Monday, March 31, 2008
President Eyring recalled coming home one night to find his father-in-law working hard on a project to improve the Eyrings' home. As President Eyring reflected on this act of service, the Lord told him, "I'm not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down."
That very night he began keeping a journal of the ways God blessed him or his family every day. Each night as he considered what the Lord had done for them, he began recognizing blessings that otherwise would have been forgotten or overlooked in the hubbub of the day. The habit strengthened his gratitude and faith, and that of his family as he shared the journal with them.
This talk inspired me to start a blessing journal of my own. I keep it short--usually just a paragraph or two, composed in ten minutes at the end of the day. If I have enough time I add more mundane events and the latest Joy news in my regular journal (my "large plates," so to speak), but sometimes I just copy and paste the blessing entry into my regular journal and leave it at that.
I've been doing this for two weeks now, and I've already noticed two significant results. First, the practice has transformed how I see my days in retrospect. In the past, when I sat down to just write in my regular journal, the first things that usually came to mind were the challenges and weariness of life. Now that I start out looking specifically for the Lord's hand in my day, I find that my regular journal entries are much more positive. Either I forget about the negative things, or they just don't seem as significant as the positive ones.
Second, and more importantly, as I look for the Lord's hand in my life I consistently find it. Not a day has gone by when I haven't found something to be deeply grateful for. Often I sit down to write at the end of a dull or hectic day thinking not a single spiritual thing has happened, then as I put my mind to it the Lord clears off the debris of the day to reveal an event I had completely forgotten. Truly, if you seek the Lord you will find Him, and if you invite Him into your life he will gladly come.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." --Aristotle
I am instinctively wary of anyone--conservative or liberal, zealots or atheists, and every stripe in between--who insists they have all the answers, and shows open scorn for the ideas of anyone who disagrees with them.
I heard such a person on the radio this morning. The Iraq War began fives years ago today, and NPR was interviewing a government official and a scholar on how things currently stand in Iraq and where to go from here. The scholar correctly noted that America's leaders started an ill-advised war because they reached a certain conclusion about Iraq and then stubbornly ignored any contradictory evidence or counsel. Ironically, he then demonstrated the same blind attitude himself.
He said the government is still doing everything wrong and the Iraqi people all want us to leave, but whenever the official presented statistics that contradicted his ideas the scholar ignored them or changed the subject. Finally the official gave up trying to reason with him because he obviously had no interest in anything that contradicted his theories (many of which seem based on his personal opinion rather than any evidence or research). The exchange was frustrating to listen to, and frankly it destroyed the scholar's credibility.
I think it is important to think things through and reach your own conclusions about them, but once we've done so it's important to remember that we can still learn a lot more, even from those we disagree with on some points. None of us would claim to know everything but we certainly act that way sometimes, and I think it's a tragic waste of opportunity when we assume that just because we disagree with someone about one important thing, they must be wrong about everything else, too.
A Year Ago . . . I Wanna Be A Redhead
Friday, March 7, 2008
I kept thinking about my "juggling act" memoir last night, and I reached two unpleasant conclusions: 1) It's an accurate description of my current outlook, and 2) I don't like it. It seems so bleak and repetitive, as if I’m a hamster on a wheel that keeps rotating faster and faster. I want my mortal experience to be full of love and inspiration, not just harried productivity.
Having determined that, I started thinking about what kind of memoir I would prefer to have. It didn’t take me long to come up with six words that describe what I want my life to be: “Joyful home; on to glory together.”
I want my family (myself included) to have a deep love for the Lord, for each other, and for life in general. If we can cultivate that, I think most other things will either fall into place or fade into the background. Even if they don’t, we’ll have mastered the things that are most important in this life, and the only things that really impact the next one.
That brings me to the obvious question: How do I get from the “juggling act” mentality to the “joyful home” mentality? I’m still puzzling over that.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
On the local public radio station, they're discussing a book called Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs written by people from all walks of life (you can read the whole collection or submit your own here). Examples are "Well, I thought it was funny," "I still make coffee for two," "Not a good christian, but trying," "Wasn't born a redhead; fixed that," and "Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends" (that one was from a nine-year-old girl).
It made me wonder how I would capture my life story in a mere six words. I'm still thinking, but the first thing that came to mind is: "Juggling act - more pins each year." Fitting, but if that's the most that can be said of my life I need to make some changes, either in action or perception.
How would you write your (short) story?
One Year Ago . . . Baby Starts "Talking"
Saturday, March 1, 2008
And yet, if I didn't have that element of chaos, if I wasn't a mom or if someone else tended my baby while I worked most of the week, I would miss so much. Productivity is a poor substitute for baby giggles and watching Joy proudly grin as she demonstrates for the umpteenth time that she has learned to clap. I don't think a cleaner house or a bigger lead in the rat race could be more satisfying than sitting at the park watching my daughter pass fistfuls of sand in and out of a bucket as if it were the most fascinating activity on Earth. To a toddler, it probably is. And for a few golden minutes, it's captivating to a mom, too.
What's more, at the end of this life and beyond, I won't care whether I dusted the shelves or ever got around to reading all the books on them, but I'll care enormously about my family and what kind of relationship I've formed with them. Frankly, life and eternity would seem sterile and empty without them.
I hope some day I will finally get it through my head that the busy things that tend to clutter my days are not the most important things in life and eternity.
One year ago . . . A Little-Known Benefit of Exercise