Thursday, September 15, 2011

Saying Goodbye to my Little Boy

Vance age 4
I remember sending off my oldest to kindergarten and knowing that his world was about to be bigger than the four walls surrounding our home.  It was with a terrific amount of strength and faith that I sent him out in to the world, so to speak.  I knew that from here on out, my opinion wouldn’t always be the one he counted on, that the world was about to have its part in helping me raise my boy.
I have wondered and worried every new year as I sent him off on a new phase, if I taught him enough to be able to weather the storms of life with a sound knowledge of why he is here on this earth and what he needs to do to be successful in his journeys.  Every single one of my kids gets the same worries as they start a new school year or in his case, a new phase in his life. About every August I shed more than a few tears as I send my children off on their next new adventure; middle school, high school, college, full time employment, etc.

At the end of every one of those “firsts”  and most every day in between, my children came home to me.  I knew most of what had happened that day and we have been able to discuss strategies to cope with all those outside forces that pull us in different directions.  We have prayed together, studied our scriptures together, gone to church together, family vacations together, laughed and played together and even cried together.   I feel like I have been (along with their dad) the one steady in their life and that no matter what, at the end of the day, they would come home to someone who loved them and supported them.

That is all changing as my oldest son prepares to serve a mission.  This time, I will send him off into the world all alone.  He will not come home to me at the end of the day and ask for direction or understanding.  Never before has my faith in my motherhood been tested as it has been the last few months as I have watched him prepare.  Did I teach him correct principles?   Did I love him enough?  Did I teach him to be a hard enough worker?  Is his testimony of what he is about to embark on strong enough to get him through all the slammed doors and rejection he is about to face?  Is his foundation of gospel principles grounded enough to endure the endless amount of disappointment he may have to endure?  Will he ever come to a point where he is so discouraged that he begins to doubt his righteous endeavors?

The truth is, that I have absolute faith that his testimony is sure, that he knows he is a child of God, and that the work is is going to do is absolutely necessary.  I have absolute faith that the families he will bring the gospel to will be blessed to know that their families can be together forever, just like ours.  I have absolute faith that the Lord wouldn’t take my boy away from me for any other reason than to have him share the wonderful happiness that I have in being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and what it has brought to me…to us.   I have absolute faith that the little boy who walks out our front door in a few weeks will return in two short years as a man even stronger in his convictions of the truth with a love of the gospel more pure than I can imagine.

Someone once told me when he was small that I shouldn’t blink because if I do, he will be all grown up and I will wonder where the time went.  I don’t remember blinking, but at some point I did.

So, for the next two weeks, we will finish packing up his room.  I will take that one huge bin and hide it away somewhere that his siblings will never find; packed full of favorite t-shirts, music CD’s and other miscellaneous special items that he wants kept safe for the next two years.  I will send him to the doctor for a few more shots, we will run a few more errands together and gather those last minute items, I will beg him for more hugs and I’m certain there will be a few more happy memories made as our family enjoys our last two weeks together.

Until the 28th, and I’m sure for quite a while after, please excuse my roller coaster of emotions as I say goodbye to my little boy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Don't Judge

I want to keep this short because I really, really, really want you to click on the link I'll put at the bottom of this.  This topic has been on my mind lately but I couldn't put into words what I wanted to say.  The post on this blog says it perfectly.

My thoughts on this subject started when one of my kids came home from school a few years ago and was complaining about his teacher and his behavior toward the entire class.  The teacher said something along the lines of, "I don't get paid enough to babysit you."  My child was so upset at how angry the teacher was because he really did like him.  Since I believe in changing myself first before asking someone else to change, we discussed ways he could try and be a better student, be a leader in the class when they started getting out of hand, verbally thanking the teacher for things more often, etc. but nothing seemed to be making a difference over the next few days.

Later that week, I stopped by the school just dropped in and casually asked how it was going.  I asked him if he liked being a teacher and what made him choose that vocation, mostly small talk.  His reply took me by surprise.  He said he never wanted to be a teacher, he wanted to be a fireman, but had his degree and went ahead and got his teaching certificate so he could have a job while he waited for his "real" job.  As it turns out, he was unhappy with the way his life was going and was upset that he felt like he was never going to get that call to be a fireman.  There were some other personal problems that were causing him to be unhappy at the same time.  I addressed my concern with some of the comments he was making and he apologized for taking his frustrations out on the class.  We had a nice talk after that and from then on, there were no further problems and the school year ended on a great note.  

So, when my kids are complaining or whining about a teacher or a friend or a neighbor, I guarantee they are sick of hearing me say, "maybe we don't know the whole story" or "think about what might cause that person to behave that way" or other similar things.  I hope I have impressed on my children the importance of not judging.  It doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but we are trying really hard not to.

I'm not perfect, I've done it myself and I've been judged wrongly by others too.  The important part is to start today to do better and be better.  Don't judge others but also don't be too hard to judge ourselves, especially when we look around and see what everyone else is doing and start comparing.  Heavenly Father knows what we can and can't handle.  I truly believe there is a season for all things and we can't run faster than we are able.  

So, having said that, I want you to check out this story.  I appreciated reading it this morning and I think you will too.  Happy Tuesday!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 Memories

A week later and still coughing...

It is hard to believe it has been 10 years since "that" day.  I can remember it clearly in my mind, especially recalling all those images from the news as we were glued to the television for days and weeks.  But, in light of that situation and the tragedy that it was, I have some good memories of that day.

We woke up that morning very early so we could all do our traditional birthday party in bed for Marly, who was turning 7 that day.  We sang the Happy Birthday song, we opened presents, then everyone got dressed and came down for ice cream and donuts.  After morning scriptures and family prayer, I sent everyone off to school.  It started off as a wonderful day.

Shortly after, someone called me and told me to turn on the television to the news.  I could hardly believe what I saw.  I made a quick call to Ben who had just arrived at his office.  They turned on the big screen at work and just watched.  I too, just sat, and cried and worried and prayed.  Then the second plane hit, then the pentagon was hit, then the airplane went down in spite of brave heroes who tried to intercept their "would-be" assassin over a field in Pennsylvania.

My girlfriends and I quickly gathered and put together sandwiches, crackers, fruit drinks, water bottles and other things for people to snack on.  We drove them into town and donated them to the local Red Cross where dozens and dozens of people stood in line for hours to donate blood.  It seemed that keeping our hands busy made us feel better and being so far away from New York, we felt helpless.

For a long time after 9/11, flags flew everywhere and pride in our country exhumed from every home, office, store, and school; there was a surge of patriotism.  People volunteered their time to the cleanup effort, they donated money, they offered services to those in need.  There were songs written and peoms read in support of our heroes, those who died, and those who were missing.  At a time of great sadness, there was also a great hope for the future of our country.  It was an emotional time to be an American.  I loved it, in spite of the great sadness in my heart.

I took treats to my daughter's class at the end of that day.  The news had spread quietly through the school, but my kids didn't seem to understand the full effect of what had happened.  We had some quality visits over the next few hours regarding what had happened and there were many prayers offered, the simple ones, the ones that said "bless the kids whose moms and dads are lost" or "help our president" or "help our country."  We tried to keep the day all about Marly and did special things for her so that the memory of that day would be pleasant for her and not sad.  When I tucked her into bed that night, she thanked me and told me it was the best day ever.

Best day ever?  Well, in her mind at least I'm glad for that.

I sometimes wish we could bottle up that sense of pride and hope and community spirit and spread it around every so often just so I could feel it like I did that day and for so many days and weeks following.  It is events like that that remind me I need to do better, to try harder and to be more.  Sometimes it is overwhelming, but always it is do-able.  Love and serve; I needed to be reminded of that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Educate Yourself

It has been a rough 3 weeks as I try to recuperate from my bout of pneumonia.  I'm still not done healing and I can't seem to kick this nagging cough.  You would think 12 days of antibiotics would heal me pretty effectively, but I was told to give it a good 6 weeks to be back to "normal."  Hmmm, who has time for this?  

Anyway, in the meantime, I have been trying to rest and that means I have slept a lot.  So, no recent blog posts.  I hope to rectify that starting today, and that is the importance of continuing your education or becoming a life-learner.

You don't have to go sign up for classes at the local college, but if you have a desire to get a degree and it is a good time for you to pursue that then by all means DO IT!!  I'm in my last semester at ASU and I have senior-itis really bad.  So bad that I may have lost my desire to wear those special tassels with my gown at graduation that says I had a super great GPA.  Yes, it is down to this semester and these last two classes.  It has been a tough road, but I'm so appreciative that my family allowed me this opportunity to finish what I started back in the fall of 1989.  I will be applying for my sub certificate with a few local school districts in the area and hope to be able to work one day a week until my babies are in school full time.  But, that isn't my point...

It is crucial that each woman, married or not, have something they can fall back on in order to help provide for their family if needed...or be working towards something.  I have tons of friends who are licensed cosmetologists, work in nursing, keep the books for their husband's business, have their real estate license, etc.  Those things are great and I wish I had taken the time to learn something valuable all those years ago.  I'm so proud of all my friends who have decided to go back to school recently and those that have actually graduated, go you!

But, my point here is that it isn't too late.  With the technology available to us in 2011, there is really no excuse to not be learning something.  I have a few suggestions for things you can do to always be learning.

1.  Attend your ward relief society meetings.  In those meetings over the last 20 years, I have learned to make bread, can peaches, study my scriptures more effectively, become self reliant, teach my children, save money, change the oil in my car and so many more.  These classes are chosen based on the needs of your individual ward relief society.  Much thought and preparation go into them and they are generally free and also include great socializing and usually dessert:)

2.  Take a class at the local community college.  I can remember my friend taking her first photography class at MCC and she was so excited.  It has only been two years or so since she finished that class and now she has her own photography business alongside her husband and she loves it.  What if you took a pottery class and found out you had a knack for creating art with clay?  If they are good enough, you could sell them and make a little cash on the side.  Consider a writing class and hone up on your reporting skills then start writing for a small newspaper.  The possibilities are endless.

3.  Maybe you have your degree and just want to continue being a life-learner.  Did you know that BYU offers many free online courses that you do at your own pace?  Who knows, maybe that family history class you take helps you build enough skills that you can offer to help others with their work.  Maybe you just want to increase your understanding of the Book of Mormon or other scriptures.  Check out what they have to offer.

4.  Find out what community courses are being offered at your local library or City Center.  In our area, there is an institute class being held every Thursday night and it has become a popular class.  The library offers classes on resume writing, computer basics, and how to ace your next job interview.  Some classes may come with a small fee, but they are generally free.

5.  Do you have a skill or knowledge in a particular field of expertise you can share with others?  Consider finding ways to share your knowledge with others.  I have a friend who provides a great fireside with her sisters on divine nature and seeing what Heavenly Father sees in you.  It is inspirational.  I have another friend who has a blog about things she is learning on her path to becoming a marriage counselor.  What is it that you can share with others?  I guarantee there is something.

Dallin H. Oaks said this in a BYU Devotional in 1975:  

"Education should improve our minds, strengthen our bodies, heighten our cultural awareness, and increase our spirituality. It should prepare us for greater service to the human family. Such an education will improve a woman’s ability to function as an informed and effective teacher of her sons and daughters, and as a worthy and wise counselor and companion to her husband."

And that's all I am going to say about that.