fractured · inspiration · meditations

One-liners to think about

Children are not problems to solve, but people with problems.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (Phillipians 4:11). 

You can live with your emotions no matter how intense; what you can’t do is live without them.

When you want to treat yourself, try water, vegetables, hard work, exercise, and getting your house clean.

inspiration

Levels of conversion: scripture study and going in the right direction

  1. A seven-year-old girl is beginning to read scriptures for the first time. She believes they are true. She knows some stories and she doesn’t understand all the words, but she keeps trying.
  2. A man has read the scriptures before, but struggles to do it on a daily basis. He believes they are true and is trying to read the more in his life.
  3. A woman reads them daily, but often doesn’t take the time to study them. She is trying to do better and on occasion has really good insights, even though she doesn’t have the time to read long.
  4. Another woman reads scriptures for about an hour a day. After working for over thirty years on improving her scripture study, she finds herself excited to read them every day and feels a great amount of joy from doing it.

So which one is better? No one is better. They are all trying, and that’s what matters.

Conversion is a lifelong process as we continue getting better and better. It’s not a singular destination in our lifetimes, but a continual journey in the right direction.

Wherever we are, what matters most is that we are trying to be a little better than we were before. We don’t need to feel guilty if we haven’t achieved a certain level that someone else has; what’s important is we keep trying.

essay · inspiration

recognizing the blessings in the fabric of your life

My post yesterday was about not achieving your dreams and how that’s okay. But I think we need to realize sometimes how privileged we are to even to be able to dream and set the goals we have in the first place. There are so many people who are merely focused on survival. We often don’t realize how blessed we are because we are seeing our life through a specific lens of what we’re used to.

We usually compare ourselves to people who live similar or better lives than we do, forgetting all the people who struggle and live in a different way. We don’t see outside ourselves. We want to serve and help, but we don’t really want to empathize.

Even though I have dealt with failure and rejection and disappointment, I have four children, a good marriage, a comfortable home–I have so many good things in my life. I have accomplished a lot, but more importantly, life isn’t about the accomplishment anyway.

Life is more about experiences, the stories we tell ourselves and each other, and the ability to keep going and keep trying. Life isn’t about being happy and successful, but about the journey on the way.

So many times, we get so narrow-minded in how we look at things. Our standards and measurements that we apply to ourselves and others are often inaccurate. We could do to love each other more, to be more understanding of different situations, and to see a bigger picture.

I don’t think we can ever the perfect perspective in life–it’s always cloudy and inaccurate. But we can try to recognize the love we have from our Heavenly Father. We can know that eventually, we will be able to make sense of all the difficult things.

During the journey, it’s always good to take time to recognize the blessings that are contained in the very fabric of your life.

do something · inspiration

Experience is worth more than accomplishment

Every day, week, month, and year, I have constantly made lists of things I wanted to accomplish. But today I wondered if my focus has been in the wrong place.

Today, my kids wanted to get sledding on mostly melted snow. It wasn’t on my to-do list, but it sure was fun. The snow was hard and crispy and the sleds slid over it easily, so we actually went far, sliding over spots of dead grass and old snow without stopping. We didn’t last long before my little daughter got snow on her hand and cried and wanted to come inside. We came in, cuddled on the couch, and she fell asleep.

I didn’t accomplish anything by doing this. I didn’t check anything off my to-do list. But it was a really good experience. It was not only fun, but it was good time spent with my kids.

I want to value experiences more than my accomplishments.

Learning something is more important than getting a degree. Spending time with my children is more important than cleaning up my house. Serving others and developing relationships is much better than making a lot of money or having a good resume. And I can have wonderful adventures without leaving my backyard.

I need to readjust my life a little bit so that I am valuing those things instead of completely focused on being productive or achieving certain goals or having everything in order. Life is messy and fun and meaningful and beautiful–but I don’t notice when I am focused on the pages of a planner or the marks of a to-do list.

kids sledding

inspiration · my life

Change is the only constant

So I have been doing some reflection. I can become quite a miserable person. I always want something more out of life. And while sometimes that seems like a rather ungrateful thing, I just get bored easily. I can’t do the same thing over and over again.

I have tried to find the perfect routine, the perfect cleaning schedule, the right way to live. But in reality, I want change. And I want it regularly. I like having things to look forward to. I like experiencing different things.

And on the other side, I am sort of a lazy, depressed homebody and I have a hard time kicking myself out the door and going on the adventures that would make me happy.

I want to try to be more adventurous in life. I sit and I plan every day with a very strong sense of duty and a very small sense of adventure. I usually want to get things done for the sake of getting them done instead of for the sake of doing them.

So I want to make a change. I want to build more change into my life regularly, so I’m not doing the same thing over and over again (and becoming miserable as I do it). I have some ideas:

  • Switch out how I plan. Try new apps, new planners, and new methods–not in an attempt to find the perfect way, to be continually interested in new ways.
  • Switch out routines. Instead of trying to stick to the same exact morning routine (and continually failing at it), switch things up. Take a bath instead of a shower, or switch orders, and mix things up.
  • Try new recipes regularly, and try cooking in new and different ways that excite me.
  • Switch out productivity blocking, software, and rules regularly (I always find new ways to waste my time).
  • Go on adventures to try new things and do things in different ways. Learn from other people.
  • Create regularly in new and different ways. Draw or paint or play an instrument or sing or create a video or whatever.
  • Dare myself to do new and exciting things–such as working on classes, going on dates with my kids, and trying new things.
  • Physically push myself to do better. I know I don’t like to do the same sort of exercise every day, so I want to switch it up more. Maybe try running for a week or a bike ride or aerobics class or whatever.
  • Be mindful of the exciting changes that happen around me, such as changes to my children and changes to the weather.
  • Organize my things in new and different ways.
  • Limit what I have to do in favor of things I want to do. And make the things I have to do more interesting so I want to do them.
  • Experiment.
  • Listen to music. Sing. Dance. Create.
  • Take joy in the current moment instead of worrying about what the future will bring.

 

inspiration

Fear not

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)

The scripture mostly speaks for itself. I have been afraid, but then with the Lord’s help, I’ve been able to do what I need to do. He has helped me and upheld me and it’s been okay.

It’s been a bit exhausting with all the changes that have happened in my life lately, but he continues to guide me to a better path–a path that may not be filled with an easy, happy life full of riches and everything I want–but it is a path that will lead me back to Him.

I am surprised sometimes that even when I am having difficult times, when I trust in the Lord, so many problems just don’t seem to matter anymore. They are still there. And they hurt sometimes, but His love is so strong that it can provide happiness in very difficult places.

inspiration

Problems

I’m lighter when I’m lower, I’m higher when I’m heavy. (“Nico and the Niners,” Twenty One Pilots)

So there was a diagram in a book I just read (Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life) about how we respond to problems. We all have problems. But there were two ways to respond to problems: one is that you keep trying to be a better person and go forward to what you want to achieve in life and hold on to what you value. And the second one is that you run away from problems, and you hide so that they aren’t as hard, and you value that you want to not feel pain the most.

We get to choose our perspective, our attitudes, and what we do day after day. If we have goals for ourselves and are constantly trying to become better, our problems are going to be a lot different than when we just want all the problems to go away.

I was recently reading a post from a difficult time in my life–I was very busy with school and facing an uncertain future. And while I had to read hundreds of pages and write dozens of papers, all while trying to serve others and be a good daughter and friend, I found that I found a deep amount of happiness.

I am happy when I am pushing myself to do more with what I already have.

I do not always do that. Instead, I try to avoid the problems of tiredness and exhaustion and disappointment and all of that, and I find myself not pushing myself very hard some days. I say I can take a day off and watch TV. Or I can just check things online. I need a break.

I don’t need a break. I am more tired when I take naps and sit around all day. I am unhappier when I watch lots of television.

When I engage in lots of projects, when I go on adventures with my kids–when I choose to push myself to do more and do it better–then I find happiness.

It’s hard. Because I have to stop myself running away from the pain and tiredness of trying myself. But it’s worth it to try.

When we try to choose NOT to have problems, we end up with the problems that we hate the most–like depression, regret, and a wasted time.

When we choose to hold onto what we value, we often will find ourselves with the pain and problems of loving others, be engaged in good causes, having good work to do–and yes, sometimes we will be exhausted and hurting, but we will be heading upward to the place we need to be.

And God will help us do the work that we need to do. His way is not really harder–it’s happier. It’s better, for He provides a way even though the problems seems great. He will help us see simplicity in complicated problems, feel strength in weakness, and give us protection and safety in times that are hard. And even though following Him can seem difficult, it is always worth it.

inspiration

humility

Humility is not about thinking less of yourself, but thinking more about everything else.

It doesn’t require putting yourself down, but lifting others up.

Humility means that you have confidence, but you are honest about what you can and can’t do, and you see how others can help you.

Humility is realizing your place in a greater whole. It’s being a member of a team and a group and wanting the group’s success more than your own.

Humility is trusting yourself and trusting others and knowing that you can’t go at it alone.

Real humility is not demeaning, but the opposite: you gain self-worth and confidence as you realize your place and accept the help and support that have always been holding you up.

inspiration

The joy of a simple life

I am currently reading a self-help book that drives down the same, worn-out path of trying to convince the reader that they can accomplish a lot because the author has accomplished a lot. If the reader follows the path of the author by doing specific things, then the reader will also be successful. And usually success is defined in a specific way, such as wealth, career accomplishment, and general productivity and happiness.

This is a false narrative.

We all live different lives. Some of us won’t ever be successful in certain ways–we have struggles, and sometimes those struggles never go away. You may not make much money. You may struggle to spend your time wisely. You might struggle with mental health, making daily happiness seem impossible. You might fail in career goals. Your family might fall apart in a way that can’t be put back together again.

It’s a lie that we can all achieve a certain kind of success.

But that’s okay. Because you don’t need that sort of success in your life anyway.

We are given are specific circumstances. We do the best we can, and we make mistakes. But we keep trying. And while we do want to be the best we can be, that may mean that we live a simple, unnoticed live, filled with problems.

My Grandma Jane lived a simple life. She was an incredibly talented woman in many different ways: computers, crocheting, sewing, bookkeeping, genealogy, and more. But she dealt with a huge amount of challenges in her life–health problems, infertility, financial struggles, family difficulties, and trying to overcome her own weaknesses.

I love my Grandma Jane very much and she means a lot to me. She helped others in small and simple ways, and that was enough.

Sometimes we get so caught up in being successful in the certain ways we want that we forget that the small and simple things we do are so much more important.

I don’t want to live in a big house and have lots of money. I don’t want to get the best grades or a high-profile job. I don’t need to start a successful business or publish books or whatever.

Because my life doesn’t have to be successful in those ways at all. I want to love and serve in small and simple ways. I want to keep trying even if life become difficult. I don’t need to be noticed, because I am already loved.

 

inspiration · my life

You can cry about the spilled milk … after it’s cleaned up.

So it’s about 5:30 in the evening. I really want my husband to be home. I’ve been working on some things on the computer, which means that either my kids are watching way too much television or the house is a wreck. When I get off the computer, I find that it is both: the house is covered cracker and brownie crumbs. A can of cooked carrots has managed to make a presence in every single room of the house. Half my books are on the floor. And the kids have been binge watching YouTube videos yet again, even though I told them not to (I’m getting a device to shut off the TV; I hope it works).

In the middle of this, I look down to see that my daughter has something nasty on her leg. Yes, it’s poop. It’s not her poop. The poop belongs to the naked three-year-old. He’s naked because he successfully went poop in the toilet earlier and he never got himself dressed again. But this time, he pooped in the toy room. I am glad it’s not on the carpet in the living room like it was two days ago.

So I have to clean up the poop. When that is done, I just want to cry because there is still so much to do.

But I think to myself: Not right now. You can cry about this in a minute, but right now you are going to clean everything up. And then I clean (most of) it up. (When I’m done cleaning, I write this blog post.)

It’s okay to cry over spilled milk. I’ve done it before when my kids have spilled bowls of cereal FOUR DAYS IN A ROW. But it’s better to cry about it AFTER you clean it up. You’re already upset, so it’s not going to make things worse to actually clean up your messes. It might actually make it better. And if it doesn’t, when you’re done cleaning, lock yourself in your room and let yourself feel awful for a few minutes and take time to breathe. It’s okay.