Can Do Attitude

It’s probably no surprise that a family of six with a single income can be strapped for money at times.  It was one of those times recently, and I was feeling stressed about it.  I had a prayer in my heart to find some guidance, and it wasn’t long before I was inspired.  I had the privilege of hearing Gary E. Stevenson give a talk during General Conference.  In his talk, he expressed his agony over all of his inadequacies, and then said, “I received a distinct impression which both chastened and comforted me: to focus not on what I can’t do but rather on what I can do.”  While he was speaking in terms of his personal insecurities, my mind quickly applied this to our financial situation.  Then, as the week progressed, I saw how I could apply it to every aspect of my life.  Having a can do attitude is one of the ways I’m striving to accentuate the positive, as I wrote about last week.

Can Do Attitude

This is not a ground-breaking idea.  We’ve heard variations of this same concept countless times.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs reminders of simple truths, then finds them lying in plain sight.  When I was in therapy years ago, I would have these “ah-ha” moments and come home to tell my husband about it.  He would respond, “Isn’t that the same thing that I’ve told you for months?”  I would respond back to him, “Yes, but she somehow said it differently and it clicked.”  Or perhaps it’s just my belief in the “two makes it true” theory?  Who knows?  The point of the matter was that THIS quote clicked, and I’m going to share how all-encompassing this concept really can be.

My weakness is eating out.  Oh, how I love it.  A good cheeseburger is practically therapy for me, and so much more affordable.  But when money is tight, nothing is considered affordable, is it?  So, instead of feeling glum about not eating out, I thought about how awesome it was that we had enough money to get all the groceries we needed.  I began to think about how cool it was that I had dishwasher detergent already, so I didn’t have to hand-wash my dishes.  The more time that went by, the more opportunities I saw that I DID have in my daily life.  I could take my kids to the park and play.  I could go to the library and check out as many books as I wanted.  I could go on a walk with my friends.  There was so much that I could do!

Then, I went and did something dumb.  Well, it wasn’t dumb at first, it started out quite awesome!  My daughter was the “Super Hero of the Week” at school and each day provided something special for her to either share or do.  Friday was “Bring a Buddy to Lunch.”  Guess who got to be that buddy?  And guess who COULD be there for her daughter?  That’s right – me.  Lunch with my second grader and playing with her on the playground was the awesome part!  I happen to love going on the swings, so I made a point to get some swing time in.  The thrill of being so high that I go above the bar is the real highlight for me.  I was feeling pretty proud of my skills.  As I was slowing down, I underestimated how high I still was from the ground.  It should be noted that I do not normally jump off swings.  I’m a wuss that way.  I totally thought I was lower when I made the leap off the swing.  Oh, how wrong I was.  I landed unsteady, stumbled a bit, spun around, realized my fate included landing on painful wood chips, and fell flat on my back.  All I could do was laugh.  I was mortified.  I’m pretty sure only my daughter and a couple of kids saw me (or at least that’s what I told myself to keep intact whatever bit of my ego I had left).  My sweet daughter helped me up and brushed all the wood chips from me.  Thankfully, it was time for me to go, and I was able to escape my embarrassing moment.  Unfortunately, I could instantly tell that I had injured my big toe.  So, you see, it all started out awesome until my one dumb move came into play.

I quickly began cursing myself and realized that I had a painful situation on my hands (or more literally, my foot).  Walking became more and more arduous, as the adrenaline of the event wore off.  That’s when I fell into the wicked trap of “can’ts.”  I began to focus on all the things I could not do with the injured toe (like those walks with friends that I mentioned above that I could do even with low funds).  How grateful I am that the quote above was still fresh in my mind.  I decided to focus on all the things I could still do instead.  The most important of them being that I could still get down with my boys and wrestle that night.  I could still sit to fold laundry the following day.  I could still kneel for bedtime prayers with my family.  There were so many “cans” left that didn’t involve pain in my toe.

I’m finding that a can do attitude truly is a beautiful way to look at life.  It doesn’t need to be used simply as a source of motivation, it can be used as a method of comfort.  I suppose that’s the difference I found in Stevenson’s quote versus any other variations I had heard prior.  What I can do does not have to be limited to achieving goals or benchmarks.  A can do attitude can be a pulse check to all the good that already exists in one’s life.  I know that’s the affect it’s had on my life these past couple of weeks.  It hasn’t always been easy to avoid thinking of the “can’ts,” but it’s amazing the level of peace I feel when I recognize how many more “cans” are in my life.  I even got to thinking about how this month’s First Friday Find: Zach Anner was another great example of a can do attitude in motion.  He may very well be the epitome of this way of life.

Honestly, it’s been pretty fun to acknowledge all the things that I can still do despite tight funds and a sprained toe.  I really have a lot going for me.  So, the question is, what CAN you do?

Accentuate the Positive

Lately, the amount of negativity in the world has left me unsettled.  Social media and the news being the biggest irritants on the matter.  Surprisingly, neither of those were the source, when I became truly fed up with this issue.  The other day, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Not a Liberal.”  Simple statement, right?  Not much worth fussing over.  However, I was struck by the verbiage of that remark.  Why say, “Not a Liberal?”  Why not state that you are conservative?  My takeaway was that this driver is so against being liberal, that he would rather state how much he is not liberal, rather than celebrate what he is supporting of in life.  I see no benefit in shaming another point of view to state the beauty of your own.  This is the way life seems to be delivered to us now.  We’re given news through a series of one liner blurbs that either leave one feeling great about who they are or shaming them for their opinion on a matter.  Why can’t we simply “accentuate the positive,” as Gordon B. Hinckley states in his book, Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes?  As much as I would like to copy and paste the entire chapter, Optimism in the Face of Cynicism, from this book, I will refrain.  But, oh, what beautiful things we would see in our world, if people took the time to nurture the ten neglected virtues mentioned.

Accentuate the Positive

The concept of focusing on the positive first struck me when I was kneeling in prayer with my husband years ago.  He was saying the prayer and asked that our children be protected from harm.  Perfectly normal thing to pray for and I echoed his words in my heart.  However, I began to realize that when he asked that they be protected from harm, my mind drifted off to the terrible harms that could potentially come their way.  When it was my night to pray, I began to switch around the wording to ask that our Heavenly Father watch over our children or keep them safe.  Omitting the word “harm” kept my mind in a more positive place.  I do the same with my children now, as we kneel in family prayer and it’s my turn to say the prayer.  I ask that they all have sweet dreams and get a good night’s rest.  Whereas, when my children pray, they ask that they not have any nightmares.  We want the same thing, but the manner in which we present it makes a difference, I believe.  One of my daughters will sometimes even pray that, “no fires will burn our house down and no bad guys will steal [them].”  I want to be fire free and kidnap free even more than she does, but those words trigger dark images in my mind.  Our words have a great impact on our attitudes and outlook.  Such a simple change in verbiage can either lead me to greater peace or greater anxiety.

This topic of optimism is so far-reaching that I don’t intend to wrap all my thoughts into one post.  Tonight, I simply wanted to encourage us all to contemplate how we are approaching our daily activities and experiences.  Are we expressing ourselves in a negative manner or potentially conjuring up negative thoughts by the words we use?  Are we stating who we are by stating who we’re not?  I’m a Christian woman with the understanding that we have a Father in Heaven, a Savior, the Holy Ghost, and then Lucifer standing on the opposing side.  I don’t give Lucifer the privilege of crediting his name by saying, “I’m not with Satan.”  Instead, I say, “I know my Savior lives and loves me.”

A relevant and real life example of the change we can make in our approach is how the city of Roseburg, OR handled the recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College (UCC).  The community asked that the gunman remain anonymous.  Instead, the focus was shifted to Chris Mintz who was noted as a hero for having been shot seven times, as he was rushing the UCC shooter.  This is a tragic event that I cannot comprehend enduring nor do I intend to discuss further.  I simply find the action of accentuating the positive virtues of one man, in the face of calamity, as admirable and inspiring.

I’ve learned that changing the wording of my prayers has brought me greater peace.  I no longer use verbiage that amps my anxiety or lets my fears take over.  Now the goal for me is to understand where else in my life I may be expressing myself in a negative fashion.  As I sit here contemplating where I can improve on this matter, I’m reminded of the quote by Tom Peters that I shared in Musings of a Mom, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.”  Perhaps it’s time that I see how I can uplift my children more by accentuating the positive rather than focusing on the negative?

As I mentioned, this topic of optimism could infiltrate so many aspects of our lives, and tonight is not the time for that.  Tonight, I close with a plea for each of us to accentuate the positive!  If you have an experience where you made this shift in your own life, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Happy Weekend!

5 Steps to Better Forgiving Others

Last week, I spoke in a church meeting on the topic of forgiveness.  The feedback I received immediately afterwards was so overwhelming, it made me wonder if maybe more people need to hear this message.  I spoke about forgiveness from a different angle than I usually hear it.  Customarily, I hear the importance of why we should have a forgiving heart.  The two largest reasons being – first, so that the Lord will also be forgiving towards us (Matt 6: 14-16); and second, studies show that an unforgiving heart can be unhealthy for our physical and emotional well-being.  Regardless of your spiritual stance, the latter reason makes it imperative for all of us to be forgiving.  My talk wasn’t about why, I wanted to know more about how we go about forgiving.  After reading a few articles, I settled on five ways to help become a more forgiving person.  Because I am Christian, some of these steps will be faith-based.

5 Steps to Better Forgiving Others

1. Sincere Prayer

I read a fascinating speech given in 1997 by James M. Harper, a marriage and family therapist.  Harper stated, “Our attitude in prayer will help transform our grieving, angry hearts into forgiving hearts.”  His statement is the perfect way to show that forgiveness begins with the softening or changing of our own hearts.  I’ve found that when I pray sincerely, it is not that I need to forgive, but rather that I need to ASK for forgiveness from someone.  That is the beauty of honest prayer, it helps us to become humble.

2.  Accept that forgiving the offender, does not mean you excuse their behavior

Quoting Harper again, he said, “I have seen survivors of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse struggle with the doctrine of forgiveness. They often feel that if they were to forgive, it would let the offender off the hook or would minimize the hurt and damage. Yet they fail to realize that transforming their heart to a forgiving heart is a gift they give themselves. It will do far more for them than it will ever do for their offender.”  Having experiences of being hurt by someone, I know in some instances, I wanted the offender to hurt, as I hurt.  Karma, if you will.  I’m not saying this is right, but that is what my instinct wants to do.  Forgiving them feels like I’m freeing them from consequences.  How bold of me to think that I am somehow their judge, when there is only one judge they have to face and my decision to forgive has nothing to do with their salvation, but merely mine.  In the book Beyond Ordinary by Justin and Trisha Davis, it reads, “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior; forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.”

3.  Avoid storytelling about an offense

This one piggybacks the last item for me and is my biggest weakness in failing to forgive.  When I’ve been hurt, my impulse is to discuss the matter with my husband and my friends.  First, I like to check in and see if I’m out of line for feeling the way I feel.  Then, honestly, it’s to round-up my support group that I hope will have my back.  The support group’s role is to make me feel justified in my feelings and to come to my aid when necessary.  Again, not right, but that is my tendency.  Upon learning more about forgiveness, I’m realizing how detrimental and counter-productive this is to forgiving others.  I justify my storytelling as okay, because I’m merely looking for support, but I am perpetuating the offense and adding fuel to the fire.  Harper states, “In retelling a story about how we have been offended, we can tell it in such a way that we either push pain, anger, and grief deeper into the cells of our heart or we free ourselves…Don’t let the negative storytelling consume your relationships with others…Don’t put energy into unforgiveness; rather put it into transforming your heart.”

4.  Avoid dwelling on the offense

I have met people who struggle with this step, and I admit that I have faltered here a time or two.  I have spoken of and recounted offenses in my mind that I have claimed to have already forgiven.  Sadly, I have even held disdain towards certain offenders, even though there were no recent events that would give me any reason to do so.  In being around other people who, like me, have perhaps not completely let go of hurtful events, I see the pain and strain that it causes in other relationships in their, and my own, life.  As we dwell on our offenses and rehash them in our own minds and with others, we prevent ourselves from healing.  I recently saw a quote that drove this message home, “To heal a wound, you need to stop touching it.”

5 Steps to Better Forgiving

We often hear this message in a similar phrase, “Forgive & Forget.”  I read a study, known as the White Bear Experiment, by Social Psychologist, Dr. Wegner, that speaks about forgetting or suppressing a thought.  The study concluded that if you try to focus on NOT thinking about something (or forgetting a sin or offense in this case), you actually end up thinking about it more. So, while you may have good intentions of “forgetting” the offense by trying NOT to think of it, you’re likely bringing it to the forefront of your mind even more so.  A solution would be to try to replace the thought with something more positive.

I have been hurt by “repeat offenders” before and I find that I am most at peace when I focus on the good that the individual brings into my life.  None of us are perfect, and I find that replacing my negative feelings or frustrations with positive experiences not only improves the relationship with the offender, but it also frees me from dwelling on the offenses.  Plus, this shift keeps me from retelling the offense, when I’m naturally focused on it less.

5.  Do kind acts for the offender

I have to admit, this is one concept I had not even thought to do. It wasn’t until I read an article in a children’s magazine called “Janie’s Seventy Times Seven,” that it even occurred to me.  To summarize, Janie is frustrated with her little brother, Jimmy, constantly breaking her crayons, bugging her, making mistakes, and so on. She goes to discuss the matter with her Mom and says, “I forgave Jimmy for getting into my stuff and told him to keep out of my room forever. He didn’t Mom. He’s wrecking all my stuff.” Janie’s Mom asks Janie to read a scripture about forgiveness, then Janie replies “It says to forgive seventy times seven. That’s way too many times. It isn’t fair at all.” Janie’s mom replies, “Wouldn’t you want the Savior to forgive you more than once? Think about it. Maybe you could try teaching Jimmy how to take care of things. Jesus Christ said to do good to those who offend you—even your enemies.” Janie then takes a notebook and starts tallying all the times she has to forgive her brother, since she’s convinced that she doesn’t have to forgive him anymore once she reaches 70 times 7 (or 490 times).  But with each mistake her little brother makes, Janie does as her mom suggests and either teaches him the right way or does a kind deed for him.  After a few days, her tally gets to 12 out of 490 and she throws the paper away.  She later tells her Mom that she didn’t need to keep track of the times she had to forgive him because, “Jimmy doesn’t seem as annoying as he used to.”

My take away from the story was that Jimmy didn’t stop making mistakes, none of us do, it was Janie that worked to have a change of heart.  It’s her change of heart that brings us full circle to step 1 – sincere prayer. Sincere prayer is the first step to forgiveness, as it teaches us to heal or transform our own hearts, so that we have the strength to forgive, even when it may not be easy, or even when someone might not even ask for forgiveness.

I don’t know where I fall on the forgiveness spectrum.  I’d like to think I’m a forgiving person.  However, studying more about forgiving others, I’ve learned I have room for improvement.  Storytelling of my offenses or dwelling on them is something I struggle with, while doing kind deeds had not even been considered before.  There have been times where I had practiced the replacement of negative thoughts with positive ones, and there were times where I learned to hold my tongue regarding offenses.  In reflecting back on those moments, I realize that I was more at peace with myself.  That is the place I want to be in my life, and studying this topic reminded me of that.

Hopefully, reflecting on these 5 steps to better forgiving others will help you, as it did me.  May you find the calming peace that a forgiving heart brings.

8 Fun Ways for Kids to Serve!

As Labor Day Weekend has come and gone, it seems so has our Summer.  School starts this week for us and, as a result, we have been busily finishing up our 50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items.  We recently completed our “Day of Service” item.  Since I had put a bit of time researching just the right opportunities for my kids (ages 1 through 9) to spread kindness, and it turned out so well, I thought I would share my 8 fun ways for kids to serve!  We didn’t have a chance to do all eight of these ideas, but the ones we did do had some surprising results.

Take cards to the assisted living home.

We have done this a few times now and my kids are getting more comfortable at going up to the residents and delivering their handmade cards.  Sometimes it is difficult for young kids to feel comfortable walking up to strangers, let alone strangers who may have disabilities or ailments that may make children uncomfortable from their lack of understanding.  I admit, when I was a teenager and served in our school Community Service Club, visiting the local retirement home gave me anxiety.  I digress, as this post is not about me and my insecurities.

We usually invite other families to join us so that we can have a card making party and be armed with more cards to give out when we arrive at the assisted living home.  I’ve learned that the best time to arrive is around lunch or dinner time, to deliver cards while they are all gathered for meals.  On times when we have arrived outside of these hours, we have merely placed the cards on the tables for the residents to see when they arrive.  Our cards usually include little notes wishing them a nice day with a drawing and some stickers.  I think it’s fun to include the ages of the kids who are creating the cards, to personalize the experience a little more for the recipient.

Fun ways to serve

Leave “lucky pennies” for children to find.

When I was a little girl, my Mom used to say, “Heads up, pick it up.  Give it away, have luck all day.”  I’ve heard variations on that, but the common thread is that a penny with its head facing up is considered good luck.  But, let’s be honest, a kid doesn’t care what way a penny is facing.  A penny, in their minds, is as good as gold.  My friend and I sent our kids out, with pennies in hand, to go place “lucky pennies” along the pathway where we were eating our lunch picnic during this year’s Day of Service.  As soon as the kids were done eating their lunches, they all ran off to check the status of the pennies they had placed.  Such a fun and simple way to spread joy!

Deliver baked goods to your local fire station.

This one is ALWAYS the highlight of my kids’ Day of Service.  It’s probably because the fire fighters in our town are all too willing to give them a tour of their vehicles, particularly their engine.  What child doesn’t love getting up in a fire engine?  I feel like we’re on the recipient side of this act of service, as they seem to stop everything to teach our children and let them explore.  The best part is, as an adult, I actually learn new stuff about their role in our community every time we go.

 Attach a bag of coins to a vending machine.

After our assisted living home stop, lunch break, and fire station exploration, we headed over to our local hospital to do two more acts of service.  Before heading out for our Day of Service, we had placed a dollar worth of coins into six separate baggies with a note that read, “Spreading random acts of kindness.  Enjoy a treat on us!”  Upon arriving to the hospital, we sought out the vending machines and taped the baggies to the machines with packing tape.  Since we had six bags and there were only two vending machines, we ended up taping four and delivering two to patients waiting in the Emergency Department.

Place coloring books and crayons in hospital waiting areas.

This was our second act of service within the hospital, and the most surprising one to me.  Being that we were two women with eight kids between us, I don’t imagine we appeared dangerous, yet some adults and kids were quick to refuse our offer of crayons and coloring sheets.  I was shocked by a mom who sharply declined our act of kindness and kids who seemed confused by our offer.  In fact, nobody would take any from us.  We ended up placing the items on tables near the waiting families and informing them that they were theirs for the taking, should they change their mind.  Some kids quickly went for the coloring pages once they were laying out.  I suppose many of us have come accustomed to believing that there is always some sort of catch to something being “free.”

The three remaining items for 8 fun ways for kids to serve were not done during our Day of Service, but I had intentions of doing these as well.  Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to do them for one reason or another.

Leave positive messages with sidewalk chalk along walkways.

I really wanted to do this one, but I forgot to buy the sidewalk chalk.  My hope was to have the kids leave smiley faces along sidewalks or perhaps little messages that just said, “Have a good day,” or “You’re beautiful.”  Sidewalk chalk messages and drawings seem to easily catch the attention of others.  How fun would it be to know that others might be lifted up by such a simple message for days to follow?

Return shopping carts to their stalls.

This was another way that I thought my kids would have fun serving.  However, after further thought, I realized that my kids are a bit too young to be gathering shopping carts and pushing them through busy parking lots.  Plus, my kids kept worrying that if we did this task, then we would end up putting the workers who normally do this undertaking out of a job.    I imagine once they’re a little older, they’ll understand that the “shopping cart retrievers” have other responsibilities to ensure job security.  Perhaps then we can give this act of service a go?

Leave a small present or a note of appreciation in your mailbox for your mail carrier.

My Mom used to give the garbage man, the mail carrier, our dry cleaners’ owners, and our gardeners a box of See’s Candies for Christmas, as a sign of our appreciation.  I always thought it such a nice gesture.  While I don’t have the ability to give such generous tokens, I thought it might be nice to drop a note of gratitude or perhaps grab a candy bar and leave it in our mailbox for our mail carrier.

::COMMERCIAL BREAK::  You may notice that I am being very PC in referring to our mail carrier.  This is because I once addressed a card to my BFF that said, “Dear Mailman, Please deliver this card to the best friend in the whole wide world.”  When the card arrived, the mail carrier had left a note on the front of the card, slashing out the word “man” portion of Mailman and putting “woman” instead.  Since then, I’ve tried to be more considerate about the gender of a mail carrier.  Normally, I’m not very PC, but if I’m going to show my appreciation, I certainly want to be sensitive to their feelings.  ::NOW BACK TO YOUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING::

All of these 8 fun ways for kids to serve almost seem too easy.  By the time we had done five of these eight acts of kindness, it seemed like we had hardly done anything at all.  But who is to say how far these acts may go?  They weren’t big at all in the grand scheme of things, but if they changed the outlook of even one person’s day, then I think we’ve had a success.  Heck, I even got a little happy when my daughter delivered a card to an elderly gentleman playing the piano at the assisted living home, and he noticed her name on the card and said that it was also his sister’s name.  Perhaps just triggering the memory of a loved one brought joy to him?  I know remembering my mom can be bittersweet, but each memory is a reminder that she lives on in me.

As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children so many things; at times it feels overwhelming.  However, teaching my children to look beyond themselves is towards the top of my list.  As a Christian woman, my focus is to teach my children of Jesus Christ.  What better way to teach of Him, than to teach them how to be charitable, which is the pure love of Christ?   I hope they remember these days that we set aside every so often to serve, and seek out their own ways to lift others through their daily activities.

Envisioning the Potential

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to hangout with some friends at a local park while our kiddos played.  I got to chatting with one friend who enjoys refinishing furniture.  At the time, she was in the middle of working on a family heirloom hutch.  I was sharing with her how impressed I was that she was able to undertake such a task.  I explained how terrible I am at envisioning an object being transformed into something better.  She responded saying, “That surprises me based on the nature of your blog.”  Her comment led me to ask myself, “Why can I envision improving myself, but not envision furniture becoming something better?”  The answer came quickly, “I’m not good at envisioning the potential when the gap between the ‘beginning’ and the ‘end’ is too wide.”

I did my best to explain myself to her.  I told her about 2004 Sara, Present Sara, and Future Sara.  If you had told 2004 Sara that she would have four children, be happily married, have endured severe depression along with the loss of her mom, and would be living in Oregon, she would have scoffed.  Just as, if you were to tell Present Sara that Future Sara will be physically fit and traveling the world, it would fall on deaf ears.  You see, envisioning the potential, when huge strides are involved, is not my forte.  I hope to be physically healthy, but I don’t really see it happening.  Isn’t that terrible?  If I’m honest with myself, it just seems like this unattainable goal.  I can swallow the idea of taking baby steps to being marginally healthier (Hence, the one burger a week goal mentioned in Who Do I Want to Be?), but the idea of being my ideal weight just seems far-fetched at this point.  Perhaps my lack of ability to envision such a Future Sara is what keeps me from becoming her?  I certainly know that my lack of envisioning the promising potential of junky old furniture has prevented me from purchasing such a piece.  This is why my friend’s remark has really left me contemplating my belief in a person being transformed.  I know it’s possible, as I’ve seen it in certain aspects of my life, but that’s only when I look at things in hindsight.  Apparently, I have greater difficulty envisioning the potential of Future Sara.  This brings me to another discussion I had with my husband.

My friend's refinished family heirloom hutch completed.
My friend’s refinished family heirloom hutch.

My husband and I were discussing the opportunities we have to fulfill a greater purpose in our lives than we are now.  Let’s use my lofty Life Bucket List as an example.  There are items on there that require money, a physically fit Future Sara, and some untapped adventure, among other things.  And, if you recall, I have a longer Life Bucket List that has an additional 20 items that I did not make public.  This master list has items that are more spiritual in nature.  So, in discussing this matter with my husband, I brought up my conversation with said friend at the park.  I likened myself to an old junky piece of furniture and a refinished piece of furniture.  I explained to him that I just can’t see how junky-old Present Sara can turn into refinished Future Sara.  He responded wisely, as he often does.

::COMMERCIAL BREAK::  We have an upcoming move that leaves us in need of multiple furniture items.  Seeing as how we know a few people who are savvy at refinishing furniture, we thought we would call upon their talents.  The plan was that we would find a cheap piece, tell said talented friends what we want, and pay them for their services.  Are you proud of me for attempting such a task, as it contradicts everything I have typed thus far?  One of the friends, who plans to help us, mentioned that when searching for a dresser, we need to make sure the drawers slide appropriately.  Apparently, having to fix drawers makes the project more costly and complicated.  It’s not impossible, just more difficult. ::NOW BACK TO YOUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING::

So, my husband explains to me how I have it all wrong.  He informs me that when likening myself to the refinished furniture analogy, I’ve put myself in the equation incorrectly.  I was looking at it as though I had to refinish Present Sara and turn her into refinished Future Sara.  It turns out, I’m not the refinisher AND the junky old furniture piece.  I’m just the furniture piece and our Heavenly Father and Savior are the ones helping to refinish me, according to my husband.  Then he says (and this is why I gave you the COMMERCIAL BREAK above), “All you have to do is slide your drawers, Sara.”  My part in the analogy is to be sturdy and keep those drawers sliding smoothly.  And I believe that wholeheartedly.  His explanation, along with that first conversation in the park, has helped me realize that I can be a refinished Future Sara and I don’t have to go at it alone.

You’ll notice in the COMMERCIAL BREAK that neither my husband nor I are planning to refinish the furniture ourselves.  We recognize that there are others in our midst that have a passion for this hobby.  We’re just going to find the furniture that is sturdy and fits our needs.  In short, we’re getting help, just as we do in our own lives.  We don’t get to a better version of ourselves entirely on our own.  We become someone greater through experiences that strengthen us, people who encourage us, testimonies that build us, opportunities that surprise us, and a loving Heavenly Father who guides us.  Don’t misunderstand me, we have our part as well.  I don’t intend to sit here ideally and wait to be transformed into something grand.  I’m just learning that I don’t have to know exactly how I’ll get from Present Sara to Future Sara, but I do have to believe that it’s possible.

My original purpose for this blog was to share insights I’ve had that have helped me become a better person.  I continue to receive these little pieces of enlightenment in my life that I hope might inspire someone else to believe in themselves more.  Clearly, I have much to learn in the way of envisioning the potential I have to truly be what I hope to become.  I need to have as much faith in myself as my Father in Heaven and Savior do.  Even having as much faith in myself as my husband has in me would be a significant increase from where I’m at now.  This is not easy for me.  The Unlikely Perfectionist speaks to this weakness of mine.  I get overwhelmed by this idea of refinished Future Sara and I panic.  Turning into her is just too hard, so it seems easier to stay as junky-old Present Sara.  I’m still sturdy and sliding my drawers, but I’ve yet to allow the refinishing process make me something even more beautiful.  It’s time to begin.  Having this analogy in my arsenal has already given me greater hope.  I don’t have to do it alone.

Whether you are a person of faith, or not, this analogy applies to us all.  We all can be refinished.  We all have this great potential that is waiting to shine through.  Some of our drawers may be broken and might need more TLC?  Perhaps we’re not as sturdy as we’d like to be?  The refinishing process, whether it be a Higher Being or a higher purpose that helps transform you, can include repairs.  I know I’ve already had quite a few repair jobs done.  I feel emotionally healthy enough to say that I’m sturdy and I’m doing my best to “slide [my] drawers.”  I’m ready to get to the sanding and staining portion?  Is that what you do to refinish furniture?  I don’t even know.  And, thankfully, I don’t have to know.

What I do have to know is that I have great potential and that potential is attainable.  I have to believe that with the help of loved ones, experiences, my faith, and a greater understanding of my worth, I can be refinished.  So, here’s to envisioning the potential I have to be refined.

And, here's to a loving husband who always believes in me.
And, here’s to a loving husband who always believes in me.

First Friday Find: Relative Finder

It probably does not come as any surprise to my readers that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (more commonly known as Mormon or LDS).  Genealogy work is an important aspect of our religion, as we take seriously the words spoken in Malachi 4:6, “And [Elijah the prophet] shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  As a result, Brigham Young University (BYU) recently launched a program that links up with FamilySearch that’s called Relative Finder.  Through this month’s First Friday Find: Relative Finder, you can find your relationship to many different groups of people already built-in the program.

On the left is my Great Grandmother, who we called Bobo, in her basketball uniform.
On the left is my Great Grandmother, who we called Bobo, in her basketball uniform.

Since the creators of the program are LDS, many of the groups are LDS related, such as finding out if you’re related to prophets, current apostles, and/or early LDS members.  However, you can also find out if you’re related to famous writers, prominent figures in U.S. history, famous Americans or Europeans, classical composers, Catholic Saints or Popes, Mayflower voyagers, those involved in the Salem Witch Trials, and more.  It turns out that my genealogy links me heavily to the Salem Witch Trials.  Me and hysteria?  Sounds about right.  I kid.  Have no fear, I am also related to John Hancock, who is my third cousin, seven times removed.  He redeems me, right?  Or Susan B. Anthony?  Amelia Earhart?  Thomas Edison?  I’m related to them all.  Granted, Edison and I go back nine cousins, three times removed, but I can still call him “cuz.”  And so can my Dad, since Relative Finder tells me which of my parents connects me to the prominent figure.  I think my most fun relatives though are probably Elvis Aaron Presley (he’s my 11th cousin) and Harry Lillis (Bing) Crosby (my tenth cousin, three times removed).

So, how do you find out the prominent people who you’re related to?  Follow these steps:

  • Go to the Relative Finder website.
  • Click on Login.
  • Enter your Username and Password for FamilySearch.  Anyone can sign up for one of these accounts and start linking up with ancestors.
  • Once you are logged into Relative Finder, it will ask you to verify your email address and then have you mark that you give permission for others to see your information, but only if you sign in to specific groups that have permission to see it.
  • Click on Download my tree!  You will then see a list of ancestors who are famous in some way, either in the world or in Church history.
  • Click on Relatives along the top.  You can then click on various groups of people and see who your ancestors are in those groups.

It’s that simple.  Of course, it’s not that simple, if you don’t have much of your genealogy work done.  But, what you might not realize is that others may have done your work up to a certain point.  So, if you can create an account in Family Search and link yourself back to somebody that has done the work from, let’s say, your great great grandfather and back, then you get all that information added to you without having to have done a thing except create a Username and Password.

So, this month’s First Friday Find: Relative Finder is a find within a find!  This leaves me with a question for all of you, “Who are your relatives?”

Our Parents’ Children

I was reading a book called Defending Jacob by William Landay for book club last month and I came across this line that read, “At some point as adults we cease to be our parents’ children and we become our children’s parents instead.”  I wrote it down because I know that it rings true in my life.  However, this past weekend, on Mother’s Day, I realized how much I still wanted to be “our parents’ children.”

Our Childrens' Parents

This Mother’s Day was particularly rough for some reason.  I did my best to hold it together.  A couple tears were shed here and there in the morning.  Then, we went on a little walk as a family with my dad and step-mom in the afternoon.  It was then, as I was hugging my dad goodbye, that I lost it.  I didn’t want to let my daddy go.  It was Mother’s Day and I wanted to be on the kid end of the day.  I wanted to celebrate Mother’s Day as a daughter.  Thankfully, I was able to hang on to my dad for a bit and cry while my husband took the kids and got them in the car.

Prior to losing my mother, I believed that the pain and emptiness of losing a loved one was due solely to their being gone.  I’ve learned that you also end up mourning the role you played in the relationship.  I am no longer a daughter to a mom, but fortunately, I still get to be a daughter to a dad.  I had never given it much thought until I stumbled upon a book that dealt with grieving.  Sadly, I have no recollection of the title or author.  What I do remember is that both of the author’s parents had passed away.  She spoke to the fact that she was no longer someone’s daughter.  I remember standing in the middle of the book store and thinking, “Thank goodness I still get to be a daughter to my dad.”  I’m not ready to stop being a parents’ child.

Being a daughter means different things in different families.  I played a large role in my mom’s life, as she had not remarried and we had always been particularly close. I did my best to be there for her whenever she needed me.  I made her my priority.  I don’t say this to boast, but just to express how much my role as a daughter to my mom made up my identity as a whole.  Though my relationship with my dad is a strong and healthy one, he remarried after my parents’ divorce and my role as his daughter is less involved.  So, while I am still a daughter to my dad, I continue to struggle with understanding the missing piece of me that was devoted to my role as a daughter to my mom.

But, as the quote says, “At some point…we cease to be our parents’ children and we become our children’s parents instead.”  That’s certainly the case for me.  My role as daughter, whether to my mom or my dad, has taken backseat to my role as parent.  It’s a demanding role, that doesn’t leave much room for lack of responsibility and vulnerability.  As a mom, I am called upon to be the strong one when my kids face trials or heartbreak.  I am the one that is meant to offer comfort.  I am the one that is supposed to have my act together.  While I am grateful for my role as a mom, I have not lost my desire to be a daughter still.

Sometimes, I just want to be the kid.  This past Mother’s Day was one of those days.  I wanted to have my dad hug me, tell me he loves me, and assure me that it’s gonna be alright.  And he did, as he has done several times in my life.

Our role as a child or a parent is a huge part of our identity.  I think my reason for sharing this topic today has more to do with me processing that concept than it is me trying to provide some sort of inspiration.  As I mentioned, in losing my mom, I was misled in thinking that my pain came only from the loss of her.  When she passed away, I also lost a part of me.  Acknowledging that fact and allowing me to mourn that loss, helps me to heal.  Thankfully, I still get to be a daughter to my Dad. It’s not just that I still have my Dad around, though that’s a blessing as well, but that I still get to be “our parents’ children.”  I can still cry into the shoulder of a parent who has known me all of my life and has watched me grow through all of my trials.  I hope that I can be for my kids, what my parents have been for me.  As true has Landay’s quote feels, I think I’ve decided I don’t want to cease being “our parents’ children;” I want to be both!  I suppose it’s a good thing that I believe in eternal families, as it provides me the opportunity to be both the child and the parent without end.

Everything Happens for a Reason

It’s so cliché, “everything happens for a reason,” isn’t it?  But if the saying is a source of comfort and greater understanding, is there such a thing as overuse of the phrase?  As I continue to reflect on Mom Season and other events that have brought our family to this point, I continually take comfort in my belief that, inconsequential things aside, everything happens for a reason.  Of course, at the time, we don’t always recognize or understand the reasoning behind certain events.

Everything Happens for a Reason

This was the case with an event that took place three years ago this month.  It was Memorial Day Weekend and we still lived in Southern California.  My husband had already left for his swing shift at the hospital.  My cousin was having a BBQ and swim party at his home.  I decided to bring the kids to the party on my own.  I let the girls swim with family, while Auggie and I sat poolside.  It was time for us to go home so I went in the bathroom to help my daughter get out of her swimsuit.  I wanted to wash my hands before helping her, so I reached out for the soap and my left arm went limp.  It came down like a ton of bricks and knocked the soap over into the sink.  Before I could even process what had happened, my left leg went limp and I leaned into the sink to hold myself up.  I remember being inside my head saying, “Call for help!  Scream!  Why can’t you talk?!”  No sooner had panic sunk in when all of my strength returned and I was able to talk and move about as if nothing had happened.  Still shaken up from the strange event, I left my daughter in the bathroom to let my aunt know what had happened.  I asked her to check on me if I didn’t come out in a normal amount of time.  I still felt fuzzy headed and disoriented, but I seemed to have all of my facilities about me so I pressed forward.

Not knowing what to do and having no witnesses, except for my unaware daughter, I tried contacting my husband to get his insight.  No answer.  I shared my event with a couple of family members, as I was concerned about driving home.  However, seeing that I was now fine, it was presumed that the heat had gotten to me.  Having lost my strength in my left arm, I had immediately thought that I was either having a heart attack or a stroke.  My heart felt fine, so I crossed that off of my list.  If it was a stroke, it wasn’t what I had understood of them then.  So, I got in my car and drove my three kids home and asked my eldest, who was only 6 at the time, to help keep an eye on me.  What she could have done to save us while driving on the freeway should another episode occur, I knew not, but somehow I needed her eyes on me as back-up.

As soon as we were home, I did the bedtime routine and sat on the couch and did what any sane person would do – hit the Internet.  I went down the Wikipedia rabbit hole in relation to TIA‘s (mini-strokes) that night.  I also happened to remember about how my physician had told me that I should take a baby aspirin due to a blood disease I was born with called Spherocytosis.  The blood disease is noted by the red blood cells being in a spherical shape versus a disc shaped, thus increasing the chance for stroke due to clotting (though Wikipedia is not stating this, multiple physicians have discussed this connection with me).  Somewhere in the middle of the rabbit hole, my husband finally had a chance to call me back.  His first response was, “It sounds like a TIA.”  He then asked some of the Emergency Department (ED) Physicians their thoughts and they all said the same.  I then  realized two things: I should have gone to the ED immediately and I should have been taking that baby aspirin for years.

A round-about diagnosis isn’t iron clad, so I thought I would head to a specialist.  I’ll skip through this part a bit faster, as I don’t mean to draw this story out.  An MRI  was ordered.  It came back clear.  An Ultrasound was ordered for my heart.  It also came back clear.  One final test, per the Neurologist’s orders – an EEG.  As soon as the electrodes were taken off my head and the tester let me walk out the door, I assumed I was fine or else she wouldn’t have allowed me to drive myself home.  A few days later I got the call straight from the physician.  We all know that when the call comes from the physician it is not good news.  So, as I sat poolside again, plugging one ear with my finger and trying to hear the physician through the phone in my other, all I heard was “non-epileptic seizure.”  What the freak was that supposed to mean?!

Oh heavens, I’ve gone and done it again.  Too many details.  Let’s just get to the part that pisses me off, whaddya say?  Based on this lame-I-don’t-even-know-what-that-means diagnosis, my driver’s license got revoked.  That’s right, folks!  Because the physician deemed it seizure related, he notified the DMV that I should have my driver’s license taken away from me.  It still enrages me.  So, I got a second opinion, obviously.  The new physician calls BS on the first diagnosis and signs off on the paperwork for me to get my license back.  The second opinion was that I had a stress-induced episode or severe migraine that resulted in weaknesses.  Also, a pretty lame diagnosis, but it got me my license back.  Plus, by that time, there was no way to prove I had experienced a TIA, though all signs seemed to point in that direction.

The description of this event took me five lengthy paragraphs to convey, but I feel that it accurately captures how the episode disrupted my life for several months.  It was a scary and frustrating process to work through.  But, everything happens for a reason, right?

That same Memorial Day Weekend, my Dad and Step Mom were up visiting Central Oregon to scout it out and see if it was where they wanted to retire.  My husband and I had toyed around with the idea of leaving Southern California, but it never seemed to feel right.  I specifically remember, while driving home from my cousin’s house, thinking, “I can’t do this anymore.”  Whether it was heat stroke, a TIA, a seizure, or whatever, it felt scarier dealing with it alongside the stress I was already feeling in my daily life with the pressures of living in Southern California.  I desperately wanted Central Oregon to be the answer for my parents, so it could also be the answer for our nuclear family.  It turns out that it was.  That episode, whatever it was, was one more confirmation for me that it was time for us to leave Southern California.  As much as I miss my family, friends, Disneyland, the beach, and sporting events down in Southern California, our move to Central Oregon was one of the best decisions my husband and I have ever made.

So, that puts a little purpose behind the actual episode itself, but what about the misdiagnosis? Why call the episode a seizure when the symptoms were the opposite from the way a seizure behaves?  It’s safe to say, based on my very real Stroke of Luck, that the episode three years ago was in fact a TIA.  Had I been taking my baby aspirin, perhaps it would not have happened.  The full stroke that I had recently was believed to be postpartum related, which I have learned is quite common.  The baby aspirin can only take on so much.  Due to my stroke, my current Neurologist has now diagnosed that first episode as a TIA. per the knowledge we now have with more EEGs, MRIs, and CT Scans having been performed.

With the proper diagnosis of my 2012 episode in mind, I recently sat on the couch befuddled about why we had to go through that whole drawn out process.  I told my husband how annoyed I was with that first doctor, his misdiagnosis and the actions he took to revoke my driver’s license.  He simply responded, “He was a blessing to us.”  I sat there trying to come up with any possible reason as to how this physician, who was generally annoying to begin with, could have been a blessing to us.  My husband, obviously seeing my confusion, added, “If he had diagnosed you with a TIA, we would have never had Hans.  We would have known the risk of a postpartum stroke and stopped having kids.”  His words hit me so hard that I immediately thanked my Heavenly Father for His tender mercies in our lives and took comfort in knowing that everything happens for a reason.

Hans

We don’t always see it at the time, but there is a bigger picture with greater purpose in our lives.  I cannot imagine our family without Hans in it.  He completed us.  Yes, the period of postpartum after Hans did result in a stroke, but even that happened for a reason.  That stroke happened for reasons already known and reasons yet understood.  I am truly humbled by my husband’s insight and how it has strengthened my faith.  And this is just one experience of many.  I look back at events that seemed to have no greater meaning than heartbreak and pain, but that is not the case.  I have a testimony that everything happens for a reason.  That reason is that we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows each of us, knows our needs, and knows our potential.  These things happen for a reason, because He wants to give us every opportunity to succeed.  He wants this for everyone, believers and non-believers alike.  I know that if we are pure in heart, He will provide a way for us to return to Him and everything leading up to that moment will have happened for a reason.

Mom Season

There are holiday seasons and seasons of the year, but starting April 20 of each year a different sort of “season” begins for me.  I have yet to give it an official name.  It lasts roughly three weeks.  This “season” was not even in existence prior to 2008.  The catalyst for this “season,” let’s call it Mom Season for lack of a better name, was April 20, 2008 – the day my mom passed away.

Now, why would Mom Season begin as soon as my mom passed?  Well, for one reason, I had to carry on as a mom without a mom.  Two days after my mom’s passing, I still had to put on a smiling face to celebrate my eldest daughter’s second birthday even though my heart had broken in ways I could never have understood previously.  Three days after my daughter’s birthday, I attended my mother’s funeral where I lead the procession of men carrying my mom’s casket and gave a talk about my mom.  Two weeks and a day after the funeral, I went to the hospital for preterm labor for the fifth time during that pregnancy.  This fifth time left me stuck in the hospital for 4 days on bed rest.  In that four days time, when I wasn’t completely doped up on magnesium, I spent several hours lying their alone aching over the loss of my mom.  Then two weeks and three days after the passing of my mom, our second daughter was born 6 weeks early and taken off to the NICU before I even had a chance to hold her.  I remember sitting there alone after delivering her, my husband and daughter off in the NICU, and wanting so badly to call my mom and tell her the news of her granddaughter’s arrival.  Of course, my mom knew the news already.  Two days after her birth, I had to be discharged from the hospital leaving my daughter in the NICU.  This day also happened to be, what should have been, my mom’s 56th birthday.  Two days following my discharge from the hospital was Mother’s Day.  It was my very first Mother’s Day without my mom and I spent it with my time split between holding our premature daughter in the NICU and snuggling with my two-year-old daughter at home.  Mother’s Day marks the end of Mom Season for me.

I thought it would just be that year where the whole three week period would be an emotional roller coaster.  I didn’t expect to feel such contrasting emotions around the first year anniversary nor every other anniversary since.  It wasn’t that I didn’t expect to remember each of these significant dates, I guess I just thought I would be better at separating them.  It’s just tough.  It’s this period of time where I get to focus on the blessing of two beautiful daughters being born into our family, but I also can’t ignore the emptiness I still feel over the loss of my mom.  Why her death date, her birth date, and Mother’s Day all have to fall so close, I’m not sure I understand.  A part of me has felt that maybe it was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father to have such tough times juxtaposed next to two joyous occasions.  A tangible reminder of the circle of life?  A purpose for moving forward when my life, as I knew it at the time, seemed so bleak?  I try to look at it that way, but it’s hard not to feel like the wounds have been reopened when I face these dates at the same time commercials and e-mails advertise how I should “Get Mom Something Special This Year.”

This post has no real message, it is more a cathartic exercise to help me sort out the difficult feelings I face each year during Mom Season.  Today, being April 21, I sit between mourning my mom’s loss all over again and celebrating the beautiful daughter that I, with my husband, have the privilege of raising.  When it comes to the loss of my mom, I rarely spend too much time thinking about the “could have been” moments in life, as those thoughts tend to beget more sorrow in me.  Rather, I think of the “one day” moments.  One day, I will be back with my mom.  One day, I will feel her embrace again.  One day, she and I will replay the countless inside jokes we had together.  One day, I will dance with her again.  One day, I will watch her interact with her grandchildren and watch her face fill up with joy as she revels at how incredibly beautiful and funny they are to be around.  One day, I will hear her laughter again and I will laugh too, because that’s the affect that her laughter had on all those who knew her  One day, I will talk with her about all the things I’ve learned as a mom that I never understood as a child.  One day, Mom Season will not be something I have to process.  One day, it will just be an eternal life where I can live with my mom and as a mom simultaneously.

One day…

Mom Season

First You Must Begin Updates

Whew!  I’m making it in under the wire to keep with my one post a week goal.  There was only one week that I missed since I set this goal for myself and it was the week that I had the Stroke of Luck.  I think that’s a fair enough reason to go dark for a week, don’t you?  That being said, this post hardly counts as legit.  I’m merely writing to give you a couple First You Must Begin updates.

First, I have set up an Instagram account specifically for FYMB.  If you are on Instagram, I would love to have you follow me at FIRST_YOU_MUST_BEGIN.

On an entirely different note, I felt this urge to give you all an update on the status of  my post from last week Who Do I Want to Be?.  In that post, I set a total of five goals for myself: eat only one burger a week, stop yelling, read my scriptures daily, say my morning prayers, and cut my restaurant budget by 20% per week.  I’m close to wrapping up week number two and this is my report.  This is me keeping it real!

I have stuck with my one burger a week.  I almost caved today out of convenience on the way home from CostCo.  Costco took longer than expected and I wanted to keep my toddler awake on the way home, so I almost went through Drive-Thru to make life easier.  Nay, nay.  I held strong.

I need to get the swear jar and use pebbles in place of money, as I never have cash on hand.  Each pebble will represent 25 cents.  I’m thinking when the jar gets full, I’ll transfer the pebbles to cash and put it in my kids savings.  Since I have yet to purchase a jar or pebbles, I really don’t know how I did.  I do know though that I had to catch myself at least five times in the past 10 days.

Scripture study was hit or miss.  Honestly, it was probably worse these past couple weeks than it has been in the past.  Usually, I can at least count on family scripture study with my kids before school, and even that we were pretty lazy about these past few days.  My eldest began taking uni-cycling classes before school twice a week and it’s messed with our morning routine a bit.  I need to come up with a new plan, and I fear it involves me waking up earlier.

As for kneeling down for my morning prayers – WOW.  Thursday of last week I was an absolute wreck.  It’s worth noting that this day did not start with prayer.  I can’t count how many times I screamed inwardly at every little thing in my life that did not flow smoothly.  Those five times of yelling, that I mentioned above, may have very well all happened in that same Thursday.  I was just a mess.  The following morning on Friday, I rolled straight out of bed and onto my knees for my prayers.  We spent that day traveling to Portland and we had a few hiccups in the day.  Had it been the previous Thursday, I would have flipped my lid.  However, on this Friday that began with prayer, I felt oddly at peace.  I kept watching myself handle things calmly and thinking it was such a contrast from the day before.  It wasn’t until the end of the day that it hit me.  The biggest difference between the two days was how I started it.  Starting my day off with humble prayer made such a difference for the better!  Each day that I remembered to start with prayer had a similar outcome.  I really felt more at peace on those days than I could have anticipated.

As for the restaurant budget, well, let’s see…um…well…yeah, I got nothing.  BIG FAT FAIL.  Last weekend we were in Portland so we ate every single meal out.  This week was a touch better, but since I have yet to actually figure out what 20% less equates to, I can’t provide an honest answer on my success.  Oops.

A couple reasons I wanted to offer an update is because I really was impressed by how much of an impact doing my morning prayers had on my daily life AND I wanted everyone to know that I am just trying the best I can.  I am not a woman of answers.  I am just a woman trying to find the best way that I can to live a positively purposeful life.  Anything I suggest on this site is as much of a suggestion for myself as it is for anyone that stops by to read a bit.  Usually the things that I set out to accomplish on this site prove fruitful.  I hope the same proves right for you.

What it comes down in regards to these First You Must Begin updates is that I am doing what is stated in Ephesians 6:18 – “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication….”  I’m trying to make a difference in the world around me through this blog and by the actions I make in my daily life.  I stumble.  I fall.  I pray.  I persevere.

Prayer and Perseverance