Just Another Day in Paradise

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Have you every heard this song? It was one of my favorites as a romantic teenager thinking that one day when I was in the stage I am now I would be blissfully happy. 

Now that I’m in the married, stay at home mom, little kid stage I’m not blissfully happy. You know why? Well, it’s really just the wording. To me, the word “bliss” denotes ignorance and the “rose-colored” glasses type effect. On the contrary, I know exactly what I chose. I chose this life and as any number of parents out there will tell you: Marriage and Parenthood is not for the faint of heart. This is hard work! If you want a job that will make you feel like you have no idea what you are doing and that you are always on your toes….well, then get married and have some kids (I recommend in that order too). But you know what I am also happier than I ever imagined I could be! It’s not bliss, but hard-earned deep-down happiness!

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As I was trying to do laundry the other day and my water heater went out (for the 3rd time in the last 3 months) and as I was pulling out and disconnecting the washer so I could get to the dryer and see what in the world was wrong with it too, I started laughing as this song, “Just Another Day in Paradise” popped in my head. My husband was on his way home to find me and the laundry area drenched (did you know that some houses have TWO water turn offs?) and a pile of dirty clothes scattered through the house cause a three year old knew her mommy was trapped behind the washer. But you know what? We were all happy!

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Last week the song came to mind again as my girls came dripping and muddy through the house after playing in the rain. Then again a few days later when my son  “accidently” blew up a water balloon in my face. I couldn’t help but think of it again yesterday as we were doing our traditional “interviews” with our kids and our three year old came and jumped on the couch with Mommy and Daddy and flipped upside down putting her dirty feet on the wall and then jumping on her Dad and saying “I farted!” and then giving him a big hug and saying “Good Daddy!”

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The thing is, pretty nearly every day something messes up my plans. Pretty nearly every day there is a question or concern that I’m not sure how to answer. Pretty nearly every day I fall asleep if I sit down for more than five minutes. 

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BUT…..Also, pretty nearly every day my son makes me laugh with his crazy laugh that he gets from his latest jokes. Pretty nearly every day my oldest daughter nearly chokes me with a huge hug and looks at me like I’m the greatest mom ever. Pretty nearly every day my 3 yr. old daughter brings me “flowers” from our yard (well, sometimes the neighbors too). Pretty nearly every day my baby girl gives me a goofy grin while breastfeeding and lets the milk dribble all over as if to say “I love you so much, Mommy!” And pretty nearly every day my husband gives me a look or a touch that gives me butterflies and makes me fall in love all over again.

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No, it’s not easy. I become frustrated, angry, irritated, hungry, exhausted, and sometimes just break down and cry. BUT, I am also becoming more thoughtful, caring, patient, humble and downright happy. Each day really is another day in Paradise.

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Laws of Parenthood

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Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom. It has always been my career of choice since childhood. Every once in a while though I think, “Can I really handle this?” It was just such a day that I started laughing at myself, reminded myself that I’m not in charge, and wrote this post.

The Laws of Parenthood

Children will only try your patience when you have none left.

Friends and associates won’t stop by the day AFTER cleaning day. No, they stop by the day BEFORE.

Your “quiet” child will only yell in the middle of church.

If you have more than one child you will have a least two that have opposite personalities.

Children have a certain quota of “why” questions they must ask each day, with most kids it comes to about 15,435,986 questions per day.

Your child will not do it; if they think they can get YOU to do it for them.

Children will always try their new tricks out when you have company or are trying to leave the house.

Your child will not sit down or take a nap when they become overly tired, they will become running, yelling, disobedient little trolls.

When your baby starts to sleep better your toddler will start waking up more.

Your children will decide to only make a fuss about food when you’ve spent at least an hour preparing it.

Your children will remind you of things you’ve forgotten when it’s too late to do anything about it.

If you have children you will always have a built in honest appraisal system, they’ll usually try to be tactful, “Mom, your butt is kind of big!”

If you have more than one child it is an irrevocable law of the universe that you cannot have ALL of them OR ALL of your home clean simultaneously.

If you have at least three children and a spouse, odds are that EVERY meal, SOMEONE will not like it.

Children will push all of your buttons only when you’re tired, hungry, and have to go to the bathroom.

You will have uninvited dinner guests on the day you decide to make bread and the kids decide to make mud-pies…..yes, in the house.

Though you may have times when you cannot get your child’s attention, DON’T WORRY! Your children will ALWAYS find a way to get YOUR attention.

And last but certainly not least:

When you first hold your own little baby in your arms you begin to understand the love that God must have for you.

Pondering Mary

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In the spirit of celebrating motherhood, I find my thoughts once again turning to Mary. Can we ever really know, really understand the kind of woman that Mary was, and is? For Christ to be the man we know Him to be, his mother must be remarkable, angelic, divine, virtuous, the epitome of womanhood.

I’ve been pondering on Mary more and more as I continue to become more and more involved in my role as a mother. My thoughts deepened around Christmas time of last year when I viewed this video: http://youtu.be/ugV6QGcafEE . Not only does the music stir your soul but the images portrayed of Mary reminded me of the very few scriptures shared about this heavenly woman.

For Jesus to be the man he was he had to have had a mother like Mary. He knew not only the scriptures but how to apply them to live a higher moral code. Could he really have learned such application by merely reading and memorizing? Would He not have to have been mentored and guided from childhood to have such a deep understanding? We know that Mary was a devote woman (Luke 1:38, Luke 1:46-55) and her Son is another testament to her piety.

Mary also did not question the angel when he mentioned the Messiah, she knew and believed in the prophesied mission of the Savior. We see this as she did not question the what and why, but merely the how (Luke 1:34 ). Her complete willingness to follow the Lord “ … be it unto me according to thy word.”( Luke 1:38); submitting her will to the Father, in complete faith. So we need not be entirely surprised as her Son also let His will be swallowed up in the Father’s as He partook of the bitter cup.

Can you imagine giving birth in a stable and then within hours having strangers come to visit you and your newborn child? Mary let the shepherds come to see the Savior on the same night she had just given birth, people she had never met before, what compassion and graciousness. So is it a surprise that her Son fed 5,000, healed the ear of the very guard that would lead Him to his trial, wept with those that wept, let the children come unto Him, and blessed and helped people day after day even when he was tired and hungry and spiritually exhausted?

Mary was there to see her own child crucified, what kind of devotion would that take? Even though she knew, what intense pain she must have felt. So, is it really a surprise that Jesus went to Mary and Martha and even shared in their mourning for their brother Lazarus, even when He knew He would raise Him from the dead?

All that being said, it is hard to believe that Mary was even mortal. But we know that indeed she was mortal, and thus a finite and carnal being. She must have felt the inadequacy and discouragement that we as mothers feel at times. Despite any weakness she may have had, she raised the only Begotton Son of God, the Savior of all mankind. He grew up and fulfilled all that he was meant to do. So what was her secret? Well,…. is it secret? We are told that she asked, trusted, submitted, obeyed, glorified and pondered (Luke 1:34 Luke 1:38, Luke 1:46-55Luke 2:19 ). I think it is quite clear that Mary was not a blind follower but an active agent in the work of God. A beautiful example of virtuous strength and faith, the perfect mother for the Son of God.

And isn’t it wonderful to think that we too are raising the Children of God? What a marvelous responsibility and gift! Every day I marvel at the trust God has shown He has in me by sending me such remarkable children. Ought I not to have the same trust in Him? Besides, he knows me and my children better than anyone else and He also knows what we CAN be. He knows that the combination of us, as mothers, and our children, as our children, CAN become a divine combination. We must simply look to Him.

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Pebble

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Do you ever wonder if you really make a difference? Do you ever wonder if what you’re doing really matters? Do you ever feel that your contribution is meaningless?

I’ve been thinking about this subject over the past few weeks. My thoughts became increasingly poignant when I watched a video the other day about WWII and some university students that tried to protest the Nazi regime through their own propaganda. In the end, the investigation pointed to 3, but mainly 2 students that had masterminded the majority of the information and distribution of the propaganda. They were executed for their efforts. However their legacy lived on and their voice was heard and made a positive difference.

After wiping away the tears, I got to thinking….am I making a difference? Is what I’m doing really going to matter?

My first thoughts were rather discouraging. But as I started to analyze my influence a bit more deeply I began to picture a pebble being thrown into an enormous lake. True, for the most part it would go unnoticed. But, that tiny pebble would cause ripples, even a bit of a splash, and had the power to even rock a boat.

I am not perfect. But I am trying my best. I am a child of God, a woman, a wife, a mother. I may not matter to others but I do matter to some, and I do matter to God. He sees me. He cares. He knows of my efforts.

I also know that every day I am making a statement. Every day that I choose to put my God, my marriage and family first I am telling them and everyone that will take notice that I know what real success is. Every day that I choose to use kindness instead of anger, disdain, or negativity, I am testifying that goodness wins. Every day that I choose to protect and sanctify my body with healthy habits and modesty I am showing God that I am grateful for His gift to me and my family and anyone else that will take notice that our bodies are sacred. Every day that I walk out with my family I am showing that I know that we are ALL beloved children of God, that He sees us, not our skin. Every Sunday when I’m going to church and spending the day in a worshipful attitude, I am testifying of my belief in the teachings of the Bible. Every day that I choose virtue and integrity over convenience and image I am telling my children what really matters. What I say and what I do says to the world and especially to my family what and who I am.

I think as Moms we sometimes get mixed messages.

The world tells us to do all and be all. This is more in the sense of superficial success, a skin-deep perfection…..have the amazing career, the money, the “perfect” body, the “perfect” house and the “perfect” family. Not only is this a tainted view of happiness, it never really brings happiness.

On the other hand, the Lord tells us to be virtuous and true to Him, our husbands and our families. Our purpose and mission is to teach and guide and lead the children of God to be the leaders and kind of people He wants them to be. What amazing trust our God must have in us women!

While trying our best and looking to God to fill in gaps, will bring happiness and even joy as we strive to fulfill this incredible role, it can seem daunting at times and we can become discouraged. Part of this discouragement often comes from the fact that although we have basic scriptural outlines and the Spirit to guide our efforts, we will find that there is no “blueprint” for success. Every woman and family is different and there are many details that the Lord will guide us in but not mandate.

Then we have our own personal demons to root out of our being. We all have weaknesses and while a spouse and children can help bring out the best in us, if we are not careful we and they can also end up with the worst of us.

Thankfully, this is all part of the plan. Just like a precious metal or gem, we cannot reach our potential without some tempering, some heat, some pounding off of rough edges.

As I was pondering on what I needed to do to be the kind of person that God wants me to be, and make the difference that I need to make in my children’s lives especially, I then pictured the little “Refresh” icon on my computer. Every now and then I have to sit back, look around, ponder, pray, study and click “Refresh”. The beauty of the atonement is that it works for everyone. I am not perfect BUT I can try again.

The desire to change is often with me but the urgency to do so has been heightened over the past week or so. This urgency to change was especially present today as I read and heard of a young mother, not much older than myself, that died a yesterday due to birth complications. Gratefully, she was a beautiful, Proverbs 31 woman that was ready to meet her Maker. Sadly, she left behind a young husband and 6 children, one of which she would never meet in this life. As I stared at my computer through a curtain of tears I began to think, “Am I ready?” “If I died today would my husband and children really know how much I love them?” “Would they remember me in a positive light?” “Has my pebble made all the ripples and splashes it was meant to make?”

I still have much work to do. I know that I am not alone in my quest. I know that my contributions seem small, but they are needed and they matter. I will “Refresh” and be better each day. Even if my life is only a pebble, the ripples will make a difference. Now I’m going to go hug my family and tell them I love them. Good night!

P.S. Here is the link about the woman I mentioned. A beautiful young woman that has left a husband and 6 children behind, please keep them in your prayers! Our Dearest Katrina!www.youtube.comhttp://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=GqBCZckcPSQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DGqBCZckcPSQ

Your Feet Stink

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Are we really who we say we are? Or do we even know?

Today I was thinking of when I was part of a dance company several years back. I remember when I began learning pointe (the funny ballet slippers that you dance on the tops of your toes) that I was pretty self-conscious of my feet. They smelled!

I was pretty serious about dance so I was dancing nearly every spare moment and after rehearsals I didn’t like to take my shoes off around other people cause my feet stunk. Then I remember going into the changing room one day, after everyone, and the smell that wafted from the room was not a pretty one! Then I started realizing, “Hey, everybody else has stinky feet too!”

It may seem like a silly story…ok, it is a silly story, but my point is that everyone has their weaknesses. They may not be the same as mine but we all learn differently…in different ways, at different rates, and for different reasons. We’re all here for a reason. We all have a unique purpose. We don’t all have the same talents, so why would we all have the same weaknesses?

The great part about it is that we can change. Christ died for our sins. Why would we make Him suffer, even now, because we won’t really exercise our faith in Him and let Him help us change!

I am that I am. That’s how God described himself to Moses. After researching the phrase a bit and pondering on the use of it, I feel it’s safe to say the God felt that His actions spoke for themselves. He could call himself “I am” because he had become perfect, whole, at one with Himself. There were no more internal battles with the natural man. No more desire to wrong Himself or another. “I am” was saying that he had reached beyond human nature….He is God.

I’ve been pondering on this many faceted subject for several months and over the past few weeks a different facet has been staring me in the face.

I first started thinking about it when I was posting something to Facebook and read a few of the posts of some friends and some “friends”. Why the quotations? Well, there are friends that you feel actually care for you and your well-being and thus you post and read posts because you care and you know they care.

Then there are “friends”, people that when you really think about it you want to know what they are up too because you kind of want to compare. There are also “friends” that you really don’t think too much about, but you know they want to see what you’re up to because they are comparing. It’s a sad but true aspect of the natural man.

Why was I thinking about this? Because I started realizing that Facebook was affecting my mood and self-esteem, and not in a good way.

Then I started thinking about it…Why do I care? Why am I comparing myself with other people? Why try to be like someone else when I have a much better example to follow? I’m supposed to be comparing myself to myself. Am I a bit better than I was before now? And to God, am I getting closer to becoming more like my Ultimate Example? That’s what really matters.

As I was pondering on this I started thinking, “Besides, we aren’t what we really are on Facebook anyway!” Do you post all your mistakes and horrible traits? Do you post all the really bad pictures of yourself? Well, if you do, good for you, as long as you’re learning from them. But I’ll be honest, I don’t! Facebook is just what is says it is….a FACE. It’s the outside, generally superficial part of our lives for the most part. Why would I compare my life to the 1% of what I see of someone’s life on Facebook.

Then this week I expanded on my pondering when I started falling back into old habits.

I have voice issues. Not the types you’re thinking of….I have a hard time controlling the tone and volume of my voice when I’m upset or frustrated. And if you’re a parent you know that the terms “upset” and “frustrated” are felt frequently in this adventure of parenthood.

Well, I’ve been working on this weakness for several years but especially since having children. I have good days and bad days but for a while there I felt like I had been making progress when a series of events (excuses) weakened my resolve and I started hearing that nasty habit come back into my life.

I remembering hearing somewhere ( I wish I could remember where!) that how you act under stress is really who you are…well, when I started acting monster-ish again I started thinking “Is this who I really am? How sad!”

At first I got a bit down….you know, when you start beating yourself up and then you invite a few more weaknesses and pretty soon you’ve got a real good pity party going…. but then I thought, “No way! This is not who I am! I might struggle with this but I can and I will change! “ So, I am still working on it…..again….still…..but you know what? Tomorrow is a new day. And even if my feet stink, I’m going to enjoy the dance!

Helpful things to know before becoming a parent:

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1.)    There is a reason the terms are “Labor” and “Delivery”…..Although, I tend to think labor should be renamed as “Pain-so-intense-that-anything-said-or-done-during –this-period –of- time –should- be-completely- disregarded”.

2.)    Once you become a parent, you can forget the terms “a full night’s sleep” or a “restful night” basically for the rest of your life, because if you’re not up with a child you are worrying about one of them.

3.)    How to remove stains because for the next 20 years you will be removing just about every type of bodily fluid, writing utensil, dirt, or anything else that makes a mess,  off of just about every part of your body, clothes and home.

4.)    How to do everything, yes, that means going to the bathroom, with one hand….or even better, with your feet.

5.)    Privacy and Parenthood are not compatible…..do not expect to sit down from start to finish for anything…especially eating a meal or going to the bathroom…..if they can’t open the door they will talk to you under the door.

6.)    Things that inspire creativity are messy….get used to it.

7.)    The answers to all of life’s questions…..including the favorite’s of where babies come from and why boys and girls are different. Then there are always the one’s of why dogs chase cats, do bugs fart, or why poop smells yucky…no, “I don’t  know” is not acceptable. Simple answers are good until 4 yrs old, after that just ask them what they think because by then they think they have a better answer anyway.

8.)    Your children will be smarter than you. Honesty is always the best policy

9.)    Get all of the three S’s ( Sleep, sex and solitude) that you can before parenting because after that it’s a bit trickier.

10.) You will never know what joy and success is until you become a parent.