July 28, 2017

Healing or Growing Old: Construction Vehicle, Do Not Follow

Image result for construction vehicle do not follow

Have you ever seen a vehicle with a sign like this? "Construction vehicle do not follow."  This is one of my favorite signs ever.  I have to admit that once I was behind a truck like this at a stop light.  As I was pondering the sign, the light turned green and I went forward, following the truck.  Before I knew it, I had all these construction workers waving their arms at me trying to keep me from entering a construction site that I was heading into-- because I was following the construction vehicle.  Haha.  Even as I was trying to understand the sign, I was actually doing what the sign warned me against.  

I saw a truck like this on my way home from school this week and it made me laugh out loud.  I kept thinking I need a sign like this on my blog.  

For the next year (or two) I am spending a lot of time outside of my home getting a graduate degree.  While I know this is right for me and my family.  I don't know if it is right for you and your family.  So, don't follow me.  

There is another part of my need to go back to school.  Something that I don't really understand completely.

When I gave birth to Ben, I had balloon catheters in the main arteries to my legs.  The balloon catheters burst and doctors had to cauterize those arteries.  I did not have good circulation to my legs.  I couldn't walk.  My right foot was completely cold.  They also severed my right illiac (which provides the main blood circulation to my right side. I also had a near-fatal blood clot that formed in my right leg and was caught by an IVC filter just seconds after they placed it near my lungs (saving my life AGAIN).  I couldn't walk for weeks.  I used a walker or wheelchair for months.  There was a time when doctors felt I might end up paralyzed in my legs.  (That time is hazy in my mind.)  

My point is, the path to my physical recovery was LONG and PAINFUL.  I had nerve damage in my feet that was excruciating.  It was almost constant and lasted for months.  My nerve damage went away after a few months, but does return when I'm stressed.  

But, overall, I can WALK! My feet get blood.  I'm pain-free most of the time (and so empathetic of those who suffer with long-term pain).  My body healed.  My body created new passageways to deliver the blood to my feet.  HEALING is amazing.  (I also had two major reconstruction surgeries in the past four years that were similarly life-threatening.)  My body is a warrior body.  I have NO urinary issues, no intimacy issues.  I feel good.  AMAZING.

It was hard to heal physically from a trauma.  But, it has been HARDER to heal mentally.

After twelve hours of surgery and over 200 units of blood transfusion, doctors were not sure that my brain would still work at all.  They warned my husband I might never talk again.  I might have permanent brain damage.  I couldn't SEE for a week after my surgery.  I was swollen to over 200 lbs and my poor brain and nervous system took a beating.  

YEARS after my surgery, I could still feel my body in FIGHT or FLIGHT or FREEZE mode.  Something would happen, a minor stress, and my brain just didn't handle it well.  I couldn't think.  I couldn't make decisions.  I have a very hard time understanding people who talk with accents (something I never experienced before my surgery) and I am awful with directions (I was like that before my surgery but I think it's worse now).  I have a hard time with word recall.  When my brain is tired, I really have a hard time naming things (like my children or the pantry).  

Stress effects my body.  
My ankles swell.  My hands tingle.  I had a full-blown case of Sarcoidosis (where doctors told me I had stage 4 lung cancer, but it was really just an auto-immune response).  

I was home everyday with my children, but I was a different mom.  Joy was harder to find.  I felt overwhelmed with life.  I was pushing through everyday and I just couldn't get back where I wanted to be.  I also had a strong feeling that I was going to die young.  It is hard to prepare for death and then live.  Death haunts you.  It is hard to be frail physically and mentally, to accept years of bed rest or modified ability and then come out of it.  I tried but the more I pushed, the more my body flared up.  

I'm not complaining.  I'm just admitting that the physical part of healing was tough but it was still easier than the mental aspect.  

My PCP wants me to go to a neurologist.  I still haven't.  Perhaps I don't want to know if there really is something wrong with my brain.  

Anyway, I was at a pretty low place when my husband suggested I apply to grad schools.  Thanksgiving and Christmas used to be my favorite time of year, but with my new stress-brain and large family and love of visitors, those months are hard for me to navigate.  

It makes NO SENSE at all for someone who is already overwhelmed with life to think that adding MORE stress is going to help.  NO SENSE AT ALL.  I know that.  That's why I told my husband he was crazy.  It is also why I was SHOCKED when I started feeling the answer to my years of praying for health was to just start studying for grad school.  

Sometimes, it is easy to tell when God is talking to you, because He tells you things that you would never think of on your own.  I barely trust myself as a mother.  I worried that my surgery had changed me.  I would just never be the person I was before my surgery.  That was OK, but sad.  

And then, I started studying MATH and vocabulary.  Equation after equation.  It almost felt like taking those first few steps down the hospital corridors.  

I personally believe that my brain is creating new pathways because old pathways were damaged, just like in my legs.  Maybe, instead of hurting my brain, using my brain more is helping to heal it.  

There is another part of me that realizes it was VERY hard for me to consider my oldest son, Jakob, leaving my home forever (or two years).  The thought ripped out my heart.  It was really, really hard for me.  I sometimes wonder if God knew I would not be able to sit at home and just watch my children leave one after one.  (In the next four years, four of my kids will leave home.)  I don't think I can handle that very well.  I wonder if God ignited a dream inside my soul to distract me from my loss or to replace loss with growth?  

I don't know.  I don't know why.  But, I do know that I was praying for joy and God blessed me with desire.  Desire to do something I never, ever imagined I would do.  I was having a hard time planning meals and God has me planning Day Care Budgets, personnel, fringe benefits, tax rates, etc.  My brain is stretching and my feet are NOT swelling.  I'm amazed and so, so grateful.  

And, how is my home?  While I am at school, my mother and my husband are with my children. My mom has been untangling the mess at my house.  She has been able (in one month) to create an order in my home that I have been unable to create in four years.  We needed her.  My kids needed her.  I needed her.  Even though I am using my mind more, there is a greater peace because my house is in order.  My home wasn't bad.  But, it wasn't my standard either.  

This wasn't something I wanted to talk about on my blog.  For months I thought that my blogging stage was done.  Blogging seemed to die with my old-self.  I was scared to type because I feel different.  But, this was something I miss.  I don't type for YOU, I type for me.  I type for my daughters because I want them to read my thoughts when I'm gone and when they are 40, so they can know how I felt.  

There is a very real possibility that what I am experiencing is brain-damage.  There is also a very real possibility that what I am experiencing is called MIDDLE AGE.  That maybe, after 40 years of life, people change.  Either way, I just want to say, don't follow me because I am just doing ME.  I'm trusting my own ability to receive inspiration on this one.  I'm trusting that after 40 years of life I know how to receive revelation and that God could have opened my heart and poured in me a deep contentment at home and he did not.  Instead, I feel really, really excited to learn and grow and to make new goals for my future that do not revolve around having children.  Maybe this is evil, but it doesn't feel wrong.  It feels ALIVE.  

I need to know God still has a purpose for my life.  I need to know that my brain works and my body works.

It is hard to tell your story when you feel you are unsure what the next chapter will look like.
But, all along, I've shared my ROUGH DRAFT with whoever wants to read it. 
I'm still in rough draft stage.  

I really, really tried to just stay home and be happy as a mom whose children were growing up.  
But, for whatever reason, I COULD NOT DO IT.  
Now, I am a mother whose children are growing up, with a goal.  
And, it feels SO GOOD.  

Pray for me.  I have a final this morning that I really do not think I can possibly do in the 3 hour time frame.  And-- I love this.  
God saved my life for a reason.  I don't know why.  But, I do know that I'm alive today.  I can study and take a silly test.  
Then, I am going to drive to Palmyra and spend the afternoon with Drew, my second son, and one of my favorite people in the world.  My mom and my dad (who have been divorced for years) are both here at my house helping to fix things around the barn and celebrating Jakob's mission farewell that is this Sunday.  The weather is beautiful.  Todd is in Michigan, camping with the kids and his family.  They get home tomorrow.  My cow, Daisy, is pregnant and could deliver any day.  

And, life feels SO, SO good.  

Life is good.  

Do not follow--  Construction Vehicle.  

July 22, 2017

Righteous LDS Women Are Educated and Working Mothers

John 11:1–44, Mary of Bethany and others mourn for Lazarus
(Christ comforting Mary and Martha)

I believe the Restoration of all things will not be complete until we have a full and correct understanding and appreciation for the role of women.  As I have watched and learned from modern-day prophets, apostles, and general auxiliary leaders, I have felt that revelation regarding Relief Society and women is expanding.  I predict that in the next ten years, we will continue to hear much about the true nature and calling of women in the Church and in world.

As I have looked at women who lead in these modern-days it is clear to me that the Lord is trying to change some common LDS misconceptions.  In a three paragraph description about their lives, almost ever female auxiliary leader outlines places that she has WORKED outside the home while at the same time emphasizing her role as a MOTHER.  The two are not exclusive.

Good, righteous, committed, nurturing, wise, discerning mothers can get an education, have a family, raise their children, volunteer in their communities, and even work outside the home.  Some may find this growing trend concerning.  I find it interesting.

I love how Professor Eva Whitesman (who gave the wonderful devotional at BYU, Women and Education: "A Future Only God Could See For You") describes female educational pursuits as NON-LINEAR.  She says,

"In a world that values education primarily as a means to increase our value in the workplace, nonlinear educational paths may sometimes be considered nontraditional, but they are not nonessential. As Kristen Oaks observed, “Women’s educational paths and experiences are often very different from men’s.”As Latter-day Saints, we know that the pursuit of education is not merely about gaining marketable skills in an efficient and linear fashion but that education is a tool for gaining important spiritual growth and spiritual gifts that can be used in all facets of our lives."

Righteous LDS women leaders have worked throughout history. I'm not sure when we began to think that women could not be good mothers if they made money.  How do you think early pioneer women supported their families while their husbands served missions?  Mormon Women are some of the most industrious women in the world.  We all work, we work hard, and we value motherhood.

Because of the misconception that valuing motherhood was incompatible with a career, women who worked have not told their stories.  Women who have worked rightfully emphasis their greatest priority their families, without accurately showing other women how much they were truly able to do.
Almost EVERY women in my husband's good, righteous, hardworking, full-pioneer roots, family has worked.  They would say things like "I worked until my first child was born and then stayed home until my youngest was in school," or "I taught piano lessons from home while my children were young," or "I worked at the school where my children attended," or "I worked at the library, part-time."  "My children helped with dinner until I got home."  "I was a nurse at night while my children were young."  Mormon women work. Please note-- these mothers who worked are women who are the very best mothers IN THE WORLD and in the Church.

Mormon women are also well-educated.  These women get their degrees fast and don't postpone motherhood to do it.  Most of us have given birth to our first children just barely at the end of getting a school degree where we doubled up on credits to complete it quickly.  Many of us are using online programs like Pathways to earn a degree while staying home with our children.  Many Mormon mothers, like myself, go back to school in later years when our children are all in school.  Women without formal degrees spend their lives studying religious texts for Sunday School, and we are encouraged to seek learning out of the best books.  Many Mormon women homeschool their children.  We read.  We fix things and talk about politics.  It takes great knowledge and education to successfully manage large families on a limited budget.  I love the stories of Sis Hinckley and Sis Monson, who had to manage their homes with a husband who worked double-duty almost all of their lives as church leaders and providers for their families.  Sister Monson, for example, always fixed the plumbing issues and assembled the Christmas presents.  Mormon women are called to be educated, industrious women.

It would be interesting to truly evaluate the educational and career paths of LDS women.  I think you will see a collection of women who use creativity and ingenuity to become educated and to help support their family while continuing to have large families who they care for with great emphasis and skill.  You would also see husbands who support these women in many non-traditional ways.

Let's look at the women currently leading General Auxiliaries.

I don't believe it is a COINCIDENCE that these women mention WORK in their short biographies on LDS.ORG.  This is purposeful and DIFFERENT from traditional female biographies.  Why?  Ask yourselves that question.  I don't believe they are the first female leaders who have all worked outside of their home at some time in their lives.  They are also NOT women who put money and careers ahead of motherhood and family.

I'm going to copy and paste right from THIS page that links to their biographies.

An indoor semiformal group portrait of Joy D. Jones, Jean B. Bingham, and Bonnie H. Cordon wearing colored blazers.
(Primary needs a new picture, now that Sister Bingham got called into the General RS.)


Sister Joy Jones, General Primary President, "As a young adult, Sister Jones worked as a dispatcher for the U.S. Forest Service at the Redmond Air Center in eastern Oregon, sending out smokejumpers, suppression crews and supplies for forest fires in the northwest, and as an administrative assistant at the Federal Building in Provo. She was also trained as a medical assistant and worked at a dermatology clinic in Provo. She received an associate of science degree in family living at BYU. Sister Jones and her husband lived in Santa Rosa, California, for 14 years, where her husband opened a chiropractic practice." 

Sister Bonnie Cordon, First Counselor in the General Primary Presidency, "Sister Cordon received a bachelor’s degree in education from BYU. She worked in management in the software industry. She was a working mother until she was expecting her third child and she and her husband relocated to Indiana. “I put all my corporate clothes back in my closet and put on my peanut butter and jelly clothes,” she said. After a move to Boise, Idaho, she jumped back into the business world, starting her own businessShe also was a school volunteer in Idaho and Utah, serving in PTA, the classroom and community council." 

Sister Cristina Franco, Second Counselor in the General Primary Presidency, "After graduating from high school in 1977, she moved to Utah with her family, where her father continued his career as a watchmaker. This turned into a successful family business that specialized in fixing and selling watches, a company that Sister Franco was a part of for 28 years. She worked in the family business when her sons were at school and received the support of her parents when long hours kept her from being home, but she always kept her children’s spiritual nurturing a priority: “We made scripture study each morning a must before they left to school,” she said."

A portrait of the Young Women general presidency in pastel-colored jackets, standing outside in front of green trees.
Young Women

Sister Bonnie Oscarson, General YW President, "She served with her husband when she was still a young mother as he presided over the Sweden Göteborg Mission and then 30 years later returned to Sweden where she and her husband served as matron and temple president of the Stockholm Sweden Temple. She has served as a ward Young Women president three times, in a stake Young Women presidency twice, and taught early morning seminary for nine years. Sister Oscarson loves working with the youth of the Church. She doesn’t regret any of the sleep she missed while teaching seminary. She returned to school after 35 years and earned a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in British and American Literature." 

Sister Carol F. McConkie, First Counselor in the General YW,  She graduated from Arizona State University in English Education... and now has seven children and 24 grandchildren. Prior to her call as first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, Sister McConkie was a member of the Young Women general board. From 2005–2008, she served with her husband when he was mission president of the California San Jose Mission. She has also served in ward Primary and Relief Society presidencies and as ward Young Women president. If you have ever heard her speak, you have heard how educated Sister McConkie is.  I believe her talks sound like Psalms.  Her knowledge and faith is so evident and admirable. I love her favorite scripture as it relates to a woman's WORK.  “the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17)."

Sister Neill F. Marriott, Second Counselor in General YW, "attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, USA, where she earned a degree in English along with a teaching certificate. At the age of 22, she was converted and baptized into the Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. One year later she married David C. Marriott in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of 11 children and 26 grandchildren. At the time of her calling as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, she was serving on the Church Writing Committee. She has worked in many stake and ward callings and also served for three years with her husband when he was president of the Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos Mission." 

A formal group portrait of Sharon Eubank, Jean B. Bingham, and Reyna I. Aburto.
Relief Society

Sister Jean Bingham, General RS President, is "the mother of two daughters and was also foster parents to teens and children, many of whom have become part of their family. While her children were in their later school years, Sister Bingham returned to college. She received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in teaching from National Louis University in Illinois. She also received associate degrees from Brigham Young University and Elgin Community College. She taught English as a second language to elementary students at a private school, in addition to immigrants and others for nonprofit organizations. She also worked as a nurse’s aide. Sister Bingham worked as a volunteer aide in her children’s schools and served in numerous teaching and leadership positions with the women, children and youth in her local congregation, serving as president of the Primary and Young Women and as counselor in the Relief Society. She taught teenagers in early-morning seminary for six years and served as a temple ordinance worker in the Chicago Illinois Temple."

Sister Sharon Eubank, General RS First Counselor, At the time of her call in April 2017, Sister Eubank was employed as the director of LDS Charities, the humanitarian organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and she continues in this role while serving in the Relief Society. She served as a full-time missionary for the Church in the Finland Helsinki Mission and received a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University. After graduation, she taught English as a second language in Japan, worked as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate and owned a retail education store in Provo, Utah.  Since 1998 she has been employed by the Church’s Welfare Department, helping establish LDS employment offices in Africa and Europe before directing the LDS Charities wheelchair initiative. In 2008, she was also asked to oversee humanitarian work in the Middle East as the regional director of LDS Charities. In 2011 she was named the director of LDS Charities worldwide. She believes serving others is “the very DNA of being a member of Christ’s Church” and the heart and soul of Relief Society.

Sister Reyna I. Aburto, General RS 2nd Counselor, "attended Universidad Centroamericana, where she studied industrial engineering for four years, and holds an AAS degree in computer science from Utah Valley University. She has worked in the language industry for more than 25 years, balancing work, family and Church responsibilities, and now owns a small translation business with her husband.

I do not know how to find research on the wife of every General Authority, but here are a few of the women I know of. (Many facts I found in an article by Breanna Olaveson, "12 Reasons to Love the Wives of Genereal Authorities, you can read it here.)

Sister Packer had 10 children and is an avid genealogist and historian. Taking classes from home, she received a Family History Certificate from BYU in 2012.

Sister Perry worked as a nurse before getting married.

"Wendy Watson Nelson was a professor of marriage and family therapy at BYU before her marriage to Elder Nelson. She is well-educated with degrees from four different colleges and universities, including a Ph.D. Sister Nelson is the author of several books on marriage and family topics, including “Rock Solid Relationships” and “What Would a Holy Woman Do?”

Deseret book has this biography of Sister Kristen M. Oaks"Kristen McMain Oaks has spent much of her life teaching. She earned a bachelor's degree in English, a master's degree in special education (both from the University of Utah), and a doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction from Brigham Young University. She was a former educational consultant in the publishing industry, instructing teachers and supervisors both nationally and internationally. She was also a Visiting Assistant Professor at BYU and served a full-time mission to Japan. After marrying Elder Dallin H. Oaks, she taught and trained auxiliaries in the Philippines for two years while he served as Area President. She currently serves on the board of trustees of the Deseret International Foundation and the Primary Children's Hospital and recently authored the book, A Single Voice. In addition to her love of teaching, she loves being a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and her husband reside in Utah."

Sister Jeanene Scott "was active in church and civic affairs. She served as president of the Senate Daughters in Washington, D.C., and as president of the American School Board in Cordoba, Argentina."

Sister Patricia Holland "studied at three different colleges after graduating from high school, including the Juilliard School. She was called to the Young Women general presidency in 1984, when her oldest child was 18 and while her husband served as president of Brigham Young University, which was an hour’s drive from Church offices in Salt Lake City. Fittingly, she later wrote about responding to chaos in a book, titled A Quiet Heart."

Sister Susan Kae Robinson Bednar "was an accomplished pianist in her youth, driving several miles for lessons in Rexburg or Idaho Falls, Idaho, from her native Star Valley, Wyoming. She participated in several competitions during that time and later taught piano lessons as an adult."

Here is a talk recently given by the wife of Elder Dale G Renlund, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles.


"Sister Renlund was a civil litigation attorney in Utah before her husband was called as a General Authority of the Church in 2009. Their first assignment took them to Africa for five years, where she said it was the first time in her adult life that she was not employed.  

“It took about six months for me to name what had happened to my life. I can only describe it as entering the witness protection program,” she said, explaining that people at home didn’t know where she really was and people in Africa didn’t know she had a past. “I had a new name. I practiced law using my maiden name, Ruth Lybbert; here I was Sister Renlund.”'

Righteous, Latter-day Saint female leaders are educated and hard-working.  These women serve in their homes and in their community.  They hold degrees.  They have careers.  They have children.  And, they are NOT the exception to a commandment, they are examples to the believers.

Righteous LDS women are educated, working mothers.

Our education does not have to come with degrees and our work does not have to be compensated financially, but we are certainly not breaking any commandment if we do hold degrees or are gainfully employed while we are wives and mothers.

I still consider myself a stay-at-home mother.

I worked for the Church as a full-time seminary teacher when I got pregnant with my first son, 18 years ago.  For 20 years I was a full-time mother who almost ALWAYS served outside of my home in numerous volunteer and leadership positions.  My children are the confident, educated, kind, compassionate children they are because I have taught them how to serve others.  I learned this example from watching other beautiful, powerful women.

Here is a part of my story I haven't told you.  As I wrestled with the decision whether or not to go back to school full-time this year I had convinced myself it was against church counsel and yet I felt so compelled that I was going to damn myself to hell by moving forward with my application.  I wrote a facebook message to my dear friend who is the daughter of a former General RS President and a mother of 9 children (whose youngest just entered kindergarten).  I told her that I was having a midlife crisis and feeling so strongly the desire and need to go back to grad school.  I said, "Help me!  I think I'm selling my birthright for a bowl of porridge."

She wrote back the most beautiful and soul-soothing note... "Hey, you're talking to the wrong person!  I spent the summer studying to be a financial planner and I am now licensed in securities and life insurance!  I work from 9-3 every day. I absolutely love it and feel completely energized every day.  It has made a huge difference for me and for our family.  So of course I say GO FOR IT! Times and seasons, baby! Your time to be pregnant is over. Your brain is craving a bit of a stretch!"

Oh how those three words "GO FOR IT!" have just sent peace and confidence into my soul.

I am not the advocate for working mothers.  I am not saying in this blog that LDS females have all been typical "working mothers." Most LDS mothers are stay-at-home moms, and that is because we listen to wise, prophetic counsel.  Children are our greatest work.  Mothers at home can teach lessons children can learn no other way.

But, I am saying to so many of you, serve more, love others more, learn more, lengthen your strides, un-circle your wagons, ask God what He wants you to do and then TRUST HIM.  This might mean you have another baby.  It might mean you take a class at the local university or it might mean you decide to home school a child.  God might call you to a calling you are so unsure how you will be able to do.  It might mean you support your husband and move to an unfamiliar state or choose to welcome a foster child into your home.  Trusting God will almost always cause you to stretch and grow.  Your path will not look like my path.  It might not be linear.  But, it will be beautiful.  Listen to the Spirit.  Counsel with your husband.  Pray, go to the temple, ask your mom or another trusted friend what they think.  Feel in your heart if your worries are peaceful concerns or just cluttered fear.  And then-- GO FOR IT!

Life is good.
Women are good.
God knows YOU, He is guiding you.  Follow Him and He will make you Fishers of Men.

He taketh the barren woman and maketh her a joyful mother of children.
Praise ye the Lord.
A painting by David Lindsley showing Christ sitting in the home of Mary and Martha, counseling with them.

July 21, 2017

Did God COMMAND Mothers to Stay Home With Their Children?

Image result for christ healing the blind lds
A response to a comment on my last two blogs:

Stephanie-  I love you, I love your comments, I love this discussion.  I think you are so good and brave to talk about issues that I have been pondering for months.  Thank you for your comments and your friendship.

Here is how I see it and how we disagree in our logic. 

I do not feel that it is a commandment for mothers to stay home with their children unless their husbands cannot provide the necessities of life.  I feel that is good, inspired, and very important prophetic counsel.  

We could have a great chat about what it means to break a commandment. 

In my opinion, when you break a commandment you are sinning.  You have done something contrary to the will of God and He expects you to REPENT.  

Did Christ “break a commandment” when he healed on the Sabbath day?  No.  He did do things different from traditionally viewed beliefs about how to keep the Sabbath day holy, but he did not do something contrary to God’s will.  In fact, had he NOT healed on Sunday, he would have been “breaking a commandment.”

We are often given contradictory counsel from prophets, counsel that is impossible to obey at the same time.  Evaluating our priorities at different times in our lives is one of life’s greatest challenges. For example, we have been counseled to do our family history and we are told numerous blessings that will come into our lives as we obey this counsel.  Mothers taking care of young children who are unable to devote time to family history are not “breaking a commandment”.  They are missing out of very real blessings that come from family history, but there may be a time and a stage when these blessings are more essential in their lives.  Discernment and prioritizing is not the same thing as sinning and breaking a commandment.   

Counsel, unlike commandments, change with time.  They are more relevant at different stages of life and there are times when counsel may not be applicable at all.  Is a single woman, who is unable to stay home with children BREAKING a commandment? Are mothers of grown children breaking a commandment when they go to work?  What exactly is the age that mother can leave home without breaking a commandment?  Why would God command someone to stay home with their children and then say it is okay for them to go to work if their husband is ill or dead?  Thou shalt not steal, unless you need food and then it is okay to steal.  No.  That doesn’t sound right because it isn’t right.  You can be a working mother and still be temple worthy.  You cannot be constantly breaking commandments and be worthy. 
Image result for christ healing the blind lds
I have known many women inspired to work (when they felt so guilty about it) and are surprised later in life when their husband dies and they can see how God prepared them for this situation. Did they break a commandment by working before the death of their husbands? No. 

I suppose we do read in scripture times when God does inspire people to break commandments.  But, I think it is more common for God to inspire people to KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS by making a choice that is contrary to tradition.

Prophets and apostles are called to ADMINISTER in the church and to counsel the Church as a whole. The Holy Ghost is meant to guide us in our individual lives to help us APPLY the gospel in our lives.

The commandments we have are to LOVE GOD, LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR. 
A woman, for example, called to serve in the General RS Presidency is called to "work" full-time.  Her family feels her loss.  This is not breaking a commandment, it is shifting priorities.  Sacrificing one good thing for another good thing, but there is no SIN here.

We are also counseled (or some may say commanded) to get out of debt.  Sometimes, we shift to focus on paying off debt.  Would God place someone in the position to choose to break one commandment to fulfill another commandment?  I don’t think so.  There is no sin in choosing what good thing to focus on.  I think Satan has great power over so many good people by continually whispering in their ears that they are “sinning” when they are just trying to be perfect in every aspect of the gospel and falling short.  To everything there is a season.

In life, we are commanded to personally discern between many good options.  I am not breaking a commandment by going to school.  I am discerning that it is better for me, my family, and my community, for me to go to school while my mother is home (during the summer) and while my children are gone at school (during the year).  I feel that I serve God better in my home, in church, and in my community by going to school this year.  I wholeheartedly sustain the prophetic counsel encouraging mothers to be home with their children, just as I wholeheartedly sustain counsel encouraging women to serve in the communities in which they live.  

There are so many instances in life where we discern and choose for ourselves how to obey prophetic counsel.  This is what we, as women, do!  The reason we need the gift of the Holy Ghost in our life is because we have so many wonderful, good opportunities that we need to choose for ourselves each day how to spend our time.  Eve had to choose, Rebecca had to choose, Mary had to choose, Emma had to choose, Mary Fielding had to choose, Nephi had to choose, Abraham had to choose.  Righteous women might have lives that don’t look pretty as they are making decisions that will change the eternal destiny of their families. 

Prophets, apostles, General RS, YW and Primary leaders have continually told us that our families should be our highest priorities.  They have promised GREAT blessings to women who choose to stay home with their children.  I don’t believe that these promises are tied to LOCATION as much as they are tied to PRIORITY.  Women who are home full-time can spend just as much time “away” from their families as women who work or go to school.  Women in the home can still put many things above their families in priority. I am certain that many women who choose to leave their children physically or emotionally while they are young, will come to regret their decision.    
As a mother who is going to school, I am not saying that I am an exception to any commandments.  I am saying that right now, my family will be MORE BLESSED by my education than they would be if I were at home.  My location has changed, my priorities and my righteousness hasn’t.  My heart is still turned towards my family, my God, and my covenants. 

In considering this option, my husband and I were SO grateful for the inspired counsel of prophets and apostles who we sustain.  I am not an exception to a commandment for mothers to stay home with their children.  I am REAPING THE REWARDS of trusting in that prophetic promise for 20 years.  Now, I am trusting in other prophetic promises.  Promises that if I follow the Spirit I will be directed, that if I keep the Sabbath Day holy I will be expanded, that if I listen to the counsel of my husband, my bishop, my stake president, my area authorities, I will not be led astray.  I am trusting the counsel that as we lose ourselves in the service of others we will find ourselves. I feel in my soul the prophetic warning from Elder Nelson who said, “In light of this celestial perspective, if you . . . cut short your education, you would not only disregard a divine decree but also abbreviate your own eternal potential”.  I am preparing to send out four missionaries in the next four years, by making choices that will bless our family financially.  I'm preparing to serve a mission with my husband later in life, financially and educationally. 

I think the reason it is dangerous to judge others based on perceived "commandments" is because you might end up condemning Christ for healing on Sunday or a Bishop for being gone from his family all Sunday by saying it is a commandment to "not work on Sunday".  Keeping the Sabbath Day holy might look as different in reality and application as the counsel that  "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nourishment and nurture of their children". 

It is not a sin for women to go to school.  It is not a sin for women to work.  We could be sinning at home or at work, if our hearts are set more on the honors of men than on the honor of God. 

I struggle daily to overcome my natural man and to avoid sin.  I repent each week for many, many sins.  But, as I walk out the door each morning with my husband, I feel the sweet assurance that I have been led to this place in my life.  I am keeping God’s commandments.  I am fulfilling my eternal role as a wife and a mother and a daughter of God.  I am not an exception to the rule.  I am an example of the believers.  

The opportunities that I have now are BECAUSE I follow prophetic counsel.

I hope every single one of my five daughters is blessed with the opportunity and chooses to stay at home with their children while they are young.  The positive impact of having a mother home full-time in my home for the past 20 years cannot be measured.  I talk of nurturing my children, I preach of nurturing my children, and I AM STILL nurturing my children.  I believe this counsel with ALL of my soul.  

During those years that they are home with their children, I hope they continue to learn and grow and serve.  I hope they listen to the voice of the Lord in their lives and learn to act upon promptings.  And then, if they call me someday and tell me that about an opportunity they have been given to learn more and serve more and bless their family in another way, I will rejoice with them and marvel that God's plan for our individual lives is magnificent.  Women who work are not sinning.  Women who stay home with their children are not more righteous.  Agency is a beautiful gift.  God has blessed us each with unique and glorious gifts.  He will use us to build the Kingdom of God on the Earth as we consecrate all of our time and talents for Him.  I am doing this with a conscience that is not only clear, but swelling with humility, wonder, and gratitude.

Life is good because God is good.
Image result for christ healing the blind lds

July 18, 2017

Why would a good mother leave her children to go to school?

Stephanie had a question for me in the comments section of my last post.  She said,

 I have loved your blog for years and have learned so much from you and enjoy your honest and unique perspective, even if I don't always share your opinions. I completely respect that you are trying to follow the Lord's will in your life and yet I can't help wondering why, after feeling so compelled to bring each of your children into the world, you would then choose to have someone else raise them in your place. I understand and believe in the value of education but don't think it is confined to an institution. I sincerely ask you to help me understand the trend I see in our church (I am also LDS) for women to leave their young children to go back to school or work. I so fiercely believe in the need for mothers to be home with and raise their children! In the spirit of love and the desire to understand the women around me who are making that decision, I really would love to hear more of your thoughts on the subject. I apologize for sounding (or even being a little) judgmental. I am so concerned for our nation, as a whole, though--where families are concerned--and feel that mothers can still be home and put their children first and also find ways to make an impact outside of the home. This is a tough issue, and I hope you don't regret your decision to blog about it! Hopefully this can be an opportunity for a great discussion. I think you're an amazing woman and appreciate that I feel like I can ask you hard questions and you (hopefully) won't take offense. :)

First, I want to say THANK YOU Stephanie for feeling like you could ask me this question.

I am a mother with a huge mother heart.  I am (or have always been) a stay-at-home mother who LOVES being home with my children.  I have eight children because I know there is no greater work.  There is no place on earth that I could have done more good, then right here, in my home, raising my family.  I believe this is truth.  Although a part of me has always dreamed of returning to school, I honestly never imagined I would leave my family.

When I began feeling prompted to look at Grad Schools it was really hard for me to do it.  I felt like I was selling my birthright for a bowl or porridge.  It was the weirdest feeling in the world to feel that leaving my family, even for school, was WRONG, and at the same time feeling strongly that God was prompting me to do that.  I felt similar to Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac.  My closest friends will tell you that I did not make the decision to go back to school lightly.

Not only did I feel that I needed to apply to Grad School, I started studying for the GRE when I had NO IDEA what I was going to study.  Ben is four.  Once I began to seriously consider going back to school, I decided I would wait one more year before starting a part-time program.  But, I continued to feel that I needed to act quickly and that I needed to do school this year.  

It wasn't until after I had applied and was accepted to a program (I had EVERY intention of postponing for one year) that my little town of Tully approved a preschool program that starts this Fall where Ben can go, for free, to the sweetest preschool ever.  This is in the same school that three of his sisters also attend and where he can get the speech services he needs.  It is not just a coincidence, it is providence.  Having my mom here with us this summer is also providence.  

I do know, without a doubt, that I have been led to this program, at this time.

I know that my mother is such a gift in my life.  She is a blessing to me and my children.  She is their grandmother, and she is home with them this summer (my classes go from 8 am to noon), but I am still raising my family.

I am not home raising my children full-time, like I have been for the past 20 years, but they are being raised by me.  They are doing so well. We all are.  A friend of mine said, what God says is right for one is right for all.  Not that the same thing is right for everyone, but that if God tells you to do something, and you obey, it will bless your whole family.  I am feeling this truth.

I honestly don't know why God wants me to go to this Grad School this year.
I don't know what my life is going to look like next year, five years from now, or ten years from now.
This is hard for me and so exciting.

I know that my husband feels strongly that our lives will be blessed because of this opportunity for me to go to school.  We pray about our life choices together and receive confirming and aligning witnesses.

He is the Bishop of our ward.  He is also a professor.  He knows the time and effort this program will take, even better than I do.  And, he's so, so excited for me to do this.  

My home functions well.  In the next four years, my four oldest will leave for missions or college. The older kids drive.  They are helpful with dishes and dinner and younger kids.  I know I still have younger children, but I'm at a different stage of life now.

In a way, this process has been a conversion for me.  
I'm not sure why God opened my heart and mind and poured into a testimony of the power of a mother in the home and then 20 years later, opened up my heart to pour in the idea that there are times and seasons.  He is showing me that we really can't judge the paths of those around us, because our paths are unique.  I'm also learning that you can place family first, you can even raise your children, even as you are called to work outside of your home.  

Adam and Eve labored together.  
Throughout history, women have always 'worked'.  
I don't believe prophets have counseled us against 'working' I believe they have counseled us against the love of money and material things.  I believe God will judge our priorities and our heart.  I'm not afraid of that judgement. I have held 'full-time' callings that took me away from my family for a time.
Serving the Lord best does not always mean that I am the one at home, cooking, cleaning, and caring for my children.  Sometimes, serving means being away for a time.  I felt that when I was in the hospital for months at a time.  I was not abandoning my role as a mother, I was fulfilling it.

Similarly, my education is not distracting me from my mission in life, it is another step in becoming the eternal mother that God is helping me to become.

I don't want young mothers to see me and use my story as an excuse to miss the refining, foundational,  creating years with their children.  I would not trade 20 years at home for anything in the world.  But, I'm at a different season in my life now.  Even with the exact same priorities, my life looks different.  

Sometimes I wonder if I should be so open with the struggle parts of my life.  You might feel so strongly in your soul that you don't need to go to school for an education, and you would be right.  That feeling might be burning inside of you, because YOUR time and season is at home.  

Getting pregnant with Ben was very, very hard for me.  I struggled for months with this decision.  And, in the end, Todd and I together, chose to have our eighth child.  We felt it was God's will and we knew it was our choice.  Similarly, choosing to apply to grad school after 20 years of being a stay-at-home mother was very, very hard for me to do.  I have no doubt that God led me down this path because I know it is not a path I would have chosen on my own.  I don't know why I am in school.  I don't know what I'm going to do after school.  

But, just studying for the GRE did something for my soul and my family.

My mind was foggy after Ben was born.  Having over 200 units of blood and many reconstructive surgeries, left me with a mind that was slower.  When I first took a GRE practice test, I got around 70th percentile for the qualitative and 0 as in Z-E-R-O on quantitative.  I could not answer ONE question.  I studied from a book, all of December.  My teenagers and even my elementary school kids, would sit around and help me with my math problems.  They could all do multiplication facts faster than I could.  My memory was awful. 

My teenage boys spent hours reminding me of geometry and algebra rules that I had long forgotten.  
Just one month later, I got 95th percentile in qualitative and around 45th percentile for qualitative the average in my program was 50th percentile.  It feels so good to stretch my brain.

My kids have been a very active part of my schooling.  They are so excited for me.  I write emails back and forth with Leah while I'm in school.  This is the first email she sent me...

Image may contain: text

Anna and Ellie help me pick out my outfits.  Anna made sure we took a first day of school picture.  She said, "Mom, you always tell us how smart you were when you were in school.  Now we can see for ourselves how true that really is."  I am still managing my home.

On my first day home from school, we went around the table sharing two good and one bad.  Lily said, "I can't decide what my favorite part of today was.  It's between getting to go to the library, and seeing how happy mom was when she came home from school."

Again, I don't know why I'm in school right now.
I chose this.  
I really, really love it and I want to be here, but I didn't really believe it was "right" to want to do this.  
Can a mother of 8 still be a good mother to good children while she is at school (or working) outside the home?
Can a mother of 8 go to school full-time and still "raise her children"? 
I hope so.

We judge each other every day.  I think it's good to use discernment in our lives.
I don't think my life is more right than your life.  
When you read my story, I hope you know that I am, and will always be a mother.  
I am raising my children.
I am also going to school, full-time, in the top MPA program in the US.
It's hard and it is really, really, fun.

Today, Ben stood by me, telling me about the magna-blocks homes he had built for his trains.  I looked into his eyes and I knew, again, with my whole soul, that the best thing I ever did as a MOTHER was to choose not to abort that life-threatening, high-risk pregnancy.  The best thing I ever gave my children was that youngest brother, even though that choice made it so that I was away from them for over a year in a hospital bed.  So many people, in my family and on the internet, did not agree with my decision.  They felt that my decision to have Ben was putting my other children at risk.  I understand their perspective.  Maybe, another mother would have made a different choice.  Maybe another good mother would make a different choice.

Right now, I am spending one year in a graduate program.  My children will be well cared for.  My heart will be in my home.  I am ridiculously excited for this program and I'm also somewhat nervous.  I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to be a mom and a student at the same time, but I trust that my Father in Heaven will help me to mother his children.  

Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
I am a mother of 8 and I am in Grad School.  
I'm really grateful for this opportunity.  
It is a blessing for me and my family.
(Hopefully Grad School will teach me to be a little more concise.)

Life is good.

A Mormon Mother of 8 In Grad School

Me, on my first day of school- Summer 2017

I have been hesitant to blog these last few months.
For years, I have shared my journey of motherhood.  Blogging has been my daily journal, my therapy, and my calling.  It is natural for me to share about my life journey, I'm not sure why.  But, when I began considering grad school, I pulled away.  I really, really don't want to be the "mom who left home".  Choosing to go back to school was a very hard, very prayerful decision for me to make.  I don't think this decision is right for everyone and yet, I know this was right for me and my family at this time.

Before I gave birth to Ben, my soul marched bravely towards what I knew was my life purpose.  I felt with every fiber of my being that there were children waiting to come to my family.  This feeling was so strong that I knew if I did not have one more child I would regret it eternally.  My family is my greatest gift and my great work.  

Because I have to leave soon for school, I cannot take the time to explain how I ended up in graduate school full-time this summer.  I will tell you that choosing to go back to school after a 20 year academic hiatus was not my idea, but absolutely fills my soul with gratitude and wonder.  I feel God guiding and directing my path and I honestly don't know where we are going.  "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures."
Image result for the lord is my shepherd
 Last year, I didn't know what an MPA was.  This year, I am sitting in classes that speak to my soul.  I had no idea that I would LOVE to use Excel, that I would find budgets interesting, that my mind (still foggy from not-so-recent trauma) would expand and stretch as I studied for the GRE and learned terms and processes so far from my life as a stay-at-home mother.  I feel God guiding me and teaching me and preparing me for a future that I know now of.

What am I going to school for?

Well, I'm not sure.
I have been accepted to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.  I am currently in a one year Master's program, but am considering doing two masters in two years and adding International Relations.

Ben will start preschool full-time in the Fall, and my mother is living with us to help care for my kids while I am away.  The Professor (my husband) is more excited about me going to school than I am.  Without his faith, inspiration, encouragement, and the flexibility of his career, there is NO WAY I would have ended up here.

I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  I do know that I love working with non-profit's that I believe in.  I also LOVE humanitarian aid.  My husband does research with 3rd world countries and I think his education, paired with mine, will make us great humanitarian aid missionaries someday.  Truthfully, I think we would have been great humanitarian aid missionaries even if I didn't have a degree.  I'm not sure why I find myself sitting here, in the top MPA program in the nation.  But, I believe we are here in New York so that I can attend this program.

One quick story I want to record before I run out the door.

For years, I have testified to my husband and children, about the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy.  I have encouraged them not to do school work on Sunday and reminded them the blessings that would come as they gave their minds a day of rest.

Last Friday, I was given a project to do and was told to "start early because it will take you two full days of work".  On Saturday, my son Jakob went through the temple for the first time (more about that tomorrow).  I worked on my project in the morning and got to a point where all of my Excel equations seemed to be giving me inaccurate data.  I had to stop and leave for the temple and didn't get home until late Saturday night.

Sunday I spent with my family and worried a bit about my  project.  I knew I wasn't just in a little bit of trouble, I honestly didn't know if I had the intelligence to do what I needed to do.
Monday morning, I woke up early (I always wake up early these days).  And, I knew what I needed to do.

I had been trying to figure out one part of my project using yearly numbers (and it should have worked that way), but the Spirit whispered for me to figure out the number BY MONTH.  After class, I sat at my computer and fixed my equations.  Everything worked.  I was able to finish almost my whole assignment in a few hours.  There is no doubt at all in my mind that Heavenly Father allowed me to struggle through the weekend so I would remember to trust Him.

God is real.
You might be struggling with Day Care Budgets in Excel, or a baby that won't sleep through the night.  "As thy days may demand so thy succor shall be."  I know this is true.

I don't really like not knowing where my life is heading right now.  But, I know God.  I trust Him.

I hope there is still purpose in me writing this little blog.

I don't believe Mothers need to go to school to change the world and yet here I am.

This recent BYU Devotional spoke to my soul.  In fact, I believe it was written just for me.
You can read it if you'd like.

"Women and Education: A Future Only God Could See For You." by Eva Whitesman and Associate Professor, BYU Marriot School of Business.

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
Your mind is precious! It is sacred. Therefore, the education of one’s mind is also sacred. Indeed, education is a religious responsibility. . . .
. . . In light of this celestial perspective, if you . . . cut short your education, you would not only disregard a divine decree but also abbreviate your own eternal potential.

President Henry B. Eyring said, “Part of the tragedy you must avoid is to discover too late that you missed an opportunity to prepare for a future only God could see for you.”
To this, President Nelson added:
We . . . need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without . . . women who can speak with the power and authority of God! . . 
. . . I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. . . . As you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!17
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson said:
All women need to see themselves as essential ­participants in the work of the priesthood. . . . The kingdom of God cannot function unless we rise up and fulfill our duties with faith. Sometimes we just need to have a greater vision of what is possible.18
Sisters, never question the value of your education or wonder whether you will have an opportunity to learn and use the knowledge you have gained. God knows you, and even though you may not yet know His plans, He knows the end from the beginning. He is preparing and qualifying you for the work He wants you to do. He will continually guide you to ways in which your knowledge and skills can be of benefit to yourself, your family, your community, and His kingdom.

Have a great day friends.
I miss you.
I love you.
I know life is good, God is good, and He is guiding YOUR path.
Trust Him and trust you.

July 14, 2017

Huffington Post-UK Shows My MUMBOD

jenifer moss

So, an article I wrote was published in the Huffington Post-UK for a column they are doing celebrating "MUMBODS".  My aunt read a similar article and sent me a note encouraging me to tell my story. I say down for an hour, typed up a small email, and sent it off.  They wrote back asking me to make it longer and wanting to include pictures and then I got an email saying I was published and on the front page.

I loved that my article was right next to an article about the benefits to sleeping naked.  Perhaps we could have linked MUM BODS to naked sleeping in some way?

Anyway, here is the link if you would like to read it.


I'm certain there are still some people in the world who haven't seen my cute, scarred tummy.

I hope you are well, my long lost blog friends.

I miss you.

I miss blogging.

I am in graduate school full-time and I am loving it.

Life is good!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...