Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Did You Know?

It's been a crisp and beautiful fall day.... this Tuesday the 26th of November, which happens to be my son, Josh's, 12th birthday.  As I have sat at my desk this evening dreading the amount of studying I need to do for my upcoming statistics exam, my mind kept wandering to thoughts of the past 12 years with this incredible young man. I decided no amount of studying is more important than expressing my feelings on paper (or blog). He will never turn 12 again, and in many ways it is a milestone in his life for which calls for special attention and an historic account (at least for my books, anyway). As I've pondered on his life, I ask myself, "Josh, did you  know the person for which you would become?"

I was thrilled to know we would be having another boy, after Hunter. I thought it would be great to have two boys grow up close in age to each other, to be each other's best friend, to have a buddy to play with, that would want to play with each other.  I felt blessed, yet again, to know that I would deliver a healthy baby boy.  I clearly remember the day when I was given a blessing of comfort by our home teacher, (while pregnant with Josh and being tested through amniocentesis to rule out the same disease his big sister died from). It was as peaceful a feeling I can remember when the words pronounced to me through our home teacher by inspiration were, "Do not doubt that he will be born healthy." Did you know then Josh, while still in my protection, that you would be spared the pain your sister endured?

He was born a fair skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed baby (which later changed to light brown eyes); different from his older brother in every way.  He melted my heart each time I fed him as his arm reached up to rub my neck back and forth, back and forth as he would stare into my eyes.  Did you know then, Josh, that those long arms would come in handy as you have learned the trombone and played to your heart's content?

As a toddler and preschooler he reminded me daily that I was, "wonderful and beautiful." What mother doesn't relish in those words spoken from the mouths of babes? I have treasured them all these years, and although they are not said anymore out loud, I know that Josh loves me, and still thinks (in his view) that I'm wonderful and beautiful.  Did you know, Josh, how much those words would mean to me, and help comfort me in the years since your toddler days?

Of all my children, Josh is the most humorous, always happy and taking life a little less seriously than the rest of us. He is calm, even tempered, always laughing at something, making others laugh, and simply enjoying his life each day. He comes up with the best jokes, always kidding around, but as he is getting older,  he is keeping himself in check more, yet still knows how to enjoy the moment.  Did you know Josh, that your easy going spirit has been a blessing in my life and is teaching me to relax more?

Josh is kind, compassionate, loving, gentle. The compassionate side of him loves animals, in which he spends quality time with his bearded dragon, the rooster, any animal that graces our property. He is good to all of God's creatures. I love that about him. While we haven't had a baby in the home for quite a few years, when he is around other babies, he wants to hold them and shows his gentle side. Did you know, Josh, that these qualities you embrace will help you become a giant of a man, exhibiting love to God's creatures and children of God?

Josh is inquisitive, always seeking to learn, never complaining of school work, eager to discover something new. He is willing to help others learn new things, to fix things others have tried their hand at.  Did you know, Josh, what a gif that is, of seeking knowledge and learning, that it will take you far in life and you can become whatever you set your mind to?

Each of my children bring something unique to our family, and Josh is no exception.  I look forward to what the next 12 years will bring in Josh's life, and into mine. As the years go by faster and faster, I find myself wishing time would just stand still. And as I think about each of my children's accomplishments, strengths and abilities; for Josh on this special day, I ask myself, "Josh, did you know you would have such a sappy mom?" :-)


Thursday, September 5, 2013

I Have Arrived

Fourteen years ago, in May, my husband and I moved from Ogden, Utah to our present location of Oregon City, Oregon. I was pregnant with my 2nd child, due September 24th. This boy would be my first child to raise (as my first born died at nearly 4 months old). I remember when he was born and thinking of the many milestones that lay ahead, such as his baptism when would turn 8 years old. I remember then thinking when he turned 8 that in the not too distant future he would be a teenager.  He will be 14 in a few weeks.

As each child has come along, I have had similar thoughts.  Josh, my 11 year old, has started middle school, and will be 12 in a few months.  Reagan is 9 and in the 4th grade.  I have no choice but to already be thinking about when she becomes a teenager because she is already wishing she was there. I, on the other hand, could wait a tad bit longer.

My youngest, Hailey, just started Kindergarten...... today. She is my last. She has been home with me for nearly 6 years, as she will turn 6 in December.  I remember thinking when she was born that I had a looooong time to wait for her to depart from my constant care and enter into the world of teachers, sack lunches, bus rides and homework. Fall of 2013 seemed many moons away.  I would have been content keeping her 5 years old for another few years.  But I can't keep time still. 

I have arrived at that time in my life that I knew would come eventually. The time when all my children would be gone from me for nearly most of the day. The time when my car would be empty while running errands having the radio be my only company. Many moms long for this time to be able to so called "get things done" and have "me time". But for me, it proves all too clearly a stage in my life that I had no choice but to encounter. The baby, toddler, preschool years are done.  My children are in Kindergarten - 8th grade.  I recall picturing this time of my life after Hailey was born, trying to push the thoughts aside as far as I could. 

Life won't be any easier now, only different. I feel blessed that I am going back to school and will be able to devote time for that. I feel blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, even when the children are gone all day, so that I can try to make my home one in which my children are happy to come home to after a day at school.

What do I think about now? It's hard not to allow my mind to wander to the time when my children will start graduating from high school; but for now, I'm going to just savor the time I have with them in their new stages of life, because I know it will undoubtedly be a fun ride and I'm grateful to be their mom to go along with them.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Watch Your Mouth!

Recently I took my children to the local community swimming pool for family swim.  While my older children wanted to swim inside in the big pool, my younger two daughters opted to stay outside and play in the wading pool.  My girls hopped in the pool and started playing in the water as I settled into the lawn chair I brought and pulled out my math book to start studying. Not two minutes later a young boy, about 8 or 9 years old, stepped out of the pool and approached who I believe to be, his mother sitting on a bench holding another small son about the age of 2.  My head turned as I, and the other few adults and children who were in ear shot of the argument, heard this young boy screaming at his mother and using foul language at her, all over a piece of gum, from what I could tell.  Now, being a mother myself, I can empathize with any other mom who finds herself in such a situation where her child has become irrational, especially in public. I immediately say to myself, "Been there, done that, you're not alone", etc, etc. But this was not any kind of bickering back-and-forth that I had ever been witness too.

After the boy finished his tirade about the gum, the mom decided that his behavior deemed it necessary for them to leave the pool. I would have done the same thing. But what disturbed me the most, was not so much how the boy was behaving, but rather the mother. It was obvious she tried to remain calm in the beginning, and I imagine she was embarrassed, (any mom would have been) but her voice was raising and she was losing control. She began to tell her son what a "retard" he was. I heard her call him that two times in a matter of about sixty seconds. I was appalled. My heart tugged for the young boy whose ears took in such language from his mother. While I thought in the beginning she must have been embarrassed with her son's actions, she at all didn't seem to think twice about using such words to express her anger to her son, for all around her to hear.

Now I am not here to judge whether or not she is a good mother. We all have our sour moments we wish we could take back. I had never seen these people before, I have no idea what their family life is like. It is not up to me to determine worthiness on the part of the boy's mom. But I can say I did take away some very valuable insights as I was privy to this scene.

I couldn't help but think and reflect upon the verbal messages I am sending to my own children. Did I feel sorry for the boy? Absolutely. I feel badly for the mother too. Perhaps she is stretched to her limits, stressed to the max, maybe she's never spoken that way before and just snapped and was terribly sorry afterwards. It's not important for me to know those details. But hearing the shouting match occur as it did really made me think of my own verbal usage towards all my children. Are the words I'm saying and expressing to them uplifting? Are they encouraging? Can I be firm? Yes. But can I do so in a loving way? I had better.

I am in no way a prime example of absolute loving-kindness towards my children every second of every day. I know there are areas I can work on and improve. I know that I myself have a short fuse. But I also know that my children were given to me from a loving Heavenly Father for me to raise and to do so in respect, kindness, honor, compassion and most of all love.  I recently read an article by Jeffrey R Holland, a leader in our LDS church, about this very subject. In his article, The Tongue of Angels, he says the following:

"In that same spirit we speak to the sisters as well, for the sin of verbal abuse knows no gender. Wives, what of the unbridled tongue in your mouth, of the power for good or ill in your words? How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed? A woman’s words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined. Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind....."

This really hit home to me. It made me more determined to do my absolute best to make sure that the words coming from my mouth are angelic, and not abusive.  I can only imagine what the young boy at the pool must have been thinking of himself as he heard what his mother was calling him. Elder Holland continues on saying:

"We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive."

I have not been able to get this recent incident out of my mind. I feel I have a very important lesson to learn from what I observed, and I hope and pray that I can be the kind of mother who speaks to my children in such a way that encourages decency and goodness and a healthy and positive self esteem.  May we all truly watch what we say and think before we speak, especially when it comes to God's children in whom He has entrusted in our care. Heavenly Father does not need to shout, the Holy Ghost does not shout. And nor should we.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

I came across a post I wrote last year about being a mom. I needed the reminder, as being a mother is the hardest thing I've ever done, yet the most rewarding. Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers out there!

Friday, April 12, 2013

It's How We React That Counts

Has there ever been a time in your life when something happened to you that you felt was unjustified? Has someone ever said anything to or about you that was knowingly false? Have you just felt that sometimes you get the raw end of the deal?  I imagine all of us have experienced one or more of these scenarios at some point in our life.  I know I have.  It is at times like this that can define our character and show to all around us what we are made of. And sometimes, our reaction TO the false accusation or unjustified behavior towards us is more of a problem (if not dealt with in a mature manner) than the actual issue at hand. 

An incident recently happened to our business that I allowed to fester inside me; something that I chose to be upset about.  Was the incident unfair? Absolutely. Do I have tangible proof that what was inflicted upon us was unjustified? You bet. Was there dishonesty towards us in this recent experience that had a negative affect on our business? Yes.  (I will clarify by saying it wasn't a negative affect having to do with our reputation, but rather a financial incident). And after all the proof given to the proper authorities concerning the unjustification towards our company, the decision was made to side with the one inflicting the false information.  I was stunned. I thought for sure that people of a sound mind, having in their hands the proof to show we were in the "right", would make the correct and honest decision.  I was wrong. 
When I received the information telling me of the decision, my first reaction was one of anger. I was so upset that this person had presented false information, while I KNOW I had presented honest and accurate evidence. It seemed so obvious to me what the outcome should have been.  I am realizing more and more that the world we live in is not as concerned with honesty as they should be, and that lying a little here, and a little there, won't hurt anyone. Or so they think.  It is also showing me that many in "higher authority" think I should be taking care of those that don't put forth their best effort in taking care of themselves. That it is somehow my responsibility to continue to financially support them, regardless of how that affects our company.
Did we choose to start a small business on our own? Yes.  Did we realize how hard it would be? In many respects, yes.  Did we expect to be treated fairly by employees, vendors, government officials, etc. etc....? We sure hoped we would be. Did we realize there are those also who simply have no respect for the business owner, the employer? Yes, however, we would prefer to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  Although we cannot control how others will treat us, we certainly CAN control how their behavior will affect us.  Sometimes, that is the hardest part of all.
On my drive home from the post office, after reading the decision that was made, I was upset.  But I know how I can get when I don't control my emotions.  I said a silent prayer to God that my heart would soften, that I would not let anger take over, as disappointing as the news was.  I did not want to let the unfair people and decisions involved control ME.  They may think they have "won".  But what I have to gain from this experience is more valuable than anything tangible they will receive.  I KNOW I have been honest. I KNOW what the truth is, whether they want to see it or not.  I KNOW that I will be able to sleep at night knowing I did not take advantage of anyone.  I KNOW that I can learn from this, and not allow their poor choices to influence my character.  If I allow them to control my reaction, then they surely have won.  And I will have lost so much more.
There are a lot of unfair things in this world.  Too many to dive into.  We all have had unfair things happen to us.  Sometimes we feel it is our duty to prove the wrong that was done.  Sometimes, that is what we need to do.  But other times, after all we have done, it's time to be content with what our heart knows.  Does it make it right, the unfair thing that happened? No.  We will still continue to fight our issue at hand until after all we have done, can be done.  But I have faith now that I can do so with  a softer heart, not one of stone. I know that regardless of the outcome, it is enough for me to know what I know. What I know is..... I have a beautiful family that I love, and who love me. I know I have a loving Heavenly Father who helps us in our time of need. I know that I have much good in my life to be grateful for, and that is where my focus needs to be. Not on someone who lies their way through life.  It is such wasted energy. I think it is in times such as these, that God wants us to prove to Him our character.  He does not want us to be vindictive.  His ways are ways of love.  Let us turn the other cheek, as hard as that can be sometimes, and in the end, to be content with what we know is right.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Comfort For Those That Mourn

I've been trying to catch up on my scrapbooking lately, trying to get it all done by April, before I go back to school.  I decided to re-do my daughter McKenna's scrapbook that has been falling apart the past couple of years.  McKenna is my first born child who passed away just shy of 4 months old.  You can read more about her short time here on earth and the circumstances behind her passing here and here. As I was going through her pictures and other items I saved, I came across all the sympathy cards John and I received, and the poems given to us after she died.  The tears started flowing as I reminisced of her short life and the many wonderful people who supported us during this very difficult time of our lives.

While I was reading through everything, I was thinking about the recent shooting in Newtown, CT, of the 20 innocent beautiful children whose lives were taken early; thinking of the many parents who were still mourning the loss of their dear sweet children.  They will mourn for years to come. Some may never recover from their loss.  While I know what it is like to lose a child, I will never understand their pain of losing their son or daughter in such a horrific way, with no warning, no time to prepare. 

As I was reading the beautiful poems that brought me much comfort, (and still do) I wanted so desperately to share them with them.  I know it's not much.  Words, sometimes, only go so far. So I decided to post them here.  I have noticed visitors to my blog from all over the world, and although I do not know how you come across finding my blog, my hope is that if someone...you... are searching for comfort during one of the most trying times of your life, or if you know of someone who is or has experienced the loss of a baby or child, I hope that you might find the following poems of comfort, and please share. 

The first poem was written by my aunt, Carolyn Collins, in memory of my daughter, McKenna.


Do angels kiss your rosy cheeks,
And wipe your little nose,
And cuddle you as evening comes,
And press your angel clothes?

I ask them, in my night-time prayers,
To love you as I would,
And wipe away your tears when knees are scraped
As I'd do, if I could.

You tried so hard to stay with us,
And with each blessing, sweet,
We gained new hope and confidence,
Each challenge, then to meet.

But Father had another plan,
And in His wisdom dear,
We had to give you back to Him;
Some angel hearts to cheer.

So please be good and wait for us
For we've a lot to do
If we're to earn our home above
And live again with you.

( last name Aubrey)
Within this world of day to day,
Of hectic running, every which way.
Withing this world of toil and strife,
God gave, but for a moment, a perfect life.

A life that needed not to stay,
But lingered, to bless, along the way.
She came to earth to fulfill,
And magnify the Father's will.

And though I pray, "God save this life."
I say at last to Jesus Christ.
"Not my will, but thine be done."
I'll give to Thee, my only one.

Yes, she came to teach me of God's way,
Through serving Him, day by day.

The next poem is one I would want to share with all the parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

Edgar Guest

I'll lend you for a little time a child of mine, He said,
For you to love the while she lives and mourn for when she's dead.

It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call her back, take care of her for me?

She'll bring her charms to gladden you, and shall her stay be brief,
You'll have her lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay, since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there, I want this child to learn.

I've looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true,
And from the things that crowd life's lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give her all your love nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call to take her back again?

I fancied that I heard them say, Dear Lord, Thy will be done!
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we'll run.

We'll shelter her with tenderness, we'll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we've known forever grateful stay.

But shall the angels call for her much sooner than we've planned,
We'll leave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.

(James Holtkamp)

My sails are set to catch the breeze,
I move smoothly through a glassy calm.
The sun is warm as I take life's ease
With no worry, care, nor qualm.

Then, with a wrenching jerk, I am yanked
Into a cold and bitter deep.
I gasp in despair at the darkness black
Which has me in its keep.

I am tossed like flotsam which has been hurled
Into a sea that no longer is warm.
But I can see a glow on the rim of the world
That promises protection from harm.

Between me and that light is a harrowing shove
To reach the source of that ray of warmth,
And find peace and gentle, pure love.

Soon the tempest becomes but a memory short,
For He smoothed the seas that ran o'er.
And my life's journey is ended i a different port
Than where I was headed before.

Without the black storm, without the dark fear
Which first seemed to drown me in pain,
I would never have reached this harbor so dear,
Into the arms of my Father again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Being 40 Isn't All That Bad

When I turned 40 last November, I wasn't  thrilled about it.  Just ask my husband, he can vouch for that.  I felt like there was so much I wished I would have already accomplished by the time I reached that dreaded age. I felt like I had just entered the "old people" group. I wished I was healthier, physically more in shape.  I wished my home was in more order, so to speak.  I felt like I hadn't accomplished what I should have academically.  I only had an associate's degree after all, and that was only in Professional Preschool Education..... not something I could make big bucks at, nor anything to glory in by the world's standard. I simply felt unaccomplished in so many ways.  And that kind of thinking is dangerous.  What starts out as a simple evaluation of  'what have I done in my life for the past two decades', can easily turn into, 'I'm of no worth, I have nothing to show for the last 20 years of my life of any value, I can't do such and such as good as so and so.'

Thankfully, I have some pretty good friends who keep me in line, and just so happen to say the right thing, at the right time.  Apparently, 40 was the right time to tell me a few good things.  Some of those helpful words of advice came by way of texting. I had never received so many texts as I did on my birthday. I'm not much of  a texter, but sure found out how many really are when I woke up on my birthday to find 11 texts already.  I have some pretty good friends, and I'm so grateful for them.  Anyway, I'm getting off track....  My good friend Sandy, in Colorado texted me happy birthday and to have fun at Time Out For Women (a conference just for women, put on by some members of our church, which so happened to fall on my birthday).  I told her I sold my ticket, wasn't going, and that I'd try to enjoy turning 40. She told me to not get too crazy.  Knowing Sandy, I took that to mean.....'get over it, quit dwelling on the negative and just enjoy yourself.'  She put a smile on my face.

Another friend, Jill, wished me a happy birthday via text. I replied by saying that turning 40 sucks.  She quickly responded with the following..... 'No it doesn't, it's great to be at the age where all the competition and comparisons stop! Nobody to keep up with anymore.  Welcome to the club.'  I don't know why I had never thought of it that way before, but she was... she IS absolutely right!  What a waste of energy to compare myself to others. What do I care what people think of me???? Okay, I'll admit, there are times I have cared, and there will be times still I'm sure, but my perspective about it has all changed.  I should feel pretty darn happy with where my life is right now, and I am!
 The last friend that had some pretty sound advice was Leah.  She told me that age is all relative, and means nothing in the eyes of Heavenly Father. Again, another aha moment for me. Well of course it means nothing in the eyes of our creator.  I highly doubt He is sitting up there disappointed that maybe some of us haven't completed college yet, or have that high paying job yet, or even haven't been married by the time we were 23 and had 5 babies by the time we were 33.

If there are things I haven't accomplished yet at this stage of my life, the only person to blame is me. No one else. But just because I don't have a bachelor's degree YET, doesn't mean I didn't accomplish some pretty amazing things in between my 2 1/2 years at college and now.  I married a fantastic man, we have 5 beautiful children, remodeled our first home, built our second, and in our third (and final if I have anything to say about it) are remodeling again. We've (mostly him) built a business that is steady, has provided for our necessities and even some wants every once in a great while. I've served in our church in many different capacities throughout my married life.  AND, I have decided to go back to school! I am so excited about it.  I'll be doing it all online, and not quite sure what exactly I'll be studying yet. But THIS is the right time to do it.  The right time wasn't even when I was in college and only earned my associate's degree. It wasn't the right time when I was changing diapers for years.  NOW is the right time.

The funny thing is, I hadn't thought too much about going back to school before I turned 40, but just in the past few weeks, have felt a strong urge to do so, and who would have thought, after all that complaining about turning 40, that I felt like I had so much to look forward to now.
 As it turns out, I do have a lot to show for the past two decades.  I have accomplished some things of value.   The most important job I can do is within the walls of my own home.  I chose to be married.  I chose to have children and stay home to raise them as I was ( and thankfully still am) able.  It's easy to compare myself to the world and feel like I haven't accomplished what the world deems admirable.  But what many in the world express as admirable, isn't for me. I want a family more than a career. I want to live by the values and standards I was raised with and teach them to my children, more than living by the motto, 'eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.'

As I enter this new phase of my life, I hope that I can be an example to those now living in the decades I just surpassed. I would tell them, as professed in the scriptures, that there is a time and a season for everything.  Don't worry about what you wish you could do now, but for some reason or another you are not able.  Put forth your best effort in the life you are living now!

 Something magical happened when I turned 40.  I realized more than ever, that I am a child of God, am of great worth, and have so much more to give to my family, my church, and the world.  The number of years I have lived on this earth means nothing. It is insignificant.  It is what I choose to do with my life from the time I was born, to the day I will leave this earth that is of most importance.  It's how we spend that time, with whom we spend it, and making sure our lives are of service to others all the days of our lives is what really matters, regardless of our what family looks like.

Here's to the next 40 years.