Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Baby Update #2--Belly Pics

NurseHeidi, this is for you. I know you've been DYING to see what my growing belly looks like (though I don't know why) so I took some pictures today of me. And I'll be 18 weeks tomorrow, so I'm calling these my 18 week pictures.

Belly shot:

Full Body Shot:

And if I may, I'll brag just a little. Because looking in the mirror trying to show everyone my pronounced belly, I was feeling just a wee bit..., what's the word?...longing for my old waist back, let's say. So I got out the tape measure (I know, I know, but it was a good thing). And I have a little sheet of paper in my bathroom next to where I keep my tape measure, of the measurements I took when I was losing all that weight. So I looked back to when I started and get this: my waist measurement NOW is 1/2 inch LESS than it was before I started losing weight. And my hips were 3 1/2 inches LESS now than before I dropped the 35 pounds! So even though I'm growing, it's a comfort (and amazing) to know that I'm still not to my pre-weightloss size yet! And proportionately, I'm right where I should be for being 18 weeks into my 3rd pregnancy. And if you don't agree, please, don't tell me!

P.S. Only 4 votes so far. If you haven't yet voted, please do so at the top right of my blog page!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Baby Update

Okay, Sheri. This one's for you! Oh, and Heidi, I PROMISE when I find the camera, I'll post ya some belly pics, okay?

We all had a wonderful Christmas, oh, except for the yucky throwing up bug we got starting Christmas Evening. (For more disgusting details, you can read Beth's Blog. She's much better with words than I.) But the kids all had a wonderful day, and I was happy about that and being able to spend such great time with my family, even though it was much too limited.

So, as I mentioned, I got a yucky stomach bug and ended up spending the few days after Christmas on my couch doing nothing but watching movies and trying not to be sick. Never fun. And especially when I still haven't quite gotten past the morning sickness. But the one good thing was that it kept me down and still for a couple of days.

For the past several weeks, I've been feeling very slight little bumps here and there every now and again. And wondering, "Was that the baby moving?" But, just like a shooting star, it was over before I even realized it had begun, and I was never really sure if it was the baby or, you know, anything else that might be growling or moving in my abdominal region. Most of the time I'd leave the thought with a, "Hmm. Maybe it was the baby, but I'm just not sure yet."

But being fairly immobile for several hours at a time, I began to notice those bumps becoming stronger and more frequent. I'd feel a bump, and stop and wait and feel another in the same spot a minute later. And then another, and then a REALLY strong one. There was one where I put my hand on my belly and even felt it externally. It was wonderful! At last! I can FEEL life inside my body! It really is the most incredible feeling. And I wish there were adequate words to describe it. And it's one of those things that makes ALL the pain and misery of pregnancy worth it, to feel and KNOW that there is real life, another person, growing stronger inside my body. Very cool.

And since then, I can only describe what seems to be a PARTY going on in my belly. I can't believe I didn't feel this before 3 days ago! 'Cause when this baby gets going, it REALLY gets going! And every day it seems to be getting stronger and more aggressive. And I LOVE it!

And, in more baby news, I have now scheduled my ultrasound. January 16th at 1 pm. And hopefully if the baby isn't modest, we will know if we will be welcoming another little Brooke or another little Evan. And if you'd like to give your input, please do so in my little poll to the right. I'd love to know what you think...

Pink or Blue??

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keeping Christ in Christmas

Sorry it's been so long. For a while I thought I just didn't have anything to report. But now, I just don't have time to report anything!

Vince & I spoke in church on Sunday. What a great time of year to speak! We both felt really good about what was said and what was felt. So, since I'm REALLY short on time this week, and since the Christmas season is now here, I thought I'd share my talk with my lovely friends and family. It is kind of long, so feel free to skim if you'd like. And let me take a moment to wish you all a HAPPY Holiday Season!

Merry Christmas all!

I love this time of year! It is probably my favorite time. There just seems to be something magical in the air at Christmastime. I love the lights. I love the music. I love to see people happy and cheerful.

But I also admit that sometimes Christmas can be stressful. There seems to be an endless list of things to do, and, unfortunately, NOT an endless supply of money to see them all completed. And even though there is magic everywhere, I’ve often found myself getting bogged down by how much has to get done in such a short amount of time. I really think this is Satan’s way of ruining the most wonderful time of the year. I know it is he, and NOT our Father, who wants us to be overwhelmed, frustrated, pessimistic, and discouraged. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ways in which we can overcome these feelings and be able to keep Christ in Christmas.

President Monson shared a poem with us about the Spirit of Christmas:
There’s Christmas in the home and church,
There’s Christmas in the mart;
But you’ll not know what Christmas is
Unless it’s in your heart.
The bells may call across the snow,

And carols search the air;
But, oh, the heart will miss the thrill
Unless it’s Christmas there.

One important way to keep Christmas in our hearts is to look outside ourselves. Service is the key to happiness. It is a way in which we can give our own gift to the babe born in Bethlehem. Remember that, as stated in Mosiah 2:17 “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” And we learn in Matt. 25:40 that “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

President Hinckley asked,
“Why are missionaries happy? Because," he answers, "they lose themselves in the service of others. Why are those who labor in the temples happy? Because their labor of love more nearly approaches the great vicarious work of the Savior…
Of all times, it is Christmas when we must surely realize that there can be no true worship of Him who is the Christ without giving of ourselves. At this season let us, each one, reach out a little more generously in the spirit of the Christ.”

Spencer W. Kimball said,
“Even though events and circumstances in the world at times become discouraging, our task, not alone in the Christmas season but always, is to be of good cheer. The Lord so often counsels us to have cheerfulness in our lives.”

Our Father in Heaven WANTS us to be happy. I think, especially at this time when we celebrate the birth of his Only Begotten Son, that our Father’s desire for us is to all feel joy.
President David O. McKay declared: “True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service. It is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience to which will bring ‘peace on earth,’ because it means—good will toward all men.”

President Monson also says, “Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things. To catch the real meaning of the ‘spirit of Christmas,’ we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the ‘Spirit of Christ.’”
Reflecting on my own life, I realized that even in our most difficult year, there has always been another family who struggled more than we did.

Not too many years ago, when Brooke was a baby and I was expecting Evan, we moved into a tiny little basement apartment. Vince was fresh out of school, and, as imaginable, money was tight. At the same time, my own parents who lived about 45 minutes away, were struggling themselves. My Dad had lost his job, and had been unemployed for many months. We were fortunate, because Vince had found a wonderful job before graduating. And even though we didn’t have much to spare, we always had what we needed.

That year, what I really wanted more than anything was a washer and dryer. This was the first place we’d lived since being married that had washer and dryer hookups. I couldn’t think of anything more wonderful than being able to wash the endless loads of pooped on, spit on clothes in my own home, and not having to drag them and two children to a Laundromat. I expressed (or complained) this to my mom several times about how much I was pining for them. But money was tight, and it would have to wait.

As Christmas came around, my Dad still had not been able to find work. I know he was anxious and discouraged. But the people close to my parents loved them, and didn’t hesitate to bless them. As Christmas drew closer, they found more and more “gifts” left on their porch by anonymous angels. One day my mother discovered a card with $200 cash. To this day, she still doesn’t know who left it. I was so grateful there were people to take care of my parents when I couldn’t be much help.

But instead of taking the cash and buying gifts for herself, or my Dad, or even my younger siblings, my sweet mother used the money to buy me a modest, used, but excellent working washer and dryer. I tried to object, but she insisted. She told me that so many people had blessed them with so much, and because of their situation, she had missed out on giving this Christmas. She wanted to give me this gift so she could enjoy the blessings of service. I was so humbled and so grateful. My parents have always been wonderful examples of selfless sacrifice and service.

President Monson has said,
“As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always. We shall learn to forget ourselves. We shall turn our thoughts to the greater benefit of others.

There is no shortage of opportunities to forget self and think of others. Such opportunities, however limitless they may be, are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.

"As we lift our eyes heavenward and then remember to look outward into the lives of others, as we remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive, we, during this Christmas season, will come to see a bright, particular star that will guide us to our precious opportunity.”

We also keep Christ in Christmas by remembering Him. It seems simple, but can often be overlooked as we rush about from store to store and activity to endless activity. I would admonish you at this special, glorious time, as President Howard W. Hunter encouraged us that, “If you desire to find the true spirit of Christmas and partake of the sweetness of it, let me make this suggestion to you,” he says, “During the hurry of the festive occasion of this Christmas season, find time to turn your heart to God. Perhaps in the quiet hours, and in a quiet place, and on your knees—alone or with loved ones—give thanks for the good things that have come to you, and ask that His Spirit might dwell in you as you earnestly strive to serve Him and keep His commandments. He will take you by the hand and His promises will be kept.”

Christmas can be a wonderful time to reflect on our Savior, on His life, His teachings, His sacrifice, and His Resurrection.

I’ve been reflecting on that first Christmas, so many years ago. Maybe it’s because I myself am in the middle of another pregnancy. But I cannot imagine how Mary could have endured those painful, final hours. I can’t imagine how she could have walked or ridden those many miles in her condition. I found these words expressed by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of his reflection on that humble night.

“I wonder,” Elder Holland says, “what emotions Joseph might have had as he cleared away the dung and debris. I wonder if he felt the sting of tears as he hurriedly tried to find the cleanest straw and hold the animals back. I wonder if he wondered: “Could there be a more unhealthy, a more disease-ridden, a more despicable circumstance in which a child could be born? Is this a place fit for a king? Should the mother of the Son of God be asked to enter the “valley of the shadow of death" (Ps. 23:4) in such a foul and unfamiliar place as this? Is it wrong to wish her some comfort? Is it right He should be born here?

"But I am certain Joseph did not mutter and Mary did not wail. They knew a great deal and did the best they could. Perhaps these parents knew even then that in the beginning of his mortal life, as well as in the end, this baby son born to them would have to descend beneath every human pain and disappointment. He would do so to help those who also felt they had been born without advantage.”

And yet, born in a lowly stable, He came, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! And all the Earth rejoiced at His coming! I like to imagine that I, too was there, singing with the Heavenly Host and rejoicing at His birth!

And at this wonderful time when we remember His birth, let us also remember His sacrifice, and His glorious Resurrection! I love this quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.
"I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal, Living God. None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak His name in reverence and wonder. I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth. I thank Him and kneel before His Beloved Son who reached out long ago and said to each of us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). For each of you may this be a merry Christmas. But more importantly, I wish for each of you a time, perhaps only an hour, spent in silent meditation and quiet reflection on the wonder and the majesty of this, the Son of God. Our joy at this season is because He came into the world. The peace that comes from Him, His infinite love which each of us may feel, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for that which He freely gave us at so great a cost to Himself—these are of the true essence of Christmas.”

And lastly, I would encourage you at this time of reflection, to take the wonderful Spirit of this season and keep it with you, not only through the month of December, but throughout the year, and into the next.

As President Ezra Taft Benson has said, “I hope that the commemoration of the Christmas season is more than just a tradition in your homes. I hope it reflects your deep abiding testimony of the divinity of our Savior’s birth and mission. And I hope that the sweet peace you feel during this season will cause you to be ever more committed to live his teachings and thereby demonstrate your love and allegiance to him.”

President Monson encouraged us
“If we are to have the very best Christmas ever, we must listen for the sound of sandaled feet. We must reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth.”

I admonish all of us to take a little time this Season to reflect on our Savior. As we were promised just this morning, as we remember Him, we will always have His Spirit to be with us. I know that as we remember His life and teachings and sacrifice, as we are more willing to serve those around us, we will have the Christmas Spirit with us. And it’s my hope and prayer that we will continue to keep this Spirit with us throughout this blessed season, and throughout the rest of the year, and continue to through the rest of our lives.