I Lost it at 3

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And then there were three….

 

When I had 2 kids I felt right from the beginning that it was doable. Yes, tricky at times but completely doable.

I don’t remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the prospect of parenting and keeping up with my other various responsibilities. I also felt like I could get my body back. I gained the least amount of weight with my second pregnancy and had stayed pretty active the entire pregnancy. A couple stretch marks (yes, two actually) but other than that by the time my second child was 9 months old I felt like I was as in as good of shape as I had been before kids.

But I completely LOST IT at 3. I don’t know what I did wrong or what happened exactly but I feel like from child #3 on I have never been able to get completely back up in the saddle.

Yes, I’m still on the horse….mostly….most days…..but it’s a very precarious ride and I feel like I’m wearing silk pajamas on a leather saddle with no reins to grab onto….the horse definitely has no bit….it’s wild.

That’s also about the point I mysteriously started finding things like gray hairs, hidden stretch marks in crazy places, love handles and extra “padding” around my middle, not to mention the ingrained purple bags under my eyes and my increased urge to lash out irrationally.

That’s when homeschooling became a daily battle. Discipline a guessing game. And a clean house a figment of my imagination. Where did the order go? I’m an organized person….right? Aren’t I?

So, at the moment we have 4 kids and we feel like there is at least one more waiting on us….maybe more….Some days I get all motivated and psyched up and think , “I CAN DO THIS!!!!!”

About an hour later, while battling my 8yr. old over a math lesson, trying to keep my 5 year old out of the mud when she’s supposed to be working on her handwriting (come on, at least during school can we avoid filling the entire patio with mud pies? :/), finding my 3yr. old in a flooded bathroom with her messed up pants around her ankles and WAY more than enough toilet paper to clean it up with (when did she even GO to the bathroom, I thought she was doing phonics on the computer??), only to come out of there to find my 1 year old has somehow figured out how to climb into the kitchen cupboard, dump out all the garbage in the garbage can and is now eating who knows what out of it….it’s at times like this I find myself thinking, “What in the world was I thinking? THERE IS NO WAY ON EARTH I CAN DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Well, I’m right. Actually both statements are correct if I tweak it a bit. I, personally, cannot do this. It is just not humanly possible.

The thing is it really doesn’t matter how many parenting books I read, organizational webinars I listen too, or homeschooling blogs I follow….when it comes down to it, despite my best efforts…life is still going to happen and I’m still going to mess up. Big time.

So what does that mean? Should I quit? Should I just give up and go with the flow?

No, of course not. It just means that I am me. And my kids are each uniquely made as well.

It’s like mixing up a salad. Different ingredients, some of which may not even seem like they should go together, but a really good salad has a lot of surprising variety. The ingredients work together because they are put together by a chef that knows their unique taste and texture.

So here’s the thing. I’m me. You mix me with the members of my family and there is going to be sweet, sour, soft, crunchy…. mostly nutty. But the Chef knows what He is doing because He knows each of us better than we know ourselves.

Are families are not by accident. This is God’s Plan. We have families to fulfill his divine purposes and we are put together ON PURPOSE.

I am here to learn. To learn to be more like God. And that is what each of my children are here for too.

We are ALL disciples…followers, learners, willing students….I just forget that part sometimes…ok, LOTS of times.

I’m so busy instructing, teaching…ok, ok bossing…that I’m not even opening my mind and heart to what I’m supposed to be learning.
Yeah, there is always the standard answer, Patience. Right, well as parents we definitely know we could use some of that.

But what about charity? The ability to love as God loves, just as we are, good or bad, right or wrong,….He loves us. Always and forever.

What about meekness? The ability to be teachable. To look at every situation with curiosity and desire to learn and accept situations and people as they are.

What about submissiveness? The ability to give my will up for the better good, maybe better for me, maybe better for everyone. Trusting that the Lord knows all…and thus knows best.

These are all characteristics that are naturally inherent in my children. Yet, sadly, I tend to think I’m the Mom, I know best….really? Always?

Worst of all, by my callous, prideful words and behaviors I am shaping another generation to leave their child-like natures behind and follow in MY footsteps….wait, aren’t I supposed to be leading them to Christ?

I already know, I don’t know what I’m doing. I already know, I lost it. So, stop the fight.

Let humility take over rather than pride. See my children as God sees them and love them that way too. Let them teach me. Instead of constantly thinking, “I cannot do this.” I should be thinking, “Show me how to do this.”

There are times when I have actually been able to embrace these principles. Let go of myself, my thoughts, my worries, my pride….and open my mind to learning and guidance. It always works. An answer always comes. Sooner or later, all at once or gradual…it comes. And many times….from the mouth of babes…

So, maybe that’s part of God’s plan too. I HAD to lose it. I had to get to the point where I felt like I know nothing and I can do nothing, so I could let Him guide me back to where I’m meant to be.

On Loan

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Some of the beauties that I have “On Loan” at the moment….

She looked up at me with a tear-stained face, not even capable of holding back the fountain of tears that had pushed their way up from her broken heart. “I don’t even want to try anymore,” she managed to whisper. She was still recovering from a painful miscarriage, just a little over a year after watching her son, barely a day old, die in the hospital, from what could have been a preventable infection. Honestly, I just wanted to run away. The pain was too deep and the agony was palpable in the room. I ached as I sat closer and gave her a hug. There was nothing I could do, that was the worst of it. It was all in her court. That and in the arms of the Lord. Only He could carry her through…

Being a woman, especially one with children in the home, you seem to learn more of these tragic stories either from your own experience or the other women in your circle of influence. Miscarraige, still-borns, infant death, child death…then there is a different side of the coin that is equally heart-wrenching, women who spend their whole childhood dreaming of someday being a mother and then they are unable to conceive. Some of them move forward with foster care and adoption and have to deal with the unsympathetic bureaucratic nonsense that often leaves them childless once again as they are forced to give up a child, one they have often put their heart and soul into raising and bonding with, that has become THEIR baby.
When I hear of these stories they are often close to home. I have had three miscarriages myself and nearly every woman I have been close too has a very similar story of heartache to tell. I have pondered on this subject for years. Where is the justice? Where is the mercy? What is the purpose?
When my niece died of SIDS I remember falling to my knees in prayer, nearly screaming at God, WHY!?? WHY HER? WHY THIS? That is the only time I can remember ever being angry with God. It just didn’t make sense. I knew He was a loving God, how could he allow this to happen?
The Lord comforted me and though I didn’t have answers I was able to move forward with the thought, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
It wasn’t until very recently that answers slowly began to come. I started looking at the bigger picture and as I put together all my ponderings I realized that the Lord had wanted me to find my own answer.
There were two very influential statements said during this time of pondering that helped me shape my answer. One came from a dear friend that constantly inspires me with her devoted life, amidst seemingly impossible odds. She was sharing her experience of how she began to want to change her life and become a disciple of Christ, eventually leading her to baptism in our church. She said essentially, “When I came to the funeral of my sister’s infant son I felt something different. I felt that it was time to change my life…I know that part of his (the baby that had died) mission in this life was to bring me back to Christ.” When she said that it was like a lightning strike of truth entered my being. I knew what she said was true.
I believe everyone comes to earth for a specific purpose and when it all comes down to it, our main goal as brothers and sisters in God, is to make sure that we all make it back to Him. I just had never thought about even a baby having a mission and that it could be fulfilled in just a few short hours of living. As I looked back on my niece’s life I could see how she too had become a catalyst to lead many members of our family closer to Christ.
As I pondered this on the back burner of my brain, another memory came. My dear step-father had shared with me his insights with me during my first miscarriage. He too, had lost a baby when she was a mere few hours old and he shared from his journal an insight that came to him during this time. He said basically (I’m paraphrasing horribly), “We need to remember that nothing that we’ve been given is actually ours, everything belongs to the Lord. That means even our children are “on loan” to us, they don’t belong to us, they are part of our stewardship and if we prove worthy and teach them correctly then through the mercy and power of the atonement of Christ we can all live together forever. That also means that in order to follow Christ we must as he said, be willing to give up everything, even our children, whether it be for our better good, their better good, or the good of the kingdom.”
These two thoughts seemed to fill in a huge piece of the puzzle for me. We all have a mission, even our children. Sometimes ours, or their mission in this life can be fulfilled in a moment. And sometimes the only obstacle standing between us and Christ, is our inability to let go or something that really isn’t even ours to begin with.
As I’ve tried to apply these principles to the many heartaches I have witnessed, at times it is still very hard to accept.
I know a wonderfully amazing young woman that has had her share of hardship. But never the sun goes down on a day that she has not made better for someone else. She inspires me with her dedication, wisdom, creativity and tenacity. She is also among one of the army of remarkable women who whether for a time or a lifetime, has been unable to conceive.
Instead of viewing it as a set-back, she has chosen to move forward and share her mothering and nurturing talents in the foster care system. She amazes me because she knows that these children may only be with her for a matter of weeks or months, yet she puts her heart and soul into raising them as if they were from her very own womb.

It is because she is a mother, regardless of biology, she knows that as a woman, her divine purpose on this earth is to lead and guide children back to Christ. She knows that, regardless of their origin of birth, they are children of God and she will lead them back to Him. My belief is that is her divine mission.
These children, regardless of their age or future circumstance will always remember her influence and wherever they might go in life they will know that they were loved by a woman that loved Christ and taught them to love Christ. They will feel it. I believe very strongly that through these foundations, even if they stray, they will feel the pull of their heartstrings that will direct them back to Christ. The heartstrings that she, so lovingly, tied for them.
It is a journey. This relinquishing of our own will to align with God’s purpose for us and others.
All of these ponderings finally led me back to the story of Hannah and Samuel. To me, Hannah is a woman that really understood the process of consecration, that nothing is truly ours, as she gave her only child (at the time she did not know she would have others) over to life of service to the Lord.
It is also interesting to me that Hannah only raised Samuel for a short time (she gave him over the priesthood after he was weaned). Yet, Samuel was able to remain worthy, righteous, and eventually even become a prophet, despite the wickedness that surrounded him in the priest Eli’s household.
This story gives me hope and comfort. Whether we give birth to them or not, though a child is with us for a childhood or a few days, we as mothers can make a difference in their lives. Truth will find the heart, and there it will stay. Either growing or waiting for the day when it can.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope you all are celebrating with the one’s that you love! I love that in Mexico they call this day, The day of Love and Friendship. It really helps me expand my mind to be sure I make a special effort to send hugs and good wishes to all those that I love and are important in my life.

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To celebrate we started our day with some raspberry filled muffins (Vegan! Guys, cook some brown rice with a bit too much water and substitute it for the eggs…great texture!) and almond and pear smoothies (yes, we dyed everything pink!).

Then the kids searched for all the paper hearts hidden in our living room. Coordinated by favorite color, Engineer had orange hearts, Fiesta had pink and Elf had purple. On each of the hearts Marvel and I wrote reasons we loved them. Then they matched up their hearts to the ones in the puzzle (aka: the same paper we cut them out of…J) and above each piece was a letter. Engineers letters were scrambled but the girls just had to write the letters down in order and read it to find their Valentine’s gift. We try to give them a book or game with a small treat for each holiday.

We had another crazy day but found time to make some Valentine’s and Jam-Print cookies for friends and Valentine’s videos for Grandparents. Probably would have been even more crazy if the kids hadn’t been happy to do Valentine’s worksheets, I LOVE the internet. We are not big worksheet advocates, but they are a great way to do school on holidays and then the kids think it’s a treat!

Lovely Beginning

Image                                             Here are our “Heart Maps” thus far!

To begin this Valentine’s week we started our day with practicing a new song. Well, a new old song. It’s called “Love One Another” and is based on John 13:34-35. We learned it a couple years ago but then it occurred to me that my now almost 4 year old didn’t really have the attention span at that time to learn it so we’re doing a review. It’s beautiful and brings a wonderful spirit to start the day and lead into our devotional. An added plus is that there is a sign language tutorial (wow, that must be a REALLY old video!)  that goes along with it that we’ve been learning/reviewing as well. My kids all love music and sign language (it’s our second language we’re learning at the moment), but my daughters LOVE this! They are both VERY kinesthetic learners, especially Fiesta, whom defines the saying “she was born dancing.”

In place of journaling time this week we are also working on “Heart Maps”. I was really interested in doing this to help my Engineer especially with his writing skills (and motivation 🙂 but I knew it would be a fun thing for Fiesta and Elf would love to tell me stories about it later on. Plus I was just genuinely interested in what things they all considered important! Today I really didn’t give them many guidelines other than draw a heart and draw or write things that are important to you inside of it. We are going to expand on this as the week goes along so that they can hopefully include everything inside the heart that they hold dear.

I was reflecting tonight as well that we could also use this Heart Map to reflect on one of our Family Night lessons we had a few weeks ago in which we learned about the first commandment (Exodus 20:3). At the time of the lesson we discussed how anything can become a “god” to us and if we start to place it before our one and true God it will lead to unhappiness. I think that reflecting on this commandment WITH the Heart Map will help my kids conceptualize this connection better.

Looking forward to a week filled with focusing on Love!

What Do You Think of My New Makeover?

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We made our traditional Christmas cookies on Monday (we added mint flavoring this year though, YUM!)  We had the Christmas trees, stars, bells, hearts, my son decided to make a nativity, a neighbor boy made a sign of “I love you” for his Mom…it was so fun and cute and the kids loved it.

I was really touched though when my oldest daughter (5 yrs old) brought me this little creation….”Mom!” she said beaming, ” It’s you! I made it for you!” It was so darling, and I loved how she tried to match my hair and eyes, it was one of those “Melt” moments that just sends a burst of joy through you.

It wasn’t until today that I was looking at it and the thought came to me, “Is this just a 5 year old creation or does she really think I look like an 80’s country singer?”….Well, I guess it doesn’t matter, it said “I love you, Mom”,  no matter what.

Five (Top) Reasons to be Thankful

Image                                           In case you’re wondering, yes, she is wearing goggles on her head as she finishes eating 🙂 !

I love Thanksgiving! Remembering what we have to be grateful for is such a wonderful way to get ready for celebrating the Birth of our Savior. So, I would be incredibly ungrateful if I didn’t recognize my many blessings on this blessed day! As I was reflecting I just had so many things to be thankful for that I thought I would keep it to my Top Five for this post 🙂

#1 My God and My Religion:

I would not be here if it weren’t for my Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for this Plan of Happiness that they have created for us and to know that I am a Child of God. I am also incredibly grateful for my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To have the guidance, direction, and extended family that I gain from this incredible church is an immense gift.

#2 My Family

I am so grateful for the love, support and example of my extended family. My parents have taught me moral courage and that I can learn from each person I meet, for that I will be forever indebted to them. My husband continues to teach me to reach for my goals, no matter how impossible it seems. His love and patience amaze me and sustain me daily. My children have shaped me more in the past 9 years than I had been in my entire lifetime beforehand. Their unconditional love and zeal for learning and life is inspiring. It is truly amazing the great joy that comes from being a mother.

#3 My Experiences

The good, the bad, the ugly(hmm, looks like I need an “ugly” post 🙂 ….I have learned to appreciate each experience in my life. Thus far I can look back and see in each one that the Lord has led me and guided me to learn and grow in the areas I needed in order to fulfill the next step of responsibility in my life. Through the good I have learned to feel the gratitude that comes from being loved. Through the good I have learned the compassion it takes to help others learn and heal.

#4 My Friends

It is amazing how the Lord puts the right people in the right place at the right time. I can honestly say that I can count my close friends on one hand, and one of them would be my husband and my mother:) But I also have many good friends, many of whom may not even know how dearly I hold them in my heart, that have shown me love and taught me priceless lessons that have humbled me and helped me to grow.

#5 Technology

This may seem silly to some, but I really am astounded at how technology has touched me life! I would never have met my husband if we had not lived in the age where travel is so much easier. I would not have the same level of openness were it not for again, the ease of travel, and the ease and amount of information available at the click of a mouse. Were it not for the incredible technology we posess today….My children would not know there grandparents. I would never have met my in-laws. I would not have the same confidence in teaching and raising my children. I would not be able to learn and connect with so many of you! It is truly a thrill and blessing.

May this day give you time to reflect on your blessings. May you begin the Christmas Season with joy in your hearts. May you start the New Year with a humble and rejoicing heart. We have so much to be thankful for….Happy Thanksgiving!

The Roller-Coaster

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So funny how silence can feel like a cold, uninviting void or a soft welcoming blanket. Chocolate a calming balm of Gilead or a secret, forbidden indulgence. Children’s laughter a musical joy that sends your heart singing or a rake of noise that boils your irritation. A song can be a warm whimsical welcome to nostalgia or a deep aching remembrance of heartache. Even a hug can become a two-sided coin of acceptance and love or of awkward realization of detachment.

What can make such straightforward things have two totally different outcomes? Well……you……

It’s us, our feelings and memories of feelings that create our world. Even very logical people are susceptible to the human code of emotion. I would argue that our deep emotions make us human. So why is it that we are so confused about what to do with them?

I ponder over this a lot. As a youth I used improper coping mechanisms that buried all negative emotion to the point of becoming blank, unfeeling. I can tell you that I did not feel human, actually life became very meaningless.

Fortunately, I continued my habits of prayer, gospel study, worship and devotions during this difficult time and the right people, experiences, and thoughts were put in my path so that I could find my way out of that dark and dreary waste. God is good.

Once I started allowing myself to feel again it was a bit of a mess. A mess that unfortunately, I still find myself in every now and again. I knew and know that learning to control my emotions did not mean that I would get rid of them or ignore them or belittle myself for them…..I must feel them and deal with them…..Easier said than done.

So, now as I still am working on dealing with negative feelings in a healthy way I find three things that have helped me beyond measure;

  1. God

–          If I am putting God first in my life, it is just easier. I show Him that He is first by reading and studying His words every day, praying daily, going to my Sunday worship services, and trying to do as He would do. Then I have His Spirit to guide me, and  I can know the BEST way to deal with an emotion or avoid many negative ones altogether.

  1. Step Away but don’t Put Away…yet….

–          When I’m feeling something negative I try to take a step away from the emotion to look at it, identify it, and see why I would be feeling this way. This helps me see the problem and I can better attack it at its source.

Also, many times I think I am feeling one thing but the root of the problem is really another (anger turning out to be loneliness or mourning, etc)

There are also times when my emotions are so mixed up, usually because other people are involved and I don’t have enough information to come to a conclusion, that I HAVE to put it away or get rid of it altogether. If I think for some reason I will need to analyze the feelings in the future I literally picture putting them in a glass jar and twisting the top on and putting them on a shelf in the corner of my mind. If I don’t see any reason for hanging on to those feelings then I blow them away into the sky and picture them fading away into oblivion. This may seem corny, but it works!

  1. Make a Plan

-Sometimes we need a game plan.

My biggest downfalls are depressive/discouragement type feelings and anger so when I get inklings of these feelings I first analyze and find the source and then I get to work.

With the “down” feelings I usually find that it’s one of three things, over-worked, under-worked, or comparing. When I’m over-worked, I take a break. When I’m what I call “under-worked”, it means I’m not striving for excellence, just going through the motions and not improving and learning. If this is the case I start the goal-setting and planning and add other interesting and uplifting reading material to my daily study.

Comparing…. Well, this is a hard one. Sometimes it is good, because it makes me realize something I need to improve on. Many times though it’s destructive because I’m comparing the surface level of what I see in someone elses life, with what is most likely one of their strengths, with a deep, down and ugly view of my own life with what is usually one of my weaknesses. This is when I have to slap myself into being realistic, make any changes I think are necessary and turn the rest over to the Lord.

Emotion is a beautiful gift from God. But like everything else, there is opposition. This is necessary, how can we know joy without sorrow? Forgiveness without offense? Love without loneliness? Humility without anger? However, we will decide what becomes of us by how we deal with these complexities of life. For me, there are days when it’s a minute by minute battle of what I will allow to take over my life. But when I put God first, take a step back and make a plan, the battle becomes a mere discussion and my virtue can increase. And that is what I strive for, a virtuous life.

What helps you to deal with the emotions of life?