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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Embracing the New Year.



As we have said Adios to 2010 and H-E-L-L-O to 2011...I must say I have been a bit reflective as this New Year approached.

Life Lessons have been learned this year...no doubt, all have been beneficial to my growth and development as a wife, mother, and daughter of God. Most of my experiences this year have been pleasant...but admittedly, not all have been. As I have traveled in a few valleys of my own, wisdom and knowledge were gained in the process. A deeper perspective was found. I am reminded of Joseph B. Wirthlin's quote:

"If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness..."

I'm guessing we have all seen and experienced in one way or another how one's individual future can be either bright or cloudy, depending on how they look at it.

One life lesson I'd like to share that I've come to understand this year is this...

Life will (most always) never work out the way we want or think it should...but what is beautiful about this--it will ALWAYS work out the way God wants it to and the way it is intended to. And yes my friends...He really does know what is best for us.

Another point I've pondered in recent days is this....

"...regardless of your present age, you are building your life;...it can be full of joy and happiness, or it can be full of misery. It all depends upon you and your attitudes... for your altitude, or the height you climb, is dependent upon your attitude or your response to situations."

- Spencer W. Kimball


Having a grateful heart and an attitude of gratitude is crucial for reaching happiness and maintaining a healthy attitude about life. This I have learned on a more deeper level this year. Our attitude not only affects our progression and journey here, but also that of our loved ones. I have had my dark days where I struggled with being angry, frustrated and confused about Heavenly Father's plan for me and growing our family through adoption. I've questioned why does our journey to growing our family have to be so hard when it comes so easy for so many others. Yes, I have had days where I felt completely depleted from my responsibilities as a wife, mother, church callings, work, etc.--and yes....sadly, my attitude on many days has not always been what it should have been. So this concept so often referred to as an "attitude of gratitude" is one that I have learned does not come freely---instead, to achieve...we must work at it continually. And some days it's going to be harder to achieve than others.

I've come to realize that to maintain a positive attitude--even moreso in the more challenging times of our lives, it is essential to be renewed daily, even hourly....we must literally strive to connect with the powers of heaven constantly, and to stay connected, it can only be accomplished through daily scripture study and prayer. A concept that may sound so simple, yet in this fast paced and overbooked, day-to-day world we live, can feel more daunting than ever to accomplish. Yet, it can be done if we make it a priority. Something I hope to improve upon in 2011. I am grateful for this wise counsel from President Thomas S. Monson:

"A grateful heart comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings into our lives. This requires conscious effort-- at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude....when we encounter challenges and problems in our lives, it is often difficult for us to focus on our blessings. However, if we reach deep enough and look hard enough, we will be able to feel and recognize just how much we have been given. To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven."

I have felt the sweetest joy this year as I have listened to my precious 4 year old son express gratitude for the simple blessings in his life as he offers his nighttime prayers with his mommy and daddy kneeling with him. He is continually progressing in his understanding of Heavenly Father and the Savior Jesus Christ. What a joy this is to watch as his mother. As a result, his prayers have deeper meaning...for both him and us. I have been humbled beyond words on more than one occasion this past year as he has offered many a heartfelt prayer thanking Heavenly Father for not only mommy and daddy, but also for such things as the trees, the sky, the birds, his books, his backyard, his cousins and so forth. Yes, because of my son's sweet spirit and attitude of gratitude in his simple prayers...I have felt as President Monson said, as if I was literally touching heaven.

These past few days, I have had some down time to spend to myself. I used some of this free time for my own personal reading time. I have read several inspiring articles and have been humbled by many...one being about this young man in Africa:



His name is Sedrick, he is 20 years old and he lives in Africa. He has a strong desire to serve a 2-year church mission. The first step in making this dream come true is earning enough money for a passport. Since jobs are scarce in his part of the world, Sedrick had to work even harder to reach his goal of gaining a passport. Passports in DR Congo where he lives cost around $250, which in his country is about two-thirds the cost of building a house. Pretty crazy, huh? But Sedrick was determined to stay the course and not give up on his dream. So do you know what he did??...He used an old, worn-out bike and each day, he cycled 15-30 kilometers (9-19 miles) from his village to others, he would purchase bananas and then with his bike heavily laden, he would travel from village to village along sandy roads (which btw...if you haven't tried to bike in the sand...it is terribly hard!) selling bananas to earn money. Each week he traveled around 180 kilometers (112 miles) on this old bike...peddling along bumpy, sandy roads carrying his heavy load of bananas with an earnest desire to make $250 to pay for his passport. Sedrick typically earned about $1.25 a week, or $65.00 a year. It took him four years to earn enough money to purchase his passport!! Now that is perseverance my friends. As a result, there is no doubt this young man brings a deeper appreciation and perspective to his church mission. More importantly, he has a firm testimony of blessings that can come from the adversity we face in this life and how if we submit our will to our Heavenly Father, he will bless us in greater abundance. You can read more about Sedrick and his story here.

I am deeply grateful for Sedrick's example of tremendous faith and perseverance. I hope to forever remember his tender story, particularly when I am feeling like my life is so hard...puh-leez...after reading his story, it was a reminder that my trials pale in comparison to this young man's and so many others out there in this vast world of ours. Yes, indeed...there are humbling life lessons that can be gained by observing those around us.

I read this today....

"Your future is not determined by the conditions around you. It is determined by your faith, your choices, and your efforts."

-Paul V. Johnson

I have decided to write this quote out, with a more personal spin and tape it to my bathroom mirror. I believe it will be my 2011 personal motto (with like I said...a little more personal touch)....

Jennifer's future is not determined by the conditions around her...more importantly, it is determined by her faith, her choices, and her efforts.

Here are some ways I feel I can apply this to my own life...

1.) Our sincere desire to adopt more children. There is work on my part that has to be done if I want to achieve this. If I have to fill out a million more adoption packets, and write yet another letter to a potential birthmother telling her all the reasons why we feel she should choose us...if that is what it takes to make it happen, then that is what I will do. My faith....my desire...my efforts will make a difference throughout this process.

2.) My desire to learn a second language...specifically Spanish. I live in an area where it is imperative to know it and use it...especially if I want to thrive in my profession as an educational leader. My faith...my desire...my efforts will make a difference in my ability to learn this new language.

3.) My desire to be a more attentive, loving wife and mother. My husband and my son are so precious to me and deserve my undivided attention. It feels at times that there are more and more time constraints put on families these days...work responsibilities coupled with church and other obligations can stretch a family thin. All things that our little family has experienced this year. To have a strong and loving partnership, both the husband and wife have to be willing to work at their relationship constantly. Because we are continually growing and changing individually and as such, we must adjust with the growth of our spouse. We have to be willing to compromise more than we may like to at times. We have to be willing to apologize more than we may like to at times. To have a loving relationship with our spouse and children, one must be willing to be ever patient, overlook their shortcomings and/or faults and love them for who they are. There is no question that my faith...my desire...and my efforts will make a difference in this area of my life.

4.) My desire to eat healthier and get in shape. I am not getting any younger and if I want to live a long and fruitful life...one where I can enjoy quality time with my family and friends, it is imperative that I take care of this 'ole body I was given. My faith...my desire...my efforts to do so will make all the difference in my endeavor this year to accomplish this goal. Even if I have to go to one of those gosh-awful spin classes again!! You can read more about that experience, here.

5.) My desire to become more acclimated and knowledgeable in the scriptures. I have felt for a long time that I too often am guilty of skimming the scriptures or glancing at the clock to see if I have read my set amount of time...instead, I want to read and study with a purpose and a prayer in my heart. My faith...my desire...my efforts can help me improve this process and gain a deeper appreciation and love for the word of God.

6.) My desire to not dwell so much on the past and to think more highly of myself. I have for too long let things in the past direct my future. I have grown tired of this. I know that I (with some help from my Father in Heaven) can change this. Life is too short to dwell on the past. I want to embrace my future...whatever it holds and have greater confidence in the plan that He has for me and my family. There is no question that my faith...my desire...my efforts will assist me in embracing whatever Heavenly Father has in store for me in 2011.

And well, my list goes on...

I hope you have some time in the coming days and weeks to be reflective on things in your own life. Time to ponder your blessings, re-evaluate where you are, where you may be heading and what you'd like to change in your journey. It is good for the soul to take quiet time to ponder, reflect and pray. I must say in doing this for myself these past few days, I have been reminded how grateful I am for the wonderful blessings (both large and small) that I have experienced with with my family this year. I am grateful for the peaks and valleys we've faced together this year for they are what have brought us closer together and bonded us as a family. And yes....I am greatly looking forward to embracing 2011!!!

Many blessings to all of you during this New Year...

XOXO...


Jennifer

4 comments:

  1. You have the most wonderful insights. Thanks for helping me ponder on some of the very issues I too am struggling with.

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  2. Loved this post. Thanks for uplifting me this night. Love you friend.
    Jordan

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  3. Thanks Veronica and Jordan! Love to you both!!

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  4. What a truly beautiful post!! New follower. = )

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