Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Missing This

Sitting in church last Sunday, with my son on one side and my husband on the other, my mind was drifting. I thought about the coming week, the things we had planned, bills I needed to pay, etc. It's not that I was bored, I was just thinking. I enjoy attending church and find peace and strength to face a busy week there.

I looked down at Josh and something hit me. My ex-husband is missing this. He's missing sitting by Josh in church each week, watching him grow each day, and listening him. He's missing knowing what bugs Josh and what doesn't. He's missing Josh's smile, his laugh, and his jokes. He's missing the Lego building, scooter riding, and cookie dunking. Sure, he's missing out on the bad stuff like colds, homework, laundry, dentist visits, cleaning, cooking, throw-up on the floor, emergency room visits, and parent-teacher conferences, but the good stuff outweighs the bad by far.

Leaning over to Josh I whispered, "T---- is missing this."

Josh looked puzzled and said, "You mean church?"

"No," I answered. "Not just church. He's missing you. He's missing watching you grow up every day. He's missing this!"

Josh gave me a long look. For 10 he's older than his years in many ways. He knew what I was saying, but until he's a father sitting in church with his kids, he won't know what I meant.

I meant that I wouldn't miss out on raising Josh for the world. I meant that I am grateful for every moment of every day with Josh, even the bad days. He was a miracle. According to my doctor it was impossible for me to get pregnant, but I did. Josh was a gift from God. I've never forgotten that. It's unfortunate that someone else did.

I'm amazed at the parents who don't care, feel resentful, or walk out on their kids. (Trust me, I see it every day at school.) How can these parents miss this? One of the greatest joys in my life is being a mom. I wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl.

So given a chance between missing this and Josh? No question. I'd pick Josh every time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas All Year


Sick of the Christmas music yet? How about Christmas movies? What about the hours of shopping, wrapping presents, baking goodies, and smiling? I'm not. Is there something wrong with me? I commented to my hubby and son today that I wish Christmas would last another month. My son agreed with me; my husband looked at me like I was nuts.


Sure, I love the music. When I hear Christmas hymns, Nat King Cole or Burl Ives sing Christmas songs it brings back childhood memories of my mom playing Christmas music on the family record player. We'd listen all day while we played, baked, or worked. At the time I took it for granted. Today I would give almost anything to go back for just one day.


I've mentioned in a previous blog that my favorite Christmas movie is "Scrooged." I love that movie and the story of Scrooge, because Dickens gives us hope that people can change for the better. Even the crustiest, grouchiest of us can become a happy, loving person.


But I couldn't figure out why I wanted Christmas to last this year. Sure, the music and movies are fantastic, but still. Then it struck me the other morning why I love Christmas so much. It is a time of hope. People are happier. They smile more and they are (usually) more patient. While waiting in line at the security gates in the airport this week I looked up at the man in front of me (he was very tall) and he was wearing a Santa hat! In my eagerness to get through security to pick up my son I hadn't noticed that there were several people in line with Santa hats on and they were all adults with happy attitudes. They made me smile.


We celebrate Christmas not just for the commercialism of it, but to honor our brother, Jesus Christ. We give gifts in honor of Him, as the wise men from the East gave Him gifts. With His life, He brought hope to humanity. Steve and I reminded our boys on Christmas Eve this year that Christmas isn't about the gifts we receive, it's about the gift of the Savior in our lives. It's His influence, His love, and His sacrifice that we celebrate.


So while you're packing up and heading home or putting away Christmas decor, don't despair! Christmas can remain, at least, in your heart. May you celebrate Christmas not just today, but all year long. Merry Christmas my friends!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hardest Thing You'll Ever Do . . . Move On


My husband and I are on our second marriage and we each have a son from our first marriage. While my divorce was very quick and fairly friendly, his divorce was a circus, think “Jerry Springer style,” and lasted for almost 2 years. My ex lives in another state and sees my son 3-4 times a year. My husband’s ex lives in town and their son splits his time between both of them. Our boys are 10 and 9.

We have been married over 2 years now and as I reflect on our time together as a family, I can’t help but reflect on the kids. My son has adjusted much better to the divorce and remarriage than his son has. This is due, in part, to my son’s personality, but also the fact that his father lives in another state, has moved on with his life, my attitude towards his father and our relationship today. I moved on too. I’m not bitter. I’m not angry that life didn’t turn out the way I planned it.

My husband’s son still struggles with his feelings over their divorce. It’s been 6 years since his mom left his dad and 4 since their divorce, yet he still asks why they can’t get back together. He gets upset nearly every visit with us (two weeks with her, two weeks with us) about their divorce and our remarriage. This is due, in part, to my stepson’s personality, but also his parents’ attitude towards one another and the fact that he goes back and forth between them. There is anger. There is regret. My husband has moved on, but I don’t think his ex has.


There are many divorced and remarried folks in the church and in the world today. Children are the casualties. As one who has not only chosen divorce, but is a witness of the results, I see parents as the biggest influence on their children’s ability to cope with it.


Parents need to be positive about the other parent, even if it hurts. Parents need to move on, let go, and refrain from bitterness. If you are a divorced parent, you’re not hurting your ex if you’re bitter and angry about the situation, you’re hurting yourself (because in order to grow spiritually you need to move on) and you’re sabotaging the future happiness of your kids. It will probably be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but trust me, for your kids’ sake it’s worth it. Move on.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas This Year


Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. This December has been especially sweet. Our boys have been pretty well behaved, we still have jobs, a roof over our heads, can pay our bills, and we’re fairly healthy (a cold here and there, but no matter). This year I feel relief. I feel light and free. I’ve been pondering why I feel this way and I think it ties back into the stress of present buying.

Our boys received their Christmas early this year (as you may recall in a previous blog) and were told that this year they are receiving a small gift or two and their stockings. That’s it. The purchase of quads for our family was our Christmas. (I’m thinking of milking this for a couple of years, if possible.)

So as I’ve picked up small things for them, I haven’t been worrying about the boys. They’re happy with their gifts. I’ve been able to think about other people and actually remember folks I usually forget until the last minute!

I got Jenny’s present purchased and in the mail before I received hers. That’s a new record. (She always beats me to it.) I have already handed out cards and breads to our neighbors, put together a cute snowman filled with treats for Steve’s home teaching family, given my visiting teacher a gift, my visiting teachees their gifts, bought my students candy, my student aide and her mom presents, baked cookies for half of the staff at my school, got Carolyn’s family’s present ready, and bought stuff for Steve. My parents’ and grandma’s presents are even ready. I’m not tired of shopping. I’m not worried about Christmas morning.

Instead, this year I’m calm. So why am I usually a grumbly mess by December 19th? Why am I NOT a grumbly mess this year? I’m prepared, that’s the difference. This year I made a plan for presents and people and it’s working.

The only thing I forgot about was our Christmas card picture. We never took a picture of all 4 of us together this year. (Sigh.) Well, no one’s perfect.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Thanksgiving Spirit



Because of my whole thesis “drama” I had a hard time getting into the Thanksgiving Spirit this year. I was too busy freaking out over other things. But I watched as some friends and family members posted their “thanks” on Facebook this year and I was impressed with what they found to be thankful for. These posts helped me through a stressful fall and reminded me to give thanks.



My former co-worker and friend, Julie Sherwood, posted some amazing patriotic things she was grateful for. I agreed with her and wished I could be as eloquent in my thanks for my country and countrymen who have sacrificed so much for us.

My friend and Chaparral alum, Marcela Kofford, posted her excitement and thanks at seeing her sister again after so many years apart. I admit, I teared up over that one. I imagined myself living far away from my sisters and not being able to see them or my family for years.

My sister-in-law, Carolyn Mohler, gave thanks to an understanding policeman who realized baby Charlie dialing 911 was an accident and didn’t give her grief for it. I chuckled over that one and was grateful for her sense of humor in sharing this incident.

My sister, Terresa Wellborn (the Chocolate Chip Waffle blogger), asked people what they were bringing to the Thanksgiving table this year. The answers ranged from silly to serious, but it was her grateful heart that shown through that question and on her blog.

I have an idea. What if instead of thinking about what we’re thankful for once a year, we think about it once a day? Can you imagine how much happier you’d be if instead of dwelling on what you don’t have, you dwell on what you do? We have an abundance to be thankful for.

I’ll go first.

Here are my top 5:
I’m thankful for my husband and for my boys. They boost me, support me, and love me.

I’m thankful for my family and friends. They accept me with all of my faults and forgive me when I need it.

I’m grateful for my health and my life. Every time I run I think of my friend, Megan Kiehl, who passed away several years ago from ALS. She had been in a wheelchair and then bedridden. I took my body for granted until she was diagnosed.

I’m thankful for my job. I love it and I’m never bored with it or the kids.

I’m grateful for my life experiences---the good and the bad. They have made me who I am today.


What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sunday, Steve, the Sacrament









A couple of Sundays ago Steve volunteered to take the sacrament to several elderly people in our ward. They couldn’t get out to church and had requested it brought to them. I love Steve for many reasons, but that Sunday Steve earned even more of my love and respect.

He had worked all night, had little sleep that morning, and had attended church with me for 3 hours. Our boys were with their other parents, so it could’ve been nap time, relaxing time, DVD time, or just plain alone time, but Steve volunteered because no one else would. I had never gone with a priesthood holder to offer the sacrament to others. I went with Steve because I was curious to see Steve in this situation (and it’s always fun to be with him.)

Taking the sacrament to those who can’t get to church is not a glamorous job. It takes patience, kindness, and tact. The people we visited were lonely and sometimes sad. We knew some of them and introduced ourselves to others. We were welcomed into their homes. Steve very solemnly blessed and passed the sacrament to each of the 7 people we visited. I watched him perform this sacred duty and was proud of him. It was another side of him I was able to witness.

Some of the members hadn’t been able to attend church in months. They wanted to chat. We listened, we reminisced about old wards and people we knew, we looked for lost keys, met a cute cat, and even looked for a missing remote control. We learned a little about each elderly brother or sister we visited. These were gifts to me. (I love hearing stories people tell.) I was worried about Steve though. I knew he was tired and needed sleep before going to work that night.

Even though he was exhausted, Steve continued until we had been to each home. My love for Steve grew as I watched his gentle kindness towards these brothers and sisters. I was blessed that day to spend time with my amazing husband while he performed a service for those who needed it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Laughter


In these times of turmoil and frustration I want to ask you something. When was the last time you laughed? I thought about this question and realized I had not laughed REALLY hard (until crying and losing some bladder control) for a very long time. It’s probably been months, years even. I asked around and other people told me the same thing. How sad is that?

So in an effort to reverse the growing trend of doomsdayers, negative Nellies, and their ilk, I’ve decided to challenge everyone reading this blog (and their friends, relatives, and neighbors) to find something humorous today. Laugh, why don’t ya! Look around for funny things your kids say or do, your family members (especially aged grandparents) say or do, and share it with others. Let’s start a trend of funny, happy laughter that spreads like mold on 10-day-old bread.

I can never remember a funny joke, but I never forget a funny movie. Polling my friends on Facebook and bugging Steve gave me some great movie ideas. Here are just a few funny movies to recall and/or rent.

Funny Movies: Secondhand Lions Monty Python & the Holy Grail The Princess Bride The Three Amigos Groundhog Day Tommy Boy RV Napoleon Dynamite National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Throw Momma From the Train Uncle Buck Old School (TV version) Dumb & Dumber Shrek Elf Scrooged

Looking over this list I can just about agree with all of them being hilariously funny in some way or another. Remember the knight in "Monty Python & the Holy Grail?" We tried explaining that part of the movie to our boys last week and they didn’t get it. Steve went online and found it somewhere. The boys watched it and laughed so hard they were falling out of their chairs at our kitchen table! It was sweet to have that in common and to watch them laugh that hard at something.

How about the "dead" deer-in-the-car scene in "Tommy Boy?" Funny! Or Napoleon with his interesting life and riding around town on his 10-Speed bike? Hilarious! My favorite part of "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" is the cat biting into the Christmas tree lights and getting fried. Who thinks of things like that? Awesome! Uncle Buck’s positive, cheerful attitude, despite his lack of a job made me smile, as did the birthday breakfast of gynormous pancakes he cooked up for his surprised nephew.

The TV version of "Old School" is too good to pass up. My favorite part is when Will Ferrell gets shot with the tranquilizer dart in the neck and stumbles around. Classic Will Ferrell. Ferrell’s role as the na├»ve Buddy the Elf left me laughing and happy that there is another excellent Christmas movie to watch with my kids each year.

Finally, I had to add "Scrooged." Bill Murray was the perfect Scrooge. I’ll never forget watching it in a movie theater with my sister, Terresa. We are talkers during movies (sorry for you folks who end up sitting by us). We laughed and talked through the entire film. It’s still one of my all-time favorite funny movies. It can be spring, summer, winter, or fall, and I love watching that movie because it gives me hope that even a Scrooge can change.

So get out there! Laugh it up! Pop some popcorn and rent a funny movie or two. Drag your kids in to watch one of our generation’s humorous classics. Let’s leave the scary, bleak world a better place with your laughter. (By the way, if you have any other funny movies to add, please email me or leave a comment here on my blog. I would be happy to have another laugh.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Prayer




The last week or two I have been feeling overwhelmed by life, by burdens, by callings, and by responsibilities. I worked smarter, got more sleep, ate right, exercised, etc., and still nothing changed. This overwhelming feeling of drowning in problems began to affect my attitude towards life. I felt that I would never find peace from the struggle and opposition of day-to-day stresses. I looked around and all I could see were problems---from the government down to my family and myself.

As I drove home from work one day last week, I was in tears. My students in my last class that day had been awful, I was feeling like a failure as a teacher, and I couldn't get anyone on my cell phone to talk to. (I usually call my husband and my mom on my commute home from work every day to check in and catch up on things.)

It suddenly occurred to me that while I was panicking to talk to someone in my family, I hadn't called the Lord. I had been depending on my own strength for several weeks and while I had been praying at every meal and at our nightly family prayers, I had not sat down and prayed to the Lord like I used to for a while.

I sat in my car at a light and poured my heart out to Him. I didn’t care who saw me or what they thought. Through that prayer I felt inspired to love my students and look for the good in them. Things that were looming in my mind as huge problems suddenly became distant specks. The world took on a new look; even the commercial part of Charleston Avenue I was driving on looked brighter and cleaner.

I realized that the adversary had been “helping” me see the worst in everything and everyone. I was beginning to change into a person I wasn’t happy with and decided then and there that I would fight it, no matter what.

Tonight I was catching up on my Ensign reading and wouldn’t you know it? The August 2009 issue has an excellent article about prayer, by Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi, on page 34. If I had read this magazine in August, as I was prompted to, it might have helped my outlook then. That was right about the time I went back to school for the year. If you haven’t read it, try it. http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=8bbe15e67b5b2210VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD
Maybe it will help you. Have a great week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Friends

Our lesson in Relief Society today was on friends. I was surprised to see this lesson in the manual and couldn’t help but wonder why it was there. (Thanks to the Prophet and the committee who plan the lesson books!) Because our focus is on Joseph Smith this year, the lesson revolved around him and the friendships he had. Joseph’s friends were amazing. They loved him and stood by him when the “fair weather” friends did not.

That got me thinking. What is a friend? Am I a good friend? Do I really listen? Am I there for my friends? Am I willing to open up to others or am I comfortable living in my own little bubble? Am I too busy with “life” for my friends? How can I be a better friend?

A few years back I lost the friendships of two life-long friends within two years. I made the choice to end one friendship and the other was that friend’s choice. I was devastated. We all lost out. Life went on though. I made new friends through my relationship with Steve, we were moved into a new ward, and I became reacquainted with lost friends on Facebook.

Until recently life as a newlywed, student, teacher, and mom left me little time for friends. Now that I have been married for almost 2 years and am no longer taking classes I have more time. Why does that extra time seem to go to my husband and boys the most? I don’t regret that it does, but I worry that I my friends and I are missing out. Women need friends. I miss my friends. I miss meeting for lunches and laughing over silly things our kids do. I miss catching up on high school gossip or crying together over our trials.

The R.S. manual also says, “True friends ease one another’s sorrows and remain faithful even in times of adversity.” I look at my parents and the friends they’ve had throughout their lives. Some friends were there for my parents when life was good, but when things turned bad, they disappeared. I’ve never forgotten that, not to begrudge those people, but as a reminder to not act that way myself.

My grandmother is another example. She now finds herself at 85 alone and sick. Grandpa died over 10 years ago. Her only son, who has had many struggles because of his poor choices, stopped talking to her soon after Grandpa died. My grandma is not active in the church and so relies on her daughter (my mom) and our family to help her. She doesn’t have any close friends. I can’t help but wonder how much richer her life would be with friends.

The gospel is one key in making friends. As sisters in the gospel we are blessed with Visiting Teachers. I can’t count how many of my Visiting Teachers have become my friends. We are also given opportunities to gather as friends in book clubs, cooking clubs, gardening clubs, and activities. If you don’t have friends at church, I’m sorry, it’s your fault. If you don’t attend a church, there are still activities you can participate in and make friends. One of my non-LDS friends meets with a woman’s group about once a month for the weekend. They talk, eat, exercise, and discuss life. Every time she returns from one of these weekends, I look forward to hearing about it.

I remember years ago complaining to one of my Visiting Teachers in a new ward I was in how I didn’t know anyone and no one was reaching out to me. She looked at me, with all of the wisdom a twenty-something could, and asked me if I had gone to any of the Relief Society activities in the ward. I swallowed my pride and told her no. She told me that I needed to extend myself first. She was right. I extended myself and made wonderful friends in that ward.

Another point the manual states is, “Friendship unites the human family, dispelling hatred and misunderstanding.” One way to bring peace into the world is to have friendships, and to love one another. If we look at those around us as our brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s easier to have patience and love for them. Having friends of various backgrounds makes the world a smaller place. I might not agree with the viewpoints of my Democrat or non-LDS friends, but I still love them. Imagine how peaceful the world would be if we could have friendship for one another, no matter what our race, religion, or background.

Before I step off of my friendship soapbox, I want to leave you with a quote one of my dear friends gave me years ago. “A friend is someone who sticks with you through thick and thin.” I haven’t always been that friend. For that I am sorrowful. I am grateful for my friends though. They have loved me, helped me, and kept me afloat during the thick times and the thin times. They are examples for me of what kind of friend I can be.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Writing Experiment Part 1


Fall is here. You can’t feel it in Vegas yet, but it’s in the air somewhere close by. With fall comes the new school year. School, with all of its changes, challenges, and new experiences, is something I’ve been looking forward to.

One change is a new group of students. The challenge is to get them excited about school and learning. A new experience for me is teaching English to 7th graders. In previous years I’ve taught 7th grade reading, which consists of, well, reading. There is some writing involved, but we mainly read and have class discussions. English, with its grammar and essay writing, is a whole new ball game for me, but a good one I think.

This year my goal is to motivate my 100 or so English students to write, become better at it, and to enjoy it. I think it’s fun to write, but when I ask my students to write, most of them look at me in horror.

Last week I did my song and dance about the exciting topic planned for their pre-test essay. (Write about a funny thing that happened to you or to someone you know at school.) Most of them tell me something funny every day. Why they can’t write about one funny thing is beyond me. To be fair, a few kids caught the enthusiasm, but I wasn’t happy with just a few. I began looking for inspiration.

My department chair, Ms. Isabel Gomez, mentioned a journaling activity she used last year with her 7th graders that worked exceedingly well to inspire them to write. She read 1-2 diary entries a week from “The Freedom Writers Diary – How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them,” by Erin Gruwell and her students at Wilson High School. (You may remember the movie, “Freedom Writers,” based on Gruwell and her experiences as a teacher.)

I asked my students to bring in a spiral notebook that will be their diary (or journal for the boys who think diaries are for girls.) I pumped them up about the book (140+ diary entries from Gruwell’s students who are from all races and have many interesting experiences to share) and I talked about Erin Gruwell and what she did as a teacher. (Only a few of the students had seen the movie.)

After a week of pumping them up about “The Freedom Writers Diary,” I made myself comfortable at the front of the classroom on my thrift store stool, opened the book, and prayed silently that this experiment would work.

I read Gruwell’s diary entry first. My students’ eyes betrayed their distrust of this lady named Gruwell, with her white skin, wealthy upbringing, and her comments about Long Beach, CA. (Her picture is on the cover of the book and all of them wanted to see what she looked like.) I told them to reserve their judgment until I was finished with her entry.

Her diary account deals with an incident of racism on her first day in the classroom. Gruwell was really upset by the sketch of a student being passed around class. She told her students that it was pictures and attitudes like theirs that started the Holocaust. There was one little problem. None of her students knew what the Holocaust was. (FYI: Her entry was from 1994 and her students were in high school. Most of my middle school students in 2009 do not know what the Holocaust was either.) By the time I was done with her entry and explaining what the Holocaust was, most looked interested; a few still appeared skeptical though.

I read Diary Entry 1 next. It was by a student in Gruwell’s class who doesn’t think Gruwell will last a month at her new job as an English teacher. Her writing is honest and sometimes brutal. Language and racial distrust are involved in this entry, things my students know something about. They were spellbound. Each class asked me to read another entry. I declined, reminding them that our time in class was short and that they still needed to write their first entry in their diaries. Hoping for the best, I set the timer for 7 minutes. I wasn’t disappointed.

Most students were done by the timer’s ring. Some continued to write, hunched over their diaries like hungry prisoners guarding food. Others were nonchalant. They weren’t interested or pretended not to be. One student named L--- showed me his entry. It was obvious by what he wrote that he wanted a reaction from me. (He wrote that my class was stupid, the book was boring, and that he hated writing.) I shrugged my shoulders, smiled at him (a genuine smile, not a fake one) and told him that he was welcome to his opinion. After all, that was his journal, not mine. His small brown eyes looked disappointed. Little did he know, I took his actions as a challenge. It’s only September and I’m not finished with the writing experiment. I’ve learned so much with just one day of reading. Imagine what a school year of it will do to motivate my students’ writing.

More to come as the year unfolds . . .

Sunday, August 16, 2009

When One Door Closes













I recently told a lady whose husband had left her for another woman, “When one door closes, another one opens.” I meant it.

Think back to all of those times things didn’t go the way you wanted them to go. Yeah, you! Aren’t you glad things didn’t turn out the way you planned? What if everything we desired happened the way we wanted it to? It would be misery. We’d never learn. We’d never be grateful. I firmly believe that when one door closes, another one opens for everyone. It might not happen when, how, where we want it to, but it does.

Here, let me share a couple I remember.

I’m thinking back to 8th grade (1983) when I tried out for a local girls’ dance team (what was I thinking, Miss Klutz???) and went into the splits with the wrong leg forward, tearing the muscles in the back of my leg, and blowing the tryout. Ouch! That one took a while to recover from, but later on I was grateful I didn’t make it. Their costumes were tacky and I would have missed out on fun with my family and friends while practicing 3 afternoons a week.

Or how about applying for an MBA @ BYU Business School? I tanked on that one. I was about 26 and working at Covey Leadership Center in Provo, UT. An MBA seemed like the perfect fit for me. They didn’t even consider me, even though I was working for a company willing to give me experience and I had potential in that field. Now that I’m a teacher finishing a Masters in Teaching, I can’t believe I even considered an MBA. Was I nuts? Business is so boring! I always skip that section in the newspaper. I’d rather read juicy entertainment gossip or catch up on what’s happening in Vegas. I love teaching, not the details of business or sales or HR nightmares. I’d rather deal with punky 12 year olds and poetry any day of the week!

Last, but not least, my 1st marriage. Yeah, that was a pretty big door that shut. I was devastated. I had moments where I didn’t see anything besides that shut door. Then Heavenly Father had 2 former ward members (Carolyn and Terresa) bump into each other and catch up about life, compare notes on their families, and realize that one had a brother who was divorced and the other had a sister who was recently divorced. Hmmmmm . . . getting the picture here? My sister Terresa, the matchmaker, couldn’t help herself. She saw a door opening for me and bugged me about it until I said I’d call the guy. So I did.

Seeing that open door was scary, but choosing to walk through that door to Steve was the best choice I’ve made in years. He’s everything I hoped for in a friend and husband. It’s an example of “one door opening when another closes” for me. I am so grateful for Heavenly Father’s wisdom and foresight in my life. (And my sister’s tenacity!)

So next time that job interview doesn’t go so well, or you find out you’re pregnant just when you thought it was safe to give away all of the baby stuff, don’t fret. Let that door shut on what you’d planned and look for that new, open door. You never know where it might lead.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Growing Up

I have one son who is straining against childhood to grow up into a teenager. I have another son who is enjoying all things kid-like and may never grow up. My mom tells me that is typical of kids. (The boys are the almost the same age, my son #1 reminds me. They are stepbrothers who have been single children for most of their young lives.) My mom says you can have one daughter who is boy crazy at age 8, while another one plays with Barbie’s until she’s 12. Every kid is different.

So I look at my two boys and mourn the childhood they are slowing leaving behind, yet I am excited for their future teen and adulthood.

Somewhere along life’s path, I left behind the little girl I was and grew up. I’m the sister who cried (and still does) every dang time I hear the song, “Puff the Magic Dragon.” If you aren’t familiar with “Puff,” it’s about a boy who had an imaginary dragon as a playmate. They had marvelous adventures together until one day the boy grew up and left Puff behind. Puff was heartbroken. Just thinking about that song brings tears to my eyes, because as a child I knew I’d have to grow up one day. As much as I longed to date, drive a car, and run away to college, part of me wanted to stay a little girl forever.

Growing up is an inevitable part of life. I know this. It’s easy to accept when it’s your life that’s moving forward and another thing when it’s your children. I don’t want to miss a minute with my boys. I encourage their imaginary friends, light-saber fights and adventures in the backyard tree house. I want them to ride their bikes through rain puddles and play in the mud. Every scrape and scar is a part of their stories. I hope and pray their childhoods are happy. Like a mother bird I want to give them confidence for that flight into teen and adulthood.

I can’t help but think, is it too late to stop the clock for us grown ups? Can’t we keep a little bit of the child inside of us? Can’t we still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and build forts out of blankets? I’ve decided that I’m going to start moving backward now. Maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald had the right idea with Benjamin Button. Age 39 is a great year to begin to grow down (as opposed to grow up.) It’s a good halfway mark in life. When older people say or do immature things, everyone writes it off as old age. If I keep growing younger I’ll be a baby at age 80. That’s perfect. I’ll probably be in diapers anyway.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Angels-In-Law



Most people, especially women, hear the words "mother-in-law" and break out into a cold sweat. Not me. I have been blessed with 2 of the best mothers-in-law a gal could ask for.

My first mother-in-law, Darlene, loves reading mystery novels, like me. She is quiet and soft-spoken (not like me.) She loved me and included me in her family from day one. She was never nosy or judgemental, even when I was young married wife and not-so-smart. She could have easily been upset with me. That's not her way.

I cherish the quiet conversations we've had about life, children, and books. She wouldn't give me up as a daughter-in-law, even when her son and I divorced. She loves me still the same. That has amazed me.

Darlene has struggled with MS for many years and is in a wheelchair for most of the day now, but her happy attitude hasn't changed. She is not angry or upset with her lot in life. She is still a loving wife, mother, and mother-in-law. She is a great example for her family of enduring life's difficulties with a smile.

My second mother-in-law, Rhodell, came into my life by way of my second marriage. Rhodell reminds me of my mom. She is a tiny woman with a lot of energy; a firecracker! She is easy to talk with and a great leader. She and I both love gardening and cooking. Knowing her and her family for my entire life has given us much in common. I'd like to think that if she wasn't my mother-in-law, she'd be someone I would choose as a friend.


She and my father-in-law had a his, hers, and ours family. She was divorced with two small boys. My father-in-law, Lamar, was divorced with four small children. When they married she had six children under the age of five. (Yes, she's a saint and she didn't lose her mind.) She raised Lamar's children as if they were her own. Ten years after marrying Lamar, they decided to have more. I am so grateful for her desire to have more children. My husband is their youngest son.

Rhodell's experience of divorce and blended families has been a blessing my life. She has helped me through many difficult periods in my post-divorce and remarriage life. She is one of the women I know who has been through so much and is willing to talk about it and help others. Talking with her always makes me feel better. She is a great example of learning from life's challenges and never giving up.

So while other women cringe at the word, "mother-in-law," I smile. I am so blessed. Heavenly Father knew I'd need these two angels in my life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Ring


I glance down at my slender ring finger and admire the ring wrapped gently around it. The ring is my wedding band and I love it. It’s not the ring I love so much, a ring is just a thing. It’s what it stands for that means so much to me.

My ring stands for the love and commitment my husband and I have for one another. We made a promise before our children, our families, and Heavenly Father to be husband and wife.

It represents the leap of faith we took after both enduring tumultuous first marriages with others and the resulting painful divorces. We were nervous about trusting again, but had faith that Heavenly Father had a plan for us together.

It symbolizes our friendship, which always comes first. We were friends before we fell in love. I want the best for him and he for me.

It means we are a team, working towards common goals. We help one another achieve our goals. We plan a future together as a couple and as a family.

It signifies our being bound together, through sickness and health. No matter what happens, we will be there for one another.

It embodies eternity. We work toward our temple sealing, excited that we will be together forever.

No matter what the future brings we are hand in hand, side by side.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Welcome to Life!



  • I know someone who is afraid to take the plunge, walk down the aisle, get married, take a wife, etc. He sees relationships around him that are challenging, struggling, even failing or failed. One day I told him---welcome to life!


    Life is messy.


    Life is sometimes painful.


    People aren't perfect and neither are relationships. Most people are doing the best they can with what they have.


    Find someone you love. Make sure you can hold good conversations about anything.

    Support each other. Cheer one another on.

    Go for it! Those of us in great marriages know there is pain as well as joy, but it's the joy that makes life worth it.

    One of my favorite movies of all time (thanks to director Ron Howard and writer Howie Mandel), Parenthood (1989), has the great-grandma character talking to her grand daughter-in-law about life being a choice. Life is either a merry-go-round or a rollercoaster.

    The merry-go-round is fun, but it just goes around and around. The roller coaster is up and down and back and forth. It's fast and exciting, and unexpected, just like life. The great-grandma tells the overwhelmed grand daughter-in-law (who is dealing with unplanned pregnancy #4 and her husband quitting his job) she prefers the roller coaster.

    So do I.