April 17, 2014

Scars.


I was a young college student teaching religion to local highschool students, both at Mountainview Highschool and at Mt. Timpinogos special ed seminary.

One of my special needs students was in a wheelchair.  He had severe physical disabilities and expressed himself slowly and with great effort.  The chasm between the ability of his physical body and the depth of his spirit was great.

During one lesson he asked me about Christ.  After sometime of him asking and me trying to understand his question, I was able to vocalize for him.  He wanted to know why Christ had to suffer.  Why was "suffering" a part of God's plan at all?  Why did the 'atonement' require pain?

I answered him then.  I'm certain my answer was a bit patronizing to this child who was years and years my spiritual senior.  His question has followed me and become my own.

I still don't know everything, but I do KNOW.

Suffering is holy.  Suffering for the life of one you love, is sanctifying.  Suffering teaches humility and empathy.  Suffering shows you your strength and ability.

I believe in Christ.
I believe suffering groomed His soul so He loves deeply and perfectly.
I believe He gave up His life for us and that He was resurrected.

Honestly, it is not His victory over death that marvels me today.  I am in awe of His victory over pain and suffering.
His ability to love, his ability to transcend self.

My own suffering was mild.

I wish I could go back to that sacred space years ago.  I wish I could hold my brother's shaking, crippled hands one more time, wipe the drool from his chin, and look deep into his soulful eyes.

I would tell him he is known, he is loved.  That God blesses his children with opportunities to suffer because He knows what we can become.  God knows that we WANT to be better, and He knows the path to better requires overcoming obstacles.

Christ suffered so He could love purely and understand.  Suffering was required because suffering transforms selfish into holy.

I believe that every holy man or woman has had a cross to bear.
We are here in the "muddled mortal middle".  This is initiation, this is not the end.

Happy Easter friends!
How I hope the feeling of rebirth seeps deep into your soul.  
Today, I'm grateful for holy scars and sacraments.
There is more to this life than life itself.
Bask in His love!  Keep looking up!
Life is good.

April 15, 2014

Urine.

Sigh.
Today I'm feeling infected and working on a long blog.  It is pulsing inside me, I'm certain you'll either love it or hate it...

It is snowing outside my window.
Yesterday, my urine was bloody and intensely painful.
Reoccurring kidney/bladder infections are amazingly, scratch-your-nails-down-the-chalkboard, annoying.

Yes, we talk about urine on this blog.

Today, my urine is equally annoying, but fluorescent orange not cranberry red.
I tried to catch a picture for you, but the picture really doesn't do it justice.
Poor toilet lighting.  Ha!  
Really- neon orange.  It would be fun if it weren't so painful.

Randomly, I'll admit I have spent too many life moments wondering what shape I am--
I think pear, apple or banana. Todd says hour glass.  I'm not sure why this always intrigues me.  I think it has to do with perception vs reality.  I think I see the bad, Todd sees the good, and reality is somewhere out there.  You know?

I spent way too long on the phone or visiting with drs yesterday.  Jakob had an appointment.  He is happily one inch taller than me at 5'8", and has gained 35 pounds since January.  Growth spurt?
This is Drew's homework folder.  He never asks for anything.  He insists he doesn't need a new folder because the year's almost over.
I love him.  (Even though he felt the need to read me every sentence of his two page fieldtrip permission slip.  Ugh.)
 
Someday I won't even think about pee...
Until then- I'll enjoy these unique days.
Life is good.

April 14, 2014

"That time of refreshing"

 

Can't you feel Spring bringing hope into your soul?

My littlest girls picked the first purple crocuses who happened to poke their heads up in our gardens.  They were so excited to have a flower to give the sister missionaries at church.  I felt that those (fairly smashed) flowers were perfect "palms" for our Palm Sunday.

If Christ was riding a donkey into my yard this Sunday, I would have worshipped him with signs of Spring.

Spring is seeping into my pores.

I absolutely love the idea that Christ is the Son- He feels like Sun to my soul.

Here in upstate NY, our very first glimpse of sun has coincided beautifully with this Easter week.  (It is supposed to be 75* today, and SNOW tomorrow- I love NY.)

I walked down our driveway to talk to neighbors yesterday, and then I pottied a bit of blood.  Grrr.  Do you know how badly I want to run, jump, explore with my kids?

Go for a long, wandering walk (if you can) and breathe that sun into your soul!!

Beautiful sunshine! 
How I have missed you.
Life is good!
Happy Monday!

This morning we read Acts 3 together.  I loved this verse:

19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Doesn't spring feel like that "time of refreshing?"

I love thinking about judgement as the time of refreshing.  He is the SON-SUN who refreshes us all.

Bask!!

April 12, 2014

Why I blog.

I'm not sure why I blog.
I'm not sure why I never, ever intended my blog to be private.
I never wrote to my family or even my friends, I have always spoken to YOU, whoever YOU may be.

I have never even wanted to appear better than I really am, on my blog.
(Although a little of that naturally happens because my thoughts, words, intentions, and desires are better than my ability to ACT on them.)

I actually TRY to show you my best and worst, so I seem normal.
I honestly don't know how I'm going to blog once I am all healed and reach that perfected state.  (ha!)

I have never tried to recruit readers.  I've left the finding part up to you.
I don't even make my ideas easy to read- because I'm unwilling to take the time required to edit and re-edit.
You get me raw, misspelled and very repetitive.

I am missing the gene in my body that is afraid to let people see me without make-up on.
Honestly, I think there is MORE HARM in portraying to the world that a life without hard things is the NORM.  It is not.
Normal is hard.
Hard is good.
Brother Eyring's mother said, "If your life feels like it is uphill, you are on the right path."  I love that.
Uphill lives are good.

Truth time-- I often feel compelled to blog.  Why?
Because I am a girl who grew up in a good, VERY DYSFUNCTIONAL family.
I can't even tell you the odd guilt I have admitting that out loud, but it is true (and I've said it before knowing how much it would hurt my mother if I admitted this.)  Sorry mom.  I love you.
(It is hard for me to talk about what I have experienced because I am still experiencing it and my past is very little about ME and a lot about the family I grew up with.)
When I was at BYU surrounded by thousands of darling teens, I realized just how "Dr. Phil" my immediate family was.
I didn't know what a functional marriage was like.  I saw them, like a child peering into a candy store window, but I didn't know what they tasted like. (My own mother grew up in a very dysfunctional home also.)
I didn't know naturally how to raise children (actually, teaching children is something that I did learn naturally from my mother-- she is a natural lover and teacher of children and that is the best thing about me, too) or how to have a normal home life.

I had NO IDEA how to be a wife, a good wife, a kind wife.
There are A LOT, A LOT of really amazing things that I learned from my family.
I love my family.  I THANK GOD for sending me to my family.
I come from good roots who were caught in the snare of adultery, addiction, pornography, and maybe wealth.  You name it, we've got it.

I was learning compassion and understanding.
I was learning about addiction (substance and sexual), divorce, abuse, mental illness, suicide, physical illness, love, forgiveness, etc., while my friends were learning how to dance and touring the world.
I would NEVER trade my past.  BUT- I did NOT learn how to create a functional family from my immediate family.

And so, I had to LEARN.  I had to SEEK.  I had to WATCH and experiment and analyze.
I had to discern the good in my upbringing and BUILD on it.  I had to make my past a stepping stone, not a stumbling block.
I KNOW I AM NOT ALONE.
Today, functional families are the minority NOT the norm.

I latched on to good people and wrote them 10 page letters with my questions and they wrote me back.
People mentored me that didn't even know me.
I learned to love this church I belong to, because I saw great families here.
I read book after book seeking for golden tidbits of HOW.  HOW do you do this "family" thing?
So many HOWS were VERY hard to find.  I still interrogate those that I know who seem to naturally have a functional home.  Functional people do not naturally analyze how they do it, because what they do best they may never have had to LEARN.  I have to pull out of them their healthy thinking habits.  I love doing this. So much of 'function' and 'mental health' is learned by living.  Creating a functional family is like trying to loose weight.  You think all you need to do is DIET or take a PILL, but the truth is you need to change your whole view of food.  It's a lifestyle change, mental programming differences, not a quick diet fix.
Functional homes are so important.

The hardest hurdle for me to jump over (and I am only almost over it) is the idea that if I knew how, or was doing things "right", I could have a perfect home and a perfect family.  I really do not believe this is true.
Although, I have been in homes that FEEL very nearly close to perfect.  I know GOOD, GOOD families and I believe good families and functional homes ARE very possible.

I am friends with Gerilyn Merrill who is the oldest daughter of Julie Beck (a woman who I believe is a prophetess).  She once said to me (and, I'm quoting purely from my own impression of what she said), "If I can't do it, who can?"  At that moment, I felt a fire in my soul.  It was the first time that I really KNEW.  I said right back to her, "If I can't do it, who can?"  God did not make it so that only people with perfect parents are able to create safe, healthy, functional families.  He didn't.

It is possible for ALL of US, individually, no matter our past or current situation to CHOOSE the type of family we want to have.  God HEALS broken homes.  GOD let His own son be raised by a step-parent and an imperfect woman.  He did this because HE was never far, HE COMPENSATED.  God compensates for us too.  He is NEAR.  HE HEALS, HE TEACHES, HE INSPIRES, HE PROTECTS and when He allows bad things to happen, HE PROMISES that "All these things shall be FOR YOUR GOOD, and shall give thee experience."

He lets us and our children also be raised by imperfect people who He knows ARE "kind and dear" even underneath all our not very kind and dearness.

I have always felt compelled to share what I learn, in case there are people out there like me who NEED to learn it.

I know that we all have power to create goodness.  I know that burning desire, I have prayed that prayer, "Oh God, make me better.  Teach me HOW to do this.  Bless me, change me, lead me, guide me, show me the WAY."
I have felt His tutoring.  But, it was NOT as instant or easy as I thought it should be.
Learning hurt, but it WAS possible.
My family is NOT perfect (far, far from it).  But, I DO have that home, I DO have those children.
I know what they are feeling as they come into my home and stop.  They ask why it feels so "quiet".  They comment on how my kids are always so well-behaved.  People ask me questions and pour out their souls to me, like I still do to those I have learned from.
I know what they are feeling.  It is not ME, it is HIM.  He DID help me to have that kind of home.
In part, because He knew I would help you.

I talk about poop, I say damn, I show you messy counters and do not deny sassy kids.

And somehow, through it all I have learned to love YOU.
I feel humbled to hear that people read my blog.
I love to meet blog friends in real life, because I feel that you are really my friends.
You know ME, even better than I know myself sometimes.

I need to clean up this blog of mine to make it more easy to navigate.
I'm always concerned when I get comments or emails from people who feel like they are blog-stalking my mommy blog because they don't actually know me in person.
I write to strangers, because I believe strangers are friends.

Isn't it interesting how you can read one comment, like this...

Anonymous said...
I am not Morman. I was raised Catholic, but actually just am not a believer at all anymore I found your blog almost a year ago when I had percreta. Lost my baby at 18 weeks, lost ability to have more children (it was my second pregnancy) and almost lost my life. I still wonder why my baby had to die - I guess I am just not as deserving. I suppose I keep reading your blog despite any religious undertones - you really do come across as a nice person and genuine.

April 11, 2014 at 7:03 PM

And have your heart swell with love for this unseen mother.
You love her too, don't you?
Friend, how I wish you lived near me so I could hug you and cry on your shoulder.  Because I would.
I would cry for your pain, cry for your angel baby, cry for your lost uterus, cry for what might of been.
And then, I would look you in your eyes and tell you with FIRE in my eyes that YOU ARE NOT LESS DESERVING.
Unfortunately, God's plan never included the idea that "Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people."  It actually seems the opposite.
God himself allowed His Son to DIE after being rejected, abused, and suffering.
The most holy men and women I have heard about have lived a life of suffering.
Somehow, God knows that suffering purifies and edifies our soul, if we let it.
You, my sister, are blessed in this awful trial.  God needs you to comfort and mourn with someone else.
So, he blessed you with this life-changing, hard trial.
I'm sorry.  I love you.  I can only imagine your pain.  (Wish you could come love on my chunky boy for a few days.  I share.)

I have to go.
I'm speaking in a couple hours about social media.
And, I just had to take a few minutes to say-- THANK YOU for reading what I write.
Thank for being my virtual/real friends and mentors.  Thanks for cheering me up and believing in me.
Before, during, and after my near-death experience.

I feel so grateful for this little blog.
In a way, I think it saved me life.
In another way, I think it has helped me create a life that I love.
You are my friends.
Life is good. 

April 10, 2014

I have a question.

Can I ask YOU a question?
Yes, you.
I can see how many people read my blog, but I can't see who you are or what you are like.
I assume if you like reading about my life, then I would like you in person.
(Plus, how many people have you honestly not liked?  I can't think of many.)

Anyway-- here is my dilemma.
I'm speaking on Saturday morning about using social media as a missionary tool.
Only, I'm not sure I really do that well.

Are you Mormon?  
Are you Christian?
Do you think my blog is a missionary tool?
How has this space increased your faith?
How has this space shaped your views of Mormonism?

I'm honestly not trying to request fan mail or love letters (or hate mail for that matter).
My husband is overly verbal and fulfills all my needs for praise.  
Ha! Even when I'm riding a Walmart scooter.
(I'm usually uncomfortable with praise, I prefer evaluation and contemplation.)
So, be honest.

Philosophically and honestly-- how is this mommy blog a missionary tool?

Do you wish I spoke more about my religion?  Less?
Are you interested in learning more about The Church of Jesus Christ because you know me?
How has your impression of Mormonism changed since you started reading my blog?

I know these questions sound presumptuous and even pushy.  
Please take them as genuine questions.
I think I speak of my faith naturally without trying to convert.
I honestly believe truth is eternal and that it rings true no matter what religion you practice.

Have I told you lately that I'm a Mormon and that I love it?

I do believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored church of Jesus Christ on the Earth today.  I believe in ordinances like baptism.  I feel that priesthood authority from God is required to perform sacred ordinances.  I have never felt undervalued as a woman in this religion.

I find renewal and strength and purification and perspective as I learn, worship, and covenant in holy temples.  I love Mormon temples!  I believe in modern-day revelation and I believe in prophets and apostles.  

I love the Book of Mormon.  It is scripture.  It is the word of God, it testifies of Christ, it teaches eternal principles hand in hand with the Bible.  Because I know God's voice, I hear Him as I study the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the words of holy leaders.  

I know God has spoken to man and that He speaks to us still.  He used to call prophets and He calls prophets still.  He commanded His covenant people to build temples and perform holy ordinances long ago, and He abides in holy temples and seals holy ordinances still.  The Church of Jesus Christ is the same organization that existed in the primitive church.  I see this, I feel it, and I believe it.

As a young girl, I looked around at Mormon families.  They were happy, they were strong, and they were good.  I knew then, and I know now, that there was goodness in this Church that would provide an essential foundation for my own family.

Having seen and experienced the awful effects of addiction- drugs and alcohol, I whole-heartedly embrace a religion with strong health guidelines.  I love that Mormons don't drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, drink coffee, and avoid caffeine.  I love that.

I want my children to be modest, chaste, and clean.  There is safety and peace in a religion that teaches and lives the law of chastity before marriage and fidelity after marriage.  Raising my children around thousands of other youth with similar values is helpful and inspiring.

I 100% believe that you can teach truth and still love imperfect people.  Good churches must teach a holy life that requires us to strive, just like a good gymnastics coach must teach skills that improves ability.  There is happiness in obedience, forgiveness and forgiving.

Are Mormons Christians?  Oh yes we are.  I believe in Christ!  He is my Savior, my Redeemer, my Grace, and my salvation.  I know His touch, I am awed by the gentle truths of His life, and I love Him.  I have been born again, and again.  I need Him every hour.  He is near me and He is near you.  I know it.

The more I learn, the more I love this gospel.  It is good.  I love God's plan.  I know who I am.  I believe we are all brothers and sisters. 

Mormons are bright, educated, kind, charitable, good people. I love them.

I often think about YOU, who read my blog.  I imagine you as friends and fellow travelers.  I imagine most of you believe similar to me, whether or not you attend my same church.  I think you read my blog to see that you are normal.  It is nice knowing that there are other people in the world with messy haired, silly, sometimes happy, sometimes cranky kids.  

I try to share with you good things that I've learned.  I'm certain I could learn much from you. 

But honestly, if I had to pick one thing to share with you.  One thing that has shaped my soul, blessed my marriage, pulled me through every hard time... It would be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Where would I be without this church in my life?

So, I'm not sure that I have ever really used social media as an effective missionary tool (meaning I don't know of anyone that has converted to Christianity or Mormonism because of my influence). 

But, I know you all know that I believe.
You know that I love.
And, you know that my God is your God, because truth is eternal whether you are Mormon or Baptist or Catholic or Buddhist or Muslim or Not Presently Participating. 

So, tell me what you think!
Who are you?
How is this social media space a missionary tool?
Answer fast because I'm speaking early Saturday Eastern time and I'm really curious what you have to say.
My topic- social media as a missionary tool.
I'm talking to leaders.  I'm nervous.
I know you can help.
Thanks.
And, thanks for reading my blog.
Life is good.


Some thoughts on the purpose of PAIN and the how to of HEALING

I read two beautiful devotionals on Healing and the Healer's Art yesterday.
Please read them yourself HERE and HERE.
I am just going to pull my favorite quotes for this blog, but for all references take a moment to read the talks in entirety!

From the BYU devotional "The Healer's Art" by Elaine Marshall, October 8, 2002.
(Interesting fact, while I was at BYU I had the opportunity to do research and contribute to a paper with Sister Marshall.  I love her.)

Healing Hurts.
"First, healing hurts. When I was a young nurse in the hospital, hardly a day went by that a patient did not ask, “Will it hurt?” If I had been truthful, the whispered answer would nearly always have been, “Yes, it will hurt.” I have learned that healing hurts. Life hurts. Healing really only begins when we face the hurt in its full force and then grow through it with all the strength of our soul. For every reward of learning and growing, some degree of pain is always the price."

Healing is Active.
"Healing cannot happen in a surgical suite where the pain is only a sleepy memory. Cure is passive, as you submit your body to the practitioner. Healing is active. It requires all the energy of your entire being. You have to be there, fully awake, aware, and participating when it happens."

Healing is Sacred.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught:
There is, in the suffering of the highest order, a point that is reached—a point of aloneness—when the individual (as did the Savior on a much grander scale) must bear it . . . alone. Even the faithful may wonder if they can take any more or if they are in some way forsaken.

Those who . . . stand on the foot of the cross often can do so little to help absorb the pain and the anguish. It is something we must bear ourselves in order that our triumph can be complete. [Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979), 43]

Healing is not only private, it is sacred. Private healing is not healing by abandonment. There is something so sacred about partaking of the power of the Atonement to overcome suffering, disappointment, or sin that it happens in the privacy of that special relationship between the mortal and the divine. Healing involves a private personal communion with the Savior, the Master Healer. It inspires a very personal reverence and awe. While on the earth Jesus often healed in private and then departed. When He healed, He often charged, “See thou tell no man; but go thy way” (Matthew 8:4; see also Luke 8:56).

To say that healing is private is not to diminish the marvelous power that comes from the help and compassion of others. Indeed, private healing often may not happen without the help of others. But much of the work of healing is done alone, inside the heart, in the company of the Spirit of the Lord.
Such secret healing is not a single event. It happens as a process of living. You cannot simply take off a day or start tomorrow like a new diet and return healed. It happens quietly while you face the pain. It happens over time as you live, work, study, and give to others.

Healing Teaches Us.
Orson F. Whitney wrote:
No pain that we suffer . . . is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of . . . patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer . . . , especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven. [Quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972), 98]

Healing is the Gift of the Savior.
President Hinckley promised:
Jesus of Nazareth healed the sick among whom He moved. His regenerating power is with us today. . . . His divine teachings, His incomparable example, His matchless life, His all-encompassing sacrifice will bring healing to broken hearts, reconciliation to those who argue and shout, even peace to warring nations if sought with humility and forgiveness and love. [Hinckley, “Healing Power,” 59]

Here is the first BYU Devotional I read, "Healing = Courage + Action + Grace", by John Sandberg, January 21, 2014.

I love how Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, described healing:
Healing blessings come in many ways, each suited to our individual needs, as known to Him who loves us best. Sometimes a “healing” . . . lifts our burden. But sometimes we are “healed” by being given strength or understanding or patience to bear the burdens placed upon us.

As we consider the key components for healing, let us remember that, in the end, healing is a gift from our Savior that will likely require effort and suffering on our part so that we can grow and develop through our struggles. The gift is often the refinement we experience in the process.

Let me give you one example from one of my heroes. When the relatively young Nelson Mandela first entered prison, he was described by his peers as too “emotional” (meaning he lacked self-control), “passionate” (meaning he had a temper), and “quickly stung” (easily offended), but when he left prison twenty-seven years later, the words he would use to describe himself were “balanced,” “measured,” and “controlled.” 7 As Richard Stengel noted in his excellent book on lessons learned from Mandela, “Nelson Mandela had many teachers in his life, but the greatest of them all was prison.” 8 When he was pestered about how prison had changed him, Mandela simply said, “I came out mature.” 

And remember, you can still act, even if you are afraid or feel like procrastinating. My favorite example of this type of action is Mother Teresa. I love this quote about her from writer Marcus Goodyear:
Mother Teresa doubted. Her spirit wavered. . . . Some days she questioned herself. Some days she questioned God.
And this is the biggest encouragement of all. Even Mother Teresa had doubts. . . . Her doubt gives me hope; not that my own doubt will go away but that feelings of doubt are not as powerful as a faithful decision to act.
I may doubt, but I still pray. I still go to church. I still worship. . . .
Doubt is a feeling, but faith chooses to act no matter our feelings.

Oh-- these examples are soo good!  Read the whole talk.

God bless you and yours as you suffer and heal!!
Life is good.


April 09, 2014

Dreaming in Spring Colors Again.


When you are ill for a long, L-O-N-G time, survival mode causes you to stop yearning.  You can handle the daily baby steps of healing, even the setbacks, better if you focus on being content with the now.  

Planning for home renovations or landscape projects become almost laughable as you struggle to, well, perform the tasks of staying alive- mainly eating, pottying, breathing, walking, lifting, and smiling.

Blogs where people whine about shades of white paint or spend time spray painting light fixtures from gold to silver, almost become nauseating.  (Maybe the nausea is caused by antibiotics- again.)

I can't even describe to you how hard it is to find a healing walking pace.  

You see, as a mother of many, my gait of preference/necessity was a trot or canter.  Constantly moving forward, pulling, stretching, climbing, serving, growing.  I didn't have time for rest and even as I pulled daily with all my strength I still felt severely inadequate.

Then- wham-o!  Thud!  

Health issues that caused me to choose- A) continue to care for my 7 living and my home at the risk of, dying or killing my in-utero baby or B) sit or lay helplessly by as the whole world cares for my family and I carefully guard my own physical/mental health and give my in-utero baby the best chance at living.

Hard choice, but not the hardest.

As I sat on the chair observing, I had to swallow so much.  Loosing what I did- helped me to know who I am.  Babies I had spent every moment caring for, now wake up from their naps crying for grandma.  Meals are seasoned differently, pigtails are higher, conflicts are started and ended as I observe.  

Any input I had into the parenting of my children needed to be discussed and even negotiated.  There is great, great power in the idea that although we disagree, you can do things your way and I'll do them mine.  Oh, my stubborn soul loves that ability to end a discussion by simply doing it myself.  I miss that ability most.  

As you loose the ability to do things, you gain the ability to (sing with me) "Let it go!! Let it go!!!"  That is a great lesson to learn.

After a few months your pulse doesn't even quicken as you hear a darling, well-meaning grandfather INSISTING on peppering your anti-pepper child's egg.  Eggs that he is cooking for her, because you cannot.  Any comment you make from your recliner feels rude and ungrateful.  After months of practice you naturally smile and let it go!

Your mental mantra becomes "these things shall give you (and yours) experience and shall be for your (and their) good."  Sigh.  This is all part of our plan.  Trust the plan!  "One step enough for me."

As you are learning these soul-shaping lessons, you are shifting down.  Canter to Whoa.  All forward progression is internal.  Physically and even emotionally you pull back.  Focus changes.  You detach from those you thought couldn't live without you and you see- they can.  

In so many ways you feel your complete powerlessness even as you are learning to know the great power given to you.

A life that was once a lesson in complete selflessness becomes a life completely focused on self (with the most selfless of motivations).

Daily life soon must focus on very basic, very slow, very internal journeys.  While the storm of life continued around me, I was forced to magnify the nominal.  

Very literally, social events blurred in the background as I stopped hourly to judge how quickly my heart and the heart I was protecting, continued to beat.  Meals were mountains in my day, and I won't even talk about using the bathroom.  For months I have forgotten what a single moment without pain or the haze of drugs feels like.  

I learned that my physical state does not determine or negate my ability to choose.  Even in intense pain, exhaustion, and uncertainty, I have the ability to respond cheerfully and kindly to others.  I can hold my arm still even as my body physically reacts with fear and my emotions race.  It is amazing.  We, our eternal spirits, are powerful to choose.

And so, when I hear a tired father too harsh with a tired child, my soul cringes.  From my chair I might whisper, "be gentle with her." But, he is right.  I cannot actually be the one to carry her up to her bed, the fifth time, so I must watch him do it his way.  

When he huffs that I don't know what it's like (he is right), but there is something I know.  I KNOW that even if you are tired, overwhelmed or in intense physical pain, you STILL have power to choose how you act.  You can choose to be cheerful and kind even as you suffer.

I can't wait to practice this more. Oh, I laugh in the face of PMS.  Really ladies- you are stronger than you know you are. Your physical state does NOT determine your actions.  If you possibly could be kind to a doctor while he is shoving a hose down your jugular vein in your neck (ouch) than you CAN be kind to a sassy seven year old, even when you're tired.  

Take your pain and go down and in, not up and out.  If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin at all.  We've got this.

At the risk of sounding ridiculously arrogant, I must humbly tell you that I understand how the Savior suffered a little bit more than I once did.  

He also separated from His physical pain.  There was a time when He pled for relief, "Father if thou be willing remove this cup from me."  And then He accepted His lot, "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done."  

From this point forward, I would say He endured.  He got quiet.  He went inward with his pain and allowed His spirit to seperate from that.  I know how He could have had His body nailed to a cross and still feel concern for His mother and those hanging near Him.  

That is what you do to endure- you forget how you feel and focus on what makes you feel good even when you don't feel good.  Love is stronger than pain.  

Laughter and joy is also stronger than the most intense physical pain or the most constant dull ache.  Christ could endure the most intense of all pains (which I believe occurred as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and culminated on the cross) because He had the most intense love.  Love trumps pain.

Oh, there are beautiful lessons to be learned as we suffer.  Health trials and pain are beautiful teachers.  In my case, these were not culminating lessons, just lessons I was blessed to learn in this Spring Break of my life.  

Even while I am still drinking, I feel so lucky for this great gulp of perspective I've had poured down my throat.

Learning to be detached, internal and slow was beautiful and essential.  But then, it becomes too much.  

Just as you get comfortable with a home-bound winter, buds bloom on the trees and you recognize spring is coming.  Even Christ would have been less-effective if He never rose again.

Learning to stop was a hard lesson for me.  Interestingly, learning to walk again is just as hard.  I now know how to be active and in charge (cantering), and how to be quiet and internal (stopped), but I am still learning how to be present and gently participating (walking on).  

I'm still learning to set goals again.  I'm cautiously looking forward and outward.  I'm almost strong enough to serve others physically and oh how good that feels.

The gap between what I physically can do today and what I did do BB (before Ben) is great.  But, mothering is 60% mental.  Healing is 60% mental too.  

Engaging again is as painfully vulnerable as disengaging once was.

My physical therapist would joke that I didn't need her because I naturally pushed myself as fast (or too fast) as my healing would allow.  Usually, she would tell me to slow down and be patient with my body.  

Oh, what a ridiculously difficult position healing is.  You walk this tight rope of doing without under or over doing.  You feel judged for disengaging and get verbally hammered by every well-meaning friend or family member who feels innately qualified (as an observer) to caution you (as an active participant) not to "over do it."  As if there is actually a perfect sketch of a line one could walk for ideal healing.  

The truth is, all involved are walking two steps into the dark.  This is my journey and I am trying, so carefully, to walk on, to heal well, to learn and observe, and to embrace life.  I believe the unknowing is part of the plan.  Veils help us to strengthen our core spiritual muscles.  

Faith and trust are much more effectively demonstrated as we walk forward in the dark- if we could always see His outstretched arms (which are in fact always there) we would be showing our ability to follow not our ability to believe.  Faith is a principle of great spiritual power.  I'm ok walking in darkness sometimes.  Let's just shout encouragement and love to each other!

(Even if you happen to be sitting on a recliner watching a tired father put your child to bed for the fifth time.  You will know that he is also walking his own unique journey and that he is indeed grateful for gentle whispers, encouragement and love from the recliner.)

Healing is an act of physical renewal and spiritual faith.  There is NO science that can ever predict or dictate a persons individual journey of health.  Ask a doctor or a nurse- they will tell you how individualized healing is.

As an observer experiencing this journey I am amazed at the human body and heavenly soul. I feel like this past year and a half (not that I'm counting) I have taken a pretty hard college course that I bravely and naively enrolled in.  I haven't quite made it to finals yet, but I can tell you unequivocally this has been the best course I have ever had.  I am born again, again.  

I'm sorry if you are just starting your own course.  Do NOT beg for a syllabus, there is a reason you don't know at the beginning what might happen towards the end (or middle).  My heart aches for your journey even as it rejoices for your final grade!  This is a good, dang hard, good course.

Waking up is an interesting experience for me.

I used to crash in bed exhausted and wake up with my running shoes on. 
There were months in the past year where I was in a continual haze of rest, barely waking and gently gliding back to sleep. 

Recently, I wake up to re-live the feeling of being hit by a car.  If I achieve a truely deep sleep, my spirit awakens first with hopes for a new day and then my body reminds me that we won't be going anywhere fast.  It's like a quick re-enactment of those car dummies slamming into a cement wall.  Ouch.

This morning, I woke up and had a few glorious moments of summer day dreaming.  There was a pause, before I moved, where the morning sunshine touched my soul and I almost felt normal.

I imagined my pool full of happy children, I imagined my boys with wheelbarrows of weeds helping happily in our garden, I imagined chicken coops, soccer games, real-life (non-medical friends), road trips, and even some minor house decorating. 

I recognized that dawn of hope returning and I basked in the warmth of trivial dreams!  Oh it is good to hope and plan again!  I love life's seasons.  (There is a reason we live in New York and not Florida.)

It has been a long winter, but we are walking on!  
I believe in a God of seasons and I can feel Spring coming!  
Holy day.
Life is a gift.

(Ha! Oh this blog post is very me.  A hodge podge of silly metaphors as I try to pour my heart onto a computer screen.  I know that I switch awfully from past to present to generic tense.  I think this is because I am stuck somewhere in the past/present/generic of life.  Thank you for reading my ramblings.)

April 08, 2014

Conferencing #ldsconf

We had cousins while we watched inspired speakers this weekend.
I loved the gentle chaos, the copious note taking, constant dress-up, and the feeling that my house was full.
Just last week, I looked at my kitchen table and realized my little kids are big.  I think I'm officially a mom of teens and toddlers.  
I really like having both.  They're so fun to watch together.



(The dog always sneaks my water...)
Haha- this is what I really look like...
This is what I look like on narcotic pain meds, posing for a picture.
This is the happy meal toy that we lost and found 20 times this weekend.
Life is good!
Ps- I'm on Instagram now... @mossmoments 

April 06, 2014

What Women Want.

 
This morning, I read a petition signed by a minority of women who are fighting for more gender “sameness” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

I’ve heard about these movements but this was the first petition I have actually read. 

I was surprised at how trivial the requests were.  Even more, I was surprised at the lack of true understanding each item illustrated.  Women who know (at their very core) their worth and value do not need trivial changes to feel equal, respected or worthwhile.

As a strong, educated Christian woman, I find safety and peace in the different roles men and women have and have had since the beginning of time.  I am grateful to be a woman.  I feel blessed to be a wife and a mother. 

The first item on this petition states that church leadership should “Encourage partnership in marriage and eliminate the idea that husbands preside over their wives.”

Without trying to belittle the opinion of others, I must admit that this statement is humorous and confusing to me.  In my humble opinion, it illustrates a poor understanding of what it means to PRESIDE.  This statement seems to suggest that partnership in marriage cannot be achieved while one presides and that is simply not true.

I wonder if supporters of this petition are recommending that church leadership edit scripture, edit history, or edit every single ordinance performed in the church today.  “Eliminating the idea” of a patriarchal church would, in a sense, be eliminating the idea that God in and of himself is a male and that He presides, that His kingdom is and has always been a patriarchal kingdom.  Patriarchal meaning that a righteous father presides over his family and that a righteous, male prophet presides over God’s church on the Earth.  This is a foundational principle of Mormonism and I would even dare say most of Christianity or even religion in general.  Eliminating the idea of one who presides is going to be quite a large undertaking. 

Ephesians 5:33 “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”  The Family a Proclamation on the Family to the World.

I LOVE that my husband is called to preside in our home.  Having a good, good man “preside” is a shield and a protection to me and our children.  I am not made weak as he cares for me, I am able to rest, to heal, and to fortify myself to do the work that I am called to do.

There have been times in my life where I have presided.  I was asked to be the president of our school PTA and served in that capacity for two years.  As the president, I felt the responsibility for financial issues, planning issues, every activity, every meeting.  When people serving on our board made mistakes, I stood in and took the heat for them.  I was very grateful to hand that position over when my term came to an end.  Serving on the board in the following years, did not diminish my equality or my innate abilities in the least.  My role was different even as my value remained inherently the same.

Obviously marriage is different than PTA.  I don’t believe that Todd is the president in our home and I am his counselor.  We are co-presidents.  His calling to preside in our home is of a spiritual nature and it, in my opinion, relates directly to his divinely appointed responsibility to protect me and our family, and to provide for our needs (physically and spiritually). 

I really want to talk about this, even though I know it is so controversial.  This is my opinion.  [As odd as it sounds, I’m actually careful to give you my own opinion without researching the official stance of the church.  Be gentle as you criticize my reasoning, I’m still on pain meds.  Ha!]
     
 Presiding means protecting.

I believe our families are under attack, physically and spiritually.  I have felt the influence of Satan buffeting me and buffeting our home.  When I am alone and I feel darkness, I know that I have access to the power of God to cast evil from my midst.  I do have access to that power.

There is GREAT, GREAT peace that comes in the moments I feel down, depressed, sick, lonely, tired, cranky, beaten up, and I am not alone.  Having a husband who presides in righteousness who blesses me in strength and power is a great gift.  He also has access to the power of God, through the priesthood that he holds, and using that power he protects me, he casts Satan from our midst, and he presides over our home and family.  I LOVE FEELING PROTECTED physically and spiritually. 

Another unpopular thing to say is that today mental illness and depression is rampant, especially among women.  I do not want to argue about whether or not these illnesses are actual medical conditions- of course they are.  But, I will say boldly, that if I were Satan, I would work very hard to get good people to feel bad about themselves.  Secondly, if I were Satan, I would try to get good women to actually fight against their greatest protectors.  Duh.  Today we need men to preside and protect MORE, not LESS. 

The problem with our society today, as I see it, is NOT that women are presided over.  The problem is that many men do not know how to preside.  Some men do not know the power they have to protect their families.  I know that this is a very unpopular, traditional opinion.  Yes, I firmly believe that a righteous man, using the power of God, can protect his family from physical and spiritual buffeting.  This is a blessing, not something that belittles women. 

Women, turn to your husbands for spiritual protection.  Feel the safety that comes from being equally yoked to a strong man.  This is a great gift, not something to fight against, in this there is safety and peace.

“Encourage partnership in marriage and eliminate EMPHASIZE the idea that husbands preside over their wives.”

Presiding means providing.

How does a husband working to provide for the physical means of his wife and family ever weaken or lessen a woman?  It doesn’t.  What a great, great blessing it is to me that I don’t have to worry about paying our mortgage or working to feed our family.  This is a blessing. 

Todd’s role as a provider doesn’t diminish me, it strengthens me.  Because I don’t have to worry about providing for the physical needs of our family I can focus on spending my time and energy serving however I feel inspired to serve.  I GET to be home with my children.  This is a gift, not subjugation. 

I CAN get a job.  But, having a husband who provides for my family leaves me with options I would not otherwise have.  I am not LESS than him.  His sacrifice and diligence BLESSES me with freedom to spend my time doing that which I deem to be MOST important and significant. 

In my opinion, anyone can be the CEO of a corporation, but I am irreplaceable as my children’s mother.  Home is where I choose to be.  Having a husband that presides and provides for our family is a gift and a service to our family not something that makes me less equal or valued. 

I’m sad and concerned for women today.  I’m afraid we can’t see the gifts that we have been given.  We are being deceived into believing that value comes from sameness, when in reality honor, respect and value come because we are respected and cherished.

There have been times, both in the history of the church and even in our own personal histories, where women have needed to act alone.  Before marriage, when men are not living righteously, during illness or times of weakness, when men have been killed or called away from home.  During these times, strong and faithful women have stepped forward to preside and provide for themselves or their families.  Of course they have.  Of course we would, if we needed to. 

This is a case of Huck Finn trying to convince mothers everywhere that painting a fence alone is more fun and equal than being cared for by a strong and diligent man of God.  Perhaps those who have signed this petition have never felt the peace and comfort that comes from being yoked to a good man.

In the name of equality, we are fighting for things that will diminish womanhood not strengthen it.  Men who preside in the home are honoring and respecting women. 

You are not fighting for equality, you are fighting to be nominalized and undervalued. 

I am very aware of the blessings I have been given. 
There are days when I preside in my home.
But, I thank God for the days when I am blessed with a good man by my side.
He is my protector, he provides for me spiritually, emotionally and physically.
I do not want to preside.
I find safety and peace being married to a man who nobly holds and presides with the priesthood power of God.
My righteous husband is my greatest blessing.
How I love and trust that man.


Life is good.

April 04, 2014

TGIF

Only 3.5 more weeks till I can lift my strapping boy.
Only one year and 49.5 weeks till I can safely exercise.
Praise ye The Lord.  :)

Todd and I have another hot date this morning... at an art gallery.

Haha-- nah.

We just do doctor-dates these days.
Nuclear medicine... Oooooo

I have a silly, red, sore arm.
Not a big deal- unless it is.
(Just a little blood clot.)
Today is Eve's 3rd birthday.
She is a joy.
I can't imagine life without her-- and I guess it was worth having seven children to get to meet HER.
What a cutie-patootie.
I'm so excited for this weekend.
I believe in modern-day prophets and apostles and this weekend I get to hear from them.  Plus, we have family coming to visit.
��Everything is perfect, everything is grand, I've got the whole wide world in the palm of my hand.��
Just another day at the beach...
Life is good.
Enjoy your weekend!
PS- I'm still laughing at our bedtime conversation last night.  As Todd ever-so-gingerly squeezed me tightly, he said (in all seriousness) "Jen, don't laugh at me, but when I saw you driving around that scooter at WalMart I really thought you looked hot.  I think you were the hottest lady on a scooter in that whole store."  Haha.  Of course I laughed at that funny guy.  He's a keeper.  ;)

Truth Friday- I saw another lady on a scooter at Walmart whose whole bum was showing.  I instinctively checked my own pants and son of a gun, I could feel my yoga pants had sunk down and the whole Walmart world could see my silky unders.  Nice.  Hot, I tell you... H-O-T.

April 03, 2014

37.2

I chuckle every now and then when I think of yesterday's post.

Even as an invalid, it is still fun being a mom.  As much as I love my littlest kids, my bigger kids just make me smile.
It is SO fun to mother big kids.
Anna got a little makeup for her birthday. I was preparing for doctor appointments that morning, so I missed sending her off.  When I got home I was a bit surprised by the goth/raccoon eyes she was sporting. Ha!

You should have heard her concerned brothers offering make-up advice.
(Big brothers are the best monitors of modest clothing and extreme make-up, I'm finding out.)
Todd keeps encouraging me to give Anna a few tips to avoid the Geisha appearance.  I love Anna's stories about trying to remove mascara and ending up with two black eyes.

Oh how fun to watch these kids of mine grow up.  I'm glad we're dealing with this now, instead of when she's 18.  

Last night I peaked into Anna's room.  It glows red from the chicken warming light.  Ellie was asleep propped up in bed so as not to mess her hair.  Ellie had a slight fever yesterday and was bummed to have to come home from school early, "the one day her hair actually looked good."

Anna was propped up singing to her chickees.  Adorable.

We ate lunch with Anna and Eve was a definite hit.

Drew's constant whistling drives me crazy and makes me smile.  He takes Rocco on a one hour walk each day (I love them together), and has a schedule for chick training to humanize the baby chicks so they will be kind chickens.  Aside from Anna and Jakob, he is the most scheduled, responsible kid I know.  

Jakob's retelling of his 3 falls during his 400 hurtles still makes my tummy sore from laughter.  Oh how I love these kids of mine.

I'm off to the dentist this morning.  Another doctor-date with my hubster.

Enjoy your Thursday friends!
Life is good.

April 02, 2014

37.1 cranky-ish.

Thank you for all of your birthday wishes.
My birthday was... a long day of doctor appointments and tests.
Todd loves these days, because we're together.  
I'm over "doctor dates."

I'm grateful to have both my drain and catheter removed.
I love my doctors (and nurses and the sweet receptionists).
I'm ready for real, non-urine related, friends and dates where I'm more intimate with my husband than every person who sees me on an exam table.
Just sayin.
(Ooh, 37 is a little cranky on me.)

My baby is sick.
Todd is up with him all night long.
I lay in bed knowing how sick Ben is and feeling how tired Todd is and wishing that for one night I could cuddle and bounce and soothe.

All I want is to be a normal mom.
Leaving my sad boy, even with the most adorable grandparents, was painful.
I really am a selfish mother- even after 8 children, I still don't like to share for very long.

My doctors are hopeful about my recovery.
Listening to them talk about my surgery is surreal.
It's always a juxtaposition of "you're insides are awful" with "you're a miracle".

I believe angels have worked alongside my surgeons to fix me up, and so everyone who has seen my insides has a mixture of awe and holiness in their retelling of events.

They have great hopes for my recovery.  Skilled surgeons have done great things to repair my internal organs.

I'm trying not to wince as they throw around numbers like-- no lifting over ten pounds for six weeks, no heavy lifting for six months, no moving furniture (or skiing) or moving dirt (my garden) for two years. Two years!!  Sigh.

I'm not trying to train for the Olympics- I just want to lift my baby, pick up my five year old when she stubs her toe and is crying on the floor.
I want to be the one who carries my two year old back to bed the third time she comes down.
I want to put away groceries and carry laundry baskets.
I am not asking for super-powers.
Just regular old momma privileges.
I want to walk, I want to run, I want to lift and bounce and carry.
I want to rearrange the furniture while Todd's at work so I don't have to justify to him why I need to see the couch on every wall before I decide where it goes.

And, although I know how tempting it is, don't you dare tell me that not lifting for two years is worth it (or anything like into it). 
Because I know that.  I KNOW!!
But, it still stinks.
This is hard and long and yes, worth it.
Of course it is.

So many of you have your own crappy things.  Babies who should be swinging at playgrounds not crying when another doctor enters the room.  

I've learned one great coping mechanism on my crankiest days...
Try it with me.

After whining to whoever will listen I say with emphasis something like, "I hate this.  Damn it."

Haha.
Don't leave damn out.
It makes you feel better.
If it doesn't work as a verb, try it as an adjective.

I'm sick of my damn catheter, taking a mouthful of damn pills, laying in my damn bed, wearing this damn stomach binder and not being able to hold my own adorable baby.  

Sigh.
See? You feel a little bit better, don't you?!

Life is damn good.
Haha.
Even on crankier days.


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