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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nor is Lindsay their official spokesperson.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas



Dear Readers,


Don't hate.  It's Christmas.  I have been working on something for days, and I just couldn't get it right.  My thoughts were jumbled, the words weren't coming, I couldn't make a connection between my brain and the page, so I decided that the insight I had earlier this week was meant for me, so for me it will stay.  (Don't be offended, I couldn't even get it right for Husband, which is a sure sign that it just isn't going to happen.)


Okay, disclaimers aside, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!  Yes, as in FINALLY I am enjoying myself and feeling Christmas-y.


I have enjoyed my study of the Atonement so much.  I want to share some of it with you, but I think it will take a few days to get it just right and sift through everything that I want to say.


"Maybe Christmas, she thought doesn't come from the store, maybe Christmas she thought, means something more" or however that quote goes from The Grinch. (just can't get Pres. Uchtdorf's talk out of my head!)


Last night as I crawled into bed I told Husband that it was going to be the worst Christmas ever.  We managed to get the tree up, but boxes of decorations sat (and still sit) untouched upstairs.  Our Christmas Eve "program" didn't meet my approval as guilt washed over me.  We had to find one of our nativity sets (in the boxes) so that we could use it in conjunction with our reading of Luke 2.  We have so many nativity sets.  Last year, I told Daughter the story of when Jesus was born 100 times before Christmas Eve.  This year, maybe 5-10 times.  Our house was a mess.  I hadn't really bought everything that I wanted to give, so stockings were only half full and there was only 1 present per person.  We hadn't eaten what was planned for Christmas Eve dinner (chicken pot pie), getting by on a quick substitute, and as I was putting Daughter to bed she asked me if Santa was bringing a baby to our house.  Ouch.  I pretended not to hear.  Yes, I knew it looked grim, and so I cried to Husband that I didn't want Christmas to come.  I didn't want to have to face it and celebrate it.  Despite my best efforts to study the Atonement and feel in the Christmas spirit, I just didn't.  I have turned into a walking pharmacy, but I want to be a person.


Today we looked in our stockings and opened our presents.  We ate a special Christmas breakfast that was a tradition in Husband's family.  Daughter loved receiving a baby stroller, high chair, etc. for her doll, and that kept her busy most of the morning.  Thankfully, she is still just young enough that she didn't know that Christmas could be different, so she was pretty content.  After all of that, it was time to go.  Where you ask?


Husband and I decided that this year we would like to visit some nursing homes on Christmas (kind of alluded to it a few days ago, when I said we wanted to help others understand the Atonement).  We dressed up in red and green.  Daughter wore a red sparkling dress with a red glitter headband, and we gave her a bunch of jingle bells to carry.  I prepped her by telling her that we were going to visit some Grandmas and Grandpas that might be sad and that we wanted to make them happy.


Our first stop was at an assisted care center.  When Daughter got in there.  She went running down the halls with the bells.  Everyone, the residents and nurses, looked up to see what the commotion was about, and everyone got huge smiles.  They were eating lunch, so we went table to table to talk to these sweet elderly people.  Daughter hugged everyone (and let them kiss her).  She sang a little, and said "Merry Christmas".  She also got shy sometimes being surrounded by so many wheelchairs.  Everybody's eyes were twinkling as they looked across the room waiting for Daughter to visit them.  Some women couldn't wait, and they wheeled themselves over to her, anxious for their turn with the little darling.  Husband and I talked a little to the residents, but mainly helped Daughter to spread her infectious joy.  Some of these people were hunched over in their wheelchairs, but seeing Daughter, they looked 20 years younger as they raised their heads, smiled, and had a change come over their countenance.


As I was there, I was surprised at how many nurses were there.  As we were driving there I had noticed that every single business had been closed.  It had seemed that no one had to work on Christmas.  Seeing how many nurses had to work, it humbled me.  Gratitude washed over me.  Spending my time with these people, I began to see all that I had been blessed with.


I can feed myself.  I can walk.  I have all of my mental faculties.  My skin is glowing and youthful and my teeth  are all intact and healthy.  I have family who I can spend time with daily.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  As we sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and waved goodbye my voice choked up as I realized these things.


We had planned to go home for naps, but Daughter insisted upon "more grandmas and grandpas" so we drove to a retirement community.  This center was different.  There are no nurses.  Some of these people have cars and can drive.  They have the ability to take care of themselves.  We walked through the halls talking to those we saw.  I ended up playing a few songs on the piano for them, which made me remember when I used to play at an Alzheimer's facility weekly at their Sunday dinner hour, oh so many years ago.  We met a woman who inquired about our family.  I explained that we were far away from all of our parents/ grandparents and that was why we wanted to visit.  I asked about her family.  She explained that she had not been able to have any children and that she was alone now with no one to visit her.  As we talked, she was strengthening me.  I had gone out this afternoon to be the giver, but in the end, I felt I had received so much more.


Gratitude is the name of the game.  I am grateful that I studied about it so diligently (see part 1, part 2, and part 3).  I will go back and study it even more.  I have been especially thinking about how prayer and gratitude go together.  I cannot wait until I can do a post on a prayer, but that is jumping ahead of myself. :)  Note to self - I would also like to see if I can find more on gratitude and the Atonement.  Note to all - why don't you join me?  Share if you find something good.


We came home.  Happy and fulfilled.  We napped.  We ate our not-perfect Christmas dinner (how could I forget to make the pie?!?!?!) on our kitchen table littered with who knows what (we still have a pumpkin...looks great next to the poinsettia, right?).  We spent time as a family.  We taught Daughter that Christmas isn't about stockings or presents, food or sweets.


Christmas is celebrating the Savior.  It is treating others as He would have treated them.  That is with love.  Charity is the pure love of Christ.  (favorite scripture by the way) Christmas is about feeling good about yourself, for we all are children of God.  I may still be a walking pharmacy, but at least I am a walking one, instead of being in a wheelchair like the "wheeled pharmacies" I saw today, and I will always be a child of my Heavenly Father who loves me TONS and TONS.


Merry Christmas.  Merry Unusual and Unconventional Christmas, but Happy Christmas.  Happy, free of the world, Christmas.  Have a good night.


In humility,
Lindsay

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Resources



Dear Readers,


Did you all know this existed?  I can't believe that I am just now discovering this website (http://lds.org/topic/christmas/).


It is wonderful.  Click on sidebar links for AMAZING family resources, coloring pages, games, etc. to help teach  your children about Christ.  They also have music downloads.


And there are several WONDERFUL videos which will humble your Spirit and help you keep everything in perspective.


I wish someone had shared this website with me during the past few weeks.  Please share this with someone you love.  Email them the link, post this on your blog, share it in a conversation, but please, please, let's share this with anyone and everyone.


The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the "Good News".  Let's share it, and look forward to my Christmas post tomorrow!


Merrily,
Lindsay

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Marriage for Eternity



Dear Friend E,


The past few weeks/ months I have been thinking about my role as a wife and mother.  I have even shared some of these thoughts with others as part of my testimony. Today I read a report that marriage levels are declining in the United States again.  I know that you are preparing to become a wife and mother and so I have been thinking about you.


I know these comments are unsolicited and I apologize for that.  I just know how important marriage is as an institution.  God created it that way.  Though the common consensus is that it doesn't make sense, is outdated, oppressive to women, puts you at a financial disadvantage, etc, I am so glad that you are getting married.


I think of the children's rhyme, "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage."  It is exactly right.  We focus on our love and our marriage and then on having children and their needs.  From our family's experience we always run smoother if we put the marriage before our children.


I always hear women who says things like they only live for their children or something along those lines.  I always worry about them.  Know that you are important in your own right and that you should have your own hobbies and interests and identity that doesn't include your children (or spouse).


First and foremost, I worry about me.  I have to make sure that I maintain a close relationship with my Heavenly Father so that I have the ability to help other people.  They always say that you don't want to drown the rescuer, referring to someone who has dove into water to save a drowning victim.  The rescuer has to know how to swim and be a strong swimmer in order to provide the needed aid.  That's how I feel about me.  I have to worry about myself first before I can help others, including my family.  Next, I am a spouse.  I love Husband so much.  We are sealed to each other for eternity.  It is true that Daughter is sealed to us, but someday she will be sealed to her spouse, etc.  Lastly, I am a mother.  I love being a mother,  I just keep it in its place.  (Please don't misunderstand, I am a great mom and spend tons of time with Daughter.  We sing, read, etc.  I am not talking about shipping your child off to daycare or something when I say that motherhood is my 3rd priority.)  It is true that it is a 24/7 job, and that once a mother, always a mother, etc.  Also realize that once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout, get my picture?  I look forward to raising Daughter for many more years, but I also look forward to when she is gone and it will be the most awesome, best, (etc, etc) retirement ever.  I seriously cannot wait, because Husband and I will be living it up!!!!


That's how I see it.


Rather than burden give you more advice, I'll wait for you to approach me :).  I will tell you any day, any time how much marriage rocks.


Congratulatory,
Lindsay

Monday, December 20, 2010

Righteous Desires



Dear Friend M,


I was so flattered to get your email a few days ago.  It made my day to read that you were thinking about me.  Hopefully we can have a reunion someday with A, C, and S.  That would be so fun.  I actually think about it kind of often, hopefully dreaming.  I have not talked to A and S in years.


So here I am writing back to you.  Today, (meaning for months) I have had a quote on my mind.


"I also believe that the desire to have children in the single sisters and in these couples probably won’t go away if they’re righteous, because that is a God-given desire. It speaks to their very natures and the training they received in the heavens. That longing will not go away. But the Lord will bless them." Building Up A Righteous Posterity, 2008


I know that you have always wanted to a be a mom.  Your love of children has been great as has your love of all people.  You have one of the kindest hearts that I know, and you have often been an example to me.  I know that you have always wished you were more outspoken like me and maybe had more confidence, but I have always quietly observed and watched how unselfish you are.  You are a true disciple of Jesus Christ.


In our youth, I remember all of the joking that we did about getting married and what the guy would be like.  We planned out our lives and of course it always included a cute guy and lots of children.  I am already a mom and I am grateful that I have one child when so many have none.  I recently learned though that my hopes of many more children are over.


I have always known that my reproductive system didn't work quite right, but I just thought it was "quirky".  I just was diagnosed with the same disease that you have, which was quite a shock.  While I am glad to be diagnosed and not just "crazy in the head", it is slowly sinking in what that really means.


I am not sure what your treatment is currently since we are in different situations and it's been a long time since we have talked about you having it, so I am not 100% sure that we are really dealing with exactly the same issue anymore.  Basically, I have been given two choices to manage the situation and prevent cancer.


1.  Take one type of pill that has lesser/ more live-able side effects which will be the final blow and means no possible chance of anymore kids


2.  Take a boatload of different pills that have horrible/ intense/ make my life a nightmare side effects to have the "chance" of more kids


I would prefer door number 3.


3.  Take no pills, go back to "quirky" but happy, and take the cancer-risk.  IF I get cancer then I could live a horrible/ intense/ make my life a nightmare treatment plan.


What would you do?  We're young.


Anyways, this quote has been on my mind for months (way before I knew anything) because these desires are  righteous.  They are God-given.  That means they are right.  It is okay to ache for children that may never be.


Read the whole article.  This part is from the Roundtable Discussion and was said by Sis. Beck.  It also talks about women who never marry.  The whole message overall is about raising up a righteous posterity, and I do have posterity, and I am content, but since I have to live with some sort of constant side effects for the rest of my life, I have been thinking about righteous desires.  Thy will, be my will.  And so it goes.


Thank you again,
Lindsay

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bearing a Testimony


Dear Friend A,

Today at Church, the Relief Society lesson ended a little early.  To not waste time, we shared testimonies.  I surprised myself and bore mine.  It felt quite good actually.  I expressed my thoughts and feelings and shared what was in my heart.


Bearing my testimony helped me to realize that I have one.  I have always had one, even through the past little bit.  It helped me to remember things that I am grateful for and things that are a part of my testimony.


How was your Church today?


Sincerely,
Lindsay

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rejoice, Rejoice



Dear Friend K,


You will be happy to hear that I am feeling much better.  Reading one article every day about the Atonement of Jesus Christ has helped to put everything in perspective.


I have been so blessed in my life.  I always have been and I know that I always will be.  That is just how Heavenly Father works.  He wants to bless us.


I am feeling very happy today and full of hope.  I am excited for the Christmas Season as I realize that it is to celebrate the Atonement.  I have been thinking of how I can help others and have decided that better than any "Secret Santa" gift or charitable giving is the gift of helping others understand the Atonement.  Husband and I are making plans on how to put this into practice for the next 8 days and I will keep you posted.  You know I will :)


I have had Joy to the World running through my head a lot the past few days, especially the verses that say "Rejoice, Rejoice".  There is so much to rejoice in.


Merry CHRISTmas,


Lindsay

Friday, December 17, 2010

Marriage Challenge



Dear Friend L,


I have been thinking about you a lot over the past few weeks, but never really getting the thoughts that are in my head out into our numerous conversations.


I think that you are a wonderful single parent and I really admire what you have done as a mother to your children.  Recently, I took Daughter to a Christmas parade.  Husband ended up working on a special project and did not accompany us, much to every one's disappointment.  We love family outings and activities.  Taking Daughter to the parade alone really put into perspective for me what it was like to be alone.


Obviously I care for Daughter everyday as a stay-at-home mom, but doing something on a Saturday really was hard. There was no one to share in the bathroom trips, or a second set of eyes to keep her out of the street, or monitor that her fingers were staying warm.  It was just her and I and it felt incomplete.  No one to be a team with me.  I love Husband.  He is so good to me, and I love being on the same team as him, always working together for a common goal.  Life throws lots of curve balls and I couldn't imagine if I had to field them all alone in regards to Daughter.


I remember once that you told me that you would love to be married, but that you just needed to find the right guy, or something like that.  Well, you should marry my friend W.  The only problem is that he is already married.  He treats his wife like a queen.  I love to watch them interact and observe all of the little details that he puts into his relationship.  My friend D also treats his wife so awesome.  Nothing makes me smile as much as a loving attentive husband (of course mine rocks too!).


Anyways, like I said I have been thinking about you for weeks, maybe months, I am not sure.  All of my widowed and divorced friends have so much of my respect.  I read this article today and thought you might enjoy it (not that I think you need it, just that I thought you would enjoy it, because I did).  I felt like it helped me understand you better.  Also, let me know if there is anything that I can do for you.  I hope that you never feel alone, because I am your friend and a willing member of your support system (and we all need support).


Lastly, I am going to issue myself a challenge.  I will keep looking for a husband for you, just kidding.  I am going to do something to work on my marriage tomorrow.  I don't really have an idea yet, but I will just do something tomorrow.  I want to be grateful for my marriage and not take it for granted.  There are too many women (and men) that find themselves single with no warning.  What if that happened to me?


Really, I am impressed by your children.  Do not be so hard on yourself.


Your friend,
Lindsay

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vulnerability



Out of the Mouth of Prophets - Part 6

Dear Readers,

It's no secret that I have been struggling for several weeks.  I am sure that everyone has seen through my feeble attempts at getting back to "normal", whatever that is, as I am realizing that there is a new "normal" in my life (different post, different day).  I have been thinking about this conference talk for a long time.  Every time I sat down to read it, I always was pulled away (usually by myself).  Without further ado, I am ready to share my thoughts about Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk that he gave, "Never Leave Him".  I do have to warn you though, that this isn't what I originally was going to share.  However, I need this talk the most out of anyone, so today's thoughts are completely for me, and I don't know if they will help anyone.

Right off the bat, the title is pretty telling.  I haven't really thought that Christ has abandoned me these past few weeks, but I realize now that I have been walking away from Him.  I just didn't know it at the time (because hindsight is 20/20, of course).  Praying, reading scriptures, writing in my journal, going to church, I thought I was doing all of the little things right.

Elder Andersen says that of course we all say that we would never leave Christ like some disciples did in Capernaum.  "...The question “Will ye also go away?” makes us think about our own vulnerability."

Vulnerability.  That's my word of the day.  Word of the week.  Word of the past few weeks.  It describes everything so perfectly.  Vulnerable.  That's me.  Usually I am so NOT vulnerable.  Whatever the opposite is.  Strong.  A strong sense of purpose.  I didn't worry about what other people thought or did in relation to me.  Either way, that strength, was slowly chipped away at and I became more and more vulnerable until I felt like I had NO strength left.
"As we follow the Savior, without question there will be challenges that confront us. Approached with faith, these refining experiences bring a deeper conversion of the Savior’s reality. Approached in a worldly way, these same experiences cloud our view and weaken our resolve."
Why didn't I read this talk sooner?  Up until a few weeks ago, I was able to approach challenging times with faith.  What about my great summer?  What about the adoption stuff?  What about listening to the Holy Ghost?  I look back over the posts I was writing in August, September, and beginning of October and I want that back.  I was doing so well.  I took everything in stride, with faith, and like Elder Andersen says, it brought me "a deeper conversion of the Savior's reality."  Now, also like he said my view is WAY cloudy, and I am weak.
"Offense comes in many costumes and continually finds its way onstage. People we believe in disappoint us. We have unanticipated difficulties. Our life doesn’t turn out exactly the way we were expecting. We make mistakes, feel unworthy, and worry about being forgiven. We wonder about a doctrinal issue. We learn of something spoken from a Church pulpit 150 years ago that bothers us. Our children are treated unfairly. We are ignored or underappreciated. It could be a hundred things, each very real to us at the time."
With my eyes finally opening I can piece together what happened.  All within a very short time, there were several things that happened with a few different people.  I never thought I had been offended, but I see now that I had been.  Elder Bednar has been on my mind the past few weeks, and I guess it was the Spirit's way to telling me to read his talk on taking offense (2006).  I never got around to it until now, when I saw that Elder Andersen's talk referenced Elder Bednar's talk.


Elder Bednar describes offense as "When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected."  And I definitely knew that I had been all of the above.  When Elder Bednar first gave this talk, it was weighty, and still is now.  I highly recommend that you read it at your convenience.  I am sure that many of you remember hearing it the first time, and if it is your first time, then enjoy.  I will be skipping over large chunks of awesome material, as I am focusing on Elder Andersen's talk and my situation.  It plainly talks about offense, how or why it happens, and how to help yourself and others.  There is no ambiguity or confusion as to anything that he means.  So stir your soul, and read it!
"If we are not watchful, our injured, childlike spirit will retreat back into the cold, dark crust of our former bloated ego, leaving behind the warm, healing light of the Savior."
Ouch.  Cold.  Crust.  Bloated ego.  Such powerful words, but they are true.  This is why I have been vulnerable.  I haven't been as happy as I could have been these past few weeks.  I have not had the "warm, healing light of the Savior" in my life.  The Holy Ghost has definitely been present, but I have not been allowing the Atonement to work in my life.  Both Elder Andersen and Elder Bednar talk about the Atonement as a way to combat offense (I hate that word, but what else can I call it without watering it down?  I think I just don't like my pride taking one more hit.  I guess my ego really was bloated....never would have guessed, of course :), okay now I'm getting distracted...).
"Through the power of His Atonement, we are to become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father.” (see reference #12, Andersen)
"Through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense."  (Bednar)
I can do this.  I really can, especially now that I know to forgive.  Doesn't that sound so ridiculous to not know that you were upset?  Looking back I know I was upset over some things, but I guess I didn't realize, consciously, that I still had upset feelings toward several different individuals.  Of course, I also wonder if all of these things didn't happen right around the same time, if I would have come out on top.  It also makes me think of a poem called "It's in the Valleys that I Grow".  The author is disputed, so I don't really know what to say, except for Google it, and you can decide.  Anyways, I was first introduced to this poem by a Home Teacher my freshman year of college.  He had printed it out with a special backdrop graphic on the paper, so I pinned it up in my dorm room (wall art), and as a result read it many times over that year.  It IS in valleys that we grow.  We can't always have smooth sailing in our life.  I also was reminded this morning as I was driving about my post about Fall and how it was a time of preparation.  My awesome summer and the experiences that I had since were all preparing me I suppose for this Winter, and I cannot WAIT for Spring, because I have caught glimpses of how I know it will be.  My new high will be so much better than anything that I experienced this Summer, early Fall, etc.


Elder Andersen says, "I promise you, as you choose not to be offended or ashamed, you will feel His love and approval. You will know that you are becoming more like Him."  Mmm.  Love and approval.  We all crave it.  We all want it.  We all revel in it AND coming from the Savior.  It is perfect.  It is pure.  It is the very best kind of love.
"Will we understand everything? Of course not. We will put some issues on the shelf to be understood at a later time.  Will everything be fair? It will not. We will accept some things we cannot fix and forgive others when it hurts."
"Perfection does not come in this life, but we exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and keep our covenants. President Monson has promised, “Your testimony, when constantly nourished, will keep you safe.”  We push our spiritual roots deep, feasting daily on the words of Christ in the scriptures. We trust in the words of living prophets, placed before us to show us the way. We pray and pray and listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Ghost that leads us along and speaks peace to our soul. Whatever challenges arise, we never, never leave Him."
Here is my plan, because I need one.  I am going to salvage what is left of this Christmas Season and take control of my life.  Elder Bednar says that "The capacity to conquer offense may seem beyond our reach. This...is not...restricted to prominent leaders in the Church...  The very nature of the Redeemer’s Atonement and the purpose of the restored Church are intended to help us receive precisely this kind of spiritual strength."  So my plan is to read a Conference Talk every day from now until Christmas about the Atonement.  I don't know that I will post on all of them, but this is my plan.  I will come out on top.


I will not leave my Savior.  Not now, not ever.  There is a plan for me and I will follow God's will.


I am already feeling much better and look forward to my concentrated study of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I look forward to going back to feeling unspeakable joy in my life.

If you wish to watch this conference address by Elder Andersen, click here.  Just find this talk (Saturday Afternoon Session), and watch, download, whatever you want.

Kind words to share?  My email is lettersfromlindsay at gmail dot com.

Decidedly,
Lindsay

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Cookie

Dear Mother,

This happened weeks ago, but I think it exemplifies the Christmas Season perfectly.  I was on my way into a store when I was approached by a few young girls asking if I wanted to buy a cookie.  The proceeds were going to support their church.  Honestly, I didn't even hear the whole name of the church nor do I know if it was for a certain program there or just a general fund.  I typically try to avoid fundraisers things like that (I just want my groceries).

Quickly, I thought.  I thought the price they were asking for the cookie was high (I know it was a fundraiser, but still I knew they were going to come WAY ahead on me.)  Also, this wasn't to support my church, so how did I know if it was going to support teaching something that I didn't agree with.

So, I decided to ask.  To these girls that were somewhere in between 8 and 10 years of age, I asked them if they believed in Jesus.  They said yes.  I asked them if their church taught them about Jesus and they said yes.  So then I asked one of the girls to tell me what she knew about Jesus (I really made her work hard for her overpriced fundraiser cookie).

She then proceeded to tell me so sweetly about Jesus' life, and how He sacrificed for us, ultimately giving His life.  She obviously had been taught well and knew the Bible.  I was pleased to hear how boldly and confidently she could share with me about the Savior.  I still don't know how to just talk face-to-face to somebody about my personal beliefs like that.  Writing is much easier.

In short, I bought one of their cookies and I must say that it was really really yummy, which is why I ate part of it before I got home and took a picture.

I believe in Jesus Christ.  He is my Savior.  He is the Savior of the World.  If we come unto Him, He will give us rest.  He will lift us up.

Love,
Lindsay

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why I Love to Run


Dear Lindsay,

You have been thinking about this forever, but here it is officially in writing.

Why I love to run and other motivational thoughts to keep the marathon goal alive:

I love to run, as in it is one of my favorite activities.  It holds a spot among a select few, because running provides meaning in my life.  It is not just another thing that I do out of obligation or guilting myself into.

Running is a personal activity.  It all depends on me.  There are no excuses or blame to give, the buck stops with me.  I am the only person responsible for my success and so the only person that can let myself down.  In life, sometimes others disappoint me.  When I am counting on others, I don't want to be let down, but sometimes it happens for various reasons.  Life just isn't fair and I accept that.  However, I get great satisfaction and almost a great calm from having something that I can completely control.  When I succeed, I alone am responsible for my success and if I fail, I only have myself to blame.

Running causes accountability.  It shows immediate feedback.  You either complete the desired distance/ time or you didn't.  No gray areas.  Blame and excuses don't exist.  Who else is there to blame?  No one.  What is an excuse?  I have decided that my definition of an excuse is the attempt to cast blame elsewhere.  If there is no one else to blame, then there cannot be any excuses either.  With such black and white, it makes running have an intensity to it.  There is no fluffing anything, just cold hard accomplishments and the desire to avoid failure.  This desire to avoid failure is so strong that your mind pushes to share in the joy of accomplishing a task that your body constantly tells you is impossible or too hard.

When I choose to run I am telling the world to respect me, because I respect myself.  Why should the world respect me if I don't respect myself?  Time to run is taking a stand saying, "I am worth stopping everything and taking time for myself."  I tell the world that it must wait if it wants me.  I don't succumb to to the world's every demand and let it boss me around.  I am the boss of me and I will decide how to spend my time.

I also love to run, because of the positive self-talk that is involved.  Husband is always raving about positive self-talk, and I totally agree.  When I run I have to have a constant dialogue of positive comments in my head.  This is because my body is having a constant dialogue of negative comments ("quit now").  If I have positive self-talk, then it can speak louder than the negative thoughts so I succeed.  Running asks your body to push itself.  Cheering myself on is the only way for me to succeed.  If I tell myself that I can't then I won't.  I don't want to be my own worst enemy, the lone cause of my fail.  I tell myself anything to keep going.  "I am the champion", "I am beautiful", "I am worth it".  I re-live crossing the finish line and dream about the next time.  I sing hymns and primary songs.  I do NOT stew.  I do NOT vent.  I have no capacity for any negative thoughts.  Negative thinking is a sure-fire way to quit early every time.  I love listening to the positive things that I say to myself.  They really build me up and sometimes I think back on them when I am doing things other than running.

When I run, I make peace with myself.  It sounds kind of weird, but through the positive self-talk I allow myself to be a good person.  I don't constantly hate myself or anything, but I definitely knock myself down a lot.  I hold grudges against myself for my seemingly "massive missteps and failures."  However, when I am running, I don't have time to hate myself or allow myself to think negatively about myself.  My whole body is having an internal struggle.  I know I can't beat myself down, so I actually accept all of my good qualities.  I give myself credit for the good things I do.  There's no room for guilt either, or any other ridiculous self-sabotaging action that I take part in.  Probably for this reason alone, I MUST run.  I HAVE to run, because it FORCES me to make peace with myself and LOVE EVERYTHING about me.

While running, I set goals.  Obviously, the overall goal is to finish, usually a certain distance or time.  To reach the overall goal I set many smaller goals.  The thrill of accomplishment keeps me motivated because I know the final payoff will be big.  Nothing really compares to how I feel when I finish.  It is a feeling of invincibility and complete confidence.  It is awesome and I really do feel like a champion of self-mastery.  I did something and saw it to completion, because I said so.  It really makes me the boss!  Drawing on these successes, it helps me live a more successful life.  Other things become easier, because I can remember how strong I was while running.  By teaching my mind to eliminate excuses and "just do it," I procrastinate less and accomplish more.  As I accomplish each small goal, they build on each other to fuel me to the big finish.  If I miss a small goal, I look forward to the next one adapting it so that I will succeed and maintain the positive self-talk.

A lot of people say that running is boring (I know, used to be me).  I think it stems from the repetition.  Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot or left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot (for left-footed people!)  Over and over again, it doesn't change.  I think that repetition might be what makes running so magical.  Repetition is the key to life.  That is how you increase skills for anything.  Shooting free throws, learning a new language, reading, learning new dance moves are all improved upon by repetition.  We also read the scriptures daily, pray using the same pattern, attend Church every Sunday, and General Conference every 6 months.  Repetition is the Lord's way.  Those who are impatient do not reap the benefits, no matter what kind they are.

Lastly, sure, running is great to get in shape and have nice body physique.  Getting three "are you losing weight" comments in one week is awesome and being asked in front of a large group of people if you are expecting (when you are not) is not cool.  However, running is mainly spiritual to me (see all above paragraphs).  That is why it is so meaningful to me.  I love drawing on that inner strength and that it can create inner strength when I am weak.  I love choosing and deciding in advance to succeed then doing whatever I have to, to finish.  Running causes you to dig deep into yourself and prove what you are made of and who you are.

Lace up your shoes!!!

I love you.

Love,
Lindsay

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Season Kick-Off


Dear Readers,

I apologize for my recent behavior.  Blog Rule #2 does specifically state that I may post whenever I want, but I could almost feel the disappointment out of everyone who has checked my blog lately, only to see that I haven't posted.  I am always thinking, which is a blessing and a curse, but I can't just post to post.  Words are nothing without meaning behind them, so I have had a hard time knowing what to do over the past few weeks.

My family is going through a rough time.  Check that, my family is awesome, but making decisions involving outside situations and pressures is creating stress right now.  I just haven't felt in control, and if I am just flapping around in the wind, then I don't feel qualified to post on this blog.

Now things are different.  I am making the decision to be happy and have the Spirit with me despite the other things going on.  Those really are choices that we can make.

I have felt like a "Grinch" for a long time, and was quite humored when President Uchtdorf spoke of him last night in the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.  I also liked when he said something like, "If we look for what is wrong with Christmas, we shall surely find it".  Well, I kept repeating that sentence over and over to me with "if we look for what is wrong with (fill in the blank), we shall surely find it."  I would add, "And you will be miserable while you find it."

As all three members of the First Presidency spoke of Jesus Christ and the healing power of the atonement last night, it has helped to prepare me to rise above the yuckies of the world.  I am ready to kick off my Christmas Season.  Oh sure, we've already been to a tree lighting, seen lights in the park, visited Santa, told the story of the Nativity 30+ times, and of course sung many songs, but I have not let the healing power of the atonement work in my life to more fully worship Jesus Christ.  I have not enjoyed the "reason for the season".

This is what I intend to do.  I will come out of my "funk" and allow myself to feel of Christ's love.

Merry Christmas,
Lindsay

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful for Talents


Dear Readers,

Now it is the last day of November.  As I was thinking about some things last night, about the month, and my blessings, I thought of talents.  It came out of nowhere, and I know that the thoughts that I have had over the past 24 hours have been revelation from God, so I share them with you.

I am blessed to have been given many talents.  I recognize that.  They take a lot of time to develop and use, but I try to use mine to help others.  Some talents are tangible or easy to see.  These would be a great singer, or a detailed artist.  Others don't have as much weight given to them, but they are equally important (ie: a good listener, a trustworthy acquaintance).  Any talent is a gift from God.

Everyone has talents.  I know that they do.  I was telling my Daughter recently that the fact that we have anything shows that Heavenly Father loves us.  Talents are more gifts of God's love for us.  Everyone has unique talents.  I am glad that people have strengths that I don't have.  I am beginning to understand just how unique and special each of God's children are.


I know I profit from others' talents.  I am so grateful for the many people (read: all) who have talents that bless my life.  Since everyone has talents, then everyone is blessing my life.  Sometimes our society places greater esteem on certain talents, but that doesn't need to happen.  All talents are equally wonderful to me.

A song has been running through my head all day today as I have pondered these things.  It is called "Every Star is Different".  I want each and everyone of you to listen to the song.  I don't want you to skip the link because you are (fill in the excuse), or think, "oh yeah, I know how that goes".  Even if you know every single word perfectly, I want you to listen and read the words.

I MEAN IT.  This is also the link to the song!  (make sure to click on Words and Music in the upper left)

The Spirit whispered to me today that someone is going to listen to this song and read the words and be touched, and have tears come to their eyes as they are reminded of eternal truths, feel of God's love for them, and understand their role in this divine Plan.  Maybe it'll be me.  Maybe it'll you.  I don't know.  Don't cheat yourself.

"Everyone is needed for just what he can do"

Whatever your talents may be, Heavenly Father gave them to you and is counting on you to use them, because if you don't, someone will miss out.

Each one of you, my readers, are so special and wonderful.  I don't know all of you personally, but I think about you.  I wonder who you are.  Are you male or female?  How old are you?  Do you have any children?  I see where you are from and how often you come and that's all I know about you, but it is enough to know that you cannot be replaced.  You are in my life right now for a reason, and I thank you.

"You're the only person who ever can be you."

Don't try to be anyone else, but yourself.  We are have our own earthly mission to complete.

Whenever you read this post, take one little minute to think about talents and be grateful for them.  The talents you have, the talents that others share with you.

I am so thankful for talents and the good efforts of good people.

Yours,
Lindsay

New LDS.org Website


Dear Readers,

It snuck up on me!  Today is November 30th.  Today is the last day of the current or "old" lds.org website.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been making a "new" lds.org website (new.lds.org) and tomorrow it becomes THE lds.org website (replacing the "old").  Make sense?

I personally have been dreading this change as I have loved the layout on the old website and have not quite fallen in love with the layout on the new website.  To see some side by side changes, this page might be helpful.  They also recommend watching these tutorial videos to learn how to navigate the new layout.

I admit I have not watched them yet, I guess because I am enjoying the "classic" website as long as possible and maybe once I watch them I will be fully converted :).

One thing (and maybe why I am taking it so personal) is that the "A-Z Index" is harder to find now.  I use the "A-Z Index" probably 80% of the time that I am on lds.org.  So to help you out, I will tell you how to find it.  You have to click on "Menu" at the top of the homepage.  Then looking under "Study" (it's in yellow font on the right) click on "Study by Topic" and there is the "A-Z Index" except for that it isn't called that anymore.

Things that are cool are the addition of the study journal (called "My Study Notebook").  You can highlight talks and make notes saved under your user-name.  Also, they have made it so easy to request a copy of your patriarchal blessing (if you need one).  It is under "Tools" which is found next to "Menu" (at the top) on the homepage.  Make note that underneath "Tools" is also where you can find the "Stake and Ward Websites" link (which to me seems like it used a lot).

Hope this helps.  Also, remember that mormon.org is another great resource.  For those that are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I invite you to click around there as well.

I will also be posting a second time today.  Last night as I was preparing for bed, I felt distinctly that I should post about something today (and look at me putting it off :( ).  It was when I went to lds.org this morning to link to the scriptures and such that I was reminded of the big website change.  I will listen.  I will post.  I will to listen to know the words that should be written.

Readers, it is my delight to share with you.

Delightedly,
Lindsay

Monday, November 29, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude Part 3


Out of the Mouth of Prophets - Part 5

Dear Readers,

I am still here.  I haven't had anything positive to say recently.  As whatever I type will be "published" forever, I have elected to wait to post anything.  Yes, I enjoyed my Thanksgiving.  No, I didn't go somewhere exotic with no internet access.  I have been here, at my house, not exemplifying the very topic that I will talk about today.

This is the last in my "Attitude of Gratitude" posts that have covered President Monson's conference talk, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude".  See here and here for parts 1 and 2.

"We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude."

Where have I been?  In the realm of negative thought.  It is a real place.  I also like how President Monson uses the word "realm".  That sounds big to me.  I have discovered over the years that the "realm of negative thought" is as large as we want to make it.  It can be so large that it swallows our very soul and the accompanying hope, leaving behind only emptiness and despair.  When I also hear the word "realm", it makes me think of something other-worldly, and not in reality.  When we are stuck in negative thinking, we are not in the present.  We are not enjoying all that we could be.  We also can choose to make it as small as we want or non-existent as President Monson uses the word "refuse".  Take that Satan.

This is why it is so important to be grateful, to have an "attitude of gratitude".

"How can we cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude? President Joseph F. Smith, sixth President of the Church, provided an answer. Said he: “The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life.” He continued: “Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!” (see article for reference #9)
President Smith is telling us that a prayerful life is the key to possessing gratitude."

Hmm.  Any guesses to how my praying was this past week?  Long and fervent or short and mumbled?  How can I so willingly hold myself back?  It is no secret.  Prayer is the key to have gratitude.  Like, I said rough week, but I have the power to change, so I will.

"In the book of Matthew in the Bible, we have another account of gratitude...His disciples, however, questioned, “Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?” Like many of us, the disciples saw only what was lacking.

“And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And [the disciples] said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

“And [Jesus] commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

“And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.”

Notice that the Savior gave thanks for what they had—and a miracle followed."
What was lacking.  I debated over making this part 4, because there is so much that could be said here.  Is that not the coolest thing ever, that when thanks was given, a miracle followed?  They didn't have much, but the Savior was grateful that they had something instead of nothing.  He recognized that Heavenly Father gives us all.  I know that I am guilty of looking at what is lacking in my life sometimes.  I think everyone is to some degree.  The fact that we have anything is a sign that Heavenly Father loves us.

I know He loves me.  God works in mysterious ways.  He does listen to prayers and when we think we cannot do anymore he bolsters us up and prepares the way for us.

"When we encounter challenges and problems in our lives, it is often difficult for us to focus on our blessings. However, if we reach deep enough and look hard enough, we will be able to feel and recognize just how much we have been given."
Amazing, how these conference talks have blessed my life.  I love how I have been able to recall things that were said, or at least topics talked about, so that I could look up a certain talk.  Many times I have been impressed while I have been pondering about something or asking a question to Heavenly Father.  These are words of scripture for us.  They are here to guide us.

The Lord has let our family struggle in a situation for months.  We learned a lot, and have grown.  When we finally reached a breaking point after we had done everything we possibly could, an amazing string events took place that will resolve the situation.  I am so grateful for a merciful Heavenly Father.  He knows what we need.  He hears our prayers.  He loves all of us.  He loves me.

Lastly, I am also grateful for personal progress that I have made.  Since conference I have been working on something specific in my life.  Little by little, the Lord has been revealing things to me to help me understand.  I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have about the Plan of Salvation.

If you wish to watch this conference address by President Monson, click here.  Just find this talk (Sunday Morning Session), and watch, download, whatever you want.
"This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. Our lives are blessed in countless ways."
We truly have been blessed.

How have you been blessed?  Would you like to share something else from President Monson's words?  My email is lettersfromlindsay at gmail dot com.

Sincerely,
Lindsay