Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Catching the Vision

What’s this word, bud? … Focus … Sound it out … Focus …

Steven and I are working through the Teach Your Child to Read book right now. Anyone who has used this program knows what an agonizing process it is. Perhaps for the parent even more than for the child.
Yet we continue the struggle, because I have a vision of how this skill will transform his life. It will bring joy, opportunities, and new perspectives. It will be the foundation of his education, career, and spiritual growth.

He catches a bit of the vision sometimes, but he can’t see beyond how fun it will be to read Piggie and Gerald. He has no idea what is truly in store. No wonder he fights against the stretching of his abilities.
I am so grateful for the Lord who is by my side, patiently tutoring me, even when I fight against His lessons. He suffers pain and agony far beyond what I endure in my stretching trials.

He continues when I want to give up, because He has a vision of how my life can be transformed. He sees the eternal joy, opportunities, and new perspectives when I can only see the end of the day. I have no idea what is truly in store, but He knows.

I hope I can trust enough to truly give myself to His transformative training.

Also on Instagram, @godly__parenting

Monday, July 15, 2019

Seek and Ye Shall Find

“... 18, 19, 20. Ready or not, here I come!”

(Seeking for two seconds...)

“I’m right here!!”

There have been many games of hide and seek with the neighborhood kids the last few months. Even though Annie is only 3 they are always so sweet to include her in their games, but this is how every round turns out.

The joy for her comes in being found.

I think Christ feels the same way.

To captive Israel, He said, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13).

When we seek Him, we will find Him. That’s a promise from our God.

He is not the hider you seek for twenty minutes until everyone gives up. He is like Annie, the one who jumps out the moment you begin to seek because He wants to be found. He reveals Himself, joyfully announcing, “I’m right here!”

Also on Instagram, @godly__parenting

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Tooth Fairy is {Not} Real

"I put it under my pillow, then the tooth fairy comes and magically turns it into a dollar!" 

Even before she lost her first tooth two years ago, Jane knew the truth about the tooth fairy. We made the decision to tell her about Santa from the beginning in an attempt to keep Christmas more focused on Christ, and she easily extrapolated the "it's fun to pretend but it's really Mom and Dad" idea to the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy. 

Yet as she showed Annie the tooth she lost yesterday, she explained things only how she wanted them to be and not how she knows they really are. 
When I came into my room last night, I found the tooth fairy costume Jane made on my bed, complete with wings, cape and wand. (Apparently the tooth fairy is both super and magical around here.)

This is great. Jane is 7 and Annie is 3. I love to see their creativity, and I'm glad they still get to enjoy the magic of childhood even though they know they're just pretending.

But it made me think. What myths do we hold on to, share, and disguise until we believe them? There are "tooth fairies" of many shapes and sizes.

Happiness comes from wealth, popularity, and attaining the perfect body.

All truth is relative.

I'm not a good mom unless ... [fill in your unrealistic expectation].

My choices only affect me.

Chastity is outdated.

These types of myths are elaborately costumed in expert claims, cultural trends, and specialized apps. With their skillfully constructed wings, capes, and wands they almost seem real and it can feel impossible to determine where the truth actually lies.

But there is a way.

"For the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be."
When we seek the truth from Him who is called "the Truth," He will teach us as the children we are and help us understand what is eternally real. These myths may feel as real to us as the tooth fairy to a child, but His spirit will cut through the lies and help us see past the costumes. We will realize that when we cling to things that are pretend, we will only find pretend happiness.

But it's hard to be different. It's embarrassing to show up in plain clothes when everyone else is in costumes.

I remember being the only one of my friends who no longer believed in Santa. I felt lonely and a little bit crazy. They were so convinced. They had so much "evidence." Maybe I was wrong.

It can feel that way when we don't believe the generally accepted myths. Alone. A little crazy. Confused. 

But ultimately my friends all learned what I knew. And one day all truth will come to light. We can stand confidently in the truth as we stand with the Truth.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Upon Thy Belly Shalt Thou Go

How long will she stay like this? 

How long can I savor this innocence? 

I looked at newborn Kate one day, lying on her belly, and felt this familiar tug—the desire to
freeze that moment forever. 

Then a phrase unexpectedly popped into my mind. "Upon thy belly shalt thou go... all the days of thy life." The curse given to Satan after he tempted Eve to eat Eden's forbidden fruit. 

I looked again at my sweet, completely helpless baby. I realized that I wanted the memory of that moment to last forever, but it would be such a tragedy for her if she never progressed beyond lying on her belly. 

And yet that is exactly Satan's fate. In his rebellion, he lost the opportunity for progression. He will remain forever in an infantile state. 
Six months later, Kate was sitting. Then in another six she was walking. 

Now eighteen months later she is running, dancing, and bursting with personality. She's delightful! Watching her turn into a kid has been such a joy. 

Looking at my older kids I know that in the next few years she will learn to talk, color, swing, and read. And that progression will continue throughout life and into eternity. 

Progression is one of the great purposes and blessings of mortality. Those who follow the Savior will progress to one day become like Him. 

But "he that believeth not shall be damned." Just like Satan, their progression will be halted. They will not be able to reach their full potential, for that fullness is found only in Christ. 

May we enjoy the progress, development, and growth of true believers.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

He Understands

I was recently reflecting on an experience that happened about six years ago during an incredibly trying time. I have gone through much harder things since, and it feels almost laughable looking back that I struggled so much through this period, but at the time I was stretched beyond my limit--a feeling I've experienced many times since, and so this lesson continues to be applicable and helpful.

At the time, Miguel was several months into his third year of medical school which is when clinical rotations begin. He would sometimes go days without seeing Jane and he worked 30 hour shifts every fourth day, one of which caused him to miss our 2nd anniversary. My work as an online high school teacher was also very busy at the time with the end of a school quarter approaching and Jane was about 9 months old. While she was fun and happy, she was also mischievous and hated to sleep, only napping about once a week.

On an especially rough day I had finally gotten Jane to fall asleep and as I walked into the kitchen to start the dishes, I just broke down. I think I said out loud, "No one understands this who hasn't experienced it."  Immediately a phrase came to mind that I had heard over and over in Sunday School classes, "Jesus Christ perfectly understands everything we experience." I had depended on that truth through many trials in my life, but I found myself questioning, "Does He really understand? He has never been married to a medical student who works 80 hours a week. He never had to work from home while trying to take care of a baby who doesn't sleep! How could He possibly understand what I'm going through?"

The answer came as a kind but clear chastisement. "That is like someone who stubbed their toe telling someone who had their leg amputated, 'You don't understand what I'm going through!' The amputee perfectly understands everything up to the level of his experience."

Jesus Christ descended below all things. There is nothing outside the level of His experience. His Atonement is truly infinite in breadth and depth. He does understand. He  lived in the flesh and suffered the Atonement specifically so He could understand. So He could strengthen us through our difficulties, so He could weep with us and hurt with us, even though He knows that a miracle is coming, because it always does in one way or another when we trust Him.

"And he will take upon  him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:12)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Cleaning Messes and Molding Souls

As a stay-at-home mom I often feel like my entire existence consists of making it look like life never happened. 

Make the basement look like all the toys didn't get dumped. 
Make the shirt look like it wasn't used as a napkin. 
Make the window screen look like someone didn't cut it with scissors. 

It can feel like I'm just undoing rather than creating, which is exhausting and unfulfilling.

But that's not exactly what I'm doing. While there are infinite messes to clean in motherhood, each time I say, "Let's clean this up together" or "How can we make this right?" I invite my children into the transformative process of purification. I work beside them as they learn to fix their mistakes, and when they have put forth their pathetic effort at sweeping or refolding clothes or using wood filler, I come behind and finish the job. 

It feels like we are just ending the day where we started (if we're lucky), but something magical is happening in the process. The kids are learning how to clean, how to mend mistakes and relationships, how to apologize and to forgive. Their souls are stretching and growing. And as we continue day after day and year after year in what often seems like a mundane, repetitive process, they will eventually be ready to step into the role I now have. 

It is the role of counselor, fixer, comforter, and teacher. It is a role that mirrors that of the Savior. 

On the surface it may seem that the purpose of Christ's Atonement is just to "clean up" our mistakes--the ones that we make over and over and over again, and to make it seem like the tragedies and sins of life never happened. It is true that we can be fully and completely cleansed through the power of His grace. When we have put forth our pathetic effort to right our wrongs, He is our finisher. 
But, His role is not merely to undo mistakes and get us back where we started mortality. It is to transform us into new creatures until we become like Him. He invites us into the purification process when he says, "Come now and let us reason together." In a sense He is saying of our sins, "Let's clean this up together" and He walks and works alongside us as our souls stretch and grow.  

Truly, as parents we are His partners in this process, for messes and mistakes are the building blocks of both childhood and salvation. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Beauty in Brokenness

As I looked at a tray of squished blueberries in front of Kate this morning, I realized that if I had seen them anywhere else I would have thought, "Gross!" and thrown them away without a thought, assuming they had been stepped on and were dirty. 
But since I knew how they got there and why they were squished, I wasn't disgusted; I was fascinated. I took time to look at the different colors and textures and found beauty that I never noticed in squished blueberries before. I explored how much pressure it took before they popped open, and appreciated that they did because that's the only way Kate could enjoy them. 

I thought of the people we see in life who are broken. Too often we pass an instant judgment, even thinking of them as dirty in some way, and discard them from our circle. Sometimes we even think that about ourselves. 
But if we could see through God's eyes and understand why they are broken (for we all are) and how they got there, we would see a beauty we hadn't noticed and be fascinated with colors and textures of humanity we hadn't experienced before. 

Mary Pipher wrote of her experience working with refugees, "I have a much broader sense of what being human can entail." I think that expanded view of humanity is the natural result for all of us as we enjoy each other in our brokenness. And just like Kate with blueberries, that's the only way we can truly be enjoyedpopped open with our true colors, flavors and textures exposed. 

It's not easy to show our own brokenness, or to get to know others well enough to understand theirs, but when we do the result is always loveboth for ourselves and others. Mary Lou Kownacki said, "There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story." 

Let's embrace the beauty of our brokenness so we can enjoy, and be enjoyedall across the broad sense of humanness, in all our juicy flavors.