Monday, May 6, 2019

My Boys

Today was just fun. We woke up, the sun was shining. Jax made everyone oatmeal, as he does most mornings lately. He brought a library book a couple weeks ago about how to make cookies. Before that I had taught him to make oatmeal, which I think gave him the idea that he could probably do more than just oatmeal. That week he made chocolate chip cookies almost entirely by himself that were better than mine. He has always been a little older than his age. In preschool his teacher would tell me, "If one of the kids don't know how to do something, I just say to them, 'Go ask Jax!" He often comes home from school with a list of names of friends to draw something for or make a funny folded accordion animal for. He wanted wontons so bad for dinner tonight and we had a bag from Costco of ones you could just heat in the microwave. He figured out how to do it, wet paper towel and all and made them for himself and both his brothers. McKay and I just sat at the table laughing and eating spaghetti. After he did that he cleared everyone's plates and helped his brothers get cleaned up. He is motivated when he is doing good and does it quietly and humbly just like his dad.

Last week we were sitting in Jax's car line, waiting for him to go out of school and Jonah was starting out his window at a girl sitting against the middle school wall. She had her knees folded up and her head on her knees and Jonah said to me, "It looks like that girl is having a hard day." I have always told Jonah he is my teddy bear because he gives the best hugs and is the best cuddler. I remember being sick when he was just a month old and holding him and feeling better right away. I think one of his special gifts is empathy and the ability to know what to do to help. I told him how great he is at making other people feel better and he told me he is "going to be a helper when I grow up." He tried to get out of the car to check on the girl, but before he could get to her she got up and walked away. A couple days later, we were in Seattle and waiting in traffic he noticed a woman pulling a suitcase that looked like she was in a rough part of life. Jonah said she looked like she was having a hard time and her face looked red and sad. I am amazed at what he notices and what he is drawn to. He is full of emotions and often times I get frustrated at how quickly he gets frustrated. I have to remember how quickly he loves.

Okay Cash. I want to kiss his face all day long. I am learning about hope and trust and why I have been hesitant to let myself feel love all the way- to let myself fall fully back into being his mom. It's because the doubting, faithless part of me is scared it will be taken away again. But I know it won't. I don't have to be careful to not let us get back into our groove completely. It can be compete and better than it was before. I am seeing myself more every day how I used to see myself and before where there was confidence in myself that broke whenever I couldn't accomplish what I thought I should, there is now confidence in the Savior- Who knows my children, knows me, and who's grace makes up for everything that I am not. All the time I have missed, all the moments I stumble, or fall short, or struggle through, He is there and his grace somehow gives my children this perception of me that I am exactly what they need, imperfect as that may be. But there, and always was there. Even if there had to be a few gaps. Grace fills the gaps. That's what I've felt with Cash lately. We were walking out of Jonah's school today and he was holding my hand and I realized, this is normal. He's mine. I'm his.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Another week! I made a goal along time ago to write every day. Actually, I've made that goal over and over again. I feel like I should. I want to believe there is good in social media and I know there is. However, I haven't reached the precipice yet where I am looking up at the good and standing above the bad. I still delete Instagram often and when it's on my phone waste time scrolling through pictures that leave me unsatisfied and annoyed. I don't remember if I've written about this or not, but after deleting it for the first time after President Nelson challenged us to, I felt a strong impression to write on my blog. It seems like almost every person my age has something to say. It's almost as if our worth lies in how much we can teach the world and how many we can teach at once. It feels tempting at times and can feel like a duty or responsibility or even a drop in an ego bucket, however, the Creator of the World and the Creator of Us are the artists who have already created all there is to create. They know all there is to know. It is up to us to be inspired and pay it forward and that's really what I think the most inspiring people do. 

I read something today Elder Bednar said that I have read before and forgot about. It was something like, We often think the absence of a load is what happiness is, but a presence of a load is essential to the Plan of Happiness. (That's not the exact quote- just from my memory.) I have been thinking about that a lot today. I love what we have been studying in the New Testament. At this point in the scriptures, the Savior is about to be crucified. There is a commotion in the cities around him and talk about "this man" who has gone around teaching and healing and loving and lifting the people. Those who know Him know He is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Some say He is not, and is leading the people astray. I am sure there are those who wondered and weren't sure for themselves quite yet. Today it was so cute, during our family lesson Jax mentioned that the world is still like that. He is so right! I love the account of the blind man who was given sight. Before he opened his eyes, Jesus was gone. The people around him wondered if this was the same man who had been a blind beggar on the street. When the man who had been blind heard them talking, he told them yes, he was. Several people approached him and asked who gave him his sight. At first the man said "A man." Then, "A prophet." Then, "A man of God. Then, when approached by Jesus, "Lord, I believe." He came to know the Savior through and after his trial. An important part of this story to me is the miracle that took place after his eyes were opened as he stood in the city, pondering what had happened. That's the greater miracle. God can always fix our bodies and sometimes he does, but our bodies will be restored regardless. The greatest change takes place in our hearts.


Often times we are tempted in a trial to question, "Why me?" I have been tempted to wonder that way too. But as I read the bible and the accounts of these people who knew the Savior and their intimate and personal and sacred experiences with Him, I think to myself, I want to be one of them! In the past I have tried to keep the perspective, "Why not me?" But for some reason, that hasn't felt right either to ask. Still, it paints trials in negative light- sent or occurring at random with no coordination or divine hand to customize our earthly experiences. I believe hard things that happen, that aren't a result of our own misuse of agency are custom and divine. I came to know the Savior through my hardest things. To the Savior speaking of the blind man the disciples asked if he or his parents had sinned. Christ answered and said, "...Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." When you notice the works of God all around you, it's not possible to question why me? At times I have felt more to say, I'm glad it was me

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Peter


I love studying the New Testament! To study Christ's ministry on the earth and people who were witnesses of Him have helped me recognize so much better His power and influence in my life and His role in joy, hope, peace, and anything and everything happy I feel and experience. One of my favorite witnesses of Christ to learn about has been Peter. He was Christ's "beloved." He had so many special and unique experiences with the Savior and I love that those who recorded what we get to read included so many stories about Peter so we can understand better (among so many other things) the role that grace plays in our relationships with Jesus Christ and how it affects us. I have loved placing myself where Peter was and trying to learn how Christ teaching Peter applies to me. 

Right now in the Bible we are at the end of Christ's ministry. He has told His disciples that He would be crucified and is attempting to prepare this group of me to carry on His ministry on the earth. They have sat on mountain tops with the Savior as He taught His gospel to them, they have witnessed miracle after miracle. They have been baptized and felt the power of the Holy Ghost witness to them that Jesus is The Christ. As I read these stories, Peter seems to always year to be as near to the Savior as he can possibly be. He was with the Savior on the Mount of Transfiguration. He walked to the Savior on the raging sea. He was with the Savior as the tax collector came (one of my favorite miracles that I recently learned more about). He was with the Savior on the mountain when Christ asked who the people they were ministering to thought he was. Peter answered and said that some thought he was John the Baptist, some thought He was Esaias. Christ then asked Peter who he thought He was and Peter answered and said, He was Christ, the Son of the Living God. Peter knew the Savior and loved Him. He knew He was the Son of God. When Christ told his disciples He was being crucified, Peter resisted that truth. I think he knew that Christ had the power and ability to resist the pain he was about to go through, and wished He would do that- not realizing that the Atonement for our sins Christ would preform would not only be our only way to overcome death, but the only way we could feel joy and peace as we experience life. It was essential according to the Plan of Salvation and the only way justice could be fulfilled so we could experience mercy. 

When Christ was being crucified, I'm sure the disciples felt their lives were in a dangerous and scary commotion. All had had other professions before and all had had just a short time with the Savior to learn His gospel. I wonder if part of the reason Christ allowed them to witness so many miracles and be a witness to so many sacred communions with God the Father was because He didn't have the time with them they needed otherwise. Peter left his life as a fisherman to follow the Savior. Time and time again, he exercised faith and his faith was made sure, but on the night of Christ's crucifixion, Peter denied Him three times, as prophesied by the Savior. 

I read that story now and see myself in Peter. When life seems easier- when it seems I am walking with the Savior, witnessing tender mercies I don't near deserve to witness, and experiencing peace- much like I imagine the disciples experiencing as they learned Christ's gospel at His feet on a grassy hill- it is easy to identify my faith. I love the story of Peter walking on the stormy sea. Many times when I heard this story, I imagined the storm calming just as the disciples recognized Christ walking on the water- but I know it didn't happen that way. The storm was raging, there were whitecaps- and these fisherman (who were professionals) were fearing for their lives.  I can only imagine how stormy the sea would have to be for that. Then, they saw, and probably felt, the presence of Someone walking on water. I imagine when Peter recognized the person as Christ, his desire to be near the Savior overpowered all laws of nature. Christ can overpower all laws of nature. Peter makes the choice to walk by faith, and leans to take that very first step into black, chilling water, as waves splash into his face and soak his clothes, trying to keep his eyes open and on the Savior. What I love about this story is that not only did the miracle require Peter's eyes to be on the Savior, the Savior never took his eyes off Peter. The Savior had more faith in Peter's ability to walk on water than Peter's faith in his own ability. 

The majority of Christ's miracles that we have record of are miracles where people's lives depended on their faith. They couldn't walk, they were possessed with a devil, they had an issue of blood, they were blind, they were looking after a sick child, their brother had died, they were drowning. Their desperation, their need required faith. I think our faith grows the most in moments or seasons of need. My never-wished-for moments of need are the ones I am most grateful for because in them my faith was built. My moments of approaching the Savior- bruised, broken, scared, even filled with darkness, and waiting for a miracle. The afflictions, I would never ask for; although, in their bringing me to the Savior, they become my greatest blessings. 

I love that we have record of Peter denying Christ. Not once, but three times. How often do I witness an undeniable manifestation of the Savior working in my life, and then deny Him. As I thought about this today I wondered what denying looked like for me. It's fear. When Peter denied the Savior, it may have been the first time He questioned Christ's ability to save him. The odds were too great. The Savior was being constrained and tortured before Peter and Peter was at the very delicate mercy of a wicked King and his servants. Maybe he wondered how in that moment could Christ protect Him. Could Peter have feared because the odds seemed too stacked against them?

I don't know what Peter's thoughts were, but I am so grateful for the record we have of his time with Jesus Christ and the evidence that he was mortal- just like us. Though I would never compare myself with Christ's most beloved disciple, I find comfort in the knowledge that even he wasn't perfect. Christ knew Peter would deny Him, and He still allowed Peter to witness miracle after miracle. He still trusted Peter to continue the ministry after He left Israel. He still bestowed upon Peter the power of the Priesthood- the ability to perform those miracles himself. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

You Still Fit


When you were born, the nurse placed you right on my chest. It was the first time my baby hadn't been immediately taken away for a bath or to be poked or checked. I was told I could hold you there for as long as I wanted to, so I did. We didn't move until a small emergency forced me to hand you back to the nurse. I sat there as the nurse worked to get my body to do what it needed to do, and stared across the room at the tiny bassinet where they laid you. All I could see were your feet kicking up in the air- a part of me removed. It felt unnatural. I needed to be with you.

When you were eleven months old, I sat cross-legged in the chair in your nursery and rocked you as you nursed. My body felt big in the wrong places and heavier and uncomfortable- but you fit with it. Your head rested on my arm and leaned into my chest, and your body laid comfortably across my lap. Sometimes you fell asleep like that- across my legs- and I would try not to wake you as I reached for food or something to read. I remember thinking, I was made for you, and you were made for me. As you got older, I knew you would still fit, just like your brothers did. I would never be as I was before and that was okay. I wasn't for me anymore, I was for you. When you were finished nursing that day, I stood to walk out, with you in my arms, and my hand was guided to a small bump in my chest.

That first surgery changed me the most. The spot where your head laid was gone. Instead of softness and warmth, there was bone and cold skin. My arm to cradle you was weaker. My medicine made me skinny and tired. Your dad and grandma brought you to me in my bed, but you didn't fit the same. I winced when you leaned on me and you shifted and turned. Instead, we sat- side by side and read or watched movies.

I tried to forget about fitting. Forget about holding you the same or feeling you sink in to me like you did before. You fit with your dad and I watched as your once-standby comfort became your primary. I laid next to you in the middle of the night- your dad on the other side- and watched you roll to him- situate yourself with a sleepy yawn and close your eyes, inches away from his face; feet away from mine.

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There are still times I have to remind myself that I didn't miss something with you. Of all the making up for times I lost, the hardest was making up to you. Your brothers were older and attached to me in more ways than one. Most of those strings were easy to keep tied. But you- you couldn't talk, couldn't write, couldn't even walk at the beginning of everything, and I struggled to find myself with you for so many months. I didn't know what to be to you when I couldn't carry you on my hip or nurse you through the night. I felt like I owed you something I had missed. That in some way, I needed to pay recompense. I knew I never could, so in quiet moments I tried to bargain a false state of mind where I really did carry you so much that I didn't even notice you were in my arms. I nursed you while I stirred dinner on the stove and walked up the stairs, like I had your brothers. You had been in my arms since the time you took your first breath, so much in fact that you felt like such a part of me that I accidentally banged your head on the wall, rushing around a corner. I pretended all that and tried to feel what I thought I should but it never worked.

I have never written about this because it felt shameful and unnatural. I was proud that I didn't have much of an adjustment to life after cancer, but the truth was, the biggest adjustment was the one I was most sad to admit. About a year ago, dad and I started taking turns putting you to bed. For so long, I kissed you goodnight and left as dad lingered next to you. Too many times, I had been the one lingering and you cried for your dad and I had to go get him. But a year ago, you stopped calling for dad. Sometimes it still felt fragile. There would be nights you wanted us both. Some nights I laid with you and was frustrated that I couldn't get comfortable next to you. I couldn't lift my arm all the way or be soft enough for you. But as time went on, you found a new spot. We fit differently, but we fit. 

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A couple weeks ago, we were on the couch late at night. Your mouth on my nose, forehead-to-forehead with your arm around my neck. I didn't wonder if you wanted dad or try to move you so you were more comfortable. I didn't offer to watch a movie with you or read you a book to avoid you wiggling out of my arms and across the couch instead. It was just us on the couch falling asleep. Most nights you call my name from your bed, even though I've kissed you two times. You scoot to my lap during family prayer. You reach for me at the top of our stairs. I don't know what changed, maybe a little you, but mostly me. I thought I couldn't miss a beat with you. If I did, our songs would be forever different. We would hum different tunes and dance to different beats. Really though, we always had the same song. 

When they put you on my chest the day you were born, I showed you how to be mine- how to eat, how to be warm, how to fall asleep. I swaddled you and carried you even before you took a breath. But after I changed, you learned to scoot closer and wrap your arm around my neck. You put your lips against my nose, you faced me and reached for me and laid your head on my lap. You showed me how to be yours- how to close the gap, pay the recompense, adjust and fit again. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

For the Time I Missed


I missed too many nights with you
Too many nights in a big bed without you and you were sleeping on a pile of blankets on your grandma’s floor
Sometimes I feel like you aren’t all the way mine
Like I didn’t put in the time to earn the title
Of all-the-way mom to you
I’m part of a mom to you but for a little while, 
You had other moms.
There’s a gap I can’t fill. A time I wasn’t carrying you on my hip or nursing you or 
Talking to you while I cooked dinner or drove
As you sat in my backseat
I remember after I found out, I picked you up out of your car seat and you laid on my shoulder. You were eleven months and squirmy- always wanting to get down or crawl or look around. This time, you laid on my shoulder and didn’t move until I moved. And I didn’t move. We just stood there on the driveway in the sun. Your fingers were probably in my hair that would be gone within the next couple months. Your head on my shoulder that would become a lot less comfortable. My arm held you and soon I wouldn’t be able to carry you for six long weeks, and more. 
But that April day we stood in the driveway and started to make up for time that would be lost. 
Two years have passed. Next month is another April.
I pushed you around in a cart today and held you on my hip. You played with my hair. 
You talked to me and didn’t stop as we ran errands and picked up your brothers. You asked for “green gum” about twenty times.
Even though you’re with me, I miss you.
I’m making up for lost time. Some days it feels like I’ll never catch up.
Today I was rushing from one store to the next with you as we hurried to do returns before dinner. I was putting you in your car seat and we paused in the parking lot. You put your head on my shoulder. I held you close. 
We are still making up for lost time.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Roads


When Jax was one we lived in a little house in the ghetto. At the time I didn't realize we were living in the ghetto because the house was flanked by two major streets- one respectable and one that was home to an adult video store and a trailer park. I didn't care though, because it was our own and I wasn't living with family or anyone else. The house was small and easy to keep clean. The floors were all linoleum and the carpet was low pile and all I had was a small baby crawling around and a cute husband who was (and still is) eager to help at the drop of a sock or even a spaghetti-covered spoon. Some memories are so mundane it seems silly to think they have any contribution to an expectation or even something bigger- are a very vivid and bold block on the patchwork of your life. But I've got one- it's me sitting on our microfiber sofa in our upstair playroom-slash-bonus room-slash-family room and I'm there with this very content, beaming and slightly prideful realization that I have absolutely no responsibility at that very moment. Nothing at all to do. My house was clean without so much as a crumb to be swept. Laundry all folded (or in a confined pile, pushed all the way to the middle of my bed), baby was happy, scriptures were read, dinner was done, etc. etc. etc. Just absolutely everything completed. I had reached my standard for myself and usually in the process of picking up the remote, turning on The Office (or something too smutty for me now) and basking in my done-ness while wondering if I consciously acknowledge every passing second I could actually stop time and just stay.

I've been chasing that feeling ever since.

After Jonah was born it was sometimes attainable. It happened less, but on really good days I could finish absolutely everything. Cash was born next and it was rare, but it happened. Sometimes when Jax was at preschool and the younger two were home all day with me, they would magically fall asleep at the same time. Maybe it happened just once or twice. Now, never. It NEVER happens. I'm a very systematic person. My brain has a natural system- a natural and innate rhythm and timing in which I do things. According to that system, things have to get done in a certain order and not just in present tense- in past tense too. If the system wasn't applied to the past, I am in constant make-up mode. I have to backlog. Cancer backlogged me a lot. I am constantly behind, constantly doing make-up. That room would have been painted. That child would have had more quality time with me. I am making up for what chemo did to my skin. Making up for time lost with my kids. Making up for what would have been and trying to get to the place where it is.

I wrote a post called "Me at 23" and I don't want to read it because I'll either feel really jealous or really ashamed. Maybe just really bored. I can remember writing something about dessert which is probably still applicable but wouldn't quite make the Me at 29 list. I want to make changes at 29 and so I've been on a mission to identify what I want to change about myself and actually change it. Today I made leprechaun traps with the boys. We had a primary meeting at my house. After the last meeting, I went upstairs to find poop in like nine places in my room. Today Cash fell on our moulding (WHAT AND HOW) in our furniture-less room and cut his face open in two places. There are dishes in my sink and laundry on my bed and most recently discovered: laundry in the washer from two days ago. I have a dog. I HAVE A DOG. and Jax had soccer and Jonah had preschool and we still have no food even though I went to the store yesterday. I need to work out and read my scriptures and send McKay's mom's Christmas gift (YES, IT'S MARCH) and I have acne and need to water my plants and buy Jax a bedroom light and sew curtains and the list goes on. I was going to make veggie burgers and chocolate chip cookies tonight and I left to take Jax to soccer and said a very bad word under my breath just about my life. Because I'm tired. I am so so tired. But there is so much to make up for. So much to do.

I absolutely hate that feeling- of working so hard to build this road to get to this place while constantly behind you it's being jackhammered and dumped on and broken up. You just want to keep it clean and perfect and continue on but you can't because you are fixing while you are building and you have to keep going- it's your road! People you love are going to drive on it. And sometimes SURPRISE, it turns into an airport escalator and suddenly you're way ahead of the spot you were working on. You have to go back to that spot, but guess what, your family is up ahead already. It's an important road.

But today, I put my hammer down. I got off my excavator. I laid on my road instead.

I dropped Jax off at soccer. I drove home with the other two. I walked them inside, handed them a remote, and said, "It's quiet time, go upstairs and watch a movie." I sat on the couch. I decided to make frozen meatballs. I pulled out my scriptures. I talked to my friends. I left my house messy. I decided it was okay. Jonah fell asleep on my bed and McKay came home and said I looked happy. I don't feel guilty about the meatballs TV. I told myself I don't have to. Maybe a quality mom is better than a big huge quantity of a grumpy one. Maybe I can drop my kids off in the YMCA daycare for an hour tomorrow. Maybe I can do it every day. Maybe I really should fold my laundry. But maybe not.

Maybe my family can just take a freaking airplane.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

School

Today I had an on-the-phone meeting with an academic advisor from BYU-I. I've gone back and forth with school a lot. When we left Rexburg eight years ago, I don't think I even looked back. I was so ready to be done with school and so ready to be out of Idaho. McKay graduation with a Bachelor's in business and I got my Associate's in English and that was more than enough for me. I didn't even consider staying to earn a Bachelor's. I begged McKay to start a family soon after we got married and when I got pregnant, school became second (or 43rd) to everything else that was happening in my life and I was moving on to the next chapter.

After Jax was born, we moved to Washington where we had Jonah. It wasn't until family members who were younger than me started graduating that I questioned if I should finish school. At first it was a little cause of pride. I should have a degree, I thought. If everyone else has one, I should have one too. Then I got pregnant with Cash and I forgot about it again. Then other stuff happened and now Cash is almost three and last week I was thinking about it again. It's weird because I am still not really drawn to it. It is possible that it may not be something significant for my life's plan- to finish my formal education? I am a big believer in continuing education- but education can mean a lot of things. Anyways, I met with an advisor today and I still felt the same thing: pretty much nothing.
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