Friendship before love

This is an interesting concept, but very true. Take the time to become friends before getting married. Get to know each other, laugh together, work out problems together.

If the only thing that is making the relationship happen is the excitement of what will happen in the bedroom, what will happen when the activity decreases? What will we have to talk about with each other? Will we care? Will we go out and have interests that are the same? Will he be focused on sports and I will be focused on hobbies? What about agreeing on what color to paint our home? Can we agree on that? Will we be able to agree on where we want to go on vacation? Will he want to go skiing and I want to go to a beach? Will we be able to compromise?

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “While one is young and well and strong and beautiful or handsome and attractive, he or she can (for the moment) almost name the price and write the ticket; but the time comes when these temporary things have had their day; when wrinkles come and aching joints; when hair is thin and bodies bulge; when nerves are frayed and tempers are taut; when wealth is dissipated…”

There comes a time when those who flattered us and those who’s wit and charm deceived us may leave us to our fate. Those are times when we want friends, good friends, and common friends, loved ones, tied with immortal bonds-people who will nurse our illnesses, tolerate our eccentricities, and love us with pure, undefiled affection.

Then we need an unspoiled companion who will not count our wrinkles, remember our stupidities nor remember our weaknesses; then is when we need a loving companion with whom we have suffered and wept and prayed and worshipped; one with whom we have suffered sorrow and disappointments, one who loves us for what we are or intend to be rather than what we appear to be in our gilded shell.”

Right now, our world is focused on physical attraction. If we look good, our companion will love us. This may be why there are so many programs and ways to keep us looking young. We can have our bodies cut to look smaller, we can replace hair in the right places, remove hair from the wrong places, and we can dye our hair, remove wrinkles and plump ourselves in places that may begin to droop.

I am not saying that we should not be physically attractive; I believe that we should do that for ourselves and not for someone else. It is acceptable to be physically attracted and attractive to our companion, but remember, there is so much more than that to make a marriage last. When we are looking for a companion, looking inside the heart is just as important as looking at the appearance of that person.

Yes, I admit, I know what it is that I am attracted to. I even have another friend who told me what he is attracted to-he is drawn to the “Miss America” types because that is what was typical in his family. No, I am not one of those, but we find that we still can be friends, we laugh together, and we dance together. We share hopes with each other because we are friends. We encourage each other and I am finding that our friendship has lasted longer than a couple of his relationships. No, we know we are not to be together and we are fine with that.

It is good to have a friend. I have a female friend who has watched me through my last 2 marriages. She has stood by me through both of them and we still take time out to talk and to support each other. Now, I found a guy who will be my friend and be my companion and want to be with me for eternity… Oh yes, is that not what we are trying to do? Finding our eternal friends and companions?

We have been married to each other now for 2.5 years and it still feels like we are eternal companions. We have taken the time to become friends before we married. He has supported me through the tough times as well as being there for the good. We have goals from daily to eternal. We never look for the negative about each other and we try to encourage each other in our desires.

My hope is that when we are dating, we take the time to become friends before we step into a deeper relationship.

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It is much easier to make changes in yourself before marriage than after marriage.

1. The motivation to change after marriage is not as strong because the couple is involved in everyday matters and will not take the time to make the changes.

2. A couple is trying to impress each other, so they are on their best behavior at all times until the wedding day. After that, they are able to let their hair down and show their true selves. Also, when this happens, they are able to take each other for granted.

3. After marriage we can be hurt more easily. We give our trust to the person we thought that we married and now, they see us when we are more vulnerable and they have a chance to criticize instead of encourage.

This leads to the word “Pride” which halts all progression.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from President David O. McKay, “During courtship keep your eyes wide open, but after marriage keep them half shut!”I was married to my first husband over 25 years ago. I felt very old because of looking back and finding that instead of encouraging changes within myself during that marriage and to encourage it within him; we did fail through each of the 3 steps listed. In doing so, instead of finding the good in each other and encouraging each other, we sharpened #3.

Pride was a downfall. Pain is all I can remember of the last part of our marriage before I had to stand up and make the change in our lives. I found that after our divorce, I had to re-create myself and to allow myself to grow.

Now, I encourage the best in each person that I know and meet. I weep for the pain in my friends. I shout for joy when life is good. I have changed who I was to who I am now.

I believe that each day we have the opportunity to make changes within ourselves. Not only before marriage, but after. When I am sad, I know that I have friends who share my sadness, but also want me to feel happy. They are there for me and I appreciate all of them. When I change who I am, I try to be better.

I have a saying that I started a while ago that gives me hope. “I am as perfect as I can be today.”

Each day I wake up and I find that I have a clean slate. I am to decide what I am going to do with that day. If I make a mistake, I try to address it immediately so that I can say that quote in the evening. There are many times that I have not been able to say it, but then I have another day to work on it.

When we are in a relationship, I hope that each of us realizes that we are connected with someone who is also trying their best to be perfect. Encourage each other, find the good in each other, and shout for joy when your partner achieves what they are trying to do.

Communication and kindness are the keys to a good relationship!

Communication and kindness have an important role in any relationship.

This is not only for the Husband and Wife relationship, but will work in all forms-work, children, parents, siblings, etc.

I found that this is a big reason that my first marriage did not work. We forgot to really communicate. I do not even remember when he kissed me with the feelings of love behind the kiss. We only talked with each other to just get the day taken care of. Planning where the kids were to be, what responsibilities we had to take care of in church, house responsibilities, etc. I found that all I did was do my best to keep the world looking normal for the kids. I was so focused on working on this, that I avoided him when he was talking bad about me to anyone who would listen. I felt hurt, but I would not say anything in my defense because I believed that my problems were to stay in the home and not to be aired out on a weekly basis. When I did talk to anyone, I was trying to figure out how to fix things in my life and wanted a second opinion to give me options that I was not seeing.

The thing that I did wrong was that I did not talk to him about what he was doing. I did not confide in him anymore because I felt he would tell people-again. Communication broke down. I became his mother and told him what to do instead of being his wife. When this happened, there was no such thing as kindness. I became sharp. He was a sick man(which happened during our life together), and I lost patience with him after doing everything that I could to help him fix the problem-which was unfixable.

This is the example of when we lose sight of communicating with love and being kind to each other.

I can say that my next marriage had a lot more communication. It just was not spiritually-based. We did not have the 3-way communication we should have had. We did not include Heavenly Father in our lives like I wanted and we should have done.

What was wrong with both of these examples? We did not communicate with kind and tender hearts. Anger and Pride have a way of jumping in when we are not looking. President David O. McKay said, “I’m going to tell you the most important secret of human life. The most critical need of the human soul is to be kind.”

We need to be quick to forgive and let go. I have many friends who are currently having to learn this part.

It is hard, but to forgive without being asked is the greatest gift a person can do for their loved one. It heals and improves a relationship when we use the gifts that we have been taught,such as; kindness, compassion, truth and forgiveness.

We need to have common interests so that we have something to talk about. Yes, sometimes it is good to have someone who is your complete opposite in your life. They encourage you to grow and to learn new things. But, it is someone that we have things in common with that become our best friends.

What are common interests? Hobbies, sports, music, church, family, politics, even types of dating would be a common interest. When I went to dances, I try to ask odd questions to throw off the guy that I was talking with. In doing so, they found that they begin to talk with me for much longer than the end of the song.

My goal was to learn about the person I am with instead of just thinking that he was cute or what he may be thinking of me. I try to take the time to actually have a real conversation. In doing so, I found that I have been creating a large circle of friends that endure even to today.

My marriage is a great example of this! Communication was a hard part of my husband’s life before we were married. In his vows to me, he promised to make an effort to communicate with me even when it was hard. I do my best to listen and not shut him out. Instead of pointing fingers when a difficulty happens, we keep each other’s hearts as a primary focus. We work hard to make this happen.

This does not happen overnight and it has to be worked on continually. But, with our making effort for each other, it has really created a wonderful relationship!

Loyalty-what is it?

What is it? How does it affect me? Why should I think about it?

Well, loyalty is being true and faithful to a friend or family member. Therefore, if we want to have a strong relationship with our future eternal companion, we need to develop loyalty. We need to be able to stick by the ones we care about and love. If we do not develop this characteristic within ourselves, what will happen when our spouse is in trouble? Will we be there for them or will we be saying bad things and walking away? What if we are the ones in trouble? Will the person we brought into our lives support us? Be there for us? Or will they walk away from us?

This is a talent and gift that we need to develop with those around us now so that when we are in a relationship, we have the skill to be loyal.

To be able to love when loving a person is not easy. Is this not a description of unconditional love?

When a person becomes unable to be all that they used to be, such as when they become injured, this becomes a test not only for the one injured, but for the ones who are with them. There is a wonderful man whom I know. He was hurt in a motorcycle accident many years ago. He is unable to walk or do most anything physical. He was married just a couple of years ago to a wonderful lady. She is there for him not only for the good times, but for the difficult times. To me, they are a good example of loyalty. I keep them in my heart to remind me what loyalty is. May we be there for each other in difficult times as well as good.

Respect

Respect is a feeling of admiration, which generally has to be earned.

It also means refraining from interfering with other’s agency-we allow them to be themselves.

I remember when I was first married to my first husband, he went through my things and threw away a doll that I had cherished when I was a little girl. My mother’s visiting teacher took it when I was a little girl and made clothes for it. I had planned on cleaning it up (Ok, it’s hair was the example of a loved doll) and giving it to my daughter when she grew up enough to appreciate it. To me, he did not respect me enough to let me keep something important to me.

Respect always motivates us to want to be kind and caring toward him or her and gives us the opportunity to wish for the best in them.

The quickest way to lose respect is to do something dishonest or immoral. How can we trust someone who does something wrong that will affect us?

The best way to gain respect from our partner is to set high standards and stick to them!!!! Elder Hugh W. Pinnock has said, “Men and women who do not have a wholesome respect for regulations during the dating process will often continue to break the rules after the work ‘yes’ at the altar is spoken.”

I have worked hard to earn the trust and respect of my children. My middle child became 21 and told me that he was going to do something that was not appropriate in my eyes. He was honest with me and was open to my concerns. I gave him advice-probably not something that most LDS people would say, but I knew that he was going to do something wrong and I wanted him to know that I was still there for him because I love him, not his actions. Because of this, his evening turned out much better than I had envisioned.

To me, both he and his younger brother have promised that no matter what question I ask, they will always tell me the truth. I have learned to ask many questions and to brace myself for the answers when it is something that takes them away from the correct pathway. The part that is important is that I do not judge them, I do not punish them. I let them learn from their mistakes and I stand back because they punish themselves harsher than I ever could. In doing so, I have done my best to be a good example for them so that they know that they can come back when they open their hearts. I have hope for them because they know what I stand for and they will not do anything to jeopardize me. To me, this is the embodiment of respect-from children.

I have many friends around me and many respect me as much as I respect them. I have learned to work hard for that respect as well.

Remember, I am your friend. I have learned to be able to say that I love you for who you are.

We are not perfect, but as long as we are willing to work together, we can get there without being alone.

Moving mountains and those pesky grains of sand!

Ok, so I admit, I am much better at moving mountains in my life instead of focusing on the grains of sand! Ask me to help find a mate, background check them, introduce them, plan the wedding, move them I can do that. I have done that.

I spent a few years being a single adult representative. I had let go of looking for the quick-fix husband and instead, focused on becoming a good friend to those I associated with. I had many friends from all walks of life. I do not like games, so when I see a friend beginning to play them, I step in! I have gone to both the men and the women and told them about each other. I have had my fingers in many connections that got married. Most of them are still that way. When they announce the wedding date, I then pitch in and pull together weddings for a very low cost(remember, these are my friends and I had to consider this my hobby because I was not paid for most of them). I have even moved people in an efficient and quick manner!

I can start a business, run it and get it to run itself-without me.

But, when it comes to doing things like the dishes after every meal, or on a daily basis… maybe not going to happen.

I do my best to remember to get my visiting teaching done, but instead of actually visiting, I am emailing. Ok, so it is still a visit, but not the best! The results are great, though! My visit teachees actually do not mind because they are all so busy and are happy that I keep them up to date on activities going on and I do try to connect with them each time I see them.

My husband and I do read our scriptures daily together, but to do personal study, study for Sunday school, study for Relief Society, study for Young Women’s (I am the secretary, so it is good for me to be prepared to teach if I have to), and other studying, it may not happen…

When I really get my focus going, I can work my many jobs’ work schedules around each other nicely, but to get to the Temple on more than a monthly basis-not as easy…

So, what I see of myself is that I see the big picture of life, but sometimes my clothes may not match…

A gift of God

“I am the one who believes that love, like faith, is a gift of God.” Spoke President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Please read that again and slowly.

What a wonderful thing to consider! That we try to become like our Heavenly Father, we attain the gifts that he has and one of those gifts is to become the Pure Love of Christ. Not just to have it, but to become it. To have it within our being so strongly, that it flows out of us like a waterfall. How do we become like this? By listening to the Holy Ghost. Elder Parley P. Pratt puts it this way, “(The Holy Ghost) quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them by the gift  of wisdom to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It develops and invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, invigorates and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it  is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.”

What a wonderful gift the Holy Ghost is! He has the ability to teach us all of these wonderful things and helps us to become so much better than if we tried to do it on our own.

May we never give up. May we always understand that we are never alone in our efforts to do better.

40 days-40 nights challenge

40days 40nights

I am planning on doing this!

It starts today, so if you want to join me, you are welcome to do so.

Let me know if you are unable to open the attached page.

Mary

Judge not

Ok, since the world is focusing on judging everyone for every little thing recently, I find this quite a lot frustrating!

I learned a long time ago not to judge anyone. I have a very colorful background and so I have learned to see the judgements of others and let them roll off my back like water falling off of Teflon.

I was married for the 4th time 2 1/2 years ago.

The first one decided to take a different path than the one I was on. He decided that we did not deserve to live and that we were bad parents, so we needed to all die. He even was on the phone calling around for a gun in the presence of our children while I was at church choir practice. After packing all of his things and then telling him to decide to be a part of our family or get out, he left.

The second one was all about eating, sleeping and bedroom experiences. He did not even talk with my children when in the same building with them.

The third used me to get a green card and was gone 2 days after receiving it. He was dating online and when asked why, he said that he was looking for another wife for when our marriage failed. Everything was all about him. He repeated the same kind of life with his next wife and when she contacted me, I guided her to what I understood. She and I are actually good friends now.

My fourth is the best! We work hard to make this marriage work. We do almost everything together. We always consider each other’s feelings and always do what we can to keep each other’s happiness in the forefront. I have been a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints all of my life. He has been a member for the last almost 3 years. Not because I pushed him, but he decided it for himself. I made sure of that! We have goals that we make together. No, we do not have all of the same tastes,  but that is what makes our lives interesting.

In our branch, we are truly diversified. It depends on the mood of the week it is as to if we have more whites or colors in our congregation. The only one that we have one of is a Hawaiian and we only remember because instead of saying “Good Morning”, she says, “Aloha” to us.

Now, here is something to think about: My husband is African American. Black. I am White. We have no issues concerning color. But, it is interesting to see reactions in the world we are currently living in. We live in the Northern part of St Louis. It is very interesting because very few white people live in this particular neighborhood. I go shopping in stores where I am definitely a minority. I have been pulled over 5 times since moving here over a year ago because the police want to know what a white woman is doing with a black man in our neighborhood. The last time I was pulled over, they actually admitted that they did not care about minor infractions, but were looking for bigger ones and then proceeded to ask me if I had ever been arrested. Of course not! But they felt the need to ask…

My daughter is a drill sergeant for the Army. She married a guy that is about 7 years younger than I am. He is older than my husband who is 10 years younger than me. Yes, it is a little bit different than normal, but you know what? This works for all of us. We are all happy in our relationships.

My middle child is gay. He believes in the gospel, but because of opinions of other not-enlightened family members, they chased him away instead of loving him for being him. The church states that it is ok to have the feelings, just do not act upon them. I have the paperwork to prove it but these family members are only thinking of one side of the sin-the act. So, I give my son the unconditional love that he needs and he brings light to those around him.

My youngest son went the way of drugs and the lifestyle that surrounded it for a while. He is pulling himself out of the messes he created and is doing a wonderful job with what he has. I wish that I could help him more, but he just wants someone to hear him, nothing else. I hear him.

Now, with just that much in my background, do you think that I judge? I find I cannot because it hurts those I make those types of decisions about as well as myself.

I learned to love unconditionally. To do my best to open my heart to all around me. Ok, so I may still have a lot to work on, but I find I now have friends from almost all walks of life. I accept them for who they are, not what they may have challenging them.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect-yet. But is that not what we are all trying to become? If not, what are we doing instead? Is it healthy for us and those around us? What can we do to change? Do we need help to achieve it? Who can we turn to?

That last question is why I am LDS. It fits me. I use the lessons I learn to become a better person. To help others to become better as well-if they want to. It gives me a pathway that in my heart feels right.

Primary, growing up with only brothers and being me

When I was little, we had an activity that met on Wednesdays after school. It was called Primary. This was where we-as girls- wore dresses to school so that we could go to church after. We would get together and play on the lawn if the weather was good and inside if the weather was not so good. We would then meet in the chapel to sing primary songs and to hear a short lesson in the gospel. Then we would separate into our classes-separated by age to learn a longer lesson about the gospel. A lot of the times, we spent some of our time creating crafts.

One day, we were going to primary class and I remember that I was next to the outside door of the car(we had a family with 5 children, so with the bench seat, we were squished in), and somehow the door opened while we were moving. I did not have a seatbelt on because we did not have to have any at that time, and so I grabbed onto the door and was skinning my knee on the pavement before my mother stopped the car and then she helped me back into it and then continued on our journey to the church.

I remember being quite scared when this happened. But fear was not one of those feelings that I had too often when I was young. I accepted all challenges. I did my best to keep up with my brothers, and was always getting into trouble.

I was what you called a Tomboy with long, straight, blonde hair.

My mother told me that I never cried when I was a little girl until I had a sliver in my leg that was really quite large. I hardly ever cried afterwards because it showed weakness in the family and we were not weak!

I had no sisters, so to be busy doing “girly” things was not encouraged. I biked, wrestled with my brothers, played games with them, and had only a few dolls-which were loved, but quickly put away as things. They never took the center of my life.  I never really cared about makeup, the latest in clothes, keeping up with the current fashions.

Because of the way I was brought up, I could never understand the personalities of women who felt fulfilled making the “Perfect Dinner”.

To me, being with people and exchanging ideas made more sense. Doing things to improve life on a large scale was and still is my perspective. What can I do to make life better for myself and everyone around me has always been my focus.

Because of this, sometimes I make people uncomfortable. They wish that I could be more gentle and instead, I am more forthright. Instead of playing mental games to soothe and confuse, I focus on the truth and the best way to make good things happen.

I have friends without number. Those who love me back are the ones who accept me for who I am and know me to be quite open. I am blessed and I am very thankful that even though my growing up may have been a little bit different, it taught me a lot of what is real.