Monday, April 10, 2017

I Came to Be Better

The gym reeks with the odors of change. It sticks to me like a damp humidity that makes me worry I’m picking up a tropical disease. Day in and day out I walk through the doors, greeted by the same feeling of risk, linked with a hope to be better.

Today I jumped on the stair climber. One foot after another I climbed to nothing, but I did not loose my focus—as the risk of falling was too great. When I was sufficiently adding to the all around odor of change, I moved to the elliptical—definitely a more mindless machine. I plugged into a great talk and was on my way. 

I looked to my left and saw the cutest, hippest elderly woman and I thought, “Wow. I wish I looked that good!” Then I reverted back to the sounds in my ears. Thirty seconds later I looked to my right and saw a heavier woman jogging on the treadmill, and I was impressed, but grateful I didn’t have as far to go as her in the “change department.” Oops. Distracted again. “This is such a great listen,” I say to myself. “I’ll have to rewind.” Twenty seconds later I was lost again. “Oh what is that new purple fingernail polish on the T.V? How can it be purple but clear at the same time?” Then I look to the TV next to it, “Check out these Presidential candidates, they are nuts!” Focus Michelle! Focus! Rewind again. “Wow, look at that guy! He looks like a monkey.”  Then I wonder, “Did anyone see that lady who is 10 times smaller than me, lift the equivalent of me?”  “I’ve got to work harder!” “And check out that crazy mosquito disease! We’re all going to die!” 

In less than 10 minutes I had convinced myself I was too heavy and not working hard enough. Worse than that I was mindlessly belittling others. The eight different news channels playing convinced me that America was simple headed for the toilet, and the entire world was in for an unstoppable deadly plague. And I can’t forget that trashy music video playing, and the ever important reminders “to look your best at the gym.” I was so stressed and unhappy, and entirely unfocused on why I even came to such a stinky place.

The talking in my ear brought me back to reality, and the thought hit me. “You came here to be better, so stop being distracted and be better! Not better than the people around you, but better than you were yesterday. Then come back tomorrow and be better than you were today, and if by chance you slip a bit, come back the next day.”

In Michelle fashion, my thoughts turned to family. How often am I so easily distracted from my family? A quote from Robert D. Hales came to my mind. “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.” My family and my God are what matters most to me. And so. I say to myself, “Michelle, don’t be distracted! Not by mosquitos, politicians, or your own feelings of inadequacy. You are here to be the best mom and wife and person you can be. You are here to be better than yesterday, and hopefully a little better than that tomorrow. You are here to do your best. Stay focused, because the risk of falling is too great!”

There is always hope and peace to be found for ourselves and our families through our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the reason we can be better every day. Jesus Christ is the reason for hope in such a distracting world. He is the Lasting peace our homes and families need. Happy Easter!

Friday, April 1, 2016

My Husband Through God's Eyes

One chilly afternoon I found myself in our yard raking leaves--again--by myself. I was irritated at my
mostly perfect husband for not raking already. Not so irritated about his missing presence. No. Irritated about his whole being. Why was he so stubborn? Why did he have to work so much? Why doesn't he listen to me? Why doesn't he ever eat breakfast? I't's safe to say that everything he'd ever done that rubbed me wrong was flooding through my mind.

This was a totally exagerated husband rampage and I knew it, but I couldn't stop the negative emotions. Call it hormones, lack of sleep, irrational,  leaky faucet syndrome. It doesn't really matter what was causing it. I needed help. Who could I call? Who could I whine to about my really good life?

Though my mind was in turmoil, the day was peaceful and surreal. It felt so good and I realized it was the perfect moment for a prayer. I just laid it out. "Heavenly Father, I know he tries. I know he loves me. I know he is just as busy as me. Just one problem, I can't get over how irritating he can be. I need a fresh perspective. I need to see my husband through your eyes. Please Father, help me see him through your eyes."  I prayed that prayer for days, and then weeks. "Help me see him through your eyes."

I can't really peg any special moment of change, but change I did. I started to notice all of the things he was doing that were hard for him. I started to put myself in his shoes. I started to have more gratitude for the work he did, and I began to feel a compassion for him I don't think I had felt in years. I started to realize how much God loved him and how much he needed him. How much I needed him and not just to rake the lawn.

I've always known that God loves all of his children. But sometimes, when it comes to my husband and his imperfections, I forget. He wants him to grow and improve and be a better husband, father and man, just like he wants me to grow and improve and be a better wife, mother, and woman. Even if I found every way to unfairly or even fairly demonize my husband, God would never see him that way.

I was reminded of all the struggles we had both faced in our marriage, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude that we could face those struggles together. Robert D. Hales, said it perfectly, "None of us marry perfection, we marry potential." Marriage is our opportunity to change together. To literally watch each other and help each other become the person God wants us to be. It is the opportunity to overcome addictions together. To rid our bad habits together. To try new things together. To be better together. To forgive more deeply and love more purely.

I was finally getting a beautiful glimpse of my husband through God's eyes and I realized once again how much I love him.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Happier Families Happier Lives

As I go from place to place living out my daily activities, I love to observe people. I watch them at the mall, the grocery store, the school, the business place and home. I have noticed of late, however, that people appear tired and show little enthusiasm for their daily turn, and I can’t help but wonder why. The feeling I get from the masses is that they are lonely, depressed, and rushed. I wonder, what are we doing wrong? Their sadness instills in me a desire to help and to bring peace and happiness back to the heart.

I believe that hope in a happier life comes from having happier homes and families. Life will always present hardship, but I wonder what the world would look like if people invested more time and energy into the ones they love most. What if people could find peace and happiness despite the imperfections of their lives and families?

As my father was mowing the lawn, he unexpectedly found himself in a wrestling match with the lawn mower. Miraculously, despite the tumble of man and mower, he walked away with only a broken arm, sore muscles, scrapes and bruises. About five days after the accident I called to see how he was doing. He informed me he was at the dentist with my mother who had just had a root canal. He told me how he was worried about her because she had injured her knees, and was hoping for her to take care of it quickly. He spoke not of his own injuries, but of his wife’s current battle; it was so heartfelt and so sweet. I couldn’t help but think, “I love that my mom and dad are so invested and concerned for one another when both are dealing with great challenges. I love that though it is difficult at times they take care of each other. I love that they still love each other.” Even though they are in pain, and still busy with work, grandchildren and other responsibilities, they have discovered an irreplaceable  key to peace and happiness. They are living happily ever after.

There is nothing extraordinary about my parents (unless you see them from my perspective, but I am absolutely biased on the matter.) They started the journey of their ever after the same way as the rest of us did. They have not been immune to tragedy, stress, loneliness, or failures, and yet they have found extraordinary happiness in life by showing love to the ones they love the most.

We are all working hard and I truly believe we are doing our best. It’s just a small reminder. Take a little extra time this week for the ones you love the most. Our families affect every aspect of our lives, and if we have happy families, I feel it safe to say we will have happier lives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Charity Suffereth Long...

I readily admit that sometimes life gets me down. It's not like a ,"my life is over," sort of thing or a "I don't love my family." Mostly it's an empty worn out feeling. The kind that comes when you haven't slept more than 3-4 hours straight for a year. It's the exhaustion that hits when you try to go on with the same life, pretending like the sleep deprivation doesn't affect you and the emptiness never becomes discouraging. The kind where you try not to yell, try to listen to your kids, try to block out the whining before you lose your mind, or try to have an intimate moment with your spouse before you're both snoring. It's hard in those moments, and I tend to feel like a failure on one level or another.

How does one keep going like this? How do you love? How do you succeed and find real happiness in your families?  I learned something recently about Charity that really made me think and really gave me hope.

"...for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail-." ( Moroni 7:46 Book of Mormon) Satan is powerful. Life for everyone is hard. Maybe it's not an infant keeping you awake, but we all have trials. We all get discouraged in our homes and with our families, and failure is a given...unless we have charity.

Here is our promise from God. He clearly says,"ALL things must fail,"  But "Charity NEVER faileth." If you want a marriage that lasts, relationships with your children that mean something, true happiness in our imperfect families and relationships, charity is the way. The only way. "Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever;" (Moroni 7:47) When everything else ends, these relationships will endure forever if they are built on and with Charity, because once again, "Charity never faileth."

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easlily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (Moroni 7:45)

Yes, this is great but I'm tired! A person would need energy to do and be all these amazing things. So what can I do?

"Wherefore, my beloved bretheren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love..." (Moroni 7:48)

Maybe, just maybe if I have enough faith, and pray with all my energy (however much that may be), God can help the baby sleep through the night, or give me the added measure of patience to be kind despite my fatigue. Could He possibly help me to ease the worries and negative thoughts that run through my head while my husband is snoring? Will he give me the ability to bear the next hormonal, emotional, or defiant act from one of my lovely children? I hope, I hope for all these things, for these things fill the empty and and bring peace. It even makes the fierce fatigue, not so fierce. Tonight I pray for this Charity, for such a love as this. I pray for that which endureth forever. For though I might fail, Charity never will.

*All References can be found in The Book of Mormon

Friday, May 29, 2015

Parents: For they Know Misery!

I am ashamed! Truly ashamed at my lack of posts. Okay, maybe "lack of" is giving me too much credit. Non existent posts. I have a great reason for it. At least I think it's a great reason. Let me introduce you to Isabelle Shine Packard, now 4 months old.

Dang she is cute, and takes my breath as well as my sleep!

There I was with my brand new perfect little baby at something like 2:30am. Feeding session. You know how that goes. Exhausted to the point of tears, my butt aching from delivery, and my boobs killing me. It was practically my finest moment. I didn't want to fall asleep because even with baby number five, when I doze while nursing I wake up in a panic. (Where's the baby? Did I smother her? Did I drop her?) This newborn thing is total insanity on all levels.  So anyway, I bust out the scriptures and open up to a section on the creation. The irony.

This is what I read, in reference to Adam and Eve in the Garden and the fall.  "And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin." (2 Nephi 2:23)

Oh I laughed. Just in case you missed my humor, I will repeat. "And they would have no children...having no joy, for they knew no misery." Interpretation: Having children is commensurate to knowing misery.  Seriously, I was laughing as I fed my baby in my total misery!

Having kids is hard. Physically, emotionally, spiritually and any other word you could reasonably ad "ly" to! But, I have found that, "this to shall pass." There have been equally beautiful moments with Isabelle as she peacefully sleeps on my chest or smiles that smile that makes me say ridiculous things in the squeakiest of mama voices. I make noises that no one should make just for the hope of seeing her eyes burst with innocent trust and sparkle with playful satisfaction. It's now a new game at our house to put dialogue to her coo's, squints, and smiles, and it truly does bring joy.

Already she is 4 months old! Three months! "And this too shall pass" I'm thinking way too fast...until maybe she is screaming at 3 in the morning. In which case I'll be thinking, it can't pass fast enough! But then again, "that too shall pass."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Because of Him

Families. Simply said they are struggling. Sickness, disability, bitterness, loneliness, abuse, neglect, poverty, divorce, despair, discouragement, tragedy and fatigue from every day life can often create a sense of hopelessness and a void of happiness. We can write and discuss solutions to these problems forever and still these things will exist. Every family no matter what it's current state struggles at times. There is hope. There is hope for all of us and our families and it is found in our Savior, Jesus Christ. This Easter enjoy this video, Because of Him and let it inspire hope and peace for you and your family.

Rice Krispie Easter eggs

I thought you might also enjoy a sweet Easter activity:

I made these with my girls and it was a hit! Feel free to use your favorite rice crispy recipe but just in case you don't have one you can use mine. (I've been told that if your rice crispy treats are too runny they will not mold as well). The recipe below worked perfectly.

What you need:

  • Large and or small plastic easter eggs
  • 1package jelly beans or chocolate easter eggs
  • 1 10.5 oz pkg. mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cube butter (4 Tbsp)
  • 6 C. Rice Krispies 
  • Cooking Spray
Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add marshmallows, stir continuously until melted. Remove from heat, add Rice Krispies, and stir until mixed.

Open your plastic easter eggs and coat the inside with cooking spray.

Take a chunk of your rice crispy mix and mold it into a half circle. Set a jelly bean or chocolate easter egg in the center and then put another chunk of rice crispy mix on the top. Push it inside your easter egg mold. Close the egg and let it cool. Repeat until all your eggs are full or your rice crispys are gone.

Once cooled open the plastic egg and pull out your sweet treat. Now its time to decorate. We just rolled ours in sprinkles, but you could go crazy with melted chocolate or other fun candies. 

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Introducing Stressed Out!

Working cover...Look closely, my name is there.

Dr. B. on channel 5 News
Dr. Ben Bernstein

I am so excited to introduce Stressed Out! For Parents: How to be Calm, Confident, and Focused. This is the title and cover of my new book. It is going to be released this Fall (2014)! I have been working along side Dr. Ben Bernstein, author of A Teens Guide to Success, and Test Success, Doctor of Psychology and well known performance coach. He has worked with children and parents for over  forty years. Together Ben and I have compiled all of his greatest stress relieving techniques in an effort to relieve parental stress and improve happiness and satisfaction in family life.

The idea is that every person has an optimal window of stress where they
perform at their best. Too much stress and you will not perform well. Too little stress and you will
also not perform well--As a parent I've never had the problem of too little stress but I suppose it could happen. When we as parents are calm in body, confident in mind, and focused in spirit, we will find that optimal window of success that Dr. Bernstein teaches us about.

What is my role in this fantastic book? I write the stories, I re-write the model from a parenting perspective, and I consult with Dr. Bernstein weekly and sometimes daily to make sure the model is presented at it's best. The neatest part is that I get to live and practice the model with my own family while Dr. B coaches me on how I can improve, what I'm doing well, and what I can change. Basically it's free therapy. My husband has used it. My daughter Ella has used used it (There is a section in the book on teaching some of the models of success to your children). And I have used it. It works! And that is why I am so excited to share this book with you!