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Monday, May 21, 2018

Princess Diaries

"Mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort"

There are seasons of triumph and seasons of trials.  During the triumphs is when we see the clearest, and grow from what we learned in the midst of trials.  God sends us kindred spirits or tender mercies when He knows we need them the most.  As a pediatric nurse many of my patients were tender mercies for me at specific seasons of trial in my life.

This past weekend, I heard the scripture Mosiah 18:9 twice at two different places by two completely different people.  This is what it reads, 

"Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn ; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the..."

I've been pondering this verse and wondered its meaning.  Even without complete awareness, we minister to those around us, placed in our path, by simply serving with love and compassion.  Sharing our heart and caring for others.

I love it when I see His hands so clearly in my life.  Often these moments, and life experiences come through children for me.  I love children, their innocence, pure hearts and unconditional love light up every room.  This little darling in particular was a bright ray of sunshine for me, as well as so many others.  

 This is my little friend Princess Cosette.  While serving in the nursery of our last ward, I was fighting an internal battle, one that I have fought on and off for over 15 years.  Depression is such an ugly word, and certainly an ugly feeling.  But as much as we wish to shut it out, its there and it is real, for so many of us.  As desperate as I am to have more children, being around little children can sometimes break me.  Break me to my very core, where my heart turns cold and wishes to close off to the world around me.  But despite my weak and aching heart, I knew God put me in this nursery for a reason, even for just a short season of my life.  I knew He was trying to soften my heart and teach me to serve always, especially His most precious.

Within the first couple Sundays in the nursery, my beautiful friend Princess Cosette came running into my lap and stayed by my side for the 2 hours of our time in nursery, and then each Sunday following.  Occasionally she would jump up and dance, or grab a toy or book for me to read, but she stayed close by, warming my lap and heart and filling my empty.  As if she knew I needed to feel His love.  She knew just how to show His love for me.

Each week I could feel my heart soften and have more faith in His plan for me.  The sting of infertility still haunts me and occasionally breaks me, but not for long.  I know how to fight stronger each time I face the darkness.

It was Princess Cosette that saved my heart, it was Princess Cosette that knew how to love and was sent directly in my path when I needed His love the most.  It is Princess Cosette that touches the hearts of so many now.

I've learned that even in or darkest hours, we can find a ray of light.  He is always there, He always hears our prayers, He listens and provides.  We just have to accept it in faith.

"Mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort"

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”  -albert pine

Sunday, May 13, 2018

We Remember Moments

"We do not remember days, we remember moments"

Every year I consider doing a blog post on Mother's Day, and every year I chicken out.  For fear of being insensitive, or maybe because some of my thoughts are to sacred to share.  But this year, after much thought and prayer and personal enlightenment, I want to share some thoughts on motherhood. 

This morning, just as with every other Mother's Day (including before children), I was awakened by a faint knock at the door (I was actually already awake, checking social media for all the beautiful tributes to mothers) to breakfast in bed.  Its a tradition my husband started when we first realized that being a mother was not going to come easy to me.  It was his way of honoring me as a wife and woman.

And on that thought, this is where my apprehension in sharing comes in.  Even when we were in the thick of infertility and every day I felt my heart tear in bits and pieces when I ached for motherhood, I still loved Mother's Day.  I think in the back of my mind, I knew my Father in Heaven always had a plan for me and I would be a mother someday.  Whether in this life or the next.  As a pediatric nurse I considered all those little wonders part of my motherhood.

Many, many, many times in my married life and even life as a mother, I find myself being pulled away from my divine calling into thoughts of negativity.  This is definitely the adversary trying to squash my self-worth.  The thoughts of why not now, why me, am I not trustworthy enough to rear up your most precious; constantly plagued me.  Even thoughts of "why just two?", after being so blessed to have two children through adoption.  How selfish can it get?  To finally have the blessing of motherhood and my greediness to have more was all I could focus on.  Man, I hate that side of me.

And then....during one of our many attempts to adopt again, only to be heartbroken with the loss of the potential of twin girls, I was at another low point.  Struggling to know why God didn't see me fit to have all the 17 children I desired and yearned for.  In my desperate cry for answers, it came to me, in a quiet thought, "you are a mother for all".   What did that mean?  I didn't quite understand what He was trying teach me, because I am certainly no where near a mother to all, and I definitely didn't see myself as anywhere close to this.  

The Day we became a forever family of four

When Carl and I were married, and sealed for eternity, my grandpa Morgan (who married us) said this, "Love all people".  These three words have shaped me in more ways than anything else in my life.  I have tried to be that person that he taught us on that beautiful May day in the Logan Temple.  While pondering the thought, "you are a mother for all", these three words came roaring in like a train wreck.  My heart exploded with love for all the mothers I admired in church each week.  The mothers with 4 rowdy kids running through the store while she rolled up her sleeves and tied a bun in her hair, in preparation to face the daunting task of shopping with kids.  The mothers that sat in church with 7 little ones in tow, a baby crawling over her shoulder, the 3 year old tugging at her hair looking for attention, the two brothers fighting over the crayons.  The mothers at the park, resting their feet and bulging belly growing new life, while watching all their little children play in hopes to ensure she would end up with all of them when returning home.  

This love is when I realized He was trying to tell me that I was blessed with my two children so that I may have more arms and space in my heart for all the other mothers.  My job on this earth is to minister and assist other mothers in rearing their children.  And not to say that I planned to go to each mother and tell them how to parent or survive, because I am certainly not an expert or really have little experience with motherhood.  I just have the heart and desire to serve, and plenty of time and love to give to others.

My sister shared a talk with us this morning from Sis. Eubanks, First Counselor of the General Relief Society of the LDS Church.  I highly recommend this read, as it brought peace to my heart and confirmed the thoughts I have been having for several years now.  You can read it HERE.  

Sister Eubanks says it far better than I can, so reading will be worth your time.  However, these are some things I learned from her talk.  She said this, "It must be that my Heavenly Parents don't view who I am at any static moment in time, but instead see the person I am meant to be and the person my accumulated choices will let me be".

God doesn't judge us for our circumstances, He sees us as who we are from what we are given, He sees our hearts and how He is able to use our hands to do His work.  He loves us for what we can do for others, not what we feel we are missing out on in this life.  My mother heart and desire to be a beacon for others is how He sees me each day.

I do not celebrate this Mother's Day without gratitude for the mother's that shared their unconditional love and devotion to being exactly what God asks of us to be.  My motherhood as it is, is given to me by not only a loving Heavenly Father, but by His daughters and sons that were selfless enough and loved enough to place theirs in my arms.  

In each day in my life, there have been many moments that I cherish beyond words.  Moments that have molded me and taught me how to love deeper and serve genuinely.  These moments come from the love I have received from others.  Their physical and emotional pain that they endured for my benefit is not unlike the love our Savior gives daily to us.  

 The moment she handed her and him to me, were moments only expressed through a lifetime of unending love for their children.  

Moments where the blessing of eternal families include so many more than just my little family of four.  Where I feel my Savior's love so real and warm like He is there holding me tight with His arms secure around my shoulders.

Moments when the look in their eyes speaks volumes of this love, the same love I pray to be able to share with so many others.

The moments when I realize, "you are a mother for all".  

Moments of being an aunt, a friend, a mentor, a leader, a neighbor and an instrument in His hands.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Finding the Light, Reflection

I have been waiting years in search of the perfect photography assistant.  Someone that I could mentor, that I could have a blast working with, that would learn and grow in life with me.  I have finally found that perfect assistant.  Ok, so maybe it could be consider child labor, but I just love my new photography intern.
Look at her work

I invited my sweet and very artistic daughter to join me on a photo session a few weeks ago to assist me with lighting.  Occasionally she has come along to wedding sessions with me to carry my bags and help hold my lighting equipment.  Idaho wind tends to pick up my umbrella and carry it like a sail, so bringing her along to hold down the tripod is very helpful.  However, she hasn't always enjoyed that job; "its boring".  So when she was excited to go with me and help this time, I was elated.  This time, she wasn't there to hold stuff, she was there to learn and actually work.

Her job assignment, "Kya, find the light from the sun, and reflect it on to their face".  I am a lighthouse fanatic; the symbolism, its sole purpose, everything about the lighthouse intrigues me and draws me near its story.  When it comes to light, I am always looking for the analogy.

As Kya is my daughter, I found this moment of teaching her to use the reflector properly, as an opportunity to teach her about life and how our influence on others around us and the universe can affect how the world goes round, and how we can find peace and love in our own life.  Find the light, and reflect it on others.

The light.  In our faith, the light we focus on is The Light of Christ.  All that He exemplifies in service and kindness, in sacrifice, in loving all people.  Finding this light in our own countenance is crucial to our own happiness.  Finding this light takes effort each day, through prayer and developing a solid and loving relationship with God our Father in Heaven, through service for others.  Often focusing our attention on other's needs over our own offers us to see others the way God and our Savior see them.  It brings empathy and honest love into our hearts, and helps to put our own "issues" or concerns into perspective.  Once you have found that light, then share it.  I like to use the word "reflect", not only because it directly relates to photography lighting, but once your light is shared, it comes back to you, if reflects.

I am a firm believer in karma.  What you put out into the world, does come back to you, twofold.  I have seen this and experienced this first hand in my life, many times.  So when I teach Kya to "find the sun's light, and reflect it onto my subject", what I am hoping she gets from this practice is to find His Light and Reflect it onto the world that surrounds her, with her own glowing countenance.

Look how she glows! She takes her work serious! And usually doesn't like when I take pictures of her unexpectedly. hee hee
She found the light.  Its tricky and takes practice to find it and then be able to hold just the right amount on the subject as not to blind them, or cast too much highlighting.  And as Kya found, when the clouds are out, its a little more difficult to find the light, but it is always there, you just have to seek it out.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Shedding the layers, embrace the present, plant seed for the future.

I am a DIYer, to a fault.  I only say that because, often I just throw things together, haphazardly, only  in hopes to move on to the next project.  However, the older I get, the more my heart wraps around each project with earnest desire and care for an honest, result with integrity and beauty.  When we first bought our "fixer upper" house, 9 years ago, the en suite bathroom was put together with a very tight budget.  Stock vanity, paint for the shower walls and a quickly as possible to ensure a move-in date was efficient, as we were anticipating the arrival of our second child, Zander, while he grew in our hearts and snuggled in Tess' belly.
Sadly, I forgot to take a before picture, I was too anxious to just get started on the project.  Here is the vanity, with its 20" girth and glory.
A few years ago, I wanted to update the bathroom a bit, but still with my "reuse, reduce, recycle" ambition, I simply created a counter top with painted MDF, set that on top of the whole sink base, cut a hole in for the water to drain and fashioned a new sink out of a upside down light fixture, found at Restore for only a few dollars.  It was genius, so I thought, very little money spent and I didn't have to do any plumbing.  While this was a great idea and worked for a few years, eventually, the sink cracked and all the water running into the original sink, was just creating a buildup of hard water and mildew....ewwww!  We were breathing this in, with our teeth brushing rituals.  YIKES!  Something had to be done.  Again, on a budget, and quite honestly, I still like to find the old and bring it new life. I did however, order a counter top sink on Amazon, about 6 months ago, with the intention to start this redo got a little in the way.

Here is where my project becomes more of a life lesson, than just a project.  I needed a base for the vanity, and with only 22" to spare, I was on the hunt.  Antique stores, Restore, DI, Salvation Army, you name it, I searched.  I certainly didn't want to just by new, and this needed to be custom made, for the space available, and for my own soul.  So I came across this darling sewing desk, just begging to for a new purpose.

Isn't she quaint?

 As I began to sand away her layers of dirt, grime and stain, her glorious natural beauty began to peek its way through.  I could feel her breath a sign of relief, of gratitude, for the ability to shed her past, to brush it away.  Her past didn't come without pain, sorrow and of course many beautiful and precious memories.  She has a wonderful story that has made her who she is, but some of her tarnish has been holding her back from her new purpose, her new story.

She's breathing, opening herself up for a new story

She even found a friend, looking for a new story as well.  They will build their story together.
With her authentic beauty exposed, she's ready and willing to accept this new story.  For her, it begins with the addition of structural support and design, adding a drawer to the bottom.  Then she dressed in a new coat of rich stain, adding a deep enhanced beauty to her physique.  And finally, a new top to support her purpose, as a bathroom vanity.  She wears her new story well. 

She's clean, and elegant and now owns her new purpose.  She will continue to share her story for years to come.
We all have a story, some desperate to burn the old, but unsure of how to create a new.  Through our infertility years, my story was messy and some days I wanted so badly for it to just go away.  In hind side I am truly grateful for the struggles, the nicks and bad stain, the spills and wear and tear.  But now, I am grateful to be writing my new story, just as our bathroom vanity has done.  A story that's been developing since the day our daughter was born.  Honestly, long before that, but just recognized then.  I love a good story, what's your new story?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Echos of being good enough in parenting

Been doing some thinking, after some frustrations with customer service issues and reading parenting thoughts by other bloggers.  Namely this mother at where she wrote THIS article.  I recently dealt with a member of our club that was upset when a membership was not cancelled on his time.  In the short of it, policies and procedures are laid out for a reason.  I am firm believer that the customer is right, and sometimes, we as business owners have to bite our tongue, suck up your pride and give in.  However, I am not a proponent of disrespect. When someone speaks to me (mind you, this someone is nearly 20 years younger than I) with profanity and swearing every other sentence telling me I am wrong, I do not take well to this.  I certainly am not perfect, and as an imperfect human, am very willing to own up to my mistakes.  However, bullying me into getting your way, disrespectfully, is not going to get you anywhere.  Ok, now that I have vented, onto my reason for this post.

As a parent, respect is a big deal in our home.  This world is losing its respect for self, for others, for mother nature, for religion, for just plain everything.  In the article mentioned above, this mother talks about how her perspective of parenting changed with one sentence.  I love her take on this view, and certainly will be considering this as a mother myself.  However, I do have some other thoughts.  I hope she would agree, but here's what I have to say.

Yes, we should be speaking to our children with respect, to get the same respect in return, and certainly getting down to their eye level.  Its important that our children don't feel they are being talked down to.  But when a child speaks to you with the same disrespect I got from the before mentioned member of our fitness club, then the tone will change, naturally.  Not because it should, it just does.  This is where we as parents have to learn self control with our own emotions.  And prayer has been the key for me in this endeavor.

Yesterday, my 8 year old son was dealing with some tough emotions.  He was reprimanded at school for "disrespect", and when I talked to him about it, asking what he had done, his immediate response, as is his usual effort to justify his actions, was to share with me how he feels the other kids were being mean to him and he was retaliating with anger.   Then shortly after, when asked to complete a chore (cleaning up dog poop from the yard), he lashed out in anger yelling at me, spewing mean words in the mix, with tears in his eyes.  Storming out of the room, he slammed the door to the outside behind him and proceeded to drag his feet while gathering the necessary tools for the job.  Admittedly, as a younger mother, I would have retaliated with similar behavior, in an effort to show him how ridiculous he was behaving.  The whole approach of mimicking, or mocking.  Either way, not a good approach.  It has not proven to be effective in our home as a quality parenting skill.  However, at times, it has brought laughs and lightened the mood.

So I sat there, wondering what to do with my heartbroken and troubled son.  Yes, he was out of line in disrespecting me in his moment of anger, after feeling attacked at school by both his peers and teacher.  I am not saying he was not at fault, but that is how he felt.  I stood up, went outside and began to help him scoop the poop.  Not only were we literally scooping our dogs poop, but we were cleaning up the mess that was made of our emotions that afternoon.  Scooping the poop from our lives.  As we quietly surveyed the lawn for Ozzie's little lawn treats, Zander began to cry.  This was a different cry than the angry cry while he yelled at me, this was a quiet whimper, where he was burying his head in his jacket.  I asked what was wrong, to which he replied, "I don't like when I hear those words at school and then say them to you".

My sweet, big heart-ed son had felt the sting of true sorrow and remorse from his actions.  He didn't need a mother to yell at him, he didn't need to feel belittled by parents he looks up to (literally), he needs to be heard, he needed to be in his thoughts and emotions, and he needed to see his mother put aside her own emotions and serve him.

I am not always so calm, but I pray each day for the effort to try to be.  In a talk given by Elder J. Devn Cornish found HERE he says,
"If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick."

Our children deserve to be heard, they deserve to be able to express their own emotions and learn to deal with them.  They don't need to have us rub their noses in the poop, for them to understand that sometimes, it just sucks to have to deal with people and poop.  I have learned a lot in the last couple years from my children, that even though I am the mother, and my husband and I lay down the ground rules, my children still have a voice and it deserves a place in our home and our hearts.

Final quote by Elder Cornish from the same talk, 

"If you will really try and will not rationalize or rebel—repenting often and pleading for grace—you positively are going to be “good enough.”

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

I love Mother's Day, always have, always will.  I have heard many times others say they hate this day and it breaks my heart to hear that.  I wonder why they would have such ill feelings towards a holiday that we get to celebrate the joy of being able to be a mother, to be blessed to have the Lord entrust us with his most precious.  So why do I love Mother's Day, for that reason exactly.  I am a mother, and I count my blessings everyday that I get to be one. 

I am not perfect, I don't have homemade baked cookies ready for my kids after school.  I don't take them to the park everyday, and they do have to clean their rooms and do chores around the house.  I get angry and sometimes even yell.  Somedays I want to pull my hair, out of frustration because my kids don't listen.  I work a lot and just the other day decided to try for "mother of the year" by forgetting to get home in time for my kids after school, until my daughter texted me, "Where are you?".  Yikes, that was a winner mom moment for sure. 

But, I try.  I have plenty of hugs and kisses to give, I try to teach my children manners and gratitude and service for others.  I am there for them when they cry, when they laugh and when they just want to throw a fit or be defiant.  And for this, I am truly happy I get to celebrate this day.  With all my imperfections and weaknesses, I get to be the best mother for my kids.  I am who my Father in Heaven wanted for them.  And because of the unconditional love that two amazing women had for their little ones, I am a mother. 

The day before Mother's Day is Birth Mother Day!  Appropriate since they were mother's before I was able to be one.  This is also why I love Mother's Day, because of the opportunity to celebrate with my two sisters gained through adoption.  I get to celebrate them and the love I have for them. 

I love Mother's Day, always have, always will.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Precious moments

Early on in our family, when Kya was just a little girl, learning to walk and talk we had an experience of uncertainty in how our open adoption was going to work.
Sitting around the living room of Jerica's house, enjoying conversation with her parents and siblings, after stuffing our faces with a delicious meal made by Mama G (as Carl has lovingly named her), Kya was crawling around the floor playing with toy horses.  She had recently learned to say "mama" and called to me for some help with a toy.  I went to her and played with her for a moment.  The weekend went on this way, hanging out, eating good food and chatting it up. 
Jerica had graduated from high school at this time and was spending all her free time with her friends before they were leaving for college or moving on in their lives.  Leaving their small town to experience the world.  We didn't get to spend as much time with her in Kya's early years.  Surely she was doing her best to get on and cope with adoption and the openness we were blessed to have with them. 
Sunday after church, Jerica and her parents pulled us aside.  We sat around the sitting room, away from the other family members, while Kya was being watched by her aunt (Jerica's younger sister).  
I could feel the emotions in the room begin to build and it was evident that there were concerns and heavy thoughts coming from Jerica.  Mom and Dad G were also a little more somber than normal.  My heart began to pound for fear of what I felt was about to happen.  Jerica's dad began to explain, as Jerica was clearly unable to speak while tears began to well in her eyes. 
We were told that Jerica wasn't sure how to continue an open adoption.  Hearing Kya call me "mommy" was a little too much for her to handle at the time.  She didn't want to lose the closeness we had, but wasn't dealing with it as well as she had hoped.  We were told that she wanted to take some time to think about it and make a decision of how to move forward in her own journey, with or without us in it.
Communication and honesty are very important to Carl and me in our open adoption journey.  We have always said from the beginning, that if ever our children or our birthfamilies needed a break from openness then we all had to respect that right.  Adoption has always been for the best interest of our children and our birth moms and birth dads.  At this moment, Jerica's best interest was our concern.  Unfortunately we had to tell her that we would respect her wishes (as difficult as this was for me to imagine losing my "sista from anotha mista") but that she needed to also understand, that however long it took for her to come back to us, if she did, then it would be up to Kya and her best interest if she would be able to allow that open adoption in her life. 
Jerica took a few days to think, as we tried to patiently wait.  We left that weekend with heavy hearts and puffy eyes, with the thought that we may not be able to have Jerica in our lives regularly.  The next week she called and told us she didn't want to lose our family and wanted to continue on our open adoption journey with us.  I was thrilled and so grateful for her decision.  She was just struggling with  life changes, friends leaving and decision of what to do post graduation.  It was all a little overwhelming. 
8 years later, we are going strong and I count my blessings everyday for all the beautiful family we have gained through both our kids. 
I took these pictures just a few weeks ago while visiting Jerica and her husband and two little boys.  We were getting ready for the day and Jerica was doing Kya's hair.  I cherish these precious moments we share.