What I need and then some

I used to think that I knew what I wanted and needed, but today it occurred to me I really didn’t have a clue.  Today, this Christmas Eve of 2011, I think I have finally learned what it is I need.  To fully explain, you will have to take a trip with me.  Close your eyes and let me take you back…way back to a time before some of you reading this were even born.  We’re going back to a relatively warm Winter Day nearly 20 years ago.

I was 19 and almost a thousand miles away from home.  I was going through what was, up to that point, one of the most difficult struggles I’ve ever endured and alienated from my family for many reasons.  To make matters worse, I didn’t really feel like I fit in with my Ward (congregation) and didn’t know how and where I fit in anywhere.  I did; however, always find solace when with my Bishop and his wife.  I spent so much time with them that I wound up calling them Mom and Dad long after he ceased to be my Bishop.

So, on this relatively warm Winter night, my Bishop and his wife took me to go see the stage production Forgotten Carols by Michael McClean.  I won’t go into much detail about the plot of the story…you can click here, here, or here to read more on that yourself.  But I will say I was hooked instantly.  I’ve now seen the live production and I own the book, DVD, and CD.  I’m kinda a Forgotten Carols freak I guess.  Really though the story IS that good.

It is no secret that holidays haven’t been my thing for many years.  This year though, Christmas became my thing again.  The last time I remember being this excited about all the magic and wonder of Christmas was the first Christmas I was a Mommy.  That baby will be 16 soon so….it’s been quite some time.  I don’t even know how it all started, but I do know how it all finished.  I’ll get to that in a minute.

So this morning I wake up and am incredibly happy.  I don’t mean artificially happy or pretend happy…I mean I woke up smiling.   I don’t remember what I was dreaming of or anything, I just woke up smiling!  I had some errands I needed to run and had my little Ranga join me this morning.  The day was incredibly beautiful.  Crisp and chilly, but beyond beautiful.  I saw my mountain a few times (and yes it still takes my breath away), I didn’t have an anxiety attack at Wal-Mart during “regular” shopping hours, and I just felt happy.  I sat with my nephew and laughed and played and played and laughed while his mom ran some last-minute errands this morning and as I did so, a perfect beautiful peace was about me.  All was right in my world.

Ok no…it wasn’t or isn’t really right, but it was all right.  Does that make sense?!?  I hope so.  I left my sister’s house and raced home to make a ham, finish up her present, shower, bake Jesus His birthday cake, pack the presents into the car and be back at her house in just a few hours.  No pressure though…so I decided to watch Forgotten Carols again tonight while working on my sister’s gift and a miracle happened.  Funny how I could completely relate to so much of Connie Lou’s experience; complete with her disdain for all things Christmas.  Ok…maybe not all things Christmas, just most.  Anyway, like Connie Lou, an experience I had changed some things and I found myself so excited and happy I could hardly keep it all inside.

The closing scene of the play shows Connie Lou is on-stage rocking a baby so a new mom can get some rest.  As she rocks this baby she sings these lyrics:

All I ever wanted all I ever dreamed of everything I hoped and all the things I prayed for couldn’t hold a candle to what I’ve been given I’ve been given what I need.   

A mansion on a hill or love like in a movie. Perfect little lives where no one has a problem instead of all those things I thought I really wanted I’ve been given what I need.  Even when I didn’t understand, when I thought You had no heart.  Thank you for rejecting my demands and always giving me the better part.

 All I ever wanted, all I ever dreamed of, everything I hoped and all the things I prayed for couldn’t hold a candle to what I’ve been given I’ve been given what I need.

 All I ever wanted, all I ever dreamed of, everything I hoped and all the things I prayed for couldn’t hold a candle to what I’ve been given I’ve been given what I need.

It  was a miraculous moment for me.  I looked around knowing that the same was true of my life.  I don’t have any of the things I’ve prayed to have for months.  The life I live now is certainly not anything I wanted or dreamed of either, but I wouldn’t trade it either and it is exactly what I need.  It just took me a long time to realize it is all.

I’ve been given gifts that will endure for all of time…gifts that are priceless.  These include a sister who doubles as not just a best friend, but also a second mom to my kids, four of the most amazing children to have ever walked the Earth (just ask anyone who knows them….really I’m not being biased at all), a beautiful place in the world to live, a roof over my head, food in my belly, clothes on my back, electricity, and a fire by which to warm my home if need be.  I’ve been given good great friends, many talents, a phenomenal Ward (congregation) family, the love and support of a man I’m privileged to call Daddy, 2 nephews I love like my own sons, and love.  Lots and lots of love.  Today as everything went down that did, the thing I just kept coming back to was how truly madly and deeply loved I am.  I’m loved by my Heavenly Father and I know this with a certainty that I think I’ve never quite known or understood before.

This knowledge or awareness or whatever you want to call it has made me my heart swell so big it keeps threatening to spill out my eyes and roll down my cheeks.  I am loved so much that, despite my most earnest pleadings for things I thought I wanted and needed, He has given me everything I need…and then some.  Like President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has says, “you are not forgotten…wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love.  Just think of it: You are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious Being in the universe! You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time!  He who created and knows the stars knows you and your name—you are the daughters [or sons] of His kingdom.”

Merry Christmas with love to all of my friends and family.  May He give each of you EXACTLY what you need (even if it differs from what you think you need or may want) is my prayer!  Be blessed!


Snow Much Fun Hop

Welcome to your December installment of the Getting Cricky Blog Hop!  This month we are pleased to welcome  our Special Guest – Patty from “Creative Diva”!!   Like with all of our hops, we hope you see some new exciting ways to use K Andrew Designs Art Stamps.  Give yourself a gift this season you are sure to love by heading over to Kristal’s Store to pick up some of your own, you’ll be so glad you did!

In case you didn’t know, each stamp set benefits charity. At least $1 per stamp set goes to help the charity noted on the stamp set package. Currently Kristal supports the following charities: Cancer Angels, Storefront Shelter for Homeless Children, Intrepid & Fallen Heroes, E. Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Doorways Shelter for Women & Children (Domestic Violence), Wayside House for Women, Camp Good Days & Special Times, Adopt a Classroom, and Autism Research Institute.  In addition, Kristal personally donates $1 from each set sold and over time believes this will add up to some wonderful miracles for these special people. You can feel good knowing that each time you purchase a K Andrew Designs Art stamp set, someone around the country is receiving some good help!

K Andrew Designs Art Stamps also stimulate our broken and wounded economy because they are all made and assembled here in the USA! This is hugely important to Kristal and ensures not only that product materials are safe, but that jobs are being provided and maintained here in America. Learn more about these stamps by visiting K Andrew Designs.

You should have arrived here from the fabulous and amazing Junior DT Heather Everson’s blog.  She has some of the easiest and funnest cards EVER and the rest of  my DT Sisters have awesome projects too!  So, if you haven’t started at the beginning, be sure  to head back to Kristal’s blog and hop on through everyone on the list!  Now…onto my project.  First let me apologize because this photo really doesn’t do the page justice.

I’ve become painfully aware of how fast my babies are growing up.  The kiddo seen here doesn’t resemble these photos anymore at all.  Instead, she is an incredibly beautiful and talented young woman who makes her mother very proud.  Looking at these pictures seems like it was a couple of lifetimes ago.  She hated touching the snow…who can blame her I mean it’s cold and wet right?!?!?  Not my favorite either.

For this  page I used Winter Wishes (shown below), Spellbinders, my Cricut (gasp I know right), SCAL 2 and twine.  This page is now in my “Faithful Moments” album…a random collection of some of my fondest memories!

Now, last but certainly not least, is the fabulous Junior DT member Miss Jessie from Sugarlips Sassy Surprises!  Thanks so much for joining us this month and if you get lost along the way, here’s the entire line-up:

Guest Designer Spot

I got so sick last month I wasn’t able to fulfill my obligations at the Scrappin’ Chics Challenge blog as a Guest Designer.  Thankfully Jenn gave me a chance to redeem myself  and I created this:

For details on what I used and how I did it, please visit the Scrappin’ Chics Challenge Blog.

The strangest teacher

Lately I have felt like Lemony Snicket in that my life has been a series of rather unfortunate events.  One such event occurred in July and I’m still suffering because of it.  I needed help, I began maximizing all the resources I could and a mistake was made so huge, I will never be the same.  That mistake is one that has happened before repeatedly.  It’s one that will likely keep happening because the fix is costly.  If the fix was applied though, it would likely never happen again.

Over and over I was apologized to and told the person responsible for the mistake feels awful about it and is very sorry.  While that might be and that person may be sorry and feeling awful, that person has likely not had the experience I have.  Her mistake lit the fuse and depression blew up inside of me.  I was powerless to control it and sunk deeper and deeper into the abyss of despair.  I tried to grin and bear it and fake it till I made it for months…ultimately I found myself thinking about jumping off an area bridge and knew exactly where all the ones high enough to kill me were.  It was very very bad.

I cried all the time.  I cried every day for months and no one knew.  I’ve gotten good at hiding things because of how much I had to hide when I was married.  Finally it was so bad I couldn’t hide it anymore.  My daughters were worried, my son was worried, my friends were worried.  My daughter started texting my Relief Society President, my friend called my Bishop and then called my Relief Society President too.  I wound up in the ER one night and on medication and in therapy a few days later.  Despite my best efforts to fake my way through it, I had learned that depression was not something you could manage or get through without help.

The weekend after my hospitalization my Bishop was released and a new Bishop was called to serve.  If you’ve read my story, you can probably understand why new and strange men are hard for me.  The new Bishop was both new and strange to me.  I didn’t even know who he was until that Sunday after my ER visit and we’ve been in the same ward for over a year.  I was going to have to meet with him for countless reasons and it was scary…turns out he is amazing and wonderful and I love him and he loves me.  He is committed to helping me because he loves me.

Prior to his release, the previous Bishop arranged for me to be able to see an LDS therapist.  He chose the perfect one actually…her name is Sister…just like every female over 18 in my church!  She has been critical in helping me get my head back on straight (still a little crooked but getting straighter and straighter) and I’m grateful for her experience and wisdom and help.  Sometimes though, she asks some very hard questions of me…questions that leave me inquisitive for weeks as I search for answers.  One such question was something like if depression is my teacher, what do I have to learn?

Told ya…hard questions.  It has taken me weeks to answer this question, but I think I have finally figured out some answers.  Depression has taught me many things…first though that like the God I love and serve, it is real.  It is not something you can talk or resolve your way out of (if you can then you aren’t really truly depressed).  I have had a very difficult childhood and life and yet I’ve never been what I’ve learned is depressed.  Unless you’ve been depressed yourself, you really just don’t get it.  Trust me on that…I thought I got it too and then it happened to me and I realized I really didn’t have a clue.

After the lesson on how real depression is and how badly it can hurt yourself and everyone around you, I’ve learned that depression is really a great teacher if we are only willing to open ourselves up to learn its lessons.  I’ve learned more about myself as I have processed my depression and worked to overcome it, than I even knew there was to learn.  I’m grateful for opportunities to learn.

My Father in heaven is keenly aware of my needs and He loves me and WANTS to bless and protect me.  Sometimes though, I get in the way of His desires for whatever reason and, despite His best efforts, I can’t be blessed the way He intends.  As I’ve battled with depression I’ve been put in a situation where quite literally the only thing keeping me alive and breathing was the faint glimmer of hope that comes from knowing He loves me.  My depression has taught me that He loves me the way I love my children and then some.  It has taught me that He hurts when I hurt, that He weeps when I weep and most importantly, that he understands what I cannot and I can trust Him.  Depression has taught me how to know in my heart many of the things I’ve only believed in my head.

Trust is not something I come by easily or naturally anymore.  In my head I’ve always thought I trusted God.  Depression has taught me how to trust Him with my whole heart and not just my whole head.  I heard a song not to long ago from Big Daddy Weave that says “I am sure all of heaven’s heard me cry as I tell you all the reasons why this life is just too hard.  But day by day without fail I’m finding everything I need and everything that you are to me.  Every time I breathe you seem a little bit closer I  never want to leave I wanna stay in your warm embrace oh basking in the glory shining from your face.  And every time I get another glimpse of your heart I realize it’s true that you are some marvelous God and I am so in love with you.”  I am still amazed at how God can speak to me so loudly through music.  As I found myself turning to God more and more and pleading with Him to get lost in His embrace and seeking deliverance from depression’s hold on me, I started to become keenly aware of how mindful of me that He is.

He knows my name, He loves me and His grace is enough.

Depression has taught me who I matter the most to.  It’s taught me that people I never knew I mattered to love me.  It’s taught me that people I thought I mattered the world to don’t care as much as I thought they would or should.  It’s taught me who my real friends are, it’s taught me what “ward family” really means and it’s taught me that it’s ok, necessary even to sometimes be selfish and take care of me first.

I am not very good at taking care of myself.  I never did much of it growing up in my family or origin and that pattern continued on as I became a mother and wife.  I just got so used to taking care of people I forgot that one of the most important people to take care of is me.  Another hard question Sister asked me is what do I still have to mourn?  In figuring out what I had to mourn, it has allowed me the chance to mourn and move on.  I learned that some things have to be mourned more than once from different angles. Let me explain…

When I first asked for a divorce I cried for 10 days straight.  I didn’t really want to end my marriage, but he gave me no choice.  I had to end the marriage before it ended my life or the lives of my children.  It was such a sad time for me…notice I said sad, not depressed.  I was sad the marriage was ending.  Though marriage to my ex was difficult, I believed in the sanctity of marriage, I liked being a wife, and I wanted to stay married.  I was sad that a relationship I had spent more than half of my adult life involved in was ending.  I was sad for a lot of reasons, but then I got over it and moved on.

When Sister asked me what I still had to mourn over, I realized I still had to mourn over how the loss of the marriage affected my kids and how hurt they have been over it all.  I had to mourn the loss of the marriage all over again and this time for totally different reasons.  As I mourned this time, I became painfully aware of another thing I had to mourn over.  I realized I had to mourn the loss of mothering I should have experienced and never did.  I had already mourned the loss of the relationship I wanted with my mother several times; this time I had to mourn how that loss made me so very inadequate in so many was as a mother myself.  It’s not easy to nurture when you’ve not been nurtured.  It’s not easy to mother when you’ve not been mothered.

Sister suggested I learn  how to mother myself.  How to give that little girl inside me the same love and energy and nurturing that I give my kiddos.  She said inside each of us is still a young child and we must learn to nurture that child.  She paraphrased a comment from Tyler Perry who was savagely beaten by his father and sexually abused by men and women both.  I just found the interview.  Oprah asks what Tyler would say to the little boy inside him and he replies “It’s going to be all right. I’m going to make you proud.”  Sister suggested that I learn to mother the little girl in side me so that the adult I’ve become can quit mourning the loss of mothering.  I started to be as gentle and loving and compassionate with my inner child as I am my outer children and you know what…I’ve learned that even though I wasn’t mother well, I can still mother well.  To the little girl inside me I have to say the same thing Tyler did…I’m going to make you proud!

Depression has taught me where I derive the most joy.  It has taught me how important it is to do things that bring us joy daily.  Let’s not get silly here…of course those things you should do daily to bring yourself joy need to be legal, moral, and those that cause no harm to others.  Do I get to rob a bank daily if money brings me joy…no.  Can I listen to my favorite song on repeat for hours…yes.  Can I pull out my paper and glue and ink and stamps and make something pretty…yes.  My depression has taught me that I do not function well unless I have music and creativity in abundance.  It goes back to that quote I have on my crafty blog from President Uchtdorf…“the desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.”  In this same talk, he goes on to say, “the more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”  Depression taught me that I must create to maximize the joy of the day.  Not just with paper and glue though…I create memories, I create laughter, I create smiles, I create fun, I create love, I create learning, I create…I find joy by using the talents I have been given and I am very creative.  I now look for ways I can improve the world around me and the world inside me every day.  It’s much easier to be depressed when your environment is sad and dreary.

Depression has taught me how to realize my limits.  Maybe not the depression exactly, maybe more the anxiety I also have.  I’ve become keenly aware of some of the triggers for anxiety that, when totally ignored, become depressing.  Things like finances, unnecessary contention, false assumptions, attacks on my character, clutter, and strangely enough…lack of sleep.  Depression has taught me I need to be aware of these triggers and do my best to avoid them.  It has taught me how to acknowledge when these triggers are occurring and given me a sense of urgency in processing them.  Some of these triggers I am powerless to control at the moment…like the finances.  Those I’m learning to give over to God entirely.  Others, like unnecessary contention and attacks on my character I am learning to end by eliminating the relationships to the people who constant cause contention and set out to attack.  Depression has taught me how to clean up the emotional clutter as well as the physical clutter in my life both.

Depression…the strangest teacher.  I’m so thankful for the lessons its taught me though.  I hope that they will be lessons I don’t have to learn the same way over and over because it’s so true what they say in that medication commercial…depression hurts everyone.  I’m tired of hurting.

Chicken South of the Border

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
12 flower tortillas
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 C milk
1/4 onion, finely chopped
3.5 oz. mild taco sauce
1 lb medium cheddar cheese shredded

Boil chick and break into pieces.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Cut tortillas into 1 inch strips and line bottom of pan.  Put broken chicken pieces over tortillas.  Combine remaining ingredients except cheese.  Pour the soup mixture over the chicken.  Top with shredded cheese.  Repeat for 3 layers.  Refrigerate for 24 hours if possible.  Bake at 300 for 1 to 1.5 hours or until it bubbles.  Makes 10-12 servings.

This is what mine looked like before cooking.
After cooking

Some changes I made…I used jack cheese instead of cheddar and I doubled the recipe because I used more chicken than it calls for.  My girls and I liked it…my son not so much.  If I make this dish again in the future, I will put the sauce and chicken over rice instead of tortillas.  Recipe comes from Worldwide Ward Cookbook:  Secret Recipes and was found on page 133.

It’s Challenge Time!

Good morning boys and girls, welcome to another Simple Sunday Challenge over at Getting Cricky.  Today’s theme is  Joy of the Season and we were asked to create a holiday decoration.  One great thing about being on Kristal’s DT is that our challenge products are always open to our interpretation.  For this challenge, I’ve stepped way out of the box and created a Valentine’s Day decoration.  I really love everything about it, so much so I probably won’t wait till Valentine’s Day to display it.

I am very short for time this morning so I can’t provide the usual list of supplies and instructions for how I created this project right now.  The base is a Spellbinders Grand die (scalloped circles), the hearts were cut from the eCraft using the Year of Celebration SD Card and the sentiment comes from K Andrew Designs Art Stamps Scripture Sayings.  It’s one of my favorites…check it out:

Ink used was Versafine and Tim Holtz distress ink and the hanger is just a piece of wire coiled around my craft knife then stretched out a little.  Be sure to visit the Getting Cricky blog for details on what prize you can win as well as to link up your own holiday decor projects!

Happy Sunday, I’m off to church!

More precious than rubies more valuable than diamonds

Any ideas what that might be?  Friends of course!!!!  I’m so pleased to be able to participate in this fun hop honoring my good friend Jenn.  Happy Birthday Jenn!!!!  We LOVE you!  Yep you guessed it, it’s Jenn’s Birthday Blog Hop.  If you have arrived here from Jenn’s blog, then you’re right on track AND if you didn’t start at the beginning well surprise surprise you don’t have to back track too far!!!

Jenn and I have become fast friends and as soon as I saw one of the sentiments on the Pirate Tales and Fish Scales sentiment set from K Andrew Designs Art Stamps, I knew there were a few people it’d be perfect for…Jenn is one of them and this one’s for her:

I used some beautiful paper from Kallio Kalleidoscapes for the background mat.  It’s so pretty I didn’t want to cover it all up with die-cuts and so I elected to use a simple Spellbinders shape with a circle on top.  Lace and ribbon made the perfect finishing touch don’t you think?

Next up is my purple lovin’ pal Miss Kari from Purple Funtastick Creations.  Should you get lost along the way, here’s the entire line-up:

Jenn – http://memorieswithjen.blogspot.com/

Faith – http://faithfulecreations.com/

Kari – http://www.purplefuntastickcreations.blogspot.com

Gill – http://creationsbygillm.blogspot.com/

Tanya – http://scrappyscavenger.blogspot.com/

Jess – http://scrappyjess.blogspot.com/

Gina – http://californiascrappin-gcinderella21.blogspot.com/

Lynda – http://www.memoriesintyme.blogspot.com/

Jackie – http://jackrabbitscrappin.blogspot.com/

Anita – http://www.anitaandbugs.blogspot.com/

Melinda – http://www.papercraftingworld.blogspot.com/

Lori – http://scrappinmystressaway.blogspot.com/

Becky – http://beckscricards.blogspot.com/

Bobbi Jo – http://www.sweetsassydiva.com