Wednesday, February 27, 2013

a "two fer" on discouraging days

I have been asked to speak next month in a ward RS in my stake on making Lemonade out of lemons.  I had to laugh as I don't really think of myself as someone who typically sees the bright side right away.  I suggested that they ask my hubby if they wanted that topic covered by a pro.  The RS president said she wanted a  "spiritual" meeting and wants to address how to consecrate the trials of life for our good.  As a result, I have been doing a lot of studying and listening to talks about this topic.  Two that I love are from current apostles.

The first is Boyd K. Packer, who was no stranger to trials. 

He said this: 
"We live in a day when the adversary stresses on every hand the philosophy of 
instant gratification.  
We seem to demand instant everything, including instant solutions to our problems.  We are indoctrinated that somehow we should always be instantly emotionally comfortable.  When that is not so, some become anxious - and all too frequently seek relief from counseling, from analysis, and even from medication.  
It was meant to be that life would be a challenge.  
To suffer some anxiety, some depression, some disappointment, even some failure is normal.  
Teach our members that if they have a good miserable day once in awhile. or several in a row, to  stand steady and face them.  
Things will straighten out.  
There is great purpose in our struggle in life."  

And from one of my faves, Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Elder Oak's father was 37 and a recent med school graduate, just starting his opthamology practice, when he died of tuberculosis.  He left behind a widow, three young children (of which Dallin was the oldest at 8 years of age), and a mountain of medical school debt.  Dallin's mother went through a significant bout of depression for a period of time so he and his siblings were sent off to live with his grandparents for a long stretch. Dallin struggled in school and was at one point called the "dumbest boy in the room".  He remembers on one occasion when classmates threw rocks at him and called him stupid.  During his years at BYU he worked 30 hours a week for .75 cents an hour.   He and his wife June and their young family had many lean years as he pursued his bachelors degree and later law school at the University of Chicago. 

Speaking of trials, he is quoted as saying, 
" should have a measure of gratitude for these experiences... the strengths you develop by this means will be with you in the eternities to come.   
Feel no envy for those whose financial or intellectual resources make it easy.  
The stuff of growth was never made of ease, 
and the persons who have it easy will need to experience their growth with other sacrifices,  or forgo the advancement that is the purpose of life."

Good timber does not grow with ease.
The stronger winds, the tougher trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sin and cold and rain and snow,
In "trees or man" good timbers grow.

May God bless us to take advantage of our opportunities and adversities and to grow by them.

Monday, February 25, 2013

It's official!

This gal is going to be heading off to BYU Idaho in the Fall.  She is so excited.  She spent a great deal of time saturday looking at apartments online so that she could decide whether or not she wants to live on campus in the dorms or not.  She has several friends going up at the same time which makes it seem even more fun.  
She is so ready!  
Jensen has always been an independent little thing from the time she was a toddler.  
She isn't fearful of new experiences at all and just plunges in, never looking back.  
I'm sure she will have bouts of homesickness at the beginning but I don't worry about her a bit.  
She is going to be a great student and have the time of her life.  
Only 7 more months and I will have a college kid.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Praying for Sister Hickey

Many months ago - maybe as long as a year ago - a friend in my ward that our family loves very much stood in fast and testimony meeting and shared that her sweet mother (who lives in a neighboring state) had been diagnosed with breast cancer for the 2nd time.  Her mother had successfully battled breast cancer five years before and although it had been really hard, she was facing this latest diagnosis with tremendous faith and hope.  

We talked about it that night as a family and how touched we were by this loving daughter's testimony and hope that her mother would come out of this successfully again.  We decided to pray for Sister Hickey's health and strength - even though we did not know her.

Every single family prayer that I can remember since then (and I am sure many personal prayers) have included lots of people that we are mindful of.  People that are facing illness, unemployment, and trials of faith.  But never has Sister Hickey been forgotten.  I was surprised at this, especially my young children, since we did not know her personally.

Two Sundays ago we had a really sweet experience.  I looked back in Relief Society and noticed a sweet woman that looked very much like my friend, Tana.  Her hair was very short as if it had been lost and working hard to grow back.  Then the RS president introduced her as Tana's mother, Sister Hickey who was visiting for the weekend.  My heart smiled throughout the lesson, thinking about this dear woman who had grown a place in our family's heart - through prayers on her behalf.

After the lesson, I went up to Sister Hickey and introduced myself and mentioned to her that our family had been praying for her.  Then Reagan and Brady walked up behind us.

"Reagan!"  I said, "Guess who this is!"  
It's Sister Hickey. 
Reagan immediately beamed.  "Sister Hickey!  
We have been praying for you!"
She gave her a huge hug.  
The embrace brought tears to my eyes.

Sister Hickey went on to explain that the first time she had gone through chemo it had laid her out.  She had been so sick and tired throughout the whole ordeal but this time she had been really blessed.  She had been able to do everything she had done before her diagnosis, including spending time with her family.  She said she had no doubt it was because of all the prayers.

I have no doubt it was the power of prayer either.  I'm so grateful for the sweet experience our family has had praying for someone we didn't even know and being able to see the miracle of prayer at work in her life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The LOST coin, the LOST sheep, and the LOST scout merit badge sash thingy...

You should know that as I  began my day this morning with prayer,  I asked that Heavenly Father would help me learn everything I need to learn from a specific trial I am wrestling with right now.  I prayed that He would take every opportunity to teach me and consecrate all the things I am going through for my good and the good of my family.  
And I meant it.

I went in the boys room and started clearing off their nightstand which required that I unlock the footlocker in their room and put some of the clutter on the nightstand away and 
I gasped when I saw this little jewel. 

I know, it seems like quite the overreaction for such a thing.  But you have no idea how long I have been looking for this!   I'm not even REALLY sure what it is called.  I know what it is for.  It is a sash that boy scouts wear over their scout shirt to hold all of their merit badges.  I know because it is my nemesis.  Anything requiring patch removal or application is.  I can sew.  I will sew if I have to but it is always screaming at me every time I turn around because it seems like there is always some patch that needs to be replaced or added and I can't ever find the time to get it done.  

Before Tanner's last court of honor, my dear sweet friend, Cheri, offered to take his sash and sew on all his badges for me and get him caught up to date.  What a sweet thing for her to do!  What a relief.  The court of honor went well, he earned several more badges to (sigh) add to the sash and I stuck it in a corner of the kitchen desk area as a visual reminder that I needed to add the patches to the sash whenever I got a chance.

Next thing I knew it was gone

 I looked high and low.  In fact, we all spent a good part of one Saturday morning looking for it.  We left no stone un-turned.  I was frustrated with myself because I thought perhaps I had absentmindedly thrown it away and now I would have to go allllllll the way back to the scout shop and purchase another one as well as all the merit badges and start from scratch.  

My family will tell you that I really hate to lose things.  
It's kind of a pet peeve.  
Truthfully, this bothered me for days.  
Where was that thing????  
Furthermore, my first instinct was to just take the time to go alllllll the way to the scout store, purchase everything and get the patches sewn on so I wouldn't forget about it before his next court of honor.  

But when I prayed to find it, I felt the answer was to  put it on the back burner and not worry about it right now.  It would show up eventually.  

I was skeptical.  
We really had looked EVERYWHERE!

That was 6 months ago.

Today when I found the sash thingy majigger tucked away in the boy's footlocker, I was so excited!  This meant alot of things to me!  
It meant I didn't have to find the time to go allllll the way to the scout store and purchase another one.  
It meant I didn't have to research which badges Tanner had already earned so that I could purchase replacements.  
It meant that I didn't have to start sewing from scratch.  
It meant that prayers are answered.....eventually.  

I also felt like Heavenly Father was saying, "Hello!  Earth to Shahna!"..."there is a lesson in here, have you figured it out?".  

I have. 

 Just like the Savior used parables to teach life lessons when He was on the Earth.   I think He was trying to teach me today.  There have been several instances lately, when I have felt Him trying to teach me about patience and faith.  That I should trust in his timing and exercise a little more faith.  

Okay a lot more faith.

If 6 months ago,  I had looked for fifteen minutes for that sash and found it somewhere with little effort, I would never have had the excitement I felt when I found it.  

I would not have had the reminder today that I needed.  

Sometimes the answer IS to just put it on the back burner and trust in Him and His timing.  
Things will turn up.  
They always do.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

guest post: (Kathryn Thompson) Drops of Awesome

Drops of Awesome

drops-of-awesome-010This post has been in my heart and on my mind for over a year now. I’ve talked about it. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve taught about it. I was waiting for the right time to post about it and now feels like that time. It’s a post about a tiny little moment that completely changed the way I see myself and others. As I think about it and act on what I learned, I find that I am changed in significant ways every single day.
It was a sunny school morning and I was walking Magoo to the bus stop. I don’t often walk him to the school bus. He’s in second grade and pretty independent and I’m usually busy getting myself and his sisters ready. I’m semi-nocturnal and I sleep later than I should most mornings.
When it’s time for school, he says goodbye and heads up the hill to the bus.
As we got half way to the bus, Magoo reached out and grabbed my hand in an uninhibited way that I knew wouldn’t happen many more times. He’s seven now but growing and how many 12-year-old boys do you see still swinging hands happily with their mommies?
I squeezed his hand, felt the rare Seattle sun on my face, and told him I loved him. I was nearly perfectly happy.
Just at that moment, the thought came into my mind, That’s awesome that you’re walking him to the bus stop and putting on this “mother of the year” act today. What about yesterday and the day before that? You hardly ever walk him to the bus. He’s probably holding your hand because he’s so desperate for the love and attention you haven’t been showing him.
My bubble had burst. I am a crap mom, I thought, as I looked down into his smiling face.
Then another thought came. Kathryn. What is wrong with you? You are being an awesome mom in this moment. Your child is happy. You are loving him and caring for him. He’s well fed and dressed. You’re walking to the bus stop in the early morning and you’re already wearing a bra for heck’s sake. Do not rob yourself of this moment’s joy because of what you failed to do yesterday or what you fear you might not do tomorrow.
This started me thinking of all the times I do something good while beating myself up for all the times I haven’t been perfect.
You’re worshiping in the temple? Woopty freakin do! How long has it been since you came here last? When are you likely to come again? You’re not good at this. This is a fluke.
Wow. So you cleaned the kitchen today. Want a cookie? That dirty rag has been on the counter for a week and those dishes you so righteously cleaned are from breakfast three days ago. You are embarrassing.
That was really nice of you to offer to watch your friend’s kids while she had surgery. Remember last week when you knew your neighbor was suffering from depression and you drove right by with a wave because you did not want to get sucked into the drama? You don’t really care about people. Not all the time.

How destructive are these kinds of thoughts?
As I said goodbye to Magoo and started to walk back home, my mind started to shift.
Drops of Awesome! I thought. Every time you do something good, something kind, something productive, it’s a drop in your Bucket of Awesome. You don’t lose drops for every misstep. You can only build. You can only fill.
I walked Magoo to the bus. Drop of Awesome!
I fed him fruit with breakfast. Drop of Awesome!
I told him I loved him. Drop of Awesome!
I wore a bra and brushed my teeth before schlepping it up that hill. Two Fat Drops of Awesome!
All day long I chanted these words in my head. I picked up that tootsie roll wrapper off the front porch instead of stepping over it for the eleventy hundredth time. Drop of Awesome! I unloaded one dish from the dishwasher when I walked through the kitchen on my way to the bathroom. Drop of Awesome! I texted my sad neighbor to say I was thinking about her. Drop of Awesome! I had a critical thought about one of my kids and I brushed it away and replaced it with love. Drop of Awesome!
When I started thinking about my life in terms of adding these little Drops of Awesome for every tiny act of good, I found that I was doing more and more of them because it’s a lot more fun to do good when you’re rewarded with joy, rather than being guilted about every failure in your past.
By the end of the day, I had realized something important. If I was spending time with my kids, really listening to them with attention in the moment, then I was a good listener, regardless of the 50 other times I’d brushed them off or multi-tasked while they were talking over the past week. If I was engaged in sincere prayer with my Heavenly Father, really communing with him and seeking his will, then I was a person who engages in sincere prayer, regardless of how my prayers were (or weren’t) yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.
As I added up these Drops of Awesome, I found that in those moments I actually became the person I had always wanted to be.
Have you ever said any of these things: “Well, I guess I don’t work out anymore,” because you missed one workout? Or, “I always fight with my brother. Our relationship is broken.” What about, “I’m kind of a nag to my spouse.” Or “I gossip and I always end up hurting people I love.” “I can’t stop spending money. We will never get out of debt.” “My house is always a disaster.”
These things are lies, depending on the next decision you make, the next Drop of Awesome you put in your bucket. You may have done these things or have a hard time with them but they don’t define you and you can change this very instant. You may not think you can change permanently but you can change the next choice you make. And as you change that one next tiny choice, you may think, I got this one Drop of Awesome but I may never be able to get another one again.
And that’s okay.
You made the right choice once. And in that moment you were the person you want to be and that is a triumph. For one night, you were a person who went to bed early. One morning you woke up and the first words out of your mouth were positive so you were a morning person in that moment. Bam! Drop of Awesome.
You do not need to wait three months to be who you want to be. Pick up ten things right now and say, “Drops of Awesome! I am someone who takes care of my house. That is who I am. I have proof.”
In the end, it’s really about allowing yourself to feel joy and allowing yourself to be proud of the small victories of life. This builds momentum and you want more drops in your bucket and when you don’t get as many, you pick yourself up and say, “What can I do next?”
Now, there are a whole lot of religious implications to this because, as a Christian, I believe that you are not the only one adding these Drops of Awesome to your bucket. Christ commanded us to be perfect, but through His atonement, He is with us every step of the way.
As an object lesson when I was teaching this to the teenage girls at church, I gave them each a small dropper and I put a 2-quart bowl on the table. I told them that throughout the lesson they would get the chance to put drops in the bucket for every Drop of Awesome they could think of that they’d done. I promised them that we would fill the bowl to overflowing by the end of the lesson.
With about 5 minutes to go, we had barely begun to fill the bowl and the girls were looking around at each other nervously. The promised overflow did not look likely. Were they not awesome enough?
At that point, I pulled out a large pitcher labeled ATONEMENT and poured water into the glass bowl until it was spilling out all over the table and the towel the bowl was resting on. The class went silent.
When we are in a relationship with Christ, striving as God’s sons and daughters to do His will, He pours more into our buckets than we can ever hope to imagine. He can fill us to overflowing with peace, with joy, with perfection, with Awesome. And then what do we do if our bucket is overflowing like that? Where does the Awesome go then?
I pulled out an identical bowl, twice the size of the original. Our capacity for joy and light increases. And we just keep working, one tiny drop at a time. And we don’t compare today’s drops to yesterday’s or tomorrow’s. And we live and we love and we repent when we do wrong and we allow ourselves to be glorious, beautiful, and dare I say perfect in Christ, children of God.
I believe in a God who loves us and roots for us and cheers for every Drop of Awesome we can manage. Our victories are His victories and He wants us to feel joy. Not later, when we no longer make mistakes, but right now.
I’m gonna close this uber long post out with a scripture from the Book of Mormon. I know many of you do not share my faith but I think you’ll find truth in these words:
“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.” (Alma 37:6)
Small and simple. Tiny drops. Go forth. Be Awesome.

Monday, February 4, 2013

January according to my iphone

 So much was going on in our household in the month of January....
 Brady played lots of basketball.  Brent and Tanner coached the 2nd grade Prosper Eagles.  They had practice twice a week and a game on Saturdays. 

 We celebrated this awesome lady's birthday at our Stake Primary Presidency mtg.  This chicka has been my saving grace for the last 4 and half years.  She is the peanut butter to my jelly, the yin to my yang, the Thelma to my Louise.   I love her so much and can't think of a better person on the planet. 
 We had a snow day in mid January.  Brady made  a snowman with Dad.
 The rest of us worked on a family project that I saw on the 71 toes blog.  I loved the idea and it was the perfect snowy day activity.  Each kid picked a part of the scripture to paint and is going to do a family home evening lesson on that portion.  Tanner picked "a house of prayer".  He painted the word "PRAYER" on the canvas and then gave us an awesome FHE lesson the following monday night on how to make our prayers more meaningful. 
He used this talk here as the foundation. 
Lindsey came and helped out too. She,  being the artistic one of my family. :O)
Here is a copy of the board he used when we brainstormed things we could pray for.  We kept it up for the week to remind us.  He did a great job and I learned alot of things that I can do to improve my personal prayers. 

Jensen went and got her senior pics done.  Here is a preview.
Tanner got a good start on his EAGLE PROJECT. He has decided to do a shoe drive for this charity. For more information about Project Sole see this. He drove out to Carrollton and took pictures of their warehouse and met with the President of the charity to find out what he could do to help and got the project approved through the local BSA. He also spoke with our district's superintendent who told him he could put drop boxes in all the Prosper schools. 

January wasn't exactly stress free for me.  I had to laugh when I saw this on my photo stream.  This was on a very stressful day.  At the end of it, I took this picture and texted it to my sister.  Sometimes a warm bubble bath and people magazine can be a HUGE, helpful distraction. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

We be jammin'

Went to one of my favorite friend's house yesterday afternoon to learn how to make her famous (well atleast its famous at my house)
strawberry freezer jam. 
There are not very many pictures.  Janette made me swear not to put bad pictures of her on the web.  Truly - and I tell her this ALL THE TIME - she is one of THE most photogentic people I know.  I don't think she has ever taken a bad picture in her life.  But in the ONE pic I took of her yesterday she had her eyes half closed so as a loyal friend, I am not including it.
Strawberry Freezer jam requires strawberries, water, sure jell, and granulated sugar.  Lots and lots of sugar.  So much sugar I could almost not believe it.  Like almost a pound of sugar per pint of jam. 
 No wonder my family can eat their weight in it!
The recipe we used is the one in the sure jell package, btw. 
It only LOOKS like spaghetti sauce.
i promise you it is pink sugary delightfulness.
We used 18 pints of strawberries, 30 lbs of sugar and 12 boxes of sure jell and it made almost 31 pints of jam.
I was so excited to bring my offering home to my adoring family that I forgot to pick Reagan up from play practice at the middle school. 
I am awesome that way sometimes.  
I was 10 minutes late.  Reagan was the last one picked up and the theater teacher, Mrs. Baumgarten was outside waiting with her. 
I felt horrible.
Guess what Mrs. Baumgarten got delivered on her doorstep last night?
Strawberry freezer jam comes in handy like that.