Friday, April 29, 2016

Spring starts and visits

Days are beginning to blur for me. I think repetition is good, but it also means there is not much difference between one day and the next. They have been good days though, especially with my little side-kick. He has the funniest personality. In public he is solemn, taking everything in and being very serious with everyone. At home he is a goof ball and loves to play and be silly. He is quite the character, especially during meals

Our garden is flourishing, giving us handfuls of peas every day and lots of kale, spinach, and beet greens for our green smoothies. 

Isaac always goes right to the spinach and picks a piece to eat. It's weird but hey, I'm not complaining. 

I've been trying to find a balance of being a mom and also being Jessica. I find myself turning into an empty shell, giving so much to Isaac and not recharging. Before I went to college, I was very artistic, musical, and creative. I have definitely lost sight of that side of me, which is a huge reason why I'm loosing myself. I really based my worth on my talents when I was younger and felt a lot of pride in my creations. I found that I needed that again, desperately. I'm older and wiser now, I hope, and I realize my talents aren't who I am, but I do realize they help me express myself. 

So! The house might be suffering and meals aren't as elaborate, but I'm having fun during Isaac's naps creating. I am writing a novel, spending at least an hour on it everyday. I'm having a blast and being pushed further than I ever have before. I had no idea how much went into a book, but I'm quickly finding out. I finished a trio of baby animal pieces for Isaac's room last week and I love them!

When it's warm, Isaac and I go to the park. He loves to explore, and we both get some vitamin D.

If we're not at the park or running errands, we are on walks.

"Stop mom, no more pictures"

Uncle Taylor came to visit last weekend. Isaac warmed right up to him after he read him a story. This kid loves his books. I'm seriously contemplating hiding SEVERAL of his favorites. 

We showed Taylor the temple grounds

And took him to ChinaTown for some bubble tea and authentic food. 

The duck was my favorite

Taylor didn't seem to mind joining in on all the daily tasks of taking care of a 1 year old

We went on two hikes and tried to show him some of the beauty here in California. 

We also tried to go to the beach, but it was insanly windy. A nice surprise though was all the kite surfers out! There had to be at least a hundred out there. So while we couldn't relax or really see anything against the blowing sand, we had fun watching the surfers. 

Isaac and I started Mommy-and-me swim classes this week. I forgot to take pictures, but I will try to do so for next week. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Beach Bums

One of the best parts of living in California is having a beach 20 minutes away. I was a little nervous taking Isaac here for the first time since last summer, but he did awesome! Other than try to eat every rock on the beach. 

Brent had a week long break between quarters, and we had great plans to do so many things! Then he got food poisoning, and having to go shadow some Chiropractors, and study, and...well yeah. We didn't do everything we wanted to. But isn't that life?

At least we got to the beach twice! 

Here is an update on our garden. It's growing so fast and we have pea pods already! It is so fun to walk into the backyard and grab greens for our smoothies. 

We finally went to In-N-Out for the first time since moving here. Isaac kept the hat on for about a minute. Honestly, that was one minute longer than I expected. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Weak Things Can Become Strong

Yay for Easter! Brent and I have been making a goal to volunteer in the community once a month. This can be hard...because we tow a one-year-old around with us. We found the best opportunity to solve this problem with setting up for a city egg hunt! It was exciting to go early and set up each area, clean it, and get the eggs out. Isaac had a blast walking around throwing the eggs. It was also nice because I got to talk to the guy in charge of volunteer work in Hayward and he calmed my fears about taking Isaac along for the ride. Worrying is one of my hardest challenges, and I find it keeps me from doing so many things. So, it was nice to hear a "Come anyway, we need you!".

Conference was wonderful, but a little different. It was hard to find a spot for our computer that wasn't accessible by this dude. He also really didn't like us not playing with him. So while I heard several talks, I didn't get to hear all of them. Thank heavens for technology and the opportunity to read them later!

For the past two months I have been having the Sister Missionaries and an investigator over at our house twice a week for lessons. She can't have them at her house for family reasons. She has a two-year-old daughter, and we hit it off right away. She was so ready for the gospel and works so hard to learn all she can. The first time she prayed in our first lesson, my heart melted. She is so earnest in her need for Christ. In our lessons, I'm always asked to bear my testimony about different things. This was so much harder than I had realized, and mostly for a reason that I didn't want to admit to myself. So here, in a round-about way, it is. 

During Conference, in Bonnie Oscarson's talk (, I was struck with the ideas she conveyed through a simple message. "I knew it, but did I believe it?" While working so closely with the sister missionaries, I have undergone my own transformation in the church. 

One day, we were teaching about the law of tithing when the investigator asked me about my thoughts on it. Why did I pay tithing? Is it sad that the first thing that popped into my head was "Because I'm supposed to? Because it'll bless me if I do?" I felt like that answer was so lacking. I felt more deeply about tithing than that, so why couldn't I express it? Mostly, because I simply hadn't taken the time to explore my feelings and thoughts on the subject. 

My whole life, I have seen the blessings of living the gospel. I see how it leads people through lives of peace and comfort. It made my family close and happy, something I'm realizing only now can be a rarity in this world. I know those who follow Christ's teachings have help in their lives. So I have always been passionate that I will stay strong in the gospel because it was the only way to go in my mind. But, I was in reverse of sister Oscarson's statement, I believed it, but did I know it

As I have sat in the discussions with the investigator, who is now a close friend, I realized how little I had invested my knowledge of the church. How could this be? I had gone to seminary, I had taken countless religion courses at BYU, I go to church every Sunday, and I believe it. What more was I missing? 

My problem was I have always had so much faith that it was true, that I forgot to follow up that faith with personal study and pondering to increase my testimony, which was (no matter how passionate and strong) very basic. I feel very blessed for my steadfast knowledge that the church is true. I'm so grateful that I know I'll never have to question if this is what is right for me to do. But, I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had in sharing the gospel because it has taught me that I need to put more effort into this gospel than just believing. 

It's humbling to admit all this, but I'm doing it in case it helps someone else. Some people struggle as I do, they have the faith but forget to do the work to back it up. Some have all the knowledge but just need to have faith. Whatever it is, I know that if we sincerely seek and ask for help, weak things do become strong through the Lord. I saw this in action today.

I have been getting up early to work out everyday. This week, I decided to try something new. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I would work out like normal. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would instead, have a spiritual workout. Tuesday went great this week! With conference just getting over, there was so much material to go through.

Today, I saw the clock when my alarm went off and died inside. The bed was so comfortable, my eyes too heavy. But I had promised. So I got up, and sat down to study. One minute later, Isaac started crying. If he wakes up early, there is no way he will go back down. I have tried and tried before but if he wakes after 6am, he is up for the day. I was crushed. I had gotten up to study, and now I wouldn't be able to.

Delaying the inevitable, I continued to read. After a few verses, I realized something amazing. Isaac was quiet. I was able to complete my entire study session this morning. And only when I was finished, reading the last verse, did Isaac cry out again. Miracles can be huge. They can heal cripples, they can move mountains, they can create worlds. But sometimes, miracles can quiet a screaming baby to allow a mother who is trying desperately to become better, have a half-hour.

This post was more on the spiritual side, because it has been a big focus on my life lately. But don't worry, next week there will be plenty of pictures of Isaac for you to go ga-ga over. We've been to the beach a lot lately, and that kid in a bathing-suit is just...perfection. I love you all, good luck this week and try to focus on something you're weak in to become just a little stronger.