I know this is something EVERYONE probably has already figured out, but I am so excited! I am now typing my blogs in Word, and now it won’t take me a bajillion years to write a blog! No more uploading for hours (our uploading speed is sooooooooooo sloooooow), no more losing posts because the internet goes down, no more daydreams of tossing my computer out the window… and MORE posts about my beautiful children!! I am super jazzed up about family history right now, and the theme of the recent Roots Tech conference in Salt Lake was about family stories. As important as it is to get names and dates down, it is also important to create our stories for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One of the key note speakers posed this question: What would your great-great grandchildren want to know about you? And what would you want to share with them?
I hope my great-great grandchildren know me through my journals, but the easiest way they will know me is through these blogs. And so I have a renewed desire to document our family’s life in this form—especially now that the process is so much less cumbersome. Before I actually get to the fun part of blogging and picture-posting, can I just share some things that have been on my heart lately? I just feel like I have discovered the secret of life, and I want to share it with everyone—especially my great-great grandchildren! Well, these aren’t really secrets—in fact, we’re told about them all the time in church—but sometimes it takes a while for me to hear the message. I was reading my scriptures a while ago and I started pondering Nephi’s process of building a ship to come to the Promised Land. He says that during this process he prayed often and went to the mount often, and therefore the Lord showed him great things. In our church, we understand the “mount” to mean the temple, and I realized I need to go to the temple more often if I want to know great things. For me, “great things” means something really practical: How can I be the best mother possible for my children? This question presses on my mind constantly.
So I decided to commit to going to the temple once a week. There are no words to express what that change in my life has meant for me, other than to say I feel like God has been answering my prayers. This past Friday night when I left the temple, I really felt like I could sing God’s praises forever. Agh! Sorry—this is starting to sound like my journal, which I am sure will intensely bore my poor posterity. Anyway, the FIRST secret of life for me is: Go to the temple regularly. I think of my mother, who was so sleep deprived and working as a lawyer, with a husband who hated the church—and she managed to go to the temple every week. So surely, I, with my supportive husband, and a mother who is thrilled to help me achieve this goal when she can, can do the same!
My second secret of life (which again, is no secret if you actually listen in church—apparently, I struggle to do this…) is: Do family history regularly and with your children. In fact, saturate your family life and culture in family history. So many apostles have been coming out and saying that there is no better way to spiritually fortify our children than teaching them to do family history. I was thinking about my plans to do Suzuki with our children and all of the ways I intend on helping them to achieve academically, and I realized: I have all of these planned, intense programs that I will spend money and energy on, and why don’t I have a similar plan for my children’s spiritual education? What can I do that is planned, rigorous and purposeful to help them grow in their knowledge and love of God and their fellow human beings? I feel like the quest to answer that question will be continual, but I do feel like doing family history on my own AND with my children on a weekly basis is absolutely key. And so we have been doing it, and it’s been wonderful! Pictures to follow later.
The third secret of life for me is: regular scripture study AND scripture journaling. Abe gave me a blessing a while back that told me my family would be blessed in DIRECT PROPORTION to the amount of time and energy I put into studying my scriptures. Let me tell you, I read the ENTIRE standard works one and a half times (i.e., the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) with their accompanying manuals and other commentary in a year. I finished that project about two months after Mary was born. And then…I floundered! I thought I would reread the Bible again, but partway into Genesis I started feeling like I should go a different direction…but how and where? So after prayer and another blessing, I realized I needed to start responding to my study in my journal. And wow, what a difference that has made. Even after that rigorous study, I can truly say there is nothing better than actually writing down my thoughts to what I read. I end up thinking about the scriptures and actually pondering them throughout the day, simply because I have clarified my thinking through a written response. I am still grouchy, impatient, and downright mean much of the time—to my great sorrow and shame!—but at least I have the word of God to pull me back and help me refocus, repent and try to do better. It is a process, and I feel slightly passionate about scripture journaling. I have high hopes that this process will help me become better than I am!
And since I have all of these secrets, the last follow-up to making space in my life for the temple, family history, and scriptures is this: Trust not in my own righteousness, but the righteousness of my Redeemer. When I arrived at the temple this Friday, I was feeling pretty self-satisfied. But then I remembered that although these good works ARE good and helpful in bringing me closer to God, the point is that every good thing comes from Christ, and since he is the source of every good thing in my life, He deserves the praise, the glory and credit for the peace and happiness that I feel. As I left the temple, I was so grateful to worship the one true, living God! What a miraculous blessing—to know He lives, to have access to his word and to believe in things I do not yet know but feel in my heart are true.
Okay, great-great grandchildren? I hope you read this because I want you to be believers too—or at the very least, know that your great-great grandma believed and felt blessed.
End journal entry and start fun blog recap that dates back to CHRISTMAS! I just have to go back that far because this past Christmas was the best one of my life. I wanted to memorialize it just a little bit. Abe and I were up all night putting together Lydia’s play kitchen and then after three hours of sleep I got up again to make cinnamon rolls from scratch and start steeping some apple juice in mulling spices. We had prepared and prepared Lydia for this morning, and we were so excited to see her joy and excitement! Mary enjoyed the day too, and she manifested her enthusiasm by sleeping through the whole affair. After Lydia opened her presents, Abe, Lydia and all of our brothers (plus some of the neighbor boys) built a giant snowman that only melted a couple weeks ago. Crazy! We had multiple get-togethers with different parts of Abe’s family, and we ended it all by having a great dinner with Abe’s mom, stepdad, grandma, grandpa and brothers. And my brother was there to boot! It was truly my idea of a perfect day, even though I was totally exhausted by the end.
Lydia didn’t want to open presents at first, so we sang Christmas carols and read this Norman Rockwell Christmas book until she felt less timid about her presents. (Once she started opening them, though, she didn’t want to stop. She even opened her Grandpa Jay’s Christmas present when we weren’t looking because she just wanted to keep going and going!)
Fast forward to March 8, 2013—Lydia’s second birthday!! We (I) had been planning her birthday for months, and I wanted her to feel special and loved all day long. I thought about throwing her a big party, but Lydia doesn’t really like big play groups because she is shy and ALWAYS the least aggressive child around, which means her toys always get stolen and, since in big groups moms talk to each other instead of monitor their kids, she never gets to play with any of the toys she would like to play with. The result is she usually hangs out by me and then melts down after someone pushes her or steals her toys for the umpteenth time. (Do I sound bitter? I might be a little. I do recognize that my child is not perfect—believe me, if you heard me constantly correcting her you would think I don’t even recognize I HAVE a good kid, but I can count on one hand the number of times I have ever seen her take a toy from another child, and I literally can’t count the number of times the reverse has happened.) SO ANYWAY! We kept her birthday small scale with two kids Lydia loves and two moms I love!
We started off by going to the zoo with Mary, Misty and Sophia—and ABE, who took the morning off. The girls had so much fun looking at all the animals and then ended up riding the carousel. So cute! After the zoo, we had a pizza party with Misty, Sophia, Cole and Candice (Cole was sick and so couldn’t make it to the zoo part). The pizza came from Café Amore, our absolute favorite pizza place in Salt Lake. They had Lydia’s birthday on their café calendar for a week before the event, and the chef there is super nice and talented. After that, Lydia napped and we had an impromptu play date with her friend Espen. Soon after that, we celebrated with a lovely birthday dinner with Abe’s mom and stepdad. Lydia had a wonderful day and still talks about her birthday even now! Here are some pics from that day.
Playing in the log at the zoo!
Having Abe there made it such a special morning.
There’s my happy birthday girl!
Since Lydia’s birthday, the girls and I have gone on some lovely outings. To take advantage of our proximity to Temple Square and to help augment their spiritual education, we have spent quite a bit of time at Temple Square and the Church History Museum. Here are some pics of the girls on a recent outing:
And finally, here is a picture of Mary and Grandma Forsythe on a recent family history outing we did! They are with their great-grandma on Abe’s side. She took Lydia on a wild ride in that wheelchair, and the girls LOVED their visit. We are documenting the life story of this amazing woman. Really, her life story reads like the book Unbroken. We just love her.
Finally, here is a picture of my little love muffin. I could kiss her cheeks all day long…oh wait, I do!