Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Laughter is the Best Medicine

So, for those of you not aware, I'm a BYU fan and proud to admit that. I'm not so proud to say that although our football team appeared to have great promise this year, they fell a bit short. Do not worry...my loyalties will NOT change. But I did find the following video (made after the BYU v. Utah game) did help lighten the mood. Somehow if you can laugh during the hard times, it really does seem to make things better.

What Christmas is Really All About

The holidays are always a whirlwind of fun, excitement, and definitely some stress too. This year did not fail me on any of those things. But I wanted to be sure to take just a moment (while my 2 year old is sleeping and my 4 year old is next door...thanks Jen) to publicly say that I am SO thankful for the true meaning of Christmas...Christ.

Although His humble beginning was thousands of years ago, it will forever change the world, past, present, and future. His birth was not especially unique. If it were not for His life, it would just have been another baby born. But this is not the case and this is what we truly celebrate at Christmas time...a miraculous life.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has given us a gift more wonderful than we can ever imagine. We are blessed to simply know of His existence, but the truly beautiful thing is that even those that do not know Him, benefit from what He did. He is truly the Savior of the World, not just the Savior for Christians, or Mormons, or even for those that follow all the commandments. Because He died for us we can all live forever.

I feel so truly blessed to know that my Savior died and suffered for me, personally...as well as everyone else. His love for me extends even beyond the love of a mother for her child...something that I have so often marveled at. His life is truly a testament of His love.

So may you stop, for even just a moment, to ponder on how the love of one who was born in a lowly stable has forever changed your life and will forever more.

Merry Chirstmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Best Teacher

Hallmark Hall of Fame, after hundreds of productions can definitely put on a sweet little story. Admittedly, often cheesy, but if you can overlook that fact, they really have an uplifting and inspiring message to share.

I'm not usually one that waits anxiously to see is production, but for whatever reason (I suppose in retrospect I could say divine intervention) I decided I'd try to record their most recent production, Front of the Class. I am so glad that I did.

The basic plot is about a man with Tourettes Syndrome, Brad Cohen, overcoming the obvious challenges his disease presents, to become an award winning teacher. Since it's a Hallmark Hall of Fame (HHofF) movie, I'm not giving anything away by letting you know he accomplished his goal. So in that respect it was no different from any other HHofF production.

So you might be asking, "Then why the heck are you taking up space on the internet to talk about it if it's no better than any other one." Good question!

There was one key point in the movie that really hit home for me. When he was only 12 years old, after a horrible experience with a support group (thank heavens they aren't all like that), he made up his mind that he wasn't going to let Tourettes win.

That is exactly how I've had to learn to approach my depression. I can let it win by allowing myself to become a recluse, sleeping all the time, not seeking the help available (therapy, medicine, etc.), thinking I'm too good for a support group...the list goes on and on.

One thing that Brad learned was that to truly win the battle with tourettes, he had to change the way he thought about tourettes. He finally learned to see tourettes as his best teacher. Tourettes was always with him and if he didn't learn to adapt to the challenges it presented him, then it would win.

Depression is the same way. I have learned SO much from my struggle with depression...hopefully things that have made me a better person.

*I've learned humility. Having to realize you can't do it on your own can be a REALLY hard lesson to learn. (Especially if you're stubborn like me!)

*I've learned that you just don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

*I've learned to be less judgemental.

*I've learned to assume the best about people (kind of the idea of innocent until proven guilty).

*I've learned that perfection is a VERY relative term.

*I've learned that (or really maybe just reconfirmed) Ryan is exactly the husband that I need. (Wow I could go on about that one, but I'll try to refrain from boring you!)

*I've learned that the cleanliness of your home has nothing to do with the effort you've put in.

*I've learned that (or again maybe reconfirmed) the Lord truly knows what we need and will answer our prayers even when we don't completely know that is what we're praying for.

*I've learned that people can truly be instruments in the hands of the Lord.

*I've learned that even 2 & 4 year olds can understand quite a bit about mental illness.

*I've learned that it's okay to take medications...aren't the truly a blessing from a loving Heavenly Father.

*I've learned that what you actually accomplish isn't nearly so important as the direction you're headed and the intent of your heart.

*I've learned that even a little sleep deprivation can lead to BIG challenge the next day.

*I've learned that being open and unashamed about my depression can really go a LONG way.

*I've learned that there are many struggling with various forms of depression and may not even know it.

*I've learned that treating depression is very "trial and error."

*I've learned that blogging (about this and not all the stressful fun stuff my family does) has been SO therapeutic, but then if I'm having a day where it's more overwhelming than helpful, then I just forget it.

*I've learned that plans are great, but it's even more important to flexible enough with myself to not get upset when they don't work out.

*I've learned that planned social events are much better than hoping for the spontaneous ones that never really come to fruition.

*I've learned that the "rules" for my depression change...arrgh...I can't say I'm really okay with this one yet, but I do know that it's a reality.

*I've learned that sunshine is good and I need to get as much of it as I can.

*I've learned that I have to try really hard to not let darkness overcome me (both figuratively and literally).

*I've learned that there are lots of things I can do to create a "slow day," but I've also realized that even when I do everything I should do, I may still have a "slow day" and I can't beat myself up over that.

*I've learned that good enough, really is good enough.

*I've learned that I can be REALLY long winded (okay, so I totally knew that before ;) )

*I've learned that I'm not alone.

*I've learned that the Lord loves me just the way that I am!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I did it!

First let me just say, I haven't blogged for a bit, not because I'm totally down, but just because it's been way too busy. So no one feel bad that I haven't visited your blog in a bit for the same reason. I still love you all and at some point in time life might be a bit more normal and I can actually check out your blogs.

Anyway...So not only did I shamelessly ask Jen to babysit my kids in my last blog (Thanks so much Jen for watching them!), but I even asked for some other help. Turned out things fell through and I didn't need the help, but I asked...isn't that the major issue? Phew...maybe some day I won't feel guilty about it?!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Learning to Ask...

Life is full of busyness. That craziness just multiples during the holiday season. I love the excitement and evening the late nights preparing gifts and goodies for family and friends. This is something that truly makes my season bright...or it was in the past.

More and more I find that I have to limit myself. What was once rejuvenating and exhilarating, often drags me down and becomes more of a hindrance than a help. The past few weeks have been right on par with that idea.

I've been buzzing around getting this done and that done. Sure, in the moment I feel a bit of stress, but more so the excitement and joy of the process...so I keep going. I stretch to get just one more thing done. To put away one more toy, complete one more project, read one more page...

So often I feel like a broken record.
“Why am I so exhausted?”
“Why does this stress me out?”
“Why am I not happy?”
“Why is it never enough?”

Some might say I’m not grateful enough. Others might say I have unrealistic expectations. And still others might tell me that I just need to “buck up” and be happy.

Sadly, none of these options really works. I am TREMENDOUSLY grateful for what I have. I have the most supportive husband. At times I feel like he couldn’t be more supportive and then he does something else even more wonderful and I find myself in awe that the Lord would bless me with such a man.

My boys are SO darling. Often Bradley will call from upstairs, “Mom?!” I reply in my usual, “Yes, sweetheart?” And in the way that only he can do it, he calls back, “I love you!” Braeden is a ray of light as well. There is nothing I could wish for more than his excited face and voice when he runs into my room say, “Hi MOM!”

My new neighbor is truly a godsend. I loved the neighbors from before, but the Randalls are seriously exactly what I needed. Jen has seriously wanted to learn about what I’m going through more than almost anyone I’ve ever met, and we’ve known each other for less than a month. She offers to help all the time. I honestly don’t know quite what to do.

I could truly go on and on about how blessed I am. Sadly, I think that sometimes adds to the frustration. I KNOW I am so blessed, but I’m still not happy.

I suppose the unrealistic expectations could have something to do with it, but it’s hard when the same things were once positives for me and now they’re negatives. Or the things that I could once do with ease are now more than I can even think about doing.

And I’ve tried to “buck up” on SO many occasions, but when you’ve got depression that just plain doesn’t work.

I honestly think this process is going to be a LONG, possibly life long road for me and I’ll admit that’s a scary thought.

But…as I’ve said before, the Lord has blessed me. I have so many people willing to help, if I can just learn to ask. Thankfully I’m more than comfortable enough with my sweet husband to let him know when I feel horrible, but I’m struggling to place that burden on others. SO much of me wants to turn over the burden, but then the other part of me just can’t let it go.

So this is my new challenge. Learning to ask, and especially learning to do it without feeling guilty about it. Believe it or not, I am MUCH better than I once was, but I’ve still got a long way to go. I think that sometimes the Lord looks down upon me and just shakes His head because sometimes I’m just so darn stubborn and won’t take the help that is staring me in the face.

So, Jen…can you watch my boys again for me next week so I can go to my support group…?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ray of Light- Bradley

This was definitely a proud mama moment. As part of a homework assignment, Bradley was supposed to answer the following question:

Finish this sentence: I am thankful for (fill in the blank) because...

This was Bradley's response: I am thankful for presents that I give to people because I like to give them to people.

Let's just say I was pretty darn proud of my sweet little boy after hearing that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Something to remember...

I recently picked up a copy of Gary & Joy Lundberg's newest book Meeting Amazing Grace. Not that this post is really about the book itself, I will say that it was a good read...not as a novel like they say it is, but as a well written self-help book. There were many things about family and really just plain people interactions that I found to be good points and very helpful reminders. So I wouldn't say rush out to buy it, but if you have the chance to read it I think there is definitely a lot to be learned.

So now the the REAL point of this post. There was one particular quote that they mentioned that I really loved.

"The obstacles in front of you
are never as great as the power behind you."



To me that is a truly powerful statement. We ALL have the help of the Lord on our side if we will just take it. There truly is NO challenge too big to overcome with the help of the Lord. As I've said before,
"Life is hard, but with God, we can do hard things!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Faves!

So my friend Kenna posted what I thought was a really good idea. She posted her 7 favorite things about Thanksgiving. I think it's good to start thinking about what we appreciate so here are my 7 faves!

1. Saying what we're thankful for before we eat.
2. Making pies the night before.
3. The smell and taste of my dad's smoked turkey...TO DIE FOR!
4. Crazy family game nights every night of the weekend.
5. The tryptophan induced coma after the yummy meal.
6. Standing back and watching the hubub and excitement.
7. Being reminded that we are all SO tremendously blessed.

We really are SO blessed and I'm so thankful we have a holiday to remind us to be thankful. I love it!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ray of Light

Here are few Rays of Light from my past few days:

*GREAT new neighbors...we've seriously had them over nearly every day since they moved in (and not because they were barging in on us, but because we mutually wanted to be around each other!)

*Sunny weather

*Trips to the park

*Watching Wall-E, I don't know how many times...but still getting a kick out of how much my boys LOVE it

*Breakfast with friends

*Dinner with friends

*Not having to take my kids out during sacrament meeting

*Receiving revelation on the most simple of things

*Truly praying and feeling the love of the Lord in return

*My support group: The Riverton chapter of DBSA celebrating it's 1st anniversary

*Snuggling on the couch with my hubby

*Hearing "Lub you!" from my 2 year old

*Getting kisses from my 4 year old

Life truly is good...even with the craziness!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ray of Light

Again, it's really the little things that happen each day that are so important and seem to make the biggest difference in my life.

My boys have always been pretty good eaters. Sure they have their issues, like anyone does, but generally speaking we don't fight them too much. Thank heavens! But yesterday as Braeden chowed down on his peaches and pears and begged me for some of mine this morning, it just made me really happy. What a simple thing, but a blessing none the less. I suppose not only to have a son who enjoys his fruit, but to have the fruit in the first place. Yes, our life is still definitely tight, but we have what we need and a little reserve and so I really couldn't ask for more. Life is good!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ray of Light- Fall Fun

Yard work is not my most favorite of all tasks, but if having to do it means we own the home, then somehow it doesn't seem quite so bad.


Raking leaves seems to be the requisite fall yard work activity. Bradley has been DYING to help Ryan rake the leaves. For weeks he'd ask, but our dear little tree was still hangin' on for all she was worth, but recently, she produced a beautiful blanket upon our grass and Bradley got his wish.

It was the cutest thing to peek out the window and see Ryan and the boys having so much fun. There are a lot of things in life that make me happy, but somehow watching my husband and sons have fun together ranks at the very high, if not on the top of the list.

Here are some shots of the fun (p.s. Since I'm a totally paranoid mom and this is a public blog, I purposely didn't give you any super cute face shots):



Bradley proudly helping Daddy...he loves having his own rake.


Ready...Set...Jump! Seriously...what else are piles of leaves for?!


"Splashing" in the leaves!

"Leaves are falling all around...On my head and hands and toes!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ray of Light

So now that I've written my whinny post, I do want to let you know that I haven't stopped looking on the bright side of things.

My sweet boys have been struggling with getting up too early lately. I wish I could just blame it on the time change, but since it was happening before then, I guess that scapegoat is out. Anyway, we've really been working to help them sleep until at least 7 am so they aren't totally tired and grumpy all day.

Not today (but today was REALLY close), but the 2 days previous they've done it! HALLELUJAH! They are SO much happier when they sleep until then, not mention mama is a LOT happier too.

Miracles DO happen!

Jealous

Today I was talking to one of my sweet friends that recently started the fight with depression. I've been SO glad I could be there as a support for her. It has been such an uplifting experience for me to think that the hell (and I don't use that word lightly) I've been going through can help someone else.

I admit that I was jealous of her today. She recently started taking antidepressants and she already feels so much better. I'm SO happy for her and I would NEVER want her to keep feeling awful, but I wish I was feeling better too! Yes, I realize she just started them and things could level off or change or it could even mean all sorts of other things, but I guess I'm just sad I never experienced that.

Immediately after I started my antidepressants was HORRIBLE (she did have a rough first few days too), but even after that subsided, I was only able to "kind of" function. It was definitely an improvement, but I wouldn't say I felt "good."

Even still, I'm definitely light years better than I once was, but I would still say I don't feel "good" as a general rule.

Don't worry...I am tired and having more of a slow day today (definitely partially my fault...I was up reading late)...but again as a general rule I am MUCH better than I was before taking meds or even 3-4 months ago. I guess I'm just having a bit of a pity party day...kind of throwing a 2 year old tantrum, "But I wanna feel better! (insert foot stomp) It's not fair!"

Anyway, for this dear friend and any one else that has found solace and peace, I am truly SO happy for you. It is nothing short of a miracle that there are drugs and treatments out there that really work. I know that Lord inspired the minds of those scientists who discovered these drugs. May those of us that struggle in this unique way, only continue to be blessed by advancements in modern medicine.

(okay...I think I'm better now...phew I just needed to vent!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tired...but the good kind!

Sunday night into Monday morning were HORRIBLE.

Most of Monday I slept.

Today I am tired...but the good kind of tired. As a general rule I'm not that up on the idea of being tired, but when I've had a good and productive day and I'm the "accomplished" kind of tired, I'm good with that. So I'm about to plop myself down on the couch and watch and good show then snuggle up in bed knowing I had a tiring, but productive day.

This definitely counts as a gold star day for me!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ray of Light- Warm Laundry

Okay, so I'm feeling in a pretty good mood at the moment and so I figured I should capitalize on it.

I know having the word "Laundry" in conjunction with a "Ray of Light" seems a little odd. No, I don't enjoy doing laundry. I definitely find it a necessary evil, but as I was pulling out the laundry from the dryer I couldn't stop thinking how nice the warm laundry felt on my cold hands.

So there is good to be found in pretty much everything...even the laundry!

I love my husband!

So I think I've mentioned before, my weight has always been an issue for me. I've had varying levels of success with different things, but especially after having kiddos, I've been up and down. Anyway, I've really started to hit things hard again these last few weeks, but sometimes I get frustrated with my lack of success.

Last night I was complaining to Ryan about my weight issues as well as the outcome of the election (sorry, not an Obama fan) and being the sweetheart that he is, Ryan listened dutifully. In an attempt to lighten the mood Ryan told me, "Well since Obama is all about redistribution, maybe he could implement redistribution of weight. All of the underweight people take 5 lbs. from the overweight people."

If only it was possible! That would be the best! I think I might sign up for 40-50 lbs! YEEHAW!

Okay, so in reality that won't work (DARN!), but it did lighten the mood. I'm so blessed to have such a patient husband that listens to all of my craziness!

I love you Ryan!

Ray of Light- Sunshine

Today has been really cold here in Utah, but by some miracle (or maybe just weather patterns) it's still been sunny in our little valley. We had a little blustery snow, but not much. I just feel so blessed each time the sun comes out. It makes ALL the difference for me.

Monday, November 3, 2008

This past weekend was fun and busy with Halloween and what not, but one particular event made my weekend. I was browsing the blogs that I check and my 4 year old came into the room. I figured I'd try to hit the blogs of people he knew. At one of them we found the following movie. I could definitely see how this was funny, but to him and his cute little 4 year old mind, it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen. I don't know how many times he asked to watch it. It just brought such a smile to my face. Needless to say, this and the next video posted have been a large part of my weekend.



If you can't see the player, click here!


After seeing the one above, we found him some other funny cat videos. The middle of this one (cat vs. fan) was his FAVORITE part.



If you can't see the player, click here!


How simple is his pleasure. I love it!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ray of Light- Halloween

In some ways it seems kind of ironic that I'd have Halloween down as a "Ray of Light." For many, Halloween conjurers images that have nothing to do with light...but not at our house.

We really enjoy Halloween, but not for the dark, scary, or sinister side, but for the costumes, kids, and candy side. My 2 darling boys were crayons this year (yes, I did recycle last year's costumes, but if they still fit, why not?!). In true 2 year old form, Braeden wouldn't wear his hat, so he was a pointless crayon, but they still looked cute nonetheless.

At first Braeden wanted nothing to do with his costume. He even had 2 other occasions to wear his costume and even when many other kids were wearing theirs (commonly motivation for him to do things...good old peer pressure), he still refused (literally kicking and screaming) to wear his. I suppose it's all about proper motivation...chocolate. We just had to ask him if he wanted to get chocolate...which being my son, he naturally did...but we told him it was conditional on wearing his costume. Let's just say the crayon outfit was looking pretty good about then.

Armed with a red and navy crayon, we set out to pound the pavement in search of chocolate. Bradley, being 4, was a natural. He was all about knocking/ringing to get the goods and without much practice Braeden was right there with him. And when they were later joined by another friend Braden (my friend Susanna 2 year old son) the 3 of them made quite the team.

This is where I really think my "Ray of Light" comes in...the excitement in their eyes. No, it's not some noble act that inspired them, but it is something that I think is part of every happy childhood. I remember the excitement and anticipation of Halloween. I loved it. And how simple and sweet is their amusement. Candy isn't some huge event, but being the sweet children they are, enough to light up their whole month, let alone the evening of procuring the candy.

Then after tromping home (with little Braeden literally dragging his bag...he wouldn't let me help him carry it), we sat down to dinner. With our children's early bedtime, we went and finished earlier than most so we obviously didn't eat dinner in peace...but that made it all the more fun. Both my boys were so excited each time someone came to the door. Bradley was especially excited about being the "candy sorter" (i.e. the giver of candy). Again, this was another simple act that placed the light and joy of anticipation in their eyes. How sweet that they were as excited to share candy with others as they were to receive their own.

Often, as I look at my situation, I think about children and how little things amuse them. When I stop to get excited about the little things, I find my life much more fulfilling. How would it be if we were all more easily amused by what life has to offer...I think we'd have a far less cynical and depressing world.

Now don't get my wrong...the chocolate involved in the night's events did contribute to my happiness (yes, I'm amused by chocolate too), but again, the biggest sense of satisfaction came in the excitement and light in their eyes. That sweet and simple anticipation characteristic of our most precious gift...children.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Girl in a Whirl

A recent email conversation with one of my friends made me think of this poem. I would just like to give a big AMEN! We just need to give ourselves a break once in a while.

The Girl in a Whirl
by 'Dr. Sue'
( a.k.a.. Vickie Gunther)


Look at me, look at me, look at me now!
You could do what I do
If you only knew how.
I study the scriptures one hour each day;
I bake,
I upholster,
I scrub, and
I pray.
I always keep all the commandments completely;
I speak to my little ones gently and sweetly.
I help in their classrooms!
I sew all they wear!
I drive them to practice!
I cut all their hair!
I memorize names of the General Authorities;
I focus on things to be done by priorities.
I play the piano!
I bless with my talents!
My toilets all sparkle!
My checkbooks all balance!
Each week every child gets a one-on-one date;
I attend all my meetings (on time! Never late!)
I'm taking a class on the teachings of Paul,
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all
I track my bad habits 'til each is abolished;
Our t-shirts are ironed!
My toenails are polished!
Our family home evenings are always delightful;
The lessons I give are both fun and insightful.
I do genealogy faithfully, too.
It's easy to do all the things that I do!
I rise each day early, refreshed and awake;
I know all the names of each youth in my stake!
I read to my children!
I help all my neighbors!
I bless the community, too, with my labors.
I exercise and I cook menus gourmet;
My visiting teaching is done the first day!
(I also go do it for someone who missed hers.
It's the least I can do for my cherished ward sisters.)
I chart resolutions and check off each goal;
I seek each "lost lamb" on my Primary roll.
I can home-grown produce each summer and fall.
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all.
I write in my journal!
I sing in the choir!
Each day, I write "thank you's" to those I admire.
My sons were all Eagles when they were fourteen!
My kids get straight A's!
And their bedrooms are clean!
I have a home business to help make some money;
I always look beautifully groomed for my honey.
I go to the temple at least once a week;
I change the car's tires!
I fix the sink's leak!
I grind my own wheat and I bake all our bread;
I have all our meals planned out six months ahead.
I make sure I rotate our two-years' supply;
My shopping for Christmas is done by July!
These things are not hard;
'tis good if you do them;
You can if you try!
Just set goals and pursue them!
It's easy to do all the things that I do!
If you plan and work smart, you can do them all, too!
It's easy!" she said…


…and then she dropped dead.
I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with striving for the ideal as long as we have enough perspective to realize that we're not going to get there in this life. We all need to work together to help others where they're weak and be humble enough to ask for help where we're weak.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ray of Light- Indian Summer

I'm LOVING the Indian Summer* we're having here in Utah. It has been in the high 60s and low 70s the past several days. It's nice to get a little chill in the evenings, but still be able to go outside without being bundled up. It has been SO good for my "winter blues" that it hasn't really been winter like yet. Still lots of nice sun...yay! Oh, and Halloween is even supposed to be close to record high...YIPEE!

* * * * * * * * * *


*Indian Summer: a name given to a period of sunny, warm weather in autumn, not long before winter. Usually occurring after the first frost, Indian summer can be in September, October, or early November in the northern hemisphere, and March, April, or early May in the Southern hemisphere. It can persist for a few days or extend to a week or more. This term is not related to the summer season in India. (Thanks so Wikipedia)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ray of Light- Success!

Ryan's birthday was on Friday. He turned the big 3-0! I figured now was as good a time as any to give him a surprise party. I've been planning this for several months and it's been KILLING me to not be able to tell him. We don't keep secrets...which is good, because that's not my best skill anyway.

Needless to say, it was a miracle that between my four year old son (he was there when I bought decorations and put them up) and myself we didn't spill the beans. Ryan was "totally snowed!" as he puts it.

It was a great success. Everyone arrived BEFORE we did. Until we walked in the house, Ryan still thought we were meeting his sisters to go out to eat. I had plenty of food (actually enough extra that we got together for dinner tonight to finish them off). I made a special design for the top of the cake (I made the design, but Costco lovingly created the cake and decorated it for me) that he totally loved...and it tasted good to boot! Overall it was just a great night.

I didn't realize how much stress it actually caused me until I realized I was shaking. My hands and heart rate didn't get back to normal until after the party. I knew it was important to me, but didn't realize just how much. I suppose the fact that I slept most of Saturday was also a good sign that it had taken it's tole.

I don't see myself doing another surprise party any time soon, but I wouldn't change the look on Ryan's face for anything. It was great!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ray of Light

This past Sunday I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. This is definitely not my favorite thing to do. I'm not the biggest fan of getting up in front of people, but especially not when I'm supposed to be bringing the spirit to the room and helping the entire ward be spiritually fed.

But each time I'm asked to talk in church it's really like a little miracle happens. Each time I have been blessed with divine assistance. I often look back at what I've written and realize those words were not my own. It is such a blessing to know that God is there watching out for me and that when I petition His help and exercise active faith (i.e. study the topic, pray, try to outline the talk on my own, etc.) He will not fail me.

On more than one occasion after giving a talk, someone has come up to me and asked for a copy of my talk, or said how helpful it was to them at that time. I'm definitely not bragging when I say this because the words were not my own. And I'm always very quick to tell the other person that too. I really just feel like I'm an instrument in the hands of the Lord; sharing the message He would have those listening hear.

This time my talked was based on one given by Elder Perkins in the Oct. 2006 General Conference...."The Great and Wonderful Love." I would highly recommend you check it out! It would be WELL worth your time.

Real Mothers

I got the following message in an email from one of my friends. Sometimes it's nice to feel like you don't have to be perfect, to be "perfect." It's an amazing and crazy and tiring and joyful and exciting and stressful...thing to be a mom. I'd like to give a special thanks to all the moms in my life.


MOTHERS

Real Mothers don't eat quiche; they don't have time to make it

Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox.

Real Mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens and happy kids.
Real Mothers know that dried play dough doesn't come out of shag carpets.

Real Mothers don't want to know what the vacuum just sucked up.
Real Mothers sometimes ask 'Why me?' and get their answer when a little voice says, 'Because I love you best.'

Real Mothers know that a child ' s growth is not measured by height or years or grade...It is marked by the progression of Mama to Mom to Mother...

The Images of Mother

4 YEARS OF AGE - My Mommy can do anything!

8 YEARS OF AGE - My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!

12 YEARS OF AGE - My Mother doesn't really know quite everything.

14 YEARS OF AGE - Naturally, Mother doesn't know that, either.

16 YEARS OF AGE - Mother? She's hopelessly old-fashioned.

18 YEARS OF AGE - That old woman? She's way out of date!

25 YEARS OF AGE - Well, she might know a little bit about it .

35 YEARS OF AGE - Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion.

45 YEARS OF AGE - Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?

65 YEARS OF AGE - Wish I could talk it over with Mom.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ray of Light

The last few days have been good, bad, busy, sad, easy, hard, productive, lazy, etc. I think you get the idea. Pretty much I've been all over the map. Needless to say it makes me tired and I just haven't found the energy to get on here.

But even with the craziness I haven't failed to notice some "Rays of Light":

*Fresh fallen snow. (yes, I did have the post about winter...I don't mind snow, what gets me is the "darkness" that often comes during the winter.)

*Clean sheets

*2 year old preschool (all 15 minutes of it)

*Finished projects

*Completing a hard workout (notice, I didn't say doing)

*Spending time with friends

*Watching a movie and eating popcorn while cuddling on the couch with my boys

*Getting answers to my prayers...no matter how simple or basic the question

*Having nursery aged kids actually participate in singing time, not just staring at you

*Taking a peek at my 2 beautiful boys sleeping peacefully

*Hugs from my husband after a hard day

*My boys eating without complaining about some aspect of the meal...miracles DO happen

*Escaping into the pages of a good book

*The smell of freshly mopped floors

*Watching my dad and son make cookies together

*FINALLY falling into bed after a busy, busy day

*Feeling the peace and assurance that can only come from our loving Father in Heaven

* * * * * * * * * *

Life is hard, but with God I can do hard things!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Winter

Well, if I hadn't figured it out by the temperature, the snow falling was definitely a strong indication that winter has arrived. Yes, it looks like it will warm up again, but none the less, winter is upon us and I'm worried.

Living in the South for the last 3 winters has made me weak. I don't do cold and snow very well. It really helps my mood to be able to get outdoors. I also thrive on natural light. Even rainy days are really hard on me (yes, that's coming from a girl that grew up in Western Washington...boy how I've changed!). I'm trying to keep rational and not freak out, but the more and more I think about winter, the more worried I become...especially if we repeat Utah's last winter!

I want to make it through this winter without crashing. I'd love ANY suggestions you have on avoiding cabin fever. I know most of you that read this site don't have depression, but that doesn't mean that your suggestions won't help. Please send your ideas!

Pesto Recipe

Since I've had a request for the recipe I figured I'd just post it here for anyone interested:

Pesto

2 C. Fresh Basil (firmly pressed into dry measuring cup...not smashed)
3 T. Pine Nuts
2 Cloves Garlic
1/2 t. salt
dash of pepper
1/2 C. Grated Parmesan cheese (fresh if possible, not the stuff in the green canister)
1/4 C. Grated Romano cheese (again the fresher the better)
2/3 C. Olive Oil
butter

To prepare: Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet in a bit of butter. Wash & drain basil- remove stems. Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Freeze or refrigerate until ready to use. (Shouldn't keep in fridge beyond about 5 days.) Don't worry if a brownish layer settles to the top of the pesto after being in the fridge for a while...this is normal. Just stir it up and it will be fine.

For those of you new to pesto, it's super yummy on noodles or to be used a dip for bread or any other number of uses that sound good. I even used a little on top of a baked potato in addition to the normal toppings. If used on pasta adding additional cheese to the top finishes the dish. Be sure to know that a little pesto goes a LONG way. Don't use too much.


Hmm...this makes me happy just thinking about it. You can imagine what we've had the last few days!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ray of Light- Fresh Pesto

So this "Ray of Light" is much less deep then some of my others, but mmmm...but what's better than a home that smells like fresh pesto! Ahh...yes, in fear of losing all of it to the freeze that is coming this weekend, I harvested all of my basil and made 5 batches of pesto. I don't think it's the most cost effective way to go (good cheese isn't cheap), but it sure tastes a lot better than what you get pre-made in the store. So that's what's making me happy right now. YAY for herbs!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ray of Light- General Conference

Saturday and Sunday were truly feasts for the spirit. I have yet to have a General Conference experience that has failed me (or should I say, one where I have been spiritually ready). I know this will not make the darkness go away, but every time I fill my spiritual cup, I feel refortified for the storm I'm living in.

How blessed we are to have a loving Heavenly Father. He KNOWS that we need the spiritual feast that is General Conference. I can't even tell you how many of the talks seemed directed at me personally, and even more beautifully, many others felt the same way.

General Conference truly is a blessing and I feel even more blessed that I will be able to ponder on and reread these beautiful words again.

Recalibration

Somewhere inside me I found a ray of light...an ounce of hope.

I am not an outsider! Satan cannot win this battle!

Over and over the phrases, "Get the hence Satan!" and "I will not let you win!" swirl in my mind.

My boys do miss me, but I'm just blessed enough that they don't fault me for it. Ryan was sweet enough to let me rest. He is such a tremendous husband to spend as much time as possible playing with them.

I need to reevaluate. I need to rebalance. I need to recalibrate.

My reality is that things will be going fine one minute and then the next I'll be on the ground, not sure what sent me there. I can wallow in my own misery and allow Satan to pollute my mind, but what good would that do? I would only be more miserable...exactly how he'd want me.

I do have a choice. It is harder than almost anything I've had to do, but it is a choice none the less and I want to win. I don't want to surrender to the darkness. So I'll reset my sites. Change my plan of action. Take things one day at a time. Recalibrate.

An Outsider in My Own Home

"I love my little family dearly and all I really want to do is to spend time with them, but I can't." That was the thought that kept running through my mind as I lay curled up under the navy blue comforter on my sons bed.

I could hear the excited laughter and giggles of my 2 boys playing with their father. Here I had a golden opportunity to make memories with the ones I loved most, but I couldn't pull myself out of bed.

I will give myself credit...I did try. Before I found my home in Bradley's bed, I was up on the couch. Again, I could hear their laughter and joy and decided I'd come join in the fun. I went downstairs and I was able to play for a few minutes, but that was all I could sustain.

I walked like a zombie into my sons room. I didn't even turn on any lights. I just lay there trapped in the darkness that is my reality more often than I'd like to think.

As I've said on many occasions, I wish I had the vocabulary to truly describe what I was feeling. Again, the idea of an out of body experience comes to mind. Inside my heart is SCREAMING for me to get out of bed and be with the ones I love. But my body, is manically laughing back daring my heart to just try it. And then I'm stuck somewhere in between...wanting one thing so much, but being unable to find the strength to do it.

I think what scares me the most is that I wonder if I was missed. Have my children become so accustomed to mommy sleeping or "resting" that they don't even notice when I've gone?

I am an outsider in my own home...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ray of Light- I love to See the Temple

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun was shinning, Ryan had the day off, and it was the perfect temperature. Although those things added to my overall feelings about the day, the chance we had to spend time at Temple Square.

Temple Square is a place filled with peace and joy unlike anywhere else in the world. Having lived out of state for the last several years my boys had not had the opportunity to be there. I have memories of going to Temple Square and they are always filled with happiness and joy. What more could I want than to have memories of happiness and joy for my children.

I was specifically inspired to take my little family there this weekend because of General Conference. This too is a WONDERFUL event held twice a year, but I'll talk about that in a future "Ray of Light." I wanted them to understand where conference was held and give them a glimpse of the spirit that is present during this wonderful event.

I wanted them to see the grander of the Conference Center. Where over 21,000 of people come together, joined in spirit by the many watching and listening across the world, to feast on the word of God.



I wanted them to touch the house of the Lord. To feel the same granite that faithful pioneers literally cut out of the mountain and worked for 40 years to complete.



I wanted them to feel the sacred spirit present as they listened to the words of our Savior and gazed at the Christus.




Overall I wanted their little hearts to be touched by the sweet spirit that can only be felt at temple square.


Again, it was a beautiful day. Yes, the boys were still 2 and 4 years old. No, they didn't start to cry like their mother did. But, I know it sunk in. As I hugged Bradley while we were looking at the Christus, I asked him if he felt happy. He quietly responded in the affirmative. I was able to use this most special of moments to let him know that what he was feeling was the Spirit of our Lord. He was feeling the Holy Ghost. Even as he sat there in his wiggly silence listening to his little brother mumbling excitedly about Jesus, I could tell he knew. I could tell his little 4 year old heart was touched. And that, that alone, made Friday, October 3, 2008 a beautiful day.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ray of Light-DBSA

There is NO question that my DBSA support group has been SO good for me. I know I've talked about this before, but I just feel so strongly about it. It has been such a relief to be able to go and be with others who understand what I'm going through. My family and friends have been great, but it's just not the same. I'm SO thankful for DBSA. What could be better than a non-profit organization that provides free services to those in need?

On another note (sorry, I'm really on a soapbox right now) we as a community of people have to do what we can to help educate America about mental illness. After each week at group I think it is SO obvious that we all fight the misinformation and the ignorance of those around us. I don't blame those around us for this problem...how can you blame someone for something they didn't know they needed to learn about? I'm not really sure there is blame to be given to anyone. What I think does matter is that we spread the word.

Personally, I need to be open about my disease and its affects on me...I'm trying to do that, that's what I have this blog. I also challenge those of you that are reading my blog to be open about mental illness as well. No, I'm not asking you to go door to door lecturing your neighbors on the misconceptions that are out there, but please speak up when it is appropriate. Teach your children that depression or bipolar or any other mental illness is as disease just like cancer or diabetes. Those of us suffering, didn't sign up for this. This has afflicted us just like any other disease.

Please help me, and others that are suffering with me, fight the stigma.

Okay, so I'm off my soapbox (at least for now). I do want to thank all of you for your support. It has been SO good for me to share my experience here and read your comments. Thank you for being there for me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ray of Light

Oh my goodness...I've just been so busy (which always equals tired). Phew! But at least it's been a good kind of busy.

*For starters yesterday a few friends came over and we canned apple pie filling. It's seriously the best recipe around and so I was excited to do it, but without the generous offering of apples from my parents and the help of good friends I think the task would have been too daunting and I most likely would have never tried. Thank you, thank you for helping me!


*I also owe a HUGE thanks to one special friend. I got a special package at my front doorstep. It was the sweetest and most thoughtful way of letting me know that she cared. For starters just sending me something out of the blue meant so much. Then to send a book (I'm such a bibliophile), wow you couldn't have picked a better thing.
Then the message of the text of the book was so wonderful, not to mention the additional hand written message inside the book. You know who you are, and so I won't name names, but THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. It truly made what has been a difficult few weeks that much easier to bare. I love you and appreciate all that you've been for me.


It has TRULY been such a blessing to spend a little time each day focusing on the good. My life is really hard right now. I do my best to plod along through each days and I have varying degrees of success, but I can NEVER doubt that there is a loving Father in Heaven watching over me. I am constantly blessed by the little "Rays of Light" that come from above. And it is these simple rays that my my life worth living.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ray of Light

I didn't write yesterday because I was sincerely busy the whole day, so don't worry that I was super down yesterday...it was pretty good.

Anyway, to catch you up here are my "Rays of Light" for Friday & Saturday:

*Friday: What a blessing good friends are. One of my friends from High School got a group of us girls together and it was a ton of fun. It was nice to be back with them and just chat about old times and find out that even though we really haven't been together much in the past years, we still have a lot in common and it almost seemed as if the years weren't between us.

*Saturday: Good family & the Good News! Last night I went with my mom and youngest sister to the General Relief Society Meeting*. It was so nice to be there with my family sharing with them what is most important in our lives. The messages the speakers gave were inspiring and uplifting and most importantly they moved me to live life better. One specific quote (I'm really paraphrasing because I can't promise it's exactly right) came from President Uchtdorf**. He said, "Being spirit daughters of God, happiness is your heritage." How beautiful is that. So often we get bogged down by the craziness of life and forget that in many ways, happiness is who we are. I feel SO blessed that I was there to hear this message and to be reminded what is really most important in life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


*General Relief Society Meeting: A meeting they have once a year for the members of the Relief Society.
-Relief Society: Female Church members ages 18 and older belong to the Relief Society. The Relief Society was founded by the Prophet Joseph Smith on March 17, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois. In the days of its founding, it had two main purposes: to provide relief for the poor and needy and to bring people to Christ. The organization continues today, staying true to those original guiding principles as women in the Relief Society meet together on Sunday and in other settings as needed.

**President Uchtdorf:(born 6 November 1940), a former German aviator and airline executive, is the Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ray of Light- Family Support

My DBSA support group has been great for me, as I've mentioned before. These last 2 Thursdays I've had other commitments that have kept me away. I didn't think I was so dependent on it, but it really does make a difference so I was so glad I could go again today.

For anyone dealing with a mental illness, family support is HUGE. I've been VERY blessed to have a tremendously supportive husband and other family members that are trying their best to understand what I'm struggling with. Sadly, that is not always the case.

Tonight at group, though, I was so pleased to see four family members there to support one of our group. They know that their family member is going through something difficult and instead of just turning this person away as "nuts," they're trying to learn as much as they can and be as supportive as they can...what a gift. I'm so thankful that this group member has this kind of support. It was truly a "Ray of Light" for me to see that.

A special thanks to all of the family and friends that are supporting someone through the nightmare of a mental illness. God bless you!

Slow Days

Boy, if you ever wanted to know when I'm having "slow days" you've just got to look at the holes in my postings!

So yeah, the last few days have been pretty hard. In a lot of ways I was all over the map. I'd feel great one day, down the next, great the following, and then back down again. Today I'm back to a good day (maybe not great, but good).

Thankfully even my "slow days" these days aren't nearly as bad as some I've had, but it's still hard and frustrating none the less. I'm still on myself because I can't get as much done as I'd like...well maybe it would be better to say, I'm still frustrated that I can't do as much as I once could. I know it's my reality, but it doesn't mean it isn't still hard.

I'm definitely continuing on the uphill hike, but we're still very much in a 2 steps forward, 1 step (or maybe even 1 1/2 steps) back. The progress is slow, but still in a positive direction.

I think I need to sing my "Dory" song a little more often.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ray of Light

It was about 10:45 pm last night and I was about to crawl into bed (this is early for me) when I heard funny noises from the monitor. Braeden had been coughing a bit in the last few days so at first I didn't think anything of it. But then I heard the noise again.

Ryan and I decided it wouldn't hurt for one of us to go check things out and that was definitely the right decision. I came into the bedroom to find Bradley covered in throw up! (And NO that is not my "Ray of Light.") We quickly went into parent mode and got the messy bed and son cleaned up.

While Ryan was bathing Bradley he mentioned to him that he would give him a priesthood blessing*. First of all, I was SO thankful that I had a husband that was worthy of doing that. I was also really touched by what sweet faith Bradley had. He knew that this is what needed to happen for him to get better.

A few minutes later we were tucking him back into bed and as usual I was going to give him a hug and kiss. He puckered his lips to give me a wet one. I felt so bad, but I had to let him know that I was just going to kiss his cheek.

This was of course confusing to Bradley...not being aware of exactly how germs work, so I explained to him that if I kissed him on the lips I might get sick too.

I then asked him, "What would happen if Mommy got sick?"

Without hesitation he replied, "Well I'd have to have Daddy show me where the stuff was so I could give you a blessing!"

How sweet is that?!

I feel so blessed to have such a caring, sweet, and faithful little boy.



As a side note...he is feeling much better today and this will hopefully just be a 24 hour bug.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


*Priesthood Blessing: A blessing given by a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, by the laying on of hands and by inspiration, to one who is sick or otherwise in need of special counsel, comfort, or healing. If the blessing is for the sick, consecrated oil is used (James 5:14-15).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ray of Light- The Wonders of Yoga!

In a recent email my brother-in-law (he's away in New York serving a mission) mentioned that he was having trouble sleeping. Boy do I EVER understand that. I told him about some of the sleeping pills that have worked well for me and then I also suggested some yoga stretches before he goes to bed.After writing that, I realized that I REALLY needed to practice what I preached. I knew yoga stretches could help calm you and make it easier to sleep, but I'd never done any at bedtime before.

HALLELUJAH! (Think the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing this!)

It has SERIOUSLY been the best thing for me. Sure I don't sleep perfectly now, but I found a great set of exercises from Fitness Magazine...8-Minute Workout: Yoga for Better Sleep. In just 8 minutes I feel SO much more relaxed and ready to go into a restful sleep.

In the past I had to read myself to sleep, but now I just have to decide I'm feeling kind of sleepy, do my yoga stretches, and "POOF" I'm totally relaxed and ready to sleep. Sure I still take some reading time, but I don't have to push myself until I'm SO exhausted, which I'm sure not doing that already makes my sleep better.

This 8 Minute Workout has been a HUGE "Ray of Light" that comes in the darkness of the night!

LOVE IT!!!!! (Think Weezy from Dragon Tales!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ray of Light- To See Me

Today Ryan sent me the following link:
http://www.visionimpressions.com/poems/tosee.htm

For those of you that don't actually want to go to that site, here's the poem that is on it. If you do go to the site there is a beautiful picture and some music associated with it. As well as some additional dialogue about depression.

To See Me
by Deb Montgomery
So long...looking into the mirror
I saw only a reflection of an image,
a stranger looking back at me.
When looking into my eyes,
I saw only an emptiness, a void.
Beneath those eyes were many fears,
fears of pain,
fears of sorrow,
feelings of no hope.
How could I not know this face before me,
as I stood looking at the image in the mirror?
Where was this person that I used to be,
why couldn't I see?
Turning again looking into the mirror,
I saw my life,
one that had gone out
like a candle being extinguished.
All my pride,
my joy,
my hopes,
my desires,
my passion,
all was gone.
What reflected back from that mirror
was a stranger looking back at me.
Standing there feeling so alone,
lost and confused,
the fear set in, where was this person
I called ME?
Walking away from that image,
never wanting to look again,
my life continued on.
Over time I found myself looking in
that mirror again.
Yet this time when I looked,
what reflected back to me
was a face, my face,
my eyes filled with hope,
a burning love,a pride of being me,
a passion for living.
No longer a darkness did I see,
for out of my eyes a light was shining,
a reflection of ME!
For you see
I was no longer a stranger
to Me!
Yet there still is that pain deep within,
that pain has taken on
a new meaning in my life.
Through the tears
and
countless hours of feeling alone,
those hours I screamed out and no one heard
slowly through that pain and confusion
emerged the real me.
It took all those disappointments and life hurts
to make me stop
and look at the real Me!!
No longer am I just an image in a mirrorI
am a reflection of my life,
those hurts,
those joys,
that hope,
that burning passion,
that endless love.
I see now the true image
the image of Me!

I don't think I need to say much more. Deb Montgomery has so well captured what I am feeling. I don't believe I'm quite to the point of seeing the "real" me, but I'm on my way...and that is what hope is all about.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ray of Light

I think I've mentioned it before, but I've recently moved into this home. Transitions are always hard, but especially when you move to a neighborhood where you don't know anyone. I've been trying my best to get to know people through church and what not, but even still that can be hard.

In the last area I lived they had this great program called "Music Makers." It was a great "Mom & Me" activity focused on music, movement, and finger plays. My boys LOVED it. I thought it would be perfect to start up here, not to mention be a great way to get to know other moms in my neighborhood.

I prepped and sent out flyers, but only had like 2 people respond. After about a week another one joined in. I was getting a little nervous, especially since one of the families will be moving next month and that would leave us down to just 3 moms. I suppose if we were always able to attend that would be okay, but I was really hoping for a few more.

Then today I was able to invite 2 moms, also new to the area to join. It's silly, but it made me so happy. I think that's the perfect number of participants. It gives us plenty of kids in the group, not to mention plenty of moms to help lead each different activity. YAY! I'm just so happy.

In a lot of ways I feel like my prayers have been answered. I've really been praying to feel more integrated into my new area and it felt like my efforts weren't really working out. I suppose just like everything, you just need to be patient and have faith (again, active faith...I was trying different things to get to know people, not just waiting for them to come to me) and things really do work out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ray of Light

RYAN'S HOME!

I'm a little paranoid since I have a public blog, so I didn't mention that Ryan was gone. But he's been out of town since EARLY (i.e. 5am) Thursday morning and needless to say he was a sight for sore (and VERY tired) eyes when he got home this morning.

Maybe we're just silly and mushy, but even after 8 years of marriage I HATE to have him gone. He's just so apart of my life and I can't imagine life without him. It was even harder this time since we barely had a chance to talk. He was so busy in meetings and what not that I think the entire time he was gone we spoke for like 20 minutes, maybe. And anyone that knows me knows I like to talk, so yeah...that was torture.

Anyway, he's back home now and hopefully the next business trip will be a while in the future.

Thanks to all of you that helped me out during his trip. It was just nice to have visits from friends, and help babysitting from my parents so that I could keep my sanity.

**An Aside: Something that is helpful to remember...I think it's hard for anyone to have their husband gone and to play the "single parent" game, but like pretty much anything stressful when you have depression, you have to multiply how hard it is because you've always got this base level of stress going on and it is SO much harder to keep the delicate balance of sanity.**

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ray of Light

One of my good friends for Durham, NC is getting baptized*! I am SO tremendously excited for her. She had been working SO hard to get ready while we were still there and has finally been able to get everything ready...I am just SO proud of her.

In general finding religion that makes you want to be a better person is always a good thing, but I can truly say that being baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers something special. I think I often feel the same way about my church as I do about my depression...I just don't have the right words to describe it. It's kind of like trying to explain to someone that has never had it, what salt tastes like..."Well, it's salty!" Yeah, not the best description.

I think one of the MAJOR differences between being baptized and confirmed** a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vs. being a faithful member of any other church, is the having the ability to have the presence of the Holy Ghost*** ( or The Spirit) with you at all times.

All of us can feel the Light of Christ****. As it explains below, the Light of Christ prepares us to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I kind of think of it like physical light. You can have the Light of Christ to give you feelings that you're doing right, or hearing the truth, or making a right decision, but sadly that light is only a small flashlight beam that comes on every once in a while. Having the Gift of the Holy Ghost is like having a search light shinning on you at all times you're doing your best to living in accordance with the will of God. The Holy Ghost still does the same kinds of things that the Light of Christ does, but it's like having those good feelings all the time.

By no means am I perfect or is my family perfect, but we have tried very hard to have a good spirit in our home. This friend who is getting baptized would come to our home to be taught by our LDS missionaries*****. On more than one occasion she mentioned how good and right things felt in our home. What a good spirit was present there. She was feeling the Holy Ghost in our home.

I think since I've been blessed to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life sometimes I don't even recognize what I have. More often than not, I recognize the lack of the Spirit more profoundly than even having it. I can definitely feel that loss and sorrow when I'm not doing what I need to to have that presence in my life. I really believe that having the Gift of the Holy Ghost (He is the messenger of God's love) is why I'm coping as well as I am. Yes, medication, support groups, and so many other things are vital to my overcoming depression, but I could be doing all of those things and not be truly happy. My religion makes all the difference.

It is truly a beautiful blessing and I can't wait for my dear friend to be blessed with it next week. There are SO many blessings that come from being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but this is one that I believe she'll notice right from the very beginning and it will continue to bless her life as she strives to live in accordance with God's will.
This is truly and completely a "Ray of Light" for me. I cannot think of ANYTHING better I could offer anyone in the entire world. Again, those words sound so hollow and weak, but that is the honest truth. You can be happy without being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but not the type of happiness that will last throughout the eternities. That kind of happiness can only come from one thing.
For more information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visit:

www.mormon.org

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


*Baptized:Baptism by immersion in water by one having authority is the first saving ordinance of the gospel and is necessary for an individual to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to receive eternal salvation. All who seek eternal life must follow the example of the Savior by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. (from www.lds.org)

**Confirmed: A blessing whereupon the recipient can then have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion as long as they are living worthily.

***Holy Ghost/The Spirit: The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter. (from www.lds.org)

****Light of Christ: The Light of Christ is the divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things. The Light of Christ influences people for good and prepares them to receive the Holy Ghost. One manifestation of the Light of Christ is what we call a conscience. (from www.lds.org)

*****Missionaries/Missionary Work: The Lord has declared that missionary work is the responsibility of all who follow Him (see Matthew 28:19–20; D&C 88:81). Members of the Lord's Church can, by the goodness of their lives and the strength of their testimonies, share the gospel message and help prepare family members, friends, and other acquaintances who are not Latter-day Saints to be taught by the full-time missionaries. (from www.lds.org)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tired

I'm tired today. BLAH! I suppose I'm usually tired, but I'm feeling especially tired today. I'm still really working on balancing my expectations. Even though I got 7 plus hours of sleep last night, and I slept on the couch for another several hours this morning, the odds are pretty good I'll still be tired. I think that is something that I would appreciate more than anything else...a tired free day. Hmmm....do those ever happen? I promise I'll let you know if it ever does! We can always have dreams right?!

Ray of Light

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to go outlet shopping with some of my friends from the ward. Ryan wasn't able to watch the boys and so my parents were graciously willing to come watch my 2 kiddos. It was so nice to be able to get out and not have to worry about them. And to top that all off, they were great for my parents. YAY! That's made today a lot better.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ray of Light

Today's Ray isn't something unique to today, but it is something that I was reminded of again today. I took my kiddos into the doctor for their yearly well check and they're as fit as can be. I just feel SO blessed to have 2 beautiful and healthy kids. What a blessing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Past Rays of Light

Okay, so my last post was a bit heavy. Phew! So let me lighten things up a bit by sharing some of the "Rays of Light" from these past few days.

*I'm REALLY a soccer mom! I know that doesn't sound like much to aspire to, but I'm thrilled. I was SO proud of Bradley as I watched him play his little heart out in a game of "bunch ball" (as my dad calls it). He put all of his little effort into it and loved every minute of it. I'm so proud of him and would be even if he hadn't made 2 goals!

*We were able to visit my grandma on Sunday. She's in an assisted living facility because of her Alzheimer's. She has been REALLY low in the past, but it was SO good to see her this weekend. She looked happy and healthy (of course relatively speaking for a nearly 85 year old women). She was SO proud that she's been able to walk (without her walker) to all of her activities. She graciously shared some hand strung bracelets with us (Bradley was SO excited...he's been totally into bracelets lately). It was just so nice to see her and see her doing so well.

*I've been in kind of a slump as far as exercising goes...someday maybe I'll get out of it and stay out of it for good (in and out of the slump seems to be my pattern), but both yesterday and today I've exercised. Yes, that's only 2 days, but we'll take every little positive we can find.

*Oh, and along the lines of the last one, it didn't rain on us (Braeden & I) while we were out walking. It was definitely threatening, but we were in the clear. YAY!

*Again, related to the last one, Braeden was SO upset with me for putting him in the stroller. Seriously, all the neighbors were looking at us (he's got lungs...what can I say). I would have let him cool down first, but we had to get Bradley to preschool. Anyway, he finally calmed down and so I didn't have to listen to him scream for the 45 minutes I was out walking, maybe only 5.

*Ryan and I sang as part of a double quartet for the adult session of Stake Conference* on Saturday night and we didn't sound half bad. I think the arrangement was beautiful and we definitely had the help of the Lord as we shared the sweet message of this song.

*Then on Sunday (in spite of some technical difficulties our building was having receiving the transmission) we were able to hear the inspired words of the Lord's chosen servants at the general session of stake conference. How blessed we are to have modern day prophets.

*Sunday was a BEAUTIFUL day which made for a beautiful night. After getting the little guys tucked in bed we enjoyed a refreshing evening rocking on our front porch rockers and reading. What could be better than that?

*I'm sure there are many more I could write, but we'll leave it at that. Aren't we all SO blessed. I love it!
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*Stake Conference: A semi-annual conference held for the members of a stake. A stake is a group of congregations or wards, generally about three thousand to five thousand members in five to ten congregations.

Ray of Light

My "Ray of Light" for today is directly linked with my last post. I am SO thankful that books like Stop Pretending are starting to become more and more available. As much as these books are a nightmare to read and definitely not light reading, I believe it is SO important that our society becomes more informed.

In my support group last week we were talking about how hard it is to have a disease that just isn't understood. One member was mentioning some struggles with needing some time off work and their employer just not understanding. If this member had said they needed to go in to get chemotherapy or that he was struggling with heart disease, the odds are the employer wouldn't have thought twice about giving the needed time off.

Depression, bipolar, and any other major mental health disorder are no different...but that's not how much of the world sees us. Often we get classified as "lazy" or "weak." Sometimes I wish other people could spend a day or two in our shoes. Try fighting through the darkness that makes you feel like you're drowning. Try convincing your body that everything's fine when your brain is SCREAMING that you're going to die. Try dealing with feeling happy and fine one minute and seriously the next, for what seems like no reason at all, you're as low as you've ever been. Then let me know who is "lazy" or "weak."

Phew...I need to wrap this up. As you can tell, I feel very passionately about this. I know I have it pretty bad, but thankfully I'm definitely going in an uphill direction, with only minor set backs, but I see SO many others that have been fighting with EVERYTHING they have and it's just not working.

So thank you to Sonya Sones and others out there that are doing their best to show the reality of such difficult and debilitating diseases.

Stop Pretending

These past few days (well almost as week) have been CRAZY! Some just plain busy, but others I've just been REALLY tired (probably because of the busy days). Thankfully I haven't been SUPER down, but when I'm tired, I just don't have enough energy to blog.

Yesterday night (when I should have been sleeping) I read this book:


I equally loved and hated this book. I loved it because it did such a great job of capturing what mental illness is and can be, especially to family members and I hated it for the same reason.
The basic premise is about a 13 year old girl watching her sister struggle with Bipolar Disorder (she calls it Manic-Depressive disorder...same thing as Bipolar). She shares her fears, her hopes, and her frustrations. I think what haunts me most, is when she worries that it is her fault. Yes, since she's 13 I'm sure to a certain extent she knows that it isn't her fault and couldn't be, but at the same time, we really don't know what triggers something like this and so that idea worries her. It's just so real.
I worry that Bradley (my 4 year old) might think he's contributing to my depression. I just killed me when he told me one day, "Mom, it's okay. We'll just go downstairs and play and you can rest." Sure a certain level of my was SO proud that my sweet little boy could be so sensitive, but the other part of me was dying to know that he was having to be grown up enough to understand that. Am I robbing my boys of their childhood? I know I could do a lot more with them, but I usually don't have the emotional energy to do it. In some ways I'm hoping that Bradley was young enough when this all started that he really hasn't noticed a change, but then in other ways, how sad to think that he's never really known his mom and neither had Braeden for that matter.
I try to stay up beat and not let things like this occupy my mind...they only make it worse. Usually I'm pretty successful in my attempts. But books like this really get to me. They also make me realize just how carefully I need to act around my boys to give them the best chance at coming through this "normally."