Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

12 Week Parenting Challenge: Are You Interested?

Would you be interested in spending 12 weeks trying to be a better parent?  Would you like to participate in a support group with other parents doing the same thing?  Would you like to be able to measure, track, and share your progress?  

I'm thinking about starting something like that.  

I've been putting a lot of thought lately into creating a positive behavior management program for my kids, but I have a tendency to start something and use it for a few weeks, only to get distracted/lax-- and then the kids fall into their old negative behavior patterns.  But I think if I had a group of like-minded parents holding me accountable, offering advice, and providing support, I might be more successful.  

These are the primary goals of the program:  

1) Create a safe, happy home environment that fosters growth.  

2) Teach kids habits and beliefs that will enable them to become their very best selves and live loving, connected, responsible, self-sufficient, and happy lives.  

3) Build a loving relationship based on trust, support, respect, and love between parents and children that will last a lifetime.  

This is what I'm thinking right now for the structure of the program:

The Blog.  
On the blog there will be an overview of the program, the overall goals, philosophy, structure, etc.  You'll want to read that before beginning the program. 

Every Sunday, I'll do a post about the parenting focus for the next week to get everyone geared up and ready to go. 

You'll be able to earn points and track your progress on a spreadsheet.  Because I love spreadsheets.

Facebook Support Group.  
Every participant will aim to check in daily, sharing their points tally for the day and describing their triumphs and trials. 

The challenge will be "closed" to new participants for the full twelve weeks, which means you'll need to sign up before it begins!  But the blog content will always be open for perusal and if I have enough participation the first go-around, I might do it again.  

So are you in?  If you're interested, leave a message or PM me on Facebook.  I'll be establishing a Facebook group soon and I'll send you an invite.  :)   

Sunday, December 01, 2013


Tomorrow morning I am starting a new job.  A fabulous job.  My dream job.  How did I get said dream job, you ask?  Why, I'm glad you asked.   It's a good story. Sit yourself down for awhile and I'll a-tell it to you.   

First, it starts with Prayer

In April, I made a sincere effort to begin praying regularly.  I was able to do so because I finally realized that my structure-loving brain needed a solid framework on which to hang my spirituality.  A prayer template came to me during sacrament meeting one week (during that awesome part of sacrament meeting that happens before I have to leave the organ and join Abe in our weekly WWF-style wrestling match with the boys).  I wrote it down and eventually--after employing my usual gamut of Spiritual Avoidance Techniques--started using it.  And I gotta say, it's been a good thing.  Having a reliable prayer structure has significantly reduced my sense of inadequacy and anxiety in prayer.  I've modified it a little over time, but the basics have remained the same.  For those of you who may struggle with prayer, as I have over the years, I'll share it.  It's been very helpful for me.  
  • I begin by asking God to allow me to be grounded in His love, to feel His love for me and for others.  I also ask him to help me to hear His voice, to see His light, and to know Him better.      
  • Then I express gratitude for the big and little blessings in my life.  I've been trying to keep a list of my daily blessings (I call them "happies," thanks to my bestie/college roomie Holly), so sometimes I just say, "Thanks for all the stuff I wrote about last night.  I know my life is good.  Thank You."    
  • Next, I ask God to bless the people that I love and anyone that I am particularly concerned about (I've even taking to keeping a list of people who need extra prayers-- maybe a coworker going through a difficult time, a neighbor having surgery, a friend with a sick child, etc.)  I try to spend time envisioning the face of each person that I pray for and wishing them happiness, courage, peace, strength, and progress. 
  • I ask for any particular guidance that I am in need of (Should I have another baby?  How should I help Soren manage his emotions?  What can I do to not be so tired?  That sort of thing.)   
  • And then I give God my hopes-- and I list those hopes for Him, adding that I give them to Him with trust in His love and eternal plans for me.  

I've been reading the Doctrine and Covenants recently and have noticed that the Lord keeps saying, "Ask and you shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you."  I've long struggled with that scripture because obviously God isn't going to give us everything we ask for (I think we all remember what happened in Bruce Almighty when Bruce God started answering "yes" to everyone's requests...) and I think we've also all had the disheartening experience of asking God for something that seems totally reasonable and good but not receiving it.  But last night I had a little epiphany-- an understanding that when we ask God for something, what we're really doing is opening the door to allow God's hand into that aspect of our lives.  So no, we may not receive exactly what we have asked for, but if we reach up and ask, we are putting ourselves in a position to be given what God wants for us-- which, I believe, will ultimately end up being so much better than what we want for ourselves.

I'll confess that even with my New and Improved Prayer Structure, I haven't been perfect at praying.  I probably only end up praying 3-4 times a week, but I will go ahead and acknowledge that's about 3-4 times more frequently than I was praying before.  Nevertheless, I am here to say that I believe that as a result of my prayers, God has been able to reach His hand into my life and bring about good things.  

The Good Things

One of the hopes I have been giving God each day is the hope for a vocation, with the understanding that by "vocation" I am referring to Beuchner's definition: a place where my "deep gladness meets the world's deep need."  I have specifically imagined a vocation in which I would be able to play with language-- writing, editing, etc-- which is something I naturally enjoy.

And then, unbeknownst to me, pieces started falling into place to make this hope a reality.

Piece #1. At the beginning of October, I randomly went on a courage kick.  I discovered Sara Bareilles' song/music video, "Brave," followed by Katy Perry's song/music video, "Roar."  These two songs-- and their accompanying videos-- totally resonated with me and I listened to/watched them a lot.  A. Lot.  I felt electrified, ready to take on all my fears.  

Piece #2. Also in October, I felt inspired to throw a little block party of sorts, which is way, way, way, way, way, way, way outside my comfort zone.  But I did it.  I bravely, personally invited every single person whose property touches my street to a chili/cider/cookie hangout party at my place.  Only a few people actually came, but it was fun-- and I considered the whole thing to be a rousing success.   

Piece #4. On October 24th, I wrote in my "Happies" journal:  "I've decided that 2014 is going to be the Year of Vocation.  I am going to get a job in writing or editing and I am going to write my novel."

Piece #5. On October 29th, I randomly checked Craigslist for writing/editing jobs.   In the past when I've looked at writing/editing jobs on Craigslist, they all either seemed super scammy or required mounds more experience than I have.  But on this particular day, just minutes before I checked Craigslist, a position with a company (called Elevati) that had just purchased a large number of adoption websites, including adoption.com, was listed.  They had just moved to Rexburg and seemed open to hiring people who didn't have a lot of formal experience.   That night and the night after, I worked furiously, putting together a cover letter, resume, and writing sample for the position.  On the evening of October 30th, I worked up all my courage and submitted them.  It was late, but I was so pumped up I did 1000 jumping jacks in 20 minutes-- another thing I had been wanting to do but had been too scared to try, for fear of failing.

Piece #6. The next day was a day off from work.  I had traded my usual Tuesday off for a Thursday off so I could be home with my kids on Halloween.  They were both at school, so I had gone for a walk.  When I returned, I checked my phone and noticed I had missed a call.  The message was from Nathan from Elevati.  He had received my application and liked my writing style.  He wanted to meet with me.

I was completely overwhelmed.  I cried.  I hyperventilated.  Then called Abe and, squealing and jumping up and down, told him that they had liked me! They had really, really liked me! And they wanted to interview me!  And he, who couldn't understand any of my over-the-phone screeching, thought maybe the house had burned down or one of the children had been seriously injured. 

When I finally calmed down enough to call someone and use a professional voice, I returned Nathan's phone call and we set up an interview for later that afternoon.  My mother graciously agreed to watch the kids for me while I interviewed, so I dumped them off at her place and drove to Rexburg.

The interview went well and Nathan (the CEO of the company) asked me to write him ten adoption-related articles and report back in two weeks.

I spent the next two weeks focusing every spare drop of energy and effort on writing articles about adoption-related topics.  I researched.  I interviewed.  I wrote.  My sweet, supportive husband picked up a lot of child-tending slack as I disappeared to the library on Saturdays.  He even allowed himself to be dragged to an adoption interview on one of our dates.

On Wednesday the 14th, the day before my articles were due, Nathan called me again.  He said I was still their first choice for the position.  He asked me to come in and work with their Editor, Lindsey, who lives out of state but would be in Rexburg for the next two days. 

I was again overwhelmed.  I felt swept up in God's love.  I felt absolutely that this was a gift He was giving me.  There may or may not have been more crying.   I texted my current boss, who knew what was going on and was sweet enough to let me take off some time to go pursue this opportunity. 

I submitted my articles that night and reported for duty the next afternoon.  Everyone I met at Elevati was extremely kind and approachable.  Lindsey was adorable and a delight to work with.  The next day, Nathan formally offered me the position.  I accepted.  It was a little miracle.


This whole experience has reinforced the testimony that has kept me tied to the church through many doubts and desires to give it up: God loves me.  He knows me and He loves me.  I don't understand it.  I don't understand pretty much anything in the spiritual realm.  You probably won't hear me making a lot of firm doctrinal declarations anytime soon, but I believe that my getting this job is a direct result of God's infinite kindness and His love for me.  There's really no other reason.  There were other, more qualified candidates, I'm sure.  People with a stronger connection to adoption.   People with more writing experience.  But, wonderfully and miraculously, I was chosen for the position of Content Manager for the soon-to-be-revamped adoption.com.

I will officially begin my new job on Monday.  Am I anxious?  Yes.  Do I know it will be good?  Yes.  And do I know that if I continue to ask and knock that God will continue to reach His hand into my life and bring about His divine magic?  Yes.  Will He make me more than I can be on my own?  Yes.  Will miracles occur?  Heck yes.


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