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Monday, July 30, 2012

Write Home to Mom

We got lucky today because the missionaries came over to share a message with our family. We have an elder from Finland who's been out 9 months and an elder from Utah who's been out 4 months. They are awesome, and they brought the Spirit with them into our home.

Guess what is a great way to support missionaries who are not your own? Write home to their parents and let them know what a great job their child is doing.

Wouldn't you love to get a letter like that in the mail if it was your son or daughter?

Umm, okay, I admit the missionaries thought it was a little weird when I asked for their home addresses. I hope they don't think I'm weird stalker lady.

I'm just kidding, I didn't know if it was allowed to ask for addresses or not, so I think I'll just give them the letters in a sealed, stamped envelope and have them address it. How much postage does it take to get a letter to Finland?!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Little Grin

I have a tender heart tonight because of a little guy I'll call Jacob. Something new our family has been doing this summer is respite foster care, which means that when a regular foster family goes on vacation or just needs a break, we take their foster child into our home for a few days.

Thursday night we got Jacob. He is 7, and he's been such a joy to have around. He has this sweet little grin, and nothing makes him happier than getting a big hug. He tells me he's won 100 trophies for sports, "all the sports" ;) 

My 15-year-old, Trevin, who's about 6'4" and 200 lbs, was sitting by Jacob at dinner the first night he was here. Trevin had just gotten a haircut the day before, and Jacob looked up at him and asked, "Why is your hair so small when you're so big?"


He's leaving on Monday, being reunited with his birth family. He has more scars on his little body than anyone I've ever seen, but I don't ask why. I hope he'll be okay.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How Pleasing

You should know that I was born with PPD - People Pleasing Disorder. For those of you who aren't familiar with PPD, it is a very serious disorder characterized by excessively pretending to like things you don't really like and the strict avoidance of any and all strong opinions, except those that others will most likely agree with.

Case in point: my high school journal, and I quote:
"I went to prom with J. It was so fun! He really likes to fast dance, which is so cool, because I totally love to fast dance but none of my other dates ever want to."

"I played sand volleyball last night with J. It is like the funnest sport ever! I can't wait to do it again."

Let me be perfectly clear here - both of those statements are boldfaced lies. In addition to PPD, I was also born with a high-level lack of coordination, making fast dancing and sand volleyball two things I should never do. And that's not just me saying that, I've heard it from several other people as well.

My ever supportive sister says that we're all delusional when we're in love. Well, then, I must be in love with her, because I hide my O Magazine every time she comes over, since I know she hates Oprah (I never watched the show, I just like all the book reviews in the magazine).

Please note how I felt compelled to defend myself at the end of that last paragraph. If that is not an indication of the advanced state of my disease, I don't know what is.

I have also pretended for years that yellow is my favorite color, when I actually enjoy orange, blue and green equally as much. I just made up yellow because people expect you to have a favorite color.  It pleases them.

Anyway, since I rarely have the courage to say my real opinions in public (the few that I've formed, anyway), I thought I'd write up a short list that you can print and keep in your wallet for handy reference:

* I like homemade pie. A lot.

Pretty controversial, I know.

Aw, don't worry, fellow PPD sufferers. People pleasing is fairly harmless as long as you don't compromise your core values. So, if someone wants you to rob a store with them, you simply must put your foot down and say, "No, I don't do that." They may not be too pleased with you, but if they start to get angry you can quickly calm them down by telling them what your favorite color is. That pleases almost everyone ;)

And yes, if you used to read Currant Pie, you've seen a version of this post before. I thought it would be fun to move a few of my most popular posts over here. And I was right, that was so fun!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Don't Just Pray It, Say It

What do you say when you pray your "thank you-s"? Are you thankful for your kids, for the scriptures or the prophet, for your extended family, or maybe for the 3 little tomatoes that actually grew in your garden this year? (hey, desert gardening is tricky!)

When you come across those studies that say we might hear 5 negative things for every positive, remember what a big impact you can have on others by making effort to share your gratitude out loud, and not just in prayer.

It especially impacts children when you verbally express joy in parenting. Simple phrases can become a part of your everyday speech, and they will soon be woven beautifully into the hearts of your children:

"You are so fun to be with."
"I just love being a mom."
"The scriptures really help me."
"I like having time to pray."

Don't worry if it feels a little forced or repetitive at first, it will soon become a natural part of your day, and the smiles it will put on the faces of your children will be just one more thing to be grateful for.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dressing Up

Suiting (or "dress"ing) up your missionary can be expensive. Those of you sending out a sister missionary might want to check out Sorella Bella, a website with, if not cheap, at least decently priced sister missionary skirts, all mission-appropriate in length.

They carry dresses, blouses, and accessories too :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Can I Help: Chronic Pain

Alright, so if you know me, you know that my husband Jay suffers from chronic pain (migraines, back pain, nerve pain), so it won't be any surprise where I got my information for this post!

Jay has lived with chronic migraines and other pain since about a month before our oldest son's birth. That son is about to turn 18 this summer, so that's a long, long hallway of pain he's been walking.

First, a couple of things that don't help:

Telling him that his pain is all in his head - not true, and not very compassionate either.

Responding to anything he says about pain with, "Oh, I have that exact thing", and then spending the next hour telling him about your suffering.

Trying to sell him your multi-level marketing vitamin powders. Trust me, we can't afford it!

That being said, Jay has received a lot of service over the years from kind and compassionate people  who have made a tremendous difference in his life. Here are our top five tips for serving someone who is living with chronic pain:

1. Treat them like a normal person, talk about normal things. I have a wonderful sister who is very good at pretending she doesn't notice when Jay is on the down side when she's at our house. She just assumes he's having a bad "pain" day and she doesn't take it personally. It's allowed her to maintain a friendship with Jay, and that's been important to both of us. Jay hates the question, "How are you feeling?" He doesn't usually have a positive response to that, and so it doesn't make for very interesting coversation. He'd rather skip the whole topic.

2. If you have a background that might be helpful in resolving medical issues, speak up. Jay is very  reluctant to ask doctors, chiropractors or other professionals that he knows socially for advice outside of their office, but he's so grateful when they offer it on their own. 

3. Be forgiving when plans change abruptly. We often make plans to attend a social function, but when the time comes, Jay is just too sick to go. We both feel bad when we have to cancel, especially if it's at the last minute, and we're so grateful when friends are gracious about it.

4. Pitch in where you can. A ward member became a close friend when, at a time when she hardly knew us, she began picking up our 2-year-old daughter for a playdate every week for months, giving Jay a break from childcare while I was at work. This is a service she thought of on her own, nobody asked her to do it, and it stunned and humbled us.

5. Brainstorm ways to help them be productive. Jay doesn't like to lie in bed and think about his pain all the time, but it can also be difficult for him to get up early and make it to a full-time job every day. If you have work that can be done from home or on a flexible basis (where they can come in on their good days), please think of your pain-ridden friend. A good bishop once asked his ward council if anyone had work Jay could do from home. A member of the ward council owned several fast-food franchises, and he made some adjustments so that Jay could do his payroll from home. Jay has had that part-time work for close to ten years now, and it has been a significant blessing to our family, not only financially, but also in allowing Jay to feel productive and worthwhile.

How Can I Help? offers just a few suggestions for serving others who are going through a particular trial. These suggestions may not be right for everyone. As always, the best way to serve is to let the Spirit guide you. Pray over your friends and family members who are struggling so that your mind can be enlightened. Have other suggestions? Leave them for us in the comments!

Gonna Need Grace

Monday, July 16, 2012

Remembered No More

A few weeks ago I had to have a suspicious mole removed, and I had never been to the dermatologist before, so I didn't know who to see.

My good friend from high school lives in my neighborhood, and her husband is a dermatologist. I would trust him, and it seems like that would be the logical choice. BUT - my sister had warned me that with our family history of skin cancer, the doc would want to do a full body check on me, and so naturally I could NEVER go see someone I actually know! Only a complete stranger can do a full body check!

I've been studying forgiveness for a lesson I'm teaching in Relief Society this week, and this experience made me think of how reluctant most people are to go confess their sins to their bishop. If we could go to someone else's bishop, someone who isn't our neighbor and we haven't known for ten years, maybe then it would be a little easier...baring our whole soul, you know?

I work with a guy who's the bishop in his ward. Once I asked him if it was a great burden for him to know all the bad choices everyone in his ward had made. He surprised me by saying he doesn't remember most of them. He described it as a gift, part of the mantel of bishop, but when people are done meeting with him as part of the repentance process, he sees them at church, and he might remember that they were in his office, but he can't remember what for - like a cloud in his mind.

That is a gift of grace that everyone should know about - it removes the burden from both parties of remembering what was confessed, and all that is left is a clean, whole, vibrant soul that can move on free of the chains of sin and shame.

P.S. The mole turned out to be harmless :)