Somehow I also managed to spend quite a bit of time in William's school class room where I had the first thoughts of "I could do this at home". Looking back it is hard to believe that I even entertained those thoughts when I had so much else going on, but I know it is because those thoughts were not my own. They were inspiration from the spirit, that much I know. Cause I never would have imagined how happy homeschooling would have made me, I never would have thought my life could change so quickly and so positively just by making the choice to home school. Only my Heavenly Father could have known that. I am just so, so glad I listened. This year truly has felt like a fresh start. More than any other year. More than the years where Russ and I would sit down and talk about the ways we could improve on every aspect of our lives and set goals. Some goals that we worked on and others that got forgotten rather quickly. No goals were set this year, no resolutions. But changes were made. For example; I have always had a hard time getting up early in the morning. Always. I have tried and been successful for awhile but it never lasted. Now I get up with Russ in the morning and we eat breakfast and I talk his ear off (cause I just woke up with a bunch of ideas in my head) and we pray together and I love it so much. It has made such a difference in my life but I can't quite tell you how or why I can do it now and I couldn't before (I think part of me is writing this so I can figure it out).
I guess I find it interesting that the year I didn't even think about goals has been my most productive and joyful so far. On New Years Eve I had some wonderful friends over and Rachel asked me what my New Years resolution or theme was going to be. I had not really thought about it so I didn't have an answer but it got me thinking, but I wasn't really coming up with anything. Then on January first Connie asked me if I wanted to go see Les Miserables with her and Lindsey. I went. It was my second time seeing it and even better the second time. During the movie (especially the end) I realized what my word for 2013 would be: Disciple. I want to be like Jean Val-Jean and the Bishop. I want to be more like my Savior: kinder, more patient and loving, more forgiving, and less judgmental I have been trying and I am better, but I still have a long way to go.
I guess it is not completely accurate to make it sound like the word disciple is one that just came to me that day. It has been floating around in my head ever since conference in October. When Jeffery R. Holland spoke on discipleship (*I am posting my favorite parts at the end of this post) it stopped me dead in my tracks. Literally. I was working on a project and walking across the room when I stopped dead in my tracks and stood there frozen without realizing it until the talk was over. There I stood with tear stained cheeks knowing that he was talking to me. And that I had work to do. It became the theme for Young Women in Excellence that was in November and I think studying it has begun to change me. Slowly, bit by bit, I have felt my focus changing. Things that used to seem important are not important anymore and things I had been ignoring are not only things that I am paying attention to, but tackling head on. I am learning that God has bigger plans for me than I had for myself.
I feel as though I have been walking base of a beautiful mountain for years. A mountain covered in lush greenery and beautiful flowers everywhere. I feel like I have been looking up at it, admiring it, and maybe even climbing it but only by slowly spiraling up the sides. Now I feel like I have turned with my face towards the top and I am starting to climb. And it is hard and tiring but so beautiful and so worth it. And I am going to be honest. I don't even know exactly what I have done that has made such a difference for me. There are quite a few changes that have been made around here, the most important being that instead of making sure I squeeze "the most important things" into my day, they have become my day. Anything else has to be squeezed in and more often than not let go, but that is okay cause they are not the most important things. I have acted on the promptings I have had and it truly has brought me so much happiness. And the crazy thing is, I wasn't unhappy before. The base of the mountain was nice level ground with a beautiful view, but climbing it is even better. I can't wait until I reach the top, I can only imagine how beautiful it will be there and I am so grateful that I have my Savior here for the climb cause I know I could not make it their without him.
*From the talk: The First and Great Commandment
By Jeffery R. Holland
After a joyful reunion with the resurrected Jesus, Peter had an exchange with the Savior that I consider the crucial turning point of the apostolic ministry generally and certainly for Peter personally, moving this great rock of a man to a majestic life of devoted service and leadership. Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”10
The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, “Peter, do you love me?” Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”11
The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” By now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, “Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee.”12
To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”
My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.”13 And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments,”14 Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword”15 to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.
I testify from the bottom of my heart, with the intensity of my soul, to all who can hear my voice that those apostolic keys have been restored to the earth, and they are found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To those who have not yet joined with us in this great final cause of Christ, we say, “Please come.” To those who were once with us but have retreated, preferring to pick and choose a few cultural hors d’oeuvres from the smorgasbord of the Restoration and leave the rest of the feast, I say that I fear you face a lot of long nights and empty nets. The call is to come back, to stay true, to love God, and to lend a hand. I include in that call to fixed faithfulness every returned missionary who ever stood in a baptismal font and with arm to the square said, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.”16 That commission was to have changed your convert forever, but it was surely supposed to have changed you forever as well. To the youth of the Church rising up to missions and temples and marriage, we say: “Love God and remain clean from the blood and sins of this generation. You have a monumental work to do, underscored by that marvelous announcement President Thomas S. Monson made yesterday morning. Your Father in Heaven expects your loyalty and your love at every stage of your life.”
To all within the sound of my voice, the voice of Christ comes ringing down through the halls of time, asking each one of us while there is time, “Do you love me?” And for every one of us, I answer with my honor and my soul, “Yea, Lord, we do love thee.” And having set our “hand to the plough,”17 we will never look back until this work is finished and love of God and neighbor rules the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.