Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where are MY miracles?

I've been sick all week, and today is Sunday.  I stayed home from church today since I didn't have much of a singing voice (I teach the children in our church, songs) and am constantly blowing my nose; thus, I felt it proper to stay home and not share my germs with others.  I decided to watch this movie I had just bought, but had yet to see.  John wanted me to wait for him to come home, but by nature, I'm impatient.  I thought it was a good movie to watch as well, being as I was home and wanted some spiritual upliftment.  The movie was 17 Miracles, by T.C. Christensen.  And wow, did that box of tissues come in handy, but this time for my eyes, not my nose.

For those who are not familiar with this movie, or why it would be meaningful to those who belong to the church I attend, let me explain..... it COULD become meaningful to you too, regardless of what religion you belong to.  This movie dramatizes many events, or miracles, that happened while men, women & children from England, traveled across the United States to their "Zion", Salt Lake City, UT.  The trials and tribulations they went through, at a time of year, to some who thought it was not wise to cross the plains with winter approaching, had a profound effect on them personally, their posterity, and to us, who hold these pioneers dear to our heart for the sacrifices that were made for them to reach their "freedom" of religion and to live in peace, and be among those they felt a bond with.

As I watched this movie, and absorbed all the feelings that came with help of powerful music, touching scenes of loved one's dying on the plains, and faith being tested to a degree most of us cannot fathom, I was again, reminded of how very blessed I am.  Some might look at these miraculous events and think, "I don't believe it, couldn't happen, they're making this up, miracles don't exist today."  I would urge you to take a second and look around you, for if we cannot recognize the miracles that surround us each day, we are truly missing out.

What I took most from this movie is this.... "What precedes a miracle?  FAITH".  Each one of these members of handcart companies displayed faith in one form or another, a certain degree of faith; some had less faith, some pushed, literally, for more.  I look at the pioneers and it is obvious to me how their trials differ from ours today. Theirs (again, this is in my eyes only) seem to have been more physical, while ours, in this world we live in now, seem to be more of a moral nature.  Regardless of what our trial is, they all take faith to endure them.  

Some miracles in the movie involve receiving food from an unknown man, when there is none to be found, lives are spared when they, in  the face of many who witnessed, should have been lost.  In the movie, a mother buries her infant along the trail.  I have buried an infant. I KNOW the pain.  I KNOW the heartache.  Where is the miracle in that loss?  The miracle, for me, lies within myself.  A knowledge that I WILL be with my daughter again someday.  The knowledge that life does not end when our bodies die. And that life, simply put, DOES GO ON.

I thought of each of these events, all of which are true, and the people who lived them. What faith they HAD.  What examples they are TO ME.  One woman said, "It will all be worth it if my posterity keep the faith."  And faith she had.  Another woman asked, "Where is the Lord?".  You can look at this question several ways.  You might think she's murmuring, wondering how the Lord could allow such deprivation.  Or, how I like to think she presented the question, she is searching deep within herself to see evidence of the Lord's hand in such tribulation.  She knows it's there, but needs some gentle reminders, because she does not want to doubt God's presence in all things.  I don't think she was questioning God's love and awareness of her, but truly wanted to know how she could find the Lord's love through all this.  I would simply say.... the Lord is IN our trials.  

Trials are for our good, and while living through them we have to ask ourselves, instead of "Why me?"  we ought to be asking, "What is it Lord, you would have me learn from this?" And once we ask in that manner, He will shower us with answers and blessings. But we have to be willing to receive them, as painful as the answer may sometimes be. As we were losing our baby in her battle of lung disease, I learned a very important lesson.  I learned that it is God's will that should be ever present in my mind, not my will.  He knew my heart, He knew what I would have desired, but when we put Him first, enduring the trial becomes easier to handle, because I realized He knew there were things I could never learn otherwise had I not gone through that particular trial.  Upon coming home after McKenna's death, the Bishop from our church drove us home from the airport and asked us this question I will never forget.  He said,  "Would you do it again?"  And I immediately responded, "In a heartbeat."  And I meant it.  God gave me more understanding, more knowledge in those short 4 months with our baby, than I could have ever imagined possible without that trial.  I like to think those pioneers in this movie felt the same way.

Where are my miracles?  They may not seem as grand as raising the dead, or feeding thousands from 5 loaves and fishes, although John and I experienced our own sweet miracles with McKenna.  But when I stop the murmuring, allow myself to hear what God is telling me, and knows is best for me, that is when I recognize the many miracles that abound.  The beauty of this earth, which is right in front of us, is truly a miracle to behold.  Anytime I see a neo-natal intensive care unit, I am in awe of a child being born healthy and what a miracle THAT is, when there is so much that can go so wrong.  When I see hardened hearts soften, lives changed from a downward path to a path in the right direction, those are miracles to take note of as well. 

I am grateful I was able to watch this movie and once again be reminded of all that is miraculous in my life, in this world.  Past president of the church I go to, Gordon B. Hinckley said this.... "I hope you never get over being thankful to them (the pioneers).  Let us read again and again, and read to our children and our children's children, the account of those who suffered so much."  The people depicted in this movie are an inspiration to me.  If they could do what they did, then surely I can go through anything as well.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's been a dozen years

Happy Birthday to my 12 year old son, Hunter.  What is awesome about a 12 year old?  Well, from his mother's eyes, let me tell you.

What is a 12 year old into:

*  Anything electronic.... the wii, DS, computer, (would LOVE to have an ipod touch, but mom and dad say NO.)

*  Bearded Dragons..... his birthday present this year.  

*  Scouts..... he's become quite the merit badge getter.

*  Basketball, basketball, and basketball.  Can hardly wait for the season to start

*  Trumpet.... well, maybe not so much, but that was the chosen instrument for 6th grade.  Better than drums if you ask me.

Hunter is enjoying his birthday this weekend with his dad and brother in Southern, CA.  I miss them tons right now, but know they are having a good time, memories being made.  I look back on these 12 years that have zipped by, in the the blink of an eye, and hope the next 12 will slow down a bit. Somehow, I don't think that will happen.

I write this blog for several purposes, one being, I want my family to know where I stand on certain issues, so they will know, without a doubt, what I believe in, what I know.  So for you Hunter, I want you to know.... you rock.  You are an awesome son.  (His younger brother and sisters rock no less... they will have their own blog entries dedicated to them when the time comes).  I'm so proud Hunter, of who you are becoming.  Love, mom!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

If time would Just STOP for a moment, I'd appreciate it

Long title, I know, but it's exactly how I feel.  The older we get, time seems to pass us by more quickly. And with that, the growing up of my children seems to pass by me at 75 miles an hour when I'm moving along at 55, or, some days it seems like I'm going 30.  Yet they never slow down, keeping up the pace with the rest of the world as I sit along the sidelines hoping I can keep up with them.  It's a losing battle, I've decided.  I might as well enjoy the ride while it lasts, right?  

Hunter turns 12 next Friday.  It's a monumental birthday in our family.  And I won't even be with him to celebrate it.  He will be in California with his dad and brother, attending their cousin's wedding, ON is birthday.  Poor guy.  I feel badly that he'll be spending his day watching a bride and groom eat their cake smothered in frosting which he detests, while he'll have to wait to come home to have his frostingless cake to enjoy.  (But, his dad was going, and on this special birthday, which is very important for the male in our church and family, I didn't want his dad to be away from him. So it's an all boys weekend at a girly wedding..... could be worse, right? Or maybe not).

But as I reminisce about his sister before him who died, his own growing up years to this point, and the 3 children that followed, I realize that time is just flying by at a pace I cannot keep up with.  I've got my married/family life in 3 stages, I've determined. The first 2 1/2 years were dedicated to buying the worst house in Utah, remodeling it, giving birth to our first child who later passed away, and then selling our home to move to Oregon.  The next 6 years were dedicated to building a brand new home, giving birth to 3 more children, then selling that house, the NEW AND FINISHED house.  These last 6 1/2 years have been devoted to buying the home I grew up in, gutting it and remodeling it..... still, and having one more child.  I'm done buying homes, and having children. (But unfortunately, not done remodeling). 

I don't want my memories to be filled with what paint color we chose, what kind of flooring to install, or how dinner tasted like dust from drywall.  I want my memories to be filled with my children and the lives they are living.  I suppose it's all about prioritizing MY time to make sure I am spending that time on and for my children. 

It's easy, being self employed, to get wrapped up in the business.  Or to have an assignment at church that, if we let it, takes a lot of time away from family.  And it's easy to stick your child in every activity known to man, so they are getting all wonderful experiences that school, sports and the arts have to offer.  But in the midst of work, church, school and extra curricular activities, where is family time fitting in?  Am I making enough valuable time with my children so they will have fond memories of their growing up years?  

Some would say quality time is better than quantity.  For me, and this is JUST ME speaking, it's the quantity of time that I want more of.  Do I have any grand ideas on how to do that? Not really.  Maybe just recognizing the fact that my children NEED more quantity time with their parents and siblings is a start.  One of my favorite quotes from a prominent church leader (can't remember the name, might be Thomas S. Monson) said, when we see our Heavenly Father and make an accounting of our time on earth, he doubts we will say that we wished we would have spent more time at the office, than with our family.  That is exactly how I feel.

So I really don't have any exciting things to tell you about how to fix the problem. Maybe some of you have some great ideas you'd like to share. I'm all ears.  But for now, I think I need to slow down a bit, make my children slow down, as much as they don't want to, and take every opportunity to be with them when I can, and enjoy the moment while it lasts.  'Cause Father Time ain't gonna slow down, that I am certain.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grateful Monday ( which really was Sunday)

I'm a day late for my grateful Sunday post, but wanted to make sure I recorded, in conjunction with that special day, my gratitude for the many blessings which I enjoy.

Yesterday was 9/11.  We all know what that means. Just to say those two numbers, images automatically pop into my head of what that day represented 10 years ago. I can't believe it's been that long, yet the memories are so very fresh as if it were just yesterday.  So at this particular time when we pause to reflect on how our nation changed, how WE may have changed, I am reminded of all the things I feel an immense amount of gratitude for.
*  I am grateful first and foremost for a loving God, who, some may say, 'Where was He when this all happened' yet I feel, as I know many do, He had never been more present than at that time.

*  I am grateful for my family who surround me each day and remind me how fleeting time can be, and how, because of those events on that tragic day, make me more appreciative of them, for we never know when, in an instant, they may be taken from us.

*  I am grateful for this blessed country, The United States of America, that (for the present time) allows us to worship how, when and where we may, that comes together in times of need, who mourns with those who mourn, and when the need arises, people come and rebuild, whether that be in the construction of buildings, or lives.

*  I am grateful for modern technology which allows us to keep up to speed on what is happening around us.  I have loved watching the memorials, the documentaries of the many lives that were involved on that day.  Our country is full of wonderful people who care about each other and put others first, before themselves, and those shows aired all over the world, proved that to us all.

*  I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father (again) who can bring us peace through the most tragic of times in our lives. While we may not understand why some things happen, I know for a surety, that He is there to comfort us, and will not allow us to pass through any trial that He does not think we can handle. He knows us better than we know ourselves.  Just listening to the many people directly affected by 9/11 has proven, yet again to me, that life can go on, and be beautiful, despite the evil acts of others.

I could go on and on about the things for which I am grateful, but the above mentioned come to mind first and foremost.  The trials we endure can either 'make us' or 'break us'.  I hope that we all allow them to 'make us', because that will be what makes this country stronger and more bound together.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Hope They Remember

Three of my children start school tomorrow.... a 2nd, 4th & 6th grader.  I always have mixed emotions when the new school year comes around.  I miss the wonderful summer days, where we can be lazy, play in the park on the very few sunny days we have, maybe go on a vacation and explore the states, and stay up late watching movies. I love having more time with them during the day.  But when September rolls around, I get sad, because I will miss those days, but at the same time, I know they are ready for routine, as much as I am too.  I am very much a routine kind of gal. I like my schedule, and I like my kids to BE on a schedule. But most of all, as this new school year begins, I hope my kids remember a few things.

I hope they remember how much I love them, as they leave for the bus each day, and how I pray for them and their safety, for their ability to understand their studies, and that I pray they will be able to make friends and be an example to others.

I hope they remember the things their mom and dad have taught them about BEING a good friend, a good example to others, to treat all with kindness and to look out for that other student who may need a helping hand, or a kind word, or just a smile.

I hope they remember that although their teachers ARE their teachers, that we, their parents, are ultimately the one's they look to for guidance on social issues.  

I hope they remember to be respectful to their teacher and other students who may have a different opinion on the days' current trends and way of life. 

I hope they remember that gaining an education is so vital in today's world, that they need to apply themselves and dive into every subject they are encountered with.

I hope they remember to stand up for their beliefs, their standards, and that when they do, regardless of the outcome, they will have done "the right thing".

I hope they remember to take school seriously, as much as it can be fun to be with their friends.

I hope they will feel comfortable in their own skin, not desiring to be like some other kid because he or she looks like this or that.

I hope they will be able to keep their heads above water and hear our voices in the constant noise that surrounds them.

I hope they will be able to keep their balance in an ever shifting of values world.

I hope, for myself, that I have taught them all they need to know to go out into the world, and be an influence on others. I hope I have instilled in them a desire to do good, to be good.

I have had many a parent wonder why I don't home school in these times. I respect others' decisions to home school their children, but for me, right now, it isn't the route I want to go, or feel is right for MY children.  I have faith that my children can endure school, and that they will learn valuable lessons from their every day life there.  For me, I believe it is about arming them with the right tools, values and principles in which I KNOW will help keep them safe from the waves that come crashing down.  Lots of prayer helps too :-)