Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013. COURAGE.

For the past few years I have followed a couple of my sisters in law’s blogs.  Every year they have a theme for their new year’s resolutions, and they report on their blogs weekly as a way to motivate and remind themselves of the their goals.   I have always thought it a great idea, but have never done it because, well, I didn’t think of it myself.  A little speck of pride within me has stopped me from doing it the past.  But, I actually love the idea. So this year I am going to try it, even though the idea is not my own. I am letting go of that pride.

I have chosen one word that I want to work on, and incorporate into all of the goals that I set.  That word is COURAGE.  I chose this word because I feel like it is a quality that I am desperately seeking right now.  In fact, all too often I find that its opposite -discourage- is something that is infiltrating itself into my life.  And I don’t like it. I miss out on so many things because of fear, and I am ready to change that.

I want courage.  Courage to stand up for what is right.  Courage to let myself get out of my comfort zone.  Courage to make new friends.  Courage to trust in my abilities.  Courage to love.  Courage to learn.  Courage to fail.  Courage to teach my children truth.  Courage to change.  Courage to let go and forgive.  Courage to speak out.  Courage to ask questions.  Courage to face challenges. Courage to try again.

Thomas S. Monson said that “Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully but as a determination to live decently.” I love that.  That is what courage is. Deciding to live according to what you believe is true and right, no matter what the opposition is.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide on, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

While trying to have courage I want to always remember this Scripture from Joshua 1:9 “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
It is hard not to have courage when I remember that the Lord is with me.

With a little bit of courage I am going to divulge what my goals are this year.

2013 - The Year of Courage

This year I will have the:

Courage to do what’s right.

  • Go to the temple once a month
  • STUDY my scriptures.  Take 10 minutes everyday to read, and then another 10 minutes to ask questions and find answers about whatever I feel like I need to, based on what I just read or whatever else is going on in my life.
  • Daily prayer.
  • Be open and honest.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or let people know that I don’t know everything. Let other people help me.
  • Say yes to service opportunities
  • Listen. I know what I mean.

Courage to learn new things and skills.
  • Pick one thing per month to work on and then set a goal for that at the first of each month. For e
    xample, photography, gardening, computers, sewing....anything I want.
  • Read 2 books per month
  • Listen.

Courage to teach my children.
  • Every Sunday Plan out our week.  Plan learning and play activities for both kiddos.
  • Look for teaching moments.  Record teaching moments and what went well and what
  • Be patient.  Make sure that love is my first reaction to any situation.
  • Pray for each child daily.  Ask to be able to see what they need individually and to understand their dispositions.
  • Listen.

Courage to make new friends.
  • Meet one new person a week.  This could be at church, in our neighborhood, at the park
  • Have at least one family/person over for dinner per month.  Family not included.
  • Take the initiative.  Plan activities myself rather than waiting for someone else to put something together.
  • Listen.

Courage to be happy.
  • Let go. Don’t dwell on the things that cause  unhappiness.
  • Don’t live in absolutes.  Just because I feel a certain way doesn’t mean that is an inherent
quality in me. Instead of saying to myself, I am unhappy , Say I feel unhappy because....
  • Write in my gratitude journal daily to remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for. Recognize where all of it comes from and give thanks where thanks is due.
  • Listen.

I want every Sunday to be a day where I reflect on the goals that I have set and to remind myself to take courage.
It can be quite discouraging at the new year when we reflect on all the things we want to change.  I tried to make my goals simple this year, so that I can find the courage I need to improve myself.  I don’t have every detail filled in yet.  I know that I won’t be perfect.  I know that certain things might change throughout the year.  Things may be added, deleted, simplified, and made more specific depending on my needs.  But I hope to follow this saying:

“Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

And I WILL try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Power of Perspective

It's amazing how our perspective can alter so much.  I mean, two people can see the same thing entirely differently.  Christa and I had that experience this past week.  For Christmas my wonderful wife gave me tickets to local NBA game.  It was a BYU alumni event and part of the ticket price went towards BYU.  From my point of view we were going to a Denver Nuggets game.  From my wife's point of view we were going to a Utah Jazz game.  As it turned out - we were both right. (Well, to be honest, it was more of a Nuggets game than a Jazz game based on the lopsided score.)

If you can't tell from our blog or from talking to us - our house has taken up quite a bit of our physical and mental energy over the last few months.  It has been taxing on all of us.  When we think about our house we can see the effort we have put into it positively or not so positively - all depending on our perspective.  We have the choice to see all the work we have done as an accomplishment - something to be proud of or we can see the errors, the imperfections, the work left to be done and be filled with despair.  

We choose to see our house positively or negatively.  This is obvious when we go to bed one night thinking about how great our house looks and when we complain to each other the next day about how bad our house looks. Our perspective is a choice.

Interestingly enough, I don't think we make that choice in the moment we cast our eyes around our unfinished house.  We decide how we will view things well before our eyes ever gaze upon them.  

If I am angry, tired, or annoyed I am more likely to view my house, my car, my body, my job, and my bank account negatively.  Conversely, if I am at peace - if I have recently remembered a positive experience, had recent success finishing a project, or if I have recently had a good interaction with someone - I am more likely to view my life positively.  Our choice of perspective depends on how we choose to feel in our heart.  

So here are some pictures of our kitchen.  In some ways there has been tremendous progress.  In other ways the finish line is a long way off.  Our kitchen is a daily, visual reminder of our successes and of our shortcomings.  

If you view something in you life negatively I challenge you to remember.  Remember a positive experience you have had and try to allow that memory to change your heart.  Change your heart and it will change your perspective. Change your perspective and you can change anything.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Resolutionary Challenge

Wow.  It has officially been a long time since I have actually written a real blog post.  The last few months have been a whirlwind like I have never really experienced.  I have never felt quite so displaced and out of my element.  I have spent approximately 80% of my time the past few months working on our house, and approximately 99.9% of my mental energy worrying about it.  I have an extreme amount of focus that is either a really good thing, or a really bad thing.  I haven't decided yet which it is.     When I have something I am working on, or something I want to do, nothing else happens until that thing is finished.  For example, I have to pick wisely when I am going to decide to read a book, because once I start one, all of the time that I can possibly steal is devoted to finishing that book. So it has been with this house.  Everything else has fallen by the wayside because I seriously struggle to put any focus on more than one thing.  And. I. Am. Sick. Of. It.

So, why do I tell you all this?  I suppose with being a fresh new year I, as many people, have been trying to take a step back and look at myself to see where I want to improve.  I have been thinking a lot about goals and have some ideas of what direction I would like to start facing.  I hope to finish my goals here in the next couple of days.  But until then, I do have one goal I would like to share.  It's called:

The Resolutionary Challenge

One of my awesome sister in laws is heading the challenge this year, and so Brent and I are both going to do it.  You can read more about the details here, and YOU can join in if you would like to. It starts tomorrow, so get on it fast!

Basically the challenge is a way to motivate and keep us accountable for 7 different areas in our lives, including exercise, nutrition, cleanliness, and gratitude.  Points are allotted for doing different things, and each person keeps track of their points.  And of course, what is the point of a challenge if there is no reward in the end?  With a 20$ buy in, prizes are given throughout the challenge and at the end.

At first I didn't think I would do it because I didn't want to feel like someone else was dictating what I ought to be doing, or what my goals should be.  But, I realized that all of the challenges are things that should be a part of my life always, not just for a challenge.  I really want to build habits in our family that are lasting.  I love that it is 12 weeks long, giving us time to really turn these challenges into habits.   Most of the things we do to some extent already, but they all need improvement.

I am glad that I will have motivation to do the things that I want to be doing better anyway, and more importantly that I have someone to do it with.  I am looking forward to starting this tomorrow, and I hope that by the end it will fell less like a challenge and more of a way of life.