Running the Great Christmas Mother Marathon

Dear Santa,

This year for Christmas, I want you to do all the work and I will take all the credit.

Mom.

Austin dressed as the Fat Man Himself

Christmas lost some of its shine when I became the mother.  Now I, too, was running the great Christmas Mother Marathon-  in which I,the mother, do everything extra I would ever do in a year, in one month.  And because it was in Christmas’ name, it has to be the best I can offer.  My best decorating, gift giving, letter writing, party planning, discount shopping, community service, decorating, music making and baking.  And do it with a smile & good cheer. Balance it with simplicity, generosity, and spirituality.  Maintain the magic of Christmas morning but don’t give so much that you create materialism or entitlement.  Contemplate giving water in Africa instead of stocking stuffers. Try getting it done before Thanksgiving.  Don’t forget anyone.  Above all don’t forget the reason of the season.

Right.  If I wanted to celebrate Jesus’ birth, I would spend a sunny winter afternoon singing, dancing in the snow and sprinkling birdseed for the wild animals.  Then I would go inside and kiss each one of my children and fix them hot chocolate.  That’s it.  Merry Christmas.

450

Then last year as I hobbled around cleaning up our post Christmas mess, I was evaluating my performance.  I felt guilty.  Although I had done everything I needed to, I hadn’t taken much time for the quiet spirituality that should be the hallmark of the season.  I thought of everyone I had baked for, sung to, written to, bought gifts for, invited over and fed.  I had over extended myself and I was relieved Christmas was over.  I had probably failed the Christmas test by failing to simplify.  The sun was shining through the windows.  The light and the Spirit filled my heart and whispered those familiar words, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me”.

Those words filled my heart with peace.  I had worked so hard and He had accepted my good intentions as a gift for Him after all.

DSCF0478_crop

Counting Kids

We were on vacation on the other side of the country this summer, when my 16 year old son became dangerously mentally ill (see the post “Riding a New Train”).  We had to get home somehow.  I was so afraid of flying, of being confined for hours in a public place with a child that was unpredictable and irrational.  I never like flying with 7 children anyway.  It is overwhelming.  Count the kids.  Count them again.  Try and keep them clean and well-mannered because everyone is staring at your family and counting the kids too.

As I worked and worried about travelling home, a statement I had heard at church a few months before came to my mind.  “There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother. *”  In desperation, I decided I was going to depend on these words.   I knelt down and as a mother petitioned Heavenly Father for safety, and for angels in front, in back and on each side of us as we ventured home.

There was nothing eventful about that trip.  We flew to Denver. We changed planes. We flew home.  I didn’t see or feel anything that told me my prayers were heard.

When we got home the kids unloaded the car and I fixed dinner.  I kept counting the kids.  Someone is missing, I thought.  When we sat down to eat I counted again, but every chair was filled.  The Spirit calmed my heart and whispered, “Your children are all here.  You are feeling the absence of the angels who escorted you home.  They have been discharged as you are now safely home.”

I am sure that many angels are still with us as we fight our battles.  But it is sweet to know that in my need there were a few to spare to answer a mother’s prayer and honor the words of his servant.

* Quote from President Boyd K Packer April 2013.

http://http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/these-things-i-know?lang=eng

Join the Fan Club

This is my son Chase.  He is 2.  He loves his Dad passionately- Crazy, stalker, obsessed fan kind of love.

My husband is pretty cool so I get it.

036

Chase will sit on the porch and wait for his Dad about 6 o’clock every day.  His internal clock sounds and he knows, it’s time for his hero to appear.

Of course this makes Jay feel like Superman.  Who doesn’t want their own fan club?

DSCF2243

It reminds me, of how I can choose to be.

The one girl fan club of my Heavenly Father.

And at the end of the day when my internal clock sounds, I can kneel down and like a little child, throw open my arms and heart to Him.  I can trust Him and believe Him.

I can speak and know that He has been waiting all day for this moment.

DSCF2246

The Lord is Good to Me

This summer, we met a kind man who has unknowingly changed my life.  He is a humble looking man, a few years older than me.  He had made some foolish choices that had cost him his family, his work, and his church membership. (Perhaps foolish doesn’t seem like the right word, but without a doubt he was fooled). He joined us one evening for family prayer.  When he had a home with a wife and children, they sang the Johnny Appleseed song before evening prayer. He sang it for our family as we knelt in his mother’s home.

Do you remember it?

“The Lord is good to me.

And so I thank the Lord,

For giving me the things I need,

The sun, and the rain, and the apple seed.

The Lord is good to me.”

johnny appleseed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_OO4-XUlA8

I had forgotten it.  But as we sang I knew this happy song was a gift to me.  And I sang it all summer long when times were good or bad.  There were days that were so bad that I sang it with tears rolling down my face, believing my song of gratitude in all things would bless me- that it would change me.  And in those grieving moments when I was blind to the Lord’s goodness and kindness to me, I trusted in the words of the scriptures.

“all things work together for good to them that love God”

Romans 8:28

I decided if I could sing a song of gratitude through the darkest storm maybe He could make up for my lack of faith.  “I don’t see how Lord, but I am trusting that this experience is a gift of everlasting kindness and I thank Thee for it.”

Sing your gratitude today. Rain, shine or hail, fire and storm, choose to trust that the Lord is Good to us.

Riding a new Train

Austin is our oldest son and the oldest of our seven kids. He is a good boy, kind, quiet and thoughtful.

005

The summer after his Freshman year in high school he had 3 sport related concussions. He had a hard time giving up sports.  He felt like he was giving up his identity and his passions.  After the first concussion, which was the most serious, he seemed fine, just angry. Isn’t that how most teenage boys act anyway? After the next few concussions his symptoms got worse. He would lose his grip on reality for a few days. We raced our son to doctors and to the ER. MRI’s, CAT scans, blood tests.

I finally realized that Austin’s brain injury was not going away when we had to pull him out of school in September. He was a sophomore. He didn’t do anything but stare at the wall for weeks. I was frantic. What would happen without high school? It was like being tossed out of a moving train miles away from your destination. “Wait! I still want to ride that train,” I begged. We had our travel plans for him well mapped- graduation, college on scholarship and a mission. I watched all his peers still on the train to those destinations with horror. We were not even on a train. We were not even at a train stop waiting for the next arrival. We were sitting alone on the side of the track in the middle of nowhere with no clue where to turn for help.

Eventually he did go back to school. But he was a different kid. Everything was hard for him. We were on a different train, and we didn’t know where it was going. He sunk into debilitating depression and could barely think at all. He couldn’t read people any more. He would come home from school unable to remember what homework he had. He would sit on my lap and we would talk about what happened in his day. I would discern for him what was real and what was imagined. He wasn’t seeing little green men or anything like that. He just was so discouraged and paranoid that he couldn’t see reality.

Slowly his symptoms got better. We found a chiropractor who helped him to think clear enough to stay in school. By the time his sophomore year ended we thought he was healing. It had almost been a year.

We all had a busy start to summer, too many trips and a move. By the time we flew out of town to Missouri we were all exhausted. Our flight was delayed in Denver. We just played cards in the airport for much of the night. It didn’t seem like too big of a deal. But that loss of sleep and the past stress was enough to trigger all of Austin’s worst symptoms. He became completely manic. He didn’t sleep any more. He had so much energy it was like a perpetual adrenaline rush. He didn’t stop talking or moving and he didn’t make sense. Some times he ran away. He acted out different identities. Our train had arrived in hell. We were in hand to hand combat with Satan over my son. … But no train stops forever. Through many miracles we got home and through the rest of the summer he began to get better again, very slowly.

It takes a lot of faith to ride a train when you don’t know where it is going. It takes faith each morning to send him to school. Every day I choose to believe that God is the conductor of the train we ride and that He picked us up. He wouldn’t abandon us. There is a plan for our rescue. So we wait upon Him and with Him. He knows the way.

070

PS Austin is doing so much better. And he is the most valiant, courageous young man I have ever known.

Hello!

Looking back at the time since my marriage, we have been through huge medical issues, financial upheavals, miscarriages, death of many loved ones, emotional and mental health issues and worst of all- everyday living with normal people :)   .

(I bet you could come up with a similar list!)

I have worked hard to keep my chin up, and cling to the Lord.  This blog is here to share those thoughts that have carried me through the dark nights until the sun shone again.

The posts will feel like a phone call from a friend.

My best friend and I have called each other for years and said, “Do you have a story for me?”

Those stories of spiritual experiences, and personal revelation edified us and brought us closer to Heavenly Father.

This blog will be a light among the darkness or grayness that can fill our online time.

Join me for some inspiration and hope during our healing times.

And thank you for letting me practice my writing on you!