Friday, October 18, 2013

A Thank You to All My Loved ones

I have posted before about how alone I have felt and I think some of my posts really leave out noticing or recognizing the people who have loved, supported, and helped me throughout all my trials, as well as laughed with me, and shared in all my joys. I just want everyone who has ever helped me in small ways and big that I am so grateful for that help. I am certain that we need each other. I appreciate all of the times that you followed the promptings of the spirit in how and when to help. I forgive you if you ever felt a prompting to help but did not.
I think that one of the characteristics of PPD (or maybe even any depression) is failing to realize or accept all the good around us. I know one of the things that I have struggled with is finding a balance between seeing what is lacking, and taking care of that need, and focusing on the good.
I am going to share an interesting piece of information about crabs. If one crab gets put in a bucket and tries to climb out, it will make it out. If another crab gets put in there with it, when one tries to climb out, the other will pull it down. I have experienced the crab bucket syndrome and think that it is the stupidest of human behaviors. It totally happens. But, this is the kind of behavior I like to call "the natural man", and it is an enemy to God.
We must learn to yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off that natural man. We must help each other out of this bucket (Satan's traps) not pull each other back in.
I'd like to thank everyone who has ever helped me out of one of Satan's traps. I have mentioned my unseen helpers before, but I have had many mortal angels who have been sent by God, literally, to help me out of a bucket.
Sometimes they are not Satan's buckets, but the buckets of life. Sometimes life just brings more than we can handle all by ourselves and we get sent these heavenly helpers.
Thank you to all of my heavenly helpers. This is what I want to be to someone else. I hope that I have helped you out somehow too. I hope that I have not been a fellow crab, but a helper from God to help you out of the bucket.
Above all I thank God for all of His tender mercies on me and for the everlasting and unconditional love He has towards me and all mankind. We all fall short of the glory of God and I thank Him for sending Jesus Christ, the Great Heavenly Helper that can help us out of any "bucket" we get stuck in. If we ever feel like we are constantly trying to get out of the bucket and constantly and mercilessly being pulled back down by others, He is there for us. I have always loved the song "Walk Tall, You're a Daughter of God", especially the words, "He's closer than you know, reach up he'll take your hand."
Thank you for all the good you do!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On The Battlefield

Ephesians 6:12-18
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.
Stand therefore having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all supplication in the spirit..."
Ladies (and any men reading this) we very seriously ARE on the battlefield. The adversary knows what a crucial, vulnerable, and sensitive time this is for you and your family, but especially for your baby/babies.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we are hastening our missionary work. There is a great need for this at this time. Satan is also hastening his. He is only raging on all the stronger. "The wrong will fail the right prevail" Longfellow penned. So true.
You know all too well that voice that tells you that you are not worth it, or the voice that tells you that you hate your husband, or that he hates you, or that you want to put one of your kids up for adoption, or beat them to a pulp. Where did those ideas come from?  Yes, Satan. Nephi says, "look to God and live."
Those evil thoughts are not your own. They come from the father of all lies. You may be HEARING those evil and destructive thoughts, but there is another voice that is still and small. That voice will tell you that you ARE worth it!!! You love yourself, your husband, your children, and that it IS POSSIBLE for you to succeed and have joy!!!! In fact, it may only be those evil voices that are keeping you from succeeding and feeling that joy right now!!!!! Picture Satan to the left of you and God to the right of you. If you are looking to God you can still hear Satan, but it is easier for you to hear God when you are looking to God. How do YOU "look to God"?
When we are weak, we are at risk of being attacked. Are we not weakened when we don't get enough good foods, water, sleep, and scriptures in? I know that I have experienced more than a fair amount of all of these especially during the year after having a baby. I think that this is part of what brings any mood disorder into our lives, postpartum or not. But, in the postpartum year we are more likely to experience these things because of the "added load" we have just acquired. This is not to say anything bad about our babies, it's just the way it is. Having a family IS a 24/7 job. We need support and help. (see the post called "What is Normal Anyway?")
I just want to testify that I know that the scripture at the top is true. When I was telling a good friend of mine with ten kids, who had never had PPD before, what PPD was like, she said, "So, it's a demonic attack." It wasn't a question, she could tell exactly what was going on. I thought of what a demonic attack might feel like and felt like that really did accurately describe what I was going through.
Never before had I looked at it quite like that. This brings a whole new application to the scripture above. As things are created spiritually before they are physically, it would make a lot of sense that this is what's happening, really. Perhaps it is the very thing that causes the hormones to be "out of whack". Perhaps it is what shuts down the adrenals. What I get from this, is that I need the armour of God on NOW more than ever before!
So let's look at it a different way. Studies say that about 15% of childbearing women experience postpartum depression every year. If PPD is really a demonic attack, that's nearly a million women EACH YEAR that are experiencing a demonic attack. Can you see how important it is that we as women HAVE this armour of God on?? AND can anyone reading this that is not experiencing PPMDs now see how badly women who are childbearing need your help to strengthen them, support them, and minister to them. I am not talking about telling them what they should be doing, I am talking about comforting them, sharing a scripture with them, or doing a job for them that they don't have the energy to do because they were up at all hours of the night with their baby, or because they literally are experiencing a spiritual attack. This need goes beyond the week or month or two after the baby is born. For many, postpartum depression doesn't settle in until 3 to 4 months postpartum.
I have a wonderful friend whom I know the Lord sent to me. She came at just the right time to give me all the things listed above. She ministered to me. She helped, supported, and defended me.
I know that God gives us beautiful people like this as gifts at hard times in our lives just to let us know that we are not forgotten. He loves us and is there for us. He is on the battlefield too. He is fighting right there with us. At one point I thought I fought alone. But now I see that he was fighting for me all along.
Taking care of our physical body AND our spiritual body are BOTH necessary for healing that lasts. I have learned so many lessons that I don't think I would have learned, had I ignored what the Lord wanted me to learn spiritually throughout my childbearing years. I am so grateful for the Lord's watchful care and love for me and you and pray for your victory over whatever challenge you are facing.


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Song of Life

This post is going to be short, but I just wanted to share something that has been on my mind lately. I recently bought a piano. We have two now. One upstairs, and one down. But the kids pretty much favor the upstairs one. In fact, they love it so much that until recently, they couldn't stop playing it every time they would see it. They would even play two at a time. Not duets, though, just two songs at the same time. Have you heard two songs playing at the same time before? It makes one cringe.
If we think about the phases of life that we can go through here, or the different kinds of work we do throughout our lives, there are so many different ones. Different "songs" that we sing throughout our lives.
For several years after I started having children, there were many weeks where I did not enjoy church. Not only was it a battle to keep up with small children during sacrament meeting, but I would wish that I could have pretty much all the callings that I knew I had talents to fill. I wished that I could be Relief Society president, music chairperson, chorister, nursery leader, Enrichment night coordinator, and so on.
Beyond church, I wished that I could be at least a part time writer, teacher, singer, song writer, teach childbirth, cooking, and nutrition classes.
But I remember one line that Elder M. Russell Ballard said one conference. "A woman need not try to sing all the songs of her life at once."
This brought me comfort and somehow I knew that even though I wanted to do all these things right now, it would not "sound good" it would make one "cringe" hearing those songs all mixed together. If those desires are planted in you now. Just nourish them little by little and focus on nourishing the ones that are in full season at the moment.
This season is the  time for nourishing and training small children, no matter how challenging it is. That is what we have chosen, or been given, blessed with, etc...
I say to myself, "patience. This song is precious and will end soon. And then another will begin."

Using the Lord's Law of Health to Help Us Overcome Our Challenges

I have discovered that for me, the foods I eat affect my mood.
Heavenly Father knew this from the time he spiritually created you, me, and the foods we would eat.
That's why he has given us so many good foods and good words in the scriptures to tell us what things are good for us to eat.
What kind of food habits do you have? Are they the kind you want to have? Do you notice your mood changing after you eat certain foods?
This is a tool I want to be able to pass on to those going through postpartum mental challenges, because I know by experience, that it can be very beneficial in altering a person's mood for the better. I am not a professional nutritionist, doctor, midwife (yet), and am not perfect in this principle, although I really try to be. I would like to share an experience with you and a lesson I learned from it, though.

I thought I had the Word of Wisdom 'down' by not smoking and not drinking hot drinks or using "addictive substances". Then life got down right stressful! I had four small children; I had just begun really homeschooling our oldest 2 and got a breast infection. I had to go on antibiotics to get rid of the infection. I've been on them before. In fact, I had to take them a lot when I was little and then pretty much every pregnancy/birth when I was an adult up until that point. You know what the side effects are of antibiotics? Among other things, yeast infections. (Any woman reading this has probably dealt with them in one place or another and any man reading this probably has had one at some point as well, in the gut, on the skin, etc...) Besides all this, I was still not recovered from the PPD that had settled in around a month before all this happened.

It was during this very stressful time of life that I began to acknowledge that I had an addiction to sugar. As much as we all like to deny that sugar and chocolate are addictive, research and our bodies tell us otherwise. Some people can eat just one serving at social functions or family home evenings, or birthdays, etc., and they are just fine to leave the rest and just fine health wise with the piece they had. Others, however, like me at this time, could not seem to stop eating it until it had made me physically uncomfortable. I would avoid making it or buying it for this reason, but this didn't solve the problem during holiday get-togethers, church functions, or other times when I wasn't the one making the food or deciding on the menu. What better way to stress my body out even more than by being addicted to sugar? It causes stress in the body!

This same year, there was a talk given in General Conference on the sanctity of the body. There was a story in there that told of a mother who had experimented with a new sweet roll recipe and overindulged. That night, she was asked to say the family prayer, but, because of her overindulgence, had felt a lack of spirituality for saying the prayer.

(http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/the-sanctity-of-the-body?lang=eng

I could definitely relate to this story. I felt guilty and less sensitive to the spirit when I ate too much sugar. One piece of cake would turn into three overnight. There were also a couple of talks in the  Oct. 2013 conference that addressed addictions of any kind.

By the end of that year I had grown so sick of the symptoms of Candida and so tired of denying myself more spirituality, I decided to make it a New Year's resolution to refuse all sugar, no matter where it was located. I also went on an anti-Candida diet. I noticed that it wasn't just me who needed this either, it was my family.

There were two exceptions: holidays (and I mean the actual DAY and not all the parties or celebrations surrounding it) and birthdays of CLOSE family and friends. I would allow myself to enjoy a sweet or two on these special occasions.

Like any major life change, it took about three months to get used to. With the anti-Candida diet, you're supposed to go off of the common food allergens altogether and slowly add them back in. People we knew got worried that our kids were not eating dairy or eggs and I totally felt like the food freak for a long time. I would go to church functions and there would be little to nothing I could eat of what was served. I knew that the new food choices I was making were pleasing to the Lord and much better for my body, but it confused me that everyone else who seemed to be very spiritual and living the gospel were eating the foods there and they were just fine. How come they could eat them and I couldn't? This is a question I continue to receive answers for. One reason is because every body is different. My body may have been going through more stress than everyone else's there. The knowledge that I had recently gained, challenged cultural beliefs and traditions that even some members of the church were not ready to let go of, no matter how practical or healthy. Another possible reason I was led to this way of eating was to learn mastery over my body. I have not had very many opportunities to fast over my many years of being pregnant and nursing, while many others who are not experiencing this season in life get to fast every fast Sunday. Perhaps the Lord was giving me a way that I could "fast" from the things that I knew were causing my body more stress. I also feel like it was His way of showing me how to use my food storage. I had wheat, beans, oil, and such, stored and had not made it a habit yet of cooking with these healthy foods and making things from scratch. As far as the church functions go, I learned that I either needed to just not go, not go for the food, or offer to bring something I could eat. But, I STILL struggle with this even now.

It was not an easy task for me to get used to cooking different foods, eating different foods and loving them. Luckily I made these changes when my kids were small and still forming their food preferences. We started eating things that were naturally sweet for Family Home Evening treats, like popcorn, smoothies, naturally sweetened cookies or cakes, etc... My husband was also very open to trying new foods, which I am sure all of you would agree is a big plus!

If you study about what foods feed yeast (funny that they also are the ones that would increase your risk of getting bacterial infections because of their effects on the immune system), what foods don't and what foods help rid the body of the excess Candida, you may find some interesting things you did not know before that will change your perspective on food. And if you have any desire to change the foods you eat because of what you find, please know that it IS possible! Pray about how to approach it, what 1st step to take, and go for it!!!! I do need to thank one of my dear friends from this time, Crystal Bailey, who supported me on this whole thing. She totally validated me after I so courageously refused chocolate cake that was being served at a Relief Society meeting. Her support was a great example that others started following.

I learned that many of the foods that fed the yeast also contributed heavily to depression, anxiety, and fatigue. I learned that the foods that didn't feed the yeast and the ones that helped get rid of the excess also were known to aid in the body's immune system and even helped in fighting cancer. WHO DOESN'T WANT A STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM AND LESS CHANCE OF GETTING CANCER?? (Not to mention less anxiety, depression, and fatigue...)

After making these changes, I did experience increased spirituality, decreased depression, and better health.

Once I had this new found knowledge, I wanted to teach others. Some people were open to it and I was able to help others along on their journey toward better health. Others were not ready to receive it or completely would not listen and I felt so sad that I could not help them. There were those who continued to think of me as unreasonable when it came to food, and I had to, and still have to, just be okay with that. Life isn't over yet, and they may come around later on.

I made those changes in 2006 and since then have let go at times when I am less physically taxed, or sometimes even when I am, much to my dismay. Over that time, I have noticed that eating the unhealthy foods brings attacks from the dark side. Spirituality IS affected! Overall, my stress levels have not gone down by any means, and at present, I am remembering what an awesome year that was when I made such awesome changes. I felt as though I really did experience the blessings and promise associated with the WOW. "And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them." (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21)

If we get a blessing (or many) from eating healthy, is it possible that we get the opposite of a blessing from eating unhealthy foods? The saints back then didn't have sugar or processed foods so readily available like we do in our day. That is why we really have to go with the spirit of the law. If we are addicted to something that we know is not healthy for us, we are disrespecting our bodies as temples. Our bodies ARE temples.
There is a spirit about the word of wisdom that, to me, is telling us to avoid ANY unhealthy food addiction. The Word of Wisdom found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants is more than just "don't drink, smoke or do drugs". This section is all about food; what foods we should eat, when, and a little bit of why. It also describes what the Lord will do if we eat this way.
The Word of Wisdom may not say anything about avoiding sugar, but the spirit of the law is that we eat the foods God made for us that are good and nourishing to the body and eat meat sparingly. The promises associated with obeying this law are priceless! When Daniel and his friends refused the Kings portion of meat and chose pulse (nuts, seeds, and legumes - which were probably soaked) to eat and water to drink instead (I would add that they probably didn't have any refined sugar at that point in time to even choose to eat), "In all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." Daniel chapter 1)

"All grain is good for the food of man." (D&C 89:16) I really don't think that the Lord intended for us to take apart and separate the food that he made for us. I think specifically of wheat, corn, and sugarcane. When we separate the sugar from the fiber, or all the different parts of a grain from each other and they don't all end up in our body at the same time like God made them to, it is not as healthy and can even be very harmful.

But what about "All things in moderation"? What is moderate to one person may be extremely excessive to another. Or vise versa. All things in moderation perhaps means that we use the spirit to guide us in our eating choices; being honest with ourselves and respectful to the bodies God gave us, and the food that he made to grow well and nourish our bodies.

Having more faith in our food growing processes is phenomenal. In the olden days, when bugs attacked their crop, they prayed over their crops. Maybe this isn't true of all cultures, but the scripture that says, "Ask and it shall be given you" is not just there for decoration. Anyone can apply this scripture to the situation they are dealing with. If we want to eat the healthier foods, why not ask for them and ask for the strength to break the generational and cultural habits that we may have?

WE can ask for God to protect and bless our crops. WE can ask for the Lord to send us food that is healthy for our bodies. WE can ask for God to bless our food to grow well without the use of harmful chemicals.

We can also ask God to help us have the faith it takes to buy the healthier foods. Yes, sometimes the healthier food costs more money, but, as Dr. Sears puts it, you can pay more now and be healthy or pay more later for healthcare costs.

After a few months of eating this way, my PPD began to subside, I felt stronger spiritually, and healthier physically. Any extra weight I had on me was gone.  In some ways, even just being able to say "No" to the thing that was so tempting to me, gave me strength and confidence. When we start saying no to the temptations that so easily beset us, it gives us spiritual strength and we awaken to the wonderful power we have in the righteous use of our agency!!!




Is Your Baby a Protector?

Have you ever wondered if your baby was sent to you just to tell you something from God or to teach you something that you need to know? What if this is true? What if our babies are given to us to teach us more than we can teach him/her?
All babies are very special and some can discern spirits. Perhaps because your baby is so special, Satan works extra hard to make sure you screw things up when he's a baby so that hopefully, for Satan's sake, he will have too much junk to work through when he is a grown up that he will not fulfill the mission that he was sent here to fulfill.
So, say this is true. If he has the gift of discerning of spirits and Satan is coming at you hard, you think your baby might try to warn you or protect you somehow? I wonder if there is any other way for him to do it besides crying.
So, Satan is coming at you with so many fiery darts or negative thoughts to try to thwart his mission and you've got "this screaming baby" on your hands that you don't know how to calm down. Satan knows that you are most likely not going to jump to the conclusion that there are evil spirits in the room to cast out. You are in a war zone in your brain and are probably thinking, "why won't this baby stop crying?!"
That is why I am writing this post. I think that there are times when we get sent protector babies. Babies that cry when our thoughts and intents of our hearts are not positive. They are telling us that there are evil spirits in the room with us that need to be cast out.
Some babies cry inconsolably when they have gas, when they have not had enough of their mom, because something you ate is giving them trouble. (Try taking dairy out of your diet if you suspect this.)
But some cry because they need to protect you from the evil that is going on in your head.
I have had two such babies, I suspect. The 1st, I did not know what she was crying for and felt like all I could do to remain sane was to distance myself from her. I regret doing this. The second I had recently, and I think I was a little more in tune with the spirit at that point and could really tell that this was one of his gifts and that that is why he would cry so much sometimes.
Have you noticed that ever? Maybe you were feeling particularly stressful one day and amidst the spilled juice, 7:30 dinner, contention with your spouse, breaking other kid's fights up, etc.... your baby all of the sudden starts in a crying.
This is our signal. This is our signal to stop and breathe deeply. Drink water. Take a seat. Have a cry. Say a prayer. Give an apology. Forgive. Pray for help. Prayer protects us from temptation, no matter how small, and demons. Pray in the name of Jesus Christ that those demons be cast out of your presence and household.
Then, enjoy feeling the corners of your mouth lift up again. Bask in the warm feeling you have in your heart - or hopefully have after doing all these things.

What Is Normal Anyway?

I have throughout my childbearing years had many varying perspectives on what normal is. Google defines normal as "conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected."
If you are reading this and are going through a PPMD (Postpartum Mood Disorder) you are probably thinking that normal is "anything but what I am going through". And you are right. Sort of. What you are going through may just be normal for what situation you are in. Yes, you are not experiencing the same things as those who are not childbearing, and you are not experiencing the same thing that men are experiencing, so that, in itself puts you in a pretty small category. You are not experiencing their normal. You are experiencing a different normal.
When we experience hundreds of negative thoughts a day, and an abundance of feelings of resentment towards ourselves, our children, spouse, or extended family members, though, our normal is generally something we would rather not be experiencing. This is when we need help. Perhaps household or babysitting help. Perhaps a hormone balancer (like Vitex). Counselors and psychotherapists were trained to be able to help people going through this kind of thing. As much as I wish that anyone else of my choice was trained to deal with my issues and help me through them, no one else is really going to do the job. Some would love to be able to do it, others would rather go scratch a chalkboard than listen to you explain all your emotions to them and expect them to have any kind of solution for you besides, "Go get on some medication, lady, because you are seriously messed up!"
And in your head you may be thinking, "I know I am! That's why I'm talking to you!"
I always wished that people in general would acknowledge my feelings as normal for my situation. I was very surprised when even people with a lot of children seemed like they didn't have any notion of why I might be overwhelmed, sad, depressed, short tempered, etc... I have come to the conclusion that they were either just a lot more talented than I or a lot more forgetful than I.
Many of my emotions stemmed from my basic human need to not be alone. I wanted to feel supported, helped, and like I had a cheer leader and comforter there at all times.
I am so thankful for the wonderful sisters, mother, counselors, friends, and children that I have that brought me through the experiences I had with mood "disorders" throughout all of the years past.
The biggest and most precious lesson I have learned through all of it, is that I never do walk alone. I HAVE cheerleaders, support, and I have a comforter. I just don't see them with my mortal eyes. I know they are there though because I have felt them with my heart.
I have had counselors and my unseen cheerleaders who have helped me to see that the Savior really is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)
Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Normal is relative. I don't think the Lord expects us to be normal, according to the world's definition. He stands at the door and knocks whether we hear it or not. He knows the work of women. He knows you, your life, your heart and your family. His love is always there for you and you never walk alone. Just open the door.
Here is a link to a talk given by the prophet about how we never walk alone.
https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/general-relief-society-meeting/2013/09/we-never-walk-alone?lang=eng

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Bitter and The Sweet

The fruit of the tree of life is sweet above all that is sweet. I am so grateful for Eve and her role in women's lives. She was willing to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (which was part of the plan) so that we may know and experience both the bitter and the sweet, for we could not know the sweetness of the sweet until we had experienced the bitter of this life.
There are many ways to relate this to the childbearing year. We have the sweet fruit of the conception process which then brings the bitter of morning sickness, tiredness, heaviness, food pickiness, etc... But WITH IT we have the sweetness of knowing that we are in the process of creating life, feeling the baby move inside of us, feeling it's unique spirit and body develop in us, and the positive of loving certain foods that we may not have fully appreciated before. When labor comes along, we get the bitterness of the pain of childbearing, but also the sweetness of experiencing the divinely designed process of giving birth. In a natural birth a woman gets to experience the bitter (and yet sweet) cup and then see and feel the life and joy that comes from that miraculous labor of love. The Postpartum experience is also a bitter-sweet experience. We experience the bitter of sore nipples and then the sweet of giving the nourishing milk that baby can suckle. The sweetness of the baby nursing and receiving the magic milk that God made for you to give it.
We experience the sweetness of the hormones peaking and the endorphin high that comes right after the baby is born, but then experience the bitter of the hormones coming down and lack of endorphins, unless we begin exercising ASAP after birth - and keep it up. That is when we experience the sweet again - when we start exercising the body AND the spirit! We must fill our lamps. Every day. This is SO essential to our survival in the postpartum period. If we can exercise our minds as well that would be even better. Just anything that challenges your brain and keeps it thinking and solving. There IS hope. Doing these things is not just possible, it's what God will help you to do if you ask him for help in doing it. The efforts may be bitter, but the results will be sweet!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Power of the Birthing Experience and Gratitude


Although I have had PPD after births where I had a really great experience, I had it the worst after the birth that I had a very hard time with emotionally. It actually all went pretty good, but there was a moment where communication was not clear and it was very important to me that communication remain clear and I remain informed. I loved the birth and thanked everyone involved, but afterward had felt violated (for lack of a better word) because my wishes had not been honored. I didn't realize it consciously, but the week following was a crucial time in which I allowed the wrong forces to influence my attitude. Satan told me, "You are a victim and should grieve for your loss." I know now that there was another angel on my shoulder who was whispering, "Your birth was so beautifully orchestrated. Pour your heart out in gratitude to God and then call your care provider and ask her to clarify what she was doing. Let her know how you felt at the time, and thank her for her goodness." This voice was not as easy to hear, though, for various reasons. It wasn't as dramatic, I had psychological things going on from events in my childhood that I hadn't worked through, and my husband was going to be gone for six weeks when the baby was only 3 months old. Satan's voice was a little easier for me to believe, even though it was the lie.

It is not uncommon for an unsatisfactory birth experience to set off or even cause Postpartum Depression. I have worked in the birthing field as a doula and childbirth educator and have learned that the birth really does matter. I have seen and learned through experience, though, that gratitude matters even more.

In The Doctrine and Covenants section 46 vs. 7 the Lord says, "...doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils."

I have learned over the years the value of praying always and also the receiving of ALL things with thanksgiving - even the MOST unpleasant ones. This goes to THE DEEPEST LEVELS! If I had prayed without ceasing and praised God and thanked him when things seemed horrible, I believe it's possible that my PPD could have turned into PPJ (postpartum joy!)

I really like the last part of the scripture because sometimes we take cultural or societal expectations and think they are commandments we must obey, when really they are just either garnishes for the meat of the meal, or distractions meant to take us away from things of the spirit.

I love the "that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits" There are plenty of times throughout the PPD years when this is what I would hear in my head.

Devil, "You're worthless. You can't even handle your own home."

Holy Ghost, "Thank them for coming over, see them to the door and then go pray your heart out first thanking God for every blessing you can think of and then asking him for his divine guidance and help in obeying his commandments with joy and love!"

When we have gratitude and are turning to God in our troubles, big and small, we will be given the power to resist temptation. Temptations can be as small as believing the wrong story.

Devil's story: She must really hate me for doing what's right

Holy Ghost's story: She must need more love in her life.

This stuff really what happens!!! People are so lost sometimes and even though you may feel like you are one of them, others still need love from you.

Devil's story: I must do it all or I'm a good-for-nothing dead-beat mom!

Holy Ghost's story: I want to do and will do what God wants me to do in this moment.

I know that in our weak moments, Satan will do all he can to take advantage of us. God awaits our prayers to him and wants to love us especially when we are weak. He WILL give us strength if we turn to Him for it.

Devil's story: Crying is bad and it means that something is wrong with you - DON'T DO IT!

Holy Ghost's story: Crying is good, it releases what is trapped inside. You can cry tears of joy or sorrow. You can cry in a prayer as you tell your Heavenly Father what it is that is so sad to you. Maybe you are sorrowing because you miss being pregnant, or because you already miss when your baby was tiny, or because of your deepest darkest secret, etc...

Did you know that there really are health benefits to crying? Here is a website I found on it.

http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/wellbeing/the-health-benefits-of-crying.htm

At this time in my life, I had not fully comprehended the concept of agency. Sadly, I hadn't learned that I could choose to believe the story that the Holy Ghost was whispering so softly to me and that it would get me to far greater heights.

Fortunately I had the opportunity to go to an LDS counselor to recover from all the madness, finger-pointing, judging, and so on, that was going on for me in this PP experience. He helped me through the childhood issues that I had not dealt with yet. The Lord inspired the RS presidency to assign me a very compassionate and extremely loving sister for a visiting teacher and I experienced great joy after the healing had occurred. I learned the most from this experience and am grateful that I went through all the good, bad and the ugly, because it gave such a stark contrast when my eyes were finally opened to the immense joy Father had given me.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Remembering The Good

You know when you see images that are NOT pleasant, pure, chaste, etc... and it's hard to forget them? Well I think the same thing happens with experiences of the same nature. It's hard to forget them. HOWEVER, if thinking of these negative images and experiences can be so detrimental, then wouldn't thinking upon images and experiences that are pure, honest, pleasant, lovely, true and virtuous do the exact opposite? (Phillipians 4:8)
I would like to share an experience I had which testified to me the power of remembering. This morning, like many others, I woke up hearing one of my kids whining. Pretty much every mom does, when the kids are young, anyway. (It's pretty much the only way they know how to communicate for the first couple of years of their lives, right?) Well, this morning I found myself thinking a prayer for the coming day. Thinking prayer is not the same as feeling a prayer. I noticed this and remembered the scripture Matthew 15:8 "...draw nigh unto me with their mouth, ...but their heart is far from me." At this moment, I knew that thinking a prayer was not what I wanted, although it may have been a good first step. I wanted to have my heart in the right place for my prayer to actually be felt and heard and answered and lived.
But as I got up and started to get ready for the day, I was feeling more and more negative feelings and they were all coming from a really deep spot that had been hurt in the past. As I was feeling these feelings, I was also remembering that scripture that I thought of this morning. I started crying because I felt so helpless in casting off the negative feelings. I tried thinking back in my brain to figure out why I felt these bad feelings so strongly right now. I found that it was remembering the horrible event that brought these feelings on. I then wondered why I couldn't remember the really pleasant and happy memories, the really great spiritual experiences, just as easily. This brought on a wonderful epiphany! I thought of the Savior's admonition when he administered the sacrament; that we do it in remembrance of him. Every week I go to church and take the sacrament, that word remember is right there in the prayer that is said over the bread and water (or wine depending on your particular belief). The scriptures also tell us dozens and dozens of times to REMEMBER!
So, I'm in the shower crying, realizing the power I have to remember these big experiences - good or bad. And as I made a concentrated and focused effort to recall and pull up in my memory the really awesome and big spiritual experiences I have had or the times when I have felt forgiveness, comfort and guidance, they came. And those negative feelings cowered in their presence. I could see and feel them disintegrating. The warmth and light of the spirit of the Lord that is carried in those awesome, truly precious, and good memories healed the hurt of times past. It took away the spitfire and sting and replaced it with hope, faith and love.



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gracefully Accepting

Sometimes, when we are nursing mothers, it seems as though we are going out of our minds with bottled up energy. (Look for a future post on bottled up energy.) The Lord wants to give us joy. When you feel that "let down" feeling, there is an emotional thing that happens too. We were created to feel joy in this moment, but we can choose to refuse it. It took me 'til nursing my twins (7-8) to allow myself to feel that joy for the more part of my nursing experience. In earlier years, I would feel a little joy, but I frequently had negative guilty feelings that would pop up right when that feeling came. A lot of these negative feelings happened because of my extra sensitive emotional state. I took things the wrong way, resented some of the energy I felt coming from my husband, hadn't had enough sleep, etc...
If you give without receiving or receive without giving, though, then you are missing half the blessings and your life will not feel complete. A baby gives stimulation (sucks) and receives milk. A mother gives milk and time and receives... what she chooses to get? I propose joy!
Let's look at this from two different perspectives.
1. God created us to give our babies special milk and love and comfort them. We were also created to have a joyful feeling every time our milk lets down. When we have the baby, these instincts kick in. We can choose to accept these gifts. For three to six hours out of our day, we can choose to give what the Lord created us to give. We can choose to be happy with what we can give, who we are, and choose to be pleased with our efforts and the fruits of doing, being, and feeling just who we are created to be. Others may think, say, and do what they will, and we can still choose not to deny this blessed, divinely inspired, completely good and natural part of us.
If only it were all that easy, huh?
OR...
2.  We've got these things called breasts. The world says they are primarily for sexual purposes, but now they are making milk. Something in me says they are really for nurturing and comforting my baby. But even people I trust seem to think like the world. They send me that energy all the time and even say things to my face that make it seem bad or shameful to nurse. It must be a shameful thing to nurture my children. It is the best thing to feed my baby, though, everyone says. It does seem rather motherly to nurse, and it is pretty miraculous that I can make any milk and that my baby can grow off of it. But I feel so lazy. It sit on my rear end 3-6 hours a day nursing, burping, holding or comforting, when I could be doing so many other things. My house could use a thorough cleaning, I would love to get some sewing done, or learned, I wish I could do something that could earn some more money to spend on this or that. Is the baby done eating YET? This is starting to hurt. I wonder when I will ever get a good night's sleep again... There's that very uncomfortable (or quite horrid) thought again, I hate it when I think those kinds of things.

I've been learning that even though I have a lot to give, and even though I have a lot of bottled up energy and I really feel like I'm going to burst, and even though people that are close to me may not be using their influence in a pleasant manner, I can choose peace. It may mean removing myself from the room, the situation, or the house, for a walk perhaps... But I CAN choose peace. I CAN extremely humbly and gracefully accept the gift God has given me. I CAN choose to feel the joy that I was created to feel. I CAN turn the TV off (or get rid of it altogether). I CAN accept a good gift from someone else. I CAN choose my thoughts. I CAN cast any thoughts out of my brain that I do not want there. I CAN feed my baby and lovingly enjoy the whole session. I CAN send loving thoughts to my enemies. I CAN be an influence for good, one feeding at a time, one meal at a time, one bath at a time, one outing at a time, one dish at a time, one thought at a time, and I CAN enjoy every minute of it. Even if times feel low, I CAN always be grateful for something that the Lord has given me and I CAN CONFESS HIS HAND IN ALL THINGS. Sometimes choosing these things means letting go of other things like pride, composure (in private to God, if nowhere else), worldly dreams, worldly measurements, or worldly traditions. Sometimes all it takes is breathing in deeply and smiling. You may need to have a huge cry. Often. That's nothing to feel ashamed about. It actually feels good to cry it all out sometimes.

Things I wish I had done throughout all my nursing experiences from the very beginning, that perhaps you COULD do, are:
1. I wish I had begun every nursing session with a prayer, specifically asking for a spirit of love and acceptance to abound in the nursing session, asking for help in feeling joy in nursing along with whatever else I was in need of (2 Nephi 32:8-9)...
      8. And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
      9. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.
2. I wish I had had at least 8 oz. water to drink either before or during the nursing. Water helps you feel joy. Did you know that? And you also need it to help you replenish the supply. :)
3. I really wish I had brought a pen and my journal, or inspirational notebook to each nursing session. What a great time to write down all the things you are grateful for. Gratitude has been a really awesome tool for so many people struggling with depression. It should easily be able to prevent it. Even if I couldn't write and nurse at the same time, I could have it there for writing thoughts down in right after I was done nursing. Also, I would sit and think of all these marvelous projects, ideas, things I could do or say that would be great someday. Sometimes inspiration just really flowed during the nursing, but then it was gone when the session was over. I know that someday, I will have a little more time on my hands and I will have more ability to live out some of those inspirational ideas. Writing them down would have helped as long as I knew it would be a long way off still, but I could imagine it up now. (I think the really good ones kept coming back, though, so it's easy to remember some of them.) I will have a chance to give more of what I think are my strong points at another point in time. It's okay to remember the poem "Washing and Scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow, for babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow. So settle down cobwebs, dust, go to sleep, I'm rocking (or nursing) my babies and babies don't keep." (author unknown to me)
4. I wish that each time I would have either sung to my baby a little while nursing or read the scriptures out loud to him/her.
5. I wish that I would have trusted man less and God more. (Proverbs 3 5-6)... Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.
The lesson I have learned concerning this is that even though I love or trust somebody very much, I must let God be my go-to. I must let God be my teacher. Find Him, get in tune with Him. Turn to Him. Love Him with all my heart. I CAN trust Him with my life.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

To Become

I have recently learned a fun saying to remember when you come upon a situation that is difficult to stay happy in. Ya know, like the ones that someone hurts you or offends you in? Well, I learned that you have two choices. "You can choose to become bitter, or you can choose to become better." I made the choice last week to become better.
"To be or not to be" is an interesting quote from Shakespeare. I like the admonition to just be. But I like better "to become". It suggests that trials will refine us and make us better somehow. It also suggests that this trial we are now in will be over some day. Maybe soon, maybe not. But, this trial will end, and when it does, you will either come out quite torn up and beaten, or quite a better person than you were before the trial. You may be both.
The temptation to let stress rule and overrun your life can be very big. Satan does a pretty good job at making it look glamorous, or easy, or fun. Remember that he was a liar from the beginning though, and that it REALLY IS a trap. You don't have to have the hair, the nails, the fashionable clothes, the most friends, the cleanest house, the prettiest yard, the most vogue decor, and certainly not the kids who have all this either. Look at all the things that the world says a woman at your stage in life has to have. Go ahead. Make a list. You'll find that it is quite ridiculous. You don't have to have read the latest popular novel, or seen the most recent new release. You don't need the peer pressure that you deal with whenever you get together with friends and neighbors, or family, for that matter. You REALLY don't need the kind of body that the world deems beautiful. You are being deceived if you think that anyone else on this earth is perfect - yes it's probably time to accept that the person who may have hurt or offended you IS NOT PERFECT. Nor can they be expected to be. You can't see into their soul, and God wants you to feel free of their judgments because judgment is His!
What you do need is to just be. For a moment just be. Breathe in a deep breath of light, clean air and welcome it into your desperate body (if you feel desperate). When you breathe it out, imagine you are blowing either all the bad out, back to the earth, or that you are breathing love out to all those who desperately need your love.
After doing this, pray. Ask for the next step. It may come right away, but if it doesn't, just be patient and look for it in doing laundry, dishes, going for a walk, writing in your journal, you get the idea. The next step can be as small as smiling, hugging your little ones, posting a scripture on your wall, making dinner, getting a game out to play with your kids, tickling them, calling your husband to tell him you love him, apologizing, etc...
At times when I have done this, I get the Holy Ghost reminding me that I haven't read scriptures today, or I haven't been out for a walk in too long, and need to go. At the least, I usually feel refreshed and ready to face my problem, whether housework, communicating with hubby, or kids in a healthier way, and so on.
So, is there a place for all that stuff that makes life stressful? What about a clean house and a nice yard? What about practical clothing that is clean? Sure! What about a practical yard that brings joy into your life and into the lives of those who look at it? Sure. But God will help us with whatever we really need to be doing at the moment. If it is His will that we have any of these things He will guide us to whatever it is, through the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, or friends answering prayers. The point is, do these things for God and in the order God wants you to do them. (I'm preachin' to myself here, too!) I have a previous post about what is needful that may help a bit, too!
To become all that we were meant to become, we must get to know the character of God, because we have that potential - to become like God. Making the choice to become better is definitely a step in the right direction for today. And Tomorrow. And if it's hard to keep that choice in your mind and heart, seek strength through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
(Philippians 4:13) "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
(Matthew 6:24) "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
(John 16:33) "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Good wishes and prayers to you!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Who Am I?

I want to tell you about a time when my second baby was still small and I was struggling with PPD. I was lying in bed at night. My husband was asleep and I was awake experiencing a strong attack from the dark side. I knew a family growing up that had four people in it, two of which committed suicide. Ever since then I had wondered what could drive a person to do that. What would a person need to feel like before they really could bring themselves to suicide? Well that night, I caught a glimpse of the answer to these questions. Luckily I had a greater desire to live than to die at this moment, though dark forces were beating mightily upon me and I thought I might really do it. I decided I should wake my husband up to ask for help. I told him how I was feeling and thinking and he asked me, "When was the last time you prayed and asked Heavenly Father who you are?" I answered that I did not know. So I got down on my knees and prayed and asked. I poured out my troubles and cried. The answer came softly and gently that I was truly a daughter of God and that I had a Savior who could take away my sins and troubles. I then had a very spiritual experience that greatly strengthened my testimony of the Savior and His love for me.
Does this question matter to you? Who are you? What are you here to do? Today? This minute?
Knowing who we are is a great 1st step to become more of what we were meant to become. Do you know who you are? I can tell you a little bit about who you are, but for you to find out for yourself who you are and what you are here for would be so much more fulfilling to you than hearing it from me. The little bit I can tell you is this. I believe that we are all spirit sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us. I also believe that we are not all that we were meant to be yet. We are becoming that person (hopefully) little by little, day by day. We are continually creating ourselves (which is an exciting thought). When we make God the person we counsel with in how to do this, we become so much more than what we would if we were to leave him out of the picture. 
Well, the morning after this experience happened my husband left me a letter before he took off to school (college days). It was very comforting. In the letter he quoted Heleman 5:12 (see also Matthew 7:24-25) "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
After reading this, I felt a great and motivating desire to make sure that I was building my foundation upon this rock! I wanted to have the Savior as my foundation. I did not want to fall because of these horrible winds, storms, hail, and whirlwinds.
I am sharing this story because I know that I am not the only one who has ever felt like I was feeling. I know that the dark forces attack the mothers of young children in such a way that they think they can't overcome. In fact maybe this is you. Maybe you get attacked and stormed on. I hope you have someone to turn to for help. Maybe you already know that you can turn to your Savior for help. 
I would like to say that I am grateful for all the people out there that help mothers through this spiritual attack. I am grateful that we have mental health services that we can call in times when we are feeling hopeless or helpless. I am grateful for counselors who can help us get through rough times and, yes I am grateful for medication that can tie us over until we can figure out and accept what the real cure is for what we are going through. I am so glad God guides people to help us in these ways. I hope that they do not take the prime opportunity away from us, though, to build our foundation upon the Savior, but rather help us in doing so.
That evening when my husband got home, I told him that I wanted to do all I could do to build my foundation upon the Savior. We decided we would take an institute class together. It's not like I didn't "know" who I was before, and it's not like my foundation was totally sandy, but I wanted to make sure that I did all that I could to strengthen that foundation and to not forget who I am. To treasure up the spiritual experience that I had the night before and build upon it. There is no place in the scriptures where it tells us that when we obey the commandments, the adversary will stop working on us. No, rather it tells us that WHEN the winds and hail and storms come we will be safe and we cannot fall if we have built our foundation upon the Savior. 
You may say, "HOW do I build this foundation?" In the biblical reference it tells, "whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them..." So that's a bit of the how. What comes before this scripture? What are "these sayings of mine"? Read Matthew 5-7 (http://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/5?lang=eng) and find out. :) God is there to help us in doing the "sayings". If we find one that is especially hard for us, let's ask God for help and have faith that he will help us overcome it. Just a warning though. You will find that this might make you weird or nutty in your own eyes and in others'. If you start to feel this way, just thank the Lord and praise him. It means that you are finding our more of who you really are and putting yourself in his hands rather than putting your trust in the arm of the flesh. And just know that you are not alone! God is with you and there are people like me praying for you all along the way! (Yes, Really!)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Can you take a compliment?


I used to take compliments very good and graciously, until I got people that were somewhat close to me giving me criticism. When we are criticized, and we don't defend ourselves, in fact, we choose to just be offended instead, and criticize in return (whether it's to their face or otherwise), it begins a vicious cyclone that destroys. When we turn to the Lord, however, and pray for the one who has criticized and let the Lord be our protector and defender, it plants a beautiful seed of love that will grow and bloom over time. Once the criticism has taken place, if you let it plant in your heart, it will grow a weed of self punishment.

Over the years after the criticism, because I let it plant inside of me, it seemed like I was continually fighting an inward battle with the bad others could see in me (even if they did not voice it or really see it), instead of seeing and focusing on the good that God saw and sees in me.

My husband wisely recently wrote, "Our security doesn't come from how others treat us; it comes from the relationship we have with the Father through the Savior, Jesus Christ."

Let's not put ourselves in hell because of what others say to us or think about us. Instead, focus on gaining a close relationship with God and Jesus Christ. Then we can be given strength to do what HE expects of us (which I think we'll find is VERY different than what society, or even our close loved ones expect out of us), and to pull and toss the weeds of criticism to give way for the seeds of love.

We have homeschooled our children off and on over the years. I am also into natural birth and eating mostly healthy foods from scratch. When people hear this or get to know this, many of them immediately either think I'm supermom, or a totally irresponsible mom. Most people who speak what they think about it will say, "Wow! You're brave!" and some add an "I could never do that!" From this, I could either say to me, "Someone thinks I am brave! That's cool!" Or I could think, "Wow! I can do something that someone else can't do.!" OR I could say to me, "They are really thinking that I'm crazy." Or, "That's sad that they think they can't do it. I mean, if I can do it, anybody can." Or, "If only they knew that I really don’t do it the way they might do it."

Let's look at it in a different light.

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40) If the way we think of ourselves and others and the things we do and say to them are the same as doing, thinking and saying them to Christ, then you can see why we might feel like we need to put ourselves in hell when we are criticized, because we feel that we have offended and displeased our Savior. We can also see how if we want to treat the Savior with respect, then we need to treat others AND ourselves with respect. But this also means that when we view others as if they were the Savior and they say something great or nice about us, we can say thank you! We don't need to tell ourselves the story that they really are not saying what they mean. And we don't have to push the good away because of a critical remark that someone else told us about ourselves, even if it was from way back when we were children. Since "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me." is a true and real concept, let's ask ourselves, if the Savior complimented us, would we turn it away and say it isn't true?

The truth is, that truths and lies are always being spoken in our heads or out loud. Which ones are you listening to? YOU need to familiarize yourself with truth so that you can recognize and reject the lies when you hear them. If you can't back it up with scripture, it's most likely a LIE! Just like Satan, if he can't get through to US, will tell someone else lies about us, and hope that they will tell us, God, when HE can't through to us with his truths, will tell someone else and hope that they will tell us the truth!!!!

I figured out that the Lord has been trying to tell me for years that I am brave, but I put more weight on the criticism that I got instead of believing the real truth!!

What has the Lord been trying to tell you? Have you been believing lies because they are easier to believe? They won't be easier to believe in the long run, trust me! Trust God! He loves you infinitely and infinite is your worth and potential!! Believe it! This isn't just me complimenting you!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Have you given up?


I want to start this post off with a link to one of my favorite songs. Josh Groban's "Don't give up". This song has come on miraculously at several different times just when I have needed it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-G8IfjPAII

I love this video! At about the 2:55 mark in the video, it shows the Savior lifting Peter out of the water. I think all of we mom's try so hard to walk on water, but what would we do without the Savior there to pull us up out of the water when/if we fall short in our faith.

My original idea for this post was to address when we think it is too hard to do it all so we just don't do any of it. Perhaps we have resolved not to harm anybody, but have also resolved not to try anymore, because we think we'll never get it all done anyway. Or even if we do get it all done, we'll probably be on our sick beds because of it, or it won't satisfy the one we think it should, etc...

I would like to tell you from experience that this tactic does not work well. Don't even "give it some time" to see if it does. It just makes more work for later, or for someone else to do. The answer is in baby steps and gratitude.

Take the kitchen for instance. This is a room in the house, that no matter how much work you do in it in a day, it will continuously need more. This can get discouraging to, well, anybody! I remember sitting in our kitchen looking for something to be grateful for. It was hard to find any part of it that was not dirty. I found two squares of tile that looked relatively clean and thought to myself, "If I were Thumbelina, I would love to have a dance solo right there in those two tile squares. I am so grateful for those two clean tiles." After seeing something good in our kitchen, I felt encouraged that perhaps I could improve upon it and make something else good. After I made the something else well and good (another two squares, table wiped, dishes put away, or shining the sink), I could be grateful for the new clean or orderly spots I had just made. If you are thinking, "And then comes the cup of spilled juice, or the next meal, or the tossed oatmeal..." just stop there and remember that you just had a good experience creating something beautiful. Just because someone just messed it up, doesn't mean you have to let that memory and moment out of your heart. You can keep it there and use it to testify to you, the next time you want to create order, that it will be a good experience to treasure up in your heart. You can also choose to treasure up the memory of your little one creating what he or she created in place of your order. Their creations are no less valuable than yours. They are not as advanced of course, but the little one may have no idea what you just did or how you did it. They are practicing what they can do. Does this mean that you sit and have fun watching it? For a second, sure. But don't wait too long before gently teaching them what to do instead of what they did, or disciplining them, if they already knew that they shouldn't have done what they did. Treasuring up the memory of the little one creating, as well, is good because, as you have probably heard many a time from the parents of much older children, "They grow up fast! Enjoy 'em while they are young." They really will be leaving the house before you know it!

Maybe you are one that has no problem whatsoever with keeping a clean house, but you may be giving up on your relationships. Relationships are the most important of all! You can't take your house, things, food, or clothing with you and you certainly won't be able to clean the house after you die, but relationships last beyond the grave. They are worth every ounce of energy you put into them. Make sure you are not wasting your energy, though. Sometimes people try so hard to please someone just doing what makes them feel loved. This isn't all bad, but take time to find out what makes the other person feel loved by you and then spend some time each day or week (however little or much) doing that thing.

In the scriptures there are many references to enduring to the end. There are so many things in life that we could spend our time doing, but if we give up on the things that really matter most, it will only make things harder in the long run. We don't have to think of it as enduring to the end of life, right now. We can think of it as enduring to the end of this trial. There WILL come a point where you do see a light at the end of the tunnel. Hold on. The light will come.
Here's a link to THAT song, by Michael Mclean ("Hold On"). I couldn't choose which link to post. They both have great images to go with them, but the 2nd one has more images from the twin towers incident. I liked the second half of the images on that one better, and the performer, but the 1st one was beautiful, too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OvPN1vtZos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBfHdd7mtq8

Thursday, March 14, 2013

You have a special job!

Never doubt your unique and powerful role as a woman! Our men need us to help them. You are a gift to your husband (if you have one). If he does not appreciate you, he will feel sorry for that one day (and you will, hopefully, graciously forgive him). I was just reading the story in John chapter 2 where Jesus turns the water into wine at the marriage. His mother came up to him to let him know that and it sounded to me like she maybe expected him to do something about it, because she knew he could. He then asks her, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come." Then she tells the servants to do whatever He tells them to do. This event was instigated and coordinated by a woman. Women have special gifts to give. We have divine guidance in dong the Lord's work. We can also, like in Mary's case, help men give the gifts they can offer.
I'd like to point out that nowadays, men are feeling undermined and underappreciated. For a long time women in general felt like that, but since the feminist movement and so much feminine control of the media, I think men are feeling weaker, like we don't need them. We NEED our men! We need them to defend us. Does your man defend you? If not, defend yourself. Stand up for yourself! But don't stop there, tell him that you need him to defend you too!!! Do not allow your husband's (or anyone else's) lack of support or defense for you seep into your self esteem. They may not say it but they are eternally grateful for your stand for good. They need YOU to defend the good you are doing. There are so many confusing messages being sent out today about genders and we can feel that energy in our world. Your gender is powerful! Women are extremely powerful! Men are too, but in a different way and they need us to help them show forth their power.
Embrace your power as a woman. Be a defender of good. Cuddle with your children, enjoy yourself in the kitchen. Sing a song, even if you think you can't sing. Dare to be cheesy and enthusiastic! What other womanly powers should you embrace?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Overwhelmed?

With PPD life can get overwhelming pretty fast. I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed with where the Lord was leading me one spring and making a list of all the things I needed to accomplish within the next year. I then worked out a plan to get them all accomplished, little by little, with a daily schedule. I had been thinking that more children may have been in the picture at some point in the future, but not now. I was praying that the Lord would send me another one when he thought I was ready. The next month I found out I was pregnant with twins. Whoa! Now what? I thought I had quite enough on my plate already! I may not have thought I was ready, but God did. I decided to try my best to do as much of the stuff that was on my list, but a lot of my own interests got put aside. I now had new interests, anyway, like making sure I got enough calories and water to grow two babies, getting enough rest, and making plans for how to work things after the babies got here. But it wasn't just that. I needlessly worried about what other people might think of our situation and, with twins, there are always emotional issues to work through. There were also those that worried for us, wondering if we'd be able to handle all that we were undertaking. If I thought things seemed overwhelming to me before, now they were doubly so.

Fast forward almost two years. Recently I have wanted to work at preparing for the future. Getting things ready in case of an emergency, preparing my children's minds for "the real world", putting my house in better order so that we can find things quickly and easily, and so on. I was so interested in this, because I found myself fearing what the future may bring. Then the scripture "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30) came to mind. And then the scripture where it says to "prepare every needful thing" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:119) came to mind. I liked these scriptures, but if your day seems as chaotic as mine does with floors to sweep and mop, children to feed and comfort, dishes to be done, laundry to fold, messes to clean up after, etc..., then a phrase like "prepare every needful thing" can seem daunting and overwhelming, to say the least.
Well, that is, unless you know what is needful. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? (Luke 10:38-42) After reading this story, we see that there is one thing that is needful. Hearing the word of the Lord. I love verse 42. It says, "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." How many times do we feel like the things that we want so badly in our lives no matter how good, seem to get taken from us or seem to stay just out of reach, or really don't satisfy us the way we imagined they would once we do get them (or fit them into our day)? Well, choosing that one needful thing shall not be taken from us!
Yes, the dishes and the laundry most certainly will not stay done, the family will be hungry again within a few hours (or shorter). There will definitely be work you do that gets undone today, thus needing to do it again tomorrow. But, if we choose that one needful thing - that good part - it will make all the difference in our day.
Here is a link to my online source for scriptures. The icon is right above the home page picture. It has the Holy Bible as well as The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price.  http://www.lds.org/?lang=eng

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Being Not Deceived and Praising the Lord

Last night I was able to sing in a beautiful concert. One of the pieces we sang was Beethoven's "Hallelujah" from 'Christ on the Mount of Olives'.  I learned that he composed this song shortly after he wrote "The Heiligenstadt  Testament". (http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sunrise/28-78-9/s28n07p244_the-heiligenstadt-testament.htm) Knowing that he had been contemplating suicide shortly before he wrote this, and then after reading this, I felt so much more connected with this song and sang it with all sincerity of heart! I love that he knew God enough to know that God knew his heart and knew that love for man and benevolence abode there in his heart!
This last PPD experience, I had a rare and sad opportunity to see just what misconceptions, skewed perceptions and advanced stages of sleep deprivation, on the part of 3 different parties, can do. Postpartum got to its lowest point. A point that I felt like the whole world was against me (except for my sweet little baby boys). After a meeting with the bishop, I asked my husband to give me a blessing. In the blessing, the Lord told me that when I am feeling like the world would be better without me, pray. And don't stop praying until I feel His comfort. (Jeremiah 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.) Even though I knew who I was, and had a testimony, I was in great need of love and comfort. Refuge. That night I took that first step. Even though it was about midnight and I really wanted to be sleeping, I prayed. I begged for his presence, comfort and help. It took a while, but finally it came. I heard a (literal) still, small voice. It said, "It's a lie. The belief that if you killed yourself, it would make things easier, is a LIE! It will not make things easier. It will only make things harder. As hard as the way seems to go on living right now, it is nothing compared to the hardness of the path of killing yourself ."  Wow! This was big for me. Now, someone without PPD might think, "Duh! That's a no-brainer!" But we who have had it and have "been there" know this is BIG! The next day, I started thinking, "What other lies have I been listening to?" This began my journey of recovery.  I decided I was going to catch all the lies I could and expose them for what they were! Something you may not have known is that if Satan can't get through to your brain - you choose not to believe the lies he speaks to you - he tells those same lies to family members and tries to get the message across to you that way. Don't believe the negative things others say about you. They are lies too.
Last conference President Monson said that much of the joy that we are to have (2 Nephi 2:25) "comes as we recognize that we can communicate with our Heavenly Father through prayer and that those prayers will be heard and answered—perhaps not how and when we expected they would be answered, but they will be answered and by a Heavenly Father who knows and loves us perfectly and who desires our happiness. Hasn’t He promised us, “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers”?" (Doctrine and Covenants 112:10)
Have you been tricked into believing lies about you or someone else in your family? How do we avoid being tricked and deceived in the first place? "Pray always, that you may come off conqueror." (Doctrine and covenants 10:5) Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38)

Think of what is true. List all of the good and true things you know about you and the gospel and speak them out loud every day! "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7)
Here is a link to a performance of the song we sang. It is awesome!  I love it!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZFrYHxbDYM

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Noticing a pattern

Frequently, over the years that I have had PPD, I'll have a good day and then a really bad day. A day that I feel the spirit and learn a great lesson from the scriptures, followed by a day where I feel weighed down beyond my own abilities. On the good day, I seem to have gotten enough sleep the night before and the morning is somewhat smooth. I take time to say a grateful prayer and really think about what help I need and would like from Heavenly Father and ask for it. My children are patient while I say prayers, make my bed, and get shower/get dressed. Even if things don't run perfectly smooth, I seem to have enough patience to handle them all. I fit scriptures in right after breakfast is done, feeling the spirit and getting a good moral out of it. The day usually goes pretty good, until evening, come 7:30, when I really just want to go to bed and wish everyone else would too.
On the bad day, it seems as though from the minute that I wake up, things just don't feel right. I don't feel like I can pray a real good prayer, I allow the children's needs to come before my own, before I know it, it is 10:00 (or later) and only half of us are dressed and the breakfast mess is still hangin' out in the kitchen. I feel like crawling back into bed, just as the phone rings. It's my favorite friend to talk to, but taking that time tells the children it's time to do whatever they want in their rooms, which makes for a difficult rest of the day, because we spend the rest of it either cleaning up after the messes they made while I was on the phone, catching up from previous days, disciplining, trying to lunch, worrying that someone in this house is going to end up in prison some day, and hopefully catching some educational time in the afternoon amid the napping and other toddler distractions.
The bad day may sound familiar to you. Or you may be saying, "Well, I got news for you, hunny! That's nothin' compared to my bad days!" If you were just thinking that, I hope you're laughing now. Honestly, I was being a little modest on the bad day description, because, hey, who wants to really go back and relive the REALLY bad ones, ya know?
I have a few different theories as to why this happens - ya know, the thing where we have a really good day and then a really bad day. (1) Perhaps it is a test to see if we will apply the really good stuff we learned from the good day before, or even from the bad day before in a new day and new time. (2) Perhaps it is us falling into a complacency trap. On the bad days, I usually don't put the big things first. I figure that I can handle anything today dishes out, after all, I handled yesterday just great didn't I? Well I must have forgotten that I DID put 1st things 1st the day before, and that I really did ask for the Lord's help and he REALLY did give it to me. I really did search the scriptures diligently and they really did speak to me. So it wasn't just me handling yesterday, now, was it? Yes, I think that when we don't put 1st things first, the consequences last all day long and they aren't pleasant. (3) Could it be that we ate something the day before that tricked our bodies into thinking that they were nourished, but they really weren't and then we wake up and all of the sudden, we feel it! Our bodies are now screaming at us saying, "Where are my vitamins and minerals? Where is the energy you were supposed to give me? Not only do we not have the energy we need to think clearly, you put junk into us that we now have to figure out what to do with - and that's not going so well!" (4) Lack of gratitude. That's it. A simple lack of gratitude.
So, now what? What kinds of patterns do you notice in your lives? What theories do you have? Does this same thing happen to you?
I want to delve a LITTLE deeper into the second theory. If we are not looking to God, we're not going to get any closer to Him. We might try walking backwards to him while we are looking at a million other things, but the million other things are going to stop us in our tracks. We may end up just wandering around going, "Where was I headed again?" And guess what happens when we wander aimlessly? Nothing good. Satan isn't alone you know. He has plenty of helpers and they will whisper all kinds of garbage into your head, especially when you're not looking at God.
This is why reading scriptures is sooooo important! This is why we are so blessed with the ability to speak to God in prayer! When we are armed with prayer we can withstand the blows of the toddler throwing a tantrum, or the extremely messy floor, or the rude comment at the grocery store, or from your in-law. When we welcome the heroes from the scriptures into our day, we are armed with faith and courage to do those piled up dishes, or to keep a close eye on the kids, or to face your husband when he comes home and the kids are fussy, the house is not clean, and no dinner is started. But, I hope you realize that it's likely that your day will go better than that, because the Lord magnifies your efforts when you have put Him first and tried your best throughout the day.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The power of The Word

Today I read in Mosiah chapter 2 (The Book of Mormon) and was thinking of how many times I had turned to the scriptures for strength, wisdom, and comfort and gotten it. I thought back on all the years past when I was going through postpartum depression and had been needing that spiritual drink, or that bread of life and looked in the scriptures for it. It filled my jug each time (if my lid wasn't on - and if it was I learned the hard way that the jug has to be open).
I remember reading this same passage when I was pregnant with my first child, experiencing some depression then as well, and thinking that vs. 20-25 were telling us that we should think we are ugly dust that is unprofitable. I did not agree that God would really give us that advice, so I struggled with accepting that scripture for a while. Over the years I have come to a realization of what it meant in my language, which was "God created your body out of the dust of the Earth, which He also created and owns. Your spirit is His literal offspring, and His son has paid the price for your sins. This means that we pretty much owe all we have to God and His son Jesus Christ. Does he ask us to give all we have to Him? Yes. Do we have to give it to Him? No. But, I personally have tried that road at different times in my life, even if just briefly, and I have figured out that for me to live and live happily and wholly, I need to give it all to Him. When the scriptures tell us to trust in him and not in the arm of the flesh, that wasn't just some old geezer telling us some ancient words of wisdom that were just for people who lived back then. This was God telling someone to write these words because they ARE true and WILL ring true forever! "Trust in the Lord with ALL thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct thy paths!" (Proverbs 3:5-6)
You may think, "If I give all to Him, what will I have left for me?" Well, let's address this question. First of all, if God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life, then we can know that he doesn't want us to die. And then if we look at scriptures like Deuteronomy 31:6 that says "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee, he will not fail thee nor forsake thee." we can know that He is the answer when we have battles we feel we cannot fight - alone. When we look to God, we live. When we turn to him He cannot and will not desert us to our foes.
So we've talked about the "If I give all to Him" part of the question, now for the "what will I have left for me" part. This is a very important concern and relates to the second great commandment "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Well if you don't love yourself, your neighbors aren't going to be very happy with the way you are obeying that commandment. What does it mean to love yourself? I will tell you my thoughts, but YOU think about it and pray about it and come up with your own answers. My thoughts: If you don't fill your own jug, it's going to be a lot more difficult for you to fill your children's, or your family's or your neighbor's? Let's be clear here that I am not talking about being selfish. I am talking about taking good care of yourself. To me and in my life, the things that fill my jug are praying, reading scriptures, journaling, getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, eating nutritious foods, getting exercise, avoiding things that add more stress to my life (like processed foods, suspenseful movies, negative critical thoughts, etc...), serving someone, scheduling in at least 15 minutes relaxation time that is quiet, and music. I wrote those in order, by the way. Your order may be different and that's completely fine, but keep in mind that when you fit the most important things in first, the not-as-important things will settle in the way they need to.
So what fills your jug?