Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What do you want for Christmas, little girl?

That's how I feel. Like Santa pulled through.

I haven't written in this blog for two years. That's way too long. It's been a difficult two years ... I would say the most difficult of my life to date. But even in the midst of my trials I saw blessings. I'll have to write about those.

The two year marathon ended November 30th of the past year with the death of my mother. In some ways, this brings a whole new set of trials. In others, there is vast relief. The last three weeks of my mother's life, she was home with the support of hospice. They were tremendous. But I was the main care-giver. I did things for my mom that I never dreamed I'd be able to do.

It was during this time that I was released from my calling. The bishop wisely knew that I needed that time to focus on my family. I was heartbroken. I'd been Young Women's president for just under a year. I did NOT feel ready to let go of that. But after my mom passed, and I found that I needed not only a break of time, but an emotional break as well, I started to feel grateful.

Looking around the ward in late December, I scoped out my options. What positions were not filled? There were several. And I saw the one I wanted. The cookie in the jar with MY name on it. I was tempted to campaign. But sadly I just don't feel good about that. The second week of January I got the call ... please come in a few minutes early to church. I was meeting with the counselor over Primary and Scouts. One was my calling. The other, I knew, would be certain death. Well, that's pretty dramatic. Not death. Torture. Yes. Certain torture.

And guess what? I got MY calling. For the first time I can ever remember, I got the calling I wanted. Not the one I felt was coming. Not some blow to the head with something unexpected. The one I wanted. I'm afraid I acted a little like a crazy person. I actually cheered. The bishopric wasn't sure if I was kidding. I don't kid well about emotions. I really was thrilled. Am thrilled.

I feel like God is telling me, "Mina, you've been through a lot. I'm sorry. Hopefully you'll find that you've grown. I wish all the hard parts were over, but they're not. So in the mean time, here's your calling. The one you want. Have fun. I love you."

On to the fun!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Do you like the concept of enduring to the end?  Not me.  I don't like it at all.  I like my trials to have a clear and preferably near completion date.  When Larry was in grad school, he'd have some crazy, obnoxious schedules some quarters.  But, as we used to say, you can so anything for 11 weeks.

I'm not as good at, say, long term health problems, which both my husband and I have.  I'm not as good either, at long term financial struggles, which we are facing again now after years of stability and even prosperity.  The health problems are slightly more manageable as they have a clear end-date.  Even though that date is likely death.  But I know.  I can buckle down and deal.

The finances?  We keep thinking we are turning a corner, and then the bottom begins to fall out again.  We are at one of those corners right now.  I am trying to be grateful.  But I am fearful that it will not last.  We also just moved into a beautiful new house that we built.  When we started, we were planning well below our means.  Now?  We really shouldn't be affording this.  Takes too much from the business.  I should be enjoying this house and feeling gratitude for it.  I sort of do, but the overpowering emotions?  Fear and guilt.

Where is the blessing in this story?  Well, I'm not sure yet, to be honest.  I'm sure it will come.  I just don't know when.  I don't even know if this downturn is the trial itself, or if there is a bigger crash ahead.  I am trying to remember that it is our family and the gospel that matter.  That's not easy as I unpack and wonder if I'll be packing up again soon with everything lost.

I will endure.  I have no choice, really.  It's how I endure that will make the difference.  I fear I'm not doing famously at this point, largely because of the potentially far and certainly unclear ending.  We are not making choices yet assuming that things will never pick up.  They'd be too drastic still.  I don't know when that time will come, if ever.

So I think my aim is to be on the ball with my responsibilities and happy.  That's the aim.  Now to the hard part, to the "go and do" part.  Wish me luck enduring.  I wish you the same.

Monday, December 1, 2008

When the Teacher Becomes the Student

It's often said that a teacher gets more out of her lesson than do her students.  I can't argue with that.  With the preparation, and hopefully the prayer and thought put into it, it would be nearly impossible for those listening and participating to come away with the same level of insights.

I teach Primary.  Or I did.  I was released yesterday.  I am the new ward music chairman and choir director.  But this post is about Primary.  I taught Valiant 10B, and being nearly the end of the year, all but one of the kids are already 10.  The class is split into two, but unevenly so, leaving me with anywhere from 1 to 4 students in my class on any given Sunday.  Yesterday I had one.

Our lesson was about how Moroni taught faith in Jesus Christ.  We spent most of our class time discussing stories from the Book of Mormon that have been taught all year that demonstrate the blessings that come from having faith.  They are familiar stories:  Nephi and the brass plates, Abinadi and King Noah, Alma and Amuleck, the brother of Jared, Ammon.  As I was discussing these men and their faithful examples with my pupil, I answered a question that I've had for a few months now.  And I instantly believed the answer.  

I've struggled with the ability to ask Heavenly Father for a blessing that I need.  We need our house in California to sell.  Last summer and fall, it was not so urgent.  Obnoxious, sure, but we'd be able to manage the extra payments.  Things have changed, however, and now we really need it to sell.  Yet I have had a hard time asking for that blessing straight out.  This may be because the biggest reason that I would be devastated by losing the house would be the fact that we would then lose the house we're building.  This seems greedy or materialistic to me somehow.  Plus I've seen many faithful, righteous people around me lose their homes over the years.  I start to wonder what makes me so special that I should ask to be spared that loss.  

Yesterday, I taught the principle that Christ will help his children be able to accomplish the ends that he desires of them.  I know that is true.  But I hadn't thought about my problem this way.  I know that my family needed to move to Idaho.  I don't know that it always matters to the Lord where one lives, but we felt this was being directed by him.  It was a tough pill to swallow, and as soon as we officially made the decision little problems kept popping up that made the move difficult.  Larry and I continued to know this was the right thing to do.  Since we've been here some situations have actually gotten worse.  Things in regard to our children, however, and our oldest child in particular, have gone more smoothly than I could have hoped for.  I still know we are supposed to be here, I know that fact more strongly than I did as we were driving up.  So maybe, I thought during my lesson, I do have the right to ask for a some help regarding this move.

I feel at greater ease now.  I feel more confidence. I feel so grateful that the Spirit seemed to be there in that Primary classroom with us, teaching not just a 10 year old girl, but a 34 year old girl as well.  Am I sure of the exact outcome?  Well, not really.  But I am sure that I can ask.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Her Brother's Keeper

My kids fight sometimes.  Do yours?  If you want to know, numbers 3 and 4 are fighting horribly lately.  It's discouraging.  I try reasoning, punishing, humor, mediating, and sometimes even letting them have at it.  Nothing makes a difference.  They may stop and make up for the moment, but a day, or an hour, later, they're right back at it.  I am commanded to not let my children contend one with another.  I guess I'm not doing a fabulous job keeping up with that one.  Really, though, as a mom, if it's not one concern it's certain to be another.

Throughout the years, however, I've had glimpses of sweetness in our family life that have let me know that everything is alright.  I remember one day when the girls were small I looked out my kitchen window to see them playing in our back yard.  It hadn't been long that they were really old enough to go out and play on their own, so it was a relatively new sight.  They were having such a great time enjoying each other that I was overcome with emotion.  I felt a little silly crying at my sink because my girls were happily experiencing sisterhood.  I later tried to relate this story to my husband.  He didn't quite get it.  His mother, on the other hand, knew exactly what I was talking about.

Tonight I had a similar experience during Family Home Evening.  It was #4's turn to give a lesson.  #1 helped him pick out some pictures of Adam and Eve and then helped him with long words as he read the narration on the back of the pictures.  There was something so tender about #1's manner.  She tried to anticipate which words her brother may not know to provide him with a smooth delivery.  Watching them I realized I had a huge, silly grin on my face, and the moment I became aware of how touched I was, the tears began to flow.

It was a small, simple, significant moment.  I was reassured that I am raising loving, giving people who I can only assume will no longer be pushing and kicking each other as adults.  I am thankful for moments like this.  I am thankful for the great kids that they are, maybe in spite of their mother.  

Friday, October 17, 2008

Every Day I Need ...

Scripture power keeps me safe from sin.
Scripture power is the power to win.
Scripture power! Ev'ryday I need
The power that I get each time I read.

chorus from "Scripture Power,"  c. 1987 by Clive Romney

I love this Primary song.  When I hear a group of children singing it with determination I get tears in my eyes.

This past January a boy at the kids' middle school brought some prescription drugs of his mother's to school and sold them.  Some kids bought them, took them, and got ill.  I heard this from the principal, who was a friend of mine.  Plus, being a member of the school site council and the PTA board, I guess she thought it was good for me (for all of us in those positions) to know the actual story, minus names of the kids involved.

This information was a wake-up call for me.  My girls had no idea that this had happened.  They moved in a completely different set of kids.  They were still in that younger, "Drugs, eeew," mind frame.  Even so, it was happening around them, and I realized that they would not be unaware much longer.  This sort of thing will only increase as they get older.  They aren't babies anymore.  They will be facing the world without me holding their hands.

I wish I could say that we have always had our daily family scripture study.  I suppose I'm thankful that I do not have to admit we've never had it, either.  But I fear the not times far out number the times we do.  Learning about this drug dealing inspired me to finally establish this habit once and for all.  

The obstacle?  Me.  I am absolutely horrible at routines.  My kids are pretty lucky I manage to feed them regularly.  I surely don't feed myself every meal. 

The solution?  #2.  In desperation, I enlisted #2.  She is amazingly self-motivated and driven.  She's 11 and she has achieved a level of self-discipline that I dream about.  I told her I needed her help getting us to read the scriptures every night.  I testified to her how important I knew this to be to our family as a unit and to each of us individually.  She casually answered, "OK, mom," like I'd asked her to take out the trash, and walked away.  Five minutes later she came upstairs with a January calendar entitled "Family Scripture Chart" and a sheet of mini stickers.  I praised her idea but secretly worried that a sticker chart would be poor incentive after the first week or two.  We taped it up to the fridge and gave it a shot.

Ten months later I believe that the idea to ask #2 to help me was inspiration.  We are now on our longest run of regular nightly study.  We miss a day or two each month when our schedule gets hairy.  But even Friday nights when Larry and I are on a date and don't read with the kids beforehand, they read together themselves, and get that sticker up on that chart.  I do think the habit is formed, but that chart on the fridge helps us to not quit when we do miss a night or two.  I see the blank spaces throughout the day, and the sticker sheet marking our place in the scriptures starts to call to me.

I'm not sure what the biggest blessing here has been.  I see the drug issue at the middle school as a blessing to me.  Knowing the potential power of the scriptures is a blessing that all do not enjoy.  And certainly my #2 girl is a huge blessing to me and to our family.  I have reason to thank God for her many times every day.  She is a depositor in the bank account of my life.