As I was getting ready yesterday and pondering the next verses I read in 2 Nephi 5, this picture came of mind of some signs I saw yesterday which pointed in every direction. Which way do we go? This image reminded me of the multiplicity …
Sometime the pull of oncoming depression seems to understandably appear: it is connected to hormonal cycles, when I feel exhausted and negative no matter how well I’ve been sleeping or eating or exercising. Other times it comes after a long string of days with hardly …
I decided that while I’m brainstorming every day, I’ll write some posts on the topic.
WHAT WE CHOOSE AFFECTS OUR EVERY DAY LIFE.
I know: that’s not news.
But what might be news is that we are constantly acting on choices whether or not we realize it. Sometimes we aren’t awake to what our choices are and how we are organizing our entire lives around those choices. When we deliberately (or not so deliberately) set and pursue a goal, it can have really far-reaching consequences! So we want to choose wisely, because whether we recognize it or not, we build our life around those choices. And those choices affect not only us, but all those around us!
FOR EXAMPLE, when I was young, my mom was a single mom, for about 5 years. I often watched TV as she taught piano lessons. While I was a fairly good reader, being on my own with time on my hands meant I chose TV more than reading. That is, until I started babysitting for a family (Candace’s) who adored reading. They had this wonderful wall of books that I had access to (and no TV) after I put the children to bed. I also spend a ton of time at another friend’s (Pargie’s) home, who also had a room full of books, and I saw what her family was reading. Our home teacher’s family were great also readers (no TV), and his wife (Sue) taught us using the scriptures and other great books in Sunday School. (I always wanted to read Adam Bede because of her quoting from it.) Another friend of mine (Charlotte’s) mother purchased great books to share with those who didn’t have the means to get them for themselves. I walked into her home one day and saw their kitchen table covered in piles of books. I was so inspired by all of these women’s examples and starting reading their books. Over the years, because of them, I have read and purchased some really fabulous books!
When I got to college, I realized that I hadn’t really read enough to be well-prepared for the classes I was taking. I decided that I would help my children be well-read before they got to college. So I started collecting good books. I bought books for my children’s birthdays, Christmas, Easter and any other special occasion. I read all the time to our children. Our library grew and so did their ability to read. One day, when I was organizing our library to fit my needs as a weekly reader in our elementary school, I found my own kitchen table covered in piles of good books.
Now our children are all good readers. I believe that they are capable of choosing wisely what to read and that they have or will have a solid reading ability and background before they head to college. My dream, over several decades, is being realized.
Achieving dreams all starts with a thought, a feeling, a desire. It can be such a small desire! Then you seek after that desire. You organize your life around it. And all of a sudden–maybe after years–you realize: hey! I am doing it! My dream is coming true!
(Just had to insert this song here, because we really like this song in our family. Not all the lyrics are meaningful or relevant, but it’s sure a cool song. And it’s somewhat related appropriately because it’s from the movie “Narnia,” and the family I babysat for adored The Chronicles of Narnia. 🙂 Tee hee.)
When your desires are centered on God’s desires for you, things eventually turn out awesome! God’s priorities are the ones that lead to happiness!
When we’re talking about creating a house of order, there is so much more to ORDER than simply organizing a cupboard. We’re talking about first choosing priorities that lead to wise choices and goals that you build your life and time and space around. God’s order means prioritizing our lives the way he recommends. It includes wisdom, pacing, and carefully choosing. Acting on these choices produces routines that we create in our daily, weekly, and monthly lives.
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. (Mosiah 4:27)
FOR EXAMPLE, because we want Christ to be at the center of our lives and home, Lane and I pick a family theme for the year. Then we go to our children in family council and share this theme. Then we set goals afor the new year. The theme and goals are Christ-centered, because we hope they will help us to feel closer to him and become more like him.
Because of this first goal-setting family council, we hold a family council each week on Sunday and review our goals. We talk about how we’re doing. I create a bulletin board each January so we can be reminded visually of our goals.
We plan activities during the week or FHE lessons or adjust our schedules so that we can accomplish our goals.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE: One of our goals has been to have family scripture study. We talk about what time we should be going to bed and waking up in order to all be together. We arranged the furniture so that there is a place where we can all sit together and read and discuss. I found a basket and put the scriptures, hymnbooks and other supplies in there so that we can have everything easily accessible in that room each morning and don’t have to go searching for our books. We have blankets nearby so that when it is cold, we can snuggle and wrap ourselves in blankets and be warm. The morning routine includes getting up and holding scriptures at the same time.
You can see that we ended up planning a time, our space, other resources, and a routine all around that one goal that we set as a family.
This habit that we have had for the last 22 years has had a major impact on our family’s development, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. (Learning to get up early and go to bed at a reasonable hour are important habits in maintaining lifelong health!)
That’s one slice of order for you. Put your priorities in order, and you will be able to figure out how to put the rest of your life in order!
Your goals will determine your time, space, and resource management, and you’ll be able to have more peace in your life. The stuff that won’t matter to you or to God will fall away like dead leaves that don’t get any water.
“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Great Commandment–Love the Lord,” April 1988 general conference).
We are rounding the corner on summer, with the beginning of school and the changing of the family schedule less than a couple of weeks away. That means I’ve already started trying to figure out what our new schedule will be. Scheduling for a family can …
For years, I’ve tried to figure out how to teach a child a routine. And then I figured this out: I am not very good at following routines myself.
But I’ve realized that just because we don’t follow our routines perfectly, doesn’t mean we throw them out, like a baby with the bath water.
I’ve liked the analogy of a body: we have the rigidity of bones in our skeletal frame, but the flexibility of muscles, tendons, and joints to allow us to bend.
Our days our just like our bodies. In my approximately 7,500 days of being a mother so far, I have never had two days that were exactly the same.
This reminds me of something that I heard once, and in my mind the attribution is to President Boyd K. Packer’s wife, whose name I don’t know. She had 11 children (?), and in my mind the quote went something like this: “The most important thing a woman can learn is flexibility.”
When we specialize in nurturing those around us, we do have to learn to be very flexible.
I would say I am not a naturally flexible person.
I’m learning, but sometimes!
So where is this going?
Tonight, I was working with my youngest to help her get her homework done, lunch made, backpack ready, PJs on, teeth brushed, and a little story before lights are out. And we REALLY need to get our 2 youngest children to bed on time because when they go to bed late, I go to bed late. And they are so challenging to get to bed on time because of our inconsistencies with the bedtime routine. When I go to bed late, I don’t sleep as long, which messes up the entire morning routine.
Talk about high maintenance! Tell me about it! I woke up at 3:20 am last night and didn’t get back to sleep the rest of the night. But today I was too tired to get up and get going after that, so, because I had no commitments in the morning that were critical, once the children were off to school, I went back to bed at 9:45 am and slept (off and on) for 2 hours.
You can’t do that when you have little children at home. That’s why it helps to have children when you are young!
And now to the reason for writing this: it is so important to stop when it is time to stop. I need to help my youngest children to stop whatever they are doing at 7 pm, realistically, if I want them to be in bed at 8 pm. And I need them to be in bed at 8 pm because they need to be up by 6:30 am. 6 am is the ideal, but we have such a hard time getting to bed at 8 pm (9 pm is the norm) that 6:30 pm in the cold and dark seems like such a hurdle!
My new desire is to teach my children to get up on their own at the same time each day. Can I do it? I don’t know. My sleep issues really add a challenge at this stage in my life. BUT, if I can get them up for 6:30 am family scripture study, then we can get self-preparation (“Fab 5”: say prayers, make bed, get dressed, PJs away, read scriptures), breakfast, practicing, and sometimes even a little homework in, even though my very verbal children who could talk away their entire morning struggle to stay on task. Who am I to talk? They are just like me.
If I can help them get up on time on their own, and THEN at night, help them stop when it’s time to stop and simply focus on getting ready for the next day and bedtime, THEN we might make some progress.
It is such a challenge when children are in different ages and stages. But, here we go again. Tackling the routines once more. Motherhood is one eternal round.
And I still need to remember: Flexibility. Flexibility. Flexibility. Say it with me. Breathe now. Flexibility.
Good night. Time for me to stop.
P.S. I read in the Wall Street Journal this week that a recent study claims that teens’ sleeping habits mimic their parents’ sleeping habits. If parents go to bed earlier, the children go to bed earlier. Hmm. Time for bed.
This morning, before we were going to go walking, Lane told the children that if they would jump out of bed and get their Saturday jobs done quickly, we’d all go to Magleby’s for French toast. WOW! That’s a special occasion around her (eating out and Magleby’s …
Birthdays are a big deal at our home. Each child is such a gift to our family, and we want them to feel it not only by the way we treat them every day, but also by how we honor them on the day we celebrate their birth.
We begin with a birthday breakfast of their choosing. We have a special red plate that says, “You are special today” around the rim, and we put a candle in their breakfast. We sing our special birthday song as we bring the dish to the table, and then we begin the celebration. The birthday child signs their name and writes their age on our homemade vinyl birthday tablecloth. We made it years ago, and it is SO fun to see how the handwriting changes over the years.
We like to take the child to have lunch with Mom or Dad on their birthday, if possible. For dinner, we prepare a meal of their choice with dessert. Again it is served on the “You Are Special Today” red plate, but with a fancy setting with nice dishes and placemats. During or at the end of the dinner, we say “TLs,” or “tender loves”–a tradition we got from the Bennions. A “TL” is something you say that you love about the birthday person. Mom writes them down in a family journal as we say them.
We either give gifts at breakfast or at dinner. Gifts are given in fabric bags that I sewed years ago to make birthday prep easier on myself. (One less thing to do; gifts are wrapped in a second.) I got the idea while watching a birthday party at my brother-in-law’s home, in which they used pillowcases to wrap their gifts.
We have a saying that someone else who is holding a gift over the birthday person’s head recites:
Heavy, heavy hangover thy poor head/What do you wish with a bonk on the head?
And then the person holding the gift gently (yeah, right!) bonks them on their head with the gift. The birthday person then wishes the giver a special wish.
There are some special gifts we give at certain ages:
Birth: a savings account (to begin saving for their college, mission, marriage), personal history box, special baby blanket, a singing telegram in the hospital room (Tom Chapin’s “Happy Birthday” sung by our family)
8: A set of paperback scriptures and a scripture bag (to go along with being baptized and marking the beginning of beginning to study on their own when they choose)
12: A set of nice leather-bound scriptures and a temple cosmetic bag (for their recommend, hairbrush, chapstick, etc.), for going to do baptisms at the temple
13: A little make-up, for girls (mascara, lip gloss, blush)
14: A simple ring for the girls and ears pierced, if they want. My dad gave me a special ring when I was 14, and I wanted to carry on that tradition
16: A key to the car (although they can’t drive without asking!) and a key chain (depending on the child)
18: A passport
We also don’t have a friend party every year, because it gets to be too much for me to do! We try to rotate, so some of the children have parties one year and the others have it the next. We also try not to have friend parties on the year of their 8th birthday. Anna squeezed in on that one. Last child privileges?
After gifts, wishes, TLs, and wonderful meals, we all feel like we have really celebrated and clean up!
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, we love you!
Happy Birthday, and may all your dreams come true!
When you blow out the candles, one light stays aglow–
It’s the lovelight in your eyes, where’er you go. (From Tom Chapin’s album “Moonboat”)