Man, 2008 was such a cool year. Have you ever had a year go by where you felt like nothing important was accomplished that year? Well, I'm pleased to report that 2008 was not one of those years. I accomplished some very cool things. Well, two actually. And actually, I didn't really accomplish anything in the sense that I mastered it or even completed it--but I progressed, and that's enough to make me feel like the year was not wasted. Raise your hand if you want to know how I have become cooler...Ok. I'll tell you. First, I have become a better mom because I have become significantly better at controlling my temper. I have not been yelling and screaming, violently throwing Camp into his room, getting in arguments, etc. nearly as much. I have learned to take deep breaths, close my eyes, keep my voice down, etc., and it feels so good to feel like I have control of myself at times. (Don't let me mislead you. I still mess up a lot, but again, the key word is progression.) I think I mentioned in a previous post that I never recognized my weaknesses and imperfections like I do now that I've got kids.
And this leads to the second way that I have become cooler: I have strengthened my relationship with Christ. I have never felt gratitude and need for His atonement as much as I have in the last couple years as I've watched myself screw up with my kids and husband on a daily basis. I am constantly asking for forgiveness and help doing better and I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to be forgiven and try again to do better--all because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. As I have prayed for help and forgiveness, I have felt the Savior's unconditional love and hope in my improvement. Also, I have prayed really hard this year to know how to become closer to and really know Christ and the answer I have gotten has most often been: learn to love others the way Christ does. Why haven't I really put this principle into action before? Why didn't I trust what I have been taught so many times-that serving others really does bring happiness? Why did I not practice what the Savior himself has taught: Lovest thou me?...Feed my sheep. I don't know. But lucky for me, the Savior will never give up on me and I'm sure he is so excited that I am finally listening. During this Christmas season especially, I prayed that Heavenly Father would give me opportunities to show others Christ's love, and would you believe it? It ended up being ME who felt the Savior's love when I did so! Who would've known? (Don't answer that.) And every time I did something for someone else, I felt Heavenly Father telling me--THIS is who Christ is. THIS is what it feels like to know him. Man, what a powerful lesson! And guess what? I used to only feel like I was praying to Heavenly Father--In my mind I could see him listening to me pray--but now I can "see" the Savior there as well. Oh, man. I am so grateful! So, so cool! I know I need to study the life and teachings of the Savior, too, so I will add that to my efforts this year. So anyway...good year.
This year I am going to continue to work on my self control, but I am going to expand my efforts a little. I remember that when I was teaching the Young Women a few years ago, I came across a quote by one of the general authorities (I'll try to find it so that I'm not one of those lame mormons that is always passing on fake quotes or stories that they are sure so-and-so said) that said something to the effect of: any time we practice self control--emphasis on any time--we strengthen our ability to overcome temptations thrown at us by Satan. Isn't that amazing?! So anytime I keep my mouth shut instead of arguing, or any time I keep my mouth shut instead of downing a blizzzard, for that matter--I increase my power over Satan. INcredible. So this year I am going to continue to try and control my temper, my apetite, and my spending.
I've mentioned before that Brian and I are pretty good at not spending money we don't have--although we did get a loan for my minivan--but we are both fairly terrible at saving money. I used to have to save a good part of the money I made during the summers to pay my tuition at BYU, but that being the exception, I have never in my life saved up for something. Isn't that pathetic? Obviously I have bought things, but that's just the problem. Every time I get a little extra money, I spend it like it is going to fly out of my pocket if I don't. And I don't spend it wisely. I don't carefully consider what I will really enjoy long term and what will really be worth it in the long run. I just spend. Consequently (and because Brian does the same thing) we have about $350 in savings. Yeah, that's gonna save us when Brian runs out of work. SOOOO, I am going to start using self control in my spending. Every time I am tempted to buy something, I am going to have a little team meeting with myself where I say, "Ann, walk away. You don't need it. Walk Away. YOU CAN DO IT!" Specifically, I have committed myself to not spending a dime on anything unnecessary (that means clothes, accessories, home decor, etc.) until February 24th--my anniversary. You always have to get a present on special occasions.) It may sound like a lame goal, but I'm being realistic and starting small. Also, I am committing myself to not making any large purchases unless I have actually put money aside for it for atleast four months. So there you go. Can you even imagine how much self control I will be building up if I am able to master myself with my spending and my temper? I'll be like, "What's up NOW, Satan?!" So wish me luck. Aaaaaaand...as one final motivator for me, I am offering any of you who leave a comment a dollar for any and every time I spend money on myself before February 24th. If it happens, I'll get your address so that I can send you your buck. It will be on the honor system and you'll just have to take my word for it that I have a lot of honor. Happy New Year.