Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gratitude

(The picture's a little fuzzy, but this is when Eli jumped in with the Giant stuffed bears at Costco)

So, I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately, and last week at church Eli taught me a big lesson on it. I have a really big church bag that I pack up with things that I need for my primary class, and for Eli during church. Before church, I knew this week they were starting choir again, so I packed extra snacks so Eli would for sure have something after church to snack on while we were in choir. I also was actually getting ready on time, so not in a rush, and had time to give Eli a gallon sized ziploc bag and tell him that he could fill it with whatever toys he wanted to take to church (obviously excluding the noise makers). Eli filled his bag with Duplos this time, and I even remembered water bottles. Anyway, Eli started getting out all of his stuff during church, and would you believe the gallon bag of cars he'd packed up the week before was still in the bag too, so he had two bags of toys, along with any snack he could want and lots to drink. Yet, still, I suddenly had an upset Eli, because the exact car that he wanted wasn't with us. I looked down at all of the things Eli had, and I even remembered distinctly telling him he could put whatever he wanted in his bag, which would have included the car he was missing, and all I could think was look at all you have my child, why are you not grateful for all of these things? 

I then thought of how God must see me sometimes. "Jenna, I've given you so much, and I even gave you choices on a lot of these things, and you still aren't happy?" Don't get me wrong there are sad things, in life, but I think sometimes it's easy for us to be like Eli and focus on the one missing car, instead of the other multitude of toys that could make us just as happy.

I've been thinking a lot about a talk President Uchtdorf gave on being grateful in our circumstances. He talked about 'not waiting for the rainbow to be grateful that there is rain,' and constant gratitude as an act of faith. Faith that God has a plan and that His plan is the best one for us, even if we can't see it all right now.

Pondering on what I saw on Sunday has really helped me out with that. You know I end up sharing more things on this blog than I intended to share online, but I know it has helped me with one area where I have trouble remembering gratitude. You see, growing up I never really knew how many children I wanted to have, but I knew I wanted to have a fairly good-sized family. Cancer altered that plan. Family circumstances have constantly thwarted plans for adoption to this point in our lives. Some times though, I hate to admit it, the desire for that missing car or in my case missing children, makes me forget how incredibly grateful I am for my little miracle, Elijah. I get so caught up in wondering why, wondering if I just wasn't good enough to hold anymore of the Kingdom of God in my home to remember that I have a husband who loves me, and a family, and little nephews, awesome friends, even my little primary kids.

It makes me think about a talk on Gratitude that President Thomas S. Monson gave. One of the stories was when Jesus fed more than 4,000 people. When He asked the disciples what they had to share they said they had 7 loaves and a few little fishes, and the miracle was that Jesus gave thanks and then there was enough for everyone. The point that President Monson makes is that the disciples were only looking at what was lacking. They could only see the deficiency. They had limited their vision and their faith, so that the idea of the miracle even being a possibility, the thought that God had a greater plan could not enter their minds.

How easy is it for us to see what lacks and to not see the full picture. I remember one time wondering why when I looked in the mirror when I was sick I actually felt like I looked more attractive then when I was well, and one day I figured it out. See, when I was sick, I was looking at the whole picture, my whole face and body to see if there were any extraordinary signs of illness. When I was well my eyes would immediately go to my "trouble" spots or the areas where I expected to see flaws, and I would fixate on those. I share this because I don't think I'm alone in how I use the mirror. I think we do that with all sorts of aspects of our lives. We compare, we lust, we forget what great things the Lord has already done in our lives.

I mean seriously, now that I am a parent and I see how much work goes into just keeping a toddler from killing itself, let alone having a happy toddler, every person above the age of 10 should be grateful to be alive, but children don't see that. I never saw it as a child. You feel entitled to those things, and in many ways you are, but still someone had to work hard to keep you from serious harm.

I guess I think that about Eli. He's so used to Mom can fix it that it's unfathomable for the moment that somehow I cannot just get the one car that was missing from the set of toys, just like to us it sometimes makes no sense why some of the things God has in or out of our plan are that way. We cannot see the big picture.

I am really understanding though how gratitude can help us get through those times, because though Eli was seriously sad to be missing the one toy he decided he needed at that moment, I could clearly see how if he could just be grateful and enjoy all that he had been given then, that he would be reunited with his missing toy once we got home. He saw it as forever, but I knew it would not be long before he would have other things to distract him, then he would have what he had wanted and what I had been planning on letting him have. God has told us that our trials will one day seem like a small moment. It may seem like forever now, but we can endure it well, and learn to enjoy the toys and snacks that surround us, until that car we are waiting for comes.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Ask and Ye Shall Receive





This is Eli with one of his most favorite snacks, the saltine cracker :-) (This is thanks to watching Wallace and Gromitt a Grand Day Out)


The other day we were going for a car ride and since I know Eli seems to get hungry as soon as we start driving, I grabbed some snacks for him. We were in a hurry, so I just put a whole sleeve of saltine crackers in the snack area for him, instead of putting some in a ziploc bag. We got to driving down the road and suddenly I hear this wail of despair from the back seat! "Oh no! I will NEVER be able to get my crackers!!!" Eli cried out as only a child who is sure the world has ended can cry out.

I turned around and said, "Eli, why don't you just ask Mommy to help you open the crackers?"

He got that "oh right, I guess that could work" face, then after reminding a please, he handed me the crackers, and I opened them, then handed them back, and all was again well with the world.

This experience got me thinking about a few things. First, it reminded me of a passage from the Bible Dictionary about Prayer:

"As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."

I also thought of the many times in the scriptures we are told to knock and seek and we shall receive. Here is an example:

" And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:9-13)

 I thought about that, and how, I knew when I put the crackers in the car that Eli would need help opening them. I had planned on Eli eating those crackers. I just wanted to wait to open them until he was ready to eat them.

I thought about Heavenly Father, how often is He just waiting for us to ask before He gives us experiences we need. And if I might be so bold as to change the scripture a little, if I being imperfect, am ready and willing to open the crackers I have prepared for my son when he asks, how much more is God being Perfect ready and willing to send us the Holy Ghost that He has prepared for us when we need it.

It is easy to forget how important timing is. In the case of the crackers, I didn't want the crackers to be spilled, or if Eli wanted to eat something else, then I didn't want to have the cracker sleeve open before it had to be and risk the crackers just getting stale. I was only going to open them if Eli was ready for them and desired them at that moment in time.

We also have to remember that God wants us to be agents unto ourselves. He gave us this great gift of agency and He is not about to just take it away, because He loves us. He knows when we need to walk in the dark and when the answer needs to come right away. He knows when we need a chance to think about our problems and work on a solution. It reminds me of CS Lewis the Screwtape Letters (You can download a free copy here) in letter VIII, when they talk about how there are naturally times in life when light seems to ebb and flow, that we need those times when it ebbs and when we in essence have to live only off of our faith, because that's a time where we can show what we really choose to do. I remember so many times not knowing the answer until after I'd made a decision and acted on it, then later either got an overwhelming feeling of "nice work, you did the right thing!" or "Great try, I'm glad you worked so hard, but really you should go back and choose door #2."

Okay, so here I'm going to share what happened to me today. This is going to be a little difficult, because I usually only share past experiences that I've had time to think about, but here goes my current life. For a while I've been working on feeling truly happy. I changed jobs, which has helped drastically, and I've been working on my attitude towards life and things. Last night, I was listening to a talk before I went to bed, it was President Uctdorf from the last General Conference, and the talk is titled "Grateful in Any Circumstances" I said a prayer that I would be able to understand how to be more grateful even during trials, like the talk says. Okay, this stories going to take some back story to understand. First, if I haven't mentioned I'm a cancer survivor, and I've had a cold this week. I know that doesn't seems like much of a connection, but when I was first diagnosed with cancer we all thought that I was just coughing because I had caught a cold, like my family had, but really it was the cancer closing in on my lungs. This cold has been one of those too that mostly just messes with my head and makes me feel groggy all the time, which doesn't help that reminds me of my good days on Chemo. This morning when my son, who gets worried when I have a bloody nose, asked me if I was going to die, I held it together, but almost had a nervous breakdown. On the inside I was so scared. But in that moment of insane terror, I realized if I was only going to live for one more day, then what was really important. And I was so grateful for my family. I had some other special experiences today with other family members that just make me so grateful no matter what is going on.

Just for any of you who are worried, I really do just have a cold. I had my husband give me a priesthood blessing, I am totally fine. But, I was able to see again today how much God loves me. Because I knew what I had prayed for in learning to be grateful in any circumstances I've been able to see my existence more as a whole as an eternal personage again. I know God has a plan for me and that I'm on the path and I need not be afraid no matter what happens. God loves me and my family, and everything is going to be alright in the very end, come what may. We are given the experiences we need personally.

Why do I share that with this post? Just like opening the crackers before Eli was ready would probably have just lead to a big crumby mess in the back seat of the car. If God had sent me the harrowing experience that was reliving cancer for a day that was today when I had not been praying for being grateful in any circumstances, then I would probably be a big crumby mess right now as well. He knows when we are ready, and He knows what we need, and He's got His arms outstretched ready to give us more, as soon as we are ready to ask for it.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Heavenly Father Wants to Forgive Us

(I bought this bucket to put Spelt Flour in, Eli first decided to carry around random household items, including my dirty crocs in it. I'd just cleaned it out again, and turned around to find this)

I watched this video and I was very inspired. (Note click on "this video" to watch it) There is a man in the video talking about his path in life and how he couldn't believe that God would still be there for him. I couldn't help but think of my little Eli. When he does something wrong, I honestly, with all my heart want to forgive him. I don't like throwing him in time out, I hate taking away his toys, I wish I could just always buy him candy. If I had it my way, then we would just always get along perfectly, and I would never have to wield the hammer of justice, unless I was pretending to be Thor while we were playing.

Eli could burn or break my most treasured possession, and I would still want to forgive him, because nothing is more precious than him. No matter what he says and does, no matter how hard a time we have, he's still my little angel, and I always want him.

When I think of how we discipline and how God in turn works with us, I often think of the scripture that talks about "Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;" (Doctrine and Covenants 121:43)

Heavenly Father loves us enough to let us feel the consequences of our actions, at least enough to learn. I say that, but I know it ends up being like with Eli. He spills a whole box of crackers and I tell him he has to pick it up, and I of course help him. He picks up enough to learn his lesson about being careful or not throwing the box when he's mad, or whatever happened, but I offer whatever mercy I can, just because I love him.

God does that with us too. There are so many times that I have really gotten in over my head or that I have done things that I can never undo. He lets me feel enough to learn my lesson and I do whatever I can to correct the situation, but God is always there. I feel like I've done and hurt so much, when really I probably barely got 5 crackers to his 100 in the box to clean up the mess that was really all my fault to begin with.

But, just as I would NEVER turn away from Eli and just say, yeah you've just messed up too much this time, God will NEVER turn away from us. If you think about it, in the grand scheme of things, even the worst things we do, probably God looks at them much the same way I look at some of the worst things little Eli does. Yeah this is a mess, and we're going to have to work together to clean up the spilled paint and find a way to make this look right again, but we'll make it right and I'll be there to help. God doesn't care where we are or how far we've strayed from the path, He just wants you to know He's always going to be there to help you. He's forever patient, He doesn't care how many times you do the same dumb things. He just wants you back with Him, no matter how long or hard the road, and He's going to be there with you every step of the way.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Ways Are Not Your Ways and My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts

¶For my athoughts are not byour thoughts, neither are your cways my dways, saith the Lord.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my aways bhigher than your ways, and my cthoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

The picture above is of Eli helping us put together the new cube shelf for his room. He was pretty sure that screwing in the screws was a three tool job, hammer it a little, brush it off with the cleaning brush, then use the screwdriver, until he felt he needed to go back to one of the other two tools to help it along a little. Turns out though, he's actually really good with a screwdriver. But, what really got me thinking about the scripture above first wasn't when Eli had a different view on how to use tools, it was the other night when I was putting him to sleep. I had sung to Eli and then told him I was going downstairs and that I would check on him in a little while. I got caught up with some housework and watching a show with Josh, so I didn't get back up there for a little while to check on him, hoping he would have put himself to sleep. When I did get back up there, he started asking me if I ever go to work in another building (I work from home) and if I get lost, in the end it turns out in poor little Eli's mind Mommy could only have taken so long to get back because she had to go to work, and it must have been somewhere outside of home where she got lost, and so here the poor boy was worried the whole time that his Mother just didn't know how to get back to him. I obviously reassured him that I had been downstairs the whole time, and he could have come out to find me anytime if he needed me.

It got me thinking about that verse above. Sometimes life isn't working out how we thought it would or things just aren't as planned. When we try to explain it ourselves, I feel like our answers are often about as close as Eli's was for why I hadn't come back up. For one thing, we start assuming the worst, we start thinking maybe somehow we are lost or forgotten, when He has already told us "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." (Isaiah 49:16) and "Are not two asparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very ahairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more avalue than many bsparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31)

I know I often just don't see the bigger picture very well. I really like how Elder Bednar put it in his talk about tithing when he said: 
Often as we teach and testify about the law of tithing, we emphasize the immediate, dramatic, and readily recognizable temporal blessings that we receive. And surely such blessings do occur. Yet some of the diverse blessings we obtain as we are obedient to this commandment are significant but subtle. Such blessings can be discerned only if we are both spiritually attentive and observant (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).
The imagery of the “windows” of heaven used by Malachi is most instructive. Windows allow natural light to enter into a building. In like manner, spiritual illumination and perspective are poured out through the windows of heaven and into our lives as we honor the law of tithing.
For example, a subtle but significant blessing we receive is the spiritual gift of gratitude that enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want. A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment (see Luke 12:15).
We may need and pray for help to find suitable employment. Eyes and ears of faith (see Ether 12:19) are needed, however, to recognize the spiritual gift of enhanced discernment that can empower us to identify job opportunities that many other people might overlook—or the blessing of greater personal determination to search harder and longer for a position than other people may be able or willing to do. We might want and expect a job offer, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to act and change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else.
We may appropriately desire and work to receive a pay raise in our employment to better provide the necessities of life. Eyes and ears of faith are required, however, to notice in us an increased spiritual and temporal capacity (see Luke 2:52) to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, and an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have acquired. We might want and expect a larger paycheck, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else.
The stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 53; 56–58) prayed earnestly that God would strengthen and deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. Interestingly, the answers to these prayers did not produce additional weapons or an increased number of troops. Instead, God granted these faithful warriors assurance that He would deliver them, peace to their souls, and great faith and hope for their deliverance in Him (see Alma 58:11). Thus, the sons of Helaman did take courage, were fixed with a determination to conquer, and did go forth with all of their might against the Lamanites (see Alma 58:12–13). Assurance, peace, faith, and hope initially might not seem like the blessings warriors in battle might want, but they were precisely the blessings these valiant young men needed to press forward and prevail physically and spiritually.
Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.
I promise that as you and I observe and keep the law of tithing, indeed the windows of heaven will be opened and spiritual and temporal blessings will be poured out such that there shall not be room enough to receive them (see Malachi 3:10). We also will remember the Lord’s declaration:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
I testify that as we are spiritually attentive and observant, we will be blessed with eyes that see more clearly, ears that hear more consistently, and hearts that understand more fully the significance and subtlety of His ways, His thoughts, and His blessings in our lives.

That's a bigger section than I normally copy, but I liked all of his examples. I think it can be hard to honestly stop and pray to see the blessings in our lives when we feel so disappointed by not getting what we thought should happen. It is difficult to overcome those feelings, but I know that if you pray to ask to see the Lord's hand, then try to stay close to the Spirit He shows you. I feel like it's okay to tell you this story, so I'm going to share it, all of my life I had planned on serving a Church Service Mission. At the time, girls who wanted to serve missions could do so starting at the age of 21. Almost exactly 6 months before I turned 21, I was diagnosed with cancer. I have never smoked, drunk alcohol, I walked to and from school up tons of stairs, so it's not like I was completely out of shape. It's just one of those things that happened. On my 21st birthday instead of turning in my mission papers I was tatooed for so that I would be able to start the radiation treatment that was the follow up for the chemo I had been going through the months prior. I remember just before that there was an adult session of a stake conference where someone spoke about the need for missionaries and he talked about how those who were able should just get up and go, and I nearly broke completely at how sad I was that it wasn't in my plan now. But, as I prayed, I remembered feelings of the Spirit asking me if I would really be willing to serve wherever the Lord called me, even if it was a really hard mission. And yes I would. During my time going through treatment, I was able to serve in the Relief Society Presidency for my Young Single Adult group. Even on days when I should not have had energy to complete my assignments, I was blessed to be able to do it. I was blessed to have good people around me to support me. The Lord called me on a mission. I was able to help the missionaries in our area, and work with the young adults. I was on the mission The Lord called me to, even if I didn't send in any papers or get a letter back, it didn't matter because the point of a mission is to serve where the Lord would have you to serve.


Even in less dramatic ways, sometimes even as a trial hits, I have been able to be blessed to see how I was prepared for it. Recently, as I am want to do, I locked my keys in the car, really they were Josh's keys, and the other set we are guessing are in the coat pocket of the coat that I left at the church building last Sunday, so these were the only car keys right now. So, I called and rejoined AAA, because doing that and sameday service request is about the same as paying a locksmith and this way I can lock my keys in the car 4 more times this year for free, and as I was about to lament the cost, the Spirit reminded me of  the last weekend. We were a few hours late getting our form in to apply for a child care subsitiy through the school, and had almost decided we just had to call it a loss, but we called and the nice person there said they would still accept it. They thought it might take longer to process, but almost right away we got accepted, and the amount we had been rewarded was just almost just as much as I had to pay to get the keys out. And I just felt the Spirit say, "See Jenna, I know your weaknesses, and that you are trying. I'm here to help make up the difference." I may not always understand how or why things are the way they are, but it is comforting to know that God does. And it is awing and wonderful to know that with all He is and all He can do He has said: "this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39)

I'm learning to trust Him more. Just like all I really wanted was for Eli to learn the valuable skill of putting himself to sleep, sometimes He's just trying to help me out and wants me to keep trying, knowing He's there to support me and help me when I need.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

It's Okay If You Can't Climb to the Top of the Jungle Gym Today


(These Pictures are from September 2012)

I've been meaning to post about this since about this day, but I learned an important lesson about forgiving myself after going to the park with some other mom's and their kids for play time at the park this day.

Here's what happened: We were playing around at the park and near the end Eli got my hand and we climbed the big jungle gym together with the other children. The platforms are made out of metal with a grid of holes so that you can look down and see how high you are, and Eli was getting pretty scared as we climbed. I don't have a picture but there is a little ladder to the very very top where there is a little circle tower with toy things on the walls I think, anyway, we were just to the bottom of that ladder and the other kids were climbing up and having fun at the very top, and Eli wanted to go but he was just so scared. In the end, I held him up and I helped him climb up there (he chose to do it). I was so proud of him for trying. As soon as we got to the top of the ladder though, that was it, Eli clung to the ground and cried and just wanted down, so I carried him back down the ladder.

On this post you get to learn too much about me to find out the lesson, so here is a secret or two, so that you will understand my point. For that past few years I've been feeling really guilty about something that I didn't do in high school. A boy that I knew, committed suicide a few years ago. It had to do with a lot of issues, his life took a walk down a dark path. I've felt badly partly because I have often wondered if I couldn't have helped him more back when we were in high school. He was a year younger than me, but he transferred into one of my elective classes (yes I am being pointedly vague :-)). I didn't really know him well, but I knew him well enough that I should have said hi and pulled him in under my wing and introduced him to my friends, but I didn't. I wonder if it could have changed his life somehow, but that is something that I cannot go back and change. Around the time we went to the park in the story above I was praying a lot about how to repent and be able to forgive myself. 

The thought came one night, were you upset with Eli for not being able to climb that jungle gym? answer: no. Is he somehow going to be something less for the rest his existence even if he never goes back to that same park again and climbs to the top of that exact jungle gym? no. Then the thoughts came, the important thing is that Eli will learn and grow and eventually, he will understand enough to know that the playground structure is going to hold him fine and that he's safe, once he's more free of those fears, then he will learn how much fun it is to climb up there and he will become stronger and less afraid of life. Eventually he will find a jungle gym and climb it and over all he will have learned to climb them, even if he never gets back to that same one. And I could feel Heavenly Father telling me, you my daughter are the same. When I was in high school, I lived mostly on the "fake it, 'till you make it" confidence. I put up a really good front, and I did have lots of friends, but inwardly I was really very shy when it came to speaking to just one person and I wasn't always sure how to approach people. I basically always arrived to school late pretty much because I didn't want that awkwardness I felt when it came to trying to figure out which group to join to talk to and how to do it. Looking back at myself this was ridiculous because they were my friends, but it was still my fear. It was more than I could do with my limitations at that time to bring that boy in the way I would be able to now that I have learned and grown and become stronger and less afraid. God and I'm sure that boy, will not hold that against me any more than I would ever look down at Eli for not climbing to the top of the play structure that one particular day.

In our lives, we often regret or suffer feelings guilt for things that we just need to remind ourselves were meant to be hard. And just because we couldn't climb to the top that day it is okay, because we will learn and get stronger and see more playgrounds and have more chances to look at it and learn and figure out how to get to the top without fear. We are meant to be faced with tasks that we are going to have to learn to do through first making mistakes.
"27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.
 28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that afaith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all brighteousness. (Ether 12:27-28)"

I think this is how Heavenly Father sees us, children who are still learning to trust Him when He says. Don't worry, I'm with you, you will be alright, just follow my guidance it just looks scary because you can see through the holes on these metal platforms and look down at how high you are, but it's safe, I'll hold your hand and this won't fall, I'm sure of it. Just trust in your Heavenly Father, who knows the end from the beginning and who knows who you are and what you can become. I'm not upset with you for not being able to climb this time, let's walk through this and work on it together, we'll conquer this fear and weakness hand in hand so that you will find freedom and joy in the knowledge of how things truly are and how the world around us works.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let The Lord Support You How You Need to Be Supported

(So, this picture is about a year old, but this is Eli and his Cousin Kip on a playground in Clarkston, Washington)

So, the other day Eli and I went to the park for a picnic/play date, which was a lot of fun, and I learned something important while helping Eli on the playground equipment. Eli's a little afraid of things that he hasn't tried much before, and periodically afraid of high places. The other kids were climbing this ladder up to a really high place on the playground and he wanted to go too, but he was scared, so he wanted me to help him, but what he wanted me to do was hold his hand. As those of you who know anything about climbing a ladder know, it is best to use both of your hands when climbing a ladder. It in fact makes it more difficult to climb a ladder if someone is trying to hold your hand while you do it. I tried to show Eli that I could hold his sides to help him up, but he just didn't feel supported unless I was actually holding his hand. Luckily, the ladder wasn't long, so I could climb by him holding his hand in this case :-), but I learned something from this experience.

Sometimes we really have in our head what we think would be the most helpful thing for God to do. I know I think sometimes, just tell me which way to go or if I just didn't have such and such an issue this would work out a lot better, so can you take it away or make it better please? But often I end up in that case being like Eli was that day, insisting that Heavenly Father hold my hand while I try and climb a ladder. Heavenly Father is looking at me and trying to tell me that in fact what I'm asking for will make climbing my ladder more difficult, and it will not teach me proper climbing mechanics, so that when I am faced with a ladder in the future I will still not know how to climb it, yet I sit stubbornly with my hand outstretched, refusing to understand why He doesn't just grab on and help me climb. It reminds me some of that footprints poem that the person could only see one set of footprints in the sand when the Lord was carrying him. Often, I have trouble seeing how the Lord is supporting me all along until after the fact, or I am often surprised how God's help does come, sometimes in ways or messages that I didn't expect. And though I know I struggle with patience, when I am patient and my mind is calm I am receptive to answers around me that I could not have noticed with my hand thrust out only concentrating on that mode of help. Especially, in the case when it's a puzzle. I don't know if I'm the only one who gets answers like this, but sometimes when I finally calm down about whatever crisis I am facing, the Holy Spirit brings to my mind snip its of conversations or little bits of inspiration, that once I add it all up is the answer I have been praying for. And it's as though a little voice whispers, see Jenna, I was helping you all along, now do you see why this is the answer or why your way was not the best? or yeah see you were right it's all okay.

I think we forget that God has a lot of ways to help and support us. Sometimes holding hands on the playground is the best way, like when walking across a shaky-bridge other times you just need someone at the bottom of the slide to catch you. Just like I have spent much more time on playgrounds that little Eli has, so I know how better often how to help him across different equipment, God being all knowing knows best how I need to be helped across my obstacles and through my trials.

All of the talking of hands makes me think of Isaiah 49:16 "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."
 
God loves us, and He will help us through the playground obstacles of life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sometimes close is good enough :-)



Here's Eli with his "tractor" on his back :-)


As Eli has been learning to dress himself, I have been been learning some important lessons about life. Like most kids, Eli often gets his shirt and/or his pants on backwards. Also, he doesn't really care about what day it is. On Valentine's Day, I tired to talk him into wearing a Valentine's T-shirt he randomly owns. I was like "yeah! he actually fits in it to wear it on the right day!" but He decided that he would rather wear a Christmas shirt :-).

But the main thing I've been learning is that close is sometimes good enough. I mean the Christmas shirt was red, so he still looked like he was wearing Valentine's Day stuff anyway, and in the end, the goal is to have him wearing clothes right? The most important thing is that Eli is learning to dress himself. He's learning how clothes work, that some keep you warmer than others. He's learning how things feel when you put them on different ways. Eli is creating his own style one day at a time.

I think sometimes we need to let ourselves know that we are still learning, and that the most important thing isn't that everything is done just "the right way." In many ways we are still learning just like Eli. Heavenly Father sent us to Earth to learn and grow, not to do everything right in one day. Maybe I'm still not a very good housekeeper but I'm learning, and in the end no one is in any danger of death upon entering my house, so maybe for now close is good enough. I'm still learning that somethings should be done in a certain order. Like, I need to clean the closets some before I will be able to organize things that need to be put away into them. In my current house, I need to do the dishes before I can do the laundry (draining issues). But the fact that I am trying, and that I am figuring out what techniques do and don't work for me is really the most important thing right now.

This goes for all sorts of things in our lives. Maybe I didn't know the perfect thing to tell a friend who was having a hard time, but the most important thing was that I tried and I did or said something. Or at least started with the thought to do it. And for now close is good enough. Close still helped.

Obviously, the goal is to move to be able to do things perfectly, but in God's eyes we are still children, just like Eli, and He doesn't expect us to do everything perfectly quickly, anymore than I expect that Eli will start being able to take care of his clothes starting tomorrow :-)