Monday, October 13, 2014

Things I've learned about God since becoming a parent

So, I know I can't really fully understand my Heavenly Father and what He goes through at this time; But I think I can say with some confidence that being a parent has given me some insight into His life that I never would have had otherwise. And I feel for Him. So much. And I fully believe in His divinity and infallibility, because only an infallible Father could deal with the things He's dealt with and not give into the temptation to just blow up the entire planet and be done with it all (and forget about sending out another "ark" first).

Some things I've learned about God since becoming a parent...

He feels responsible for us. He created us. I wonder sometimes if he regrets that decision. Then immediately reprimands himself for daring to entertain such a thought! I wonder if he ever lies awake nights (figuratively speaking) worried sick over the things we've said and done. How he's tried and tried to comfort us and help us and how we never seem to listen, but He keeps trying anyway because it's his job. 

We are always on His mind. Always. 

He really can see things more clearly than we can. As a parent myself, even with my own limited understanding, I will always have a longer perspective on life than my children. I can see the potential their choices and actions may hold for the future so much more clearly than they can. Even if God weren't omniscient (though I believe he is), he still has a far superior perspective on our lives than we do, and we'd be a whole lot better off listening to his counsel than that of our peers here on Earth. Earthly parents may err in their judgement, but he won't.

He is our biggest fan. I think many people tend to think of God as a chastising, critical, punishing kind of God. Sure, sometimes he has to chastise us. But even moreso he is out there cheering us on through our challenges. He throws a party every time we make a good choice. He brags about us to his other God friends when we endure and overcome.

It is His job to chastise us, but He doesn't enjoy it. Sure he would much rather see us all happy and contented and enjoying life. But there is no growth in that. God knows that we won't be "children" forever, that someday we will have to grow up and move out, and it's his job to prepare us for that day. And that means correcting our mistakes now so that we don't have to make them later, when there's no one else to turn to for comfort and guidance.

Sometimes He has to entrust others to take care of us. When I send my son off to school in the morning, I realize that I have very little control over what happens to him while he is away. I hope his teachers will be firm but gentle, that his classmates will be kind to him and that he will be kind to them. If he gets hurt on the playground, I won't be there to comfort him, but I hope someone else will be. If he drops his lunch all over the cafeteria floor, I pray someone will be charitable enough to share theirs. It is not God's job to raise up the broken-hearted, to feed the hungry, to recover the lost soul...That is our job. He inspires the goodness in us, but it is up to us to act.

He expects obedience, but He also knows when to let us make our own choices-- and our own mistakes. He gives us the scriptures, prophets, spiritual inspiration and guidance. But he doesn't make our choices for us. He's not the one who grows from our making mistakes and learning from them-- we are. He's not the one who benefits when we make a good choice-- we are.  What a gift he has given us!

He is the first to notice when we struggle, and the first to respond with open arms when we cry for aid. When one of my children is struggling, I notice. But I don't always run right away to help him. There is a value in letting my child sort through his own problems as much as he can before I intervene. I will know it is time to help when he asks for it. And when he does ask for it, I am there immediately (except, as mentioned before, when I can't be there and I have to trust someone else to take care of him). Sometimes my "help" may be simply a word of encouragement, a hug, a helping hand, or a full-on dragging out of the situation, depending on the severity of the challenge and my kid's capacity to cope. As attuned as I am to my childrens' needs, however, my attention pales in comparison to God's. There is never a moment when he is not mindful of our struggles. Even when they are the result of our own stupidity and stubbornness, he may let us tread water on our own for a while first to learn from the experience, but he will always provide a way for us to get out and move on when we pray for his help.

He is happy when we share, and devastated when we fight. I just sympathize with God a lot on this one. When my children are in conflict with each other, it breaks my heart-- not to mention my peace of mind. But when I witness them sharing, being kind to each other, forgiving each other, encouraging each other, then my whole soul sings! These are the moments that make the daily parenting struggle worth it. And I'm sure God would agree.

He wants us to surpass Him. That's right. One conclusion I've come to as a parent, is that while I try my best, I am far from perfect; and I hope and pray every day that somehow my children can grow up to be even better people than I am. Well, God may already be perfect, but he still has the highest of hopes and expectations for us. To be like him someday, at least, but if possible to be even better.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dressing My Truth: A Journey; Part One

Several months ago, I glanced over posts on my Facebook and Pinterest newsfeeds about something called Dressing Your Truth. What I gathered from it at the time was that it was just another way of finding out what colors to wear-- like the classic summer/autumn/winter/spring system. I didn't take it too seriously-- with clothing I never have. I just wear what I like, what I feel like wearing, or what fits my current function.

A couple weeks ago I was visiting with my sister-in-law and she mentioned the system to me and I finally became interested. For the rest of my post I'll make it easy on myself and assume my reader is already more-or-less familiar with the system. So if you're not, and you're interested in learning more, visit to sign up for the free email course.

I watched the course, and concluded that I am a Type 3, with a secondary Type 1 energy. This system is about so much more than what colors to wear, or wearing what's "in fashion"! It's about dressing in a way that fits our brand of energy and drive; dressing in a way that helps us to focus our natural gifts, and to also be taken more seriously by the rest of the world.

I'll admit at first I was a little skeptical. Especially as a Type 3, which is culturally-speaking a rather non-feminine movement. Type 1 is light and free. Type 2 is soft and relaxed. Type 4 is simple and elegant. Type 3, though, is none of these. Type 3 seemed so intense and pushy. Intimidating. That's the word-- Intimidating. The one thing I have tried so so hard not to be, and according to Carol Tuttle, it's "just my nature"!

How on Earth was dressing as a Type 3 supposed to help myself or anyone else?

I had to stew over this for a while...

So I thought about the times I've dressed as a Type 1, in light, cheerful colors and bouyant textures. I suppose I wanted to portray myself as someone who was light-hearted, happy, fun to be around, approachable, bubbly.

But I am not bubbly. I try to be, and I fall flat. It's my secondary Type, but it's not how I lead, so I can only keep up the facade for so long before I end up disappointing myself. And apparently everyone else too. Because they see this woman dressed this way and subconsciously expect a cheerful, bouncy person, and what they get is not what they see.

Then I thought about when I've dressed more as a Type 2, in relaxed, comfortable clothing in subdued colors. Actually, I only usually wear clothing like this when I'm in my own home or when I'm going somewhere where I don't care about making a good impression (like the grocery store). The clothes feel good on me, but I know I look rather frumpy in them. Also they make me feel tired.

But what if I did wear this type of clothing trying to make an impression? The people around me would expect someone relaxed and slow-flowing, a more motherly nurturing type, perhaps-- a peacemaker. Again, they would be liable to be disappointed. Because I am very much the reverse of relaxed and slow. I want to get things done, and I want to get them done NOW. And if I'm trying to inspire others to likewise spring into action, that motivation is hardly likely to come from a woman dressed as a hippie grandma (Okay, I'm having a little fun with Type 2, no offense to those are this Type, as Carol Tuttle points out, those who really are Type 2 will look beautiful in Type 2 clothing, it's just not my Type).

Then I thought about dressing as a Type 4. I actually love the Type 4 color pallette: black and/or white contrasted with bold statement colors. I actually think I look good in Type 4 clothing for the most part. Subconsciously I think I have turned to this style in my attempts to get people to take me more seriously as a woman who means business. Makes sense, considering what's typically considered "business wear" in the fashion community.

But, again, I am giving the wrong impression. The type of "business" I usually mean is not micro-management; perfecting pieces, products, or systems; or doing things "the right way." I just want to get things done. I don't want to spend precious time perfecting an already-acceptable job when I could be moving on to the next project, like, yesterday. Come on people! Let's move it!

My family will attest to the fact that I am constantly trying to get them to MOVE. Get up and get dressed. Now. Stop talking so much and eat your breakfast. It's time to go. Now. Good grief where are your shoes? Put down the book and find your shoes! You don't know where they are? Look, they're right there. (My family will also tell you I can almost always find what they are looking for, even though our house is a mess). Get off the computer, it's time for dinner. I didn't mean ten minutes from now I meant NOW. Come on let's get in the car. We don't have time for this!

And so on.

Even when we're out having fun, I'm a driver. Okay, we've spent enough time here, let's move on to the next activity. Was that good ice cream? Good. Let's run to the bathroom and clean you up before you get the whole place all sticky.

Admittedly, we all could benefit if I would just lighten up a little. And I try. I really do.

Supposedly as a Type 3 I should be better at motivating people. I should be striking people as a ready, active, dynamic go-getter, But no one-- most particularly my family-- seems to take me seriously. It doesn't help I suppose that my husband is a Type 2, my oldest son is a Type 1, and I'm not sure about my other two boys but I suspect my middle child is also a 2 and only my youngest is possibly a Type 3 like me (oh yeah, he and I are going to have so much fun together when his older two brothers are in school next year!).

Could it really make a difference if I started dressing more like the Type 3 woman I am?

But then I come back my original concern: What if it makes me too intimidating?

Then I answer myself, I'm already intimidating. And it's possible that dressing as something other than what I am actually makes me even moreso. How? Because when my drive is not being taken seriously, I get stressed out and upset. I turn into a raging bull. But what I really want to be is a fierce-but-graceful lioness. Everyone is going to run from the bull, and I can hardly blame them, I must be dang scary like that! Not to mention it makes me clumsy and rather destructive. But they might actually stick around a while to appreciate the lioness and be inspired by her outwardly-poised-inwardly-fervent demeanor. In other words, full of ready kinetic energy, just waiting for the right moment to spring into action to make this world a richer place.

Could "dressing my truth" really work? There's one way to find out......

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Time flies....and then it doesn't....

I was talking with a friend the other day and mentioned how certain times in my kids' lives seem to either go by quickly or slowly. How sometimes I'll look at one of my boys and think "How did he get so big/mature?" And other times I'll look at one of them and think "Is he still only __ years/months old?"

Generally, I find the "fast" times have occurred through most of infancy, with a slower period once the kid turns 2, with the pace quickening again once they're fully potty trained-- for us, that's been around age 3 1/2 to 4.

Yeah, I don't like potty all...

So the previous couple years went by pretty rapidly for me, like I'm looking back and can't believe that much time has passed and how many things have happened in that time. But now my youngest just turned 2 years old in March, and I find myself in another slow period and I can't believe only nine weeks have passed since his birthday. Because based on how quickly time seemed to be passing before, it feels like he should be at least 2 1/2 already! Funny how time plays tricks on us like that...

On the other hand, Z will be 5 years old in just three short months. He has grown up so much in the last year!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When the burden is just too great...

The other night, I was in the bathroom when my toddler started screaming. I of coursed opened the door, to see him about three steps up the stairwell, trying to carry up a large wooden stool (large to him, not to an adult) that had gotten stuck and now he couldn't figure out how to get it up the rest of the stairs. He was very frustrated, but I knew he wasn't a quitter by nature and that he often manages to figure out these dilemmas for himself. So, I let him struggle.

Apparently he decided it was too much for him, however, and after several more seconds of struggling, he stopped screaming and let go of the stool. It tumbled down the 3-4 steps he has previously managed to traverse, and as it did so a look of utter defeat went over my boy's entire body and he started to cry a most heartbreaking cry.

I sat at the top of the steps and invited him to come and get a hug, which he did. I comforted him as best I could.

But, the most surprising-- and gratifying-- part of the story has yet to be told...

My 4-yo took notice of the entire episode, and in a bout of brotherly compassion and love, he approached C and said, "It's okay, C, I'll get it for you." And he went downstairs, picked up the stool, and carried it up the stairs for his little brother. Then, he asked C where he wanted it, and C showed him. And C said, "Oh! Thank you Z!" In a tone that implied, "You are my hero!" And he was happy again.

There is a life lesson to be learned here.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas Letter 2013

Happy New Year!

It's been ages since I've posted. It's time to post my family's "Christmas letter" for 2013. Typically, I send hard copies of this letter in the mail to all the family, but this year I dropped the ball. I hope they can forgive me. Life has been so busy lately, and mostly with good things. But the current of time flows so strongly and so fast and it's all I can do most days to just stay afloat. Every year Nick and I say to each other, "maybe this next year things will slow down a bit..." who are we kidding?

Credit for the pics goes to my sister-in-law. My boys are just adorable :)

Note: is the following copy of our letter, I am using initials for each of my boys: G is my 6-yo, Z is my 4-yo and C is the toddler :)

Merry Christmas from the L____ Family!

2013 was probably our most exciting and busy year yet! It really has been a year to remember…

C celebrated his first birthday early this year. He has proven to be a very active, curious, precocious toddler. He tries to climb up and jump off anything and everything—it’s a miracle he hasn’t landed himself in the ER yet *knock on wood*. We have a joke around here that “it isn’t truly child-proof until it’s C-proof.” He keeps us on our toes, but he’s a lot of fun, too, and makes us laugh on many occasions.

Z is now a four-year-old. Sometimes he still acts like a two-year-old (thanks to the influence of his toddler brother, no doubt), and other times he acts so mature I forget how young he really is. He has an incredible imagination, and an eye for detail. He loves to alternately wrestle and snuggle, depending on the time of day (usually snuggling in the morning and wrestling in the evening, though we often wish it was the other way around).

G turned six at the beginning of the year, and is now in First Grade. He loves to learn and is at the top of his class in reading, even though he is in a multi-age class with first graders and second-graders. He sometimes struggles socially, but he is turning into a very mature and responsible boy. He even does his chores on Saturday without prompting (of course, there is a reward of video game time once he’s finished). He has started learning about computer programming and wants to design video games when he grows up; he has a video game concept he’s been imagining up since the beginning of the school year called “FIG Games,” and if you ask him about it he will be happy to talk about it all day ;-)

Sylvia kept busy this year, first and foremost keeping up with three busy boys! But she also made time in her schedule to plan her ten-year high school class reunion, prepare our condo for market (and later to rent), house hunt, move into our new house, and plan a trip to California. She is going to start giving music lessons in the new year to bring in a little extra family income.

Nick also kept busy with his Scout calling; work; our big move; and going on 50-mile hike with his dad, brother, and sister, into the Bob Marshall Wilderness in the summer. The hike took most of a week, and also happened to be the week Sylvia found and made an offer on our new house, which at first he was not thrilled about (not being there) but he came around—mostly because he loves his wife and wants her to be happy :)

Nick and Sylvia celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary, and look forward to many many more to come.

We also enjoyed two family vacations this year—the first in the Spring, at a condo in Columbia Falls (which Nick’s mom was able to get for us on a time share she owns which she was unable to use this year); and the second going down to California to spend time with Sylvia’s family and to attend her class reunion. We took the train to California, and along the way were able to visit Sylvia’s sister and family briefly in Portland. Sylvia’s parents also took the family to Disneyland for a day, and the boys had a lot of fun—even C. G got to miss two whole weeks of school, but took some school work along and kept a journal which he got to share with his class when he returned to school; it was pretty adorable.

We are thoroughly enjoying our new home—hiccups and all (like some temporarily frozen pipes this winter, but things seem to be fine now). And we are eager to share it with anyone who cares to come and visit us way up here in beautiful Big Sky Country.

All in all, we have had an exciting and wonderful year. We are looking forward to what awaits us in 2014!

With Love,

The L______s