Posts Tagged With: God

When I Feel Weak

N, our two-year-old, burned his hand on our stove last week. I’d been fixing dinner early that day and he was being my little kitchen helper, mixing and measuring ingredients into the bowl at the table. The burner had been turned off only minutes before, and out of the corner of my eye I saw N pull the stool over. Everything was in slow motion as I dropped the knife I had been cutting with and rushed over to my little boy. It was too late. The palm of his hand had only rested on the hot burner for a millisecond before I grabbed him up, but the deed was done. Immediately under the running tap water blisters began to form. His tears dripped into the sink and pulled at my heart as I cursed myself for not getting to him sooner.

Later that day as he took a nap, I called my sister and cried. I spilled out my heart. I felt weak. I felt like I had failed him yet again. I was the adult, the one in charge, but I felt so inadequate, so lacking, so incredibly weak. His little hand bandaged in gauze, his sad cries played over and over in my mind. “Ouch! Hurt, Mommy. This hand, it hurt.”

Being a mom, being a parent, I’m convinced is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Not because of the late nights, not because of the endless dirty laundry. It really has absolutely nothing to do with the constant demands from little people still lacking patience or the dishes that pile high every night or the diapers that constantly need changed. When I became a mother I expected all of that. I knew full well what the job description entailed. What no one had warned me about, what makes it harder than anything else we do with our lives, is none of that. From the minute we found out we were expecting our first little boy I felt like my heart had been taken from me and would never be given back. I experienced emotions unlike I had ever felt before, from the most extreme joy to the most intense worry and pain. Their hurt is mine, more strong in my heart than any pain I have felt for myself. Their disappointment, their excitement, their successes and failures. Their happiness gives me gladness I never knew could be felt. THAT. That is what makes this job the hardest. Our emotions run in extremes and rest on these little ones.

IMG_1010On that particular day I felt weak. I hate feeling so weak. I wanted more than anything to take away his sadness, to put on a magic salve or give it a kiss and make it all go away. I felt like millions of mothers feel every day. So often we feel like we have to be strong, but we’re afraid there’s no strength to muster. We want to put on a brave face, tell them everything will be fine, but inside we’re scared too and want nothing more than to stroke their hair and take it all onto ourselves. It’s a hard job: wishing, hoping, loving, feeling and emotionally giving our all. Loving someone so intensely.

IMG_0997I’m so thankful for a Heavenly Father that knows the emotions I feel. He knows better than I do myself. He understands that complete joy, he sorrows in our sadness. Some days I feel so weak, like when my little two-year-old burns his hand on the stove. But I know with His divine help my weakness can become strong. I know because of Him, because of his love, I can pour out my soul to him and I can pick myself back up. Because of Him I can take on this tough job with strength. Because of Him I can hold my little boy in my arms and reassure him that everything will be okay. Because He is there for both of us, always, no matter what. I’m so thankful that I have been given the incredible responsibility to love and care for these little ones, and I’m thankful He will be by my side when I feel the emotional load of it all is weighing me down.

Because I’m human, because I’m a mother, I often feel weak. I often feel like I fall short. But I know that because of Him I can be filled with strength. And when you feel overwhelmed with the emotional load, I know you can too. He loves us. He will make up the difference.

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Categories: Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Protecting our Children

A typical Tuesday night. 5:00. I pull up allrecipes.com on my iPad and grab a pot. I busy myself mixing ingredients as N, my two-year-old climbs up on the barstool and commandeers my tablet. Not two minutes later the familiar lyrics of “The Hamster Dance” fills the kitchen and the glow of the screen lights up my son’s smug grin. As I stir the simmering pot, I notice he has found his way to the paint application and is quickly filling the blank space with a rainbow of colors. Dinner ready, table set, I scoop him up and set him in the high chair. Before I close the iPad and turn off his music, I discover that in the ten minutes he took control, he managed to pose for four selfies, write a novel of toddler gibberish in a document, change my background settings, take off airplane mode, renew our library books, fix two bugs, clean the finger printed screen, order three books on Amazon and write 100 lines of code (ok, so I’m only halfway exaggerating).HPIM1512

My two-year-old knows how to navigate my tablet better than I do.

And frankly, that scares me.

Years ago while I was unmarried and still in college I had the opportunity to spend a summer as a camp counselor for a church program called “Especially For Youth.” Each week we worked with two “co-counselors” and a set of about 8-12 teenagers each. It was an incredible, faith-building experience. One week while talking with my male co-counselor I was surprised to find out that the night before eight of his ten boys, ranging in age from 16-18, confided in him that they had accessed and viewed pornographic images. I was shocked. How could that be? These were really great kids who had everything in the world going for them.

Eight out of ten. I know it isn’t a big enough pool of boys to create a real statistic, but it was none-the-less alarming to me. Now, ten years down the road and (almost) four boys of my own, the image of those kind, handsome young men and their confessions burns in my mind.

If you think that porn has no harm or lasting affect on the person or those associated with them, think again. If you think it is healthy, I have to disagree. If you feel you are alone in the fight, you’re not.

Pornography is… addictive. It impairs decision-making capacities and it “hooks” its users, drawing them back obsessively for more and more. A man who had been addicted to pornography and to hard drugs wrote me this comparison: “In my eyes cocaine doesn’t hold a candle to this. I have done both. … Quitting even the hardest drugs was nothing compared to [trying to quit pornography]” (letter of Mar. 20, 2005). –Dallin H. Oaks

This is a taboo topic I never dreamed of writing about, let alone thought I’d ever have to worry about. But with the power of the Internet at our fingertips, at our two-year-olds’ fingertips, the topic becomes a bit more real. I watch my six-year old create planes and helicopters out of bristle blocks with his brothers, laugh at the same knock-knock joke for the fiftieth time, then cuddle up with his stuffed animal monkey after he’s said his prayers. So innocent. I wish more than anything I could protect him and help him keep that innocence forever. But I can’t wrap him in bubble wrap.

So as moms, what can we do? The dangers are out there, and they are real. I don’t have all the answers. I hardly have any, and probably not all great ones. But I’m learning, and my thoughts are this:

Sure, we can secure our internet, put the computer in a public and heavy-traffic location. Limit their phone data, check their texts. We can micromanage every facet of their lives, but the only way to really help them, to protect them, is to create a relationship with them and love them. No security measures can compare to helping them see their self-worth and that of others. If we maintain an open communication with them, know their friends and genuinely have an interest in them, and help them to understand the seriousness of this addiction, of the way becoming involved in such activities could change their lives and current and future relationships, I think it might help. It’s certainly not foolproof, but why not try?

“My plea—and I wish I were more eloquent in voicing it—is a plea to save the children. Too many of them walk with pain and fear, in loneliness and despair. Children need sunlight. They need happiness. They need love and nurture.” –Gordon B. Hinkley

Being a mom has been by far one of the greatest blessings of my life. As I twirl all 22 pounds of two-year-old sweetness around the air to the fifth repeat of “The Hamster Dance” ( if only he would show me how to turn the darn repeat off!!), I remember what an incredible, wonderful, daunting responsibility I have to raise these boys to be kind, considerate, courageous, stalwart, chivalrous gentlemen. For their teachers, their professors, their future employers. For your daughters, for their children. For God. It’s kind of a big deal, and I hope and pray I can get it right.

IMG_5180What have you done or plan to do to protect your children from the scary stuff out there? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Also, here’s another link that I thought was good for moms in case you are interested.

Categories: children, parenthood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Having Children Ruined My Life

It’s no secret that R, our first son, came as a surprise. Sure, my husband and I rarely (if ever) admit to it, but all you would have to do is simple subtraction to figure out we had only been married a year and a few months when we brought that little guy into the world. I suppose some people plan it that way, but we had just barely graduated from college. We were young. And I was terrified.

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Let me tell you about how my life was going to go. I had it so carefully calculated. We would graduate, move, find awesome jobs, and I would teach for five years before we started our family. We would travel the world. Oh, the places we would go! We would have lots and lots of money saved up, my husband would be successful, I’d be happy with my accomplishments. I could then stay at home for the next 10 years until our kids started their education. I would do it all. At least that’s what I had planned.

Before we became parents, we would sit in church and watch the little girl twirl her pink, frilly dress up and down the isle. She’d squeal and scream, making the prayer impossible to hear, and her parents would stare at her with glossy, exhausted eyes. We would walk home and talk about how we would NEVER let our daughter do that when we became parents. Yes, our children were sweet darlings that never disrupted or disturbed anything while they were still only figments of our imagination.

Then we brought that baby boy into this world and my little, perfect life was turned upside-down. I never taught. I graduated and tucked that diploma away in a box and in the back of my mind. Ah, well. Maybe someday, I’d sigh. Nights were nothing short of a nightmare (and I thought I didn’t sleep much in college!), and we lived in a small, plain apartment with obnoxious neighbors because we had no money. At the park the nannies would scoff at me, a young, clueless mother who obviously had done nothing with her life before having a family. While they talked about their future, about their planned trip to Cancun with their fiancée next month, my extent of packing never went far beyond diapers, a big, fat tube of Desitin and fishy crackers.

Having children ruined my life.

I had big dreams, plans, aspirations, and ideas that were dashed to pieces when that little boy entered our home. But as we prepared for him to come, loved him, held him, and imagined all the wonder and beauty in the world we had the opportunity to help him experience, something truly magical happened. A new life was set before me. A brand new one that I never could have imagined for myself. My once-flat tummy was now adorned with stretch marks. Marks that represented a tiny human I had the marvelous ability to grow inside me. I didn’t get to travel the world, but I got to witness a miracle. I got to see the wonder of everything through the eyes of a brand-new baby. I got to experience a kind of selfless love that I truly believe only a parent can feel. I slowly realized this life, it isn’t all about me. I found I didn’t have all, if any, of the answers. I didn’t care if the other moms “oohed and awed” at my resume and life’s accomplishments, or even scoffed because that resume and those accomplishments didn’t exist. It no longer mattered.

Having a baby was humbling. So incredibly humbling.

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Instead of walking home from church talking about how WE would never let our child dance and scream down the isles, we found ourselves locking empathetic eyes with the parents wishing we could help, but secretly deep down saying to ourselves, “twirl on little princess! You’re drawing attention away from our toddler howling for us to draw a ‘hooker’ (and by hooker we are hoping surrounding congregation realizes he means a truck hitch) with his ruby red crayon. Not to mention our youngest with the colored pencils up his nose.” Our real children, unlike our imagined ones, weren’t perfect. We were certainly not perfect, and I’m so thankful we had the chance to find that out.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we had waited. If life had gone exactly as I had imagined. I wonder if my life hadn’t been ruined by little ones if I would have been as incredibly happy as I am now.

Maybe.

But what I do know is that what happened was truly a blessing. That having children when I did taught me life lessons I may have never learned otherwise. Should everyone have surprise babies 15 short months after marriage? Is having a career and traveling the world before settling down a bad idea? Of course not! But if God sends you down a different path than you had always dreamed, know that your life may be ruined, shattered to pieces, only to be replaced with something far greater than you could have imagined yourself.

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

I Believe.

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2014 has been a year of incredible joy for our family and those we love. Babies being brought into the world, more on the way, weddings, and wonderfully magical memories. But inexpressible sadness and heartbreak has certainly been no stranger to our circle of loved ones. While in many cases my pain could not even hold a candle to those more directly affected, I have had moments this year that I honestly didn’t know if my heart could hold any more sadness. The trials that we have watched those we dearly care for face are simply unimaginable. Yet their faith and courage to go on has been inspiring and amazing.

My heart has been heavy this week with news of yet another loss to a sweet friend of mine. Tears fell as I read the obituary and thought of his amazing wife of so many years left behind. Their pure example of love and dedication to each other and their family will forever be in my heart.

I’ve been thinking about Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life. Even though he knew he could heal Lazarus and bring him back from the dead after four days, when he saw Mary’s pain and sadness and that of the crowd, He wept (John 11). He knew, yet he grieved with them. Jesus wept! Why would he if he knew in just a few minutes he would call Lazarus back from the bonds of death and the sadness would be turned to joy? I believe that Jesus knows our pain. He not only knows, but he’s felt it for each one of us. He intimately knows our sadness and grief and, because he loves us, he feels it too. And I believe he’s right there to carry us when we can no longer go on. I believe Jesus paved the way so that we might live once more. Death is not the end.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

I believe that families are not just something for now, but forever. Our associations and those we love does not end with death. We can be together again.

“…we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny. The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions–temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting…” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf

This Christmas season I believe more than ever before that Jesus Christ was born to this earth for a purpose. He is the Saviour of the World. I believe that because He loves us, he not only suffered for our sins, but also for our grief and pain. He knows each of us so personally, so intimately. I believe he can help us through even the most trying of times. I’ve witnessed it time and time again this year. He can mend broken hearts and give hope where none is left. I believe.

IMG_0220 I’m so thankful for this Christmas and the reminder of Him. It is through Him I’ve seen others carried as they have experienced pain and grief so great only He could comprehend. it is through Him that we can once more be with those we love who have passed on. The greatest gift of all.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Grinchy-Mom’s Week Before Christmas

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Twas the week before Christmas and Mom was a mess.

Instead of holiday happy greetings, all she felt was distress.

“Only five days till Christmas! It’s practically here.”

She grumbled and bristled, felling no sort of cheer.


Christmas cards strewn the table, cookie cutters filled the sink,

Wassail steamed from the kettle for carolers to drink.

The festivities had started, everything had the appearance of jolly.

But Mom, well, she was a grump, and seemed rather melancholy.


“Don’t pull on the ornaments!” “Ahh! Tinsel’s not to EAT!”

“Oh, for Heaven’s sake. Take the Christmas stockings off your feet.”

The old Grinchy-Ma had forgotten what it meant to have fun,

The moment the Christmasy season had begun.


The stockings needed filled, and that should have been easy,

But the thought of another Wal-Mart run made her queasy.

The cards needed stamps, the lights were a-tangle.

She got a headache hearing the bells jingle and jangle.


She’d slaved in the kitchen making cookies and pies,

Even sampling some, which she bitterly knew would be her waste line’s demise.

Glitter and ribbon, googly eyes and hot glue,

Would these silly festive crafts ever be through?


The Elf on the Shelf got left in the storage.

That creepy grin, those sketchy eyes, this year she just didn’t have the time nor the courage.

Each time she swiped the credit card she thought of the bill.

Were the cheap, plastic gifts worth it? But it didn’t matter—she had Christmas list orders to fill.


Christmas carols blared on the radio. The family had watched The Polar Express.

A Christmas Story, Rudolf, Frosty, But admittedly she sympathized with Scrooge the best.

Under the tree were presents she’d spent many nights wrapping.

They’d done it all, so what on Earth was she lacking?


“But I love Christmas!” she puzzled that night under the covers.

“Why can’t I be joyful, like all the other mothers?”

Mom was stressed to the limit, Christmas had plum worn her out.

She’d been so consumed with the going she’d forgot was the season was about.


She stewed and she puzzled till she could take it no more.

She slipped on her boots and walked out the door.

Down the empty streets she breathed in the frigged night air.

Except for the evergreens, every tree stood bare.


No crowds to fight, no bad deals to be dealt.

Her heart suddenly felt full…Could it be the Christmas spirit she felt?

She’d ate way too much pie, it wasn’t a question.

Still sceptical, she thought maybe what she felt was just indigestion.


As she rounded the corner she saw a neighbor shovelling snow.

Not for himself but for an elderly couple who didn’t even know.

Christmas is about giving! How could she not remember?

A heart-felt gesture, a kind smile, serving a little more all though December.


The stars in the sky seemed to twinkle more bright,

And suddenly she was reminded of an ancient Bethlehem night.

A silhouette through a window of a mother rocking her child,

Took her back to a night long ago with Mary so mild.


Ah, now she remembered. The first and best gift wasn’t purchased in a store.

A price could never be placed. It was worth so very much more.

Not the gifts of the Wisemen: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh,

But a baby. A gift so perfect and pure.


The Christmas cheer she had searched for she’d finally found.

The night taught about giving and kindness without breathing a sound.

“All along I was wrong. It wasn’t in the cooking or under the tree.”

“All along the cheer had to be found inside me!


So this Christmas as we find ourselves hustling and bustling around,

Don’t forget that it’s not in the busyness Christmas spirit is found.

It’s not in the packages, or in the crowded isles of Wal-mart.

But the simple things, like family, kindness, and doing our part.


Most of all remember the gift of a Son from above,

Given to the entire world out of pure and unconditional love.

Let’s choose to be happy, let’s choose the real Christmas spirit so bright.

And let’s share the sweet message:

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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

You can Create

“I wanna be a Brontosaurus!” “Mom, can I be a train conductor?” Thank goodness for pinterest, I thought to myself. A vague memory from the year before of me venting to my husband after all the Halloween festivities were over, “Next year we BUY the costumes!” floated back to my mind. I brushed it off, like I do every year. Eh, last year was different, and it really wasn’t THAT bad, was it? M, dressed up as the “Red Barron” even won the costume contest. That had to have been worth something. The hours and hours of work to create a plane out of cardboard boxes and duct tape resulted in one exhausted mom, three tuckered out kids, and a $5 coupon to the ice cream shop for winning grand prize. Totally worth it.

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We scoured pinterest for a couple minutes, and soon they’d decided on pirates. No, lions. Firefighters? Cowboys!! Cowboys. It was settled. R and N would be cowboys, M would be the horse, Dad would be the bad guy, and mom would be the “Damsel in distress?” I offered. “No, Mom. You can be the cactus.” Ok, the cactus. The cowboys we found in our closets, and the horse head we paper mached half of a milk jug and painted brown with a mess of yarn hot glued to the top.

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I threw myself on our couch and sat back to admire our work. Then, like every year, the thought came back. “Why do I go through this every single October? It would be easier, cheaper, and loads faster to just go buy them.” And then words from one of my favorite talks came to my mind.

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty…”

It seemed silly, really. I’m just creating Halloween costumes, I’m not generating amazing pieces of art for the world to enjoy. I’m not serenading visitors with beautiful melodies flowing from my fingers or my voice.

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.”

Creating is an inherent trait we received from the greatest Creator of all. Whether it is Halloween costumes, happy homes, loving children, meals for our family, or lovely paint strokes on a canvas. We often get down on ourselves and feel like we don’t measure up. But even when our contributions seem small, when our works fall short of a masterpiece, they still make a difference. And we must keep trying.

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Peggy is older and lives in a small house all on her own. Chances are you have never heard of her. I only met her a handful of times, but her story of creation will forever be with me. Gram would visit her often, helping with grocery shopping, housework, and whatever else she needed. That’s how her story became a part of my life. You see, she is completely blind. She was diagnosed with MS and has suffered for years from the effects, but that never slows her down. Even with her loss of eyesight, she continues to bake bread for those in her small town. Gram would often get phone calls from Peggy asking her to deliver a loaf of bread to this family or that, one having just returned from the hospital with a new baby, another simply needing a friendly gesture. Her bread doesn’t always look perfect, but her creations bless the lives of all who receive it. It’s a simple act of love that she shares with others. A few weeks after Gram passed away, we received a note in the mail. It was from Peggy, someone we vaguely knew. The writing was slanted and some words went over the others. She so kindly sent her sympathy and expressed her love for the amazing woman we all would so dearly miss. That simple note was not written with beautiful penmanship. It was difficult to make out the words as they jumbled together. But that card touched us so deeply.

If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it…”

In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.”

YOU are an artist. You can create masterpieces, you can touch lives. Maybe you don’t feel like your medium is a paintbrush, a hammer, a keyboard, a cooking spoon, or the ivory keys of a piano. Start with a smile, and go from there. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect, if it doesn’t measure up to that of others. Even if our Red Barron hadn’t won the costume contest last year, it would have still been worth the time we spent together duct taping, cutting, and painting, laughing, working, and talking. Don’t allow yourself to feel like your contributions are small. Even if your efforts only touch one, that one is worth it. Even if that one is simply you.

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All quotes taken from a talk given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Happiness, Your Heritage October 2008)

A really great 2 minute video!! Please watch: Create

 

Categories: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Parents are Moving to Malaysia for 18 Months, and Why I’m OK With It

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From Soccer games to cross country meets, late night papers to guitar lessons, my parents have always been my biggest fans. I could see them in the stands cheering, they were at my side when I needed someone to edit my papers. They were a phone call away when I was in a different state attending college and needed to hear a friendly voice. They were there to hold my boys when each came into the world.

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So when they told us of their decision to put their life on hold and serve a mission for our church, I knew loving and supporting them in their endeavours was the least I could do.

Early in July our entire family sat around a picnic table. Our annual camping trip is something we look forward to every year, but this time the air was thick with excitement and curiosity. For years my parents had planned, prepared, wondered about, and sacrificed for that moment, and here it was. The next two years of their lives waiting inside a large, white envelope. My parents opened the seal carefully and pulled out a thick packet. With a deep breath, my dad read.

You are hearby called to serve as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Singapore Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months…”

(Choosing to serve a mission for our church typically means that you could serve anywhere in the world, and you don’t know beforehand where that may be.)

Singapore? My guess had been Arizona. Maybe Virginia. Canada was my wild guess, you know, something really out there. But Singapore? We were all shocked. Dad was holding the paper, and I could see his hand shaking. They might as well have been asked to fly to Mars. For 18 months they would live a 24 hour flight away, in an entirely different place than they had ever experienced. I call my mom frequently for questions about laundry and recipes, advice, and emotional support. Not only would they be gone for the next 18 months of their lives, but mine and my children’s –their grandchildren that they adore– as well. I immediately felt the pain I knew would come. I knew then more than ever I would miss them more than words.

But I felt peace.

In that moment I knew that this was right. They would be OK. I would be OK!

It has been a lifetime in the making. My parents are some of the purest examples of service I have ever seen. At the age of four I can vividly remember going to the nursing home up the road. I think her name was Mrs. Brooks, and her room smelled like old perfume and cats. She was wrinkly and sat in a wheelchair, and as we walked up the hall to her door, my mom would always whisper in my ear to remember to give her a hug when we walked in. I’d sit on her lap while my parents visited. It meant the world to her, and that was enough reason for my parents to keep going back. Their service has never been limited to visiting. It often includes manual labor, financial assistance, emotional help, and meals. Just a couple weeks ago my dad and a close friend of his spent two days (or more) helping a family in need with a plumbing issue, requiring digging, walking through sewage, and intensive labor. My parents’ devotion to their neighbors and the community has never been about being noticed or recognized, their service is simply an act of love.

The Singapore Mission includes parts of Malaysia, which we recently learned is where they will be, speaking some Malay, helping where needed. I truly believe they are needed in Malaysia. That they will serve the people there with just as much love and compassion as they have those in our small town for so many years.

My children might not get to play at the park or swim at the pool with their grandparents for 18 months, but they will get to see them sacrifice for something great. They will witness the devotion and love that my parents have for their Father in Heaven not just in word, but also in deed. My parents will serve and learn and grow, and share with us their experiences. The legacy of faith will be something that we, as a family, will always cherish. They will be in our thoughts and prayers more than ever before. What they will leave behind is something more powerful than we could express in words. It might not make much sense to the casual observer, but THAT is why I feel peace.

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My parents will be boarding a plane next week, and while I will be praying for them, thinking of them, missing them, and wondering if there’s any way in the world we could fly the five of us the long 24 hours to see them, I will be thankful for their great example to my children and to myself of a lifetime of service and love.

Waiting for their Uncle to get off the plane after serving a two-year LDS mission in Mexico.

Waiting for their Uncle to get off the plane after serving a two-year LDS mission in Mexico.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to Catch a Crawfish–Be Yourself!

Every few days a poor, misguided soul will come across my blog looking for answers about crawfish.

How do you catch a crawfish?

Crawfish in septic system

Can crawfish climb stairs?

Dreams about crawfish

Crawfish recipes

Every time I see these searches I feel a tinge of guilt. Their quest for answers about these lobster-like creatures has brought them to my page about raising little boys. Something I’m sure they didn’t intend to find. I imagine them clicking on my link in the Google search and seeing the picture of my boys walking along the pond. They breathe a disappointed sigh, maybe grumble in frustration, and finally close out of my site to continue their search. To those who have accidentally stumbled across my little corner of the blogsphere in search of answers about crawfish, you have my sincerest apologies. I never intended to trick you into clicking on my site.

When I started this blog, I had several ideas for names swirling around in my mind. I knew I wanted to write about people we met who made a difference in our lives and also about lessons that I hope my sons will learn as they navigate life. Here were some I considered.

Don’t Eat your Boogers (…and other life lessons I hope my sons will learn) –my husband said this was too hillbilly, but truth be told, I kinda liked it the best.

Quest for Good

Becoming Country Boys (life lessons I hope my sons will learn) –We moved to the country going on two years ago, and our adventures here have shaped many of my posts.

Slugs And Snails (life with all boys)

Obviously, Catching Crawfish (life lessons I hope my sons will learn) was the winner, and just like that a new parenting blog was born. Out of all the names, this one stood out to me because it represented many happy memories of walking along our little pond searching for crawfish. Our frequent quests represented so many afternoons of time together learning about life. We’ve never tasted crawfish, we’ve never fried them, boiled them, buttered them up for the grill, or even raised them as pets. But you can bet your bottom dollar we’ve caught them. And here’s how, for all you curious google searchers who land on my site by chance:

My boys carefully turn rocks over until one happens to be resting there in the water. Their quick little hands cup around them (if they’re small), or grab below their pinchers using their thumb and pointer fingers. A hot dog on the end of a stick also does the trick. That’s it! Pretty simple.

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My site address is slightly misleading. It really doesn’t have anything to do with catching crawfish. The name is not exactly what it is. How often is this the case in life? Do we occasionally put on a façade and pretend to be something we aren’t just to get friends, to be popular, to make money, to get something we want, to make us feel better about ourselves…?

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” –Ralph Waldo Emmerson

My name is Chelsi, and I’m the face behind Catching Crawfish. This is me:

  • I’m a mom to three fun boys and a wife to a great man. I grew up in a small town with one sister that I adore and parents that I love.
  • I’m adjusting to country life and really do love it, but I miss PEOPLE! I miss my sweet neighbors, waving to them and visiting (friends, come visit any time!).
  • I’m an introvert.
  • I absolutely love organized sports, especially frisbee, soccer and volleyball. I also enjoy running.
  • I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. I’m a Mormon. I believe that our relationships in this life can last into eternities. I’m so thankful for my faith in families being forever.
  • I love to write.
  • I’m far from perfect and sometimes wish I could go back and change things in the past. But I know I am who I am today as much (or more) because of my trials, failures and mistakes as my successes and accomplishments.
  • I graduated in Elementary Education, but secretly dream of writing children’s books and being a librarian.

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To my dear, crazy, silly, one-of-a-kind boys, I hope you will always be yourselves, no matter what pressures you face to be someone different. Allow others to help you reach your potential. Learn from example. Emulate those that make the world better. But don’t allow anyone to make you into something you’re not. Don’t loose that twinkle in your eye, that mischievous grin, that unfaltering faith. You are so unique, so special, so loved, JUST the way you are. Never forget that!

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With the Courage of a Child

Every year our church has what we call “the Primary Program.” It’s an opportunity for all of the children (ages 3-11) to share with the congregation what they have learned throughout the year and sing the songs that have become near and dear to them.

Last fall, R, having just turned five, had come up with his part all on his own and had recited it over and over. His little one-liner memorized, the songs etched in his heart, he had all appearances of being not only ready, but eager to share with the congregation what he felt and had learned.

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The day finally came, and I could feel him tremble as he grasped my hand to be escorted to his seat with his friends at the front. As I walked back to our bench, I turned to see his face full of panic and anxiety. His sweet teacher leaned in to him and gave him a hug, and I remember trying to comfort myself with the thought, “His teacher will help him, he’ll be fine!” The program began, and so did R’s silent tears. I could almost hear his trembling voice as the children sang. His teacher patted his back, gave him little hugs, but to no avail. I saw her lean in and ask him a question which I imagine had something to do with going back down to sit with his family. Tears still streaming, he shook his head decidedly no. My heart strings were pulling in every direction. He had practiced so hard! If only God would grant him the fortitude to make it through. His turn came, and slowly he walked to the microphone. “I can show my love to Heavenly Father by serving others and being a good example to my brothers.” His voice was only a whisper. I could tell I was not the only one crying as I heard sniffles across the chapel. The darling lady sitting behind me comfortingly squeezed my shoulder. Inside my mind I prayed. “Thank you, Heavenly Father, for granting him courage!”

As the program ended, numerous people approached me about R’s bravery. They were in awe as much as I was at the determination that little five-year-old boy had shown. Clearly he’d stolen the show.

A few Sundays ago the children stood again at the front of the congregation. Little R’s face beamed with pride as he sang the songs, and when his turn came, he proudly spoke into the microphone. Relief and happiness swept over me.

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“I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me…” the children sang. My thoughts were filled with the previous year’s memories, and I was overcome with amazement of the love and courage that had been granted to a nervous five-year-old boy. Such a simple act, but his tears had touched everyone watching.

I hope we can all find that courage a little child found many Sundays ago through God’s loving grace. When we turn to Him, so much is possible.

Categories: children, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Traditions

It starts subtly. So subtle it’s sometimes difficult to even notice. Just a tiny bud here, a little, white flower there. Then it grows. Green splashes the trees, and soon they are covered in a beautiful canopy of leaves. They wave proudly throughout the summer, then, as the weather cools, the leaves burst into a beautiful spectacle of color. The grand finale. Reds, oranges, browns, yellows…it’s as if the trees are celebrating another glorious year. Finally, almost overnight, the fireworks are over. The leaves lay still on the ground, waiting for one last breath of life as a child rakes them up to jump in before they disappear under a carpet of snow.

The grand finale. That’s my favorite.

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The crisp air, the jackets, the hot cocoa, the pumpkins dotting the otherwise barren fields, the corn mazes, the scarves, the harvest moon, the decorations.

The leaves. The beautiful leaves.

I don’t usually get nostalgic, happy feelings while walking into the grocery store, but last night I did. As I bundled my almost-two-year-old in my jacketed arms to protect him from the crisp air and raced towards the front door, the pumpkins lining the entrance and the mums adding a splash of color took hold of my breath. Fall is here. My heart almost burst with joy. Fall brings me joy because it brings back so many wonderful memories. So many fun traditions from my childhood flooded my mind.

Every year as a kid my parents would host a fall party. The kids would wear their costumes, the parents would stand around chatting and eating chili from the pumpkin we’d hollowed out earlier that day. We’d bob for apples or play in my dad’s box maze, then we’d sit around a bonfire in our back yard telling stories and eating homemade doughnuts with our hot cocoa or apple cider. Sweet memories, vivid in my mind like the leaves in autumn.

I’ve been reading a book by Stephanie Nielson titled Heaven Is Here. Have you heard her story? She is amazing. Her story is incredible, inspiring, and full of hope. In 2008 she and her husband were in a plane crash, which burned 80% of her body. She and her husband were, through countless miracles, able to return to their four young children and she was able to continue her journey as a mother.

She writes a blog: nieniedialogues.blogspot.com

…and here’s a clip about her story: My New Life (I bawled through the entire thing. It’s 8 minutes and SO worth it!)

Much of her book she shares how traditions played a big part in her life, as a child, and later as a mother. We’ve slacked off majorly in the tradition department lately, and I’ve decided this week to work harder at those we have and try to begin some new ones that my children can look back on as fondly as I do those in the falls of my childhood.

One I stole from Stephanie’s blog is to have a “Family Theme.” Throughout the year it becomes the focus. She begins each school year with a fancy dinner where they introduce the family theme. I’m a little late, but I think this weekend we’ll give this new tradition a try.

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Our 2014-2015 family theme. Idea stolen from nieniedialogues.blogspot.com

Just like the tiny buds in the spring, I hope that our family traditions can start out small and simple, then catch on and grow until they become a part of us. I hope that when my children look back on their memories, it will be like the autumn grand finale, full of color and beauty.

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Happy fall, everyone!

What are traditions your family has that bring you joy? I’d love to hear them!

Categories: children, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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