Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Desert Hike

Maybe it's all the National Geographic documentaries we've been watching lately (Secret Yosemite, for example) but my heart-felt facebook status the other day read, "I'm craving a forest." I am very happy in Arizona, but it is hard having been born and raised in the gorgeous Seattle area and then living 6 years of my life in (what I now consider) beautiful Utah and then coming to this seemingly desolate desert valley. But anyway, barren though my surroundings may be, I have to get my nature fix every so often.

And don't get me wrong. Tempe does have a certain beauty about it. But here going outdoors just isn't quite as soul-filling for me as being on Mt. Rainier or even Rock Canyon in Provo. But that's ok.

So Saturday night we went on a little hike on South Mountain. It was very short, partly because the cactus and sage brush weren't very compelling, partly because the sun was going down. The sunset was pretty though! And it was nice to be outside, breath fresh air, hear our feet crunch in the dirt and gravel and be up on a hill with a big view.

Elena loved it! She was cracking herself up for no apparent reason as we hiked up the little hill

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gratitude and Submitting to God's Will

“I’m grateful that my baby slept through the night.”
“I’m grateful the weather is nice today.”

These are some examples of things I have thanked God for in the past few months. It is sometimes easy to be thankful for the good things in my life. But is the ability to be grateful dependent on “good things” happening to us? In other words does it depend on our circumstances? The scriptures teach us that we are to be thankful in all things. That is harder to do when undesirable things happen to us. After praying for those things I have sometimes wondered…

If my baby slept horribly would I be grateful?
If the weather wasn’t nice would I be grateful?

In the article “The Choice to Be Grateful,” President Eyring says, “All of us would like to feel gratitude, yet it is not easy to be consistently grateful in all things in the trials of life.” He teaches that it is only through the power of the Holy Ghost that we can see the blessing amidst the trials. I believe this requires submitting to God’s will.

In Mosiah 3:19 we learn that we need to humble ourselves like a child and become “willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us].”

We are able to submit to God’s when we learn to trust Him. We must cultivate a belief that everything He does has a purpose and that He knows what is best for us.

The Book of Mormon teaches the valuable truth that The Lord “doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world.” (2 Nephi 26:24)

It is my feeling that when we are on God’s path we benefit form His wisdom and His  love, and therefore everything that happens to us is for our good. It is only when we stray and sin that things happen to us that are not for our good. God truly knows what is best for His children.

I learned a lot about submitting to God’s will in the first few weeks of my baby’s life. I was blessed with a beautiful healthy baby girl. It was really hard though because at first she had no idea that you were supposed to sleep at night and be awake during the day. Also breastfeeding was hard. She would often act hungry but then struggle and cry in protest when I would try to feed her. Sometimes feedings took two hours. I felt like I didn’t know how to meet her needs.  At night it took at least an hour to feed her and then another hour to get her to go to sleep. In those first few weeks she often didn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time at night. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting very much sleep. This was definitely an undesirable situation.

I realized early on that I don’t believe in praying for things that affect another person’s agency. It didn’t feel right to pray that my baby would sleep. [side note: This applies to marriage as well – you shouldn’t pray that your spouse will do or learn or become a certain thing. That’s not in your control] So what could I pray for?

I remember one night when she was just a couple weeks old I prayed that I would have:
  • The strength to meet her needs
  • Knowledge and understanding of how to meet her needs
  • And patience if I didn’t have the strength or knowledge
That way it was in the Lord’s hands. He could teach me how to be a good mother, or if he saw fit he would let me flounder a bit and it would be ok for my baby and for me. I don’t remember exactly what happened that night, but I remember coming to embrace my role of feeding my baby. Also there was a shift in myself. I felt more concerned about meeting her needs than about getting to bed faster. I have written in my journal many times since having a baby something to the effect of, “as usual, submitting to God’s will ended up being better for me.”

In those early months I wrote about how I got better at knowing when the baby was full and therefore feedings were more successful. I began to be able to feed her and put her to sleep in only one hour, and she started sleeping for two hours at a time. I remember being so grateful for that! Also, frequently having to wake up and get up when you’d rather sleep, to take care of someone who needs you definitely teaches humility.

Learning to accept when things didn’t go well and appreciate when they did go well helped me feel peace instead of anxiety about the uncertainties of motherhood. I think during this time I became more submissive and learned to trust God.

I believe being grateful means believing that everything God does is for our good and therefore desiring and striving to see His hand in our lives – because we have faith that it’s there.

I haven't been doing the daily grateful thing on facebook this year. But here is my current Thanksgiving gratitude list.

I am grateful:

That I met Jeff and that we are married – because we are so right for each other
For the struggles we’ve had – because of how they have shaped both of us and the things I’ve learned
For my beautiful, darling, precious, healthy baby girl
For the wonderful blessing, opportunity, learning experience and eternal role of being a mother
That motherhood is so natural and that my instincts have served me well
For our financial security – as a young couple pursuing a doctorate degree I don’t take this for granted
For Avocado sushi rolls
For Pollo Loco – fresh, delicious, inexpensive fast food
To know that we’re in the right place – it’s been such a blessing to know that Jeff is in the right PhD program for him and that we are meant to be in Tempe, AZ during this phase of our lives
That the weather has cooled down in AZ
For Technology – I have always loved technology and I’m so grateful that with the internet and social media I can share my thoughts on my blogs, find recipes easily, connect with other people online, and read and share the word of God
That I am able to be a stay-at-home mom – I wouldn’t have it any other way for me and my family and I know it’s a blessing that I’m able to do this
For Music
For My family – what my parents taught me, all the good memories I have, and the relationships I have with my family today
That my sister Jenni is serving a mission – I am happy for all that she is going to learn and who she is going to become; I’m happy for the people she will bless – investigators, members, other missionaries, friends back home; that I get to learn from her experiences and our family is blessed by her service; to have a missionary in the family!
For the beauties of nature – I have always loved being outside and going on walks and hikes with those I love; there is peace in nature and it is easier to feel God’s presence
That I grew up in gorgeous western Washington – (even though it makes it hard to enjoy living in the dessert…) It’s neat how every part of the world and even the U.S. looks so different. I am also grateful I spent 6 years of my life in beautiful, mountainous four-seasoned Utah.
For zumba –it makes me so happy to dance and move my body
For the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ -- For the Book of Mormon testifying of Christ; for the true authority of God restored to the earth so we can have the ordinances of salvation; for the knowledge of God's Plan of Happiness; for Living Prophets on the earth again to guide is our lives
For My Relationship With God -- that I can always pray to Him; that He is patient with me as I slowly learn to trust Him and see His hand in my life

"More Holiness Give Me" Arranged by Ronald Staheli sung by BYU Choirs