Friday, March 30, 2012

We had a 4th grade sass kind of morning. Fireworks, and all ... It's the first time since my girl was three that I've watched her as she was walking away and thought, "How on earth are we going to do this until she's grown? And how am I going to do it without screwing her up? I don't have ANY idea how to handle this one." And yes, before you chime in; I know that we're just getting warmed up, and that there's likely worse to come before it gets better ...
Not long ago, I got two sweet reminders that it will be okay. After she had stomped, scowling fiercely, up the school stairs, I saw my M pause in front of the door and then sprint back down toward me. She poked her head in the window and said, "Mom!" When I replied, "What, dear?" this darling girl of mine said, "Just, love you!" A little while later, my beautiful girl called from school (the ringer on my phone was off and I didn't hear her call) and left a message saying, "Hi, Mom! I just wanted to say, I'm sorry for being sassy this morning. Please forgive me! Love you, bye!" 
I love that girl of mine. She is so strong-willed and stubborn, but is also quick to recognize when she's been in the wrong. That piece of humility is such an example to me! I hope that I can be more like her when I grow up.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"I KNOW, Mom, but that's how I FEEL ... "

Sometimes, when my youngest daughter gets worked up, she'll tell me, "I feel like you don't love me anymore!" (Usually this happens when I've told her no about something that she desperately wanted to do, or if I've had to use my very firm voice because she simply wasn't hearing anything else.)

I have a habit of following it up with stupid, mom things like "You know that's not true; you know that I love you," or "Well, I still love you." My oldest child was always thoroughly satisfied with those kind of answers. All she wanted was to hear that I loved her, even if she was being her most hateful to me. It diffused the tension, and allowed her to find her peace again. L, on the other hand, doesn't think those answers are enough. Over and over, when I've responded this way, she's looked at me and said, "But Mom, I that's how I FEEL!"

Being the quick learner that I am, it took a few tries before I figured out that I need to respond, "I'm sorry that's how you feel, honey, but I do love you!" One simple change, acknowledging how she feels, solves the whole dilemma. She knows that I am recognizing how she feels, and it gives me the opportunity to reaffirm that I love her deeply. I have to admit though, that even though I understood how to handle it, I didn't really "get" it. Until today ...

As I walked home from choir practice after church today, I found myself feeling like there are certain burdens that are just a bit heavier than I have the strength to carry. Quite frankly, I was feeling a little bit lost and forgotten -- not by the people around me, but by my Heavenly Father. (I know -- I never claimed to be rational 100% of the time ... ) As I was half-murmuring, half-crying a little prayer about this to Him, I found the thought coming to mind that "You know that's not true ... " and I found myself echoing my eight year old's words; "I know it's not, but that's how I FEEL!" I proceeded to let Him know that there are certain things that I am temporally not capable of providing for, no matter how hard I try. There was a quiet thought that came, whispering, "But I am ... "

I still don't have an answer. I don't know how things will work out. I don't know how to lift this burden, and yes, there are times when -- even though I KNOW differently -- I feel like I'm carrying it myself. However, I KNOW that God is aware of me, that He will lighten my burdens in time -- and in His time.

A man in our church congregation spoke today saying, essentially, that sometimes, even though we have the faith in Christ to be healed, the pain is not taken away, and that -- during those times -- all that is left to us is to endure.

Sometimes, the pain or the burdens are lifted. Sometimes, there are miracles; and sometimes, the miracles are in the silence -- in the opportunities to learn to endure. Nobody's truly forgotten; sometimes we're just left in a lonely place so that we'll turn to God for peace. Sometimes, we need the darkness to remind us to look for the candles -- all those beautiful blessings that didn't go away when the lights went out ...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Softly Weeping ...

Softly weeping, I mourn ...
I mourn for the pain, and the loss of my family and friends who are left behind. 
It is these who will bear the flag -- they who will carry the standard through the next generation. 
It is their burden, and their sorrow that I mourn for.

Softly smiling, I remember ...
I remember the joy, the brightness of the lives they've shared with me.
My heart lifts as I think of the beauty of our time together.
It is the beacon of joy that reaches through the gloom, past the veil, and into my being. 
They are the light in my life.

Softly treading, I step ...
Forward, into this beautiful new life that awaits me. 
Tentative steps on the same path of progression -- echoes of eternity, here and in mortality.
Echoes of the steps my loved ones still take.
Though separated by distance and time, through our steps we are still inextricably linked.

Softly weeping, I glory ...
I glory in the overwhelming beauty of God's plan for me,
In the knowledge that, just as I once blazed a trail through mortality for my loved ones to follow,
I am walking a path to God's glory, an example to my posterity.
I weep with joy; I glory in His goodness, and I look forward with hope and longing ...
They are still mine, and they will come ...

Written by Jaymie Reynolds

I'm so thankful for the beauty of those who touch our lives. What a blessing to feel their impact in our homes. The gift of Christ-like example that they have given will echo through the eternities.

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's been an interesting couple of weeks ...

In addition to the regular drama that's been playing out in our lives, my car has died. Currently, it's an expensive paperweight, decorating my covered parking.

For some of the details, head over here, and here,  and finally, here.

It's been aggravating, but it's shown me some weaknesses in my own faith that I can work on. There has been a day or two where I've cried with the sheer overwhelmingness of it all. (Yes, I know that's not a word; however, it's the most appropriately accurate "not" word that I can think of.) There were a few days that I was angry and frustrated, but I've tried to be calm, to not act in anger, and to trust that God has a purpose for this particular challenge in my life.

At the same time, I felt that I needed to express my concerns in a manner that would make the dealership more aware of the errors that they made, in hopes that they will be more thorough on other vehicles that they may work on in the future. (Not mine -- I will find other businesses to work with ... ) Hence, the above letters to the dealership. I've also filed a complaint with the BBB.

We've been really blessed by some great family and friends that, so far, I've been able to get to work and school still. While it's not ideal, there have been some beautiful blessings that have come to remind us that the Lord still knows where we are and what we need.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cranky Kidlets, Newish Solution ...

The girls are hitting that age range -- you know, the one where violent mood swings and incessant bickering come to call? Needless to say, it's been that fun ...

I've found that whenever the girls grow into a particularly "exciting" phase, I tend to echo their regression into toddlerhood. It seems that the first three weeks of an ugly cycle, we're all just ornery. Usually, about that time, I realize, "Oh, this is our current normal!" and at that point, I'm able to start figuring out productive ways to handle the new challenges of parenting.

This new age range has been a little tougher for all of us to adjust to. Often, the kids are bickering and pestering one another. As the chaos and noise level escalates, so do all three of our tempers. Usually, at that point, they are so loud that I have to raise my voice to be heard.

After days of trying to come up with feasible alternatives to help bring the usual peaceful feeling into our home regularly again, today seems to have been a turning point. With everything that's been going on lately, added to all of the preparation for Ella's baptism today, I was FAR too exhausted to try and rise above the chaos. I found myself humming a song. As I realized what the song was, I began to sing it out loud. This is what I sang:

I want to be kind to everyone, for that is right you see.
So I say to myself, ...

At this point, I noticed that my kids were paying attention, so I stopped, turned to them and said, "What?" They looked at each other and then back at me and simultaneously sang,

Remember this ...
I said, "Then what?" Strangely enough, they chuckled and finished it off with:

Kindness begins with me!

Later today, the same thing was happening, so I tried just singing the song again. L came up to me and said, "Mom, how come you always sing that song to us?" I said that I thought it was better than yelling at them. Then I asked my girls if it made them stop and notice how they were acting when I sang that to them. They both instantly replied that it did. I asked what it reminded them of, and both girls said, "to be kind." I told them that, "Well then, I guess it's working."

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Doozy of a 4th Grade Day ...

As we were walking home from school, M asked me, "Mom, how would someone change their sex anyway?!?" While I was turning purple with panic at this turn of conversation, I managed to maintain my outer appearance of composure.

(Now let me just clarify something quickly; I am of the firm belief that if my children ask me this type of question, they're old enough for an honest, forthright answer. While I try to keep it as age-appropriate as such a answer can be, I feel that withholding information about these things will only hinder their ability to make righteous choices. If I don't answer their questions, others will; and those answers may not be what I would want.)

** All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)**

I explained to my daughter that our spirits are eternal, that we lived with Heavenly Father before we came to earth, and that no one can change the sex of our spirit. I then explained that some people have figured out how to perform surgery that will change the appearance of a person's body to look like a different gender. I explained that although it makes them look different than who they are, no surgery can change the spirit that God created.

She asked me if people's voices change when they make those choices and have that kind of surgery. I explained that there are some things called hormones that tell our bodies how what to do, and that people who elect to have those surgeries are given hormones to make them sound different. Again, I emphasized that even though they sound different on the outside, they're still the same person they've always been on the inside.

As she thought about the things we'd discussed, she just kept asking, "Why would someone want to look different than the person that they really are? Why would they want to be something that they aren't?"  I explained that our bodies are a gift, that Heavenly Father wants us to take care of them, and to be happy with who we are. I told her that He loves us just the way we are, and He wants us to be comfortable with how He made us.