Living in Color

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Living in ColorSummer is winding down, and I hope it has been a good one for you!  I can feel the energy growing for school shopping, sign-ups for football and piano lessons and, and, and…!  While you’re in the midst of this gear shifting, please consider these words, profoundly placed on a bumper sticker I saw probably 20 years ago…“The problem with life is that it is so daily.”

What does this have to do with fall time?  It seems to me (from my personal experience) that when we think of a new schedule or about what time our children have for extra activities or what time we have to accomplish x, y or z, sometimes we forget that, what it takes to live and be healthy takes time too!

By this I mean, we were created to need to eat multiple times a day, right?  (Did I just hear someone with dishpan hands moaning?  I know, I know, dishes are soooo “daily”!)  Not only that but we were created to need regular rest periods, light, exercise, connections with others, belonging to a family culture, etc.

The problem that seems to eventually throw a stick in the spokes of our finely tuned schedules is that we really didn’t factor in these realities of living….that we have to eat, rest, play, move, breathe fresh air and belong.

So we’ve usually planned in the lessons and the work hours and the school hours and the sports hours, but how about the cooking hours?  The planning-the-menu and the resting time?  When we don’t plan to take time to do the basics (cooking, shopping, eating, resting, cleaning etc.) we set ourselves up for serious frustration!  And contention.  And malnutrition.

And as we see in our country, obesity and ill-health.

There’s a secret you learn after so many years of being a mom: It is that all of the things that we do to keep ourselves healthy and enjoying life can actually BE enjoyable and health-promoting in and of themselves IF we have given ourselves the time to do them.

I mean, growing your own vegetables is a treat…when you have the time to do it and it’s not an annoying job crammed in the holes of an already over-scheduled day.  There is something so renewing about  being in the dirt, pulling weeds, watching plants maturing, breathing in fresh air and feeling the sun.  Then there’s the feeling of feeding your family produce that is free of pesticides!  It is amazing!

As a young mom I just couldn’t resist taking pictures of freshly baked bread (probably because it took me so very long to make a decent looking loaf!) or of beautiful orange and pink peaches in jars.  Nature is so beautiful and being a part of it is rewarding beyond anything I know.

Maybe the biggest issue with all of this “daily living” centers on what YOU believe is worthy of your time. What validates you as a person and as a mother?  What influences are weighing most heavily on you that may keep you from feeling that the art of living a rich and full life with your family may not be enough?  That YOU may not be enough if you don’t have more to report about your afternoon than, “today I taught my three-year-old to pull weeds and we ate fresh tomatoes on the back steps for lunch?”

There is so much pressure to be all and do it all…and decptively, all at once!

I want to encourage you to weed out the pressures and influences that may be causing you frustration and discouragement.  There is nothing you will do in this life that trumps the meaning and fulfillment of being a mother.  If you can, why not slow down, UNDER schedule, and love the things that living requires?

Yep, we can live on frozen food and adrenalin pumping schedules…but not for long and not well.
And we miss so much during a moment in time that we won’t be able to call back later. After all, life is a long time, God-willing, and there will be time for many other pursuits…

Mothers, you are needed.  Your role in the family and in society is crucial.  You cannot be replaced by anyone else.  Your love, your smile, your time, your face, your laugh…make up the memories of home, of belonging and of being loved.  Is there really something more important than that? Within the array of choice that YOU have in your life, about how and where you spend your time, is there room for slowing things down, breathing a little easier and LIVING a little more?

My hope for all of us is that when we turn and look back over the years of our lives, that we will see the fruit of our family labors and have great joy in the harvest!

I send you my vote of confidence that you are enough.  And you can do this.

Love,
Jacque

Step 1: Smile and say, "Thank you!"

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Thoughts on self-reliance…we women may need clarification on occasion…. as we (I) sometimes get confused.   Do you ever feel that if you let another person help you that somehow you have failed at being self-reliant?  (Might have to take the capital letter off your cape?) After a week of laying low with back problems, I came across this affirming quote:

“Self-reliance should not be mistaken for complete independence.  After all, we are ultimately dependent on  our Heavenly Father for everything.  We need His continual guidance, preservation and protection.  We also depend on one another.  Since we are given different spiritual gifts, we are expected to share what we have been given so that all may be blessed.  The key is to become self-reliant where we have the power to do so, to serve others when we can, and to allow others the blessing of serving us as the need arises.”  March 2013 Ensign, pg 65.

I have been reminded of the balance many of us are trying to achieve; being self-reliant and service- minded but also being willing to receive the service of others when we are in need.  Without receivers there are no givers.  It has also occurred to me, in my quiet-slowed-way-down hours this week that the all-powerful, all-compassionate Jesus received the precious ointment that a humble woman had saved to use in anointing him as a token of his burial.  He did not push her away or insist that she save the ointment for some other purpose, but with graciousness accepted her gift.

Because of all of the service that has been given to me and my family of late I am humbled; mostly by the warmth and compassion that has been shown in each kind gesture but also by being made more aware of those opportunities I may have missed to reach out to someone who needed some encouragement or laughter, something I could have given to them, but didn’t. And so my perspective is continuing to shift and I am learning. It is a good thing to be tutored and taught by what we experience, and certainly our learning is made easier when we are tutored by kindness and hope as well as sickness and uncertainty.

We rightly sing the question, “Have I done any good in the world today?” but we’d do well at times to add an alternate verse, something like, “Did I graciously receive when I was in need today?”

I surely hope that wherever you are on this spring day, the Son is shining in you.

Love,
Jacque

My December Wish for You~

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Dear Mom;

It seems that a big part of what can make life overwhelming is letting your mind think of all that you need to do, all that you want to do and all that would be nice to do, all at the same time!  Especially in December right!?  Prioritizing your time is a big deal since there are all of those need to’s, want to’s and nice-to-do’s that surround creating a memorable holiday season……

My wish for you is that if you are feeling crowded by too many to-do’s, that you will pause in what you are doing, take a minute to close your eyes, breathe deeply and take your expectations down a few notches!  And here’s why.  Your children are going to remember your smile more than they will remember the perfectly decorated tree.  They will remember hearing a story and singing a bedtime song more than getting five more gifts.

And very importantly, they will gain self-respect and consideration for others when a calm Mama holds them accountable for their behavior, (even in December!) kindly, gently, respectfully and FIRMLY.  (And you and I both know, yes from experience, that it’s nigh on to impossible to have the brain power to parent our children when we are barely aware of life because WE are running too fast and in too many directions!)

As a mother I appreciate the words of Charles Henry Parkhurst:

“The completed beauty of Christ’s life is only the added beauty of little inconspicuous acts of beauty–talking with the woman at the well;…showing the young ruler the stealthy ambition laid away in his heart that kept him out of the kingdom of Heaven;…teaching a little knot of followers how to pray;…kindling a fire and broiling fish that his disciples might have a breakfast waiting for them when they came ashore from a night of fishing, cold, tired, and discouraged.  All of these things, you see, let us in so easily into the real quality and tone of [Christ’s] interests, so specific, so narrowed down, so enlisted in what is small, so engrossed with what is minute” (Kindness and Love,” in Leaves of Gold [1938], 177).

I wish you the spiritual awareness to know when you are doing the truly important things in your home this December.  When you are wiping sweet potatoes from a little face, putting on little shoes and socks, when you are singing, when you kneel down to listen to a child, I hope you will feel God’s light and His appreciation for being a mother to His children.

I wish you joy in every small act of kindness you bestow on your family this Christmas.

You can do this.

All my love,

Jacque

Barbara Bush

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Love, love, love this quote by Barbara Bush, wife of President George Bush.  She was speaking to graduates of Wellesley College:

“But whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first.  You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love your children.  Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house.”  (Washington Post, 2 June 1990, 2.)

On days when you feel that the world is in a downward spiral and you think there is nothing you can do about it, remember Mrs. Bush’s profound thought; what you do as a mother matters.  Small and simple things, reading, giving a hug and plainly loving your children will reap benefits on the world that will be seen and felt by generations.

You can do this.

All my love,
Jacque

Thoughts On Pulling Weeds

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I was reminded recently about something a friend of mine taught me a long time ago. Her name is Carol and she was my neighbor in northern Utah. Carol and her husband had raised their children and were living in a beautiful home across the street from ours. She had a knack with everything “homemaking”…she was a good cook, her home was beautifully decorated and their yard was immaculate. Carol herself is a lovely person who looks nice and is bright and friendly.

I was standing on the sidewalk in front of her house visiting for a minute one summer morning and as I admired her yard, I wondered how she kept her flower beds free of weeds. I mean, I couldn’t see one! I remember thinking that maybe when I got to that point in my life when I wasn’t on the constant treadmill of cooking, dishes, cleaning, laundry, etc. etc. maybe then I would be able to keep my flower beds free of weeds too…?

So, I asked her how she did it. What was her secret to a weed-free yard? In her sweet, energetci way she said that each morning (or evening) she would quickly go through her flower beds and pull out the tiny, almost invisible weeds that had sprouted the day before. It only takes a few minutes and then, she said, it never became a big chore. 

That was about the end of our conversation, but her idea and all it can be related to has stayed with me for many years. Slowly it has taught me some important things about the way I perceive my job as a homemaker.

I decided that the thing I love most about Carol’s answer is that it was full of accountability! We already know that when we have a yard that weeks will grow. We know when we cook and eat that dishes will get dirty. And we know clothes get dirty and laundry needs attention, and that when we start a project it will inevitably be followed by some kind of a cleaning-up process. Yet so often we talk about our dishes or laundry as if it is in charge and multiplying on its own! Like, “these dishes just keep appearing!” and, “when will this laundry ease up?”

For all of us who sometimes feel overwhelmed by the mundane, I hope that a fun an accountable voice might start to speak up and to make plans! When could we plan to pull weeds while they are small? Would having a sink of hot, soapy water ready to wash pots and pans during the dinner cooking make the evening lighter? What about thinking through the laundry schedule (or making one!) and finding a way to do it that doesn’t feel like drudgery?

As Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said, “we are the daughters of the most creative being in the universe!” We are in charge of our homes and we can use creativity in our desire and responsibility to keep our homes and families happy and functioning.

And, besides, now I know that Carol wasn’t in a time of her life when there wasn’t plenty to do! She wasn’t bored or lacking for something to fill up her days, but she was choosing to be in control of herself  and win the battle with those elements of our job as homemakers that have the potential of using up our mental and physical energy before we even begin! I’ve learned that even the empty nest is a busy and vibrant nest… and around that nest, the weeds still grow!