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 

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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

We Love to See the Temple

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On Tuesday The Captain and I took lunch to Wild Man and work and visited with him for a little while. On our way home something kind of special happened and I wanted to share the experience.

Before we had our son Wild Man and I were awesome at going to the temple. For more than a year after we were first married we went once a week and once that became a little more difficult we still were able to be there once a month, if not twice. When I got pregnant is when things started to slow down – way down. I was always terrified to be in the temple for fear of throwing up and not being able to make it to a garbage can, or passing out or who knows what else could happen to a sick pregnant lady. I know it was wrong, but that became my excuse as to why we couldn’t go very often. Then we had our baby and the temple has embarrassingly basically become a distant memory.

I know that when you become a parent getting to the temple is harder, but its certainly not impossible. People do it all the time, yet I was still making that my excuse. I couldn’t make weekly or even monthly time for the temple because I had a child. (shaking my head at myself)

As I was driving home with H chatting in the backseat I was thinking about this. I made a mental note that we needed to get there and soon. Almost immediately after I thought that another thought popped into my head – and I don’t think it was a thought of my own – that said, “then go.” I kind of shook it off and thought again that we need to go soon. Then the other voice in my head said, “then go.” I will, I thought to myself, but again I heard, “then go!” a little louder.

Um. I couldn’t go. Not right now! I had my one year-old in the back seat and you can’t enter in the temple until you are eight, everyone knows that. But again and louder I heard it, “then go!” More excuses popped into my head. Am I just supposed to stand outside? I can’t go in with H. It’d be silly to just stand outside, its freezing! I thought of every excuse I could, but then I also thought about how both H and I had our big winter coats in the car. We could wear those? But wouldn’t people think we were weird or think I’m a bad parent for taking my young child out in twenty degree weather to stand on the temple grounds for a while? And as you could probably guess, I heard it again. “Then go!

So I changed my course and we drove to the Provo Temple.

I’m embarrassed it took me so long and that I came up with so many excuses to not go. Because the second my car pulled into the temple parking lot my eyes immediately filled with tears and my heart and stomach felt like a fire was burning inside them. All the sudden I realized just how badly I needed to be there. I didn’t need to be physically inside the temple, I just needed to be in the presence of the temple and be able to feel the peace that radiates from it on its grounds.

H and I bundled up in our coats and hats and I carried him to the front of the temple and sat him down. Immediately he began running around and headed straight towards the fountains. We spent the next half hour pacing around the beautiful temple grounds as that same spirit kept raging inside me. I would look at my son and feel overwhelmed with love as I thought of our eternal family and how blessed we are. I felt so peaceful and joyful and like everything was right in my world for those thirty minutes. I was so happy I’d finally listened to the prompting and gone to the temple with my son.

I had no idea that I was in need of a spiritual boost and just a boost of heart. I had no idea how badly I needed to be on the temple grounds and to feel the spirit so strongly. It reset my heart and mind and gave me renewed perspective and positivity. It charged my battery exactly how I needed it to – even though I didn’t know I needed it. The Lord works in such amazing ways.

It was the highlight of my year so far. Being on the temple grounds chasing my sweet son and talking to him a little bit about the gospel and saying a quiet prayer in my heart. A sculpture of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus were up in front of the temple and that made the experience all the sweeter. It was incredible.

I want to also remind all the parents that even when you think you don’t have time for the temple because you’re a busy mother or father – you do! Heavenly Father loves you and He understands your situation and sometimes just being on the temple grounds is enough. I truly believe this now. (though I definitely still recommend planning a date to go inside the temple)

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#LightTheWorld

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

December 19: Jesus Calmed the Storm and So Can You: I took this one as lightening someones burden. A family in our ward recently experienced a death and I was able to help them prepare for the funeral and was able to cater to some of their needs.

December 20: Jesus Saw Potential in Others and So Can You: I was so excited for this one because this is something I feel like I’m always trying to work on. Its so good to see people for what they can become, rather than view them and judge them negatively. I made a list of the people in my life who I see/talk to/think about regularly and listed several things about them I loved. I also was able to focus on a certain situation in my life where I realized I need to forgive someone. It was an eye opening day.

December 21: Jesus Forgave Others and So Can You: Going along with the way I ended December 20th, I continued to work on forgiving people who I realized I’ve held grudges against. Is it bad that sometimes I forget how freeing forgiveness is?

December 22: Jesus Showed Gratitude and So Can You: Thank you cards for everyone! Its odd to me how often we (myself definitely included) forget to thank people for what they do and how they act. Its easy, its uplifting and its so, so important!

December 23: Jesus Was a Peacemaker and You Can Be One Too: I took this one very seriously. It was also a personal day with this prompt for me. But I will say it left me very inspired to pull out the inner peacemaker in me.

December 24: Jesus Cared for His Loved Ones and So Can You: What a perfect prompt to fall on Christmas Eve! We spent time together as our family of three and with each of our families. I tried to be mindful of our family members, let them know I cared for them and loved them, listened to them and had an enjoyable time with them. I was also reminded just how important it is to make sure as a mother I am caring for my husband and son and making them my first and most important priority.

December 25: Jesus’s Disciples Followed Him and So Can We: Cue the tears. Why this prompt strikes my heart so much, I don’t know. But I love it. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, I love Him and I will follow Him. We have church today and as easy as it would be to skip out, we are going because thats where Jesus would be and would want us to be. The New Year is fast approaching and as I’m working on my list of resolutions I want to make sure Christ is at the top of it. I want to live life like He would. I want to make Him proud and do as He would do.

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

#LightTheWorld

December 5: Jesus Healed the Sick and So Can You: Quite honestly I didn’t do great on this day. Boo. I wanted to take the challenge and learn CPR, etc. I’ve been meaning to update my skills since H is now one and I know life saving skills are a little different with a one-year old as opposed to a newborn but somehow it slipped my mind. Its on my to-do list though. I’d also love to serve some people in my ward who I know are suffering from illness.

December 6: Jesus Read the Scriptures and So Can You: This was my favorite day so far. We were encouraged to post our favorite scripture on social media or send our favorite scripture to someone. I loved scrolling through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and being able to read so, so many amazing scriptures. It was so uplifting and an amazing break from the garbage and negativity you can easily find on social media. I will include the picture I added on social media of my favorite scripture!

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December 7: Jesus Fed the Hungry and So Can You: Without going into too much detail, a family in my ward is struggling this year. A couple other women from our ward and myself put together a plan to make sure they at least have the necessities this Christmas season – our focus was on meal plans, but I understand there are others who are helping them with money and gifts. I love when people come together to help those in need.

December 8: Jesus Prayed for Others and So Can You: I am good at praying every day morning and night and then some. I am good at praying for myself, for my husband, for my son and for our families – but I am not very good at praying for others. I’m pretty embarrassed about that. I don’t know why I always forget to, considering I know so, so many people have prayed for me before – so why can’t I return the favor? I was really happy to be challenged to actively pray for others and look and listen for people who need prayers. We were challenged to pray aloud – something I’ve only recently got good at since praying with H. The thing I focused the most on was thinking of people we know who are going through something and could use prayers. Lately a lot of people that I know or that I just follow on Social Media or who I’ve even just heard of, have been experiencing big hardships. It was really special to pray for them and I felt a new kind of spirit as I prayed. Its really inspired me to up my game and be much, much better at praying for others! I’ll also get better at praying for help in finding those who need my prayers.

December 9: Jesus Visited the Lonely and So Can You: I wasn’t very active on this days prompt. A suggestion the prompt gave was to send friendly texts to people who could use it. So I rounded up a list of names and just checked in with people and we caught up and chatted.

December 10: Jesus Helped People Walk and So Can You: I was lousy at this one, too. But I plan on helping my elderly neighbors as I see they need assistance this season. As I’ve stated before we have several elderly people living very close to us and I know they would happily accept service I can give.

December 11: Jesus Ministered to Children and So Can You: This one was exciting since I have a child of my own. I love that it suggests giving a picture of Christ to your child and I fully intend on making sure there is a picture of Christ hanging in H’s room before the New Year. Basically what I’ve done on this day is focus on my child. I am showing him love, spending time with him and reminding him he is loved and special, as well as working on new tricks he’s been learning.

xoxo

ceeceesparkles