Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grateful Sunday

I've decided to dedicate Sundays to "Grateful Sunday" for blog posts.  I most likely won't do it every week. I'm sure many of you don't want to be bothered by it as well.  But I love Sundays for a variety of reasons, and figured a productive use of my time would be to express my gratitude for the day's happenings.  So let's go.....

1) I am grateful I remembered to take the detour to church today, as a particular road/bridge is closed for a little while.  
2) I am grateful I made it through two hours of singing time with the children at church. I was exhausted, sweating and relieved it was done.
3)  I am grateful I attempted cooking my roast in a different fashion.... it is not done yet, but does look promising.  We shall see, the biggest critics have yet to taste.
4)  I am grateful my husband does genealogy... we may have found some long lost 2nd cousins today!!
5)  I am grateful the hurricane back east is subsiding... I know that doesn't make it any better for those that have been affected... my prayers are with them.
6)  I am grateful for the wonderful summer I have had thus far with my family.  I hate to see it end so soon.
7)  Last, but certainly not least..... I am grateful for the background noise I hear, for they are my sweet children playing with each other, passing the time.

So that's all for now..... perhaps I should have waited until bedtime to say I was grateful no one at the dinner table spit their roast out.  I guess that could still happen. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Am Pro Choice

Nope. This isn't a pro life/pro choice blog post. Sorry to disappoint those who clicked on my link hoping for  a good read and perhaps debate on this social/moral issue. I do enjoy talking politics, but not for now.  I've had a lot on my mind lately about choices, and how we are in control of them, the one's we make.  

I came across an awesome quote the other day via facebook...... "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have." - Unknown.   I liked it so much, I posted it and shared it too.  As much as I love this quote, I kind of disagree with it, to some degree.  And I've gone back and forth in my mind whether or not what I'm reasoning in my head is right, or at least, right to me.

After McKenna (my first born baby) died at nearly 4 months of age, I would often be told, "Oh you are sooo strong Shelley, I don't know how you could ever deal with that, I just couldn't do it."  My response to them almost always was, "I didn't HAVE a choice, I had to be strong."  I used to believe that, I really did. But the past couple of years, I've felt differently, and realized that we ALL have a choice in how we deal with life's problems.

A friend of mine told me, shortly after McKenna died, that her friend who had lost a child, ended up committing suicide because she could not handle the loss.  I have known parents who have lost more than one child, or who have or are raising child(ren) with disabilities, and doing it steadfastly, who just push along and continue to conquer the trials that come their way.  Sometimes, though, it's those "strong one's" that we often see who also, deep down, feel the weakest.  I can attest to that.  Just because someone "looks" strong, doesn't mean they aren't dealing with the same fears as everybody else.

I believe we do have a choice when bad things happen to us, how we will deal with them. I believe we can either look for the positive and reach deep within ourselves and pull out all the lessons we've learned over the years, put them to practice and test our strength.  Or, we can look at only the negative, give up, and not utilize that tiny particle of faith that we have. That we NEED.  Faith and strength go hand in hand in my book.  It takes faith to be strong, and we need strength to hold on to whatever amount of faith we have to get us through the tough times.

It doesn't take long to look around us and see sorrow around every corner. Whether it be a job loss, a financial burden of some sort, the loss of a friend or family member, the insecurity of what the future holds for us, a child who has strayed, or just the insecurities we have within ourselves, about ourselves. There is much turmoil in the world, that is for sure, but there is much good too.  And I think it is that realization that helps me to get through the tough times in my life that I've encountered.  For all the bad, there is so much more good.  Sometimes it takes a lot more digging to find it, but it's there.  And it is when I'm in the heart of a trial, that I have to sincerely ask myself, ask God, to give me strength to deal with what lies ahead.  I learned a long time ago to not ask God to take my trial away, but rather to help me understand what I must learn while enduring the trial. That is where strength comes from.  And you have to seek it.

If you ask me, strength  IS a choice.  We may never know how strong we are unless we put it to use.  Don't let it lie dormant.  So give it a try.... you may surprise yourself.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Write it down, for Heaven's sake!

My children are growing up too darn fast for me, right before my eyes.  I don't like it, never have.  This morning, at 4:45 a.m. John and I dropped our oldest son off to venture to Boy Scout camp.  He will be gone for 6 days.  As I sat in the van while John and Hunter gathered around the circle of boys at The Home Depot (where they all met before they left) I got a lump in my throat because of the reality of what hit me.  My son is growing up.  There's nothing I can do about it, and I had better get used to it.  Except that I don't want to get used to it. I keep telling my children to stop growing, but they simply won't listen to me.  They just laugh, and think I'm silly.

As we drove away from the parking lot, where I have left my boy in the hands of well trained leaders, I say a little prayer in my heart for Hunter that he will be okay, that he will pray when he needs help, that he'll be a good example, remember who he is, and to be respectful to his leaders.  I prayed that he will remember all that we've taught him these nearly 12 years, and to put those principles to action if/when the time arises.  This, I say to myself, is a defining moment for ME, to find out if what we've tried to teach him all these years, if he will apply them in HIS OWN LIFE.

Well, since I was already being an emotional sap about all this, I decided it was long over due for me to write in my children's journal.  I decided when Hunter was 3 years old, to start a journal, for all my children.  I had high ambitions when I started.  Had only two children at the time, John worked for someone else, which made life much easier back then, and we were in a new home.  I labeled in their journals that the book was Volume 1.  At the rate I'm going now, they will probably only have one volume.  I always say I need to be better about writing, but I let life get in the way, unfortunately.  I need to remember though, that I need to write their life down.  It's theraputic for me.

Today, I did something I hadn't done in quite a long time.  I re-read their journal, and boy, it was like rewinding their lives and living it all over again.  THAT is why I love keeping a journal for them.  Let me just share with you a few glimpses in the life of my son, Josh.  Both these excerpts come from the same journal entry of July 17, 2005.  I had just written not too long after his great grandpa had passed away.

"Josh:  Mama, I had a dream about grandpa.
Me:  You did?  What was it about?
Josh:  He's all better now.
Me:  That's right, he is.  Where is grandpa?
Josh:  In heaven.
Me:  Who's with him?
Josh:  Jesus.

"I can't tell you how wonderful it was to hear of your sweet, tender dream.  It made me cry.  Also, the other day, you proposed to me.  You asked me if I wanted to get married, and when I asked to who, you said, "Me!"  That gave me the biggest grin.  I asked you where we were going to get married, and you said in the temple, and that I would have flowers.  I asked you who was going to perform the ceremony and you said, "Pres. Bush."  I laughed it was so cute."

I had forgotten all about those exchanges between Josh and I, but how grateful I am that I was smart enough at the time to write it down. I know there have been many other instances where my children have said things that I should have documented, and I regret not doing it when the memory is still fresh. But I am so grateful to have these precious memories of Josh and I, and many more with all my children that I have written down.

I haven't decided yet when I will give my children their journals.  I've thought of giving it to them at significant birthdays, like 12, 15 and 18, we shall see.  And I've thought that I should probably make copies for me to have.  But for now, I treasure the time I do take, to reflect on the ever shrinking time I have with my children. 

I remember well the day when Hunter was a newborn, when I looked at him and thought to myself, "What will you be like Hunter, when you are 12, in the year 2011."  It seemed so far away at the time, and look where we are now?  Where has all the time gone?  I don't even want to think about 12 years from now.  I need to think about the present, and enjoy each and every minute I have with these beautiful souls that have been entrusted in my care.