Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good, Better, Blog

I'm hoping this comes across the right way. I've seen lots of posts on this and thought I would add my two cents.

So I love blogging. As I admitted in a previous post, I have an addictive personality and get sucked into things (cookies, books) to the abandonment of others. I hate to admit it, but I had days (not lots, Mom and Dad, just some) where THIS was taking way too much of my precious time. Many of you know what I'm talking about and I began wrestling with all the things in my life that seem good, but maybe not best (see Dallin H. Oaks talk of Oct. 2007). Like lots of babysitting trades, helping in classrooms, signing up for cooking the ham for the Christmas party, like making applesauce, like my books, like my TV shows, like my exercising, like my blogging.

So I decided to fast and pray about it. And I didn't want to, because I didn't want to do my life any other way (even though it wasn't working ...ever happen to you?). So in my prayers, I included a plea that I would be more happy and willing to submit...that I would WANT to change the order of things if that's what He thought was best.

I had lots of prompts to get me to this place:

Gift from the Sea recommended by a fellow blogger,

feeling generally yucky on days when I was so in a thousand places (mentally and physically),

Julie Beck's Mothers who Know talk,

kids who complained

and I finally stopped ignoring them.

So these are some Answers I got and that are working for me.

1. I remembered (during a prayer, of course) a talk my saintly sister-in-law had given, in which she discusses a Primary Sharing Time she witnessed:

The teacher had an empty jar sitting on the table. Next to the jar were two bowls. One was filled with walnuts and the other one was filled with sand. The walnuts represented those things we do to serve the Lord such as going to church, paying tithing, going to the temple, home teaching and visiting teaching, doing missionary work and so forth. The sand represented those things we do for our self such as the jobs we may have, relationships with family and friends, goals we desire, school, vacations, sports and activities that we participate in and on and on.
The teacher wanted to see if all of the sand and nuts could be contained in this one jar. She began by pouring the sand into the jar. It filled the jar about half way. She then took the walnuts and poured them on top of the sand, but in doing so it caused the walnuts to spill over the jar.

Because that didn’t work she then reversed the process by putting the walnuts (or things we do to serve the Lord) into the jar first. At a first look, the walnuts took up a good part of the jar. It made you wonder if there would really be room for the sand. She then poured the sand (or our personal desires) over the walnuts. Guess what happened? This time, both the walnuts and sand fit into the jar, and there was even a little room at the top to spare. Even with the walnuts filling up most of the jar, there was still room for all of the sand.
When put in first, the walnuts then dictated where there was room for the sand to be. It all fit together perfectly. Being a visual learner, it was so powerful for me to see how to make it all fit, and if reversed in process how it doesn’t fit.
Now there are some times in our life where we might have lots of sand- maybe even too much sand. Yet, it all seems like good things to us, so how do we decide how much or what part of the sand to get rid of.


I realized that I needed to figure out what my walnuts were and to do them first. I think they are individual but these are mine: a good morning prayer, scripture study, religious/inspiring literature (right now A Quiet Heart by Pat Holland), and 10 minutes alone with each child.

As I have tried to do those things first (and succeeded almost every day) ...guess what? I don't feel guilty about the blogging, or the extracurricular activities, or even the TV watching! And also guess what? I have truly truly had more time to do all the things in my life. The sand is fitting it (with room to spare). It's always humbling to realize that when we do things Heavenly Father's way, it all works so much better!

2. I set a timer on my blogging...an hour a day and I try not to do it with kids around.

3. I pay attention (and pray for extra loud promptings) to how I feel as I complete the activities of my day. Making applesauce? Felt wonderful after good conversation and something to show for it. Helping in the kid's classroom? Felt great after observing Gabe in school and interacting with his classmates and teacher. Going over my time limit? Oh, whoops, only thing I felt yucky about all day.

So sorry that's long. Hope it's helpful, or meaningful. I'd love your feedback.

I know Heavenly Father answers our prayers and wants us to have fun and fulfillment in our lives. I know He will show us the best way when we humbly seek and follow His direction. Good luck in your search for the Best!

31 comments:

Paige said...

I'm glad He didn't tell you to quit blogging. Please tell ME how you manage to do 10 minutes alone with each kid. How do you WANT to spend 10 mins alone with each kid?

Also, I read that talk again last night and had many revelations- about what my husband was doing wrong. Not super helpful to him, but seriously a really great talk. I liked the part about sports on Sundays being good but not best.

Jill said...

Jessica, that was sooooo awesome. I totally needed to hear that. I obviously have before and it is constantly what my husband is telling me that if I do what is right (reading the scriptures, having family time...) and put those things first that the other's fall into place. It's so true. I have been feeling guilt lately and I know it's because I haven't been putting my "walnuts" first. That analogy was awesome and totally made sense in my mind. Thank you!
I know the Lord blesses us when we obey him and our lives can be so much happier. I've seen both sides of it in my life!! Thanks for the reminder. There is a delicate balance with all things, and it's hard to figure it out...but once it is figured out life can be fabulous!!!!!!

Annie said...

I hear you, Jessica. I was feeling a bit out of whack, blogwise, over the summer, too. I was feeling annoyed that all this *living* (eye roll) with kids and priorities and life was getting in the way of my documenting it on my blog...sheesh.

I think we make slight corrections in balancing all the time & that's great. Sometimes it's a niggling feeling that I'm spending too much time at the computer, sometimes it's (my) husband's not so veiled suggestions that I'm blogging ad nauseum :)

John Holly Levi & Faith said...

I loved this post because it's so real. I have struggled with this same thing as of late. The other day I TURNED OFF the computer and it was amazing how much I got done. And then I turned it back on at night and ya know what? It was FINE and I still got my itch scratched from blogging but I felt better about it because I spent time with my children and got my house cleaned. SO, THANK-YOU THANK-YOU THANK-YOU for making me not feel so alone and for being real like the rest of us. I've looked at your pies, your kids and your perfectly cleaned house on your post and wondered how you did it all.

DaNae said...

Hey Jessica! I randomly found your blog(since I am an addict too) and noticed you looked so familiar. Okay, you were totally my YW's leader in the Sullivan ward. my married name is Davenport. I think it was when you and Ryan were newly weds and didnt have any kids! But you and your family are so cute and I am so glad that after all of the great lessons you taught in YW's, you still continue to do good things and remind me of what I should be doing! Thanks

Kenny, Linsey and Caleb said...

Sister Holland's book is a truly inspired work. She manages to point out what is good and best and right without all of that old-fashioned Mormon guilt which is too often the only motivator.

I'm proud of you for being courageous enough to seek answers to hard questions and being willing to listen for and follow those answers. Of course Heavenly Father wants us to be happy, but it is foolish to think that happiness means having/doing/being it all, all at the same time. We have to establish and keep priorities and He will help us with that and bless us with the ability to do that. I think most of the time He is just waiting for us to make the first move. Good for you!

Bridget said...

What a great post. I have found myself becoming spiritually lazy on several things that I used to be so good at. Thanks for the reminder. I did breathe a sigh of relief when you didn't say the inspiration was to quit blogging. I really would miss reading your posts!

Denae said...

Jessica this was a great post. I have found the same thing as you. If I get the important things done there is still always time for fun "me" stuff and I feel so much better about life and myself! It totally works.

Kristin said...

Thanks so much, you have been an answer to my prayers with what I should be doing as well. Thanks for the motivation.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, I had to laugh when you were writing about all the things you can do with sand. Yes, there is lots of sand indeed. Look what this guy is doing with lots of sand and smile: What you can do with sand

:-)

Anonymous said...

oooops here is the site: What you can do with sand

Pineapple Princess said...

Thanks for the reality check and humble perspective. I have the good, better, best tug of war as well and now I have a great analogy to help me use my time wisely.

You are a great example. . . and a wonderful blogger.

Carie said...

You sent me that talk by your sister in law (a couple of years aog?) and I printed it out. I have also printed out Elder Oaks and Sister Becks talk. LOVE all of them.

I recently read "On Earth as it is in Heaven" By Elder and Sis Holland. (many of the same talks as in Quiet Heart.) LOVE that book.

My mom has been trying to get me to read Gifts of the Sea for years and I have resisted (rebel). But maybe I should . .

You rock.

Laurie & Dan said...

Here's how I limit my time blogging--my husband takes the computer to work! Then, I only feel like I'm ignoring him when he's home. :) If only I could put down the books. . .

Great reminder, and I love hearing all about your family.

Rochelleht said...

That's awesome! I love that you were willing to submit, even if you were worried about the answer. I'm so glad that you are able to balance it all. Because, you are right. This is good, but it is not best. As long as we put those best things first (which can be VERY hard), things will work out.

Erika said...

crap... so who's blog will you not be reading and commenting on anymore to keep your time limit? tell us, who's on the chopping block.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Well said, you.

Ilene said...

I just hope that a McDonald's trip constitutes as a walnut of your life.

This was an inspiring post. I have heard that jar story so many times and yet I still find myself putting the sand in first. However, I always heard the story as rocks and sand. I think I better identify with the importance of walnuts before sand better. Perhaps NOW I will do better at prioritizing.

So, it looks like you have a talk all ready for church. I will be sure and let the bishopric members know.

Adrianne said...

You have releived my not-blogging-enough guilty conscious. Now I need to take teh rest of it to heart and sort my walnuts and sand.

And you are my best friend and greatest example because you actually do these things and then talk about them without being at all self-righteous.

Mark said...

Great Post Jessica.

Me & My BOYS said...

That was a good reminder. I have been slacking on a lot of things because I feel that I don't have time. But, you're right, if I do what the Lord wants me to do first, He'll make time so I can do the good things that I want to do. Blogging can be very helpful.

Celia Fae said...

I'm glad I finally got the whole story. The snippets I got at the blog conference just weren't enough.

I'm glad you're my new best friend. Tell Adrianne to back off.

AMY said...

This is my first time on your blog and what a great post to see! I needed the reminder as much as anyone. It's not just blogging, it's everything. I slack on the important stuff and then whine about not having enough time in every day. Good lesson.
BTW, I read your last several posts too and cracked up so I'm glad you didn't give up on blogging completely. And I've been pulled over in Oregon more times than I can remember!

Heidiram said...

Wow. Thanks Jessica. I have been in a major FUNK lately...especially when it comes to my church activity. And reading this post was very inspirational. THANK YOU!

gab said...

Great great great post! I find that when I'm putting "first things first" my whole life seems to go better too. I don't think the Lord wants to "punish" us by taking away all our fun. He just knows we'll be happier if we do the things that keep us closer to Him.

I don't know why I don't remember this more often!

Penny said...

That was a really special post. I think it makes us think about what is most important in our lives. Especially at this time of year, when life gets even busier. And our thoughts are turning to what to get mom/dad/sister etc. for Christmas and forgetting what it's all about. We all know what is most important in our lives and what makes us truly happy. I seriously learn SO much from you Jessica. I appreciate your honesty and that you shared this bit of inspiration with us all so that we could benefit from it too. Thanks, sincerely.

Kara said...

Jessica I could go on and on about this post. I am in SUCH A SLUMP lately, and I have the same feelings as you. I'm so impressed you've DONE something about it. I am determined to put first things first. Thanks for the extra motivation.

HILLARY said...

Thank you for being an answer to my prayers. I have needed a personal check and you have given me a way to do it. Words of wisdom. Thank you.

Karen said...

I love this post! I have had so many of the same feelings...which is why i haven't updated for a while.there are too many other "bests" out there right now. Thanks for putting it all into words.

Shally said...

I randomly found your blog, and loved this post. I have been struggling with the same things! I really needed to hear this... the walnut sand analogy is great. Thanks for your insight!

The Osborns said...

I know I'm a long lost Mia Maid of yours. I still remember the volleyball game you brought us brownies. It was right after you guys got married. You said something about falling asleep in the living room and your husband finished making the brownies for you. I couldn't wait to get married...

In response to your post I just need to say- amen. I've just gone through this same lesson. And it will take me a life time to really get the hang of it. I've studied this talk about 5 times. The answer is always the same as yours- put the walnuts in first and whether the sand fits or not- who cares! You got those honkin walnuts in that jar man!

I hope this sends a smile your way!