Monday, October 21, 2013

"The Miracle of Forgiveness" Book Review

I finished reading, "The Miracle of Forgiveness" by Spencer W. Kimball a while back, and I wanted to share about it here on my blog before I change my "What I'm Reading" over there on the side. I wrote a review on Amazon after I finished it so I thought I would just share that. :) There were several negative comments about the book, so I felt the need to share my thoughts! I think this book is an absolute-must-read for every mother out there.

"In response to some of the reviews about the frequent references to sexual sin, I find this direct quote from the book insightful (found in the chapter 'Avoiding Pitfalls' under subtitle 'Pitfalls for Youth').

"In this book I have deliberately made frequent reference to sexual sins, and this because of their gravity and prevalence. In the present chapter one could hardly fail to emphasize these errors in relation to avoiding pitfalls of sin, especially as they affect the youth of the Church in an era of increasing immorality, permissiveness, and commercial enticement."

How true that statement is! Sexual temptations are bombarding the youth and society in general like never before whether in the form of pornography, music, movies/TV shoes, immodesty, casual communication and references to sexual subjects, etc. The list goes on and on because it truly is everywhere. It seems clear that Satan puts his strongest focus on tempting us with sexual sins because they are so difficult to overcome and far-reaching in that their effects can cause such great emotional distress in the lives of all those affected. It is true that sexual sins are one of the most abominable in the sight of God for he is truly entrusting us with the power of creation.

This book may be difficult to read for those who are not in a place where they are trying to repent and grow closer to God. This book is written out of love and a desire to help us grow closer to Him through repentance and learning to apply "the miracle of forgiveness" in our own lives. May we read it without feeling defensive and ponder as we look inward to try to better ourselves.

I have found the reading of this book to be insightful and inspiring. Also, as a new mother, I feel better equipped to teach my children how to avoid these pitfalls that can cause such heartache and long-lasting sorrow. Yes, it is slightly uncomfortable to read at times, as he is straight-forward and doesnt sugar coat things, but that's what we need to hear! When it comes to these difficult subjects, maybe we need to be a little less "politically correct" and give ourselves a more clear right and wrong to chose between. It most certainly has brought to my attention some weaknesses of my own that I need to work on, but as I accept that I am weak, I know that through the atonement of Christ I can become stronger every day. Because of my Savior I am able to keep trying and face each day with faith and hope and that is what this book is trying to help us work towards."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Protect the little ones

I'm feeling a lot of different things right now. Feelings and thoughts that need to be written or they will just keep eating away at me. Dan came home and told me about some recent stories he had heard on the news about bullying.

One is of a 14-year old girl in Florida who was bullied so heartlessly and extensively by another 14-year old and 12-year old girl, she ended up climbing to the top of an old mill and jumping off, resulting in her death. Read more on the story here.

The other story is of an fourteen-year old boy who was brutally and viciously killed by other teenagers. Read more on the story here.

My heart has been heavy and hurting since I heard of these devastating events. Thoughts like, "They were just kids?!" and "What is our world coming to??" and "Why?!?" kept coming back to my mind. And then I looked over at the precious innocence of my little boy who is only concerned about barking, making a soup out of his lunch, and the sound of a helicopter outside. My heart then broke about a thousand more times. My precious child will be faced with bullying and unkindness. He will see and hear things that are upsetting and scary and I will not always be there to protect him.

I was filled with a sense of my great responsibility as a parent. I didn't even slightly understand the feelings of love and protection I would have until I had this little child of my own. But now I do. I understand that his safety is my job. It is my responsibility to try to get him through childhood, tween- and teenhood safe, protected not only from physical harm, but emotional and spiritual harm.

My dad describes the teenage years as being in a cloud or a fog. They are in this (oftentimes miserable) fog and do not even realize it. They think they know what's best and can see ahead, but they can't. As their parents, having survived this fog ourselves, our job is to safely guide them through. Even if they despise us for it and do everything they can to fight it and are kicking and screaming the whole way. Once they get out of the fog, they will realize their previous state of confusion and thank us for protecting them and being good parents. 

I always want to be close with my children. I want them to be able to talk to me and tell me if someone is bullying them so we could take care of it. I want them to know family is above all else. We will do everything in our power to protect each other. I will not be afraid to stand up for my children, even if I may offend another parent or may not be "politically correct." My allegiance is to my family. I will unrelentlessly defend them, protect them, and fight for them and thanks to the knowledge I have of life after death, I know even death can't stop me.

It's so hard as parent! They want to be independent and run free and we have to learn how to let them be free while still protecting them. I'm thankful for my family and thankful for the knowledge I have that I know that girl who killed herself is in a better place.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Too close to home.

The other day while driving to an appointment, we turned the corner and it was just that precise time of morning where the rising sun was completely blinding me. I literally couldn't see anything. I slowed down and creeped along cautiously when I saw some cars stopped at a few people huddled around someone. We pulled right over and i ran out to see if I could help at all. Another driver, just like me, had been cautiously driving, trying his best to see. Before he knew it he had struck someone. A young fifteen year-old girl was casually crossing the street, surely assuming she had been seen by the driver. She was lying there with a some blood on her face and was a little disoriented. She complained of pain on her face but seemed like she would, hopefully, be okay. The young man who had hit her looked like he was about my age and was completely shaken up. He was just finishing up his phone call with 911 as I walked up. I stayed with them until the ambulance came. (I couldn't believe how log it took, probably close to 15 minutes!) And off they went.

As I sat there with them, I thought how easily that could have been me. How that experience surely changed that young man's life and perspective on it and should change mine too,

Looking back, I should have encouraged the driver to ask for their email or phone number so he could have checked up on her and sent flowers or something. Never knowing what ended up happening and how she recovered would be haunting, I think. And there would really be no way of finding her after that. 

I drove down that street about an hour later after my appointment and there was no sign of an accident. You never would have known something happened there earlier that day. I now drive down that street almost every day and I think of that young girl and that driver every time. It was so real. It reminded me that things like this happen every day, all around us, and we usually completely unaware of it. 

Our lives are precious. Each moment is priceless and quickly fleeting. Let's all be a little more careful, a little more thoughtful and forgiving, and a little more grateful for this life we are living.

I know I need to stop and just enjoy those little moments more often, like this recent afternoon... I think this one of Jude's favorite days ever. Just look at that face?! Pure. Joy. It started off with him winning the wishbone with Daddy. I don't know what his wish was, but from the looks of it, I think it came true!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

today - [conference, humbled]

Today I feel grateful.
Today I feel blessed.
Today I feel humbled.
Today I feel special.
Today I feel loved by an omnipotent, eternal God.

I stayed up late working on my blog (what do you think?!) and waiting for the man of this house to come home from night fishing (I won't even tell you what time he got home... I'll just say it's later than the number of feet you have). Let's just say I didn't make it and have absolutely no recollection of him coming home. Anywho, off topic. I woke up to a 6:00 am phone call from a dear friend telling me she was going into labor and was wondering if I could watch her sweet little boy. I magically was filled with life, ran downstairs and literally hopped over the four-foot tall back patio wall so I wouldn't open the loud door and bother Jude (who knows).

I spent my day with two twenty-two month old boys. I watched them play. I helped them color. I tried to keep them from hurting themselves. I took Sharpies away from them. I cuddled with them. I tried to watch Conference with them. I played train and Noah's Ark with them. I changed diapers and made food and poured milk and was happy. It was a good opportunity for me to have two. I really haven't babysat another child a whole lot so it was fun. They would feed off each other and teach other new naughty things and sometimes give each other little loves of their sort. Jude's competitive side came out a little bit &he was suddenly keenly interested in answering every question I posed about what animal made what sound or where the horse was, etc. I so enjoyed my day with those two.

I only really watched 2 or 3 talks from today but it was just nice to have it on even when we weren't watching it all. When I first turned it on the boys laid by each other and got watched it intently for a few minutes. It was heavenly. I watched President Monson's talk and Elder Holland's talk and was touched to my heart's innermost. 

We are loved by an eternal God.
We are here on this earth with a purpose.
We are here to be happy.
We will be able to live with our families after death in a magnificent place.

Goodness. How very blessed. To hear these words of hope and inspiration and guidance and love is humbling. To have words spoken that tell me just what I need at this time in my life. Those messages of hope are enough to give me hope, an eternal hope. The tears were dripping down my face during President Holland's talk and when he talked about nienie. I feel like I know her and hearing her story from his perspective and hearing how she felt was so inspiring. She is a special soul that touches so many lives. 

I have a job interview on Monday. A peer interview where they ask me behavioral type questions. I'm a little nervous, but the more I talk to my Dad and hear conference the less nervous I am. I know it will be fine and if it's supposed to work out, it will. I tell ya what though, I loose it fast when I don't work. But I pick it up and get back in there and surprise myself every time. I looked through my blog and read every past post about 'nursing.' It was entertaining and introspective and makes me grateful I write things down. I felt grateful for my past as I read through those posts and also very grateful for my present. 

It was in the 90's today as it is every day. I wouldn't mind if it cooled down a little. I actually have a bad case of fall fever. Goodness, can't it come?! Can't I wear a sweater?! Can't I put Jude in his jeans and adorable button-up shirts?! Someone told me it will cool down in January. I didn't like that idea. 

Dan is a happy camper. He is enjoying school so much. It is just wonderful. He is doing well and might have gotten a 100% on his practical. Oh, that boy! I'm so happy he is happy. He is like, a different person that a year ago at this time! I like this guy. Jude adores him. "Da-E-Go!" Dan is always leaving for school, so Jude has gotten in the habit of always saying "Daddy go!" even when Dan is not going, like in prayers. It is adorable and hilarious. And every time we say a prayer together... (he repeats the last word of the sentence) and I say "I'm thankful for mommy.... say Mommy" he gets a big grin on his face and says "mom mom mom" and my heart melts. I love him 
so much.
He is perfection in human form and I am the absolute luckiest to be the only person on Earth who gets to be his mom. I am the recipient of that amazing, incredible love. It feels good.

Today, let's just be grateful. For wherever we are in life. Even though we wish this trial has passed already, it hasn't. That's okay. It will. Let's just be content. And move forward with faith. And remember these beautiful words from the General Relief Society meeting that were for me. (And maybe you, too;))

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Adjusting to life with Allergies

Adjusting to life with a son with allergies has been a long learning process with lots of ups & downs. I have learned so much! Jude is such a good sport with it all. We are learning together. When I first found out about Jude's allergies I was just overwhelmed and really had no idea about... anything at all! I googled "wheat free, dairy free, egg free, nut free recipes." It didn't yield much... I felt dejected as I scrolled through my new pinboard with chocolate syrup, pumpkin smoothies, taco seasoning, and "leaves and acorns." Having a child with so many allergies has been full of lots of disappointments and loses, but those little wins (finding chips he can have or making a stew he loves) are the tender mercies that make our day and give us hope to keep going.

I'm going to share a few tips that have helped me as I've learned over the past few months and hopefully they can help you and give you a little hope as you learn to fight this battle!

1. Substitute, substitute, substitute

If you look at my pinboard now, it is full of delicious-looking recipes, many of which have milk, eggs, or wheat flour as ingredients. Jude's allergies have since changed, but at first I was able to substitute soy milk for normal milk, pre-made gluten-free flour mix for wheat flour, and flax seed gel for eggs. Ta da! I could pretty much make anything except anything dishes with a lot of cheese (not big fans of fake cheese over here). We even made him a delicious, normal-looking birthday cake when he turned one. His allergies are a lot worse now, but with diligence and trial and error I plan on getting to the point where I can make him a lot more varied and delectable dishes.

For those of you who are wondering about my credentials, my almost 2-year old son has an autoimmune allergic disease and is currently (they change every few months when he has a EGD or "scope") allergic to dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, nuts, corn, rice, barley, beef, potatoes, mustard, peas, and lentils. So I'm currently trying to find a flour substitute. He can no longer have any pre-made gluten-free flour mixes, so I'm going to try a mix of sorghum flour, tapioca starch, and xantham gum. And I hope it works! I found the link with the idea here. I just had to substitute tapioca starch for the potato starch. My favorite flax seed gel instructions are here and work great for substituting eggs in almost any recipe (they don't work great in brownie mixes). Since he is now allergic to soy milk, we use hemp milk in our recipes. So there are a few ideas!

2. Prepare

No McDonalds stops over here or last minute mac-and-cheese or throwing sandwiches together. (There are NO breads he can have. And we are yet to tackle trying homemade bread for him with the move and everything.) Nothing brings me more stress than it being 6:00 pm and Jude's hungry, we just got back running errands, he's hungry and I have no plans for what to feed him. On the contrary, nothing brings me greater joy and satisfaction that knowing what I'm going to give him for lunch hours in advance or having a little Jude stew abrewin in his baby Crockpot that's all ready for him come dinner time. A freezer full of food for Jude is like casting my eyes upon a buried treasure of gold and silver. 

Feeding a "high needs" child takes study, time, and preparation. Cooking a full-on meal for him is extremely time-consuming as I have to homemake/substitute every individual ingredient. I rarely make a meal that we all eat because Jude's food is so expensive and specialized. I save it just for him. I have spent countless hours studying different things online: different types of beans, different types of grains, what vegetables are highest in vitamins, what beans have the highest fat content, how to cook lentils (before I knew about his allergy), overnight oatmeal recipes, difference between different types of oatmeal, substitutions for this and that, etc. (PS- Did you know corn is a grain? A sneaky, good-for-nothin' grain that pretends to be a vegetable and sneaks it's measly way into e v e r y t h i n g. It disgusts me to no end.) 

Anywho, Moms: the more you prepare, the less stressed you will be! I took a day a few months ago and made several different freezer meals for Jude. I put the stews into little sandwich-size freezer meal bags and used them for months to follow. They were lifesavers. I would throw one in his little crockpot at lunch and if we were out and about or busy in the afternoon, I knew it was there waiting for us. We have made a couple soups this week that Jude can have. We all had our fill for dinner and then instead of sticking the rest in the fridge, I divided into little freezer bags and have them saved for Jude. Happiness! 

When I first found out about his allergies, I was just so overwhelmed. The only thing that made me feel better was to sit down for a few minutes at night and write down everything I planned to feed Jude the next day. Once I did that, I could relax and I had a little handrail to walk me through the next day. 

Also, if we are going out to eat, I will call the restaurant beforehand and make sure they are willing/able to work with me and get an idea of what I can order for Jude so we are prepared. I usually bring a couple things from home too.

3. Take it one day at a time and remember... it will get easier!

You will learn how to deal with it and what foods to make and it will get a little easier every day. There will be lots of frustrations and times when you just want to give up, but you can't give up! And you will find the strength to keep going. Just appreciate those little victories and if you find a good recipe, hold on to it! Plan as much as you need to even if it seems silly and do the best you can. Ask for help. Don't feel guilty if you feed your child oatmeal 5x/week for a little while while you're still trying to figure things out. And if you need a friend, I'm here for you!

I hope these tips help. You are not alone and we all need to help each other! :) If you have any tips or ideas I would love to hear them!