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Self care: Sanctuary and a day of rest

I don't know if it's just me or if the messages that have been shared at church recently really have gotten better, but I have found church to be so uplifting and refreshing lately. Of course that's how it's supposed to be, but some days I find it easier than others to focus on what's being shared and figure out how it applies to my life.

Today, I walked into church {15 minutes late...okay maybe more like 20} in time to hear my brother-in-law's name announced as the first speaker. It was nice having him speak, if for no other reason than my kids were excited to see him up there so they were quiet while he was talking. {Kidding...sort of...} I sat on the bench and listened intently as he shared his feelings about the temple, and how attending the temple has changed his focus in life and given him peace when he has needed it the most. The strength of the testimony behind his words was palpable in the room and his words resonated with me. Perhaps because I have come to understand the feelings he was describing on a deeper level in recent years.

If I had to use one word to describe the temple to someone who has not been inside one, it would be peace. I loved the analogy my brother-in-law used when he explained it as feeling akin to walking into his grandma's house. I don't know that everyone feels the same way I do about walking into their grandparents' houses, but in all the world, I'm not sure that there is any other place where I am loved and accepted the way I am in Grandma's house. I had the great privilege of growing up on the same farm where my grandparents lived, which meant that I saw them nearly every day of my childhood until they moved away when I was 13. We worked alongside my grandpa on the family farm, feeding and milking cows, helping with irrigation, riding on tractors and other farm equipment, helping with harvests, chasing cows that got out, doctoring sick animals, and fixing things that broke. Sometimes Grandpa even got a little wild and crazy on us and did things like ride our scooters around the barnyard and engage in water fights in the milking barn after the cows were milked. We popped in and out of Grandma & Grandpa's house all throughout chore time to retrieve things that were needed in the barn, eat treats from the candy dishes on the counter, get hugs and kisses, and track mud and other unmentionables into Grandma's kitchen from outside. On holidays and special occasions, we gathered around Grandma's table or in the yard to eat together, and it was always exciting when the out-of-town cousins came to visit. It was a sad day when they moved away.

The older I've gotten, the more I've craved a sanctuary from the hard things of life, and have found that sanctuary in Grandma's house. One weekend during my freshman year at college, I found myself needing to get away from everything. It was the week before finals, and I decided that a weekend at Grandma & Grandpa's house was just what I needed to clear my head and get ready to tackle finals week. Much like what my brother-in-law described in his talk today, walking in the door at Grandma's house has always made me feel like somewhat of a celebrity. That trip was my first solo trip to visit them, and I'm not sure if their enthusiastic greeting was more out of relief that I had made it there safely or excitement to have me visit, but either way, I felt so loved! They wanted to hear all about what I was doing at college, and they waited on me and fussed over me the whole weekend. I had driven through some bizarre butterfly migration on the way there, so before they would let me leave to go back to school, Grandpa insisted on hosing all of the dead butterflies out of the front of my SUV so that it wouldn't overheat on me. While he worked on my car, Grandma packed me some snacks for the road and went over the directions back to the freeway with me a few more times. My heart hurt as I watched them wave goodbye in the rear view mirror, and like I have every single time since then, I cried as I drove away. I didn't want to leave my peaceful place of sanctuary and couldn't wait to go back again.

It still feels that way to go to Grandma's house, but I live a long day's drive away now and it's rare to be able to visit. Grandpa passed away last summer. Because of very difficult circumstances of our own, we weren't able to take the whole family for the funeral and I ended up just going by myself. Even under sad circumstances, stepping out of the car in the driveway at Grandma & Grandpa's house felt like stepping into heaven. It was like the world went away and took all of my problems with it, if only temporarily. Nothing else mattered but being there with my family and reconnecting with some of the people who mean the most to me. There is barely a square inch of wall space or shelf space in Grandma's house that does not have a family photo on it. I can walk from room to room and see who I am, where I came from, and what I am a part of. I belong there. As happy as I was to be there, I longed for my husband and children to be there with me so that they could have experienced the same feelings I was feeling. There was so much love there.

As I sat in church this morning and listened to my brother-in-law describe his feelings, I realized that I, too, feel very much the same way when I walk into the temple that I feel when I walk into Grandma's house. The temple is peaceful and filled with the love of someone who loves me unconditionally. I am wanted there and I belong there. When I go there, I am able to reflect on who I am, where I came from, and what I am a part of. I feel connected to my past, my future, and most importantly, to my Heavenly Father when I am there.

One of the reasons I go to the temple is to take a break from the noise of the world so that I can focus on my relationship with God. The world is a busy place. It can be hard to tune out all the distractions that keep me from hearing God. One of the other speakers this morning talked about the importance of figuring out how God speaks to us. I loved that because I think learning how God speaks to us as individuals is a lifelong process and I am still learning how to listen. The temple is one place where I can go to regain perspective, receive inspiration, and just breathe. When my soul is weary, that is one place where I find rest.

I'm at a stage of life where I am looking at my children and wondering where the heck the time has gone. We are out of the baby stage, and we have entered the middle school and high school stage. We are on the cusp of a whole different kind of hectic as our kids get older. The last dozen or so years have been filled with the busyness of early childhood, but now we're at the point where we can count the years our oldest child has left at home on one hand, and that is one part scary and one part exciting. We're at a point where we have had to take a good, hard look at ourselves as parents and as a family and work harder at the simple but important things that we can do to better prepare them for the world that they will all too soon be entering. I love where we are at right now. Are things perfect? No. Far from it, but they are good, and I am so deeply grateful for that.

In a world of "Sunday Funday," I have found that what I need is a day of rest. I need one day out of my week to rest and recharge, not necessarily just physically, but spiritually. We, as a family, need one day where we don't have places to go and can spend the day just being together. We talk, we play games, we cook, we eat, we read, we rest, and we enjoy each other. We work on building our relationships in the hope that as our children get older, they will cherish each other and be able to rely on each other. That someday, they will feel as much peace and unconditional love within the walls of our home as they feel within the walls of the temple.


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