These past few weeks have been super powerful for our family.
First, Andrew has been called into the bishopric for our congregation (the bishopric consists of 3 men who act as leaders in the local congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The call didn't come as a complete surprise (Andrew had a prompting a few weeks ago nudge him to the possibility of this call). Still, it is a big calling and a big responsibility and some added time away from family. I fully support him in this call, and yet I also have struggled as I have experienced the tough stages we are at with our daughters. Grace is practically impossible to get dressed in the morning without a huge fight. I have officially given up on doing her hair (there are only so many battles I will fight with her), but changing out of princess pajamas is a must! So, needless to say, I am not looking forward to tackling Sunday mornings on my own.
But even in the midst of those difficulties, I have received witnesses myself that this calling will be a great blessing for our family. I am excited to bond with the other bishopric members and their families, and I am excited to get to know the members of our ward a lot more. Already there have been ladies who have come up to me and offered to help with my kids if I am having a tough time. I know the Lord will bless our family for our faithful sacrifices.
One huge blessing that came right before Andrew was set apart was that we were able to attend the temple. The temples have been closed for over a year now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They now are open, but are only for use for people going through for the first time and a few members of their families/friends.
Well, my Granddaddy has been ready to go through for the first time for a few months now. We had scheduled a time to go in December, but then an increase in COVID cases caused the temple to be closed again for a time. We finally were able to schedule a new time, and it just so happened that it was the week right before Andrew embarked on the new, big responsibility at church. It was so nice to be able to feel the peace and direction of the temple instructions.
Granddaddy had a great experience and is anxious for the temples to open more so that he can attend on a regular basis. In August, he will be able to be sealed to my Namma (who passed away last year). Their marriage will be sealed not only for time on the earth but for eternity. This is a huge blessing of the temple and one that I am so grateful for. There is such comfort in knowing that family bonds can continue after this life.
And finally, I taught Gospel Doctrine for the first time this past week. When I was called to be a Sunday School teacher, I was really nervous. But as I planned my lesson, I was grateful for the knowledge I have as a former teacher and how I was able to use those skills to help me focus my thoughts.
We talked about witnesses of the Book of Mormon and about being witnesses of truth ourselves. During my lesson, my personality came out and I felt comfortable teaching again (although it was very strange trying to teach over the Zoom video program). I felt the spirit confirm what I was teaching, and I hope the other members of the class felt it too. In the end, I gave them this invitation:
Bear your witness of truth this week.
It can be your testimony of the Book of Mormon, insight you received as you studied in the Come Follow Me manual, or your feelings about how you have seen the hand of the Savior in your life recently. Bear your witness with faith, and the spirit will be there to testify of the truth of your words.
So this is me bearing my witness to the world through my blog :)
Whether you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or not, I testify that God lives and loves us. He loves YOU! He is aware of us, and He will support us and love us in our trials and weaknesses. The Book of Mormon is a true record of ancient origin, and I know that Joseph Smith truly translated it by the power of God. The Book of Mormon, along with the Bible, give us a clear picture of Christ's gospel. Temples and priesthood power are a part of God's plan to enable us to return to God's presence along with our families. Also part of His plan are our personal agency to choose faith, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure by following His commandments. There are living prophets on the earth today that help us endure and follow God's instructions for our modern-day trials. I am so grateful for this knowledge that I have gained though my own asking, study, and prayer.
I bought a planner for 2021. It turns out the planner I ended up buying is way more intense than I had expected. For every day, there are 2 whole pages of lines and boxes for me to fill in a variety of topics: things I am grateful for, personal affirmations, what exercise I completed that day, the day's priorities, the day's schedule, tasks to be completed, wins for the end of the day, and how I will improve in the future. Like I said....INTENSE!
But while filling in some of the spaces today, I was struck with the "affirmation" box. I have never been good at keeping or saying affirmations, but I do know they can be a powerful tool. I certainly believe in the power of words, both positive and negative. But for some reason, I have always felt a bit awkward about personal affirmations. Maybe it's just the human condition to want to shy away from compliments and a sense of self-aggrandizement, but today I had a quick experience that made me notice the wisdom of children and how I can be more loving to myself.
Grace was a very tender toddler today. While there were still tears and fights between sisters, there were also many moments where I saw sharing, gratitude, and love. My mama heart swelled with love at hearing Grace exclaim, "Oh! Thank you, Maddy." when Madelyn handed her the Elsa doll. When Maddy was crying because she had hurt herself, Grace willingly shared her own beloved blankie and lovie to help Maddy feel better (this is a BIG deal!). And its funny to see Grace pass some of her own food to Maddy at the dinner table with an enthusiastic, "Here you go, Mad-o-win." (phonetically accurate spelling of her sister's name according to Grace. haha).
At one point in the day, I simply stated, "Grace, you are a very sweet girl."
At that, Grace responded with, "Yes, Mommy, I a sweet girl."
And I was stuck with how easily Grace was able to repeat and believe that affirmation. I hope she always believes and lives up to that statement. It is a true statement even when there are tears and tantrums.
To end this thought, I was reading a post on a parenting account on Instagram today. The post said, "A bad moment does not make you a bad parent."
Sometimes we look at all the faults and failures, and we begin to define ourselves by the negative instead of by the positive. But we are not defined by our bad moments. We need to be able to acknowledge those failures, plan on how to do better, and then move forward with forgiveness in our hearts for ourselves. We are not our bad moments.
I have a goal this year to write affirmations (I dont know yet if I will do this weekly or monthly), post them somewhere where I will see them daily, and repeat them to myself. I want to work diligently to see myself the way my Heavenly Father sees me. I want to feel confident and love myself no matter the circumstances. I want to be able to say with the ease of a two year old, "Yes, I a sweet girl."
Well, November brought cooler weather, a Thanksgiving feast, and....COVID 19 to the Mayans house.
It seems that most of my extended family have tested positive for the "Rona": both of my brothers, my sister-in-law, my mom, and my dad. Luckily, we somehow managed to avoid it at our house. Andrew just tested for it today, and the test came back negative. The girls and I are as healthy as can be. I hope everyone is able to quickly recover from it. So far, it has only plagued my brothers for a few days before disappearing, but of course they will still have to quarantine themselves for the recommended 2 week period.
So now is the start of December and I am working hard to not let the Corona Virus put a damper on my holiday spirit. Grace, Madelyn, and I just set up our Christmas tree. It has some ribbon, garland, and some extra flowers and greenery, but as of right now we haven't added the bulbs or other decorative ornaments. But even only partially completed, it brings such a bright spirit to our home.
When we had finished decorating it, I told Grace, "The Christmas tree will help us remember that this is a time to celebrate Jesus' birth."
To that, she quickly found her Baby Jesus from the Little People nativity set and said, "I want to show Baby Jesus the tree." She held him up to see the beautiful lights, and i was warmed with her innocent and sincere desire to show Jesus her work.
I love seeing Christmas through my little 2-year-old's eyes. Every time she sees Christmas lights as we drive or a Christmas tree as we walk through Costco, she squeals with glee. It is so fun! Tonight I caught a picture of Grace and Andrew snuggling on the couch by the tree. it's moments like that where I am reminded of the importance to capture the small, simple moments of the season rather than be too bombarded with the fluff that the world throws onto the Christmas holiday.
This year (like the last few years), the church has put out a "Light the World" invitation. Every day they post and invitation for how each person can serve and bring some light.
Today the invitation was to post a picture or description of something that brings peace to your life.
Here is my response:
I find peace in putting Madelyn to bed. I love, love, LOVE rocking her and having her fall asleep in my arms. She is getting to be such a big girl, but during those few minutes before I lay her down in her crib, I am able to savor how little she still is. I love being a mother. It is really tough, and overwhelming, and exhausting sometimes. But the tender love I feel for my daughters is .... is there even an adequate work for it? Wonderful. Tender. Holy. Inspiring. I am grateful for an invitation to find the quiet moments that strengthen my soul while living in this chaotic world.
I'm sitting here bundled up in a warm robe and blanket, listening to the rain patter outside, and I cant help but think, "It FINALLY feels like fall in California!" I didn't realize how much I would miss the changing seasons. True, Utah has bipolar seasons that can change in a matter of minutes, but there is something so fun about the changing habits that come with crisp weather: wearing boots and scarves, sipping hot chocolate, snuggling under a blanket on the couch. So I am enjoying today's rainy day while reminiscing of events from this week.
This week the girls played with play dough for the first time. After having established the rules of no eating and no throwing, they both loved squishing the play dough in their hands. Grace liked making "snakes".
Madelyn is seriously trying to talk! She still isn't really interested in walking, but she loves to imitate speech and repeat words from books. It really is incredible.
And of course, this week was also the presidential election. I'm going to leave this part rather vague and just say that I have/had a lot of anxiety about it. Politics are so messed up! I feel like there is so much fraud and disseat, and it makes it really difficult to feel confident in our country right now.
Alright, there is just too many great moments that I want to remember. I HAVE to post a weekly update on our lives and share a few fun stories.
Grace is currently obsessed with Beauty and the Beast. We listen to the music on constant repeat during the day, and whenever we put on a a movie, that is her choice. She has the music memorized, and even sang part of it in the bathtub last night (I will have to try and record it because it is just too cute and writing about it doesn't do it justice.) She even has adopted some of the actions from the movie; right now the most tender thing you can do to show her affection is cup her cheek with you hand because that is what Belle and the Beast do in one of the final scenes.
So it's not surprising that Grace wanted to be Belle for Halloween. She is now obsessed with the Belle costume (which has left an obscene amount of glitter all over my house). She let me pull up her hair like Belle and paint her face with roses and swirls. Madelyn's costume was very last minute, but I think it turned out cute. She was a little lamb, and somehow I learned that she now knows some of her animal sounds. I'd ask her, "What does a sheep say?" and she'd respond with the appropriate, "Baa." With her dressed up, it was one of the cutest moments of the day.
For Halloween we had a casual family party and the house of my Abuelo and Abuela (my grandparents from Cuba). All the great-grandkids were dressed up, and we did a modified version of Trick or Treating in the backyard. The kids ate cupcakes and played with each other. Despite the photo on this post, the kids had a great time; it just is terribly difficult to take a good picture with 4 toddlers and 2 babies. Haha!
Then we went home to see if we'd have any trick or treaters arrive at our house (spoiler alert: we didn't have a single person drop by to ask for candy, but we did have a few very kind neighbors who actually brought over treats for our girls!). Overall, I'd call our Halloween festivities a success. The only downer part was that Andrew and I didn't dress up (which we always do). It just seemed that COVID killed the adult motivation to figure out a costume. Oh well, next year we will have to be better about planning it.
One afternoon while Andrew was at work, I was talking to him on the phone when I realized I could hear Madelyn upstairs. She had crawled all the way up (yes, that's a thing she does now). She had then proceeded to go into our master bedroom and sit just outside the bathroom door to call, "DADA!!! DADA!!!" at the top of her 1-year old lungs. It was hilarious. Apparently, Maddy knows that Daddy likes to spend some time alone on the toilet, and she was determined to find him. Andrew and I both laughed our heads off.
Since we cannot go to church because of COVID-19, we have church in our own home. We have a virtual meeting over zoom with our ward/congregation. We then meet as a family in the living room to partake of the Lord's sacrament. I want to always remember how Grace kneels next to her Daddy as he blesses the emblems of the sacrament. It's something so special that I never would have seen if we had still been meeting in a church building.
Andrew and Maichael
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