Tuesday, December 22, 2009
But it was a girl.
I can be honest when I say that there was not an ounce, not even a smidge, of any kind of disappointment in that first moment or minutes or days or weeks or the past 15+ months. There was shock and suprise. There was "are you SURE?!?". There was, "then where's the boy we KNEW we were having?". "Is there someone else in there??". And another, "are you SURE?"
The doctor was sure. It was a girl.
And she was ours right from the start. I had prepared myself mentally to move into a "mom of boys" mode and all that it brought with it ~ trucks and jeans and dirt and more dirt. Oh and did I mention dirt? I thought I was done with frills and dresses and hairdos and pink, pink and more pink. I felt lucky that I would be having each of these in their turn. We had three girls first. Then we'd have two boys. I would have had the chance to devote myself to little girls and then to little boys.
The fact that it didn't work out like I thought it would doesn't make me less lucky. Now that we have Emily, I think we're even more lucky, because we have her. She, who is the baby we never knew we would get; the baby we never got to know we wanted until she came.
Sunday in church Kurt had Emily standing on his lap and she was making funny faces to the people sitting behind us. She was squinting her eyes, as if by doing so she could disappear. She'd open her eyes with surprise, and people would laugh. Rinse, lather, repeat.
It was in one of those moments that I had a feeling of such mom-ness come over me: where would our family be without her? It would be incomplete, even though we might not know it (though a part of me knows we would know). We would have missed on all that is Emily ~ from her skinny chickenness as an infant, to her emerging words, her Schmemily Meeman moments (this is her alter ego and what we call her when she has seemed to have turned to the dark side).
It was a flood of thought and emotion that came more quickly than I can type them or even be able to sort them all out.
Later our YW President gave an incredible Christmas Lesson to all of our YW. She related to the girls how our Heavenly Father is literally the father of Jesus Christ, that He (Jesus) is divine, and that because of His divinity he was able to overcome not only physical death but spiritual death for all of us. She described the Atonement and talked about how our behavior can sometimes remove us from hearing and being close to Him. That by prayer and scripture study and repentance and church attendance we can better bring ourselves back into line with Him.
As I listened I thought about how we are all children of our Heavenly Father. And, as we sometimes compare our roles as parents to Heavenly Father's roll, in order to help us understand, even a little, the love he has for us, I thought again about my feelings for Emily, and for each of our children. And I thought about how our family would be missing something if Emily, or any of them, weren't there.
I thought about how it's the same for Heavenly Father's family. He loves each one of us, sent His Son for each of us, and His family would be missing something if we weren't back with Him someday. He would miss us, just like we would miss any of our children.
He is our Father, and we are all His children.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I had that feeling of great potential and excitement as I got started on the 1st of November. I decided to print each talk and keep it in a 3-ring binder so as not to mark up and muck up our family copy of November's Ensign. Doing so has also given me ample space to write notes and impressions as I've read. Love that!
The first big thing that struck me, though it took a couple of days to do so, was the inspired order in which the talks are presented. The very first talk, "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance" by Elder Scott was about gaining the ability to recognize the Spirit in our lives. That was followed by Sister Matsumori's talk, "Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit". Based on this order, the principle that we first must learn for ourselves before we can share with others is emphasized. Amazing!
The final speaker on Saturday morning was President Uchtdorf. His talk was entitled, "The Love of God". He spoke about our love for God being the factor that most completely rules our behavior. It was a great way to end that first session.
The first speaker of the Saturday afternoon session was, after the sustaining of church officers took place, Elder Oaks. The title of his talk was, "Love and Law". Here we heard about God's love for us (in contrast to our love for Him in President Uchtdorf's talk), and how it balances perfectly with his perfect adherance to the laws of the Gospel. These two talks, technically in succession, were again evidence of the inspiration each speaker received as they prepared to present their talks.
Now I am reading Sunday Afternoon's talks, and just re-read Elder Hollands powerful (whoa!) words regarding his testimony of the Book of Mormon. We were driving home from UT and had Conference on the radio and I remember feeling each of his words penetrate my spirit. I knew, because of the way I felt, that he was speaking the truth. I knew that he spoke with all the energies of his soul because he too knew what he was saying was true.
I've been glad to re-read the talks that came after Elder Holland's, because I remember feeling badly for whoever spoke next. I sat through the next few speakers still recovering from Elder Holland's direct and powerful testimony.
Re-reading their words (Elder Cook's talk on Stewardship and Elder Brent Nielson's talk on missionary work) now have been edifying parts to my days.
My next goal is to go back through what I've read and study the footnotes and write more completely about the impressions I receive. Maybe some of that will show up here. Stephanie over at Diapers and Divinity is having some fabulous conversations on various conference addresses. They, along with her other amazing posts, have been great to read.
I know Krista would love to have anyone join her Smile Challenge. Along with a daily conference talk, participators are reading a chapter in the Book of Mormon, along with saying their morning and evening prayers. Originally started for her YW, it's an awesome way to lift your day.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I know that our Father in Heaven has blessings for us that are ours for the taking if only we are obedient to His commandments and are willing to follow his principles, to keep our covenants and to live His doctrine. There are, in fact, blessings that can be earned. And there's a big bucket (how I picture it, anyway) with our name on it, ready to be poured out into our lives. But we have to do our part.
Then there's the blessing of Salvation, and that is something that we cannot earn. It is a gift, and you can't earn a gift. This is where the delicate balance between doing all we can and the infinite grace of God come together. Even doing EVERYTHING, we still would fall short. And really, who can do EVERYTHING? Though surely as a girl, not for the lack of trying!
The gift of exaltation cannot be earned, though doing our part now does mean that we will become more pure, that we will become more like Him. We will be more ready to accept His gift as it was intended to be given.
Friday, April 24, 2009
In the set that are aimed at strengthening faith, Brother Bytheway relates a thought from Jeffrey R. Holland who counsels that the scripture that admonishes us to "not let our hearts be troubled..." (John 14:27) is a commandment.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
As I was going to bed Sunday night my mind did the "eleven years ago today...." one more time. I would go to bed and get a good night's sleep, but eleven years ago that was not the case.
At 1:30am we got home again (finally finding the courage to come home) to see her things on my kitchen table. I found a box right away and put those things in it ~ her new Mary Kay purchases, some papers I think. I don't know why I needed to put them away so fast, but a part of me that I am not proud of was glad to finally have my table back. We'd battled about her putting her things somewhere else. I'd even made a spot on a shelf nearby, but she didn't want to move anything.
As I was doing my hair this morning, I was trying to remember the pain I felt on Sunday. This Sunday ~ two days ago. And I couldn't remember it. I searched for those feelings because I felt that writing about them would help, and I wanted to put some words to them so I could prepare for what I would write.
But I still couldn't remember them.
In the scriptures we know that the Lord eases the burdens of those who call up Him. The people of Alma were persecuted to the point that Amulon set guards around them to prevent them from praying publicly. Mosiah 24:12 reads, 'And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.'
The Lord heard the people of Alma as they poured out their hearts to Him. The Lord heard me as I poured my heart out to Him, confessing my shortcomings and telling him of the sadness and ache I felt in missing my mom on this anniversary of her death.
Verse 13: 'And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covnant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.' READ: "Go In Peace".
Not only does the Lord hear the cries of the people of Alma, but he promises them that everything will be alright.
Verse 14: 'And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.'
I can testify that this is true. The Lord does hear our prayers, he does visit us in our afflictions. Today I know that he can ease our budens so that we might not be able to feel them upon our backs. I know this because today I cannot feel any part of the pain and the ache I felt on Sunday.
Verse 14 is in the future tense, still something the Lord is going to do. Verse 15 tells us He follows through on His promise: 'And now it came to pass that the budens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their budens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.'
I know that the Lord loves us. Loves me. He knows who I am. He knows what I need and as I allow Him to guide me, he has blessings to bestow. My blessing today is not being able to remember.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
In Gospel Doctrine today, the question was asked, "why don't we have special Sunrise Services, or change our schedules for Easter Sunday"? The answer was immediately in my mind, and I raised my hand. I commented that in our church we focus on the Savior's life and his atonement and his resurrection on a regular basis, so the need to set aside one day is not as great as for those who might only think about these things once a year (my friend Jane said that when she was growing up, they called themselves "Creaster's" ~ they went to church on Christmas and Easter).
I woke up this morning with the same awareness the anticipation for this day has had: that it would mark the 11th anniversary of the death of my mother, though this is the first time, because of Leap Year, that April 12th is on Easter Sunday again. I've known that today would come for probably six years. One of the downsides to paying attention to dates like I do...
It's such a strange irony that the day my mom died is celebrated for the very reason I know I'll have her back someday.
I have been weighed down with what feels like an awful lot of failure these past several days ~ failing at an exercise program that has completely gone by the wayside, not to mention any accompanying weight loss; failing at any sort of discipline whether spiritual or in the schedule of activity in maintaining my home; and a terrified feeling that the new business we are trying to get off the ground and all the dreams we're making with it's success, will only fail.
I've also felt a nearly unbearable tiredness in my own every day battles ~ taking great care of two small children and not having slept more than a few hours at a time in nearly eight months; the financial juggle we've been dealing with the last two years; and again being constant in the maintinance of my home.
However, in the midst of my sorrow and frustration over my weaknesses and through the thickness of the haze of tiredness , there has been that ever-present feeling of my Heavenly Father's love for me. I know he wants me to come to Him. I know he wants me to succeed. He did NOT send me here to fail in my mission.
As I went to Him this morning it was the words to a song that came to my mind. There has been only one other time that I remember having a song answer my prayer, but what a powerful reminder and /or comfort these words have brought.
I heard this morning the words, "Go In Peace".
These were the words the Savior said to the woman of questionable morality. She knew her sins were many and sings of the weight that is lifted off of her when He sees good in her and tells her to "go in peace."
What a sigh of calm and comfort I felt as these words washed over me and my mind began to chew on them.
Peace brings to mind thoughts on what it is exactly, and what it is not. The opposite of peace is fear. Fear is not something the Lord instills, rather that is from the adversary. My grandma Ruby marked all of the "fear not" and "fear thou not" phrases in her bible, and they are many. Constantly the Lord tells us to be not afraid. "Be not afraid, only believe" he says in the New Testament. Not hard to remember, but easy to forget when we get caught up and lose perspective a bit.
It is not my morality that is in question, but those words to "go in peace" have brought great comfort to me today.
How grateful I am that the Savior's atonement means that I can overcome my weaknesses. How wonderful to know that because the Savior took up his mortal body into immortality, I will see again those whom I love but whose time on the earth has already ended.
With peace comes a renewed sense of determination, and a willingness to act in faith, even when I'm not sure of the path ahead, or really feel up to the challenge walking that path might bring. Thank goodness for Alma 32 that describes the power in exercising even a tiny bit of faith.
I have a desire to gain in knowlegde; to draw closer to my Heavenly Father; to reap the benefits of teaching my children well and being an example in word and deed. I have a desire to serve, to be a useful tool for Him. "when ye are in the service of your fellow being, ye are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17). I know that service is the purpose to life.
Tonight I am rejuvenated in spirit. Willing to exercise that portion of faith so that I might fulfill the mission I am on the earth to accomplish. Have these challenges gone away? No. But with an improved sense of self and a knowledge that I do not have to do any of this alone, I will begin.
So tonight, I "Go In Peace".
Thursday, April 9, 2009
My good friend Jessica had the most beautiful writing. I was always a little bit jealous! I wanted to have writing just like hers.
One of the things Jessica always used was a newly sharpened pencil. She was at the sharpener a lot! But the results were impressive. Her schoolwork, even the notes we passed, were like art.
Now I think I should admit a few things. First, I was not a part of Jessica's "sharpened pencil" club. I was more comfortable with a tip that was a little worn down. And all my life I had compliments on my handwriting. I knew it looked pretty good. I could have been pretty happy with myself.
But something just bugged me about Jessica's writing. Not so much that she was better than me, but that just maybe I could be better.
That maybe Jessica knew something that gave her the edge.
So one day I tried it. I sharpened my pencil. I mean really sharpened it. Guess what happened? My pretty good writing became lovely too. Suddenly that sharp point in my hand gave me confidence and pride like I'd mever felt before. My writing was elegant ~ yay! What a feeling!!
But some time went by and I found that I was back to just pretty good. Argh! Why? How did this happen? I had sharpened and things were great. For a while. I thought that having known what it's like to write with a pencil that was really sharp, I'd just adjust and still be great when the point wore down. But what had I done wrong?
Then I understood.
My trip to the sharpener was a one-time event, but it needed to be a regular one!
I realized that Jessica's writing was always lovely because she made her trips to the sharpener often.
I have to say that my decline to "pretty good" again wasn't instant. It happened slowly and so I really didn't notice right away the effects that the dullness of my pencil was having. After all, my writing had always been pretty good. I could have been satisfied with what I had. But Jessica's writing was still beautiful and now I had tasted that, too. And I wanted it all back.
So I made the trip back to the sharpener, and I sharpened my pencil.
It's been a long time since I started sharpening my pencil regularly. Admittedly, I'm not always vigilent/diligent enough and my pencil gets a little dull. But I'm getting better at paying attention to the point of my pencil, and I do make more regular and frequent trips to the sharpener. My writing? It's better, but not in the way I thought I wanted it to be better back when I was in classes with Jessica. It seems that my sharpening has given me writing I would/could not have anticipated.
The other thing I remember about Jessica's writing was how neat and clean her papers looked, even when I know she'd made mistakes and had to make corrections and revisions.
Jessica was a good eraser! I know that might sound silly ~ to compliment someone on their erasing skills ~ but you would have too if you'd seen the crisp, neatness of Jessica's work.
Notice I didn't say perfection.
Perfect would have meant never making any mistakes.
Jessica's papers I think were even more attractive because of the effort she made in erasing her mistakes. To the point that usually you'd never know she'd made them. Jessica put the same amount of effort into erasing that she did in getting to the sharpener regularly.
I continue to learn lessons as I strive to keep my pencil sharp.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
The question, "what is the purpose to life?" popped into my mind... it was something I'd thought consciously about not long before, and here was the question again.
This time though the answer came very clearly: TO SERVE.
Quickly my mind raced through analyzing if this was really the right answer: Education? yes. Job? yes. Calling at church? yes. Exercising and eating right? yes, because being healthy means you can do more for others. Marriage? of course. Parenthood? absolutely.
So the question that so many seem to trip on, seem to wonder about, has a simple answer: The purpose to life is to serve.
With that "flaw", once I make up my mind, it's not likely to change which makes me pretty loyal. All for better or for worse....
I am reminded that the Lord is also a planner. Not only does He have a Plan, THE Plan, but he's also outlined his Plan, and it's summarized in Moses 1:39 ~ "for this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man". Everything is to accomplish this end.
Long ago I read something by Stephen Covey who was talking a bit about planning... he described the time he and his soon-to-be wife sat in a park under a tree and talked about the life they wanted to have. They talked about their home and their future children. How they would handle different situations and what they wanted things to be like.
I loved this, and it made me ache a bit that I hadn't thought of doing this. I was SO clueless regarding home and marriage and family. So very VERY clueless.
Now, don't get me wrong ~ we're doing a pretty fine job with things overall, but deciding along the way or in the middle of a tough situation is tougher than it would be if we already knew, if we had already decided.
If we would have established "no matter whats" beforehand, and not just stumble upon then along the way.... that would have been better I think.
Thankfully, the Lord is merciful, our kids are good people and we've taken some time more recently to plan. Experience is a great teacher, and I am a believer of "when you know better you do better". Yes!