by Lani

On Being in Love

February 13, 2015 in Attachment, Fear, Gratitude, Jesus Christ, Lani, Love, Marriage by Lani

Last night I was thinking about being in love. Felice wrote a great post a few years ago about love. In it she quoted 1 John 4:8:

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Felice is a single mom in search of a mate, but she thanks God every day that she is in love. She says, “That may not make sense, but I think it is key to happiness no matter what your relationship status” (Source).

What does it mean to be in love? Are you in love? What does it really mean to be in love? Some scriptures:

  • “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).
  • “And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21).
  • “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
  • “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

In my essay “Unity with Providers of Care” in The Gift of Giving Life, I wrote about a BYU devotional I attended on the day after Valentine’s Day fifteen years ago. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was the speaker. That devotional was titled: “How Do I Love Thee?“He explained: “The first element of divine love—pure love—taught by [Mormon and Paul] is its kindness, its selfless quality, its lack of ego and vanity and consuming self-centeredness.”

So it would seem that we cannot be “in love” if we are consumed with ourselves. The “natural man” is the ego-driven part of us. The natural man cannot be in love. The natural man is incapable of true love. These words from M. Catherine Thomas‘s The Godseed are instructive:

When a person is born into this world, the ego, with its own agenda and urge to control, begins to enlarge itself and veil the openness and freedom of our spiritual mind. Instead of seeing things as they really are, we see by the dim light of our ego-concerns and fears. Perhaps the main characteristic of the ego is that it behaves like a frightened child (The Godseed, p. 139-140).

It takes a lot of energy to keep the shadow buried and to suppress our multitude of fears. The result is energy depletion. On the emotional level, it is expressed as an inhibition of the capacity to love (Dr. David R Hawkins, qtd. on p. 166).

Fearing and wanting are [the ego’s] predominant emotions and motivating forces (Eckhard Tolle, qtd. on p. 176).

If you try to save your life you will bring yourself to ruin; if you bring yourself to nothing, you will find out who you are (Thomas Keating, qtd. on p. 195).

I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept lately… bringing yourself to nothing. It started at the beginning of January at the yoga/meditation retreat Felice taught. During one of the meditations she said, “Bring yourself to zero.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, and I have made it my intention ever since.

A few months ago, while I was meditating, I saw in my mind the moon, changing phases. I was thinking about how the gate to the inner court of the temple was opened on the new moon (see Ezekiel 46:1-3). As Felice explained in her new moon blogpost: “It seems to me that if we are seeking Him, there is special opportunity on the Sabbath and the New Moon, when He ‘opens the gates to the inner court.’” I saw in my mind the new moon, empty. I saw the moon gradually filling up with light and becoming full. And then I saw it emptying again. I felt like God was trying to teach me something, but it took some pondering before I gathered it all up.

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As I thought about it, I realized that just as the moon and the womb cycle through phases of fullness and emptiness, we too are meant to be continually emptying and filling. Just as the moon goes from full to new, we must pour out ourselves, our egos, our fears, our weapons of war, our grudges, our disappointments, our negative thoughts, our attachment to the world, etc. We must “bring ourselves to zero,” an empty moon, open and purified. Only then is there space for Christ to fill us up. Only with a pure heart, empty like the new moon, can we walk through the gate of the inner court and at-one with Christ, dwell in God, and become full… full moons, full of light, bursting through the dark of the night.

Bringing ourselves to zero can be painful. Unburying and discarding our ego-driven shadow selves is no small task. (Ego eradicator is a yoga technique that helps.) But it is worth the effort because something marvelous happens when we do. We enable ourselves to be in love. And to thank God every day that we are in love.

I’ll close with my favorite scripture of all time:

“Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; . . . that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen” (Moroni 7:48).

 

inlove

by Lani

Comfort for Birth Trauma

April 29, 2014 in Adversity, Attachment, Birth Stories, Book reviews, Depression, Fear, Giveaways, Lani, Traumatic Birth, Virtual Book Tour by Lani

*Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from the wonderful Kylie of Satisfied by Sunshine. Kylie is a beautiful soul. As with so many beautiful souls, Kylie has seen the bitter despair of darkness and found her way back into the light of joy. (You can read about her inspiring climb out of anxiety/depression HERE.) For our Virtual Book Tour, Kylie has shared how our book helped her come to peace with unexpected and traumatic changes in her first birth experience. Here’s an excerpt:

And here I realized that the suffering I was experiencing wasn’t because anything I had ‘done wrong’, or should have planned better for in giving birth, but that I was attached to the idea that if birth isn’t peaceful, relaxed, and done a certain way, then it was not what I wanted. . . . And when I let go of what I thought was the best type of birth, what I wanted, and expected I found a well of healing within. It was okay that events did not follow my desired birth plan, but actually were far from it. I did my best to work towards what I thought was best, and in the end God wanted to teach me something better. A lesson of trusting Him. A lesson of letting go of my plan and embracing His, and that lesson was powerful. It prepared me to be willing after all I could do to . . . embrace what was, what is and find joy, and healing in my continued endeavor of motherhood. It allowed me to see the beauty in every birth, every type and every situation. These were the lessons I learned through my own experience and found within the pages of the Gift of Giving Life. Birth is beautiful and spiritual, even when unexpected turns occur in how you wanted your birth experience to be.

You can read the rest of Kylie’s Virtual Book Tour post HERE.

Kylie has generously donated one of the prizes for our Virtual Book Tour giveaways… a gorgeous tree of life pendant necklace. Find out how you can enter to win it by visiting our Virtual Book Tour page.

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Kylie has lots of other beautiful necklaces available through her Etsy shop The Sister Tree. I want them all!

by Lani

A Glimpse of Heaven

November 6, 2013 in Adoption, Angels, Attachment, Book reviews, Depression, Holy Ghost, Intuition, Lani, Miracles, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal Revelation, Zion by Lani

Glimpse_of_Heaven_Joanna_Oblander_coverBack in the summer of 2012, when I had pretty much hit rock bottom emotionally, I received a review copy of A Glimpse of Heaven by JoAnna Oblander in the mail. She and her publisher had contacted me a few weeks before asking if I would be willing to review the book on this blog. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. There I was, struggling to retain my will to live, and I opened up the book to read this on the very first page:

“At day’s end I sat on my bed overcome with convulsive tears. My will to live had been obliterated. . . . Holding onto life had proven itself too hard. . . . My emotional avalanche had battered me so severely that I was unwilling to consider giving life another chance. . . . I was done.”

As JoAnna drifted off to sleep, fully intending it to be her last night on earth, an angel appeared, pulled her spirit from her body, and took her to view heaven, more specifically her pre-mortal preparatory experiences and commitments. After all she saw and felt, she knew she could no longer follow through with her suicide. She would choose to keep fighting for her life. As she describes later in the book, “I, like all of God’s children, was a wreck worth salvaging” (p. 79).

At the time, I wasn’t reading or writing much at all. But JoAnna’s story pulled me in. She had been where I was. She had inhabited those awful depths of despair. And she had lived to tell of a better day. Perhaps I would too. Though I was initially drawn into JoAnna’s story, and despite the book being very short, it has taken me over a year to finally finish A Glimpse of Heaven and feel ready to post this review.

A Glimpse of Heaven covers more than just JoAnna’s brief visit to heaven. It also contains other powerful spiritual experiences, including several pre-birth experiences with her soon-to-be children. If you’ve been following me for awhile you know that I adore pre-birth experiences. So I loved reading about JoAnna’s.

One of the things that struck me as I read the book was just how much JoAnna and I have in common. It was so validating to read about her search to find the son she had been told through the voice of the Spirit to find. In the years she spent searching, she was given more and more information through personal revelation about this son, including his name and the name of the young girl she would find him with. I myself have also been given specific details about a son I have yet to bear. Sometimes I can’t help wondering if I’m making it all up, but at the same time the things I have been taught through the Spirit about my son feel very much real. The connection I feel to him is real. Reading JoAnna’s specific spiritual guidance about her future son felt like another witness from God that I’m not crazy. Mothers really can be given specific details about the children who will be coming to their families.

Another piece of JoAnna’s journey that struck me was her family’s struggle with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Here’s a brief summary of the condition:

“Reactive attachment disorder develops because the child’s basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren’t met and loving, caring attachments with others are never established. This may permanently change the child’s growing brain, hurting the ability to establish future relationships” (Source).

After adopting two orphans from Russia, JoAnna’s family learned first-hand what RAD was and how painful it can be for those who are dealing with it. Many children who have experienced neglect and/or abandonment in their infancy or early childhood later struggle with RAD. Joanna’s adopted children were among them. She said:

“If there is one lesson I have walked away with after having lived with children with RAD, it is that we must make sure that the infants and toddlers of our world receive the love and nurturing they need. Our children are priceless, and we must not take our responsibility for them lightly” (p. 75).

It breaks my heart to think of all the children out there in the world who do not have loving caregivers. Mothers have so much power! Loving mothers are key to the normal development of children’s brains. Zion, the pure in heart, will never be built without loving mothers to protect those pure hearts in their infancy. We are literally molding the future of humanity. That is no small thing.

I’m grateful A Glimpse of Heaven appeared in my life when it did. Though I found the structure and organization of the book somewhat scattered, it has many treasures to enjoy in its 111 pages. It would appeal to women struggling with depression, women waiting for future children, women seeking to adopt, those with chronic health difficulties seeking relief, and those who enjoy near-death experience accounts. You can read more about JoAnna and A Glimpse of Heaven on her website HERE.

by Lani

Frankincense and Myrrh: Father and Mother

August 7, 2013 in Attachment, Dads, Divine nature, Energy Healing, Lani, Midwives, Motherhood, Nourishment, Pain, Postpartum Care by Lani

945292_10151913129351040_496511578_n1Today’s guest post comes from my friend, Morgan. Morgan has five adorable children and a perfect match of a husband. She dabbles in a little bit of everything. She is an essential oil consultant, a doula, and a birth junkie. She also loves to sew baby stuff like baby carriers and cloth diapers. About ten years ago, my brother and his wife gave us a special “magi’s treasure” box as a gift. At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate how fortunate I was to have actual frankincense and myrrh resin in my possession. I certainly do now. -Lani

Frankincense and Myrrh: Father and Mother

By Morgan Somers

I love essential oils and I have loved learning about their uses and applications. Essential oils fascinate me, both from a science and physiology standpoint and from a spiritual/emotional/energy systems standpoint, but even that comes back to science in the end. I love learning it all. Two oils that are particularly amazing to me in their characteristics are frankincense and myrrh.

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Frankincense is known as the king of oils. It has the amazing ability to enhance the effects of other oils when used together with them. It is a powerhouse oil that has such a diversity of constituents that it can address a huge range of issues. Some of those uses include inflammation, cancer, and depression. But energetically/emotionally, it is the oil of truth. It helps people to let go of negativity and spiritual darkness. It connects the soul with light and truth. My favorite thing about frankincense is that it supports a spiritual attachment, both with God and our earthly father. It is a powerful oil that protects while also being a gentle nurturer. It reminds us that we are loved and dispels sentiments of abandonment.

Myrrh is a wonderful antiseptic. It cleanses and purifies. It’s particularly good for healing and pain. Midwives often use it on the umbilical cord stump of newborns. It’s also used as a mouthwash because it’s great for the mouth, gums, and throat. Energetically/emotionally, myrrh is the oil of Mother Earth. It nurtures our relationship with our biological mother, our mother earth, and our Heavenly Mother. It supports and repairs a damaged mother-child bond and promotes a sense of safety and security. It fosters trust and dispels fear. Anytime there has been a division or lack of attachment with our mothers, myrrh can bring us back to a place of trust, safety, and nourishment.

“Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness. . . . All thy garments smell of myrrh . . . whereby they have made thee glad.” Psalms 45:8

When I learned about the spiritual powers these two oils posses, I was overcome with awe. It gave new meaning to the gifts of frankincense and myrrh that the wise men brought to the baby Jesus as He left the premortal world and His Heavenly Parents to walk among men during His earthly sojourn. We too can use these oils to draw closer to our Heavenly Parents as well as our earthly parents.

Adoration of the Magi, Andrea Mantegna 1500 (Image Source)

Adoration of the Magi, Andrea Mantegna 1500 (Image Source)

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

Many parents anoint their newborns with frankincense at birth to ease their transition into earthly life. Myrrh would be a reasonable choice as well, particularly in cases where mothers were unable to have a good bonding experience in the first hour of their child’s life or for families that grow through adoption.

I love the powers these two oils possess together and I love to see them work in my family. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who has provided these gifts for us to use while we are here on this earth struggling through our mortal existence without Him quite so close to us as He was before we came. As a mother, I love that I can draw nearer to my Heavenly Father and Mother when I need help knowing how to raise these children and cope with the difficulties that come as a part of our mortal life experience.

Placenta Burying Ritual

July 31, 2013 in Attachment, Birth Stories, Felice, Menstruation, Motherhood, Nourishment, Placenta, Postpartum Care, Rites of passage, Symbolism, Traditions, Traumatic Birth by Progressive Prophetess

When Phoebe was 18 months old I realized that I still had her placenta in my freezer. I had just started to date (I was a single mom through most of my pregnancy), and a boyfriend found the placenta box and asked, “What’s this?” That’s when I realized it was time to do something with it.

I had always planned on burying it under a tree, but I wondered if there was some sort of ceremony I could perform. With a little help from Google I found that yes, this type of thing is well written up. So I found a template and made up my own ceremony from that. As I am preparing to move, I found the papers I wrote for the ceremony.

The whole point of the placenta burying ceremony is that it is a strong way of “closure” to the time of immersion mothering right after a birth. It can be done on it’s own or in conjunction with some milestone, such as a blessing, first birthday, return of menstruation, etc. Though I thought 18 months was a long time to keep it in the freezer, I think I did it at just the right time for us.

So here is the outline and some of the words from my ceremony.

1) First I prepared the place I would bury the placenta. I brought a candle, the placenta, a cup with some red juice and some bread.

2) I poured the juice in the cup, lit the candle and held Phoebe and told her the story of her birth. [Tell your child their birth story including any unresolved feelings. Express those.]

[If the birth was in any way traumatic for you or your baby, make sure you have a support person there with you through the process and look for other resources on line to make a part of your ceremony.]

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Here is a small excerpt from my words to Phoebe:

Phoebe [or insert your child’s name] I’m going to tell you the story of your birth. [insert your story] “On the day you were born I was so anxious to meet you…. I got in the birth tub and labored. We called Ken Carabello to give me a blessing, then Davi made me walk for an hour…I kept saying is she here yet? Then when it was time for you to be born auntie Lisa came and I breathed you down, but you were having a hard time, so after a while Davi said we should go to the hospital, so we drove fast… and you were born 20 minutes later at 3:19pm. You were tired. You nursed right away through and snuggled up with me. We went home and you didn’t leave my side the whole time… I was sad about…. But I was so happy that you got here safe and beautifully. You were born naturally and without any drugs and we were both empowered by the whole experience. For a long time afterwards I felt like I could do anything.

And I didn’t like to go anywhere without you. I wanted everyone to know that I had a baby! And I wanted respect. For a long time everyone does help you and give you reverence and respect. But then you get wrapped up in being a mom and life just becomes normal. But it’s important that we don’t forget what a miracle you are and how you got here.

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3) At this ceremony when we are about to bury the placenta is a time to heal from all of the things that were unresolved and let go of things. [make eye contact with child]

-We are letting go of the organ that held us together and nourished you.
-For 18 months now you have been nourished from my breasts,
-As you grow and become independent, you will be nurtured by the Earth Mother, God, and your Heavenly Mother.
-Just like the earth is going to nourish this tree.

phoebe_20080112_01534) Next we buried the placenta and tree. We ate a little of the food and juice.

[Name and celebrate the ways in which your experience of being this child’s mother has enriched you and made you stronger.]

Today I am celebrating being a mother:
The joy you have brought me
all the friendships
The confidence.
The closeness with our heavenly father, who is the preisethood holder in our home.
The whole pregnancy, birth, and mothering experience has made me so strong. I can do anything, and it’s all because of you.

5) Then I mixed some juice with the soil and put it on her bellybutton and said:

You will always be my baby. But motherhood is a journey and the end goal is surrender. I have to raise you to leave me and become independent. So with the burial of this placenta I now release you to grow into the person you were born to be, setting aside my own fears and expectations that I may have for you.

Although I hope that you can always rely on me, like the Mother Earth for Life long nurturing, I wish you never cease to grow in strength, love, wisdom, gratitude, your whole life and into the eternities.

6) Then I used the juice/mud to draw a heart around my own belly button and said:

I bless my womb and reclaim it as a private place belonging only to me. I am moving forward with creative projects like my pregnancy/birth book and a novel.” [Bless and thank and reclaim your women and celebrate your creativity: name any creative projects you are working on.]

Next I got out some lip gloss and put it on to symbolize the return of my sex appeal and interest in sex.

7) Closing:

I would like to close by declaring my willingness to conceive again and my openness to all the love that the universe has to offer me.

mandarinesNext, I poured the rest of the juice onto the earth and scattered the bread crumbs for the birds.

If you want to have your own placenta burying ceremony. You can search the net for ideas or copy this outline and insert your own words. I invited a close friend to video tape it and help me with Phoebe. The dwarf mandarine tree we planted is still thriving.

Your Endless Hours are Making a Difference! by Joanna Oblander

July 28, 2012 in Adoption, Attachment, Guest Post, Motherhood, Prenatal influences by Heatherlady

I am thrilled to share this guest post by author Joanna Oblander. Joanna has written the book “A Glimpse of Heaven”, which is a memoir about her near death experience  with God, her vision of  the pre-mortal world, her struggle with depression, and an amazing journey to find her adoptive son. I reviewed Joanna’s book on my blog, which you can read here, and have been so touched by her beautiful testimony and experiences. I have so enjoyed getting to know Joanna and hope you will too!

Now that I can no longer claim to be a young mother (let’s just say that my daughters are young mothers) I like to think that I have gained some amazingly
wonderful insights into the whole business of birth and motherhood!

If you have read my book, A Glimpse of Heaven, you know that I have four children that I have given birth to and 2 children that my husband and I adopted
from Russia.

I was determined as a young mother to stay home with my children. I was a pretty typical run-of-the-mill LDS mother who exercised lots of creativity in figuring out how I could maximize time with my children, maximize our income, minimize our expenditures, and minimize my time away from the home!

I believed President Benson’s admonition to stay at home with my children rather than pursue a career. And….there was that something inside my heart that couldn’t bear the thought missing out on all of my children’s ‘firsts” in exchange for a career. However, I can’t honestly say that I understood…really understood what my sacrifices for my children were about or what they were accomplishing.

Fast forward to our adoption…then fast forward 5 years after our adoption was finalized and VOILA….I understood. I understood in ways that I could have never understood before.

It was about five years after we adopted our children from Russia that I learned about an emotional condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I had personally been dealing with two cases of RAD for 5 years but I had not understood what it was that I was dealing with or its causes.

You see…my two Russian children were removed from their birth parents for neglect and abandonment. As a result of not receiving the care, nurturing, and
love they needed as infants and young children their emotional well being was greatly impaired.

What I learned is that when a child does not receive the care, nurturing and love that they need – the appropriate development does not occur. Reasoning ability is delayed or not developed, the conscience is impaired, desire to engage in loving relationships is dismally weak and desire to engage in strange, controlling behaviors is frustratingly strong. For example, my son once deliberately failed an honors class not because he wasn’t capable but because he wanted to show the teacher who was really in control.

In the normal development of a child, the first five years is very important but the time between the ages of 6 months to 18 months is especially critical. It is during those months that a child learns to trust. That’s why we often see babies become so attached to their mother’s during that time of their life.

As a child learns to move and become more independent, they need to learn that we are there for them. They have a dirty diaper and they fight us when we
want to change them yet our changing their diaper communicates our love for them and that we are going to take care of them. They try to climb something dangerous and we don’t let them and they learn that we are going to keep them safe. They try to hit us and we teach them hitting is wrong and they may cry
unhappy tears but they know that we are providing boundaries that they know will help them be secure.

During those formative months and years that we carry our children within, give birth to them, and then raise them are soooo precious. It is through our presence and our care (physical, emotional and spiritual) that we are able to teach them that they are loved, that there is a safe place for them in this world,
and enable them to develop in the very ways that Heavenly Father designed for them to develop. So the next time your baby cries as you leave for date night
or your energetic children are exhausting you – smile! Something wonderful is happening! Know that your endless hours and daily care are making a magnificent difference!

JoAnna Oblander
A Glimpse of Heaven