Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Be of Good Cheer

I just got off my knees in fervent prayer, asking the Lord to change my heart.
As mothers, we have so many sacred responsibilities and one of them is to influence the spirit in our homes. We wield a great power to determine the spirit and tone that is felt here, and I have failed greatly. As mothers we can choose to be cheerful and supportive or downcast and critical. Whatever we choose, our children, husbands, and all others who enter our home will largely follow. As keepers of the home and nurtures of the family, we have been charged with the sacred obligation to raise our children in the gospel with hope and love. One of my greatest struggles in this life is with depression- I think it is a great tool that Satan uses in our modern world to discourage and defeat us. Too often, in fact most days lately I feel that I let that influence pervade our home. I allow discouragement, pessimism, criticisms, discontent and irritations to dissolve the harmony that could exist. Bella and Fiona, you are still young, but you are not immune from the effects of my shortcomings. At dinner last night Bella, you asked me why I was so cranky. "Why are you so cranky? I'm helping you!" you innocently and correctly said. I had no response, because I have no reason to be cranky. I cannot identify why I often feel anger and irritation and resentment, but I can identify the source. I know that Satan uses these feelings to undermine my role as a mother and to weaken me to the point where I am rendered ineffectual or detrimental as a mother. So today I prayed in earnest that Heavenly Father would change my heart. I asked him to make me a 'new creature in Christ' and soften my heart. I asked to be healed so that I may exude cheerfulness, gratitude, hope, love and support. I want to fill my home with the optimism that comes from living the gospel and knowing that all is well. I have been greatly blessed, the Lord is on my side, and I have no reason to droop in sin. I have a wonderful husband who adores and supports me, healthy happy children who are sensitive and good-hearted. We have a comfortable home, clothes to wear, food enough to eat and loved ones who stand by willing to help in any way. I am going to strive daily to affect the spirit in our home. I will pray daily to have my heart softened and changed, that I can see you as daughters of God with the potential and divinity that you possess. I want to be of good cheer. I know that I am up against a formidable enemy, and so I must pray daily for the strength and energy to overcome.
I am choosing to be of good cheer and to let that  bless my home and family.


Friday, March 11, 2011

The last few months I have found myself with a renewed desire to improve in all things Church-related. I had become way too complacent-even lazy about my testimony and the things I know I need to do to keep it and strengthen it. I started by vowing that we would have family prayers and scriptures every night. This is not something that  was consistently achieved in my home growing up, try as we might. Having a young family of my own, I can see why. I'm sure those reasons will become painfully more obvious as we reach the teenage years, but for now you are willing and eager participants. Especially Bella. You never let us go a night without scriptures, and always beg for one more. (We read from the simplified, illustrated ones for kids put out by the church.) Nevertheless, I knew it was an essential practice in our home and I finally, 5+ years after Bella was born, decided it had to happen now. So for several months now, we have consistently had family prayer and scriptures before bed at night, whether Daddy is home or not.
My next goal is having regular Family Home Evening, another tradition that was not held regularly by my wonderful and well-intentioned parents. We haven't had so much success in that arena yet.
I also committed to my own personal prayer and scripture study in the mornings, which with small children can be difficult to say the least. Bella is in school now, so after I see you off it's just me and Fiona for the day. Mercifully, Fiona stays in her crib for a couple hours after Bella leaves so I use that time in quiet reflection, study and prayer. (Not for 2 hours though! I also get caught up on the internet, occasionally do some housework, and sometimes take a nap. At 8:30 in the morning.)
Daddy and I are also committed to paying a full tithing.
It should be obvious, but I am a slow learner: The blessings that have come from these practices are innumerable! Having struggled with depression for years, I find myself more steady. Of course I have bad days, and sometimes they stretch out longer than that-but on the whole, I find myself more constant. My impressions and promptings from the Spirit have greatly increased as I am more worthy of and sensitive to them. I am more able to receive revelation for myself and my family. I feel uplifted. I have greater patience, peace, faith and acceptance. It is amazing to see my confidence, which is usually so lacking, grow and strengthen, even though nothing has outwardly changed.
When we dedicate ourselves to practicing the basic but essential things that will draw us closer to the Lord, we are blessed exponentially. We are greater in spirit, more able to feel His love, and bless the lives of others-most importantly our families.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lola: I Miss You

I don't know why your memory comes to me when it does. You are mentioned daily in our home, and usually in a casual manner, counting you as one of us. Why then, when I am lying in bed at night trying to fall asleep does it come to me? The memories, the ferocity of grief I felt just following your death? I remember after you died I begged someone to make sure the bishopric announced your death before I came back to church. I didn't want anyone asking, and I didn't want to be present to hear that pronounced. They didn't. Somehow it seemed that most people knew, but not all. I remember at least one occasion someone innocently exclaiming "Oh! You had your baby!" What could I say? I think I mumbled "...she died..."
You died.
Sometimes those words are benign, part of the landscape of my life scarcely to be commented on anymore. Other times like tonight I wonder how it got to be nearly 7 years and how I can explain to anyone why I am still crying. I even feel embarrassed, silly, or apologetic at times. All I can think to explain it is I miss you. What else can be said of the enduring grief? The longing? The guilt I feel in my inadequacies as a mother and my fear that I didn't deserve you...Time has helped to ease the pain, but mostly in the frequency of it. When it is felt, it is still raw and real as ever before. It's just not every day. Sometimes it is weeks or even months between, other times it'll hit me several times a week.
I don't know what else to say.
I miss you.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bella: Holding On To You

I am reading a book called 'Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers', and it has really impacted me. It says that the attachment between parents and child (Attachment Parenting) makes the difference for who your child chooses to follow- their friends or their parents. Sounds pretty basic, but for some reason this book has me riveted and seeing my attitudes towards you girls very clearly.
Motherhood has not always been easy for me, and at times I am ashamed at that. I see it as my own shortcomings that I am so easily irritated, impatient and intolerant. One of the things that this book has made me realize is how I push my kids away, literally. Bella, you are so sweet and affectionate and innocent in all the best ways. At 5 1/2 you still think I am the best, and the person you would most rather be with. You tell me often that you miss me all day at school. You want to be a 'car-rider' so you can be with me for that much more time. You want me to walk you to your seat in Primary every week, and always part everywhere we go with a hug and kiss. You love to cuddle and sit on my lap. You love it when I lay with you in bed before you go to sleep. It seems that having my undivided attention is your very joy. Writing this and pondering it, it is wonderful. What a blessing to have a child that is so fully enamored with me, so affectionate with her love, and still seeking my approval and love! And yet, more often than not I find it smothering and oppressive. I get irritated that you still want me to walk you to Primary and that you literally cling to me when I try and leave you. I seek solitude and personal space when you clamor to sit on me, and often treat you with indifference if not outright irritation. This is not to say that I do not love you with all my heart- it just shows, very painfully, my shortcomings. While reading this book however, it shook me to the core to realize that you are yearning so desperately for my unconditional love and approval, and if i continue to push you away, you will begin to seek it elsewhere. At some point you will push back and probably seek that approval from your peers instead of your parents. It is my job, and my joy to love you unconditionally, without reservation, and in so doing to give you the peace and reassurance and stability that will help you to grow into a confident and happy adult. My time with you as a child is short- already you are in school all day long, under the impression and supervision of other adults and many peers. It is likely that your adoration of me will wane if I do not warrant and deserve that adoration. You will not always be such a small and innocent child, willing to take my hand, to listen to me, and believe everything that I say. I want to keep you close, hold your hand, walk with you, teach you, keep you innocent and from growing up too fast. I do not want you to fall under the influence of other kids who would have you mature beyond your years, taking interest in things that are not appropriate or desirable. I love that you love the dolls I make for you and delight in playing with them and telling people about them. I love that you happily cry 'Mama!', running to me when you see me waiting at the door for you after school. I am glad that I am reading this book and that it has made me aware of these things. I vow to remember how precious this time is, and how fleeting- yet how eternal the effects of it are. You are my child, and it is my duty and blessing to teach you about unconditional love and your divine nature as a Child of God.
I love you, and I promise to kiss you and hug you and sit with you for as long as you will let me, and probably beyond.