Friday, November 21, 2014

Serving in an unexpected way

So lately I've been a bit of a grumpy guss. Life has been throwing me some unexpected curve balls. All these add up to one thing: I am tired and worn out. School just needs to be put in time out for a while. Then, I was reading my scriptures. I don't remember what the verse was about, but I was pondering on service. Mainly, service to my spouse. I'd been feeling lately that my grumpy attitude was not very helpful to our relationship.

I wanted my outward expressions to show my inward gratitude for Stuart. I wanted to serve him. I simply felt like I needed to do more. But what more could be done? I was working, cleaning the apartment, baking cookies. Plus, the feelings of tiredness were overwhelming. How could I focus my efforts on one more thing? 

Then, and this is why I know that my Heavenly Father is aware of our needs, a thought popped into my head. "You just need to be happy. That is the best service you can give to your husband." At first I was a little shocked. But, I was happy! Yes, but was I showing it? 

For some, I understand this service seems daunting, especially when depression is playing a part in the situation. Depression becomes the unexpected scenario that is always present in your daily struggles. But, for those who are simply weighed down by everyday struggle, remember that it is better to look up.

So, I've been trying this experiment for a few days now and it reminds me of the love dare from the movie fireproof. I am simply trying to show my true feelings of happiness to Stuart. Honestly, even if he hasn't noticed, I have. I love him more. I appreciate him more. And I am more able to see the blessings in my life, while still acknowledging the dissonant tones that linger in the back ground.

In music, we need dissonance. It makes the resolution sweet. However, when dissonance drowns out all of the beautiful music, the listener can become anxious and feel unresolved.

I think I will listen more to all the beautiful sounds around me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Marriage as a building block

Today I stood in front of a class of undergraduates and explained the scenario. I am not a parent, and yet I am going to teach you about parenting. As I continued, I knew that all of the research would not help me much when my child was throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of awl-mart, or throwing cheerios on the ground in my kitchen, which would of course be immaculate, right?

However, I did realize one thing. I would have a very loving, very strong, and hardworking man by my side. We don't know what the plans for the future are. We have both learned to stop being quite so stubborn and let God guide us. After all, that is how we ended up in the frozen tundra of Logan, met, and married, all within a year.

Therefore, we haven't made concrete plans for when to have children. But one thing I do know is that not only will I have the support that I need, especially as we communicate more openly with each other, but also we can learn skills that will help us in our parenting.

In 2010, the PEW research center released some alarming statistics. Single mothering was on the rise, and not just because of circumstance. More women are choosing to go it alone, hailing modern technologies that allow them to become mothers with-out being married.

However, marriage does provide a solid foundation, if done properly, for raising children. In the few short months I have been married, I have learned how to communicate more openly about my day. My simple frustrations and joys. I have been more mindful of them. Seeing blessings can definitely help parents when, or maybe a while after, their child has thrown cheerios.

Marriage also gives us a wonderful place to see our imperfections. Why not work some of them out now, and allow Stuart to point them out as we are parenting together? Marriage also allows us to be co-creators with God as we work together to build the type of home we want. Stuart and I really love music. Good wholesome music is a building block of our home, marriage, and further family unit.

So, be proactive about your marriage and it will also help you to be proactive with your children.

Monday, November 17, 2014

He gave me cookies

So in case you didn't know, I love sugar. It falls just shortly behind my family and friends on my list. I think most of my headaches come from a sugar withdrawal. This is probably really true, because I often use sugar as a coping mechanism. I know, it's not healthy, but baking and eating delicious cookies just fills my heart with warmth.

I remember having a conversation with a set of roommates, informing them that baking was a way that I relieved stress. (Probably more as a way of avoiding my necessary tasks as a student). A couple of days later I found myself up to my ears in baked goods. It was finals week.

And then, there is today. After receiving some poor feedback on a paper, feeling as if my thesis is never going to get off the ground, and wondering if I'll ever be able to get a job that doesn't require me to ask, "Would you like fries with that?", I was finished. Walking, home through a field of ice mines, I silently wished that I could go back to Georgia. Taking Stuart with me, of course. I wanted to be done with school responsibilities.

As I walked into the apartment, and took my backpack off, my shoulders still felt heavy. Almost 20 years in some kind of schooling, and I didn't know if I could last another minute. I searched through the cabinet for something to eat. Secretly, I was hoping that the cookie fairy would appear. Gooey, chocolatey. Maybe crackers would do?

Just then, and I literally mean just then, Stuart walked in from his class. In his hands was a foil wrapped plate.

"I ran into a neighbor of ours. Do you know Camille?" I shook my head, "no". She must go to the other LDS ward. "Well, I ran into her in the parking lot. She wanted to give cookies to neighbors."

I ended up crying as I ate those cookies. Heavenly Father gave me cookies. Things will work out.

Even if I don't have cookies, I always have a loving Heavenly Father who is telling others just what I need. I simply pray that I can also be the one He is able to work through.

So, remember to bake a batch of cookies tonight. You never know who might need them.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Love is a gift from God

Writing a thesis, and currently doing another project, about relationship formation, has made me look back at the progression of mine and Stuart's relationship. I just came across an e-mail that I sent to him, just ten days after we were officially dating, not counting Christmas break. In the e-mail I call him my "sweetheart". He has been that to me ever since.

Many people are surprised at how quickly relationships in the Mormon culture can move. Most of the people in my ward dated for anywhere between 1-7 months before they decided to get married. So, why does it go so quickly? Many people outside of our culture, and even within, would argue that it is simply hormones. The Latter-day Saints church holds their members to very high standards of morality, which includes sexual purity before marriage.

However, I believe there is something deeper. Like many other religions, those of the LDS faith believe in deep communion with God. Form that communion we receive revelation from God and also gifts of the spirit. One of those gifts is love. I fell in love quickly with my sweetheart. My siblings and parents also had fairly quick love stories. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who bestows that love upon me, and upon my husband, even on days when I am grumpy. When we connect to God, He connects us, in His way, to others. Forever, and always, and no matter what.