The Blessing of Being Vulnerable

Don’t keep your heart safe... be vulnerable John Mayer

Be sure to keep yourself vulnerable…

Make sure you expose yourself emotionally…

Place yourself in situations in which you can make sure that you can be hurt…

Do people tell you these things often? Of course not! You’ve probably never had those conversations because we live in a world of minimizing hurt, damage, and exposure.

I believe that our ability to expose our hearts is an important component of being emotionally and spiritually healthy. Let me tell you why.

First, let’s do a test of opposites. I will list a word and you fill in the blank with the opposite:

  • Black     __________
  • Dark      __________
  • Day        __________
  • Love      __________

What did you fill in for the opposite of Love? Did you use the word hate? Hate is not the right answer…the right answer is apathy.

There was a time in my life when I would have said that hate was the opposite of love too. But that was before I personally witnessed my two adopted children protect themselves at the cost of everything I believe to be most important.

My youngest two children were adopted from Russia when they were 4 and 9 years old. They were not orphans – they had been removed from their birth family due to neglect and abandonment. As you might imagine, they have experienced some difficulties in their lives.

They, of course, are not the only ones who have ever been through difficult life circumstances. However, their choices and behaviors strongly reflect what they experienced in those years prior to our adoption of them.

Our adopted children spent more time in our home with our love and influence than they spent in their birth country of Russia. However, I can assure you that the influence of those initial years has heavily outweighed the influence we have been able to have. As family and friends have watched our family struggle to help our adoptive children the frequent suggestion has been that we just need to give them more love.

I was once blessed with the experience of re-visiting heaven. I saw there the preparations that were being made for each of us to come to earth. I also saw that even there where our perfect Father in Heaven reigns and where His perfect love infuses everything present there – that God and His perfect plan for this earth was rejected by a large number of his spirit children. So even where perfect love dwells – love was not enough.

My adopted children have found that guarding themselves against hurt, rejection and vulnerability is the easiest way to make sure they never are hurt, rejected or vulnerable again. What that means is that they shut out family, loving relationships, and even passions and interests they might have.

Imagine what your life would be life if you made sure, at all costs, that you were not vulnerable. There would be no truly loving relationships – only manipulative ones. You couldn’t have any goals because you might fail in reaching those goals. Excitement and passion would be taboo because those emotions would make you too open to failure or disappointment.

I am not suggesting that we deliberately set ourselves up to be hurt but I understand now how wonderful and amazing it is to be vulnerable!

By being vulnerable I can love (even when I might get hurt), I can get excited about goals and future events that I want to happen in my life and I can embrace the talents and passions that I have – even when it might mean I will experience failure and disappointment. I can imagine and what I imagine can become a reality – all because I am willing to expose myself to whatever outcome may result.

Everything that I hold dear is a result of my willingness to allow myself to be accessible, susceptible and vulnerable – my marriage, my family, my friends and everything that I am passionate about!

So while I would never suggest that we intentionally seek hurt and pain – I hope you will join me in recognizing what a gift having an open heart and being vulnerable is!

 

 

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Religious Freedom Matters: What’s at Risk

We believe in creating a space for everyone to live their conscience without infringing on the rights and safety of others. Elder Ronald A. Rasband

I have decided to share an article today that I recently re-read from an LDS magazine called the Ensign. I share it because I am concerned with the lack of understanding that so many individuals seem to have in regards to the importance of freedom – particularly religious freedom.

During my near-death experience, I witnessed that I was a part of what this article refers to as the War in Heaven. The war in heaven took place prior to this world being created and was a momentous occasion/event in heaven that we all were affected by. Some may think of this as a physical battle. Instead, what I witnessed was an incredibly important and pivotal debate that most of God’s children were a part of.  It was this debate, and our choices in regard to it, that determined our opportunity to be a part of this world.

In the United States, we are blessed to mostly take our freedoms for granted. However, our freedoms should be cherished and need protecting. We may not always agree with the beliefs of another individual or group but as long as forced coercion and physical harm are not utilized, we need to respect their ability to believe and worship as they desire.

It is because of what I witnessed in heaven and my concerns about what I now witness going on in this country and our world that I share today’s article. It includes references to scriptures and materials/individuals who are LDS (Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). However, I believe it is relevant regardless of your religious persuasion.

I hope you will read it and support efforts to protect religious freedom and freedom in general. Great sacrifices have been made by our military and their families throughout our nation’s history. I am grateful to be a beneficiary of their efforts and sacrifices. I believe that our freedom deserves their continued efforts but it also needs our efforts. If every family in America taught and practiced respect for a diversity of beliefs, not only would the freedoms of this nation continue to be uplifted and preserved, the ability for the world, as a whole, to live according to their conscience and beliefs would likewise spread and blossom.

I believe that every member of mankind inherently knows that they are meant to be free and to live according to the dictates of their conscience. If you are aligned with me in those beliefs, I hope that you will stand for and defend our right to practice freedom of religion and to live according to our beliefs and conscience. Silence will not preserve our freedoms, it will only encourage those who are intent on silencing the voices of religion and conscience.

I hope you enjoy today’s article:

Freedom to choose. That’s what the War in Heaven was all about. We couldn’t afford to lose agency then, and we can’t afford to lose it now. And that includes the freedom to “worship how, where, or what [we] may” (Articles of Faith 1:11). That’s why the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination [as for a Mormon]; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 345).

In addition to maintaining religious freedom as an eternal principle (even God will not remove the agency of any of His children), there are some potentially severe consequences if we lose the freedom to worship, speak, and live according to our beliefs.

  • You could lose your job or leadership positions for expressing religious beliefs—even outside of work. For instance, CEOs, newscasters, judges, teachers, doctors, professors, firefighters, Olympians, graduate students, and many others have been fired, pressured to resign, or intimidated for donating money or simply saying that they support the traditional view of marriage.

  • You might be required to hide your religion or perform tasks at work that go against your beliefs. Does it seem fair, for example, that a doctor who opposes abortion on a religious or moral basis be required to perform one even though numerous other doctors nearby are willing? Should you be forced to wear an immodest uniform when it’s not necessary for your job function?

  • You may be required to work on the Sabbath or religious holidays even when others are willing to take your shift and your employer accommodates other nonreligious interests.

  • Your children in public schools may be required to learn about sexual and gender theories that contradict basic Church teachings. Many public schools already teach sex education in a way that’s fundamentally contrary to Church teachings, and some have required reading lists with explicit content.

  • You may not be able to adopt children or become a foster parent because of your religious beliefs or views on the family.

  • As a business owner or professional, you might lose your license or be fined if you refuse to perform services that are contrary to your religious beliefs. You might even lose professional credentials if you don’t participate in certain activities, even if other co-workers are willing to perform them in your place.

  • You might not be able to create faith-based clubs on college campuses without being required to let people become club members—or even officers—who oppose the club’s religious beliefs.

  • Churches may be forced to employ people who disagree with or refuse to live core values of their faith, threatening their ability to carry out their religious missions.

  • Churches could lose their tax-exempt status by maintaining doctrines, policies, and standards that conflict with secular beliefs regarding marriage, family, gender, and sexuality, resulting in a huge increase in costs to build houses of worship or to purchase and provide goods for humanitarian aid.

  • You might lose tax exemptions for charitable donations like tithes and offerings if the Church loses its status as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.

  • Churches may not be able to access government lands for camps on equal terms with other groups, limiting youth conferences and camps.

  • Housing units, such as dorms, at religious colleges could be forced to abandon moral standards that protect privacy, modesty, and morality, denying people the right to room with those who uphold the same standards.

  • Religious schools that maintain honor codes may lose their accreditation and be denied research funds and even federal student loans and grants, diminishing the value of their degrees, undermining the quality of their education, and making it financially impossible for many students to attend.

There’s a lot at stake, and this is just a sampling. As society continues to move away from eternal truths and God-given commandments, we can’t predict all the consequences that may result if religious freedom and the right to act on our beliefs are taken away.

So we need to raise our voices to defend religious freedom. If we don’t raise them for the protection of religion now, vital religious freedoms will be lost.

When we join the cause together, we can make a difference that will protect religious freedom not just for Latter-day Saints but also for followers of all religions.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/07/religious-freedom-matters-whats-at-risk?lang=eng

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Do Small Things with Great Love…Giving Love and Service

Do Small things with Great love - Mother Teresa

Giving Love and Service – it is rarely easy and virtually never convenient. Yet, it can make all the difference to those we love and to the strangers around us.

I believe we all have a story to tell of someone who has done something small for us – an act of service that did not require great sacrifice. Yet, those acts born of thoughtfulness and concern are some of our most meaningful and cherished moments.

I remember a time in my life shortly after I had graduated from high school. I was working in a pizza store. I wasn’t happy with where my life was and was feeling like nobody cared. One night a couple that I knew casually from my church came in. I was working the counter that night and did not wait on the couple but I said hi as I saw them walk in. After their meal, the man deliberately walked up to the counter and gave me a silver dollar. I don’t remember his exact words but he conveyed to me that he believed in me and that I was important. This man did not know me well but he had taken the time to notice me, think about me and then give me words of encouragement. He gave me a priceless gift that night. He gave me hope in myself and he helped me to believe in my worth. The silver dollar was a sweet gesture on his part but it was his words of encouragement that made all the difference. His kind act still impacts my life today.

Remembering moments like these in my life helps me to understand the profound difference small acts of service and kindness can make in the lives of those we come in contact with. I think today’s story shares perfectly the concept that we all need help from time to time. It is through the kindness of strangers that God most often answers our prayers. Are you meant to answer a prayer for God today?

I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African-American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her – generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his address, thanked him and drove away.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read:

“Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”
Sincerely,
Mrs. Nat King Cole

Story shared from the following website: http://www.motivateus.com/stories/five.htm

 

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Spending Time with Family and Loved Ones…You Will Never Regret It!

Happy family of father mother son and daughter smiling looking out wall isolated on white background with copy place

I am blessed with a husband that taught me the importance of making memories and spending time with family and loved one. I hope that you are able to spend time with your family and loved ones this holiday season. If not, I hope that you will make sure that they know of your love for them!

Today, I want to share a story I love!:

by Stephen on October 14, 2008

After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Some time later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”

Story shared from the following website: http://academictips.org/blogs/give-time-to-our-family/

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How Parents Who Play Favorites Hurt the Entire Family

For there is no respect of persons with God Romans 2:11Parents try to be fair, but children pick up on subtle differences in the way they are treated.

In a study appearing in the journal Child Development, researchers led by Jennifer Jenkins, a professor of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto, report on the wide-ranging effects that playing favorites, known as differential parenting, can have on not just individual siblings but also on the behavior and mental health of all family members.

When parents provide more positive feedback and encouragement to one child while sending primarily negative comments to another, it’s no surprise that the negatively targeted child may develop more behavior problems and have a more difficult relationship with his parents. But Jenkins and her colleagues were interested in exploring how differential parenting affects all siblings in a family and in understanding some of the factors that might make such differential treatment more likely.

The researchers focused on nearly 400 Canadian families, each of which had at most four children. They asked mothers about their children’s positive and negative behaviors and went to some of the families’ homes to observe parent-child interactions — for example, how the children played without toys and how mothers taught their children to make a pattern based on a photo, and the way mothers told their children a story. When the youngest children were at least 18 months old, the researchers measured the youngsters’ aggression, attention and emotional problems and rated their relationships with siblings and parents.

Overall, the negatively treated children tended to show more attention and emotional problems than their more positively treated siblings by the end of the four-year study, but all children showed higher rates of these problems compared with when the trial began. That, says Jenkins, was a surprise since previous work had only highlighted the effect of differential parenting on the targeted children.

“We would have thought that, on the basis of previous research, it would just be the disfavored children who are having problems, but that’s not the case,” says Jenkins. “Sometimes moms are very similar with their kids, and sometimes they’re very different with their kids. And when they advantage some and disadvantage others, it looks like it’s a problem for all of the kids in terms of their mental health.”

Since parents rarely set out to treat their children differently, the scientists decided to explore which factors promoted differential parenting; they figured that a mother’s stress due to economic or personal experiences might have the greatest impact on the way she treats her children, so they also collected data on the mothers’ education levels, depression and history of physical and sexual abuse. They also considered family dynamics such as whether the mother was a single parent raising her family and the safety of the home environment.

Mothers who came from unstable family backgrounds were more likely to treat each of their children differently than mothers who had privileged upbringings, and the more external factors a mother faced, like being a single parent or struggling with depression, the more difficult it was for her to treat her children equally.

That makes sense, Jenkins says, since a mother who is stressed may have less patience with the child who has more problems. But as a result, all of her children may experience more behavior problems since children tend to internalize their parents’ reactions. Children who perceive the differential treatment as unfair, even if they are treated more positively, may also act out and develop attention or emotional problems as they grow older, possibly as a way to empathize with their siblings or in protest of the injustice of the favoritism. “It creates a sense of the kids feeling uneasy, or [gives them a] sense of unfairness,” says Jenkins. “In other studies, we’ve shown that the amount of differential parenting is related to the quality of sibling relationships, so when a kid is favored or disfavored, [he or she] is fed up with the sibling, getting on less well with that sibling, and that also feeds into the general dynamic of the family.”

Addressing some of the factors that may fuel parents to play favorites, like financial strain, could help alleviate some of the wide-ranging effects on families. “We really have to start supporting parents who are socially disadvantaged and make sure they have access to money so they aren’t worried about their kids all of the time, and access to good childcare so that they’re not worried about kids being on their own when they’re working,” says Jenkins. “These things are eating into the way parents can parent.”

Even when parent-child relationships are stressed in this way, communicating well can reduce some of the negative consequences. In some families, certain siblings need more attention or support than others, and parents should discuss with their kids why they are approaching siblings differently to avoid any misunderstanding. Children “don’t mind that parents treat them differently,” Jenkins says. “They only mind when they see that differential treatment as unfair, and that comes about when things aren’t explained to children.”

Today’s article was written by Olivia B. Waxman and is shared from the following website: http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/12/how-parents-who-play-favorites-hurt-the-entire-family/

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