How I Prepare for General Conference

General Conference starts a week from today! Who’s excited?

*picture me enthusiastically raising my hand*

I always look forward to General Conference every 6 months, but I’m especially excited for this particular Conference. Rumor has it, there is going to be some announcements made. What about? I don’t think anyone really knows, but there are lots of speculations, theories and predictions out there. Some seem more believable than others, but I’m not getting too hooked on any of them since no one really knows what the announcements could be yet. I’ve also heard that its possible the announcements could be a little uncomfy for some members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints. Thats what I’m most curious about. What on earth could it be?? Luckily I only have a week to wait. I feel calm about the announcements that will be made – I have a testimony that our Prophet, President Nelson gets direction and guidance from the Lord and the things that are going to happen are what God wants. So I’m not worried about my testimony being shaken or my faith wavering, I’m just anxious to hear what it is. If you want to know what these announcements are that will be made, along with hearing some amazing, inspiring talks and beautiful music, I highly suggest you tune in and watch/listen to/read General Conference (Oct 6-7).

The week before General Conference is a big one for me. I am always trying to be a good person throughout the whole year, but I feel like the week before Conference I really up my game because I want to be as prepared as I can be when I hear the words spoken during General Conference. I want to be able to soak in as much of the talks as I can, feel as much of the spirit as I can and be able to learn the things the Lord wants me to learn from the sessions of Conference. Its an exciting time for me that I look forward to.

Here is how I prepare for General Conference:

  • Throughout the six months in between Conferences, I read the talks that were given in the most recent sessions several times. I like to listen to them or read them a few times so I am able to really let the lessons and words soak in. Its also a really great way to set the tone for your day when you listen to a talk in the morning while you get ready – thats my favorite way to do it.
  • The week before Conference I pray specifically to be ready to hear what I need to. I ask that I can be open to hearing whatever kind of guidance I may need and that I will be able to remember the things I’ve learned specifically for myself and that I can act on the promptings I will receive.
  • I come up with 1-5 questions to seek answers to during Conference. A Seminary teacher suggested doing things years ago and I absolutely love it. I come up with a few questions, I pray about them and ask that if its possible, I find the answers or some direction to these questions while I listen to the talks and music. I’ve had several very personal, powerful and special moments during Conference when a question is answered in a simple phrase during a talk. Its amazing and definitely makes my testimony grow. It reminds me just how mindful Heavenly Father is of me, and even my simple, probably not super important questions.
  • I get lots of activities for my kids. I love to take notes during Conference and thats significantly more difficult with children. I make sure I have a lot of things to keep them occupied for as long as possible while I watch so I can focus as best as I can.
  • I make sure I have whatever notebook I’m using to take notes in and some pens that I like to write with. I love taking notes on General Conference and its even more fun with fun, easy-to-write-with pens!
  • I study the scriptures better. I’ve been a slacker with scripture study lately. I read them, but I don’t really study them as much as I should. But I feel like I do a lot better the week leading up to Conference.

What do you do to prepare??

I hope you have a wonderful week before General Conference and I hope you watch/listen to or read the talks!! Theres something in Conference for everyone!

 

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Hashtag Blessed

This past Sunday our sweet little E was blessed by his dad. We were able to bless him in our home, like we did with H. It was special and sweet and there was an overall, undeniable feeling that our little boy was going to be a good, good person. I am so grateful to be his mom. I am thankful for the Priesthood and to have a husband who holds it, honors it and respects it. I am thankful for my lovely eternal family and all of the many blessings Heavenly Father gives me and my family.

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Spiritual Sunday: Mom-Love

Sometimes being a mom is really, really hard. Not for the reason you automatically think though. Its not because my kids are hard – I’m actually very fortunate to have two good, very well mannered boys. I’m lucky. Its hard because I make it hard. Its taken me a while to admit that I’m the reason I feel the way I do sometimes. Its not always hard, but lately its hard a lot of the time. I know without a doubt that its because I AM SO DANG HARD ON MYSELF. I expect myself to be strong and tough and perfect and flexible and able to function while spreading myself thin. I have this vision of a ‘perfect’ mother and for some reason I get caught up in expecting myself to be that mom. That mom that 100% does not exist.

Am I the only one like this? I sure hope not. I tell myself I’m not. Thats why I’m doing this post. In case there are other moms who get stuck in this rut of mom guilt and being really, really, really hard on yourself and you need a boost. Maybe I can be a small little boost for you.

When I’m needing my own boost I typically turn to words. In writing and venting it out, yes, but also reading other peoples words. I’m all about inspirational, uplifting quotes and scriptures that instill hope. Over the last couple weeks of battling my mom-demons I’ve compiled my own list of moral boosting quotes and I’ll be sharing them here today with you guys. I hope at least one can make you feel a little lighter and more confident in yourself. Because ladies, we as moms are freaking awesome. There is no reason for us to be so hard on ourselves. As long as we love our children, ourselves and are doing the best we can – then we are being good mamas. Promise. Easier said than done, I get it. But for real. We are good and we are strong and amazing and everything our children need.

“God will be as close to us as we will have him.”

-Marvin J. Ashton-

“Now when our hearts were depressed and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren the Laminates and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.”

-Alma 26:27-

“We learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass.”

-President Thomas S. Monson-

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

-Jeremiah 29:13-

“She woke up every morning with the option of being anyone she wished. How beautiful it was that she always chose herself.”

-Tyler Kent White-

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

-Isaiah 4:10-

“Your prayers for those in need are heard and answered by a loving God. He neither slumbers nor does he sleep.”

-Henry B. Eyring-

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

Pray. Say thank you. 

I woke up with my husband this morning – which is code for: I woke up really early this morning. Like 5 or something gross like that. Of course, he didn’t know I woke up because I laid there with my eyes closed trying desperately to fall back asleep. I’m almost 35 weeks pregnant, so it’s no surprise that I didn’t have a great night of sleep last night. Our sweet little H who has been struggling to sleep all night lately laid beside me sleeping soundly and I was jealous. He looked so relaxed. So I tried really, really hard to fall back asleep. But every time I felt like I was at the brink of sleep, something would wake me up again. A movement from H, a sound from Wild Man out in the kitchen, a wiggle from baby boy, a sharp pain in my hip or another charlie horse in my leg. It was weird. It was like everything but my own brain was telling me to stay awake. 

I heard Wild Man leave and I could hear the dog adjust in her kennel out in the living room. Then there was silence. I laid in our dark room with my eyes open just wishing I was asleep. There seemed to be absolutely no reason to be awake at such an early hour. Then, what felt like out of nowhere I had a thought pop into my head: Pray. Say thank you. 

I’m a little bit embarrassed to say I didn’t immediately start a prayer. H was wiggling around and I was watching his funny little sleeping faces. Baby boy was also wiggling and I was trying to figure out what body part it was I could feel. I knew I should pray, but I guess in my mind I thought it could wait so I brushed it off. Both of my boys settled again and as I sat in the stillness and quiet and looked at H’s perfect little face I heard it run through my mind again: Pray! Say thank you! This time the thought was accompanied with a realization that it is because of Heavenly Father, who I pray to, that I have my sweet, healthy, almost two year old, my wiggly baby boy in my stomach and an incredible husband. I knew exactly what I was supposed to say thank you for now. 

I didn’t even sit up or kneel. I stayed in the same position in bed with my toddlers left arm draped over my face and his feet tucked under my belly. I closed my eyes and said a prayer in my mind. I thanked Heavenly Father for my many, many blessings – especially for my wonderful family. It wasn’t a long prayer and it didn’t feel particularly powerful. When I finished it, I didn’t feel as if I’d had some incredible experience. But as I sat there I came to realize I was feeling something I haven’t really felt the past week. 

I felt peace

I’m not sure what it’s been about the past little while in my life, but it’s been hard for me not to feel overwhelmed, inadequate or like I’m doing my role as a wife and mother. I have been easily upset at myself, I’ve been impatient, emotional and feeling very off. It’s been a struggle. I have a lot of craziness running through me, likely since I’ll be having a baby soon – but I felt like there was even more to it. I was a mess and my mind was a mess and (a lot like my house, lately) I couldn’t get it cleaned up and organized which just caused me to feel less and less peaceful and…ok. 

My shoulders felt a little lighter after this prayer. I felt like the elephant that’s been crushing my chest lately was gone – or at least less paralyzing – and I could feel my regular happiness starting to familiarize itself with my body again. That’s when I realized that this whole time I’ve been feeling miserable for myself, I’d been praying the whole time, but I was always asking for things. I was asking for help. Begging for relief. For things to go my way.  Complaining and venting. But I never stopped to take the time to pray about what was going right – what I was thankful for. It hit me like a ton of bricks. THATS why I was feeling off and that’s why my life seemed as if it had a little extra level of difficulty to it that I couldn’t figure out how to effectively combat. I wasn’t thanking Heavenly Father for my blessings! 

The sun hasn’t even come up yet. It’s not even 7 in the morning yet. Who knows if I’ll fall back asleep this morning or not. But I am grateful I woke up at 5am this morning (NEVER thought I’d say that) and they I finally said a prayer of thanks. I hope it has set the tone for my day. I hope this can be what flips this weird month around for me. I hope I will remember this experience and not go so long without being thankful for my blessings. I feel so good. I feel so light and happy. I feel like I was a dead battery and am now fully charged and ready to go. My mind is much clearer. 

It’s funny how the Lord works sometimes. But it’s always in the most perfect way for our individual needs. He answers prayers in His own way and His own timing and it’s always just what we need. 

Now let’s hope that with all this newfound light and clarity, my body and house can get on board 😉 

xoxo

ceeceesparkles 

One of My Favorites…

Great news. General Conference is right around the corner. September 30-October 1st, to be exact.

As I’ve been preparing for the upcoming Conference I was trying to decide what my current favorite talk has been. Obviously they’re all amazing and inspired, but some just hit you in a stronger, more powerful way. Quite a few have done this for me but I can’t help but think of one in particular.

It was a talk by Elder Holland in October of 2015. It was titled, “Behold Thy Mother.” When this talk was given I was 8 months pregnant with my first child so I remember listening so intently because I wanted all the council I could get in hopes of becoming a good mom to my son. The talk not only inspired me and made me cry my eyes out, but it has planted itself in my brain so much that I have found myself going back and reading it at least once a month, if not more, to check in on myself and see if I’m being the mom I want to be.

Today I’m just going to share a few of my favorite snips of this talk. Really, I should just share the whole thing because its all incredible. But I’m going to shorten it a little to my favorite, most inspiring quotes. But if you want to read the whole talk (you do, i promise) then you can find it here.

“No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.”

“It is not only that they bear us, but they continue bearing with us.”

“Maternal love has to be divine. There is no other explanation for it. What mothers do is an essential element in Christ’s work.”

“To all mothers everywhere, past, present or future, I say, “Thank you. Thank you for giving birth, for shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure love of Christ.””

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

The Book of Mormon

A couple of weeks ago Wild Man and I were released from our callings in church as the Sunbeam teachers (kids ages 3-4). It was an entertaining calling and we both miss it more than we thought we would, but at basically 6 months pregnant I’m not going to lie – I am loving that I don’t have to chase these little ones for two hours during church anymore. Towards the end of our time in this calling I realized my attitude towards church was a little more negative because I didn’t love the calling I had. I know sometimes you’re called to callings that stretch and challenge you – and this one definitely did but the wind was definitely being taken out of my sails and I was very thankful to be released. I’d informed them that come November I wouldn’t be attending church much anyway while I kept my newborn quarantined. So it worked out. But this is all talk for a different post on a different day.

Now that I am released I get to go to Relief Society. I love Relief Society. I love being able to sit in the same room as a bunch of other great women just trying to do their best, be good moms/wives and be friends. My favorite part of being released from Sunbeams is absolutely that I get to be in Relief Society again. H is in nursery and loves it so its an hour just to myself – its therapeutic and wonderful.

Our lesson last week was one that really struck me. It was about The Book of Mormon and to be honest when I first heard that I assumed it’d be a lesson I wouldn’t be totally invested in. I don’t know why I felt that way because I know just how important the Book of Mormon is. Our teacher basically talked mostly about how reading The Book of Mormon consistently in her family has blessed her families lives in ways that wouldn’t otherwise happen if they weren’t reading the scriptures. Other women shared their stories of how reading The Book of Mormon has given them blessings and peace and guidance and honestly I haven’t felt the spirit that strong in church in a while. They were simple stories, but they were so real and special.

By myself I am pretty good at reading The Book of Mormon. I rarely miss days. But I realized that together as a family of three…I’m not sure if we have ever read the scriptures together. I hate that!

H is only one, but you build habits and traditions even when kids are tiny! Our Relief Society teacher mentioned that her youngest daughter said she doesn’t remember a time their family didn’t read scriptures together. That touched me. How cool would that be to grow up and never be able to remember a day when your family didn’t come together and read out of the greatest book we’ve been given? I want that for my kids! Don’t you?

I’ve ordered The Book of Mormon reader which is basically scripture stories with pictures so as my kids are a little order they can follow along the stories a little easier. But the more I think about it I think I want to read out of the actual scriptures with my kids, even when they’re little. For those of you who are rocking family scripture study, how have you done it with your smaller ones?

I’m so excited to get started on this and make the scriptures so much more prominent, important and a much, much higher priority! The Book of Mormon is important! All the time in church we hear that if we want to talk to Heavenly Father, we should pray to Him and if we want Him to talk to us, we should read the scriptures. Why would I deny my family of that blessing any longer?

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

Perspective

I get really, really caught up in things that I know better than to get wrapped up in. I start thinking the way I dress, the make up I buy and wear, the way I do my hair, the way I present myself and the state of my house is super important. I allow myself to believe that some of the most vital things are if the laundry is done, the floors are swept and mopped and if my home somehow doesn’t look like I have a hyper one year-old living in it when I actually do. Oh and don’t forget how important it is to be emotionally stable at all times and ensure that everything in your life is happy, bright and shiny. Of course its completely impossible to attain this kind of lifestyle, but somehow I still find myself in ruts when I strive to be that ‘perfect’ person with a ‘perfect’ life and so on.

Thank goodness Heavenly Father has His ways of reminding you very quickly that there are things SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT. Sometimes He reminds you in gentle, soft ways and other times He reminds you in loud, scary, earth shaking ways. But He always gets His point across and the reminder is blatantly there.

Not very long ago I got my reminder. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last, but it was a reminder unlike one I have every had in my life. It brought with it a lot of fear, worry and uncertainty, but it also brought an insane amount of miracles, blessings and life lessons like you wouldn’t believe. Its always weird to say you’re thankful for a trial (especially when you’re in the midst of it) but when you finally are able to even start getting the smallest glimpses of the bigger picture its amazing what you’re able to see and realize how much you have grown and how much growing you still have ahead of you. I think thats the stage I am in right now. There is a long road of understanding and comprehending ahead, but I have seen glimpses and I have already seen blessings and lessons surface and even though its easy to get swept up in ‘why me?’ and ‘this is terrible’ its kind of awesome to see what the Lord has in store for me and my family and our friends because of the trials He gives.

In short, if your house is messy and your dishes aren’t done and theres a pile of dirty laundry in your room – there is a lot more things of much greater importance that are in your life. If you didn’t do your hair or make up and you’re wearing dirty clothes, its not the end of the world. There are much more important things. If your home was left messy because you were spending time with your family or offering service to someone in need – in my opinion you’ve chosen the right task. Family, service, love and being there for one another is so much greater than vacuuming and making your bed every morning. I’m not saying your home can now turn into a disaster though. I just can’t stop thinking about how much more people are than what your house looks like. Priorities get mixed up I think. And also, its ok to cry! Its ok to be miserable and be confused. Its ok to tell people you aren’t happy and your heart is heavy. Its ok to show people that your life isn’t perfect. Its ok to fall apart sometimes and be raw and real and ask people for help and prayers. You don’t have to be perfect! Ever! Because no one is or every will be. I think its better if we embrace how messy and weird life is.

…can you tell I have a lot on my mind and have no idea how to properly voice it?

This is probably so jumbled and may not make any sense at all. But I have been feeling a lot of things lately and I just really felt like I wanted to share this and remind you guys we aren’t given challenges we can’t handle and we are given trials to learn from and grow from. I also want to remind you to be kind and respect people. Keep in mind you never know what they’re going through and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Say I love you, give support, lend a helping hand and don’t shy away from service. Let people vent to you, be a shoulder to cry on and never let people forget you are there for them. We are here to help each other, to love each other and to travel together on this journey. I’m grateful for those people in my life, for you reading this and especially for my wonderful family.

xoxo

ceeceesparkles