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Women Unite!

You can always tell who the strong women are.  They are the ones you see building each other up, instead of tearing each other down.” –unknown

I couldn’t agree more with this quote and have made it a priority to notice, acknowledge and compliment the strong, beautiful women that I cross paths with.  A stranger in the store, waitress, flight attendant, friendly face at the gym, exotic woman on the beach on my vacation…any women who has made a positive impression on me, I will share my sincere compliments with them and I truly enjoy the impact it has on them.   I know what I feel like when I receive a compliment from another woman; it brightens my day and makes me feel a little stronger, more confident and united with that woman.  Have you tried this?

Sadly this was not always the case for me, it took 34 years and some life changing experiences to get to this point (and I am 38 next month!).

As a young, newly married woman I was insecure with my looks and my body, especially around beautiful, confident women.  I didn’t share that with many people and I didn’t come across inferior or insecure, in fact most people thought I was a very confident person; I was confident in my talents and abilities but not so much in my own skin.  I will admit that looking back at pictures, I was fit and looked pretty darn good, especially after having babies!  Why do we do that to ourselves?

I will share my thoughts on why I struggled with self-confidence and how that affects others.

PERFECTION

I felt that to be loved, accepted, wanted and needed I had to be perfect in every aspect.  My hair, makeup, and especially my body had to look like the models or like the beautiful women I would run into daily that I envied for their slim, lean, “perfect” bodies.  I compared my faults with their strengths.  This only set me up for failure and unsatisfactory standards that I could never meet as well as jealousy toward others.

 

LACK OF MATURITY

Yes, I am calling myself immature and if you are reading this and have felt this post describes you then I guess I am calling you immature as well.  What I mean is that I was so focused on myself and what I felt I should look like but also what I felt others thought I should look like.  Most people are so focused on themselves that they don’t really care about me, they are doing the same thing comparing my strengths with their weakness.  Exhausting.  Having daughters of my own, facing trials and learning opportunities, my perspective changed and I began to realize that 1- life is too short to be so critical of myself and I began to be grateful for the things I could do and the things that I have.  2- I didn’t want my daughters feeling the same way about themselves so I had to change something.  3- Gaining a closer relationship with my Father in Heaven and realizing that I am blessed to be me and that WHO I am is much more important than what I look like.  Don’t get me wrong, I still work on being fit and healthy but my insecurities have lessened drastically!  Stages in life and experiences in life change our perspective and in my case helped me mature.

 

BEING IN THE WORLD NOT OF THE WORLD

I cared too much about what others thought of me more than I cared about what God (my Father in Heaven) thought of me.  Our world focuses more on what we look like, what is “cool” or in style and what is socially acceptable more than how we treat others, our relationship with God, serving, loving and holding standards, morals and values.  When I began to release emotions I was holding onto for years, implementing positive thoughts and words into my mind, applied the atonement of Christ and humbled myself to care more what God thought of me, I transformed and have become a different, better person and more confident in WHO I AM.  This has created a confidence to be able to look at another woman and appreciate her beauty and be able to express positive comments instead of feelings of insecurity and feeling threatened.

Imagine what a strong community we as women can build when we are able to recognize someone else’s talents or beauty and compliment them rather than scowl, think negative thoughts and put down another.  Women need to unite and be the example to the youth of how to build one another up instead of tear each other down.  Start today with yourself by saying positive affirmations and then when you see a woman who may have different strengths than you, compliment her and mean it.  We are powerful when we as woman unite!

 

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Easy Easter Activity

 

Easy Easter Activity!

Easy, easter, eggs,

Easy, Easter, Eggs,

When I was a kid, most holidays we’d all gather next door at my Grandma’s house to celebrate family, food, and traditions. Every Easter we’d have a special meal and then maybe my Dad or Mom would share a mini devotional on the reason for Easter. I loved hearing their testimonies and feeling the love and gratitude they have for our Savior, Jesus Christ. I feel lucky to have the parents that I do. After that, we’d all wait in anticipation as the older children would scurry around the yard, hiding plastic eggs filled with candy along with my Uncle Ernie’s special money-filled egg. This year I wanted to not only have a simple and effective devotional, but I also wanted it to be easy enough that our 8 year old could teach it. I am stoked to empower him with a confidence building  experience and found this easy Easter activity by Becky Baudouin that looks just right!

Resurrection Eggs

Retell and celebrate the Resurrection story with your child by creating a preschool version of “Resurrection eggs.” Gather six plastic eggs, each a different color. Place the following items inside, one item per egg: breadcrumb, paper cross, strip of cloth, rock and piece of candy. One egg will remain empty. As you tell the Resurrection story, let your child open the eggs. Explain each item in the following order:

1. Bread crumb: Jesus ate dinner with His friends. (Luke22:14-15)

2. Cross: The next day, Jesus died on the Cross. (John19:17-18)

3. Strip of cloth: He was wrapped in cloth and placed in a tomb.

(John 19:40)

4. Rock: A stone was placed in front of the tomb. (Matthew27:59-60)

5. Empty egg: Jesus’ friends came to the tomb and saw the stone had been moved. The tomb was empty! (Luke 24:1-3)

6. Candy: Jesus is alive. That’s the sweet surprise of Easter. (Matthew 28:5-6)

Once you’ve finished sharing the Resurrection story with your child, encourage her to use the eggs to tell the story in her own words.

After a great lesson about Easter, go ahead and enjoy the sweet surprise(s) by holding an egg hunt. We love this part of the tradition–especially remembering that Jesus lived and died for us, then rose the 3rd day as a resurrected being so that we could also have this gift and opportunity. I’m just so grateful for Him—He is truly the world’s sweetest gift!

child, easter, egg

child, easter, egg

Lots of love,

shannon signature

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The Truth the Media Doesn’t Want you to Know

Her Value is More Precious than Rubies

The other day I walked past the floor-length bathroom mirror and caught a glimpse of myself out of the corner of my eye. I felt truly beautiful and valuable, kind of out of nowhere. It really surprised me! I haven’t forgotten the feeling and want to share because it has calmed all the negative voices once and for all and I am truly happy and working patiently where I’m at. But it wasn’t always that way.

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The struggle is REAL!

Seriously! Can any of you relate? I’ve struggled with self-worth since I was a teenager. I became more aware of my looks and body shape, I started to compare myself with others, criticize my flaws, and cared way too much about what others thought. These feelings of not being enough stuck as I moved through college and marriage.

At the height of some of my most difficult Mom years, I had 5 kids under the age of 7–all BOYS! My husband was in residency and I mothered full time at home with my beautiful babies.  We had a LOT of fun and I worked my butt off, but I was also overwhelmed and stressed out, not to mention sleep deprived trying my best to be a great Mom! It didn’t help that everywhere I went, people bombarded me with rude comments and intrusive questions about my age and the number of kids we have etc. At the time I didn’t know how to handle the emotional attacks other than to feel shocked for the harsh judgments being thrown at me. This happened so regularly that over time, I came to feel so undervalued.

3 Books that Shift Negativity

I needed support and I needed the best kind. I turned to Gordon B. Hinkley’s book Standing For Something. AH-Maaa-zing! He prompts, “The home produces the nursery stock of new generations and parents are the gardeners. In that light, I must emphasize the importance, the value, the singular impact that women have within the fabric of our society and in the makeup of our homes.” I had to let that sink in. Internalizing this idea has been a turning point for me. My role as a mom to a handful of kids wasn’t just valuable, it had the power to influence generations. Wow! This woke me up. I started to see I truly had the power to change how I felt about myself and my role as a mother.

When negativity came my way, I followed another trick from Gordon—as much as I could, I made it an opportunity to respond with humor and love. A couple of my favorites:

1) In the checkout at the grocery store I could count on the clerk to ask with wide eyes and a sagging jaw (in reference to the kids in and on the cart), “Are they all yours???” I’d smile and reply back, “Aren’t they adorable? There’s a buy one get one free sale and there were only 5 left. You owe me a kid!” 😉

2) Going place to place like a Mama with her ducklings all in a line, others would see me and ask, “Are you the Nanny?” (HA!) I’d smile and say, “No, they’re mine.” That was followed by disbelief and the remark “You look so young!” and then (of course) the demand to know, “How old are you?” I decided because this is one of the top questions I get, for my own sanity I’d not just change the subject or ignore it, but answer with, “Isn’t it great? When I’m 50 I’ll be looking fabulous!”

This kind of response either made people laugh, changed their attitude, or shut them up. It’s funny to watch—try it! This positive spin is so helpful in keeping a better perspective for myself and it shows a good example to our kids.

Another book that really helped is I am a Mother, by Jayne Clayson Johnson. She shares, “[M]otherhood involves some sacrifices…You will certainly lose some sleep over the years, and, every now and then, you might temporarily lose your sanity. But you will also learn about yourself…the world…the Spirit…As you learn these things…you do not lose your identity, [but you more] closely identify with God.” Isn’t that amazing? It reminded me of Lucia in Max Lucado’s book, You are Special. She didn’t let the dots or stars others tried to put on her stick to her. I decided, I wasn’t going to either. It’s such a gift that we can become free and unspotted from the judgements others throw our way and identify ourselves as His greatest creations.

Jeffrey R. Holland teaches, God “knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations…and He knows what you can become through faith in Him.” When we truly understand His love for us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful and our lives take on new meaning. It’s so refreshing to look in the mirror and not focus on the imperfections, but to see myself as a beautiful daughter of God, precious and happy. I’m excited I am finally here!

What are your favorite ways to combat negativity? Do you also have some favorite positive responses? I’d love to hear them!

 

shannon signaturestripes shannon

 

 

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