by Robyn

Birth Stories from the Sound of Music

January 1, 2018 in Adoption, Birth Stories, Book, Book reviews, Dads, Faith, Family size, Fear, home birth, Midwives, Music, Pain, Prayer, Robyn, Uncategorized, Waiting by Robyn

So I am always looking for a good book to read and stumbled upon The Story of the Trapp Family Singers: The Story Which Inspired the Sound of Music on my mother-in-law’s bookshelf. I was hoping to find something that was not only entertaining but inspiring as well. It didn’t disappoint. I have always loved the Sound of Music but had never bothered to learn more about the story that inspired it. The Trapp Family Singers is written by Maria Augusta Trapp herself. The real story may not be as fantastical as the Hollywood version but it is even more compelling. There is so much more that happens to them after they escape from Austria. I don’t want to give too much away because I think you would enjoy it. It is about a family and its determination to stick to their religious principles not matter the cost. The book and the movie are timeless and appeal to all ages.

Hidden inside the book is a beautiful birth story. Maria did adopt seven children as her own when she married the Captain Von Trapp but she also gave birth to three more children. And interesting to note, the Captain was not the strict, cold representation shown in the Sound of Music. His children actually describe him as a very calming influence as does Maria. Below are excerpts from her first birth:

“By the middle of February Frau Vogl [the midwife] came to stay and two days later it was obvious: this was the day. As it hadn’t occurred to bring a doctor into the picture so it also didn’t occur to anybody that I should take an aspirin. Everything was just fine, the pain simply belonged to it. . . Georg was sitting by my bedside, and that was very necessary. He knew so much more about it all than I; he had gone through it seven times. He assured me that I was not going to die, and the less I moaned now, the more strength I would have later, and this was only the beginning. He said it so casually that it took the edge off my anxiety. I went through the entirely new sensation that this was not pain like a toothache, which at times seems to screw itself into your very bones. These pains seem to come at regular intervals like breakers on a seashore. The moment they stopped, you felt perfectly wonderful and ready to dance, only to change your mind rather quickly when the next breaker came.”

Towards the end of her labor, the children were in the next room singing and repeating the rosary which calmed her. Her husband stayed beside her through it all. She repeated to herself, “Oh God, help, help that this Thy child be born healthy in body and soul.” As the first cry of the newborn was heard, the children broke into singing “Now Thank We All Our God.” Maria described her feelings, “In these precious moments the human being feels itself lifted up into the heights of God, partaking of his power, a co-worker of God, the Father, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.” As the evening closed she said her prayers and her parting thought before sleep was, “It-was-wonderful” (pgs. 80-82).

Maria shares the birth stories of her other two children as well. So if you are looking for a book that is about the strength of family and the adventure it takes us on when you live by faith, you might have to look this one up. Happy Reading and a Happy New Year!

by Lani

She Understands me

March 3, 2014 in Adversity, Church History, Death, Grief, Lani, LDS History, Loss, Midwives, miscarriage, Motherhood, Music by Lani

Ellis-Shipp

“It is to me the crowning joy of a woman’s life to be a mother.” -Ellis Reynolds Shipp

Did you know that Dr. Ellis Shipp, one of Utah’s first female doctors (who trained many women to become nurses and midwives), wrote a hymn in the hymn book? I had forgotten until yesterday when my friend (who is mourning her second miscarriage) posted this on facebook…

As I sung/listened to this hymn today, I realized that the woman who wrote the words understands me. Some of her own babies did not make it past infancy, yet she pushed forward, continued to bear children, and went on to help Utah women as their midwife and first female doctor. She has been a hero of mine for years, and only became more dear to my heart through the re-discovery of this hymn. Even though it made me cry, her song brought me joy and peace today.

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You can read more about Dr. Shipp’s wonderful legacy in Robyn’s post HERE.

by Lani

Becoming Zion: Book Recommendations

January 17, 2014 in Book reviews, Divine nature, Intuition, Jesus Christ, joy, Lani, Motherhood, Music, Preparation, Savior, Temple, Zion by Lani

So I’ve been a bit obsessed of late with Zion. Can you feel the momentum like I can? Things are happening. We are being prepared for big things. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I feel in my gut that we and our children and grandchildren will build Zion, we will BE Zion. I want to get there as quickly as possible. I’m done with darkness and misery and suffering. I can’t wait for light, truth, love, peace, wholeness, and Christ in our midst!  During a recent trauma-release session with a therapist, I was asked to go to a “special place” in my mind. I chose to place myself in the center of Zion’s temple because there was no safer place I could imagine. It was awesome, at least in my imagination.

Maybe you’re as eager as I am? If so, here are some books you might love (if you haven’t read them yet)…

81pYSv-cBJL1) The Triumph of Zion: Our Personal Quest for the New Jerusalem, by John M. Pontius 

I started reading this book at the end of the summer last year (after reading another of his books, Visions of Glory). The vast amount of information contained in The Triumph of Zion made me overlook its minor flaws. I learned so much from this book about Zion, translation (the spiritual kind, not the language kind), the Second Coming, etc. There is a lot of repetition and rehashing of the same information, but I tried to see it as an intentional gift to really embed the information in my brain rather than as an editing mishap. If you want to better understand what needs to happen in order for Zion to be built, this is a great resource.

 

64982762) Light in the Wilderness: Explorations in the Spiritual Life, by M. Catherine Thomas

After two separate strong, wonderful, spiritual women recommended this book to me, I knew it was time. I think I have marked almost every single paragraph in the book with my red pencil and stars and circles and notes. This is one of my new all-time favorite books ever.

If you know Truman G. Madsen’s work, it may interest you to know that his review is quoted on the back cover of Light in the Wilderness: “This remarkable and penetrating book deals with some of the toughest spiritual issues of our time.” I discovered Truman G. Madsen as a teenager and devoured all the books my stepmom had by him. She later gifted them all to me, and I absolutely treasure them. In fact, Truman G. books were the only spiritual books I could stomach during my battle with anxiety/depression in 2012. He was the thread that kept me connected to God. I love him. Light in the Wilderness reminds me a lot of Madsen’s style.

M. Catherine Thomas is a convert, a mother of six, has a PhD in ancient history, taught at BYU and the Jerusalem Center, and has served four Spanish-speaking missions with her husband. I hope I can hear her speak someday. I love her! Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Everything in the Cosmos is playing music based on its particular configuration and vibration. The spheres are full of music. The elements of our physical world play the music given them by their Creator, but . . . we shall see that Man can choose to a degree the energy by which he will vibrate and the music that he will play” (p. 39).

“One day our former glories will be unveiled again; meanwhile, just the knowledge that we are full of unutterable wonders can light our way–yes, can cause us to question our current perceptions of reality and expand toward greater ones” (p. 64).

“But setting aside a human tendency to be gripped by fearful or miserable thoughts, we can quietly, deliberately, and deeply entertain the possibility of the opposite of what the thought is tempting us to believe. What might be a truer way of looking at this situation?” (p. 82).

“How important it is to realize that like is drawn to like: intelligence to intelligence, truth to truth, light to light (see D&C 88:40), but also anger to anger and pain to pain. We will draw to ourselves the sort of energy from unseen beings that we ourselves entertain” (p. 186).

I can’t wait to read this book again, and again, and again. It is like a manual for becoming pure in heart, becoming Zion.

 

97803408243753) The Mozart Effect, by Don Campbell

As I’ve written before, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Zion’s builders/inhabitants it is this: they SING. Over and over and over the scriptures declare that Zion is home to those who sing “songs of everlasting joy.” I got a copy of The Mozart Effect for a few dollars at Goodwill last year and promptly started devouring it. I learned so much about the healing power of music and song from this book. It’s dated (making reference to cassette tapes, etc.) since it was written back in the 90’s, but the information is still as pertinent as ever. If you want to have a better understanding of why Zion’s inhabitants will spend so much time singing (and making music, I’m sure), this book is a great overview.

 

babyandhandxsm4) The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth

Ha ha! Really though. I have long felt that we were inspired to write our book when we did because it would play a part in preparing the mothers of Zion to birth and raise the most powerful spiritual army that has ever lived. You may have heard the phrase often quoted by birth advocates: “Peace on earth begins with birth.” I absolutely believe this is true. And Satan knows it too, which is why he has worked so hard to disempower women in their life-giving journeys from the very beginning of their journeys. If he can throw a wrench in a mother’s views about her body, about her own strength, her connection to her baby, her faith in her intuition from the very beginning, he’s gone a long way toward accomplishing his efforts to weaken families. But if we can strengthen a mother from the very beginning, if we can lift her and support her and help her discover her own power and intuition, we have made huge strides toward weakening Satan’s influence over that particular family. The Gift of Giving Life can strengthen the mothers of Zion, and the mothers of Zion will help usher in a millenia of peace. This army of peace is being unleashed upon the earth even as we speak, and it is growing. So exciting! If you haven’t read our book yet, we hope you will!

Do you have some other Zion-focused book recommendations?

Please share in the comments! 

by Lani

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 2

December 9, 2013 in Angels, Birth Stories, Fear, home birth, Lani, Music, VBAC by Lani

1011942_669099829783949_352451545_nCherise is an Arizona Mother, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Placenta Crafter, and Creator of the marvelous “Big Baby Project” (a website full of empowering vaginal births of babies 9 lbs and over). This is Part 2 of Cherise’s birth story. You can read Part 1 (her quest to find a supportive care provider HERE). I love how the words of one of my favorite songs gave Cherise strength when she felt like giving up. -Lani

 

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 2
By Cherise Sant

Aaron’s estimated “guess date” came and went, and I got to practice the patience I’d so often preached in class. I joined a yoga studio and practiced prenatal yoga for the final month of my pregnancy. That was such a good choice! It was the perfect preparation for birth, as well as a much needed sanctuary in the final days which were such a challenge emotionally.

At 40 ½ weeks gestation, I received a notice that the following week, the water in my neighborhood would be shut off for 12 hours. I laughed and thought wouldn’t that be hilarious if baby came that night? Except it wouldn’t really be hilarious at all. I shared my dilemma on facebook and some amazing women offered their homes should I go into labor on that particular night (even one woman I’d never before met), and I felt God’s love and support again.

Then came week 41, and I was still pregnant. I tried to avoid anyone that would ask questions in effort to keep myself positive and looking forward. I knew my movement wouldn’t be as limber or energetic as before, but I trudged to yoga class anyway. I tucked in with my mantra that I was at peace and accepting God’s plan, and I let the tears flow. Two nights later was the night of the water shut off. I filled the tub and put water on the stove in case baby decided to join us that night. The water was scheduled to come back on at 6am the next morning. My husband was away at work that night and I snuggled down with my then 4 and 6 year old and we all went to sleep. I woke just after 6 a.m. to go to the bathroom and was relieved to see water flowing. All was well. I went back to bed.

At 7:07 I awoke with a pain in my back, so I sat up and that helped some. I stood up and that helped more, but I was tired (I loved to sleep in whenever possible). I bounced on my birth ball while leaning over on the bed. As I felt sensations in my back and belly, I knew that these were contractions, and they were different than what I had experienced thus far for this pregnancy. I called my mom and asked if she could come and help me with my kids. I didn’t know if baby was coming that day but I knew I’d need some help. Just a bit later I called my husband who was just on his way home from work to make sure he was on his way, and I gave my sweet doula the heads up as well. I called my midwife but wasn’t ready for her to come quite yet.

Bouncing on the ball was helpful for a long time, and then I wanted to get in the bath. My husband sat with me until I requested that he set up the birth pool so that I could have more room to move around and more water to cover my belly. I soon asked someone to call the midwife. So then my sweet mother came in and sat next to me. I told her she would feel like she’s not doing anything, but just by being there she would be doing a lot. She wrote in her notebook, and I breathed deeply and imagined swirls of color to keep my mind moving but off the contractions. I walked around, I bounced on the ball in the kitchen, and my birth team arrived.

I don’t remember just who but various people brought me herbal tea with honey, and some gluten free toast. I labored on the toilet as things got quite intense, and I cried. I leaned upon my husband, and he held me as I moaned and swayed. Then the birth photographer and a dear friend came with her new little one. I was at his homebirth just 4 months earlier. She came in to say hi, and I could her little guy breathe. Hearing that newborn breath awoke me to the purpose of all the discomfort I was feeling, and I got excited. It was all really happening.

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After the wave of contractions I experienced in the bathroom there was an internal shift and I knew that it wouldn’t be long now. I knew I had to get to that birth tub. So I did, and then things seemed to slow down for a minute. My kids were going back and forth between PBS kids and checking on me, and during a contraction I could tell my 4 year old daughter was a little concerned about me. After that contraction I looked back at her and smiled warmly. I told her, “Mommy’s okay, I’m just having a baby!” She relaxed and smiled.

And then I got really, really uncomfortable. I started getting grunty and really felt like I had to poop (which I knew was baby), and I got a little excited. After one BIG contraction and guttural moan I pushed hard! I was imagining I was pushing the baby down closer and closer with that push, so I felt satisfied. Until I heard my husband say to our daughter, “Daphne, don’t touch that!” I looked back to see that… I pooped. I pooped! “Oh great!” I yelled, irritated. Of course the evidence was quickly removed and I labored on.

I had been listening to my birth CD and on it was the most beautiful song called “Long Time Sun” sung by Snatam Kaur. I then went into a place of intense pressure while baby worked his way down, and I distinctly remembering feeling like my body would crack open if this continued. And that was a problem because I pretty much had to continue. My mind flooded with doubt and fear – words like “I can’t do this, this is too hard, I don’t wa—“ I recognized immediately the negative talk that had begun, and I remembered that even though I didn’t feel it at that moment, I knew that somewhere I had what it took to birth this baby. I am connected to an endless source of energy and light and power in my Savior, and with his help I can do anything! And then I remembered the words of the song I had just heard…

May the Long Time Sun
Shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on
Guide your way on

I prayed a desperate prayer and tried different positions in the water in a fruitless attempt to find some relief. I moved to a squat – holding onto the sides of the tub and I bore down. Emotions raged, pain seared, and I knew my baby was coming. And then he was with me, and I was with him. Time didn’t mean anything to me then but I know it was only a matter of minutes before his head was born. “His head is out!” I announced excitedly and a bit proud. More pushing, and I remember my mom coming around to the front of the tub with the video camera sobbing unrestrained. My husband (who never left my side) and our other children were at the tub side now.

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Then little Aaron left my body, and I pulled him right up to my chest. The emotions that I experienced at that time cannot be described with words. It was overwhelming, it was so special, and yet so normal, like “Of course, I just had a baby.” I was on top of the world. I stayed in the water for just a few minutes as I let it sink in and looked at my baby. We had a boy! As I’d pulled him up, I immediately could tell that he was little!! My smallest baby for sure, and yes he weighed in at 5 pounds, 15.9 oz. Later I would marvel that I changed course on a path to VBAC and didn’t have planned cesareans at 39 weeks. I couldn’t imagine how small and fragile he would have been 2 ½ weeks prior.

The next hour was a whirlwind but I was lucid and consciously participating. The baby latched on, and I tucked into my own bed and after some delicious food and loving faces I went to sleep. The midwife returned to my home to weigh the baby, check my sutures (I tore along an old scar line), blood pressure, etc. in the days that followed. Everything was perfect. My home was blessed with love and angels at the time of his birth and in the weeks that followed.

Even many months after Aaron’s birth, I could walk back to that spot where the birth pool sat and I gave birth and feel it. I felt the strength, beauty and power of those precious, sacred moments. We’ve since moved away from that home, and on the day we left, I stood there once again and drank in the spirit of love I felt there.

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The children were so glad to have been present, and I believe they have a special bond with him because of that. As a mother I felt so whole and so supported through everything that I felt nothing but love for this new little one. He wasn’t a burden at all as I admit I had felt about the first two. I had enough – I always had enough to give. I believe it is because during his pregnancy and birth that was my reality. I made it my reality with the help of the Lord. The Lord inspired my path, I had a vision of what I wanted, he agreed, then I imagined it, I spoke about it, I felt it, I prepared for it and then I experienced it.

I know the Lord cares about me, so he also cares about you. He cares about our births, and that women and children are met with respect and love during the sacred and tender time of birth. He wants to be involved and will guide your path if you are willing to do the walk of faith. I am forever grateful for such a loving Heavenly Father who always leads to joy and healing.

Choir Christmas Miracle Birth Story

December 5, 2013 in Music, Sheridan by enjoybirth

For me singing in choir spiritually feeds me.  It is something that I need to do and luckily I enjoy it too.

I will say sometimes singing can feel overwhelming at Christmas time.

  • My 3 boys and I are singing in our Stake’s Sing Noel performance this weekend.  We have been practicing each week since the middle of October.
  • Then there is the Millennial Choir, T2 is singing in that.
  • Then there is Shine – a singing group T2 is also in and they have 4 or 5 performances.
  • Then there is Follow the Star and T2 is singing there too.
  • THEN there is our ward choir.  Small, but sweet.  T2 sings with me there.

All the rehearsals and performances and it can feel overwhelming.   Is it worth the disruption it brings to our family?
Choir of Angels Christmas Ornaments Crochet Pattern

Christmas time of 2009 reminds me it is.

Re-reading this birth story from a birth I attended in 2009, helps remind me why all the practices and performances are worth it and how God has a hand in everything!!

Or ward choir was planning on singing 3 numbers on the 20th of December.  I am an alto and you know how you need all the altos you can get!  I felt especially needed that day because we had

  • 1 women’s number with 3 parts only 4 of us were singing alto
  • We were singing the Hallalujah Chorus

I have fond memories of the Hallelujah Chorus.

We sang it every year in High School.

This year (2013) T2 is singing it with the Millenial Choir and he is LOVING it, he listened to the whole Messiah the other day while he was doing homework. 

Also on my mission I had read this inspirational story about the music of The Messiah.  (really worth going and reading this one!!)

It is about a woman who learned to play the Messiah in 5 days, because an organist had to leave town for a sick mother.

It really stuck with me and one day I mentioned it to my new companion, who loved music as much as I did.

She stopped, looked at me and said, “That was my mom.  I was the preschooler who played in the pews while she practiced.”

I loved that, it was a REAL story.

Saturday afternoon one of my doula clients called.

She was a first time mom in her early birthing time.  We talked a few times that evening.  I got my ducks in a row and went to bed, knowing she would most likely call me at some point in the night.

This meant I would probably miss singing in the choir. All I could do was pray about it and try to let that go.  If I was meant to be there, then I would be.  If not, it would be ok!  I tried to give it up to God!

I woke up about every hour, wondering why they hadn’t called yet.  I am too excited when I know I am about to go to a birth to sleep really well.

Finally at 5:30 AM they called.

I figured there was no way I would make it to choir.

They were on the way to the hospital, her water had broken.   I got up, took a 3 minute shower to wake up, put on my doula outfit and head out!  I arrived at the hospital at 6.  Mom was in a room and already pushing.  She did AWESOME!  Baby was born at 6:24 and mom and baby were both great.

I usually stay for 1-2 hours after birth.  By 8:30 baby had nursed, mom and dad were doing wonderfully, I had moved their car from the Emergency Room Parking lot.  They seemed settled and ready to be on their own.  I asked if they were ok with me leaving.  They were!

The timing was perfect!

I called home.  Told DH to have Thing 2 ready (he was singing too).  I drove home quickly, changed and got us both to church about 2 minutes after 9.   Thing 2 was a bit disgruntled we were a few minutes late.  I explained, “I was at a birth!”  He was totally surprised about that and then was fine with us being a bit late.  Luckily we didn’t have to be on the stand until a bit later in the program, so the timing worked perfectly!

I felt the spirit so very strongly while we sang. I kept tearing up and it was hard to sing.  I felt so honored to be a part of a beautiful birth that morning.  I kept seeing that baby being born in my mind, and remembering how peaceful and beautiful of a birth it was and couldn’t help thinking of the precious baby Jesus born over 2000 years ago and the angels singing to announce His birth.

The music of Christmas is so powerful and I felt like it was my own little Christmas Miracle that I was able to be there to sing with the choir!

by Lani

Birthing Hymns

October 2, 2013 in Atonement, Divine nature, Lani, Motherhood, Music, Savior, Symbolism, Temple, Zion by Lani

A couple of months ago, I was listening to the song “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” and I thought: this would be a great song for childbirth. Especially this line…

Come, come, ye saints, no toil or labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear
Grace shall be as your day.

Then I got thinking about some of the other hymns and realized that so many of them could be seen through the lens of childbirth and take on new meaning. For instance,”work,” “toil,” “labor” and related words can be considered in terms of childbirth. “Temple” can refer to our bodies/wombs or the holy places where we choose to give birth to our babies. Here are some passages I found particularly meaningful as potential aids for women in childbirth.

Motherhood Rooted - by Alija Craycroft

Motherhood Rooted – by Alija Craycroft

As sisters in Zion, we’ll all work together;
The blessings of God on our labors we’ll seek.
We’ll build up his kingdom with earnest endeavor;
We’ll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak.
(As Sisters in Zion)

***

In many a temple the Saints will assemble
And labor as saviors of dear ones away.
Then happy reunion and sweetest communion
We’ll have with our friends in the beautiful day.
(The Day Dawn is Breaking)

***

How beautiful thy temples, Lord!
Each one a sacred shrine,
Where faithful Saints, with one accord,
Engage in work divine.
(How Beautiful Thy Temples, Lord)

***

From grim confusion’s awful depth
The wail of hosts, faith’s urgent plea:
Release our anguished, weary souls;
Swing wide, swing wide the gates, and set us free!
(How Long, O Lord Most Holy and True)

***

Holy temples on Mount Zion
In a lofty splendor shine,
Avenues to exaltation,
Symbols of a love divine.
(Holy Temples on Mount Zion)

***

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
(How Firm a Foundation)

***

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It’s a Human Thing- by Amanda Greavette

Thus, all my toilsome way along
I sing aloud thy praises,
That men may hear the grateful song
My voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart!
Both soul and body bear your part.
To him all praise and glory!
(Sing Praise to Him)

***

In mem’ry of the Crucified,
Our Father, we have met this hour.
May thy sweet Spirit here abide,
That all may feel its glowing pow’r.
(In Memory of the Crucified)

by Lani

Fearless: Mothering Zion

September 13, 2013 in Angels, Book, Fear, Lani, meditation, Motherhood, Music, Thoughts, Zion by Lani

Fearless: Mothering Zion
By Lani Axman

We know he is coming
To gather his sheep
And lead them to Zion in love,
For why in the valley
Of death should they weep
Or in the lone wilderness rove?
(Redeemer of Israel, Hymn #6)

One of Satan’s primary weapons is fear, and as the world grows more and more destructive and evil, I believe that fear will be the downfall of many. “And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people” (D&C 88:91). I know from personal experience how debilitating and destructive fear can be. I recently emerged from a life-and-death battle with anxiety/depression myself. Fear is the enemy. Fear will destroy us if we let it. It nearly destroyed me.

IMG_5369_2Personally, I believe that the women bearing children now are mothering Zion-builders. If we and our children are going to survive the turmoil ahead of us, if we are going to build Zion, we have to leave fear in the past. We have to become fearless and teach our children to do the same. Before we can build the New Jerusalem on earth, we have to build that “city of peace” within ourselves. We have to become the New Lani or the New Marie or the New Jessica… new and improved, with salem/shalom or peace/security/wholeness at our cores.

I’ve been doing an extensive study of Zion over the past several months. I’ve learned more awesomeness than I could share in this brief post, but I do want to give you three keys to becoming fearless mothers of Zion gleaned from my recent studies.

1) New Eyes

Without eyes to see the truth, we are much more vulnerable to fear. But we can “inoculate” ourselves against fear with new eyes. President Boyd K. Packer explained that “the word inoculate has two parts: in—’to be within’—and oculate means ‘eye to see'” (Source). I love this story from 2 Kings, chapter 6. Dallin H. Oaks summarizes it well:

Because Elisha had helped the kingdom of Israel repel the Syrians, they sent a great army with horses and chariots to capture the prophet. When Elisha’s young servant saw the armies surrounding their city, he cried out in fear, but Elisha reassured him:

“Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

“And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:16–17.)

The Lord intervened to confuse and blind the Syrians, and they were taken prisoners by the armies of Israel.

When I read this wonderful story as a boy, I always identified with the young servant of Elisha. I thought, If I am ever surrounded by the forces of evil while I am in the Lord’s service, I hope the Lord will open my eyes and give me faith to understand that when we are in the work of the Lord, those that are with us are always more powerful than those that oppose us. (Source)

With new eyes, Elisha’s servant was no longer afraid. If we, too, are to become fearless, we must cultivate spiritual sight… the ability to see things as they really are… to see what God sees. Sometimes this kind of “seeing” has very little to do with our eyes and much more to do with the processing of what we see—what we think about what we see. We can train ourselves out of a gut-fear-reaction when presented with something “scary” by constantly filtering what we see through the eyes of God: “What would God see here?”

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2) New Minds

The way we process what we see has a lot to do with our minds. So much of fear begins in the mind, so the mind is a huge key to breaking the fear cycle. Romans 12:2 reads, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and 2 Timothy 1:7 teaches, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I love what Sheridan has to say about this subject in our book: “How can we make our minds firm and let go of any fears we have learned or inherited? Karl Menninger has said, ‘Fears are educated into us and can, if we wish, be educated out.’ Hypnosis and meditation are great tools for harnessing the power of your mind and unlearning deep-set fears” (p. 285).

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Felice’s “Meditation” essay describes how meditation can help us transform our minds and thought-patterns:

Every time you think or act, your brain creates a neuro-pathway. The more you do it—the more energy you attach to certain thoughts or actions—the deeper that pathway becomes. Just like when a hose is left on in the dirt—the water cuts a deeper and deeper groove. Let’s say that deepening rut is your negative thoughts. Pretty soon other related thoughts and feelings start to fall in that groove—which means that you increasingly get into a similar state. Meditation creates new neuro-pathways which will eventually allow for new feelings and thoughts. (p. 201)

(You can learn much more about meditation on Felice’s website.) As we create new neuro-pathways and thought patterns, designed by God instead of Satan, our minds will become fearless.

3) New Songs

Psalms 40:3 reads: “And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and [stand in awe], and shall trust in the Lord.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Zion’s builders/inhabitants over the past few months it is this: they SING. Over and over and over the scriptures declare that Zion is home to those who sing “songs of everlasting joy.” Zion mothers are singing mothers. And God’s praises fill their mouths.

The story of the Jaredites crossing the ocean to the Promised Land illustrates the power of such songs:

And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind. . . . And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord. . . . And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them. (Ether 6:6-12)

It took 344 days for the Jaredites to cross to the Promised Land. They sang without ceasing for 344 days! And I have a hunch that it wasn’t just because they liked singing. I think it’s because they understood an important truth about music: singing diminishes fear. I imagine the Jaredite mothers sang their children’s fears (and their own) away as the endless waves and winds beat upon their vessels.

When you use your voice as a sound instrument, powerful things happen inside of you. Among those: 

* Your heart rate relaxes and decreases.
* Your blood pressure decreases.
* Your stress [fear] hormones decrease.
* Your body enhances the release of endorphins.

(Source: Meditation as Medicine, p. 114)

A recent study out of Turkey also found that singing in a choir is associated with reduced anxiety levels (Source). Sometimes when I’m having a hard day, my toddler will say to me, “Sing, Mommy! Sing!” It makes me smile because she’s learning at some level within her soul that singing can chase away our fears and sorrows.

Singing is a key to becoming a fearless Zion mother. In the beginning, our songs may simply be tools to chase the fears and worries from our hearts. We will sing as a coping mechanism in a fear-filled world. But eventually those songs will become so much a part of us that we will not be able to keep from singing. We will fill the air with our voices and songs of everlasting joy. We will be fearless. We will be Zion.

The Power of Music

August 23, 2013 in Missions, Music, Sheridan by enjoybirth

Music is one of my main spiritual languages.  It has been since before I joined the church.  I think I was born that way.  It touches my soul like little else can.

It is one of the first things I loved about going to church.  We sang so much, especially because I started going to church in 1985 and the new hymnal had just come out, so after Sacrament meeting our ward had song practice before Sunday School to learn new hymns.  Lots and lots of singing.  I loved it.

Some of the most spiritual experiences I have had are connected with music.  Like Andrea’s birth. 

Think about the music you are playing in your world.  Inspirational music is important.  I am not talking only hymns, there are many songs that can inspire us.

I read an interesting article about the vibration music can have.  Some is high and some is low.  Choose music that have positive vibrations.

I am blessed to have a son who is gifted musically.  His songs (many he has written himself) fill our house every day.

I was listening to music the other day and the Holy Ghost flooded my soul and I wrote down the impression I had to share with him.  “Only create music that lifts and inspires.”

Here he is with his little brother, singing a song written by an Elder before his mission.  Enjoy!

 

7 Spiritual Languages – How do you Communicate with God?

July 17, 2013 in Music, Prayer, Sheridan, Traditions by enjoybirth

(I originally wrote this post in 2010 on my Enjoy Birth Blog.  I have added some new thoughts, marked with ***  I also changed it to 7 Spiritual Languages, combining scripture study with Learning and Teaching)

Love Languages

I love the book The 5 Love Languages. I think it may have saved my marriage when Thing 2 was 1 years old. So I really do love this book. It basically says there are 5 different love languages and what may make me feel loved, wouldn’t make you feel loved.

  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Touch
  • Quality Time
  • Words of Affirmation

For me it is all about Words of Affirmation. For Rob it is all about touch. So he might come home and want to touch and snuggle, but if he doesn’t say, “Thanks for cleaning the kitchen.” I am not going to feel loved.

This doesn’t mean he is right or I am wrong. It doesn’t mean my love is better, it is just we feel it differently. Who knows why? Maybe the way we were raised, maybe it is in our personality? But it doesn’t matter, we just need to be aware and accept our differences and work to show love to each other.

I read a great post talking about Spiritual Languages.

In What’s Your Spiritual Language she says hers areI love my music !

    • Music
    • Social Activism

Whereas she doesn’t get spiritually fed by:

  • Commune with nature
  • Solitude
  • Ritual/symbolism

I decided there are 7 Spiritual Languages

In the comments people added some other spiritual languages, in which I combined some to make 7:

  1. Music
  2. Social Activism/Acts of Service/Love in Action
  3. Communing with Nature
  4. Solitude/Prayer/Meditation/Pondering
  5. Ritual/Symbolism/Traditions
  6. Scripture Study/Teaching/Learning
  7. Gratitude

My Spiritual Languages Are:

  • Music – I definitely learn spiritually through music. I often learn more at choir practice then church.
  • Social Activism/Acts of Service/Love in Action – This is a favorite. I am all about love!
  • Teaching/Learning – I love to teach lessons, or give talks, because I learn so much this way. I also love to feel the inspiration of the Holy Ghost as I prepare and as I teach.  This usually is combined with in depth scripture study as I prepare.
  • ***** Since starting to Meditate I now can say that Meditation/Prayer is definitely one of my Powerful Spiritual Languages.  I can connect so much easier with God after meditating.  It is as if the doors to heaven swing open and I am connected.  Powerful stuff!  Check out Felice’s Meditation classes if you want to learn more.

Is it OK we have different spiritual languages?

The Native Americans traditionally learn a lot spiritually through their communing with nature. Who am I to say that is wrong? That is how THEY learn. I know there is a church in my area where they go to nature areas to worship God. Some people think they are just coming up with an excuse to have church outside and play on Sunday, but if that works for them, who am I to say that is wrong?

Some people are really into traditions and rituals. Look at Catholic services for example. If that is something that speaks to the people that attend there and makes them feel closer to God, then good for them! Maybe that is why there are so many different religions? People looking for ways to fulfill different spiritual love languages?

Couldn’t it be we just learn in our own way? Couldn’t God teach people in different ways? Just as we all have our unique love languages we have our own unique spiritual languages. God can teach through them all!  *** I think the Holy Ghost can speak to us through all of these languages/activities.  It is as if by doing them, we are more open to be led by the Spirit.

I think recognizing what activities spiritually fulfill you is important.  Then you can make sure to incorporate them into your daily lives.  Maybe the “church answer” of scripture study and prayer isn’t enough for everyone.  Maybe we need to individualize it.  (Of course I believe we all need to study scriptures and pray, but combining it with music or meditation makes it much more powerful for me.)

So, what are your spiritual languages?

Please share your thoughts and ideas.

Christmas Carols

December 19, 2012 in Music, Sheridan by enjoybirth

I grew up in a home without religion.  My parents are amazing and raised me well, but faith wasn’t a part of our life.

Except for Christmas Carols.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas ....
Every Christmas we would play Christmas Carols and sing them together. I vividly remember driving around town, seeing the snow falling and singing Carols with my Mom and Dad.

It was my introduction to Jesus.  What a magical one at that.  The songs all evoked amazing pictures in my mind and heart.  I could feel that these were songs that were special in a way that no other type of song could be.

I think that is why people are nicer at Christmas.

So many people are singing praises to God.

We watched Elf for Family Home Evening this week, while we stuffed, stamped and sealed our Christmas Cards.  I love that it was people singing Christmas songs that helped them believe enough to make Santa’s Sleigh fly.

It was through singing Christmas Carols like Angels We Have Heard on High and O Holy Night that helped me believe enough to search to learn more about this baby Jesus who was born in a manger.  To see why His birth was so important that we sing of it each year.

When I get frustrated by the commercialization of Christmas, I try to let it go and think – It is a wonderful way to get the message of Jesus birth into the world.  They may not know it, but with every carol they hear their hearts can be softened.  Because of the commercialization of Christmas there is Christmas music everywhere.  Radio stations that play only Christmas music for the whole month, music shines down on the shoppers and people sing praises to Him.

Sing Along and feel JOY!

What is your favorite Christmas Song?

Mine is Evening Lullaby (click and scroll down to find title and play sample).  An extremely talented woman in my stake made a wonderful Christmas CD a few years ago, it is my favorite!!!

Sing Noel Performance

My favorite thing to do at Christmas time is perform in our Stake Christmas Concert.  Practice starts in October and it brings the Christmas spirit into our home.  My boys are in the children and youth choir. So it is a family affair.

There is something powerful about singing in a choir.  Some of my most spiritual experiences happen during choir practice.  It is as if my spirit is open to receiving revelation and they pour in.

Our Sing Noel this year was this past weekend.  It was great and sad at the same time.  As we sang – March of the Christmas Children and the children’s choir came marching in and started singing with us.  I couldn’t help but cry as I thought of those families who have lost children.  Of course the families in Connecticut were at the front of my mind.  But also all the others who have lost children from accidents or sicknesses.  These sweet children who are here such a short time to return back into the arms of a Loving Heavenly Father and leave arms empty here.

It is hard to carry that sadness.

But then after the children sang their numbers and our Stake President spoke briefly and spoke of those children who were lost.  We sang again, this time with the children.

Peace, peace.

This is a time for joy.

This is a time for love.

Now let us all sing together of peace on earth.

Then the congregation joined us as we sang the above – they sang Silent Night

Suddenly my heart was filled with PEACE.

Yes there are sometimes what seems like unbearable things that happen in the world or in our lives.  But somehow we can find peace, through the sweet baby Jesus of who we sang.