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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Best Advice: Last October Topic

Holy WOW! I picked some hard topics this month. I've been thinking for three days about this one, and I figured that I should really just start writing about it and hope that that triggers something. I think that I have been given lots of snippets of wonderful wisdom from lots and lots of people whom I love and respect. Perhaps I should just share some of those.

When I was eighteen, our Laurel class at church had a long conversation with our Bishop about the unfair treatment of people in the world--particularly homosexuals--by those claiming to be Christians. If I rememeber correctly, this was during a time when there seemed to be a huge outbreak of a certain congregation boycotting funeral services of those who were homosexual. It bothered me quite a bit that anyone who claimed to know God could treat another human being with so much disrespect, and I just remember my Bishop reminding us over and over that our God is a loving God, of all people. People don't have to agree with the way others live their life, but people do need to respect others for the good people that they are.

Right before I graduated with my BA, when I was looking at where to student teach, I had a professor flat out reject my first choice of school district. She didn't actually have to approve it, but I was seeking her advice, and she told me that I really needed to expand my horizons and step outside my box. So, I did, and it turned into one of the most incredible experiences of my life and led to my first teaching job. I am a person who gets comfortable pretty easily and doesn't step outside my box very often. However, everytime I have sucked it up and stepped outside my box, I have been blessed with an incredible experience and my life has greatly changed--for the better. I am experiencing this now, and I am about to embark on another great adventure that takes me out of my comfort zone--MAJORLY! I am hoping more blessings will abound.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Serenity What?!

Heaven help me, I've been thinking about the serenity prayer all day long. I have never liked the serenity prayer. I don't know why. Maybe because I don't really understand it. Maybe because I don't know how or why so many people draw from it the strength that they do. Even as I have recently come into contact with an organization that seems to rely heavily on this mantra, I have resisted it.
I have been raised in a religion that subscribes to very few SET prayers--meaning that we do not say the same prayer over and over during our meetings. We do have a few prayers that we say over and over again, but these are used to perform baptisims or when blessing the sacrament. To me, the serenity prayer just has never carried any meaning.
And yet, I cannot get it out of my head today.
Maybe it is because of the lesson we had in Relief Society today. Our lesson revolved around the talk, by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, titled, "The Merciful Obtain Mercy". Presdient Uchtdorf spoke much about judging and forgiving and loving one another. When I listened to him speak last April, I was struck by his words and reveled in the truth. We need to stop judging one another. Today, as I listened to the words and experiences of those around me, I was struck in a much different way.
It isn't a secret that I have been feeling judged lately. I think that comes with the territory of having to humble myself to accept help from people when I really don't want to and in turn being angry that I have to. As I was sitting there wondering how I was even going to make it through the lesson today, there it was. This dang serenity prayer popped into my head, and I thought, "What?!"
So, I did what any normal person would do--I ignored it. And then there it was again and again and again. There are lots of things I cannot change about my life and my circumstances right now. The problem is that sometimes I want to find Doc Brown, send some people back in time and make them do things over. If only. Too often my conversations with God have been, why? and why me? and why now? and how am I ever going to survive?
Then, I wake up, and another day has dawned, and I have two amazing girls, and a family who loves and supports me, and a home, and a job, and while not everything is perfect, and I have A LOT of changing and growing and accepting and healing to do, I know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. He watches over me and helps me make good choices for my daughters each day. Not everyone has to agree with the choices that I make. I am not a perfect person or perfect mother or perfect wife. I never will be, and I won't pretend that I am.
I think I have been given a good amount of courage lately. The serenity and the wisdom, however...I'll work on it because I know I have to be humble enough to accept those things, and I know I'm not. Not now anyway.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Read It! (Week 4 Topic)

You know, I picked this topic thinking that it would be an easy one for me. As an English teacher, I was always excited about books and had a book in mind that people just NEEDED to read. I have been pondering this topic over the past several days, I have come to realize that I don't know if there is just ONE book that I think everyone should read.

I know that this novel changed my life. It is one of the first books I read in school that had a direct impact on my soul! Does that seem a little dramatic? Well, it was. Boo Radley, Scout, Aticus, racism, a fight for equal rights, and the absolute failure of people to do what it right? Yeah, my first reading of this book in eighth grade was life altering. I know that most people were forced to read this in high school or junior high, but read it again. Really READ it! Then call me and we can cry together.

Let's not act schocked that this is included here. If you know me even a little, you know that I LOVE this book. However, some may be shocked to know that I did not love this novel the first time I read it. It was a little too deep and dark for me. Yeah, I know. Gatsby? Dark? Okay, so it is not dark in a traditional sense, but really? Unrequited love? Used and abused? Money as the root of all evil? A painted and tainted world. Ummm...yeah. Gatsby is dark in a deliciously colorful way. READ it!

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli: He was my childhood Forrest Gump. All I can say is, read this one to your children. It was kind of magical for me.

I have written about these books before. Mom used to read them to us. Every night. I love them. These are books that should be read out loud. Pictures are painted. An entire world comes to life through the pages of these stories. Adventures happen. Wars are won. People are rescued. And Aslan...oh, Aslan. Aslan is my childhood testimony of a loving Father in Heaven. Through these stories, I truly came to understand what it means to be loved by my Heavenly Father as I heard/read the sacrifices, the power, the concern and the wisdom Aslan showed to Peter, Edward, Susan, and Lucy. READ it!

There are so many more. I would be here all day, so I will stop with these few. Books are powerful. They allow me to learn and understand other's lives and experiences. Books help me escape and let me live in a fantasy world. I mean, who isn't waiting for an owl to bring their acceptance letter to Hogwarts? I hope that Q and T will wait for that one day too.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sentimental Momma

So, my friend sent me a link to a post Letter to My 51 Year-Old Self, and I read it and cried. So much of this post is just exactly how I feel as a mom. I love this mom stuff. Don't get me wrong, it's hard! Being solely responsible for little people is crazy daunting and totally intimidating. So much of who I am and what I do will shape who they are and what they become. Frightening, right? However, these little girls that I have been entrusted with are super sweet, super sassy, and super-duper funny! I love them. More than I have ever loved anyone before.

This last year has been crazy hard in so many ways, but there has been a side effect to all this suffering and craziness. I will never have a year like this again. I will never have a time where I can be so devoted to being a mom and having JUST us girls together. I will always cherish that. We have developed an awesome bond. I am the mom, the dad (for now), the best friend, the comforter, the protector, and the comedian. I love it. I will always have that. Q may not remember. T won't, but I will. And for this, I will always be grateful.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Best Selling Memior: October Week 3

Caught in My Own Tangled Web by Jennifer Sadler is an emotional memior about this ordinary girl's oddly dramatic life. Join her as she recounts the ordinary moments, the extraordinary moments, the frightening moments, the dramatic moments and the unbelievable moments. Read on as she recounts the hilarity of her large, close-knit family. Laugh as she conveys the hilarity of growing up with eight people in a three bedroom, one bathroom home. Cry as Sadler shares her heartbreaks and triumph with her as she overcomes them to realize her dream of being a teacher and then a mother. Smile as she candidly recounts the good, bad, and just stupid choices she made, the things she would never take back and everything she wishes she had done differently. Caught in My Own Tangled Web is a must-read for every girl who feels like her life is inadequate. Through personal experience, Sadler will help you understand that life is quite simply what you make of it and the ordinary and mundane is actually extraordinary and wonderful. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October Week 2: Letter to 16-year-old Self

Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Jen,

This is actually a really hard letter to write. As I look back over the last 16 years of my life, I’m not really sure what wisdom I want to impart and what I want you to learn on your own. Although, the most important thing you need to know and understand is that you are worth SO MUCH more than you believe you are. While you should still strive to be a kind and loving to others, you need to not allow others to take advantage of you, push you around or make you feel worthless. You are not worthless.

Life is messy. It will always be messy, but it is all about how you handle the mess. And honestly, sometimes the mess is necessary and the outcome of most of those messes is absolutely worth the dirt, the grime, and the stains.

Be cautious in your relationships. You will fall in love—a few times. There will be heartache, and even when love is good, it is hard and hurts sometimes. Work through it. Pray on it. Know that even when it is hard, it is worth it.

I know you know this, but education is never worthless. Go for it. Love it. Work hard for it.

Just know that your life, while tumultuous, is an amazing ride. You will not end up where you think you are headed. You will make and lose some really incredible friends along the way. You are not perfect, and it is absolutely OKAY. Those people who are your biggest support and your biggest fans will stick around, and they are all you need.

Finally, remember that the gospel is true. The church is an amazing support. It’s okay to question. It’s okay to take your own path, but remember that your Heavenly Father loves you. He watches over you. There are angels attending you always. Let them.


Thirty-two year old Jen

Friday, October 5, 2012

Favorite Thing About My Siblings...and the 'Rents. October Week 1

Let's just jump into this. The list is a long one:

Dad: He is secretly HiLaRiOuS! This is not a trait that he allows much of the world to see, but I'm his daughter, so I am lucky enough to see the truly funny side of my father.

Mom: Her laugh. It is loud and infectious, and when she really gets going (like when she is watching "For the Birds") you cannot help but laugh along.
Adam: This might sound crazy, but I love my brother's facial expressions. He has been making the same faces at me since we were tiny...faces of disbelief, mischief, fun, and many others that I cannot accurately describe.
Kara: (yep, I'm including the in-laws) Kara is actually pretty amazing, although I don't think she believes it. She is really great with kids--especially little ones--and I have loved watching her be a super awesome aunt to Q (and now T). She is (and will continue) to use this gift as a super cool aunt and a really good mommy to her P.
Stefanie: I love how fiercely she FEELS things. She is crazy protective of her family and other people she loves. I kind of love to hear her defend those she loves. She is fearless when she does this.
Matthew: When I first met Matt, I found his sense of humor to be so ODD! What I have come to learn and appreciate is that Matt is actually rather witty and incredibly creative. Good qualities for a super cool musician.
Holly: Holly is wicked smart. This allows her to be super put together and just pretty WITH IT. I love this about her, and I am totally intimidated by this quality at the same time.
Eric: Things just seem to happen to Eric. Good things and not so good things, but he also MAKES things happen for himself. He goes after life and seems to have a good time--no matter what.
Lisa: In a word, Lisa is FIERCE. Fashion fierce, intelligent fierce, confident fierce, mom fierce...and all in the most wonderful ways.
Hondo: He is patient and easy-going, and to jump so flawlessly into this crazy family, he had to be. This is what makes him such a good husband and father to my sister and niece.
Kelli: I'm not sure there is a word for this one. What 21-year-old girl wants to live with her pregnant sister for an entire summer away from her boyfriend and friends to keep moody sister company and help with her niece(s)? Kelli does. That is the kind of girl Kelli is, and that is my favorite thing about her.
Tyler: Okay, he's the above mentioned BF, but I am including him here because he and Kelli are pretty serious and pretty MFEO. My favorite thing about Tyler? That he puts up with me giving him such a hard time about EVERYTHING. He's a good sport.