Sunday, September 25, 2016

The "Why" of Motherhood

It is a question that almost every mother has heard almost every day and at least more times than they can count on one hand: "Why?"

"H, can you put your dish away?"
 "Why, Mom?"
"So it can be clean when we need a clean dish."
"Why does it need to be clean for us to use it?"
".... So it doesn't make us sick from it being dirty."
"Why would it make us sick from it being dirty?" and so on and so forth...

"We can't go to Grandma's today."
"Why, Mom?"
"Because we need to do chores."
"Because our house needs to be clean."
"Why?" etc. etc. etc.

"No you cannot have a cookie five minutes before we eat dinner, B."
(This one should be imagined in a loud, screaming, 'toddler tantrum style' voice) "BUT MOM, WHY CAN'T I HAVE A COOKIE FIVE MINUTES BEFORE DINNER?!"

"It's time for bed."
"Why?!" followed by a highly dramatized flopping to the floor and kicking of legs.

my three excited children so that you can imagine faces along with those conversations ;
) H age 6, B age 2 (almost 3) and M age 1 month

As children try to understand the world around them, they ask a LOT of "whys". Sometimes my babes ask me so many "whys" that my head actually hurts; I know my answers are important and sometimes the fog of exhaustion that I occasionally live in makes it hard for me to come up with the perfect answers.

A few days ago one of my children came up with the answer to a "why" without me even intentionally answering him. I had all three kids in the car. The morning had been crazy and I was feeling frazzled so I decided to listen to some General Conference talks (these are talks given to us by the leaders of the church I belong to regarding the Savior, love, patience, etc.). The Savior was mentioned in this specific talk. We had been listening for only a a minute when H asks

"Mom, how does Jesus Christ talk to us? Can we hear him?"

I could tell that he was very concerned about finding the answer to this, his little eye brows were furrowed and his eyes were full of questions.

I explained to him that there were different ways that we could hear the Savior.

I told him a few different ways the Savior can speak to us and went on to relate to him that one way was through our leaders, family members and friends around us who can be inspired by the Holy Ghost to speak to us words of encouragement or direction that the Savior would have us hear; I explained that a great opportunity to "hear" the Savior's voice was through our Prophets and Apostles during General Conference. I expressed to him that this was why so love and cherish taking a break from normal life and sitting down and listening to Conference every 6 months and how excited I was to hear Heavenly Father and my Savior speaking to me through our Prophet and Apostles.

Historically H and I have had many power struggles regarding General Conference: but I have been determined to make General Conference an absolute priority and so we have "pushed ahead" (sometimes through tears). And so what H said next struck me a great deal:

"Oh. Now I know, Mom." He said "matter-of-factly".

"What do you know now, bud?" I asked.

"Well now I know why General Conference is so important and why you make me watch. It's because Jesus Christ is the most importantest. And I'd like to hear from Him. And if that's one way we can hear Him then I guess I can try really really hard to try and listen to General Conference and not try and run away when I get bored."

Right before my eyes, H had discovered the "Why" of something. I don't imagine that he will manage to sit still for all 10 hours of conference - heaven knows that task is even hard for me, the 25 year old, to do. But once he understood in his heart the "why" of the tasks that I asked of him, he was far more inspired and energized to complete the tasks.

This experience brought to my mind a quote I heard in a women's meeting a few years ago when Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke about the question "Why". For those that do not know, Dieter F. Uchtdorf is a leader in the church I belong to (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). This is what he said:

"We focus on what the Lord wants us to do and how we might do it, but we sometimes forget why... 
While understanding the “what” and the “how” of the gospel is necessary, the eternal fire and majesty of the gospel springs from the “why.” When we understand why our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living, when we remember why we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the gospel ceases to become a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet.
Let us not walk the path of discipleship with our eyes on the ground, thinking only of the tasks and obligations before us. Let us not walk unaware of the beauty of the glorious earthly and spiritual landscapes that surround us."
Little H had been focusing on "what" I wanted him to do, but rarely understood or considered "why" I was asking him to do it.

"So, what does this have to do with Motherhood?" you might ask. Well, lately I feel like it has everything to do with Motherhood.

Hunter and I were just recently blessed with the arrival of our sweet baby girl, M, one month ago. She is wonderful in every way we adore her sweet personality. She very much feels comforted and calm when she is being held by her Momma or Daddy; sometimes I find that she needs loving and holding and rocking with no break at all.
My husband is also a farmer - a life style that I absolutely love, but one that also requires a great deal of long hours during the harvest months.  Having a new baby is already an exhausting and soul stretching task before also having a husband as a farmer during harvest at the same time, plus a new baby who only feels comforted snuggled up in my arms, plus two older boys who need love and help and comfort too. Needless to say, it has been an even greater "soul stretching" experience than I have ever personally experienced.

We have been tremendously grateful to loved ones, friends and family who have offered meals and much needed time of tending our two older boys. I really don't know what I would have done without that support. Our hearts have been full.

But I have still found myself at some points feeling filled up with one thousand emotions - sometimes feeling angry, irritated, irrational and most of the time, close to tears. There are so many things that are required of me to do in the role of Motherhood - things that my Father in Heaven requires me to do: feeding food, washing clothes, cleaning a home, grocery shopping, teaching littles to pray, teaching littles to read scriptures, feeding a demanding baby every 20-45 minutes. At times the tasks that build up and those negative emotions and exhaustion can feel like a thick, "spiritually blinding" fog.

Then one evening while I was cuddled up with my two boys at bedtime, I was listening to a podcast from a Mom of many. She described how strongly she felt that her "mission" in life was to be a mother to her children. She described how she felt that there was nothing more important that she could have been doing than nurturing and teaching and loving the littles in her life. She described how she knew that because this "mission" was so important she knew that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would not leave her without help that she needed - They would literally strengthen her and lift her to complete the task.

As I listened it felt as if a heavy fog was lifting from my "spiritual eyes" and I remembered the "why" of my motherhood. I felt her words in my heart. The world would have me feel as if I am missing out on a whole lot by choosing to be a Mother and with all the "whats" and all of the "hows" it is so very easy to forget the "whys" of motherhood. My Motherhood is not just "To Do" lists or a number of diapers changed, laundry loads washed, dried and folded or meals made.

It is so much more than that.

So WHY is my Motherhood wonderful and important?

Because Motherhood is loving and being loved back; it is teaching about the Savior and learning about Him at the very same time; it is helping a boy grow into a man, a girl into a woman - men and women who have learned to love God and know deep, deep in their hearts that He loved them first. Oh, what a place our world would be if we each knew without a doubt how tremendously God loves us and if we also loved Him as much as we could - it would change the world.

Why is my Motherhood wonderful and important? 

Because these little spirits, so close from Heaven, teach me far more than I could ever manage to learn any place else - and definitely far more than I could ever manage to teach them. And I know that they will change the world if I can manage to do a few things right.    

Just as my little boy will still have his struggles to watch 10 hours of General Conference even though he discovered the "why", I know that I too will still have "foggy, blind" days where I struggle to remember the "why". I am not perfect. But remembering "why" has given me strength and helped me to have the patience I needed when I needed it most...

Like the time in  a quiet night only two weeks after M had been born. B had woke up 3 times and had demanded to be comforted by no one but me (I think he was feeling displaced). H had a nightmare and was wanting a cuddle. M was wailing her little newborn heart out, I'm sure having some growing pains from being farther from Heaven than she had ever felt. Hunter helped me all that he could but in all reality many of the tasks were not things that he could assist me with and all he could do was reassuringly squeeze my hand. I needed desperately to remember the "why" . B woke for the 3rd time that night and I could feel the "fog" surrounding me; I could feel my angry tone rising. I said a quick and desperate prayer and before I even finished I was reminded of a million "whys" and I suddenly felt so much love for B that I felt strong enough to be patient.

This journey of Motherhood is so much more than it can sometimes appear to be in the monotony of exhausted and soul-stretching days.

"My dear sisters, seek out the majesty, the beauty, and the exhilarating joy of the “why” of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The “what” and “how” of obedience mark the way and keep us on the right path. The “why” of obedience sanctifies our actions, transforming the mundane into the majestic. It magnifies our small acts of obedience into holy acts of consecration."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf

May you ever remember the "why" and always find the majesty and beauty and exhilarating joy of Motherhood.

my first daughter, myself and my remarkable momma, who always makes "remembering the why" look so easy
"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Lord Looketh on the Heart

A long time ago, I was paroozing through the internet world when I came across a blog. It was written by a wife and mother of many (let's call her "Jane" because my pregnant brain cannot remember diddly squat right now ;); she had been the victim of an accident which left almost her entire body burnt. Her appearance was different because of this - she had scars covering almost her entire body - and she experienced great pain doing normal, every day things like getting dressed, cooking dinner, showering, etc. I was touched by her faith and gratitude to Heavenly Father even in the face of such a trial. One thing that she said struck me deep into my heart and I've never forgotten it. She said:

"I am Jane. And I am not my body."

Later on she also said:

"As women we want to be beautiful and attractive. And I struggle with that. But I also know that it is not everything."

"Body image" has been on my mind a lot of recent. This pregnancy has brought with it a slew of comments (mostly unwanted comments) regarding my physical appearance. One evening I came home from running some errands. Hunter and I fed the kids and finally lulled them off to sleep - we sat down together and were just catching up on each other's days. He asked me how my day was and I thought about it for a moment and described that I was feeling quite upset because of some "unwanted comments" that people had made in regards to my body:

"Wow, you are so huge! Are you sure your due date is right?! Your belly is hanging SO FAR out there!" 


"Oh my goodness your boobs are so giant right now! Have you noticed?!"

A giant sized wave of emotion came over me and tears came to my eyes. It was not the first time I had experienced a day like this; it seemed like it was becoming more and more frequent every single time I left the house. And I was (and am) so over it. I decided that evening that, in an attempt to fend off at least some upsetting comments, I would discontinue telling people my due date.

Side note: I have loved not telling people my due date, and one day I would love to share my experience with that. But in hopes of staying focused on one issue at a time, I'll save that for later ;). 

While the comments made to me were rude and intrusive (although they were made with good intent) the part that upset me the most about them is that it felt to me that all anyone ever cared to discuss with me was my physical body. I felt that everything that was most important (my spirit, my heart, my feelings) had all but disappeared behind my body, which those around me were so determined to discuss and comment on every. single. time. anyone saw me.

I felt like saying: 

"Hey! I'm still in here, ya know!"

a visit to the dino museum with my boys when I was about 6 months pregnant with baby #3

While the unwanted comments have increased since being pregnant, I also experienced this before pregnancy. After having Beckum (my second) my tummy never really returned to it's original appearance. At least once a week someone would say to me: 

"Hey, when are you due? Nice baby bump!"

And I would smile and say: 

"I'm not actually pregnant."

And then they would awkwardly and painfully sputter, stammer and sometimes even trip over their own feet in horror at what they had just said and say something like:

"Oh. Well you look beautiful still!"

And I would smile again and say something along the lines of:

"Thanks, I feel awesome." 

Before I even ever had children I remember during a "pudgy" stage in my life when I was around 11 years old an individual saying to me: 

"You sure have gained a lot of weight! You look like you are SIX months pregnant!" 

Then when I slimmed out and grew into my body (and grew out of my "tom-boyishness") and figured out how to brush my hair and teeth and shower on a regular basis, the majority of comments made to me were: 

"Wow, you have such a great body! You are so beautiful!"  

For so, so long during my teenage years I was trapped in the belief that my worth was completely attached to my body. When I lost a few pounds, the comments would flood in: 

"Wow! You are looking so skinny and beautiful!" 

And so I soon began to realize that people flooded me with compliments whenever I changed my body (which, trust me, I rarely did in a healthy way). I found that all other successes I had - emotional, spiritual, etc - were usually ignored entirely by my peers or mentors. 

I'm not saying that trying to have a healthy body is a bad thing; it is not, it is a wonderful thing and I believe with my entire soul that my Heavenly Father wants so much for me to have a healthily functioning body. Because He knows that having a healthy body is important He gave divine instruction through a prophet regarding how to have a healthy body (the Word of Wisdom is its name and you can learn more about that by clicking the link here). The Word of Wisdom offers a guide on what foods to avoid completely, what foods are healthful, and what foods should be consumed sparingly. I've looked through the Word of Wisdom and nowhere does it say:

"Thou shalt have a size 0 body." 


"Thou shalt have a thigh gap."


"Thou shalt have a perfect body mass index."


"Thou shalt have abs of steel."


"Thou shalt not have a pregnant belly that measures larger than the average pregnant belly." 


"Thou shalt have perfectly sized, 'c' cup breasts." 


"Thou shalt be big boned and heavy set." (Which I insert for all of my friends who get "skinny shamed" for having tiny bodies.)  

You can pretty much add almost any body image trend to the above list and correctly assume that it is NOT contained in the Word of Wisdom

In some of the most important teachings from Jesus Christ, the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5:3-12 & Luke 5:20-23), there are no statements that instruct becoming more like the Savior through physical and outwardly attributes either. 

And why does this matter? Because it tells us what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ care about vs. what the WORLD cares about.

The world cares about our outward appearance, and quite often disregards the inward. 

Our Savior and Father in Heaven care about our inward happiness and health, and never focuses on a specific body type or physical attribute.

1 Samuel 16:7 says: 

"...the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

Don't get me wrong. I don't necessarily believe that it is a sin to comment to someone on their physical appearance. Just the other day, I was a sweaty, hot mess wrangling two kids, a babe in my belly that was insistent on jamming her little feet into my ribs, also pushing a cart heaping full of groceries in +33 weather and a kindly friend walked by me and shouted "You're looking beautiful, Megan!". It was an encouragement to me that maybe no one else was noticing my sweaty forehead and sweaty pit stains on my shirt. And I so appreciated that. 

But maybe there are also many occasions when we can shift our focus from a physical one to an emotional, spiritual or "inward" one. 

Maybe we should think twice before saying to the insecure and easily influenced teenage girl:

"Wow, you are looking so skinny and beautiful today!" 


"Wow, you have the most beautiful body, have you lost weight recently?"

Maybe we should reconsider before complaining about all the parts of our bodies that we hate (especially in front of a young girl). Saying things like:

"Oh, if only I didn't have these ugly legs, arms, butt, boobs, etc." 

sends a strong message to those around you about what you care about and what is important in life. 

Maybe we should refrain from obsessing over weight loss techniques especially in front of the younger generations who are looking to us for cues on what things are the most important in life.

Maybe that pregnant lady with the awe-inspiringly huge belly has heard many, many, many times already how "big" her body/belly/boobs look and would so love it if you instead said something like:

"How was your week?"


"What is new in your life?"


"How is your family doing?"

I have come a long way from my insecure, teenage years. And I am grateful that I feel my Savior's perfect and unconditioned love for me when I remember the words "I am not my body." Because I am not only a body; I have a heart and feelings and a spirit. 

And I hope that some insecure, teenage girl or boy who may or may not be struggling with an eating disorder, 
or some achy pregnant mama who has just heard the ninetieth comment on her body, 
or some any aged woman or man whose life is controlled by diets and obsessions with having a different body,
or some tired and pain riddled man or woman whose body is overcome by illness or injury or failings in their body,
can remember those words too. You are not just your body; you are so, so much more than that. We are children of God who loves us perfectly. Our Heavenly Father and Savior show us that perfect love by "look[ing] on the heart". I believe that we can also try to emulate their love more perfectly by showing ourselves and those around us that perfect love and avoiding the temptation to obsess over our physical appearance.

"...the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."


Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Fresh Start & New Direction!

Well friends, I have been MIA for nearly two years. What posts I have posted I feel I have begun with something like this (excuses for why I've been away, blah, blah, blah). So I'll save you the excuses and jump right in.

I have wanted to restart my blog for some time. Actually, I'm going to be totally honest with you here... I have felt very strongly that I needed to continue writing in my blog. At the end of each year for the past 3 years I have said to my husband "Oh man, I didn't restart my blog again....". This year, I'm pretty sure that he knew I would be saying the same thing AGAIN for the MILLIONTH time, and he probably even had to stifle an eye roll and maybe a "What else is new?" comment. Haha. I have procrastinated for a LONG TIME. And so I've cleaned up my blog a bit - and one must start somewhere, so here we are! 

In the future of this blog I would love to share a little bit of what is most important to me and also some practical things to. So with that being said the three topics/goals that I have for this blog going forward are:
  1. Product Reviews: 
    I seriously spend a lot of my life scouring the Internet trying to find information on what variety of a particular product I am looking to buy. I DO NOT like spending money. K, scratch that, I actually really do like buying awesome stuff, but not stuff that I hate. And so when I do finally decide that I need something and I am going to spend money, I want it to be on something that I will love. So many times I have thought “Ah! I wish someone had written a product review of this so I could find an objective opinion on it!” With that being said, I would love to save you a little bit of the HOURS of online researching and help you find something that you might love too, and even only have to stop at 1 spot rather than 200 million thousand spots.
  2. My Family and Life: 
    Going forward I don't want this blog to be like a “journal”; though I'm sure that occasionally there will be a post that has some "journalesque” qualities to it. Some of the greatest ways that I have learned is through other people sharing their experiences and unique perspectives. I love learning from others as they share things that have worked for them and things that haven't. I am a wife, a stay at home mom, a home schooler, a best friend, a primary teacher, an advocate for healthy living, a baker, a cook and an animal care taker and even more. I have had to learn a lot along the way through trial and error, lengthy research, more trial and error and then even more lengthy research. I hope that by sharing the lessons (and some “how to's”) I learn along the way, that I can save you some of that “trial and error/lengthy research”. Sometimes life is a tough thing to navigate and I think as we share together, we can lighten each other's load.
  3. My Beliefs:
    I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love the things that I have learned from His Gospel. I don't think it is usually looked very highly upon in our culture for a person to openly share their personal belief in Jesus Christ - I don't agree that we should hide our beliefs! It may not be popular to “speak of Christ” or “rejoice in Christ”… But, then again, I have never really believed the notion that just because something is “unpopular” it also means that it isn't true or good or wonderful. I believe in my Savior's ability to lift us during the most troubling times and I believe in life after death and this knowledge has transformed my entire life and brought so much joy to me; and I want to share that joy with every person that I can.
So... I hope that this is the beginning of something exciting and fun for me; and I hope you can enjoy it too! 

And here's a random cute picture of my family :)(hopefully in future posts my photo quality will increase.... but just know that this was a wild night and it was a Christmas Miracle that I even got this picture haha!)