Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Infinite Atonement.

At the beginning of the new year, I decided I wanted to do my gospel study by topics instead of just reading cover to cover.
I feel like I could do this forever since there are SO many topics!
I knew my first topic needed to be the Atonement.
I've attempted to study it so many times, but always flake out.
I think mostly because, as wonderful as the Atonement is, I was afraid of it.
Yes.  Afraid of the Atonement.

1. Would I understand it?
2. And if I did understand, would I realize I haven't been truly grateful for it?
3. Also, if I did understand, would that put me at a higher standard and then not be able to make any more mistakes?

Ha...I know.
But those are thoughts that I've had and I'm sure you have had too!
But I committed to do it this time!
So for the past 2.5 months I have been reading scriptures based on Christ's atoning sacrifice and then slowly reading The Infinite Atonement by Tad Callister.
I wanted to read it slow so I could read the lines a few times.
I wanted to let it sink in.
I wanted to let myself not rush.
And even though I did do that, I still feel like I need to read it again!
haha...there's just SO much amazing info!

If you haven't read it...go get it!
It's so awesome!
He explains things in a simple, but profound way.
I also love how it goes beyond those few, final days in Christ's life.
Obviously without those few days we wouldn't have the Atonement.
But I loved how he showed how the Atonement relates to every little bit of our lives!
How the Atonement connects all the pieces.
How the Atonement makes our lives make sense.
And most importantly, how the Atonement is 100% about love, mercy, and progression.

I am so so grateful I didn't chicken out this time around.
I feel like I have SUCH a better grasp on the workings of the Atonement.
And yet, at the same time, realizing there IS so much, makes me feel like I haven't even scratched the surface!
BUT...I do know this:
I know "The Fall" was an essential part in Heavenly Father's plan.
I know that NO other being could have fulfilled the Atonement but the Savior.
I know the Atonement is infinite in power, depth, suffering, love, and coverage.  There is no person, no experience, and no suffering the Atonement can't cover.
I know because of the Atonement I am able to enjoy the blessings of freedom, repentance, resurrection, and then exaltation.
I cannot express to y'all how grateful I am that Christ suffered what He did so that I can have an exalted life after death with my family.
He never gave up.
He never stopped loving.
He even asked Heavenly Father in the midst of the suffering that if it were possible, to remove the bitter cup.
Heavenly Father did not remove it.
There was no other way.
So Christ continued on.
Any other person would have lost consciousness or even died from the pain.
But not Him.
He bled from every pore instead.
He HAD to know the suffering and infirmities of every, single person.
So now?
He can succor us.
And what greater blessing in this life can we have?
Life is hard.
It's so so so great, but sometimes it's so dang hard.
And that's when Christ can step in (if you let Him) so you can give your burdens to Him.

Kameron can't fully comprehend what Christ has done for him, but I KNOW that he feels of Christ's love.  And I KNOW that he knows who He is.
Anywhere we go that has a statue or picture of the Savior, Kam is pointing, wanting to get closer, and says "Jeesssus!"
He knows.
And I know.
And I am so grateful I know so that I can try the best I can to live, serve, and love.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The joy thief.

I'm in a funk.
I said it.
I'm in an annoying, deep funk.
I'm not embarrassed by admitting that.
Everyone struggles with things.
However, I AM embarrassed for the reason.
But I figured I'd better share it just in case there's someone else out there going through the same thing and they need to know they're not alone.

I know you're dying to know the reason.
Ugh.  Terrible, huh?
That's why I'm so embarrassed to admit it!
I have SO much to be grateful for and SO many blessings in my life.
But even that comparison monster gets me.
Usually I'm able to get myself out of feeling down fairly quickly, but recently it's been hard.
I've been in this funk for over 2 weeks now and it's not fun!
Sure I have my moments of happiness.
And obviously I'm still out and about doing my business.
I just don't feel AS happy.
I don't feel AS productive.
I don't feel AS worthy.

Every day my negative mind tells me...
-"Everyone else your age is settled."
-"All of your friends have houses and dogs."
-"You're an ok Zumba teacher.  That's why some of the other instructors have more people in their classes than you."
-"They get to go on fun trips every few months.  Must be nice."
-"You'll never be able to make money with Usborne so why try?"
-"So and so's child can count to 5 or sing a song.  They must be a better mother."
-"Everyone else can afford to go on date night every week."
And the list goes on and on...
And THEN I feel terrible for thinking those things because HELLO!  There are people in the middle east getting their heads chopped off!  My problems are so first world and ridiculous!  What's my problem?
So then I feel worse...
And the cycle goes around and around. want to know the reality?
-I personally know not EVERYONE I know is settled where they're going to be for the rest of their lives.
-Not ALL of my friends have houses.
-I'm a great Zumba teacher.  My students tell me so!  The other instructors have been here longer and have a larger following.  (And are doing this weird thing by telling members to not go to other instructor's classes and are being legit high school mean girls.  My bosses are figuring that one out...)
-Sure they may go on fun trips all the time, but...insert a variety of things we don't struggle with.
-People don't build businesses over night.  The people that make awesome money in Usborne have been consultants for years and have worked hard for what they have.
-My child is happy, healthy, and smart.
-Other people have financial tightness too.

Even though I KNOW all of these realities, I have a hard time grasping them.
Through talking with Alex and my sister, we've come to figure out why that is.
And with my therapy background, I LOVE knowing the logic behind things.
I like to know there's a reason behind ridiculous emotions.
Helps me feel not so crazy. :)
1. This is the first time in my life when comparisons are real.  At BYU, the majority of people were poor college students.  In Salt Lake, we lived in the married student housing.  Everyone lived in cinder block walls and a tight budget.  In Santa Barbara our room and board was covered.  Money wasn't a stress.  Now, we're here.  The excitement of a new place has worn off and the stress is real.  It's so easy to notice comparisons when everyone is in a different stage of their life, families, jobs, and bank accounts.
2. I was born in a hospital 3 miles from my house.  The same house by parents still live in.  I had the same room for 18 years.  Actually...I still have the same room.  haha.  My subconscious is very unsettled with the thought that I have a family, but are no where near to putting down long term roots.  Who knows how long we'll be in AZ?  Who knows how long until we have a house?  Who knows how long until we have a dog and a cat?  Who knows how long until Alex will be doing what he wants to do?  There's just so many unanswered questions.  And for someone who grew up in a very settled family, it's hard to wrap my brain around I don't have that yet.

So there's the logic.
It's still a struggle, but I've been getting a little better.

This morning I saw a quote on Instagram that really struck a chord with me.

"Comparison is the thief of joy." -Theodore Roosevelt

So.  True.
And I do not want that to be me.
That has been me for a few weeks, but I don't want comparing to take any more of my joy.
My son deserves 100% joy.
My husband deserves 100% joy.
My endeavors deserve 100% joy.
And I deserve 100% joy.

So I have a new resolve to really and truly and actively fight that comparison monster within.
It's not going to be easy, but I want it.
We were put on this earth to be happy and I don't want something as stupid as comparison to ruin that!
Wish me luck!

Today I am going to write down all of my biggest blessings and stick them where I can see them often.
My family, friends, talents, my beliefs, and my healthy body are at the top of that list!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

18 months!

I seriously cannot believe my baby is now closer to 2 than 1.
Time flies so stinkin' fast.
And my sweet boy is so stinkin' cute.

Still growing like a champ.
Just about 30 lbs and around 33-33.5 inches long.  (He had a hard time standing still to really get a super accurate measurement.)
He had his last shot until age 4, which was nice!
*side note: we went to the pediatrician's office yesterday to get a rash checked out.  His 18 month well check was 10 days before.  When they called his name to come back, he started running for the front door and said "no!" hahaha!  He thought another shot was coming.

Things he loves to do: read read read!  He's quite the bookworm.  Do "look and find" books.  Build towers.  Shoot basketballs in the hoop.  Naming parts of the body on us.  Being outside.  Finding airplanes and helicopters.  Going on walks.  Opening/Closing the doors.  Putting the keys in the door.  Helping with the laundry.  Watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Cars, and The Lion King.

His favorite foods: cucumbers, bananas, broccoli, bread, crackers, veggie stick chips, apples, pears, cookies, m&ms, string cheese, pasta, peas, and meat.
He also LOVES drinking water.
We can't go anywhere without his big boy water bottle.
It's nice he loves water...but he does wake up with 10 lb diapers.

He's starting to talk a lot more, which has been so fun!
We counted the other day and he says over 60 words on an almost daily basis.
It definitely helps me know what he wants.
A few of my favorite words he says: "hep!" (help), "cupacup" (cucumber), "ahpane" (airplane), "pees" (please), and "dor-A" (door)...he makes "door" a 2 syllable word.  He sounds like he's from Boston.  It's awesome.
I also love when he knocks his block tower over and yells "oh no!" :)

Besides speaking, he understands SO much.
I'm amazed every day at how much he's comprehending and responding.
He's so smart.

Like I mentioned above, he loves to help out with the laundry.
I hand him the clothes from the washer so he can put them in the dryer.
Then he likes to help me "fold."
He would see me whipping the clothes to get all the folds/wrinkles out so now he grabs the clothes and flings them around.
It's so funny.
Since he started messing up all my piles, I've now figured out how to distract him from that.
I just ask him to find all the socks.
He thinks it's the greatest thing ever!
He puts them all in a big pile.  Once he's found them he throws them all over to do it again.
Then once I'm all done I have him put the socks in the drawer.
He's quite the helper. :)

Things he hates: getting his diaper changed, having to come inside, getting dressed, having his face wiped, brushing his teeth, getting out of the bath tub, and did I mention getting his diaper changed?  It's like a wrestling match each time.  As if changing a diaper isn't awful enough...let's add a screaming, flailing, arching, kicking toddler.  Blah.
The one funny thing about it is he yells for the other parent, as if they'll come save him.
So if I'm changing him he yells "DaDa!"
And if Alex is changing him he yells "Mommy!"

Kameron is just the best, little cub.
He's at a challenging age and sometimes I would love to have him just lie in my arms like baby again, but he's so fun!
I can't believe how fast he's growing up and I love seeing his personality shine through more and more.
He's such a sweetheart and I'm so honored to be his mama.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas 2014!

I better write down Christmas before time sneaks by!

I loved our Christmas Eve and Day!
It was non stressful and filled with family...just how I like it. :)

Christmas Eve kicked off with a Mrs. Clause story time!
Karly and Laela came across the valley to join us.
Kameron was interested in the sleigh...and then interested in exploring the hotel...
He would keep coming back to see what Mrs. Clause was up to though.

When we got home we ate lunch and played out in the backyard.
The weather was awesome!
We attempted to put the kiddos down for a nap.
Kam was mad he had to stop playing and Laela couldn't fall asleep since Kam was screaming.
Nap fail.
So we finally let them keep playing...grouchily.
Laela helped me make gingerbread cookies and then we went to Texas Roadhouse for our Christmas Eve feast. :)
Those rolls though...
After dinner we exchanged presents with the Barksdales.
Karly got me a trip to Vegas to see Justin Timberlake!!
We went on New Years Day!
Best Christmas (and birthday and Christmas and birthday) present she's given me! :)

Once they left, we put a very sleepy Kameron to bed.
None of our typical Christmas Eve traditions happened.
I attempted to read him "The Night Before Christmas" but he was kicking and clawing we nixed that.
Oh well...better luck next year. :)
So Alex and I had a movie marathon of A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
And I wrapped the rest of the presents to put under the tree.
It ended up being a fun night just the two of us laughing.

The next morning Kam woke us up and we had our Santa time!
When I was changing Kam's diaper, Alex told me he needed my phone to put Christmas music on.
Actually, he started blaring T-Swift's new CD that he had downloaded onto it the night before. :)
I guess he did pick up on my (not so) subtle hints...
We were so overwhelmed with how generous our family had been!
Our presents were so thoughtful.

 ^ Wooden police car from Auntie Kisser.

 ^ Mickey Mouse Look and Find from the Calls...and a snotty nose...

 ^ Dinosaurs from GaGa and Granddad.

 ^ Having fun with our stocking stuffers! :)

 ^ Krista got me and Karly rings with our child's name on it.  They're stackable so she can order me one with each kid.  I LOVE it.

 ^ Wasn't this place clean when I went to bed??

 ^ Playing with his animal magnets from Kisser.

^ "Friends" poster from Krista.  Can't wait to frame and hang this sucker!

 ^ So my husband is so so talented.  He said Kam told him to make me a dolphin. :) So the present said "To Mommy.  From your boys."  I still tear up thinking about opening that package.

Not pictured: a Polaroid camera and Big Bang Theory Season 7 from my parents!  I can't wait to have polaroids of my life!  New Zumba clothes from my in laws!  They've already served me well and my students have complimented me on them.  Date night gift cards from the Calls!  (With a babysitting offer as well. :)  Oh...and Ticket to Ride from my in laws.  (Best board game ever.)

 ^ Kam knows how to chill after the Christmas morning chaos!  By the tree?  Check.  Monkey pillow?  Check.  Pants off and gut hangin' out?  Check.  Leftover Texas Roadhouse roll in mouth?  CHECK!  This kid kills me sometimes...

My in laws arrived at our place during Kam's nap.
We saved their presents for Kameron to open when he got up!
Then we Skyped with my brother in law, Jack!
He's serving a mission for our church in New Mexico!  He is almost done!  Only about 2 months left!  It was great to see him!  Kam calls him "gack." :)

Then we headed over to the Calls (Alex's sister's family) for the evening!
We started off with a delicious dinner!
Then we had a live Nativity and then played Minute to Win It games.
Why I did not take pictures of any of that is beyond me!
Guess I was too busy living in the moment. :)

Oh...and Alex tried his best to beat our nephew, Caleb, on their new basketball game.
He was not successful... :)

 We finally headed home since it was WAY past Kameron's bedtime.

^ Oh...and with the money my grandma gave Kameron, we got him a toddler hoop.  He LOVES it.  The first day he literally played with it for six hours.  He loves to go out there every day to shoot some hoops. :)

It was such a great Christmas!
I missed my parents and Krista, but I am grateful I was able to see family members from both sides during this time!