Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dinner Time

You might wonder why I posted this third video if its exactly like the second one, but he's sucking his thumb in this one and, it just makes my Mommy heart melt.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snow Storm

My first thumb-sucker.  You might tell me I'll regret it when he's five...but I love it now.
In the background, the townhouse on the far left is the one that we're hoping to buy. 

Losing God or Gaining Faith?

When Jon and I were last at our therapy session, we started talking about parenting our sweet little girls and how sometimes its hard when they are screaming.  Hard for everyone.  Our therapist told us of a study where they gave groups adrenaline, and based on context clues - the participants either felt excited or anxious.  So physiologically, the participants had the exact same thing happen: adrenaline.  But depending on their context (and I would add interpretation) they felt differently.  So, the implication is that we can have the same thing happen physiologically but feel very different about it.  Exact same thing.  Different feeling.  Hmm.

As I've been thinking about that, I've seen a similar situation in my own life.  I've really been struggling lately.  Part of it is post-partum depression but there has also been a lot of adjusting with David coming and a lot of lies I've believed.  Lies like that the Atonement works for everyone but me - lies like I have to earn love from God.  Lies.  As Jon and I have been working through so many things, I feel my faith has been tested as its never been tested before.  It's been so challenging for me that I started to feel like I was losing my faith - that my once strong tree was losing water and dying (see an analogy about faith being like a tree here.)

Then I realized that maybe I was interpreting my experience the way Satan would want me to, rather then how God would have me see it.  Sure, things were hard, but my faith wasn't being lost - it was being stretched.  I wasn't losing God, I was gaining even greater faith.  I realized that like the adrenaline study, how I interpret something has a huge impact on how I feel about it.  So all my questions aren't answered, but I have faith that they will be.  And why shouldn't I?  Hasn't God gone through this cycle with me again and again?  When I was young (which means...10 years ago), I remember studying the Book of Mormon for the first time.  I was in 9th grade and I made a goal to read it for a certain amount of time each day before I did my homework.  That year, my faith was nourished and my roots grew deep.  It didn't happen all at once, but by the end of that year, I knew things I hadn't known at the beginning.  A tree loses its leaves in the fall, but it hasn't died.  It is growing and saving up energy for the Spring.  Its blossoms will be even more full.  Its leaves will be thicker and more dense.  That tree might be tempted to feel like winter is a betrayal and its been abandoned, but it hasn't.  This is how the cycle works.  And stretching might feel like losing at times, but that is the very definition of faith.

Ether 12:6 ..."Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

Saying it in these words helps me see one of the lessons from that scripture...imagine Heavenly Father speaking: "Lauren, my sweet little girl...if I showed you everything right now, I'd be denying you the very opportunity for faith.  The very definition of faith is to believe in something you can't see.  So the witness, or seeing, has to come after you've had a chance to not see."  Does that make sense?  Maybe I'm mincing words, but this has felt powerful to me.  Many of you were impacted by Elder Hollands talk: Lord, I believe.  This phrase from his talk has really spoken to me, and I didn't notice it at first:

The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue - it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know.

So I want to say this - I know that God loves me.  I know that He loves all His children.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true.  I know there are living prophets God has sent to instruct us.  I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in Palmyra, NY.  Whenever I talk about that experience, or read Joseph Smith's account (termed the First Vision) the Spirit comes.

I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.  It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (JSH 1:16-17)

 Maybe you feel it now while you're reading.  That warm assurance that this is truth.  I cannot deny the many, many times I've felt that.  I. know. its. true.  Am I losing my faith, or is it being stretched?  It feels a little empty sometimes, but I believe that is it God helping me grow.  I believe that the emptiness I feel will be turned into knowledge and I will be grateful for it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Birthday Girls

Whenever I asked Lily what she wanted to eat on her birthday, she said she wanted a snowman....

We had a Daniel Tiger Birthday party for Lily and Suzy

We watched Daniel Tiger - all these girls were transfixed.

So many people gave us beautiful gifts.  Marianne made Hello Kitty hats for both the girls.  Suzy didn't take it off for a couple days.
Abby and Mary helped out a lot - it was great!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quick Update - ok it turned into a long update

Jon:  Work is going great - he got a raise a couple months back and its great to feel appreciated (and have them do more than just say it).  He's still young mens president and last month they took the priests up to Palmyra, NY.  Jon said it was strange walking the trails that he hasn't been on since he was a boy and his family was in the pageant.
  Jon is also the ever-present Daddy and Husband.  I'm so grateful for how much of himself he gives to all of us.  Last night he was making David laugh!  David's first smile and first laugh have been reserved for Jon which makes me happy.  Its sometimes hard to have Dad miss all the "firsts" when he's at work.  

When Jon leaves at 7 in the morning, Lily can see him from her window (and she is usually awake, just playing in her room waiting for me to come and get her).  He'll walk out to the side walk and wave good bye.  Well, on Sunday night Jon had to go to a meeting, and he warned Lily before hand because she gets nervous when he leaves and she isn't planning on it.  But, he forgot to wave to her and she was so distraught.  It was kind of sad, but also sweet to see how much he means to her.  I ran upstairs to rock her and comfort her and then we decided to call Daddy on the phone.  Jon was on the line and trying to say hi to Lily but she just said, "Bye Daddy.  Bye!  I love you," and laid down relieved.  When I was about to leave she said, "You take good care of me Mom."  Anyway, we all depend a lot of Jon over here and he does a great job of helping all of us feel safe and secure and loved.
This is an older pictures...but its the best one we have of the duck pond where we try to walk to twice a week.
Lauren:  As for me, I'm finding the adjustment to three kids is pretty stink'in hard - I'll just be honest.  Elder Holland's talk from General Conference was partly for me (and many others I'm sure).  I'm learning to carry the burdens I need to (like taking care of myself and my family and fulfilling our callings) and putting down the burdens that I've placed on myself (such as trying to look like I didn't just have 3 kids in 3 years and making sure Lily never throws a tantrum).  I also want to say that even though I've been struggling with post partum depression, I'm so happy for our situation.  I've always thought that "weary not in well doing" meant - "pretend like it isn't really that hard" or "don't admit if you're exhausted and worn out."  But today I was reading in the Book of Mormon and these verses stood out to me:

 And it came to pass as he (Nephi) was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.  And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works;

I realized that recognizing that hard things are hard does not displease the Lord.  And that if I am just going and trying and going and going and trying and trying - I am fulling the scripture:

Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.

So, in other words, I am happy (and for anyone who loves me and may be worried, I am getting some professional help and its really try not to worry about me too much but prayers would be welcomed).  My life is peppered with incredibly beautiful moments, like when Lily told me I take good care of her, or when Suzy smiles and says "ta da!" with a grin from ear to ear, or when David is just waking up and I see him recognize me and then a beautiful smile blossoms on his face, or when Jon gives me a hug right after he walks in the door every evening.  

Lily: Our little Pancake (Lily's nickname Jon gave her) is as sweet as ever and the most adorable big sister.  I was just putting her down for a nap and David was smiling at her from my lap and she was delighted.
 She is so thoughtful and looks out for her siblings (like making sure that Suzy gets a cookie too and Suzy gets her milk).  She is so faithful and sweet, having recently overcome her fear of "big blue giants" (a character from a PBS show Super Why).  She's also been loving Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and I like it too.  They have little songs in each episode that they repeat again and again.  Yesterday Lily drew with marker all over her face while I was at the table with her - my back was turned and she's a quick one (like any almost 3 year old).  I saw her face covered in marker and which she responded (in a sing-song voice) "When you feel so mad that you wanna roar - take a deep breath and count to 4."  Haha...she'd learned that from Daniel Tiger.  Oh man, I learn so much from her.  I got her to sing it again on a video right after she did it in real time.  She puts her hand over her face because she's a little embarrassed.  
Pictures we took at breakfast this morning.  I usually end up feeding Lily her oats while she's on my lap - she's always loved being fed even though she can do it on her own.  This is her "baby face."  

This is another shot of Lily making her baby face.  I was trying to imitate it but obviously I can't get it quite right.
Suzy: Man does this girl get cuter by the minute.  She is starting to talk a lot and really be able to communicate...even though its usually only a few syllables at a time.  Its just so cute the way she enunciates everything.  "Get it!"  "Ta daaaaaa!"  "I did it!"  "Dolly please"  "Throw it."  
Yesterday we went to the park across the street.  We were walking up a little grassy area and a lady was there with her 3 big black dogs (about as tall as Suzy...maybe a bit taller).  My girls are afraid of dogs, they don't know what to do around them and frankly, I don't really know either.   So I had them hold my hand and everyone was fine, until we were just passing them and a nice dog walked up to Suzy, but took her by surprise.  Suzy shrieked.  No, I mean shrieked - like the ring wraiths on Lord of the Rings.  I think that's the best way to describe it.  Poor little thing...but it was cute to see Lily trying to comfort her afterwards.  I asked, "Lily, what can Suzy do if she's scared."  Lily answered just like we taught her, "You can say a prayer Suzy, or sing a song, and Jesus will help you!"  I really don't feel like I can convey Suzy's cuteness with words - I'm not gifted enough with writing.  Its her little mannerisms and her personality that is so charming and just super sweet.  She is also loving her big sister role and gives David kisses all the time. 

David: The first half of this video pretty much sums up his life - the second half is Lily whining...which is typical of my life.
He is so cute - learning to lift his legs up (soon he'll be grabbing his toes).  He loves that little tent toy where he can bat at things hanging in front of him.  I saw him grabbing the doll for the first time today.  He's just so cute - I love his shy smile where he raises his shoulders and looks off to one side.  I also can't believe he's only 3 months old, it feels like he's always been with us.

And the fall time here is gorgeous - as hoped for.  This is my favorite walk...not everywhere is a pretty as this...but its only a ten minute walk from our house to get here:
We love you all and miss you!