Monday, January 31, 2011

LIFE IS GOOD!...

Give a two year old a giant bucket of cheez balls (almost as big as he is...) and you can keep that said two year old happy for a LONG time!  LIFE IS GOOD!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Feeling Better...

Lest you think that it is a nonstop pity party over here...things are looking up!  I had one of these last night...and for the 4 minutes it took us to eat it, all was right with the world!  Yes, these are the little things in life that make us want to get up and face another day...
(and lest you think I've gone and lost my mind judging by the bottles in the background...I stole this photo from the internet...don't worry!) Life IS Good--I know!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Refining Process...

I've already talked about this trial that Todd and I are going through, and how it's been a hard couple of months for our family.  I have had a particularly hard time dealing with the stress that has gone along with this trial.  It seems like when our life is going along fine, I am able to cope with the stress of having a large family, cleaning house, cooking, driving, etc.  But lately, it all just seems like too much to deal with.  The stress of our situation, and the uncertainty of what is going to happen in the next few months has been weighing on my mind, and I feel like I just need to DO something constantly, although there is really not much I can do but wait and see.  Wait and see makes me crazy.  Todd worked as a funeral director for 10 years, and I was thinking lately about the stages people go through when they experience a loss.  I think those stages are very similar to what a person goes through when they are experiencing adversity, or a trial.  I have seen this in my own life in the last few months.  Here are the general stages that a person might go through:
1.Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
I think that I was in this stage for awhile when the people who bought our business first missed a payment.  We thought--surely they will make up the payments.  Surely they aren't planning on ripping us off?  Even when it was evident that they didn't plan on paying their debt to us, I thought there would surely be some simple, quick remedy at our disposal.  Unfortunately it isn't that easy.  It might be a long hard fight--and there is no guarantee that it will ever be made right.
2.Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Unfortunately, I am going through this stage too.  It doesn't really help anyone for you to be angry, but sometimes it just feels good.  The bad thing?  Todd and I have been angry at each other, which helps no one.  I know there will have to be a point where the anger at the situation goes away--but I am not there yet.  My mind operates on a black/white, right/wrong basis.  It always has.  In my mind there are no gray areas.  Unfortunately, I live in a world of grey.  People don't have the same values system that we do.  They justify things that are dishonest as a "part of business" or a way to get by.  It's hard to deal with people who don't think the way that you do.  I am really trying to get over being angry.  It doesn't help the situation, and it really only makes one person miserable:  ME!
3.Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
I am ashamed to say I have done this one as well.  Sometimes it is so hard to see the big picture.  All we can see is our tunnel vision--and in my tunnel vision, I see a dead end.  I wish I could fast forward a few months or years to get some perspective on this situation, and how it will end up working for our good.  I know trials are meant to refine us, and sometimes they hurt, but sometimes you just want to know that it will all turn out okay in the end.  That's where the HOPE, and FAITH come in, and I hope that these don't let me down.  I know that God sees the beginning from the end--I just wish I could catch a glimpse of it!
4.Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
I am not a person who has ever been depressed.  I mean the kind of depressed where you feel hopeless, and helpless, and like you want to hide.  But I have certainly had a taste of how that feels the last couple of months.  I have had days where I turn off the ringer and hide in my house and not talk to anyone.  (You know it's bad when I don't want to talk...) I have had days where the tears have flowed freely.  There have been times where I have been discouraged and tired.  It is all a part of the refinement process I described earlier, and I think it's all meant to bring us closer to our Savior and experience just a little of the suffering that He experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane where he was completely alone in his suffering.  Unless I experience some of the same suffering in this life, how can I ever be like Him?  I cant.  So while I don't enjoy this experience, I do feel as if it is teaching me to more fully rely on my Savior, and His atonement, and His healing power in my life.
5.Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what has happened.”
I wish I could say that this was the stage that I am in at this moment.  It is not.  I know there will come a time when this is all over, where we look back and see lessons learned, and growth that took place.  I know that things will work out--whether good or bad--the way they are supposed to, and we will move on with our lives.  I know that in time, I must be able to look at the people who have wronged us, and forgive them for the pain they have caused our family.  I have faith that in time, I will be able to do just that.  I am just not there yet.  I have a long way to go in this refining process.  Again, that's where the HOPE comes in, that if I have enough faith, and trust in God, He will help me get to this point.  I do believe I will get there...it's just that some days are harder than others.  Right now, I am just taking one day at a time, and hoping for a small victory here or there, that's all.  Is that too much to ask?  :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Race to the Finish...

So a few years ago, we were at a family Christmas party, and a few of Todd's cousins were showing off books they had made with a program called "Booksmart" that you download at Blurb.com.  They were really the COOLEST thing!  I have never been a scrapbooker.  I don't have the patience to sit and cut pictures, and make layouts, and buy all the supplies that go along with it.  Anytime I thought about scrapbooking it made me want to go into a corner and roll up into a ball and rock back and forth.  I am just not a crafty person.  But, THIS was AWESOME!  The best part?  Blurb software has a feature where they can "SLURP" your blogs into the book, pictures and text, and all you have to do is figure out a background and a font, and BINGO--a few pages are DONE!  Now this is my type of scrapbooking!  The first year, I had a cousin, Tawni, make mine for me--and it turned out GREAT!  She still makes them--you'll find her link on my sidebar.  Last year, I decided to learn the program myself, and I worked on it all year, so by January, I basically just had to hit "send" and upload and print it.  This year has been different!  You already know it has been a stressful year for our family.  At the end of this year, I had not ONE page done for my yearly blog book--(and last year's book was 450 pages...if that gives you an idea) even worse?  I have a Groupon that I bought that gives me $60 off my blog that expires on FEB. 10!  AAAAAGGGHHH!  I tell you, I have been working around the clock like a MAD woman trying to get this sucker done.  It will be a race to the finish--and it may not turn out as nice or as fancy as my other two books--but it will only cost me $100--and THAT my friends is MY type of scrapbooking!  If you're a blogger--you NEED this software!  Easy to learn--and so great to have all of my blogs in PRINT!  YAY ME!
Here's the website: http://www.blurb.com/

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Word of the Year 2011...

The last few years, I picked a word of the year, because it's just something I saw other bloggers did.  It seemed like a good way to try to pick something out of my life that I needed to focus on and improve.  Unlike a New Year's resolution, a word of the year is a little kinder and gentler.  I've never been good at New Year's resolutions, because frankly, I get burned out!  The word of the year, however, is just always in the back of your mind, as a gentle reminder that you are constantly working on yourself, trying to make changes, and make yourself a better person.  I like that.  It's easier for me to stay focused on something more general vs. something more specific. 
Anyway, last year my word was "Choose" or more generally, to choose the better part.  That post is HERE. My word of the year for 2009 is HERE if you're interested.  I think I really did a better job this year at choosing to spend time with my family, and focus on things that were really important this year.  It meant that I blogged less, but I think it was worth it.  There were times when I would think about it, like when a child would ask me to do something with them, like play the Wii, or go to the park, and I would remember that I needed to Choose my family over whatever I was doing at that moment.  I think that I did a good job at focusing more on them this year.
It has been difficult for me to choose another word for 2011.  This year is going to be an interesting year for our family.  One of the first things that happened this year was that Todd got called to be the new Scoutmaster in our ward.  Oh my.  He is a little overwhelmed (and so am I) with this new calling.  We are also starting off the new year by filing a lawsuit against the owners of Allen Funeral Home.  They stopped paying us at the end of last year on a very large amount on a note that we carried back when we sold the business to them.  Long story short, they have turned out to be a couple of crooks, and it is sure to be a long and hard fight to make things right.  This year, has already started out a little rocky to say the least.  We keep telling ourselves that we are going to stay positive, and not let this ruin our outlook on life, but truth be told, it is easier said than done!  Truth is, it might be a very long and hard year for our family--and I am trying to brace myself.  I always like to hope for the best--but prepare for the worst. 

I was talking to a good friend the other day about how when everything is falling apart, it's hard to keep your faith strong.  Sure, I know that we all have to experience trials, and it's a necessary part of our lives, and our spiritual growth.  I know that no one has a perfect life, and that we all have ups and downs, but this trial has really put a strain on my faith. It's not that I don't believe the church is true, or that God is listening, or that He cares about me.  I have always believed that, ever since I was little.  My problem has been that as we have gone through this trial so far, I have started to lose faith in myself, and lose faith in my ability to overcome the trial and keep a positive outlook and attitude.  Satan is really good sometimes at convincing us that we can't do what is necessary to overcome when life gets hard.  He wants us to give in, to give up on ourselves, and to give up on God.  If he can get us to do that--then he wins.  I have experienced first hand what Satan uses to make us give up--he makes us DOUBT that we can overcome, he makes us DISCOURAGED with our efforts, and finally DESPAIR creeps in, and you feel like things can never get better--no matter what you do.  It is then, that he has you in his trap, and he clamps down.  What a miserable feeling.

As I thought more about this, I remembered one of my favorite talks by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf that he gave in the 2008 conference called "The Infinite Power of Hope."  As I went back and reread the talk, it was like he was talking just to me.  THIS was what I needed--this is what can and will hold me up as we go through this year.  One word:  HOPE.  He says in part: 
"The scriptures say that there must be “an opposition in all things.”  So it is with faith, hope, and charity. Doubt, despair, and failure to care for our fellowmen lead us into temptation, which can cause us to forfeit choice and precious blessings.

The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward.
Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear."
And this:
The Lord has given us a reassuring message of hope: “Fear not, little flock.”  God will wait with “open arms to receive” those who give away their sins and continue in faith, hope, and charity.

And to all who suffer—to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely—I say with love and deep concern for you,
Never give in.
Never surrender.
Never allow despair to overcome your spirit.
Embrace and rely upon the Hope of Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart.
(You really have to read the whole talk...it's phenomenal!)
And so it is--my word of the year:  HOPE.  I know that if we just trust in God--and have faith in His plan, we can make it through anything.  I HOPE for a better tomorrow, I HOPE to make it through my trials a better person, I HOPE to be strong, and courageous, and fight against Satan, and his attempts to weaken my faith, and bring me down.  My HOPE lies in my Savior Jesus Christ, and I know that because He overcame--so can we.  I am grateful as always for His infinite atonement, and that even in my weakness, I can come to Him for help, and He will never leave me comfortless. What a blessing!  Lastly, my HOPE lies in my family.  I know that no matter what happens to us, if we focus on what is the most important thing in life--our family, we will be okay.  I sure love them!  We will get through it together...and come out stronger than ever!
Okay--sorry for the wordy post...but c'mon--posts have been few & far between lately!  I was overdue for a LONG one!  :)  Happy 2011!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy Birthday ASHLIE SUE!...

6 years ago, I held the most amazing baby in my arms--then she started crying.  And she cried, and she cried, and she cried, and she cried (do you get the idea?...).  I never could figure out why Ashlie cried so much as a baby--I never could figure out what she wanted.  But as she's grown older, I think I've finally figured it out.  That little spirit was just too old, and too wise, and too experienced to be stuck in that little tiny, helpless body.  This little girl is SO mature for her age--and so wise beyond her years.  Much like Emie--I believe that Ashlie's spirit waited a LONG time to come here!  Both of them may have taught ME things when I was a child in the spirit world!  Ashlie is such an amazing daughter!  She is a little serious, with not much of a sense of humor sometimes.  It's hard for her to live in this family full of sarcasm at times--but she deals with it well most of the time.  She is such a hard worker, and so smart in school.  Her kindergarten teacher told me at our first parent-teacher conference:  "You know, I'm not going to teach her anything this year she doesn't already know...in fact a lot of the time, she is helping me teach the other kids."  Yep--that's my girl!  We started the day with another doughnut cake made out of QT long johns...YUM!  (No...not on a diet yet--Ashlie's b-day, then the BCS championship coming up...then a diet...).  Then she opened her presents.  She was kinda sad that she had to go to school...but I told her I would come get her for lunch & that cheered her up a little.  We went out that night for dinner as a family at Red Robin & had a great time!  We love you Ashlie...here's 6 reasons why... (oh SO easy...)
1. Adorable!  Most gorgeous brown eyes!
2. Smart in school--great reader!
3. Great friend, very loyal.
4. Great sister--she loves her siblings and helps them all the time.
5. Great daughter!
6. Sassy & stubborn--she has a way of getting her way, and making you think it was her idea!
Here's some pics of her special day!









 Someone got up too early!  He was SO jealous that he didn't have any presents!  He still doesn't get the whole "Santa only comes once a year..." concept...Poor little guy!
 Ashlie's NEW bike!  She has to learn to ride it now!  Pictures coming soon...
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