Monday, May 30, 2011

Outdoor Adventures: Tai Chi and Yoga in the Morning by Erin Uda

There is a tradition in Eastern cultures that all things are created in equal and opposite portions, the Yin and Yang. Their relationship is shown through a drawing that separates a circle into two continually revolving sections, each containing a bit of the other. Tai Chi is said to be our life force, understood through the relationship of Yin and Yang.

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Many people living in these Eastern cultures rise with the dawn and meet in local parks or outdoor spaces to practice the art of Tai Chi. These exercises are said to increase balance, breathing, and relaxation. They can also have a spiritual aspect to them.

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I think it’s a wonderful idea to begin the day not only with exercise, but with a healthy dose of fresh air and bright sunshine. We all try to fit in some exercise during the day, why not do it first? So grab a yoga mat or a beach towel and set your alarm for some early morning outdoor exercises.

I don’t know much Tai Chi myself, so I chose to begin my day with some simple yoga. My younger son and I found a book at the library (I Love Yoga) that was written specifically for children, and he couldn't get enough of all the fun animal poses.

You can also purchase the book The ABC's of Yoga online, which is what Brooklyn and I used when we did this activity - Naomi]

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For those of you who are yoga beginners, try the poses on THESE printable sheets. They’re good starter poses and are used to build into the more difficult positions later. I’ve also included some of my son’s favorites HERE. [Such as Downward dog, Lion Pose, Cat Pose (combined with Cow Pose), Cobra Pose, and Tree Pose.]

If you’re looking for a fun way to learn the names of the poses, try printing two copies of the sheet and cutting them into individual cards for a quick game of Memory.

Older children can do more difficult poses, or use THIS Tai Chi video (or any other one you can get your hands on) to learn a few of the forms (sequences).

While you’re stretching and moving, your young one is going to have loads of questions. Do your best to focus on the time you’re spending together and try to answer them. Talk about muscles and how they work, about how it feels when you stretch, and make lots of animal noises if you’re doing the animal yoga poses. Show your child that exercise is fun!

And while you’re outside, try to focus on the way the world looks and sounds in the morning. Talk about the colors in the sky, the way the sun looks when it rises, the sound of the birds, the dew on the grass, and anything else you notice. Teach your child how to appreciate the morning.

Even if you do nothing more than go outside and stretch, the nature therapy you receive from being outside at the beginning of the day is reward enough.

Suggested Reading:

  • I Love Yoga, Mary Kaye Chryssicas (Call # J 613.7046 C469; ISBN 9780756614003)
  • The Kids’ Yoga Book of Feelings, Mary Humphrey (Call # J 613.7046 H886; ISBN 9780761454243)
  • The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story, Uma Krishnaswami (Call # P Krishnaswami; ISBN 1584302372)
  • Tai Chi: Tranquility in Motion, Christian F. Hanche (Call # 613.7148 H1911; ISBN 1585747408)
  • Step-By-Step Tai Chi, Master Lam Kam-Chuen (Call # 613.7148 C4713; ISBN 9780671892470)
  • Tai Chi: Yang Style 24-move Short Form, James Drewe (Call # J 613.7148 D8207; ISBN 0806988711)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Family Home Evening: President Kimball on Gardening

As part of my faith, my family and I participate in a weekly event called Family Home Evening (FHE). FHE is a way to share experiences, increase faith, build strong familial bonds, teach ethics and values, and simply have a good time together on a weekly basis. I loved these fun-filled evenings as a child and have tried hard to implement the same functioning system with my own family that my parents had with me and my siblings. Unfortunately, my memories are aging with me and I can only recall Family Home Evenings from about the age of 8 and on. My children are ages 1 and 3 and DO NOT have the same attention span of an 8 year old, and thus, CAN NOT sit through those same kind of FHE's!

Their lack of attention and understanding frustrated me over the last few months to the point of almost giving up! Then FINALLY it dawned on me that my extremely active children simply needed action oriented FHE's. So I came up with a VERY SIMPLE application for Family Home Evening that is appropriate for children 4 and under and have decided to share my lesson plans with you each Sunday. I am starting by teaching my girls about modern day prophets. Each week we will focus on one prophet and do an activity that coincides with his teachings. This week we will be learning about President Kimball. So here goes!

Opening Wiggle Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Opening Reverent Song: I am a Child of God (We will use this as our reverent song until our 3 year old memorizes the words and then move on to a new song.)

Opening Prayer: Given by Daddy

Lesson: Given by Mommy

Lesson Plan: Today we are going to learn about a prophet of God. A prophet is a living person who helps us to know what Heavenly Father wants us to do. This is President Spencer W. Kimball:

He is a prophet of God. President Kimball taught us many good things. One thing he taught us was that we should plant a garden:

President Kimball said that if we plant a garden, we will have our own food, even if we don't have money to buy it from the store. He also said that we will learn how to do new things, and how to work hard!
Lesson Application: (Here is where the action comes in.) Now its time to plant a garden as a family. You can start small by planting some seeds in a pot on your porch, or you can go all out and build a square foot garden, or plant a garden in your yard.

When you're done gardening and have washed all those little helping hands, wrap things up with a closing song and prayer.

Closing Song:
The Prophet said to Plant a Garden

Closing Prayer: Given by Brooklyn

Treats: Prepared by Lily (and Mommy)... ICE CREAM!!!

If you want to have some reinforcing activities before your FHE, try THIS Outdoor Adventure that my sister Erin posted!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Good Fridays!

I recently read an article in the June 2011 edition of Parents Magazine that talked about building your children's self esteem by teaching them how to serve. The article, titled Raise a Kid who Gives, talked about the differences between building your child through praise versus action. I was shocked when the author stated that parents who pile on praise often create children who are selfish and entitled, and that empathy is only developed through direct contact with others.

After I finished reading the article, I decided to implement Good Fridays in my home. Basically, each Friday my girls and I will do a little service project together, whether its picking up trash or going to help a neighbor sweep their porch. It doesn't have to be a huge undertaking, just a task that is heart-felt.

So today we decided to thank our maintenance crew for all the hard work they do for us, and for being so kind and professional when they do it.

We started by making a little thank you card together. I let Brooklyn have complete artistic control of the project and it turned out to be a great idea!

She drew this awesome brachiosaurus on the front cover all on her own without even being prompted. I didn't even know she could draw anything besides blobs with smiley faces!

Then she drew a picture of Rapunzel on the inside (also a surprise to me) before I put "Thank You" stickers in it and folded it up.

After we finished the card we got to work making some Oatmeal M&M cookies. YUMMO!

12 minutes after putting them in the oven, we moved them to cooling racks, let them cool, plated them up, and then headed over to the maintenance office.

Our first attempt at service didn't make it very far. Just after we hopped off the front porch, Brooklyn dropped the plate and burst into tears!

Luckily, we had a second batch in the oven! We packed it up and walked over to the office. (I tried to get a picture of the actual delivery but it turns out its pretty hard to take pictures with a plate of cookies in one hand, keys in the other, a 3 year old hanging on your pant leg, and a 1 year old on your shoulders! Oh well...) The maintenance dudes loved their cookies and were very appreciative, and hopefully, my girls are a little closer to having great self esteems too!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Post on Self Esteem: By Becca Rigg

Because my busy little girls FINALLY went down for a nap, I want to share this incredible and insightful guest post with you that was written by my sister Becca. This is something I recommend ANY woman to read, no matter what stage she is in life! Enjoy!

Daughters of a Heavenly King
Talk by Becca Rigg
Given at the Nashua Stake Relief Society Fireside May 15, 2011

Good Evening Sisters. Since I don’t know many of you I thought it would be appropriate to start out with a little introduction.
My name is Becca Rigg. I grew up in Provo, Utah and met the man of my dreams at BYU. We have been married for almost 10 years and have 3 beautiful children ages, 5, 2 and a half, and 4 months old.
Camden is the baby, He is a thumbsucker and big time drooler. He has some impressive chunky rolls on his arms and thighs and loves to coo and drink milk.
Brinley is the middle child and she's a major goofball. She has always been the smiliest, happiest little person, and loves making the whole family laugh.
Teya is the oldest. She relishes her role as big sister and loves to hold, squeeze, and snuggle Mr. Chub. She is really into rules, following rules, and making sure everyone else around her is following the rules too. Teya is also a very positive and upbeat little person.

Last year we moved our family from Minnesota to New Hampshire. To help Teya feel more excited about the move we told her that we were moving to a bigger house with a lot more space and promised she was really going to love it. The time came to begin our trek out East. It took us a couple days to drive and on the first night we stopped at a Motel 6 to stay the night.

When Teya walked into our tiny room with bare white walls and nothing more than a battered old bed with brown blankets, she covered her mouth in disbelief. Her eyes went wide with excitement and she exclaimed “Mom! our new house is so BEAUTIFUL!! You were right, I love EVERYTHING about it!!
How many people would walk into a Motel 6 room and think it was the most beautiful house ever? Teya did, because in her innocence she still has the ability to see the good in everything. She didn't walk into that room and start searching for everything that was wrong with it. She didn’t compare it to other rooms or houses she had seen. She was looking for a place to stay and this was perfect.There was a bed and a bathroom and a TV and in that moment she was happy, in fact, thrilled with what she had.
Tonight I want to talk about seeing the good in ourselves. You might feel like a motel 6, you might feel like a 5 star resort. It doesn’t matter. You are a daughter of God with infinite potential, and more than anything, he wants us to realize our great worth.
In seeking inspiration for this talk, I reached out to friends through Facebook and my blog, looking for insights on what other’s do to help them overcome feelings of self doubt or inadequacy. I got many wonderful responses with inspiring ideas and tonight I want to share 10 lessons and key insights I learned from their responses that will help us build confidence and remember our great worth.
Lesson number 1: Remember who you are:

I asked, “What do you do to help you overcome feelings of insecurity or self doubt”. My friend Jessica from Minnesota said,
I am a child of God. Knowing who we are changes everything doesn’t it? Lately my daughters have been obsessed with the movie Tangled, which is Disney's take on Rapunzel. Rapunzel lives in a tower where she is forbidden to leave. Madame Goethel feeds her lies so she feels afraid and doubts in her ability to face the world on her own.
But there is a wonderful scene in the movie where it dawns on her that she is the lost princess, the daughter of a king. Knowing that changes everything. She stands taller, and with new confidence faces Madame Goethel, confronts her about the lies, and decides she doesn’t have to live like that or believe those lies anymore. She is so empowered, and we should be too. We are literal princesses, daughters of a Heavenly King. When the adversary whispers lies to us, trying to keep us trapped in towers of insecurity, we should stand tall and say like Moses, “Who art thou? For behold, I am a (daughter) of God”. How limitless is our potential? How can we see ourselves as anything less than incredible when we know where we came from?
Lesson number 2: Stop looking to the world for validation. It’s like looking into a circus mirror, or for the more tech savvy, photo booth.
You look in the camera and it twists reality out of proportion and the image you get back is not real. I promise, Taber really doesn’t look like that, not that I wouldn’t still love him even if he did. ; )
When we look to the world for approval it’s like looking into one of these crazy cameras. We see magazines with airbrushed celebrities and advertisements showing the perfect family, the perfect wife, the perfect woman. The danger comes when we let ourselves believe that the images are real.
What the media portrays as beauty isn’t real, nor is it a valid standard for our self worth. Heavenly Father didn’t send us to earth with a body guideline manual with measurements of how we should look. (I recently heard a teenage girl say, “My forehead is too big for my face”...says who? Show me where it says your forehead has to measure a specific amount of inches for you to be beautiful!) And yet, we believe when we see images in the media that because we don’t fit that, something is wrong with us. We need to stop looking to the world and feeling like we don’t measure up, but rather look up to our Heavenly Father and see how we are reflected in His eyes.
Lesson number 3: Remember there’s more to your worth than physical beauty.
The other day I was watching The Swan Princess with Teya and a scene in the movie REALLY caught my attention and got me thinking. There's a prince see, and he is betrothed to this princess but he never gives her the time of day when she's younger and an "ugly duckling." Then she grows up and is gorgeous and as soon as he lays eyes on her he tells the king to arrange their marriage. Well the princess is a smart girl and she asks, "Why do you want to marry me?" And here's where it caught my attention. The prince answers, "Because, you're BEAUTIFUL!" And she says, "What else?" And the prince looks really confused and says, "What else is there?"
I was so disturbed by that as a mother and a woman. That’s what the world wants to teach us. After beauty (vanity) what else is there?
What else is there?" I can think of a few things right now: There is kindness, gentleness, hard work, dependability, forgiveness, humility, generosity, graciousness, wisdom, warmth, caring, sacrifice, service, knowledge, faith and love. Those are the qualities of some of the most gorgeous and beautiful women I know. Those women might not ever make it on the cover of a fashion magazine, but they are stunningly beautiful.
We are more than our physical beauty.
The first picture you see here is of my sister Rachel. Anyone looking at that picture would say she is darling, beautiful and lovely. But Rachel tells me that never had she felt more ugly than when that picture was taken. She struggled with her body image and felt fat and dissatisfied with her looks. Shortly after that picture was taken she was diagnosed with cancer. She lost her hair, the drugs made her gain weight, she felt tired and sickly. She could no longer define herself through outward beauty and had to look inside. She started writing in a journal, she wrote down her testimony and sent it to our entire extended family including many non-members [of the LDS faith]. She strengthened relationships in her life and focused on being a better mother, sister, daughter and friend. 6 months later the 2nd picture was taken. Rachel says that never before had she felt more beautiful than in that picture. She was glowing from the inside out. Full of love and gratitude for her life, her children, her husband and her body. Through illness she was forced to answer the question, “what else is there?” And she found that there was in fact, much, much more.
Another amazing woman who found inner beauty through trial is Stephanie Nielson. Many of you have heard of this young mother of 4 who was in critical airplane crash 2 years ago and suffered burns over 80% of her body. Her injuries disfigured her face beyond recognition, even to her own children. Last September she spoke at BYU of this experience and said that after she got home from the hospital her life was harder than ever. She said,

“I couldn’t love the new me or my new look. I felt hopeless at every hour of the day. It wasn’t until I realized who I was that i found confidence that I needed to pull the inner spirit and rely deeply on my savior to fix it. I couldn’t do it alone. We can’t do it alone.One autumn afternoon I lay on the couch, looking at the recently turned golden leaves dangle from our front yard aspen tree. My eyes were opened. I had a husband who was strong and immoveable by my side, defending me and encouraging me on. My children could remember my mother heart. They could see it through me relearning to become a mother again. I began reading a book to my children. I’d sit down for a meal. I tried to smile and kiss them, and soon enough it worked. My beauty continued to shine forth, I had the spirit and I knew God loved me, and I looked at my blessings and they so overpowered the pain and trials I was going though.”

When I start feeling down about my body because a part of it isn’t “beautiful” I think about Stephanie. She didn’t care what her body looked like, She wanted to have it so she could experience life on this beautiful earth with her children and family.
Stephanie is beautiful. Millions have been touched be her incredible life and experience. She lost many of the the physical qualities that made her beautiful but never did she ever lose her beauty. What else is there? So much more. Our looks can be taken away in an instant or fade over time, but the beauty of our character lasts forever.
Lesson number 4: Look for the Positive
When Taber and I were newlyweds I heard a story at a marriage conference that has stayed with me. It was of a wife he worked tirelessly all day to clean her house immaculately from top to bottom while her husband was at work. When he came home she greeted him at the door, excited to see his reaction to all her hard work. When he walked in the door his eyes skipped over the glimmering house and fell on a silver vase sitting on the shelf. He pulled it off the shelf and said, "This vase has a smudge, you really should clean it off." By looking for the negative he missed all the positive things she had done that day.

We do this to ourselves though don’t we? We’ll have an amazingly productive day but when it’s over we beat ourselves up over the one thing we didn’t do. We do this when we look in the mirror. Instead of seeing our amazing bodies we see imperfections. When I was in high school I was particularly self conscious about my thick Polynesian legs I inherited from my Dad. To me they looked like football player legs, which would be great if I was a guy, not so much as a girl. When I looked in the mirror all I saw were those giant rhino legs. I was so focused on them that I discredited all my other good qualities and imagined that I couldn't be cute, how could a girl with such disproportionately enormous legs be cute? That crippling self consciousness held me back. I refused to wear shorts, even in the summer, I hated swimming and never went with friends. It was really sad. Thank goodness I’ve grown since then and come to appreciate my wonderfully sturdy thick and amazing legs. On them I’ve done many things, including run a marathon. If rhino legs helped me do that then I’ll take them!
Look for the positive, not the negative.

Looking for the positive goes beyond our looks.
Sister’s let’s do this. When the adversary whispers, “You’re not pretty, you’re not smart, you’re not good enough, you have rhino legs.” Silence the whispers and drown them out by shouting out loud if you have to, at least 3 things you love about yourself and your life.
Lesson Number 5: Learn to love.
I wrote this poem when I was 21 and coming to realize that I was who I was, and that was okay! All the things that I thought were imperfections didn't take away from who I was or what made me beautiful. They made me me, and I was learning to love myself. Here’s the poem:
I’m learning to love the girl that I see
when I look in the mirror and know that it’s me.
I’m learning to love my thick inner thighs
and the zits on my face that I try to disguise.
I’m learning to love all the hair on my toes
and the fact that 5’2” is as much as I’ll grow.
I’m learning to love all the folds in my tummy
and the cellulite dimples that speckle my bummy
and the way my eyelashes are short thick and stubby
and the way that my smile makes my cheeks look real chubby.
I’m learning to love the person I am
and I’m learning to love how I fit in God’s plan.
I’m learning to love all my quirks and my “isms”
for learning is freedom from vanity’s prison.
I choose to be free from the chains of deception
that bind me to falsified views of perfection.
I refuse to believe that my body is ugly
if a size four or five fits around me too snugly.
I’m learning that beauty is more than skin deep,
it’s the sum of our souls, it’s the values we keep
it's the way we develop our talents and skills,
it’s the way that we conquer adversities hills.
It’s the way we treat others and God up above,
it’s the way that each day we are learning to love.
Some things we can change, some we can’t. Don’t postpone joy and happiness because you aren’t a certain size, or place in your life. Don’t wait to be happy until a zit goes away, you’ve lost 10 lbs, grown out your hair or reached a certain goal. Yes we should strive to improve and be better, but love where you are right now. I had a baby 4 months ago. I can’t fit into any of my old clothes but I’m not going to let that stop me from being happy until I do. I have a healthy baby. I have a healthy body, and no matter what size it is, I love it.
Lesson number 6: Don’t compare yourself to others.
This one is hard because we all do it so naturally. Sometimes it’s harmless but It can be damaging when comparisons leave you feeling insecure or inferior. Stephanie Nielson said,
It’s okay to look at someone and admire what they do and who they are. It’s okay to be inspired by them and motivated to improve yourself. But it’s not okay to feel inferior or inadequate if you are not exactly like that person.
President Uchtdorf said, “ May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don’t reach beyond your capacity. Don’t set goals beyond your capacity to achieve, don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. Do the best YOU can, and the Lord will provide the rest.”
Everyone is different, and just because someone does or has something you don’t, doesn’t make the things you have any less.
My daughter Teya loves ice cream, it makes her go nuts just saying the word ice cream. One day I was scooping her a bowl and she was so giddy and excited, jumping up and down chanting, “ice cream ice cream!” When I put that bowl in her hands she looked down and was happy and content. But then she looked over at her sister who was also eating a bowl of ice cream. I must’ve accidentally put a little more in Briney’s bowl because Teya saw it and kind of did that double take from Brinley’s bowl to her bowl, and when she realized Brinley had more, giant tears welled up in her eyes and suddenly that ice cream (that only seconds ago had made her so happy and content) wasn’t good enough because it wasn’t like Brinley’s.”
Isn’t this exactly what happens to us when we compare? We have so many good things going for us that should bring us happiness and contentment, but then we see that another has more and suddenly what we have no longer brings us joy.

My friend Kendall shared a wonderful talk with me by Elder Holland in which he says,

“Who is it that whispers so subtly in our ear that a gift given to another somehow diminishes the blessings we have received? Who makes us feel that if God is smiling on another, then He surely must somehow be frowning on us? You and I both know who does this—it is the father of all lies.
Brothers and sisters, I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other."
Kendall shared with me how this quote helped her strengthen a relationship with her sister. She said,

“I have an amazing older sister (just older than me) who I grew up comparing myself to. I didn't realize it, but I had become quite resentful of her, based solely on the fact that I considered her to be far more beautiful than myself (boys would always tell me how cute she was - I HATED that) and let this resentment fester inside of me. Silly? Yes. But I was an insecure teenager. It wasn't until my sister had left for her mission and I heard a talk by Elder Holland ("The Other Prodigal") in General Conference, that I realized what a terrible sister I had been.
I realized when I heard this, I had been completely selfish in not giving my sister much-needed encouragement and praise over the years. She had insecurities of her own and she had needed the encouragement, but I was unwilling to give it to her. Had I been a better sister, we could have had a much stronger relationship growing up. Thankfully, this talk was a turning point for me. I am so close with my sister now because I see that Satan is the one who would have me believe that she is better than me, prettier than me, friendlier than me, etc. But like Elder Holland said - "The race is against SIN - not each other" We all need to cheer each other on!
Anyone who knows Kendall, knows how wonderful, amazing and absolutely beautiful she is. She is a builder. She gives compliments that are like water for thirsty flowers, she makes people feel good and wonderful and that’s why she feels good and wonderful too!
Don’t compare, but rejoice in our diverse talents and strengths. Each of us is a radiant flower in the garden of womanhood. If we were all the same it wouldn't be nearly as beautiful.
Lesson number 7: Give and receive compliments freely.
When you give a compliment it uplifts both the giver and the receiver. My Friend Becky said,
Becky felt that her friend’s kindness and ease in giving compliments to others actually made her more beautiful. Those compliments also carried Becky through some difficult transitions.
It is important to give compliments but it’s also important to receive them with grace. I see several bad habits in compliment receiving.
  1. Blatant denial. Someone says,“You’re pretty” You say, “Are you kidding? I’m so ugly just look at my face!”
  2. Discrediting the positive by bringing up the negative. Someone says, “You did a great job singing.” You say, “Yeah well the middle was terrible, I missed several notes and totally messed up the words.”
  3. Playing it down. Someone says, “You ran a great race!” You say, “Oh well the course was made for beginners and I didn’t really do that well since it’s down hill and wasn’t that hard.”
  4. Comparing. Someone says, “You have a beautiful voice.” You say, “Well you haven’t heard Jenny sing, She has a way better voice than me.”
Why do we do that? It’s like if someone gave you the most delicious and perfect amazing slice of your favorite cake, would you seriously just put it on the shelf to get crusty and stale without ever enjoying it? That’s what you are doing with those compliments.
Take a compliment, let it sink in and savor it. Believe it, they wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t true. Give yourself permission to acknowledge that yes, you are wonderful and fabulous and talented and amazing. You are a daughter of a king remember? All of it is true.
I know it’s still easier said than done for many of us so I’ll give you an example of how to take compliments.
Accept it and give one back:
  • You have gorgeous eyes.
  • Thank you! I love your eyes too.
Accept and build:
  • That’s so amazing that you did _____
  • Thank you! You could totally do ____ too! I could show you how, you could definitely do it!
Accept and express gratitude:
  • Thank you, that really means a lot because I used to not think that.
Lesson number 8: Build upon the Rock of our Redeemer.
When I asked my friends what gives them confidence and feelings of great worth, my friend Claire said,
Isn’t that the greatest quote? I especially love that last part, the spa or a new outfit is great for a day or two, but the gospel will transform your life and your outlook forever! Basing your self esteem on looks, career, or temporal things is like building on the sand. All those things will fade away but when we build on the rock of the redeemer our self worth will last the tests of time.
Lesson Number 9: Give Service and Fellowship Others.
My brother-in-law Tau said,
Lift others and we will be lifted as well.
Lesson number 10: Believe!
Perhaps the most heartbreaking comment I received was from my beautiful younger sister Sarah. As far as physical appearance goes, she is a breathtaking beauty. Beyond that though she has the most kind and tender generous heart. She is so unselfish, always serving others, a wonderful mother and a dear friend. How could she, my sweet, beautiful kind sister not feel worthy of her father’s love? How does she not see what I see, what her husband sees, what her Father in heaven sees when he looks at her. She knows she is a child of God, but she struggles to believe. She says,

Sister’s believe. Have faith and know that our Father created you in his image and you are perfect. You are each different and unique, with talents as diverse as your appearance. And every one of you, every last one of you is His. His precious, beautiful, lovely daughter. He sees you, he knows you, he loves you, and no matter what, you are never unworthy of that love.
Sister Larson shared with me an article by Joni Hilton in which she says,

“You cannot hide from God, even if you try. He penetrates every place you could go or live, and there is no state of poverty or deprivation that blocks His power. The humblest among us, the imprisoned, the outcast, all are included in the arms of his love. Not one of us is unimportant, too sinful to approach him, or beyond help. He knows our hearts, he counts our tears, and as the ultimate loving parent, wants what is truly best for us.”

He is aware of you, he loves you. please, please, Believe it. Now I will end with a quote one of my friends shared with me,
“People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long course of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars: and they pass by themselves without wondering."
-St. Augustine
I have learned to not just wonder, but truly marvel. I marvel when I see these little faces. I marvel at my body, this beautiful gift from God that was able to bring them into this world and nourish and care for them. I marvel at the things I have accomplished when I put my trust in God and believe that with him all things are possible. I marvel at my divine heritage. At the knowledge that I am the daughter of a Heavenly King. He loves me, he believes in me, so I will love and believe in myself and I pray that all of us will do so too, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.