Sunday, November 8, 2015

I'm Here Because I Asked

There is so much going on in the world today that hurts my head and my heart.  So much hatred coming from so many different places.  Those far away, those near and dear to my heart.  So much misunderstanding and so many conclusions jumped to.  Love and kindness, or hatred and meanness?  Real? Perceived? Misguided?  Uninformed?  I don't know.

The LDS church of which I am a member, has recently made a change in the handbook concerning the ordinances of Blessing (giving a name and a blessing of an infant to be known on the records of the church) and Baptism of children being raised in a same-sex marriage household.  There are many different opinions going around as to the right and wrong of this decision.  My purpose in writing today is not to judge either way.  I am not interested in debating the rights and wrongs, perceived or real, in this change.  I don't have all the information.  I don't know all that went into this decision.  But I do know that it has made facebook explode with conversations about it.

So what is my place?  That is the question that I continually ask myself.  Where do I fit in this mess of religion, politics, and social media?

I first asked myself this question when the whole "pants to church" episode exploded people's minds.  I didn't know all that much about the movement at the time, but I was absolutely appalled at the hatred that showed up.  Women condemning other women for wearing pants to church and vice versa.  It hurt my head and my heart deeply.  The hatred.  And I found myself questioning my faith.  Questioning my belief.  Did I want to be a part of this?  

I sat in church one Sunday pondering these questions.  Pondering whether this church was the place for me.  Women whom I knew and loved were so full of anger on this topic, readily condemning those who were a part of this movement as faithless.  I did not feel the same way.  So where did I fit?  Where did I belong?  What was I to do?

I was in sacrament meeting, sitting on the front row, heart hurting, when I decided to ask.  Not my bishop.  Not my husband.  Not my parents.  Not my friends.  I asked God.  My Heavenly Father.  I said a prayer in my heart and asked Him where he wanted me to be?  I really wanted to know.  Where would He have me be, what would He have me do?  And guess what folks... I got an answer.  Peace descended on my heart and words came to my mind telling me that He would have me here.  In church, partaking of the sacrament and renewing my covenant to always remember Him, to follow Him, to keep His commandments.  I felt very strongly that I was right where the Lord wanted me to be, doing what He wanted me to do.  Which is strive to be like him. To learn his ways and practice loving like he does.

Practice. Loving.

Keep trying.  Keep learning.  Keep loving.  Keep going.

I do not have all the answers.  I don't think I'm ready for all the answers.  Living the gospel is given to us line upon line, precept upon precept.  Milk before meat. (Isaiah 28:9-10)  The lesser law (the law of Moses) was given before the higher law when the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ fulfilled the law of Moses.    Men were then commanded to sacrifice their will to God.  A broken heart and a contrite spirit.  A heart willing to follow God.  Something that was much more difficult to sacrifice than a lamb on the altar.

So I will stay here.  In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because I asked God if it was still the place for me and he answered. I do not understand everything.  But I do know that God, my Heavenly Father, wants what is best for me, always.  And best does not always mean easy.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Just Enough...

This is what my life has been looking like lately.

Notice the things that are shoved to the side?

Making just enough room to get by.  Just enough room to set the table for breakfast.  Just enough room to open the door, get up the stairs, type on the computer.

It's just a sampling of the house.  Sadly every room is in that state.  Things are shoved aside in the bathroom giving just enough room to take care of personal hygiene.  

I try, I really do.  The pictures you see are the ones taken after I at least picked up the toys, because no matter how you paint it, if there's very little room to move around, cars/animals on the floor just aren't going to work for personal safety.  They get stepped on... and then cursed at under my breath. But that's beside the point.

The point.  My point that I'm trying to get at, is that's it's okay.  It's okay to have times where you do just enough.  It's not a sign of laziness, apathy, or bad housekeeping.  It does not mean you are a bad person.  It does not mean anything negative at all.  It means that there are some things that are just more important.  It may mean that you have so many irons in the fire that a nice clean organized house is just not in the cards for awhile.  And that's okay.

I saw something on facebook a few nights ago that said "You didn't let your three year old drive the car today right?  Then you're a good mom!"

Take that to heart my friends.  Are your children still alive at the end of the day?  Did they get fed?  Success! 

On a side note, this happened:

He turned three months old last Saturday.  Three whole months!! He's filled out, he's babbling all the time, he's smiling and happy and such a blessing in my life.  And usually he gets more of my time than just enough.  Just as it should be. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thoughts on the Present

My word of the year is "Present".

Initially I had in mind what that meant.  To be present was to be here.  To enjoy the good things around me, the growing up, the changing and learning.   I was to live intentionally in the present of what was happening around me.  My life.  My family.  It was to be enjoyed.

I still believe that, but with more depth.  That depth coming in the form of the not so good times.  The times when you wish you could skip ahead, or bury your head in the sand (or back in the covers) and wait out the storm of learning and growing and changing because it is just so dang hard.  The times when things aren't so good and you're not so sure you want to do this, whatever this is, anymore.

In general I try to be a positive person.  It used to come naturally to me.  The older I have gotten and the more I have learned it has become increasingly easy to be cynical.  To dive deep into the social media fodder of the wronged and think we're all going to "hell in a hand basket".  To dive deep into my own parenting and think "my kids are going to hell in a hand basket and it's all my fault!"  To forget that I have knowledge and experience and a close up look at my world and what it entails and own it.

I am the one standing in my own shoes.  No one else.

I am the one that chooses to be happy or sad.  To tackle things head on.  To send others to the side lines.  I am the one that decides what is important in my life, what my priorities are, and what will help me feel satisfied with my life at the end of the day. No one else regardless of family, friend, or other connection can do that for me.  They can help me make my decisions, but I have the last say.

Life is hard. And that's okay.  It's how it's supposed to be.  It's how we learn, and grow, and change.  But that doesn't mean we have to be miserable through it.  And it doesn't mean that everything is awful.  Because it's not.

I was listening to the radio this morning and there was commentary about a report that concluded that having children is the worst thing that could happen to a person and their happiness level.  I wondered how that could be? Was the test group really that cynical?  Where were they in their lives?  How could those results be valid?  That certainly wasn't true for me.  Children made me so very happy... and then.

And then the sleepless night caught up with me.  I was quickly overwhelmed by everything that needed to be done and I wanted to run from my house screaming at the top of my lungs.  I wondered where that put-together, capable, positive can-do-anything person went.  That person that used to be nicknamed "Smiley" because I always had a smile on my face.  Hard to imagine now, I know.

A lot of life is hard.  Day to day chores drive me insane sometimes.  My children give me grey hairs and bring out my inner swear-word-user like never before.  Only rivaled by a brief rebellious period in high school when I was trying to be cool.  Except then I was in control, now it comes with deep feelings of anger and frustration and for the love of all things will you please just go to sleep!!  Swearing, even under my breath at 2am helps me vent some frustration without taking it out on my kid.  Never mind that there's a higher way.... still learning people!

Anyway, back to the report on the radio.  I couldn't help but wonder where these people were in their lives.  And are happiness and honest to goodness satisfaction the same thing?  Which one would I rather have?  Are these people just starting out with their families, right in the middle, or looking back on an empty house?  Because let's be honest, a lot of the day to day with children in the house is not "happy".  It's getting things done.  It's figuring out how to get your children to want to be good, responsible, respectful people.  It's hard, and grueling, and taking all of your energy sometimes.  And you wonder how you are going to manage, and what kind of things your kid will need therapy for in a few years. Or what you'll regret when you get a moment to look back.

The "happy" of these years comes in spurts.  It's the smile of the little one after that d@mn 2 am feeding that keeps you going and softens your heart.  It's when your older child wants nothing more than to give little brother a big squeeze and a kiss and then tells you that he loves you too.  The giggles, the smiles, the energy and life.  They are brief but much more poignant.  They hold you over through the rest.

My oldest is 3 1/2 years old and my trials have just begun. I have school, and tears, and teenage years to look forward to.  Times when we won't like each other at all.  And times when we'll be so glad to be this little family.

I want to be present through it all.  The good and the bad.  The good for obvious reasons, the bad so that I can fully appreciate all that is good.  Because at the end of the day, there is good.  Even if it's simply acknowledging that you are a day closer to the end of your trial.  A day wiser.  A day that is done.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

It's a Miracle! My Child is Still Alive

As Mother's Day approaches rather rapidly, there have been a few thoughts running through my mind that I feel the need to share.  Enough that I am resurrecting this blog in order to get it all out there, available for anyone to see.

First. May all mothers of young children first and foremost congratulate themselves each and every day that their child still lives.  My kid is 3.  THREE.  Let's set aside the fact that time has gone rather quickly and focus on what that actually means and why it is important to celebrate the fact that he still lives.

Three for us means:

1. Ben finding and demanding his independence.

2. An escalation in monumental fits (ya know cause that actually works??)

3.  The introduction of regular chores, which I love, Ben doesn't always think so.

4.  A sense of humor that kills me sometimes.

5.  Negotiation on Ben's part.  "Just one more minute mom, k."

There's more, but these will suffice right now.  Let's talk about chores.  Chores like setting the table and making one's bed.  Chores that are not hard.  Chores that he has done several times by himself already and has proven quite proficient for a 3-year old.  Chores that have made him feel more capable and have actually improved his mood all the way around.  Mostly.

I say mostly because sometimes this little independent 3-year old gets a bee in his bonnet and just won't let it go.  Today it was about making his bed.  I told him he had to make his bed before he could go outside and play, or anything else really, and he was devastated.  Hurt.  Wounded both body and soul.  And he chose to have it manifest in his body, every little part of it.  His fingers hurt, his toes hurt, his head, his eyebrow, forehead, arm, elbow, knee etc.  EVERYTHING.  And everything needed a kiss better, and everything got repeatedly hurt with each little step towards completing his task.

I will not go into all of the sordid details, but suffice it to say that whining was the music of the morning, not every owie got kissed, and my patience wore thin in a hurry.  It's not like I changed the order of things.  It's the same every day. It's routine, it's how it's been for the last several months.  And most of the time he's jumped at the chance to do his part.  And in the effort to keep it real for all you mothers out there, I will have you know I exercised great restraint on my part.  Almost superhuman!  The urge to beat my child into submission was strong.  And if I hadn't learned already, from sad experience that I hope he won't have to have counseling for later on in life, that a spanking doesn't actually work on Ben and only suffices to confuse him and make me feel like a tyrant...well just oy!!

At the end of it all, the bed was made and not by me.  An hour later than usual, but not by me.  Ben's spirit only slightly broken, which is really okay because the stubbornness of the 3-year old is legendary and could use some tempering.  And now we are both happily doing what we would like to be doing on this glorious Thursday morning.

However, the day is still young!

So Mothers.  Mothers of young and old, good and bad and all that's in between.  Don't be too hard on yourselves.

Take the glowing reviews of perfect Mothers that will surely be shared somewhere this Mother's Day with a grain of salt, knowing that they struggled too.

Know that as long as you are trying you are doing great!

Know that you are okay and are the perfect mom for your kids.

He's also learning to dress himself.

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Word of the Year

I know, you've all been on pins and needles waiting to see what my word for this year will be.  Me too my friends.  I have toyed with a few ideas but none felt right.  I almost went into panic mode when the new year started and I still had no idea what I would be focusing on this year.  But then I remember that it was my year, my timeline, and that I could breathe.  The new year could start off just fine without my word.

And then it came to me.  And it was good.

Last year I focused on Hope.  And it was a good word for me at the time.  I spent a lot of time in despair before that.  Not taking the time to realize that there was a lot in my life to hope for.  Hope coupled with Faith brought about a second child for us.  Something that was taken off the table of reality but was still a hope of ours.  That's been the biggest blessing last year.  There were plenty of little things that were made better by hope, my relationship with Ben, my marriage, etc.  I guess those aren't really little things, but they are the day to day and sometimes that seems little.

Moving forward.

The word I chose this year, the word that quiet literally popped into my head in the wee small hours of the morning is:


There.  There it is.  I told this to David and he looked at my funny until I explained.  Present means being here.  Being here for my life and all that is in it.  Stop living in my head, or at least try to, and start living where I actually am.  Take time to look around at the here and now and actually be present for the wonder that is happening around me.

I can't tell you how many fun, cute, precious moments in time have happened with Ben that I have been too caught up in the rush of things to sit down and record.  Either by photo or written word.  All because what I was doing seemed to be more important, more urgent.  What could be more important or urgent that childhood?  I will always have projects that I want to do, and some that really do need to be done, but I want to take the time to be present for those precious and scarce moments that bring true joy to this little life of mine.

I want to live here and now.  Present does not mean I do not look toward the future or that I stop reflecting on the past, but I do not need to live in either one.

During this pregnancy I have spent a lot of time trying to realize that it is not the same one that I had with Ben.  I didn't write much during my first pregnancy because I was sicker that a dog, quite literally, and depressed out of my mind.  It was an absolute miserable time that I never wanted to repeat. Ever.  Ever.  Yet here I am pregnant again.  Rather than really enjoying the good news and the very real prospect of another child being brought into our family I spent a good portion of time waiting for the horror that was my first pregnancy to hit.  I went so far as to try to get all the good cuddling and loving time in with Ben while we were doing IVF because I just knew that once I got pregnant and the sick hit that would be the end of it.  I would spent weeks in the fetal position on the couch with a bucket too sick and depressed to move and my child would be left on his own wondering what happened to his mother.  My actions put both of us in a panic and accomplished nothing.  In fact it was the opposite.  It kind of freaked Ben out because he fed off of my apparently not too well hidden panic mode and started acting out.  It was just a mess.

And then the sickness didn't really hit like it had before.  Sure I got sick and there are still some relatively bad days, but NOTHING like before.  Nothing.  There was only one or two whole days spent worshiping the toilet gods on a regular basis as compared to the weeks I did last time.  Weeks that turned into months and a deep abiding hatred of ramen noodles and Banquet chicken pot pies.  I still shudder!

So there I was panicking for nothing.  No good reason.  I kept waiting still for it to hit.  Even now it seems so odd that I have done so well with everything.  Almost like I can't really be pregnant because it was "too easy" this time around.  I have the ultrasound pictures sitting by my desk as a reminder that this is really all happening.

I also don't want to freak out about the future.  I don't want to worry about what might be, or even get caught dreaming of what could be and pinning all of my happiness on plans that may or may not happen.

I want to be here.  Experiencing life as it is happening.  Finding the joy, the hope, things to be thankful for every day.  I really do believe we are surrounded by good things even in bad times.  Sometimes even more so in bad times, we just have to look a little harder to see them.

May your 2015 be spectacular my friends.  May happiness abound and your lives be blessed.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas One and All

As this magical time of year has come upon us in full force, I have felt positively inspired to send out a Christmas letter.  This will be the second letter I have ever sent out in the course of David and I’s 9 years of marriage.  Look for another in about 5 years.

Well, what has this year brought the David and Lora Sullivan family?

For Ben.  It has brought his continued existence which was no easy feat at times.  He turned 2 in February and though I love him dearly, it has brought its own unique set of challenges.  Ben has learned that it is in fact not okay to run around naked even though he is so proud of himself for being able to de-diaper his cute little bum all by himself.  He has learned the meaning of time-out much to his chagrin and momma’s delight.  He has learned to work the television and the dvd player on his own (I’m still not sure if I should be proud of this fact) but thankfully Netflix still remains a mystery of buttons to him else the mind numbing sounds of George’s Halloween Boofest would be haunting me even more than it does already… oh the horror!

All is not discouraging though.  He is talking up a storm and has also learned the sheer delight that it is to sneak up on someone to give them a good fright which makes this momma’s heart melt.  He also has a healthy grasp on the letter “W” and knows that if you turn an “M” upside down it too becomes a “W”!!  Which is why he so often turns the hymnbook upside down during church as well as looks at some signs with his head tilted.

For me this year has been full of changes and I sometimes marvel that we have all survived.  Or rather that everyone has survived me!  I am expecting our second child which we received through the miracle of modern medicine.  Say what you will about it, but IVF has brought both our children into our home and I’m truly grateful for the doctors and nurses who make it all possible as well as the angel that blessed us financially to be able to pursue it once again.  That being said, if any of you have gone through this process… wowza!  One of David’s accomplishments this year really is surviving his hormone hyped up wife and that was all just to get pregnant.  I’m not sure how he handles things now, though he does spend a lot of time in his office.  Hmmm.

So my accomplishments this year include: surviving injections with flying colors, not killing anyone close to me during the process, and making it out of bed every day to at least get my son dressed. Dressing myself seems to be optional these days. I have also mopped my floor at least a dozen times, dusted the entire house all at once, and I even thought really hard about planting a garden. 

Now for David. The saint.  I mentioned his survival of me earlier which earns him a plethora of brownie points in heaven I’m sure.  He still enjoys his job and even got a raise this year, woo-hoo!  It was just enough to cover the upcoming raise in our insurance rates!  He survived his 3-year stint in scouts and is now enjoying his new calling as High Priest Group Secretary and I enjoy having him home more often.  He is still working part time at CAPSA which he also enjoys for more than just the work.  Since his regular job has him working from home his outings to CAPSA give him a chance to get out of the house which is also nice.

That pretty much sums up our lives at this point.  However I would be remiss in not mentioning my love for this time of year and the reason that it is so special.  I know that Christmas has been commercialized to death and that part is not my favorite.  But I do love that it is a chance to show each other that you care.  The chance to find the gift that will delight.  The chance to share with a gift the love that we feel.  I know that it is something we should do all year and some are better at it than others.  But still, even if this is the only time we put someone else above ourselves I am grateful for the one time.  The one time that most people around us are feeling the magic of the season just the same as we are.

May God bless you all this season and this coming year.  May we all do a little better and love each other a little more.

With love,

David, Lora, and Ben

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Logan 12th Ward Super Saturday

The Logan 12th ward Relief Society Activity is coming up!

This Saturday
November 22, 2014
11am - 3 pm
Open House style so you can come and go as you please.

A light lunch and nursery will be provided and if you want to bring some treats to share, please do!

Money for this activity is due by Wednesday the 19th.  You can give it to anyone in the Relief Society Presidency or on the activities committee and they'll get it to the right person.  

And for those who don't know who that is, the RS Presidency is made up of:  Ellen Millburn, Susan Speedy, Lora Sullivan, and Sharla Goring.

The activities committee is: Kathrin Fore, Peggy Ramsten, Felecia Kimber, Jennie Pakalani, and Natalie Montgomery.

If you would like to order any of the items listed below please email or call me (Lora) so I can get it on the list.  
Email:  Call: 435-774-0074  or 
Text 435-760-5639

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why I Did It

I changed my profile picture of Facebook.

It may look like I followed the crowd.

It may look like I'm just trying to do something cool to "fit in" with what could be seen as the "cookie cutter" Mormon crowd.

It may look like I didn't put much thought into it and just decided to change it on a whim.

None of that is true.

For those of you who don't know where it comes from, there was an even created on Facebook called I'm a Mormon profile picture week.  You can find it here.  I was invited through someone and honestly thought at first that it was just one of those silly things that people do for no real reason.  Something to put us all in the same round hole whether you are shaped that way or not.  A giant "Gooooo Team!" right after General Conference. As I read the details though there seemed to be a bit more to it. 

The person who created it stated that "My hope is that you will participate and invite all of your Latter-day Saint Facebook friends to do so as well. Those not of our faith on Facebook may be surprised to discover they know someone who is "Mormon". And I pray that through that simple thing, sincere questions will be asked and gospel related conversations will be had. Together, we can help bring people closer to Jesus Christ and His restored gospel."

I liked the idea.  I liked what it could do.  But I still wasn't sure I would do it.  Not until I heard Elder David A Bednar's talk on Sunday afternoon.  Lest you should think otherwise he did not say to join this movement.  He just said something that pricked my heart.  A few things really.

His talk was about sharing the gospel.  He said in so many words that sharing what has helped us in our lives is not unusual.  We do it all the time in many different ways.  We share pictures of things that make us laugh, stories that bring joy, household products that helps us clean better.  I mean come on people, we live in a world of sharing everything and we have the power to do so at our fingertips.

And yet.

When it comes to sharing the most important things in my life, I hesitate.  Not because I don't think they are worth sharing but because I'm afraid of being mocked, of having my heartfelt words and experiences trampled upon.  I don't actually know anyone who would really do that but the fear is still there.  And that's just silly.  Silly but not.

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I love it.  I love the role that it plays in my life.  I love the simple pure teachings of Jesus.  His love.  His compassion.  His courage.  His example.  I love and am so very grateful for the compassion and mercy that he shows towards me.  The compassion and mercy that I have felt and cannot deny.  

My life has not been easy.  No one's life is really when you get down to it.  We all have trials and times in our lives that make us show our metal.  We all have hard decisions to make, sometimes daily.  We all have experiences that are difficult whether of our making or not.

I used to go through some of these things and shake my fist at the heavens.  Wonder why they were happening to me.  What had I done to deserve these things.

And yet.

The things that have made me shake my fist are some of the very things that have caused me to learn and grow the most.  They have brought me closer to Christ and God.  They have brought me more peace than I thought possible.  While going through the trial it's often difficult to see the whole picture.  Really difficult.  However, as I look back on my life I can't help but see so many tender mercies.  So many things that I thought had gone wrong were really so very right.  I can see God's hand in so many things.  Enough to know that as I walk forward now, not seeing clearly the path before me, I know that I will be alright.  I know that as long as I do my best to follow Christ, to love those around me, to serve, to have compassion, to give the benefit of the doubt, to show mercy... God will take care of me and my family. He will light my path and help me become who he needs me to be.  Who he wants me to be.  

I know there will be more trials, more stretching of my faith and more times that I may be tempted to shake my fist.  But I also know that God is in the heavens and he has not forgotten us.  I know of his love and his intimate interest in my life and desire for my welfare.  And I know that it is not exclusive to me.  He is interested in all of his children, which is all of you.

I am a Mormon.  A Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I love it.  I live it.