Thursday, October 27, 2011

Showing Up for the Little Things

photo source

I am not a big fan of Halloween.  For the most part, I tolerate it.  It is cute, it is fun (I guess), but my happiest moment is November 1st-because it is O V E R! 

This year it is especially bad.  My husband usually out-trumps me in hating Halloween.  I think I have out-trumped him this year. 

The kids, of coarse, LOVE I try to get in the mood to do all the [fun] traditions.

Today was the pumpkin carving contest at school.  They have been sending notices home for about 3 weeks, gearing us all up for it.  For the most part, I enjoy decorating pumpkins for the contest. Sometimes, I feel artsy-craftsy, and have fun trying to think of fun things to create out of the pumpkins. 

We have only won once, and that was the year we turned the pumpkin in to Cinderella's stagecoach.  We had Prince Charming driving the horse drawn carriage, as well as Barbie/Cinderella sitting inside, waving out the window. We  spray painted the pumpkin with gold shimmery glitter-the whole works. It was fun.

Today,  I feel I gave birth to 2 pumpkins.  I refer to it that way because of how hard it was and how much I wanted to be somewhere else doing anything different. Yesterday I got hit hard and fast with strep throat and  carving pumpkins was the LAST thing I wanted to do this morning.  There was  no artsy-craftsy creative juices flowing at all. My first and only thought was how can I pull this off with the smallest amount of effort?

 Our first pumpkin was in the shape of an apple, so  I let daughter # 7 paint it RED.  She loved every second of it.  We cut a hole, made The Hungry Little Caterpillar out of pipe-cleaners and pom-pom balls and called it done.  It sounds plain, and it was, but it did turn out rather cute.

Of coarse daughter #8, wanted me to C-A-R-V-E her pumpkin.  She didn't want [me] to take the easy way out. We have a book with pumpkin carving patterns, and I asked her to pick one...hoping she would pick the EASY one.  No, she picks the black-widow spider. Besides the fact that  I HATE spiders, this was the most difficult pattern in the book. 

I gave it my best effort, trying to carve the silly spider without cutting all the legs off in the wrong places.    The final product was good, and we were all proud when it was done. 

WHY do we do these crazy things we hate would rather not do, for these silly traditions? 

What motivates me or anyone else out there to decorate 2 pumpkins at 6:30 in the morning?

I guess for me, I knew my girls had their hearts set on it, and were counting on me.  The fact that I was not feeling well, was tired, didn't want to be there, didn't cross their radar screen.

In all reality, it wasn't that big of a deal.  We all lived through it, and I felt good that I did something that mattered to my children, and my girls were proud to carry their pumpkins into school and to be apart of something bigger than themselves, and ultra-important in their eyes.

  I was impressed with how organized the PTA was when we arrived.  They even gave each participant a prize.  So now, no matter what,  each child feels important and that they have won.

It is so crucial that we as parents "step- up" and try our hardest to "show-up" to those little things that matter in the lives of our children. 
They are counting on us.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gospel Outcomes

Have you noticed your family or personal scripture study starting to slip?

I know we have our moments.  Can I tell the difference?  Definitely yes.   

I bumped into a very interesting "study" that has made a difference in my motivation to read and have our family read. 

 It is found in the book Searching the Scriptures by Gene R. Cook. 

  -The Study-

Part 1:  Several years ago the Church did a study in which they interviewed hundreds of young men (also could work and be applied to young women) to discover:

 What determines their faithfulness in the gospel?
This is the list that the parents came up with which they named:
  "Gospel Outcomes"
This is what they most wanted for their boys (I apply this to the girls as well) 
1. Ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood
2. Receive temple endowment
3. Serve a full-time Mission
4. Marry in the temple
[What does your list look like?]

Having young men who honor their priesthood, dress like they honor their priesthood, and are anxiously looking forward to holding the Melchizedek Priesthood is very important to young women who are also seeking these blessings. 

Part 2:  The boys were then grouped into two obvious categories...

1. Those who received these gospel outcomes &
2. Those who didn't

What made the difference?  Why did the boys in one category have the gospel outcomes their parents desired and the boys in the other category didn't?

What was the role of seminary? Peers? Church leaders? Family?

"The answer was strikingly simple that many struggled to comprehend it... Media Library

Personal prayer and personal scripture study"

"Could it be that simple?
...That the young men and young women who pray and read their scriptures will have the gospel outcomes we all desire.
I believe in large measure that is so." 

Part 3Next question we all have as parents...
How do we get our kids to pray and  study the scriptures?

3 answers came back that they categorized under

Family Worship of God
"1. Have family prayer.  Show us a family that is having family prayer, and we'll show you a boy who is learning how to have his personal prayers.

2. Have family scripture study and Family Home Evening Show us a family that's regularly reading the scriptures together, and we'll show you a boy who's reading the scriptures on his own.

3. Teach and exemplify the Lord's values.  Somehow the values of the Lord have to transfer from one generation, the adults, to the young people.  The families that learn to do this are those that have gospel outcomes."
"The church helps and supports parents in their teaching, but the real battle is won in the home--the home is what asserts the greatest influence on our youth"
How important is family scripture reading?
How important is family prayer? 
 How important is the teaching and example of parents? 

They are vital

If we are consistent in these things, our children will be much more likely to read scriptures and to pray on their own-and when they do that they will be much more likely to receive their temple endowments, go on missions Media Library

and be married in the temple"
 "A promise from the Lord"

"If we will begin or continue to faithfully read the scriptures as a family, the Lord will deliver us from bondage--it may not happen immediately, but in time, the Lord will answer our prayers."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Daughter Journals

The journals I bought for my Daughter Journals
I have been writing in a journal since I was 8 years old

It is fun and embarrassing to go back and look at my crazy handwriting and laugh at the ridiculous things I wrote about. 

I have completely forgotten most of the things I journaled about way back then--and actually even 5 years ago.  

I have gone to my journals many times to look up information or details of something I have forgotten about. It has been really nice to have them.

The other day I actually caught my girls laughing hysterically with one of my journals in their hand.
It was one of those moments you think about happening when you are keeping a  journal, and you kind of hope doesn't happen.

The idea of writing a journal for my children came from Linda Eyre. I loved that idea...especially since I already enjoyed journaling.

I went out and bought 5 small-sized, hard-backed journals and started journaling my daughters lives. {see the above picture}

Basically, you start off writing about the day they were born, or even before that--feelings and thoughts you had while you were expecting them.  When I was pregnant, I had a lot of feelings going on about this child who was joining our family.  

I began this journey when I had 5 children, so I had some catch up. But if you don't want to do catch up, I would at least journal all your memories of their birth, then go from there.

Then, write all those cute things they do or funny things they say or interesting things they have done.  Keep it simple and journal about mundane things of their lives-from your perspective as their mother.  Keep it upbeat and positive.  Several of my journal entries  are just letters I write to them on that particular day-kind of my thoughts and feelings.

How often to write?  It is definitely not a daily or even weekly journal for me. I have had my times of writing very regularly, and times of so much business, they sat on the shelf.  I figure, this is one of those choice things I am doing for my children which will make a mark and difference in their lives, so I try to write in it monthly....something they said or what they are going through right now, or special feelings I feel for them as a mother. 

As I write, it helps me keep their lives in the proper perspective. To know that everything they are and whatever they are going through is unique to who they are and they are truly daughters of God, and He has a purpose for their lives. It reminds me that I am just here to guide them through it all.

One last note: Daughter Journals are off -limits for my girls  until they are married or have grown up and left the house for good.  I plan on giving it to them at that time. They all know I am doing this, and are already wringing their hands, anxious to have them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Waiting on the Lord Media Library
I love Elder Hales and what a GREAT living example of humility, endurance, long-suffering, and  Waiting on the Lord-that he emulated while giving this talk.  I have been contemplating  his message and this idea/thought of Waiting on the Lord ever since...

I think back immediately to the time when our 5th daughter, Alyssa,  was born with a cleft lip and  palate.

We first learned of her cleft lip at birth.   I had an on-going feeling during my pregnancy with her that something was not right. A feeling mothers cannot ignore, although we might want to.  I honestly thought of anything and everything it could be, and mentally prepared myself for many possible scenarios. 

 Having a child with a  cleft lip never crossed my mind because I thought they were only hereditary.   The many ultra-sounds we had during the pregnancy only showed the perfect side of her face, so her cute little cleft lip did not show itself until her birth.

Picture of my daughter Alyssa at 3 months old
The birth itself was quite dramatic, and I 'll save you the  details, but we ended up having an emergency C-Section delivery. It was so emergency my husband was not even allowed in.  The doctors and nurses worked quickly to deliver our baby daughter. When she was born, the Dr. leaned over the blue screen which blocked me from viewing my own C-section surgery, and told me in a careful way, that my baby had a cleft lip. I remember saying "okay", but felt shock, numb, guilt, and devastated at not having a perfect baby. 
How did this happen?        What do we do now?     How is this going to change our lives ?    
Having a child with a cleft lip was so foreign to us.  The doctor was kind and sympathetic and gave us many referrals and information on how to feed a cleft lip baby and all about the many  surgeries she would need.

However, from the moment Alyssa was born, I could literally feel the strength of this tiny infant.  I did not feel sadness, or pity for me or her.   I would look into her eyes and there was a sense of recognition that we had known each other once before and that everything was going to fine.  I could  feel she knew something that I hadn't come to yet.   I had no doubt that she was very aware. We were not as strong as she was.

The first thing we did   was to turn this trial over to the Lord  and began waiting on Him, although not so patiently at first.  It was kind of a desperate needing more than faith.  I learned that desperation is not the same thing as faith.

At 6 weeks old we scheduled her first surgery for her cleft lip at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was February 25th, 1998.  It also happened to be the date  of the worst snow storm Salt Lake had seen in 20 years. We lived 3  hours away and drove out the day before and stayed with an aunt who lived a short distance from the hospital.

As part of the  preparation for surgery, Alyssa had to arrive fasting.  She could have water.  Keep in mind...she is 6 weeks old!    I was a nervous wreck with 6 week old fasting baby.  On top of that, because of the snow storm, the 15  minutes drive to the hospital, turned into 45  minutes of white- knuckle driving. The entire city of Salt Lake looked like a parking lot instead of a road. It was a crazy day to be on the roads driving, and we had precious cargo on-board, on a serious top-secret mission. That is how  critical this day felt for us. No snow storm, nor anything was stopping us from getting to the hospital for our daughter.  It was our turn to have a perfect baby. 

We finally showed up at the hospital, and Alyssa did amazingly well with the fasting. Once again. she was stronger in body and spirit than her parents. Miracles were on our side. However, we were already emotionally worn out, and wanting this surgery desperately for our daughter.  RIGHT NOW was how we felt inside.  Our situation was more unique, more critical, more needy than any other patient there....or so we felt. We were very self-absorbed. They honestly, couldn't perform this magic  fast enough.

One of the initial steps prior to surgery is a check-up to make sure the children are healthy. It was in this initial exam, that we were told that our baby daughter had THRUSH, and would not be able to have the surgery until that was cleared up completely. Her thrush was so minor, I hadn't noticed it.

'Thrush usually develops suddenly, but it may become chronic, persisting over a long period of time. A common sign of thrush is the presence of creamy white, slightly raised lesions in your mouth - usually on your tongue or inner cheeks - but also sometimes on the roof of your mouth, gums, tonsils, or back of your throat. The lesions, which may have a "cottage cheese" appearance."-WebMD

It was the worst news we could have heard.  We didn't take it well.  We were upset.
We felt our world had come crashing in. 

W-H-H-A-AAA-T-T-T????!! ??????!!!!

 But, but, but,  we drove 3 hours the night before to get here, in the worst snow storm ever.....

 She  fasted..

...and we have been waiting and anticipating this since- her- birth.  We felt our circumstances were more special and more important than anything or anyone elses were. And more important than any medical obstacles.

 Needless to say, WE WERE DEVASTATED....and angry, and hurt, that they wouldn't do the surgery for us that day.  We weren't ready to accept our reality, and waited for the surgeon to tell these nurses what was up! However, that never happened. The hospital staff was sympathetic, yet their diagnosis was absolute.  There was going to be no surgery for our daughter this day.  It wasn't going to be happening.   It seemed the windows of heaven slammed on us and we were all alone.

On top of that because of the harsh weather that day we were also completely snowed in Salt Lake. We couldn't even go home!! We decided to go to  Temple Square and try to bring some joy back into our lives.   

By evening, the snow cleared up  and we were able to travel back home..although we were in the same place we were when we left.  Still needing a surgery for our baby. Except now we were on a mission to get rid of this  thrush that had turned our lives upside down.

It took another 6 weeks to get rid of the thrush. Alyssa was either allergic to every medicine we tried or it just didn't work.  The only medicine that worked was Genetian Violet. [ If you are unfamiliar with this medicine, it is the color and consistency of purple ink and you have to paint their mouths with it.  They look like they just ate a dark purple Popsicle].

 This second 6 weeks was like an endless procedure waiting, trying everything, and waiting some more. It was a purifying, unifying, and humbling time as we learned what it meant to wait on the Lord in faith.  Not faith in an outcome, but faith in Him.

 It was during this time of  WAITING that the Lord taught us, helped us, strengthened us, and made us into different parents.  It was during this 6 weeks that we came to accept our daughter's cute little cleft lip.  We became more patient and long-suffering as we waited on the Lord's time not ours.

From this experience I learned:
Waiting on the Lord is  a choice... because HOW we wait effects what we learn and how we grow. 

In fact, I don't think I am ever NOT waiting on the Lord for something. We are dependent upon Him for everything. Everyday.

What does it mean to wait on the Lord?  Here is an excerpt from Elder Hales talk:

 In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end.
To wait upon the Lord means planting the seed of faith and nourishing it “with great diligence, and … patience.”
It means praying as the Savior did—to God, our Heavenly Father—saying: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” It is a prayer we offer with our whole souls in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Waiting upon the Lord means pondering in our hearts and “receiv[ing] the Holy Ghost” so that we can know “all things what [we] should do.”
As we follow the promptings of the Spirit, we discover that “tribulation worketh patience” and we learn to “continue in patience until [we] are perfected.”
Waiting upon the Lord means to “stand fast” and “press forward” in faith, “having a perfect brightness of hope.”
It means “relying alone upon the merits of Christ” and “with [His] grace assisting [us, saying]: Thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours.”
As we wait upon the Lord, we are “immovable in keeping the commandments,”knowing that we will “one day rest from all [our] afflictions.”

(Alyssa  waiting for Grandma to come when she was 2 years old)

Other posts about Alyssa:
Good, Better, Best in Motherhood
A Handbook for our Dad
Modesty is Vague? I don't think so!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Making our homes a mini-MTC

There is a G.R.E.A.T talk from Sylvia Allred called Making our home a Mini-MTC from the 2007 BYU Women's Conference.  What a concept!  I love that! 

What are some of the small things you do in your home everyday to prepare your children  to stand on their own-spiritually?
In other words what your you doing to make your home an MTC?

This is the errand of angels given to us as women and mothers in our home.  This is the greatest nurturing we can do in our homes-to prepare our children spiritually and physically for what lies ahead.

The MTC (missionary training center)
It is a time of learning and preparation-just like our homes should be-a  place of preparation for our children.  We are their teachers.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:119
"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer"

A house of prayer
A day at the MTC begins and ends with prayer, with praying throughout the day.  Prayers are offered during  personal and companion study, in meetings, before meals, in classes.  It really is a house of prayer.

Our own homes should also be houses of prayer. It is never too early to start having family prayer, or introducing our children to prayer. One of our greatest teaching opportunities is to teach our children about prayer and about the Godhead.  They need to know where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going. With this knowledge, they begin to be taught by the Spirit about that they are a literal child of God with divine nature and divine purpose.

A house of fasting. 
At the MTC missionaries learn and practice the true law of fast.  They know that fasting and prayer go together and that when they fast and pray with faith, they will be more open to receive answers to their prayers.

 Fasting is a difficult principle to teach and to live.  I can't say that we are perfect on this in our home.  We try to follow the spirit of the law more than the letter of the law with this principle. For us, there are several principles to be taught and learned with fasting. One, is about sacrifice. Fasting is a sacrifice and it will be hard.  Two, if we can learn to say no to food once a month, than we will have the strength to say no to other things we should not be doing as well. It disciplines us to put God first.
A house of learning
The MTC is about learning languages, cultures, doctrine, and Christ-like attributes.  Our homes are houses of learning.
Our homes are a school for our families. We learn so much about the gospel and the Lord's plan in our homes as we strive to live Christ-like attributes in our day to day lives. 

A house of glory
In the MTC  they hold worship services, devotionals, and firesides.  They sing hymns, missionaries prepare talks, and they bear testimony.

Our homes are like this when we hold Family Home Evenings, family scripture study, and in just living the gospel.

A house of God In the MTC there is an amazing spirit and feeling of love, respect, trust, and confidence.  They are aspiring to become true representatives of Christ and share the gospel with others.  It is a house of God. 

Our homes are the most sacred places on the earth outside of the temple.  It should be a place where the Spirit is felt and dwells. 
 " When a young man or woman enters the MTC,  he or she will not suddenly transform into a well-prepared and obedient missionary.  That preparation must begin YEARS before, in his or her home.  Mothers play an important role in this preparation"
I love Julie Beck's comment in her talk Mothers Who Know, that when they get to the MTC is should be a review not a revelation.

 "The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission."-Elder David Bednar
I think back to a light-bulb moment I had when I was first married and our kids were really young.  One day I realized the "home" was up to me.  No one was going to magically come in and make my children's bed for them.  I had to do it. It was me.   No one is going to do the dishes, vacuum the floor, teach them to pray, have good manners, etc..  These things don't happen on their own.  It was up to me.  It was my errand.  As a mother, I am the anchor of the good things that need to happen.

We have to keep doing it and not give up.  The Lord is on our side and He will bless us.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Having Faith

My picture taken on the Oregon Coast of the Haceta Lighthouse
Faith is being willing to trust God

Turning your hopes and
problems over to Him
and trusting in His wisdom

Knowing that somehow
everything will turn out for the best
and no matter how difficult
of dark things become,
there is always a light.