Saturday, October 26, 2013

Healthy, wealthy and wise....or not

Healthy, wealthy and wise…..3 great goals to strive for right?  Are these necessary qualities that an intentional, deliberate Mother must have? ABSOLUTELY, or so I thought for a time.  Certainly health is a must, to have energy and to have the strength to do activities with your children.  Wealth (or at least being financially comfortable) is necessary so you can take your children to do fun things and go on fun vacations etc. etc….  Wisdom is constantly evolving and comes through experience and continues developing throughout life.

Health.  My health has ebbed and flowed for years.  I have had short times where I felt great and healthy and had energy.  But most of the time for the last several years I have not felt good for the most part.  I struggle to have the energy I would like.  I envy those who seem to have boundless energy and accomplish more in a day than I do in a week.  It affects my family for sure.  Most days I need a nap and many times when my husband gets home I go “off shift” and turn the rest of the night over to him.  It has been very frustrating at times.

Wealth, or financial comfort.  Financial security has been elusive in our lives.  We have worked hard to get out of debt, we have worked hard to save money, but something always comes up and we never seem to get ahead.  I can’t complain, my husband has had a steady job even through the recession which is more than many people I know.  We have food on the table, a wonderful home and all the basic necessities.  But extra money to go to Disneyland or even going somewhere as simple as the pumpkin patch hasn’t been there most of the time.  Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for what we have and for my healthy, happy 5 children and wonderful, hardworking husband.

You know….sometimes the “web” is not our friend.  I read blogs, look at Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook and get discouraged.  I see all of these Moms doing amazing things with their kids that I don’t have the energy or money do to.  It can be disheartening. It seems sometimes that to be an awesome, involved Mom you have to be practically perfect in every way and able to do all these amazing crafts, be athletic with your kids and go on regular exotic vacations.

That is not the case I have gratefully discovered.  You don’t have to have to be practically perfect to be a deliberate Mom.  You can be quite flawed and not have the ideal life situation and your kids will still think you are amazing. Each of us has our own situation, our own challenges and our own gifts we have been given to be the best Mom to our kids.  I may not have the energy to do a triathlon with my kids, but I can sit outside and watch them ride bikes, watch their soccer games and cheer them on. I can sit on the couch when I’m not feeling well and read them books and do puzzles and have tickle wars.

I may not have the money to go on a lot of vacations, but we can have a “staycation” at home where we sleep in the tent outside, roast hot dogs in the backyard and tell shadow puppet stories in the tent. We can have picnics at the park, we can play board games on the weekend and can have dart gun wars in the house. 

In fact being a great Mom has practically nothing to do with money and health.  It has to do with TIME, consistency and being a present force in your child's life. It means looking in their eyes and taking time to listen to them.  It means having a stable, loving home.  It means teaching them and disciplining them with love.  None of that needs money or perfect health.

One of my favorite Power of Moms essays is by April Perry and is entitled “Your children want YOU”.  They still want you even if you have health problems and no money.  They still want you even if you lose your temper and need a “time out”.  They still want you even if you aren’t practically perfect.  So dive into motherhood in spite of your hard situation make those memories and forget about your weaknesses, chances are your kids already have!

I cried during this video…it should be required to view regularly for all Mothers.  It’s a reminder that our kids give us the benefit of the doubt and love us for who we are, not for who WE think we should be. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Best of times...worst of times

our family gathered for a picture following Jaylen's funeral

Recently I have been inspired by my friend April who has been writing about her Mother who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease. April has been sharing her heartache and struggles with caring for her Mom, who is forgetting her grandchildren and children. She has inspired me to write some of my own struggles and share some of the things that have helped me currently and in the past.

In the past few years we have been dealt many trials such as; the tragic and untimely death of my husband's brother Brian who was 32, had a 2 year old daughter and had a wife who was 6 months pregnant. The illness and heart transplant of another  brother Paul, death of a beloved Grandfather, preeclampsia, a 32 week preemie, 7 week NICU stay, chronic health problems for baby and Mommy relating to that, selling a house, moving, raising 5 children that now includes teenagers, aging parents, the tragic death of a sweet nephew, financial problems and stress, and we currently have a very precarious job situation. Then there are the every day stresses that most everyone deals with on top of all of that. 

Not to mention that loved ones have suffered divorce, loss of parents, illness, serious financial problems, special needs children, rebellious children, job loss etc etc. the list could go on and on. 

I don't list these to garner sympathy as I know everyone has their list of hardships and adversity, but honestly the past few years have been a challenge. However if I saw someone else's list of trials, I would probably gladly keep mine.  It was actually therapeutic to write it all down in one spot (and there are probably other things I forgot) This has been our reality for many years. It seems we barely catch our breath and there is another storm on the horizon.  Mortality is not easy or blissful.  It is frustrating and hard a lot of times. 

Sometimes I feel exhausted by the raging storms and the unseen eye of the storm.  The unknown can be a scary place to be. However through it all I have felt a sense of calm and peace for the most part. I know that peace come from the source of all light. When I rely on Him, I know I can walk into the dark of the unknown and he will light my path even if only a step at a time.

That peace doesn't come without effort however. It comes when I seek Him through prayer, reading inspired words of scripture and words from inspired leaders, attending church and seeking answers at His holy temple. It comes when I gather my family and we pray thanking God in gratitude for all our blessings (and trials). It comes when we are united in our faith and prayers for  a better job situation, inspiration and guidance or when we pray for the comfort of broken hearts of our loved ones. It comes as I sit in church and look down the pew in awe at my 5 children and wonderful husband and feel so grateful to have a place of respite from the world.  It comes in the words of hymns that bring me to tears in the knowledge that God knows me and is sending me a "love note" right when i need it. It comes as we take time to teach our children about God's love for them and about our Savior who was willing to take upon him not only their sins but their pains, sorrows and afflictions and knows how to comfort our aching hearts.  It comes from knowing that Jesus Christ made it so we will live again after this life and be reunited with our loved ones. 

The storm that is swirling around us can still be calmed by He who calmed it 2000 years ago on the sea of Galilee. He still has the power to do so, and if it isn't time for the storm to stop raging, He can be our compass and lighthouse to lead us home.  I know this as surely as I know anything in this life.  I know He is the source of true peace and happiness even in the midst of the storms that are raging around us.  Mortality and this world are not for the faint of heart or for the weak.  I know sometimes it seems impossible to muddle through and our hope is sometimes lost in the huge waves and swells of the storm, but through Him we can ride them and be safe in His protection.

A month ago I was sitting in a funeral and this was one of the hymns we sang.  Tears rolled down my face as I knew this message was a message to me from my Father in Heaven who is always there to calm my fears in the midst of my storm.  Every verse was an answer to my prayer.

  1. Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
    With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
    Leave to thy God to order and provide;
    In ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
    Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav'nly Friend
    Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
  2. 2. Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
    To guide the future as he has the past.
    Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
    All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
    Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
    His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
  3. 3. Be still, my soul: The hour is hast'ning on
    When we shall be forever with the Lord,
    When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
    Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
    Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
    All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

5 things....

Our sweet Jaylen's death has changed me.  Five things I've learned over the last 2 weeks:

1.  When someone is grieving you don't need to say much.   Throw your arms around them and tell them you love them and you are so sorry.  Nothing you say can change what happened, they probably don't want to have a long conversation, but your expressions of love will mean so much and will honestly carry them through dark days. Pray for them and let them know you pray for them.  However, don't make them take on the burden of your grief, try to be a strength to them.

Don't ignore what has happened just because you don't know what to say, when you have lost a loved one it is life changing and is all you think about so when someone ignores it, it is a bit awkward to say the least.

2. YOU can make a difference.  The small expressions of kindness and acts of service on our "Spreading Sunshine for Jaylen day" made a HUGE difference for our entire family.  It helped us feel happiness and joy and light. on a day that could have been so dark and difficult.  Those acts of service were one person at a time and collectively made a huge difference in this world.

3.  Love your kids, spend time with them, look them in the eye, let them see your eyes light up when they see you, be their biggest cheerleader and let the little things go.  Most of all LOVE and let them know for absolute certain that you love them more than anything.

4.  Angels are real.  Whether they be angels on earth who lift us and love us or whether they be unseen angels who support us from the other side of the veil, they are very real and carry us through our darkest hours. Prayer is real and so powerful and one of the nicest things you can do for someone who is going through something hard.

5. LOVE is what matters the most.  Forgive, embrace, be merciful, give the benefit of the doubt, shower God's love on all those around you, uplift, encourage, stop judging.  LOVE is what matters.  The.End.