I heard a story at church last Sunday that was particularly for me! The speaker shared how when he had only 6 months left on his mission he couldn't stop thinking about and wanting to go home. He wanted to be a committed missionary, but the thoughts of home just haunted him every day. He finally talked to his mission president about it and got some great advice, "Study the life of the Savior." So, this man immersed himself in reading Jesus the Christ and the New Testament. He said it was amazing the change that came over him. Whenever a thought about home came into his mind, instantly something from what he'd read the morning before would overpower the thought of home.
I feel like I'm there right now. I'm not on a mission and not "going home," but with the transition of moving, my mind definitely gravitates to my new home, our new adventure, more often then I might like. I want to leave where I am better than I found it. I want to leave feeling like I did all I possibly could before I was "done." I want to minister to those over whom I have stewardship and strengthen the relationships I have made here. And yet, my heart yearns to move on as well. It's like I'm living in two places at once. It's been so hard to be patient with this process.
Elder Oaks once gave a beautiful talk on Desire. He said, "Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming."
He talks about how even our basic needs can be overcome by our righteous desires. For instance, our need for food can be overridden by our desire to fast. One boy's desire to achieve his scouting goal will give up a comfortable home to go on a campout. A general of an army can forgo sleep to protect those for whom he has charge.
I think of this in my own desire to fulfill all I'm meant to do here before moving on. A few weeks ago I actually did start a study on the Life of the Jesus Christ. This young man's talk was simply a gentle reminder for me to continue in that light. It doesn't matter where we are, only what we do with where we are. I want my desires to serve here to overpower my longing to be there.
In Enos we read, "And...after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I wil grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy Faith (Enos 1:12)." Of this Elder Oaks said, "Note the three essentials that preceded the promised blessing: desire, labor, and faith (emphasis added)."
So what do I need to do to ensure my desires are granted? First I need to desire, which I do. That desire needs to be lasting and not fleeting. Next, I need to labor. I need to immerse myself more in my calling, my friendships and my home here. And lastly, I need to have the faith that the Lord will grant unto me my desires. I'll do this by studying Christ's life, learning more of who He is and thus strengthening my faith in Him.
TRANSITIONS ARE HARD! And yet I think they are given to us for the very purpose of strengthening our faith and giving us an opportunity to question our desires. Patience is a virtue that comes through such transitions as well. Here's to my own stretching, growing and becoming!
Well, I do. For the past several months I could expect two things each night at dinnertime: my 3-year-old coming to the table with the statement, "I don't like this stuff" (not even knowing what "this stuff" was) and a full-blown tantrum from my 7-year-old. So, when I heard about the book French Kids Eat Everything, I knew I wanted to read it.
I am pleased to announce for the last month we have had almost no complaints at the dinner table! We incorporated only a few of the "rules" from the book, but it's made an amazing difference.
#1 - Let Them Cook
Maybe some mom's don't like their kids in the kitchen, but I love it! Actually, I just hate being in the kitchen alone so they always were. Once the three oldest started school full-time, however, I stopped asking for their help. In the back of my mind I just assumed the younger three would take their places in the kitchen, but I never expected it so they didn't come.
So, the first change we implemented in our family was that the younger boys would help me cook while the big kids took dishes duty. The very first night of this we made Chicken Enchilada Soup. During dinner the boys talked about the flavors, the spices we used, and how yummy it was. My daughter commented, "It's like the boys became food experts or something." Success!
I began to think, maybe having the kids help in the kitchen made them less afraid of the food they were eating. We're still learning. There have some some things they haven't liked and they express frustration when they can't "cook right," but the habit is being formed and this has minimized at least one barrier of our food challenges.
#2 - Take Away the Battle
I talked about my own attitude here. Changing my attitude (and taking lessons from the French), helped me rephrase things I would say about food. Again, when the older kids were younger I could say, "Eat it, or else." It worked then. Doesn't work now! So, I needed to change how I spoke about food and the expectations I had for them. These phrases have largely taken away the battle for my most picky eater:
Son: "Do I have to eat this?"
Parent: "Just one bite."
Son: "I don't like this."
Parent: "That's okay, you'll like it when you're older."
Son: "I don't like this."
Parent: "That's okay, you just haven't tried it enough times."
Son: "I'm hungry."
Parent: "Great! You're really going to enjoy dinner in an hour."
#3 - Slow Dinner Night
The French Eat Slow. Americans don't. The starkest difference can be seen in our schools. Where our kids have fifteen minutes to "shovel it in," the French give their kids one whole hour to eat their lunches. Kids there are simply trained to eat slow. Meals are treated like the most important parts of the day! I wanted more of that in my own home, so we have incorporated "Slow Dinner Night."
I've always had the dream of dinner being an "event," something that lasts an hour long and is fun! Just like the French! :-) Our Slow Dinner Night consists of three courses: a vegetable-based soup, a main dish, and a dessert. I also put a question in the middle of the table or use a writing prompts book I've got on hand as our discussion topic. Having a focused topic helps us to sit longer. Granted, the conversation roams and it's definitely not something I force, but it's there in case we need it. Anyway, we have turned our Monday night dinner from a 20-minute rush to a 40-minute, mostly pleasant event (we've got a 50/50 success rate at this point, but the habit is being formed...so I tell myself).
A few tips to consider:
** I've learned that on Slow Dinner night I need to serve what I know they like, at least the main course. Our 2nd meal backfired on me! We don't want them to dread the event. :-)
** This may be a little hard for little boys. Okay...it's a little difficult for MY little boys to sit there that long. I'm okay letting them roam a little. But last week we also played a "Story Cube" game when I saw them getting a bat antsy. They loved it!
Overall, this has been, if nothing else, a very fun experiment! I still have days I'm not entirely thrilled to be cooking, but fewer than not. And my boys are becoming happy eaters. As Karen Le Billon says, "The table should be the happiest place in the house!."
While reading the book, "West with the Night," a memoir of Beryl Markham's flying experiences, I was struck by a quote that keeps coming back to me.
"If your hunch is a good one, you were inspired; if it proves bad, you are guilty of yielding to thoughtless impulse."
This really is such a profound thought, if you think about it! And I think we make these assumptions all the time, in our own lives and in judging the lives of others.
"I must not have been inspired, because look what happened?"
"Her life is so stressful, she says she was inspired, but I doubt that."
"He has everything going for him, he must be a truly inspired person!"
I remember an instance when I had to make a difficult decision. I chose to put my son in a school that wasn't "the best" in the community. Several people questioned me about this decision. One lady in particular was very vocal about the negatives of that school. Finally, I just looked at her and said, "This is where I've been inspired to put him." Enough said. Once you throw the inspiration word into the conversation, you can shut people up real quick.
And it was true. I knew that was where my son needed to be that year. Was it good? No! It was an awful experience (from a parental perspective). I questioned my "inspiration" several times that year. But each time, I kept getting the same answer that we needed to stick it out. Though that year was extremely difficult, many lessons were learned.
Fast forward a few years and again I got the inspiration to put him in school...but not just him, the whole family! That decision turned out to be a great choice for our family. We all learned valuable lessons that year as well (still are!).
This leads me to question: Who's to say that the "bad things" weren't also led by inspiration? We are not always going to only be led to do easy things. The Lord can direct us to go in a certain direction because it will be hard, because there are other things we need to learn, because we still need to "prove" ourselves. Elder Richard G. Scott has said, "Two indicators that a feeling or prompting comes fro God are that it produces peace in your heart and a quiet, warm feeling." But I don't think this means the outcome will always be "peaceful."
Am I more inspired than my friend because I married a good man and she didn't? Is my friend more inspired than me because things are going well and my life just seems to hit one roadblock after another? If I feel led to go in one direction and stumble, does that mean I didn't hear didn't hear the right message?
I think we can all agree that there are certain sinful acts that will obviously cause us pain and grief. These sins are wrapped up in defiantly disobeying the commandments of God. Some of our choices will bring us pain, too, because we have weaknesses in this life and are not perfect. But I believe any person sincerely trying to live righteously will sometimes be led down darker paths. It's on these darker paths we will learn things about our true selves we would never see otherwise. It's also there where we will more readily turn to our Savior for His much-needed guidance.
In the scenarios, was I really inspired? Maybe that's not the issue. The goodness from any experience comes from looking at what's been learned and what the next step will be. We do what we do with the information, the strengths and the weaknesses we have. We learn. Then we do it again, making decisions with new information and strengthened attributes. I believe this to be the art of inspiration, how we fine tune our communication with the Lord. We practice and we don't judge our decisions upon the initial outcome alone. It's not all or nothing with the Lord. He is simply concerned with growth.
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Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter.
It is a sacred privilege. It is based upon eternal, unchanging principles.
- - Elder Richard G. Scott