Reflections

Once June hits around here, we have a birthday/anniversary/special occasion at least monthly for several months, which is pretty cool. 🙂 My birthday is coming up next month, and I have been thinking about the emotional growth spurt that I experienced recently. One morning this week, before I got out of bed, I had a phrase from one of the birthday songs the children of our church sing to one another by Barbara McConochie: “one year older and wiser, too.”

Though wisdom might have evaded me as a child, I have considered moments from this summer which have brought me insight and strength. I have been taught in ways that I would not have imagined possible on subjects as diverse as faith or screenwriting, as connected as family is to friends. I have experienced moments of ease as well as moments of pain, moments of heartache and moments of triumph. Each day, I have been sustained by those around me and a power beyond my own.

What have I learned?

  • I am stronger, more capable, more powerful than I knew before this moment.
  • My family has the capacity to strengthen, bless, and uplift.
  • I have a voice to sing.
  • Life is filled with blessings, even as we struggle.
  • Struggling helps us (if we let it).
  • Life is good.
  • Gratitude each day is crucial.
  • I can be happy, no matter what goes on around me.
  • Prayer changes situations, hearts, minds.
  • As we work together to support each other, we’ve got this.

Till next time. xoxo

Allegiant…Sprinkled With Divergent and Insurgent

As you are aware from yesterday’s post, I was reading (and subsequently finished) Allegiant, the third installment in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy. My mind has since been bouncing around processing her approximately 1,500 pages of writing…but I would like to record a few themes here and the way the story affected me.
20140115-104255.jpg

From the dedication, the mother-daughter connection was evident. It was the most powerful connection for me in the series, with the second being the love shared between two main characters (both of whom share in voicing Allegiant). Without spoiling the story, (and if you read these books, I urge you not to read summaries or talk to others about them too much prior to reading them) the connection between Tris and her mother, especially as Tris discovers her mother’s strength as well as her own, brought out the most emotion for me.

Fear is also a major theme, as well as cultivating bravery. I enjoyed the journey, which caused self-reflection and a great deal of thought. I am still pondering. (And, I wish I knew what my fear landscape would look like.)

Faith is also expressed–though not necessarily in the religious sense of faith. Rather, the characters find faith in themselves, in each other, in their strength and relationships. This faith leads them to trust and to love more deeply.

The theme of forgiveness is paramount through Insurgent and Allegiant. Tris’s acknowledgement of forgiveness in Insurgent as well as her discussion and pondering about it in Allegiant are notable. Without this theme, I’m not sure I could’ve continued in Insurgent (which held less pull for me than the other two books in the series, but is necessary in understanding character development).

Speaking of continuing, I almost stopped at the end of Insurgent. I had heard from friends who were upset by the third book or the ending or whatever. None of them went into detail (and my son cautioned me after finishing Allegiant sometime last November not to discuss the ending with anyone until after I read it). I was glad I took his advice.

Though many of my friends vehemently oppose the conclusion of Allegiant, I felt like Roth did what was necessary as a writer to be true to the characters who spoke through her in this series. I wept through the last forty pages or so, and laughed a few times, as well. I found the ending beautiful and poignant.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have read the series or if you plan to read it. 🙂 Till then, much love!

Simple Gifts

Before I can recall specific memories of time from my childhood, I learned this Shaker hymn written by Brother Joseph Brackett in 1848:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Last night, I was pondering the blessings of simple gifts I have received in my life. Among the myriad, I will mention but a few:

1. The Gift of Time. Occasionally, I am aware of individuals, who, by living with intention, carve out a section of time for me. Sometimes, this time is given in the form of sending a message, answering a question, or acknowledging a comment. Other moments, I receive this gift when a dear soul calls on the phone or visits. Each morning, I wake with a sense of the gift I have been given of another day to spend time as I wish.

2. The Gift of Choice. I am acutely aware each day that I have the gift of choice. I choose what I want to wear, where I will go (or stay), and how I will use the gift of time. I choose the relationships I will develop each day, the words I will write and read, the music I will hear. I choose to live and love.

3. The Gift of Being Clean. After the birth of a new baby, I remember a moment where my mother was returning from a doctor appointment not far from my home. She and my father, who was her driver, stopped by for only a few minutes. She said, “We can hold the baby while you take a shower.” As a mother of a new baby, I had been covered in bodily fluids from leaky nursing pads and diapers. I was so grateful for the blessing of taking a shower and for the gift of being clean.

4. The Gift of Being Able to Change. Other times, I have felt covered in the hopelessness of doubt–doubt in myself and my ability to go on, to move forward, to change. I have allowed myself the laziness of wallowing, not unlike the Prodigal Son. But I, too, have looked up, and through prayer, scripture study, and through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I have been given the gift of being able to change.

5. The Gift of Love. As a teenager, I was hyper-judgemental. I didn’t like that every outfit I saw, every person with whom I spoke, and every hair-do and purse and action was seen through a critical lens. I even looked at myself that way. The gift of love was lacking in my life. As I grew into a high school and college student, I began to cultivate feelings of love for others (though I still struggled with self-love and acceptance). The newfound happiness of loving instead of judging others was a great gift. Eventually, I decided I wanted to give that gift not only to others, but to myself. I struggled over years of praying and building uplifting thought processes; I spent many an hour along this journey in conversation with supportive friends. Within the last several months, my heart has changed toward myself, as well. I have gained knowledge that God loves me as I was, as I am now, and as I will become–even with my imperfections. I still have negative days occasionally, but overall, I can say that I do–truly–love myself. This gift is perhaps the most precious of them all.

Living Proof

Image Copyright Sarah Knight Photography
Image Copyright Sarah Knight Photography

I understand that this idea is not a new one. I don’t claim it to be my own…and yet, in a way, it is entirely mine because it is my journey.

I have been watching myself lately–observing, reflecting–as if someone on the outside of my life was witnessing me live.

(Not like an out-of-body-experience, mind you, but a real, contemplative, on-purpose type of living and pondering my choices.)

I have been willfully trying to put God first in my life and watch what He can do with me…and I am amazed with what I see.

I have written more words per day than ever before in my life. I have been more grateful. I have been more positive. I have been less selfish. I have more love in my heart. I have thought more of others. I have been more alive.

I like myself better.

When I live according to the life that God has planned for me, I am happier. When I am able to be an instrument in His hands, together we make beautiful music.

Now, I still have pain. I’m still stressed (in moments). I still struggle. My house isn’t clean all the time. My kids eat cereal and grilled cheese for dinner more than I would like to admit. But my outlook is better. And my faith is stronger.

I am living proof that if we feed our spirits with His word and turn our lives over to Him, He will do more with us than we could ever accomplish ourselves. And that, my dears, is truly amazing.

Faith is a Principle of Action

As the mornings get cooler, my love affair with my warm and cozy bed becomes more intense. Recently, after a morning of pressing the “snooze” button one too many times on my alarm (which squished our normal morning routines into about half the time we are used to), I said to one of my daughters, “It took a lot of faith for me to get out of bed this morning.”

I have been taught, “Faith is a principle of action and of power….”

That same morning, my app where I usually do my daily scripture study kept crashing. I tried several times, even moving the app around on my screen, but to no avail. I decided to use an alternate approach through a different app, and I found this video.

It went along with the experience I had earlier that morning, showing that faith is something that requires action. The man in the short film who was healed had to have faith on the words of Jesus Christ, that he would indeed be able to stand, take up his bed, and walk. He had to put faith in Christ and in himself to follow through with and obey (what I find to be basically) a commandment. He put faith and trust in the words and promise of Christ, followed that faith with action, and received power.

I am watching this pattern in my life.

Sometimes, like I said, on cooler mornings, I long for the warmth of my bed. Some days I feel too tired to get up and do the morning rush all over again, day in and day out…but, I have found that as I put my faith in God, seeking to do that work that He would have me do through mothering and loving and living each day (action), I am given strength (power) to move forward (or, on some days, to simply keep going).

How has faith changed you?

On a more serious note

Though you may not agree with my religion or with faith in general, the following is a post regarding an experience I have been having through scripture reading. I invite you to read on if you are feeling open or respectful; likewise, I invite you to close this blog window if you are feeling the least bit contentious. The topic is one of a very serious and personal nature for me, (and I hesitate to share it for those reasons) while at the same time I feel that I need to open my heart to my dearest blog readers. You guys and gals and your support mean so much to me in this little global community we call the Internet. 🙂

Last May, I began reading the Four Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I have finished Mark, am half-way through Luke (I read that at night with my little ones) and am concluding Matthew in my personal study.

And I hurt.

You see, as I finished Mark–by far the shortest of the four books–I mourned at the suffering and death of Christ.

Yes, of course, I relished in His resurrection and triumph over sin and death…but I hurt for Him.

Recently, when I read Matthew’s recounting of the plea from the Master to His disciples to “watch with him” through His sufferings and atonement for all people on earth, I could barely hold back tears. I found myself hesitating to finish, not wanting to hurt with Him and for Him, and because my own weaknesses and issues caused Him pain that He willingly took on so that I could feel the power of redemption.

But when Matthew is finished, I will begin again with John….

“In the beginning was the word.”

And I will read of his words to Nicodemus regarding baptism; I will sit by the well along with the Woman of Samaria and feel the power of His word.

And I will walk again along the Sea of Galilee as He calls, “Come, follow me.”

And I will hear Him call to me…and the pain, bringing about a change in my own heart which draws me closer to Him will be fruitful.

So, I will continue reading.

(Photo credit for all photos pictured in this post is here.)

The Sun Always Shines

The other day, I was visiting a friend’s home. She gave me a spectacular haircut (which feels lighter and lovlier than I have felt in ages)…and afterwards, we chatted outside amidst clouds and sunshine, with an occasional clap of thunder pounding its way through the heavens like my living room sounds during a Wii bowling marathon.

I wondered to myself about the possibility of a storm, what said storm might mean for the rest of my day (I had some plans to go swimming), and how said storm might affect my afternoon–with kiddos coming home from various places via foot or bus or whatever else.

Then, I came home, popped leftover curry and rice into the microwave (thankfully we still had some naan left, too), and enjoyed a quiet late lunch. After savoring the fruits of last night’s cooking experience, I walked to the sink to rinse my (almost-wiped-clean-anyway) plate, and the sun was almost blinding through the window.

As I felt the warmth and heat and light cover my skin with a powerful stillness, I knew that everything was going to be okay…kiddos, afternoon plans, homework and happy moments.

I thought of the desperate times–times of darkness or despair in my life. I remember those moments which brought about needed changes or powerful character-building experiences. I thought about living in places of snow, where storms and clouds would roll in for so long we thought they had overtaken the sun forever. And, I recalled feelings of being alone in the universe or sad beyond the reach of comfort or troubled without direction. Each time I lived through those moments or days or months or years, if I could make myself hang on to hope, have faith that triumph would overtake the sadness, and wait patiently for the light to pierce the clouds, I have been able to work through the despair. I have emerged a stronger person. Each time hasn’t been easy–in fact, I felt stretched to my inner core on each occasion–but light has brought me to where I am today.

And that is a pretty awesome place.

🙂


photo credit:  Sarah Knight Photography