Thursday, September 30, 2010

. . . . . The Bumper Effect

The third graders went bowling today, and oh, what fun it was! The bowling alley had bumpers up in all the lanes, to assist the kids in knocking down the pins. Some balls were thrown with great strength, while others actually stopped in the middle of the lane. Some bounced from bumper to bumper, while others sailed gracefully down the long, slippery lane. And yet again, a little parable for life hit me, this time at the bowling alley.

On hard days, it seems as if our balls will never go straight, as though we are destined to land in the gutter, no matter what we do. But just when all hope seems lost, a "bumper" appears to straighten us out, give us a little bounce and send us on the Right way again.

In my life, these bumpers are a wide variety of things and people. Friends, neighbors, family and loved ones are often the bumpers that help me, guide me, and even correct me when I am off course. Inspirational books and music can also give me a little bounce when I am leaning too far to one side. My dedicated husband daily gives me extra strength to keep going down the lane when it feels I am too slow to ever make it. And for me, the good words of the gospel of Jesus Christ give me constant help when I am too fast, too slow or too crooked. And, on days when I am sailing straight down the line, my bumpers are there to cheer me on my Savior awaits with a warm embrace and encouraging word, whispered through his Spirit.

No matter how many pins we knock down in any given frame, we can always be grateful for the bumpers that helped us get down the lane. Who and what are the bumpers in your life?


 Lindi's bowling buddies, Madde, Ginny and Maria.
 
 Best bowling buds! Neighborhood friend, Diego, and his teammates.
 Sweet Katie, getting ready for a strike!
Lindi, waiting in anticipation, to see if she can knock down that final pin....
 And the sheer joy of success!

video
Enjoy this little video, celebrating the bumpers! 

Monday, September 27, 2010

. . . . . . Pushing Myself

There have been so many times in the last 16+ months when I have paid a heavy price because I pushed myself to the level of a "normal" person. But lately I have felt that if I am ever going to strengthen my physical body and get back into shape, I need to push myself a little.

For the last 4 weeks, I have been on an exercise routine that is probably similar to what many of you do, but for me, this is a big step in my ladder of progress. I have been exercising 4-5 days a week, for 30-50 minutes each day. I am doing a variety of cardio, weights and strength training, in hopes of re-training my body. (It is amazing how easy it is to mess your body up, but how long it takes to get it all back!!!)

Thank heavens, I have some fun, upbeat music on my iPod to keep me motivated. And, I have a fabulous little 3-year-old dance partner who jumps all over the living room with me when we are tired of the normal workouts. Today, I pushed myself pretty hard and it felt GOOD! I felt like my legs were going to give out from under me, but it was a wonderful feeling.

I still know I have limitations. I am still taking rests every day, going to bed early, getting as much sleep as possible, and trying not to over-do it. But, it feels amazing to be able to push my body a bit, and have it step up to the task and actually keep up with me. This is HUGE! :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

. . . . . . Crossing the Line

On most days, I'd say 95% of the time, I go about my day in a fairly "normal" manner, rushing kids to school, tumbling, soccer, piano and Tae Kwon Do. Somewhere in between, I also manage to read stories with the little guys, play games, help with homework, cook dinner, exercise and maybe do a load of laundry. But once in a while, life just stops and I am hit by a flood of emotion that washes over me completely. I start to cry, and I start to remember, and as I add my tears to the flood waters, I thank God for the blessing of being alive!

When these moments hit, the power of the feelings is total and complete and I remember that My Life is a Gift.

                                      ****************************
There comes a point in time when faith crosses over a line and becomes knowledge. When that happens, everything changes.

For some, crossing the line will be a momumental event, for others, it is the quiet compilation of many daily events over the course of months or years. For me, it was nearly crossing over another line, the one between life and death, that cemented the knowledge I already had in my Savior, Jesus Christ. When all else left me, when I could barely hear the words of my husband and mother who were standing beside me, it was then that I was wrapped in the loving arms of my Savior and surrounded by a greater peace than I have ever known.

What is it that brings this memory suddenly into my mind and paralyzes me from all else? Perhaps on those 5% of days, I just need a reminder of the glories and gifts that surround me each day. Maybe I need to remember that although my life is becoming more normal everyday, I crossed the line, so nothing will ever be the same.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

. . . . . Lone Rider

My oldest son rode alone on the Front Runner (commuter train) yesterday, to meet Tolan in Salt Lake, for a "guys night" on the town. At 11 years old, he still seems young to me, and yet, so old at the same time. He was ready for this, in fact, quite excited to show he was responsible enough to handle this journey.

The kids and I accompanied him to the station. I purchased his ticket and he was ready for us to leave, but we stayed and waited until the train arrived and we saw him safely board and find a seat on the upper level. I hugged and kissed him goodbye and wished him well, then we waved madly as the train pulled away. He glanced our way and smiled, but only the 4 of us on the platform were waving. He was ready to go.

This was a "small" event, and yet so big. My children are growing up. They are venturing into the world on their own. They are discovering what life has to offer and what they have to contribute. They are turning into young PEOPLE who can make their own decisions and choose their own ways. Now, more than ever, I pray they remember the lessons they have been taught and decide to Choose The Right. :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

. . . . . We Reap What We Sow

I listened to the teacher in Sunday School today and one particular phrase hit me in a stronger manner than it ever has before. He asked what the message of the harvest is, to which we replied, "you reap what you sow". In this lesson, the message was about our talents and gifts, and developing that which God has blessed us with. To me, this message went even deeper.

Every day I am sowing seeds that will some day produce fruit. What are the seeds I sow? Are they seeds of love to my family, neighbors, children and friends? Do I ever sow seeds of frustration or anger, which could yield sour fruit? Do I sow seeds of kindness and service? Am I daily sowing seeds that will produce the fruit I want to reap later??

We all hope for better and brighter days ahead, and the way we will find those days is by sowing seeds today that will bring us happiness later. I hope we can all be blessed as we do the hard work of digging in dirt and and sowing seeds of love and kindness.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

. . . . . Al Gore was Right

It hit me the other day that Al Gore was right...not about inventing the internet, or global warming, or about any number of policies or politics. But one thing by the former VP does resonate with me:  The truth is inconvenient.

His documentary on global warming is titled An Inconvenient Truth, and that much is a fact. The truth is rarely convenient. If you have ever searched for truth, you know what I mean. When you look for an answer and then you find it, you find the truth behind the matter, that is the moment when everything changes. From that point on, you must decide whether to live a life of convenience and go on with things as you knew them, or do what you know to be right and make a change, even when it is not convenient for your life.

Whether you are deciding which school to go to, whom you should marry, which religion to participate in, which foods to eat, which friends to associate with, which job to take, or anything else in life, the challenge is not in finding the answer, but LIVING THE ANSWER. Because, the truth is inconvenient.

I had a moment of personal enlightenment this week and now I am faced with the choice of deciding how to "handle the truth". Though I don't want to turn my life upside down, or get things out of balance, I know I must make a change, and that is the hardest, most inconvenient part. I am still figuring out how to make some needed changes, but the important thing is I know the truth and one day at a time, I will try to find a way to live it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

. . . . . . Mother Moments

UPDATE: Is it too late to change this post and beat myself up again?? Monday and yesterday were good mothering days, today, both the 5-year old and I are in tears. In this scenario, no one wins? Anyone for a do-over? (And now, back to the original post...)

My boys (the 5 and 3 year olds) have been fighting lately. They are together for most of the day (minus half-day kindergarten), they share a room, share friends, share toys and just about everything else, too. But, several times a day, they get tired of sharing and they fight instead. Welcome Mother Moments.

This week, however, I am not feeling down on myself for losing my temper or getting frustrated, I am actually pretty proud of a few of my Moments. :) This week I disciplined with love, I tried to help the boys see the results of their actions, I attempted to handle each Moment with the treatment needed at the time. I followed through on promised discipline, I reacted immediately and fairly, and within inserting my personal emotions. Wow, if I do nothing else this week, I will still feel good, because I had these positive Mother Moments.

Being a mom is the greatest calling in the world, but it is also the hardest. Many days I feel discouraged because the task is so enormous and I am often not up to par with the love my young ones deserve. When I am tired and my body is exhausted, my Moments are not ones to be proud of. So, today I am celebrating the things I did right, since I also get down on myself when I mess up.  Please share a few of your proud parenting moments, too. I think we should all get a pat on the back for the days we do things right! :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

. . . . Great Expectations

I have great expectations for myself. I hope you do, too. This explains why I get a little frustrated when my body doesn't cooperate, as was the case this weekend. Today I am doing well, but Friday and Saturday, well, not so good. And, I have tried so hard not to take pain pills over the last year, that when I do take them, I am out of it. My poor hubby last night, we "tried" to go on a date, but I was miserable and I finally just told him I needed to go home and go to bed.

But alas, after 10 hours of sleep last night (yes, 10 hours!), I am feeling better today, with hope for tomorrow and the rest of the week getting even better.

My biggest challenge continues to be monitoring my expectations of myself with my reality. I suppose I have always been this way, I get big ideas in my mind of how much I can do, but time (and now my body) don't always allow me to finish my big plans the way I'd like.

But, the good part is I have great expectations of myself...that means I am well enough to expect action and accomplishment from my body and mind. Hooray! So, here's to great expectations, even when they are unmet!

Friday, September 10, 2010

. . . . . Learning to Pout

Do you have a good pouty face? Can you stick your bottom lip way out and frown in a "nice" big pout? Well, I have nothing to pout about, but I am practicing my pouty face.

As part of my facial therapy, I practice lip and mouth movements every day, including the pout, the lip press (think of your lips resting together with slight pressure), the pucker and "my lips are sealed" positions. We are trying to retrain my muscles to work in ways that will help me eat and drink normally, and allow my face to go back to a more normal resting position.

There are 19 muscles on each side of your face. I only have 3 that work, so we are hoping to train these muscles to do the work of the other 16. Some days I can drink out of a cup and keep everything in my mouth! Other days (like today) it still drips all the way down my chin and on to my shirt. This is where the pout comes in. The pouting face is one where you hold you lips together in a frown position. I am using this new technique to help my mouth figure out how to eat and drink again, keeping my lips sealed, so it is totally worth it.

So don't be alarmed if you see me around town with a big pouty face, I am just practicing!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

. . . . . The Importance of Tools

Do you ever feel like you are using a fork to do the job of a screwdriver?

I was making Sunday dinner the other day and my hand mixer died right in the middle of a critical mixing job. I had a back-up mixer, which I pulled out for just such an emergency. Well, this "new" mixer had a short in it, so it only lasted about 38 seconds. And so, the scrounging for hand utensils began...

Nearly 40 minutes later, I completed the task that should have taken me 4 minutes to finish.

Yet another modern-day parable in the story that is my life: Even the simplest of tasks can be difficult if you don't have the right tools.

Do you have the right tools for your life? Does your toolbox include an understanding of why you are here, a "map" to guide you where to go, and lifeline help for when you need it most? I am so grateful that I am armed with the tools of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so no matter what else gives out in my life, I will always have the help to finish the job.

My greatest "tools" are sacred books I read every day. If you want a copy of my favorite "tool" book, The Book of Mormon, a companion to the Bible and another testament of Jesus Christ, just email me at brownjo76@q.com and a free copy is on the way.  Love, Jodi

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

. . . . . Quick Family Update - Prayers Please

A few weeks ago, I mentioned some health problem's my sisters' families are having. The good news is that baby Kurt (Tami's baby) is still doing well. His CAT scan revealed the tumor was still growing (quickly), but he is doing remarkably well so far and they hope to give him more time to grow before having surgery.

My sister, Kristi, on the other hand, is not doing as well. Her health problems (still currently "undiagnosed" without a name or known cause) are escalating and causing her multiple problems. She is hardly able to get out of bed some days and this is difficult physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

I ask for prayers because I know they work! Your prayers worked for me, please now offer some on behalf of my sister. Suffering is always hard, no matter the cause. Here's hoping for another miracle!

Thanks! Love, Jodi

Sunday, September 5, 2010

. . . . . . Quiet Time

The world is full of noise. There is a constant stream of music, talk radio, TV, computers, trucks, trains and planes. Even the "lovely" sound of children feels noisy after too long without a break.

I find more and more than I need quiet time in my life these days. I need time to meditate, to listen to myself think, and more importantly, to listen to my Savior sending me soft promptings through his Spirit, the Holy Ghost. When it is too noisy or when I am plugged into an iPod, the TV is in the background or children are fighting, I cannot focus on the messages He is trying to send me.

My current goal (as of the last week) is to make more Quiet Time in my life. I need to disconnect from the world and reconnect with myself and my Savior. I need to think and process, without the distractions of the world screaming at me all the time. I need to listen to and hear my body, mind and spirit.

Finding this time is a challenge, no doubt. I have four children and enough school, church, scout, music and sports activities to keep a small taxi company in business. But I need this, for me and for my family. I need to start my day with quiet time, with prayer and scripture study AND I need to take time during the day to refresh myself so I can keep going and show love along the way.

If you already do this, you know what I mean. If not, give it a try and tell me what you discover about yourself when you spend some quality quiet time alone.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

. . . . . Listening vs. Hearing

Every day I listen to music, but I don't always hear it. I can listen all day long and not even know what the words of the song are. I may also listen to my kids in the background and not actually hear what they are saying to me.

Well, I have realized the same is true for my body. I think that I have been listening to it, but it turns out, I haven't heard the messages it is sending me. Last week I had a cold all week. I felt crummy, but just pushed through it, as all mothers would during the first week of school. By Sunday, I felt borderline terrible, and I listened to my body(recognized I felt lousy) , but didn't hear it (respond appropriately). So, instead I wound end making myself 10x worse because I tried to get through the day without really hearing the messages I was being sent.

It wasn't a good day. Lesson learned.

Now I am trying to do better. I am taking the breaks I need and attempting to go to bed earlier. I still don't get near the 10-11 hours of sleep I am supposed to get at this stage of my recovery, but I am honestly trying to hear what my body is saying and rest when I need to. I am learning to take naps and rest during the day when my body is exhausted. That is a good lesson to learn.

The good news is that my eye is doing much better these days! I am closing it (all except about 1-2 mm) and the swelling is nearly gone. My daughter took a few pics to send to Dr. Levine, so check them out. :)

You can see my eye is still open a bit, as is my mouth, both from the paralysis. Still working on learning to close my mouth and keep food/drink inside, but I am getting better!

Though my eye is still swollen, the brow and eyelid surgery have been remarkable in restoring the symmetry to my face and making me look more like me. :)

Here's to more hearing and continued recovery!! :)

. . . . . . . Firsts and Milestones

Sometime yesterday we hit another blog milestone, 35,000 visits since November of last year. Wow, that is fantastic. Still, I am honestly amazed. I want to genuinely thank all of you for sticking with me through the thick and thin of it all. YOU are the best blog readers in the world. I'd love to have another give away contest, but I have nothing to give, and no money to buy anything. If you have something to give, great, otherwise, I am simply going to send each of you a big cyber hug and say "thanks"!

Today was Casen's first day of kindergarten. He is more than ready for school and I am sure he was excited, though his face this morning was hard to read. I don't know if he was nervous or what, but he looked focused or concerned as we entered the classroom today. Still, after a few minutes, I got him to smile and laugh and I think he was good from there. After class, he told me about the fish tank, stamps and codes for getting a drink and going to the bathroom. He didn't even mention the playground until I brought it up. Too funny. :)



I was both excited and sad to see him start school. My little boy is growing up, now I will only have Daven home with me (for half the day, at least). I hope the world doesn't take hold of him too soon. I want him to be my guy as long as possible. :)