are fasting that if it be the Lord's will, he will be headache free.

We invite you to join us if you choose. I know it is EASTER this weekend so if it does not work for you, we would love your prayers in his behalf.

The irony is not lost on me that all this falls on the Easter Weekend. Regardless of our outcome next week, I want you to know that I ABSOLUTELY know of the love our Savior has for each and every one of us. This has been the hardest trial we have experienced in our 23 married years but we have felt His guiding influence and witnessed tender mercies along every step of the way. We bear testimony of the reality of his Atonement. He absolutely strengthens our backs and eases our burdens as we exercise faith in Him. We know that the power of Priesthood blessings is real. Miracles happen. We have seen them. We have felt the power that comes from righteous men and women who join together in fasting in the past and we know we will feel it Monday, as well.

Thank you so much for the good men and women that you are. We are so blessed to have you in our lives. We learn so much from your compassion and example. We love each of you. Very much.

Shahna