In this section of Dates With God, where we see Jill have a Mother’s Day from hell and battle with anger over her husband’s verbal abuse. She recovers and comes up with a plan to do Power Actions on steroids! Here’s Jill’s Letter #9 which is Chapter 9, Part 2.
Post-Course Letter #1 from Jill
How did I see Thy hand in my life today God? I saw it in the form of my sweet neighbor who offered to babysit my three little kids who don’t go to school so I could get my grocery shopping done quickly this morning. That was so helpful. I love knowing that I don’t have to go shopping this Saturday morning, when it’s so much more hectic. She must have asked in her morning prayers who she could help today, because I totally needed help. I was dreading taking them all because I have felt exhausted. It would have been tricky to go shopping any night this week because of other commitments and I hate shopping in the afternoon during the golden hours of nap times.
I am so glad that I finally have fallen in love with reading the scriptures. In addition to looking up scriptures about Thine hands and handiwork, I have read scriptures about Thy mouth, Thy word, Thy eyes, and Thy mind. I have taken lots of notes about them. I feel I have been transformed. I used to hate reading the scriptures. I haven’t written about that much yet but if I am going to read scriptures like a warrior I have to address this issue that I’ve had my whole life. I have been avoiding writing about my repeated lost battles with scripture reading but now it’s time to be open with Thee about it. I used to never find much meaning in the scriptures. They were so boring. I struggled for years with reading scriptures consistently and enjoying it. Even during this class, I have missed reading the scriptures every single day. I have these memories of playing with a neighbor friend when I was 6 or so after dinner. Her parents would always call her home for family scripture reading. I thought that was weird. I always resented that our play was interrupted by scriptures. My scripture issues came up again a while ago. When we were leaving for church many months ago, I saw the kids gathering up their smart-looking, stylish scripture totes, which were all handmade by me. I came up with some cool no sew scripture totes that I created a tutorial for on my blog. As they picked up their totes, I had a thought, “You care more about looking good than being good. They use their scriptures more at church than at home, and they use them more than you.” Ouch! Normally I would brush that aside but it really stung. I think I was at a Level 0 so I actually took it to heart and didn’t ignore it or resent the sting.
During church that day, I actually had the baby asleep so I could flip through the scriptures without him grabbing them. I found this scripture that completely amazed me:
“And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come.” Helaman 16:22
I thought, “That is totally me! I have been letting satan harden my heart against that which is good for decades. Sure I like to look good, as my clothes and kids and house and blog show, but do I look good on the inside? Am I actually seeking for the good that really matters, the things of the Spirit that I can take with me after I die? Do I seek after that eternal good?” Ever since my dad died two weeks ago I have been looking at what really matters in life. My dad spent a lifetime building up his business and estate. But he couldn’t take them with him. Sure he left an estate to his kids and grandkids, but the money he left pales in comparison to his sad spiritual legacy. He was such a critical, harsh person, always seeking the next deal or thrill. That destroyed his marriage and his family life. I want to learn from his bad example. So I have been asking myself “What spiritual legacy do you want to leave your kids? What spiritual things are you going to take with you when you die?”
So dear God, I really need help to make my new scripture reading habit stick. I acknowledge all of my sins and weaknesses before Thee. I’m sorry I’ve been so “prone to wander.” I’m sorry I haven’t taught my kids much about Thee. I need Thee to help me everyday read my scriptures and start a family scripture reading habit as well.
Before I finish this letter, I have to tell Thee, I had the Mother’s Day from Hell just last week. I know that you know all about it but maybe with me writing it out I will get some perspective. It was horrible. I honestly wish sometimes that I could just not have Rob in my life. Our church is from 11 to 2 PM which is normally not a problem. But last week, my in-laws invited us to their place for a big Mother’s Day barbecue, starting at 6. Since it is a two hour drive, we had to leave at 4. That only gave me 2 hours between the time our church was over and our departure time. I don’t know what was with Rob that day, I guess he was at a Level 3 or 4, because he kept giving me verbal jabs all day, on Mother’s Day of all days. Things like “I wish you would put the salt back when you use it, you are always leaving things all over the place,” or “When are you going to stop letting the kids get away with picking their noses?” I had so much to do after church, like feed the little kids a lunch to tide them over until the barbecue, make the potato salad and the brownies, plus make something sugar-free for Rob’s mom. Did he ask to help? No. Did he agree to help when I asked him? Yes, but then he never actually got his butt up to help and kept lingering on the Internet. Then it took a lot longer for us to get out the door, because I remembered I had to find the Mother’s Day gift I got for his mom, 2 weeks prior, which was hidden away from the kids, and then wrap it, and then find all the toppings I had planned for the sugar-free dessert.
As we were leaving in the car he said to me, “You are always the one to make us late to these family times!” Oh the nerve of that man! Never mind that I was the one to remember to buy something for his mom, wrap it, and make her a dessert she can eat. Then, our car broke down on the freeway. It just stopped working and we had to pull over and wait for a tow truck to come help. The tow truck driver pulled the car onto his flatbed and we rode on top of that, in the car, the rest of the way. That was fun, but unfortunately, that was the only fun thing that happened that night. We eventually got there, late, and I had to scramble to put together the dessert and missed out on all the fun talk between my sisters outside on the patio. I didn’t get time to relax. I had to ask my brother to borrow his car for the drive home, and then we had to wait for him to clean it out so we could all fit. Then, my sister-in-law came up to me and said that my son had just called her teenage daughter fat. I offered to have him apologize but she said that would make it worse. She was in her bedroom crying. On the way home she sent me a text telling me more about how awful her daughter felt. I felt awful, realizing that I had never taught my child that it is rude to tell people they are fat. I just forget that each kid needs to be told that and assume they will pick up certain bits of polite behavior and knowledge by osmosis. Oh, the mothering never ends! So needless to say, I felt like an awful mother on Mother’s Day.
The good news is that when I got home, after the kids were finally in bed, I was able to recognize, hey, I am feeling lousy. This lousiness does not come because I am a mess, it is coming from satan telling me that I am a mess. It is also coming from satan telling my husband that I am a mess. Hey, satan is building on that by feeding me lies that I am an awful mother. Hey, this is a perfect time to do my drill. My new drill is to take out my affirmation script card, read it out loud, do ten deep breaths while I visualize being held in the arms of the Savior. Then I go lie down on my bed, with my head off the edge, and I massage my scalp. The whole thing relaxes me and invigorates me at the same time.
My drills and my Power actions are helping me so much! I see more and more that I show that I honor and worship Thee by doing my Power actions as soon as I can every day, first thing in the morning. That way, my Power actions have become a sacred ritual. I hope that as I show I rely on Thee and worship Thee by connecting with Thee for the first part of my day that Thou wilt come to me in my times of need. Thou did say in the scriptures, “Draw near unto me, and I will draw near unto thee.” (D&C 88:69) I see how much better my life and my kids are when I draw unto Thee every day, rain or shine, no matter how I’m feeling, first thing in the morning. That shows that I am putting Thee first in my life as I look to Thee as the first thing I think about. I love Thee. I am forever grateful to Thee for blessing me with the gift of Thy Son, my Savior Jesus Christ, so I can repent and make permanent change. I thank Thee for helping me to discover the power of Power Actions and my three daily Girl Goals. The Power actions have given me an order to my hugely chaotic life. I also love the renewal and refreshment I get from them that I desperately need as a busy mom of 8. I feel for the first time in my life that Thou art literally my Father who watches over me with a tender caring love.
I have loved my study of the scriptures using themes. Now I am ready to change things up as to how I study. I am ready for a different structure. I was reading the story of Samuel in 1 Samuel 3. I realized that Samuel would not have been able to recognize the voice he heard, finally, as the Lord’s voice, if he had been listening to too many voices. I realized that I have spent my whole life listening to too many voices, especially those of pop culture and media. Verse 19 especially struck me, “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.”
I suddenly realized that for years I have been letting the Lord’s words fall to the ground. I haven’t read the Lord’s words, found in the scriptures, much at all. I haven’t read the teachings of the latter-day prophets in the manuals that we’ve been using in the Relief Society and priesthood meetings since before I got married. And when I teach my Primary class I tend to hurry and listen to the lesson while I am curling my hair on Sunday morning, before church. The lesson usually has scriptures to “prayerfully read.” I have been always skipping over those.
I decided that if I am going to know the Lord’s voice so I can hear it and if I want to be able to hear it I am going to have to become familiar with His voice and His word, which is in the scriptures. So I am turning over a new leaf. Here is my new plan for my reading time for the “R” of my PoWeR Actions. I can’t believe I am being this nerdy, with a study plan, with the scriptures, no less, but it actually feels exciting to me!
I am extending my reading time to at least 10 minutes, and sometimes I am going to read for 15 minutes.
Monday: Read the scriptures referenced in my Primary lesson. and then my Primary lesson. If I don’t finish reading in the 5 to 15 minutes, I am going to finish listening to the lesson while I fix breakfast.
Tuesday through Wednesday: Read all of the scriptures mentioned in the upcoming Sunday School/Gospel Doctrine lesson, including the scripture chain at the end of the lesson
Thursday through Friday: Read the lesson for the upcoming Relief Society lesson, including all of the scriptures referenced. Those lessons are either a General Conference talk or a chapter from the current Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual.
Saturday through Sunday: Pick up where I last left off in my study of the recent General Conference. I am going to not only read each talk one by one but I am going to read all of the scriptures mentioned in each talk and either mark them or write them out in my journal.
So here’s my plan for my writing. When I read the Primary lesson, I am going to write down any thoughts I have as I read, or any scriptures that I really like. When I read the Gospel Doctrine lesson, I am going to write out the questions in the class member study guide, look up the answer in the scriptures given, and write the answers out. Then I will mark the scripture chain. For the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church lessons, I will write down the questions and answers at the end of each chapter, as well as write out the scriptures. I decided to write out the questions and actually answer them because I was thinking about my kids’ charter school. One of the founding principles of the school is to use the Socratic method for teaching every subject at every grade. That’s because we learn a lot more when we are faced with questions and come up with our own answers. I realized, hey, I think I will learn a lot more from the scriptures if I actually have questions to guide me in my reading and I look for answers. I figure the prophet has approved all of these questions in the study guide so it’s like I am being guided in my scripture study by the prophet. What better way to learn about the scriptures?
That’s going to be all before breakfast. Then I am going to write more! After I am done with my prayer, scripture reading and scripture writing that I do first thing after I wake up, I am going to set my journal down at my place at the dining room table. That reminds me to do my drill right after I eat my breakfast. I have decided that my new drill is to ask myself every morning “What am I fighting for?” The answer to that is my three Girl Goals. Then I am going to ask “Why am I fighting?” “Why don’t I give up?” and then “How is the enemy going to attack me and how am I going to prepare to fight back?”
Then in the evening, right before bed, I am going to ask myself “How did I see Thy hand today God?” Then I am going to write down all of the whisperings of the Spirit that I remember for the day and any tender mercies that I felt from Thee. I am also going to review what I got done in the day, what I didn’t get done, and what my plans are for tomorrow.
I have felt the enemy has stepped up his game in attacking me so I have to step up my game and strengthen my borders to fight back. As the saying goes, “New level, new devil.” I am so grateful that Thou hast given me the tools I need to step up my game.
I was listening to a talk in sacrament meeting where the speaker was talking about family history and legacy. He asked, “When was the last time you did something hard for your grandchildren?” As I thought about it I realized, “Hey, it was just last night when I wrote in my journal even though I was so dead tired.: That made me feel so marvelous! I think it’s so amazing that someday my posterity is going to be amazed that they have journals of their great- grandmother and that she didn’t miss a day of writing for decades. They are going to be wowed by how many times, God, that Thou worked in my life. It will increase their testimonies and their determination to keep their covenants. They are also going to know me so well, even though I will be dead. That will make our reunion in the next life that much more joyful!
Your awestruck daughter,
copyright 2015 by Celestia Shumway