Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thoughts about children or the lack thereof...

It might seem odd for a woman who's getting close to 37 weeks pregnant to be thinking about infertility, but for some reason it was on my mind today.

I feel so lucky that we were able to conceive and that so far the pregnancy has gone so smoothly. I learned after getting married that sooo many more couples struggle with infertility than I had ever thought. Some of those struggles are fairly temporary, some are more lengthy, but I think all of them cause heartache.

Occasionally, you'll hear people say things like "Being blessed with this baby is evidence that God loves me." This is a true statement. All things we have are blessings from God. But unfortunately, it can be easy for a couple who wasn't blessed with a baby to think that because they're infertile, God must not love them as much. Let me say clearly: this is absolutely not true.

The Lord's timing is always calculated to bless us. He is our father, and he loves us perfectly to a degree beyond our ability to truly comprehend. He is watching over us, and knows the experiences and trials that will transform us into who we are supposed to come. Some of those trials can be very heartrending. But if we endure them well, God will turn them to our blessing.

Isaiah taught this truth very beautifully when he said:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound... To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; (Isaiah 61: 1,3 - emphasis added)
This is what Christ and his atonement do for us: turns our ashes into beauty. Notice by the way, that the people who were mourning were the residents of Zion. Even those who dwell in Zion (and maybe especially those who dwell in Zion) experience mourning and ashes and heaviness. Christ's atonement is as much for them in their trials and heartaches as it is for their sins and transgressions.

If you are struggling with painful trials, I would encourage you to turn to the Lord. Come unto Christ by seeking him through sincere prayer and study of his words. Your burdens won't always go away when you do this, but I do know that when we come unto Christ in the midst of our afflictions, he makes those burdens light so that we cannot "feel them upon [our] backs" (see Mosiah 24:9-15).

Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul? 
Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One. 
He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end. 
Text: Emma Lou Thayne

Monday, February 25, 2013

Valentine's date, and other stuff.

So because Chris had class and I had to work on Valentine's Day, we decided we'd go on a Valentine's date on Monday.

Chris planned two special activities. First we went to Color Me Mine. It's a super fun place where you pick out a pre-made ceramic piece, paint it, and then come back a few days later to pick it up after it's been fired. Chris and I painted cereal bowls, and I have to say, Chris's is pretty epic. Check 'em out.

Chris's on the left, mine on the right.

A closer look at Chris's. Isn't it awesome?

... and the other side. Truly a "cereal" bowl, don't ya think?
It was super fun. It's a really great date activity in my book, because you can do lots of talking while you paint, and it's really fun to create things together.

After that, we went to dinner at Pizzeria 712. Oh man, if you live in the area, you should save up for a fancy meal and eat there. It. is. sooooooooo. good! I could eat their short rib and polenta every day of my whole life. Even just the pita and hummus is epic, and the pizza... well it's just all around a fantastic place to eat. It's a little more spendy than say, a Texas Road House, or Applebee's kind of place, but because it's Utah County, it's not too crazy. I have a feeling that if they were in New York or somewhere trendy they could charge twice what they do in Orem. And it is seriously amazing food. 

In other news, I'm now at 36 weeks. It still seems unreal to me that in just 4 weeks, (give or take) I'll have a baby. A real one. He will be ours to hold and love and feed and change and cuddle and smooch and everything else beautiful and hard that comes with a child. I cognitively understand that it's going to happen, but it still often seems so unreal.

And in other news, we bought a stroller! We did some researching and decided we liked the kind my brother and sister-in-law have. It's a universal car seat holding stroller. I'd done some looking around and the cheapest we've seen it is for $60, but on Saturday, Chris and I went to Burlington, and they had it on sale for $40. Woot! We snatched it right up. Here it is with our car seat attached.

I feel like baby is still going to be baking for a few more weeks, but if he did come tomorrow, I think we'd be ready for him.

Update: I just got back from my 36 week check-up today. Dr. said I'm dilated to a 1!!! (which doesn't mean a whole lot, I could go around for the next several weeks and have it not change at all, but still. I'm so excited!) She said baby's still high, and I'm not having anything close to regular contractions (in fact I'm barely having contractions at all), but this is a sure sign that my body is gearing up to get this baby here. Whew! What a thrill!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Today in Primary...

There's a story from Elder Bednar's life about the insights that the Holy Ghost gives to children. It goes like this:
[Elder Bednar] remembers a time in 1987 when he was the bishop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “I went into Primary one Sunday,” he says. “They had invited me. I decided to wear red suspenders. I thought that I would somehow use them as an object lesson. So I got in the Primary room, took off my coat, and said, ‘Now, boys and girls, the bishop has these red suspenders. How are the scriptures like my red suspenders?’ And one little boy raised his hand and said, ‘The scriptures hold up our faith in Jesus the same way your suspenders hold up your pants.’ I said, ‘That is exactly right.’” (click here for the source)
I get to work with the Primary children (the kids ages 3-11) every Sunday. I teach them music. This month we're learning a song about how the beautiful things in the world are evidence that Heavenly Father loves us. I thought it might be nice to have a picture that goes with each line of the song and went onto to find some. The very last line of the song is, "Yes, I know Heav'nly Father loves me," and I couldn't find a good picture of Heavenly Father, but I thought that I'd use this painting of Jesus Christ blessing the children.

I thought that it would still work nicely because even though we know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are two separate beings, we also know that Christ taught that he and the Father are one. I thought this might be a good thing to discuss with the children today.

Holding up the picture, I asked them, "Is this a picture of Heavenly Father?" They responded that it was not. I then asked, "So how does this picture work with the line 'Yes, I know Heav'nly Father loves me'?" One of the eleven-year-old girls raised her hand and said in essence, "Because Heavenly Father loves us so much that he sent Jesus Christ to die for us."

Wow. I hadn't thought of that. I was so struck by the simplicity and truth of her answer. It was completely different than the one I had come up with, but I like it so much better. I love learning from these children. They are full of the light of Christ. They have an amazing capacity to know spiritual truths. I hope I never underestimate them.

P.S. Baby update: Chris and I attended a prenatal class on Saturday. It was fun and informative. And... I'm getting cankles. Oh joy.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Red Food Surprise

Yesterday I woke up to two Valentine's Day surprises. A trail of hershey kisses leading to some beautiful red gerber daisies (gerber daisies are my favorite flower), and both breakfast and a sack lunch full of yummy red and pink foods.

For breakfast, Chris made:
-pink pancakes
-pink omelets with red peppers and mushrooms in them
-pink milk (it was magic. when the milk went into the glass it was white, but once it was in the cup it was pink!)

For lunch, he gave me:
-pasta with red spaghetti sauce
-pink yogurt
-red jello
-a red apple
-a red fruit roll-up (complete with tongue tattoos!)
-a handful of red hershey kisses.

It was so yummy, and I just sat there all happy and giggly as I ate it all.

See my flowers? Love 'em.

Is it any wonder that I'm in love?

P.S. I'm 35 weeks tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Teaching Piano

Last July I got a job teaching group piano for the Art City Music and Dance Academy. It's a Springville based company that does an incredible job at teaching music. Their group curriculum is incredibly comprehensive. It teaches basic piano skills, music theory, solfege, sight reading, singing, dictation, etc. etc. etc. I was so excited to teach this curriculum when I got hired, because honestly, I've never seen anything of this caliber for children as young as 4 1/2.

I finished my first semester teaching with ACMA a couple weeks ago, and the new semester has begun. But this semester, there's a bit of a twist. ACMA also has a phenomenal private program (particularly their private piano program), and because of scheduling, I got asked to teach one student private lessons in between two of my classes. I am really excited!

I'm starting today, and am just a teensy bit nervous, but I've already met the student and she is darling. I've been trained in how to teach their private program, and I love all of the focus on technique that comes with the private program. It's the thing that I feel I missed out on the most in my own path to learning piano, and so I'm really glad for this opportunity to improve my technique and teach it at the same time.

And, on top of all this, I see myself teaching private piano from home once I no longer work at ACMA (like after Chris graduates), and what a great experience to have worked in such high caliber group and private piano programs. Just the experience alone that I have been gaining and will gain through this job will be such a blessing in the future. It will make me a better teacher. No question about it.

P.S. Bonus picture of me. I'm 33 weeks along. (We're in to the home stretch, Ladies and Gentlemen!)