Lessons in Loving

I thought my daughter had fallen asleep in my arms so I stood to lay her down in her crib. As I did so, she lifted her head from my shoulder and leaned in to kiss me, then laid her head down to sleep. Just that simple. My baby has learned to express affection. The whole world seems to be coming to life for her. 

She loves people. She parades through the grocery store waving at everyone she sees. Last week we were sitting together at the mall, awaiting her daddy’s hair cut to finish up. The little Queen sat and waved and blew kisses to most everyone that passed us. I was amazed to watch how grown ups responded to her in the sweetest ways…wanting to make her happy. It was the cutest thing. Oh how I adore her. 

Always. She is teaching me. Whether I am looking for a lesson from her or not. She’s become my greatest teacher and mentor. After all, Jesus said on multiple occasions and through various prophets that we are to become as a little child. 

Become as a child. It’s making more sense to me now. For instance, today as we were leaving a shop, I felt myself harshly judging the teenage girl in the car next to us. Her nose was pierced and she was smoking like a chimny. I was frustrated because I don’t want my daughter to smell or inhale cigarette smoke. Oh the array of things I want to protect her from. I was disgusted by the teenager’s crass behavior and language. Then a thought came to me: she is someone’s baby girl. That’s when my baby girl did something so pure and perfect: she craned her neck to make eye contact with the young woman, smiled and waved. Just that simple. And beautiful. 

I know enough about developmental psychology to trust that my baby didn’t really know that this young woman is behaving contrary to what we hope she will be as a teen. But I’d like to imagine that her mature and noble spirit sensed something. I want to believe that her spirit recognized a need and was seeking to extend kindness. Or better yet, perhaps she sensed her mother’s judgmental attitude and was setting an example for me?

The experience wasn’t lost on me. 

Everyday is filled with sweet and simple lessons. What a gift to be blessed with this child. 

Let’s Get Physical

I suppose this has become a mothering blog, of sorts. What do they call it? Mommy blog? no…

As I ponder the title of my blog: Living Your Covenants Every Day, I’m realizing the process of motherhood and living my covenants are closely connected. Both are intended to transform, refine and sanctify.

Mothering is the hardest work I’ve ever done. I had no idea how physical it is, particularly the continued lack of sleep. There’s cleaning up endless messes; toys, diapers, food… Carrying a 25 pound baby around. Focusing all my time and attention on sustaining life for one little person who is suddenly mobile and crashing into everything.

But starting life with her and this emphasis on the physical makes sense to me. At least cognitively. I suspect our future will become more emotional and spiritual. While both are fully operating now, I imagine that my relationship with our babe will change and transform in a deeply connected way. I’m casting my mind forward to days when I’ll ache for the things she deals with socially or emotionally. Or worry for her choices. Or pray endlessly for her protection.

And as I consider what is in store for our relationship, I’m grateful to be exhausted in this season. It seems that there is wisdom in starting off physically sacrificing so much of my life for one little person. Indeed, it is preparatory for the future surrendering that I hope to make full heartedly.

While I struggle to find words for the tutorings of the spirit, the pathway of discipleship in motherhood is certainly making me more fit for the kingdom, more Savior like thee.

What a blessing. Indeed, the family is ordained of God.

AND check this out: My book is on sale at Deseret Book right now… $9.99 digital http://deseretbook.com/Living-Your-Covenants-Every-Day-Jennifer-Brinkerhoff-Platt/i/5107775
$11.89 paperback http://deseretbook.com/Living-Your-Covenants-Every-Day-Jennifer-Brinkerhoff-Platt/i/5097800

Maybe when I’m a little less tired, I’ll get more serious about a second book…

Giving thanks

I’m laying next to my sleeping babe, loving the sound of her rhythmic breathing. My heart is reminiscing how i would hold my breath every time I went to the doctor while pregnant with her: Would her tiny heart still be beating?

She’s been with us now for a little over ten months though it feels like she’s always been here. Her growth and development astound me. I wake in the morning excited to note changes- thicker, longer hair. Faster crawling. Pulling herself up on things…
She loves her tongue and just today has started to move it side ways. It’s so cute! Mimicking is her favorite activity- she blows kisses. Covers her eyes for peek-a-boo. Waves, claps, dances to anything with a rhythms …you name it. I think she’s going to break into full sentences any minute now. For the time being it sounds like she’s trying to say “baby”, “pretty” “mama” and “daddy.”
I’m amazed by what I’m learning about myself because of her. Deep desires tucked into the crevices of my heart are being carefully unpacked and realized. Things like holiday traditions with MY family, staying up late to sew a dress for my daughter to wear to church, celebrating every milestone and seeing her little face light up. It’s magical.
And at the same time, I’m realizing that before this little queen was born, I wasn’t as open to vulnerability as I thought I was. Loving a fully reliant, perfect soul so completely is sanctifying- transforming me. Just this morning I was visiting with three other women. All four of us have lost children in various stages of life. While my two losses were miscarriages, I found myself relating to their pain in ways I never could have imagined before. Suffering qualifies us. It creates a place for empathy and compassion that cannot be acquired in any other way.
And in the meantime, I’m working to change a few things to be more fit for the constant companionship of my little treasure. Oh what a season of gratitude! Every moment feels magnified with this new life that’s come to us this year. With wonder and awe, I give thanks.

Hastening

It is so easy to slip into a habit of ease or comfort…even when I am doing difficult or challenging things. For instance, I often find myself setting the same pace on the treadmill rather than cranking it up to push myself. I know what I can do and I keep it status quo. But there’s no real growth in that. Though the steadiness and predictability of it all is kind of nice.

Right now my life feels like I am on a treadmill except that the Lord is my trainer and he keeps increasing the speed. I feel him whispering in my ear that I can do this because HE is keeping pace with me. He is running right along side me, so patient as I learn to do his work in his way. It feels good. It feels hard. It feels like I am growing.

Anybody else feeling this exhilarating acceleration?

More Used Would I Be

There’s always been this space in me that’s wanted to be filled up with whatever HE wants to put there. Yet there’s this tug; a competitor for that vacancy. I am very tasked oriented and so getting THE list completed often keeps me from being available for inconvenienced discipleship. But I’m trying.

Today was the first day in a long time that wasn’t full of absolutes. I kept wondering what needed to be done, certain I had forgotten an important appointment. As far as I know, I haven’t missed anything. So I’ve waited for my divine errand. That space has opened up; pleading to go where he wants me to go, to do what he wants me to do. It’s been a day filled with tiny little surprises…whisperings and proddings pointing the direction to who and where and when. I have pushed through practicality or convenience to availability within that waiting place. And he’s filled it.

I feel useful. And content.

Tonight as I held my babe extra long, watching her slip into the sweetest slumber, all I could think about is this is exactly the life I have always dreamed of living. It seems that every single moment of my life culminates in the present. And suddenly its more than a space that is wanting to be filled up, it is all of me. This whole-souled offering that he gives back magnified. Multiplied. Enlarged. Whole and complete.

Because I Have Been Given Much

It’s been my good fortune to have inspired and motivating mentors in my life. The first that comes to mind is a kind and nurturing stake Relief Society president that taught me how to minister rather than administer, how to plan with a purpose and how to invest in individuals. I think of her often and the way she has shaped me as a leader.

Then there’s my therapist. I saw a counselor for nearly two years. She taught me so much about ownership…learning to own my feelings, my behavior and most importantly, my greatness. She’d always hug me goodbye and say “Go be awesome JBrink.” She was a huge advocate of me getting more education, speaking publicly and trying hard things. I know she smiled from heaven when I earned that PhD.

I’m grateful for a wise man who saw potential in me then had the courage to push me to do more. As a result of his influence I’ve accomplished dreams that were tucked so deep in my heart that I barely knew they were there. He put me on the path to earn my doctorate which led me to BYU and Utah, where I met my husband. What a beautiful life we are living as a result.

Those are just a few of the people who have mentored me. Who are the people in your life that have helped to shape and develop who you are today?

I suspect we all have special people who’ve made kind investments in our progression. The more I reflect on the various people who’ve nurtured me, the more I want to give. I’m grateful for the ebb and flow of life that allows us to be takers and givers. Right now is a giving season for me. Our daughter is the primary recipient yet my heart is stretching to others. Just recently I’ve started working with a 13-year-old young woman in my ward. We’re doing our Personal Progress together. And I love it. I’m learning as much from her as I hope I am giving to her.

There’s something about one-on-one time with someone; coaching, loving, nurturing and digging deep to draw out potential and infuse confidence. What if every one of us were to prayerfully identify someone that we could help along the path of discipleship?

Here’s an invitation:
1. List individuals who have mentored you in some way. How did they help you? (think of teachers, your parents, family, Church leaders etc)
2. What qualities and skills do you have that could be helpful to someone else? (go beyond obvious outward talents. we all have unique, God-given talents that are meant to be shared.)
3. Identify a young person that you want to help… talk to their parents and leaders to get permission.
4. Find a way this young person can be helpful to you so it’s a reciprocal process. Help them to feel useful, needed, and trusted.
5. Act…and be sure to note what you’re learning in the process

Perhaps this talk from Elder Richard G. Scott will help inspire you.

And please share your thoughts and process!

In training

I’ve run at least three days a week for about eight weeks now. There have been two official 5k’s in the mix and I’ve logged about 10 miles a week. It’s not my personal best but it feels like a good post baby come back.

And. My whole body hurts…head to toe.

Upon finishing a 4.5 mile run on the treadmill the other day, I noted that I had ran a decent distance and gotten no where…I was in the exact same place in the Provo Rec center overlooking the “lion” basketball court. How strange! And how profound.

This really has me thinking. Why do I do it?

For one, I love the time with my friend. There’s something about talking through life’s joys and challenges with someone that’s just a bit further along in the trenches of marriage and motherhood.

Then there’s the amazing sense of discipline; knowing I’ve gotten up to work my body and meet a goal despite what the night consisted of for me and the small fry. I like to sweat…there’s something to be said about laboring by the sweat of our brow (and other parts) to work at something. It matters to me.

Then there’s this thinking that comes with the physical toil. Like looking at the treadmill and celebrating the distance despite no real mileage covered or scenery changed. It’s poetic in a way…climbing on a machine to work and exercise and struggle. And knowing that this is a metaphor for my life: I’m learning that life is often ho hum…that it can be the same thing over and over, mechanical. But if I’m seeking for personal growth and development so I can be more fit for the kingdom, I’ll find it. The routine of it can become meaningful. The treadmill is helping me increase my endurance and lung capacity, it’s helping me to be steady and consistent. I need to learn to be steady instead of running in bursts then collapsing in fatigue. I’m learning to pace myself and not run faster than I have strength. But. To keep running my race. I’m in training. For what? The day. I’m training and disciplining my body for the work of the day- the hours of nurturing and loving our sweet, happy baby, supporting and partnering with my good and kind husband, ordering a home, transitioning from a full-time career to stay at home motherhood. Life. I’m training for life.

And so my body hurts. I move with care because my hips and knees and back and feet and everything are sore. I let the ache remind me that I’m practicing, I’m teaching myself the value of consistency, effort, and diligence. I know that one day the run will feel more intuitive, less laborious. But for now it’s serving me. Exactly as it should..the struggle, the ache, the training.

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