Thank You, Thomas

Our family has been studying faith lately. It has been a great scripture study path for us. Every time we started the Book of Mormon again, it seemed like we weren’t getting much out of it. And we had trouble staying dedicated. Some days we’d have long chapters. Some days the chapters were beautifully short (sadly, that was the thought) and we’d be longing for a short one the next night, too. It breaks up stories too much to go by pages. And how do you know where exactly to end? So, the topic study came as inspiration. It allows us to study as long as we’d like, and since we’re starting with faith (the first principle, and something I have been struggling with lately), we get to delve into stories. We’ve studied Christ’s miracles, and the great examples of faith in the scriptures. It has been such a blessing.

But today, I woke up with the beginnings of a migraine. I blame the “family slumber party” on the couches. I agreed to stay up and watch a movie as long as we were all in PJ’s and all ready to fall asleep. I picked the long couch, but it has a bar running in the middle of it. The bar started out where my back is, but when my back hurt, I slid down and it ended up kinking my neck funny. At least, that’s what I’m guessing happened. At any rate, I grabbed my caffeine pills (the only think I’ve found to help my headaches), and we anxiously waited to see if church would be a good idea. Of course my kiddo was crossing her fingers. She’s too much like her mother. When she’s at church, she loves it there. But GOING always raises anxiety. While waiting for my headache to dissipate to see if I could stand being at church, we sat down and (quietly) watched church videos.

My favorite church video is Finding Faith in Christ. I’ve always loved the testimony it shares. Today was no different, I greatly enjoyed it. But today, I thought about WHY I enjoy it. It is a bold testimony, and as a teen, that is what spoke to me. But as an adult, my faith is very different than it was before. It is even different than it was 5 years ago. I feel like 5 years ago, my testimony was an impenetrable wall. I was in the middle of a battle for my soul, and it was still holding. Then I entered a very different battle. Instead of constant barrage, the tactic became slow and persistent banging in the exact same spot.

Infertility.

I never knew that infertility would rock my testimony harder than divorce. It still baffles me. I still look over my faith from past years and can’t quite figure out why it needs such reinforcement now. A slow and steady banging does more damage than an entire life upheaval. I struggle with feelings of impatience and a thought that God hasn’t kept  his promise. I feel that He hasn’t made a great friend lately, and that has made it hard to talk with him.

When we were married 6 months, I was given a priesthood blessing that my body would be able to bear children. It stated that God was pleased with my desire and that my body would be made whole so that I could carry them. I’ve been married for 3 1/2 years. I have no other children. This paragraph sums up the gaping hole in my faith. I know it can be fixed, and I know that God does keep his promises… and yet a niggling voice says “yeah, just not to me.” And that voice has been working for 3 years. It screams loudly about 1 week out of four. When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask why he had to make our bodies go through torture once a month. Isn’t it bad enough that we’ve got to deal with the fact that we’re, once again, not pregnant? That we’ve got to wait a whole other month to go through the same torture because maybe, just maybe, it might work this time?

I’ve got to admit that after 3 years, the sting has gone out of it. You learn to deal with it in a way I hope no one ever has to accept. It honestly, really and truly doesn’t hurt like it used to. It doesn’t even hurt when I see so many pregnant women around me. Or when I see kids that are celebrating birthdays and reminisce that that the news of their future arrival added one more rock to the catapult, one more swing with the battering ram.  But for a while, it really, really hurt. It hurt when I accepted the calling of nursery assistant. It hurt knowing I could have had a kid in nursery. It hurt making quilts for everyone else’s babies, and finding out exactly how many women that weren’t me were expecting in our ward. It hurt finding out first because of the calling.

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It hurt when my sister announced her pregnancy. But I think that that wound is actually the one that helped push me past the pain and into gratitude. The pain of my sister’s impending bundle was at its strongest the day I yelled at her husband. He’s not known as one with much tact. It causes conflict in his life, though I don’t know if he really understands the degree. He’s learning, and I commend him for it. But somehow, he always finds my tender heartstrings and yanks on them. This one was especially tender.

My sister had announced the name she was planning on using for her baby, and it was a name that was one of my favorites. A name that if I had already been able to have kids, might have already been taken. When I said something about it, I was severely cut in half. From the sister who rarely cuts with her words. She told me that “she was having a baby, first, so she would use it.”

Ouch. Seriously. I don’t have words to express how much that got to me. It was more than rubbing my face in my lack of child-bearing. I was more than taking something I really wanted. It was … pure pain. Twisting the knife in my side.

Well, my mother told my sister that she was justified. It’s expected. My personality is completely opposite from my mother’s and my sister’s is exactly the same. It is really easy for my mother to understand my sister’s point of view and very hard for her to understand mine. My sister is meek and timid, and often too submissive. I am bold and loud and often too oppressive. I don’t expect my mother to ever understand how much it hurts. Or to understand that I have feelings and am not just being mean. I also didn’t expect my sister to understand. My sister, who would never hurt on purpose (I call her my angel sister, which she hates; but she’s got a soul like Mother Teresa’s. She’s born to do and be good. There is no question that her strongest personality color is white), had no intention of hurting me. I knew she didn’t mean it.

And then, I was visiting with her and her husband, and she jokingly said, “are you ever going to forgive me for calling my baby that?” and I seriously said, “no.” … and her husband opened his mouth. Gave the same line I’d already heard. “Well, we figure, she’s having a baby first, so we get to use it.” Still not meant to hurt. But I had had it with that line. I looked him square in the face and said “STOP saying that! I’m so sick of hearing that.” Well, her husband back-peddled, and mumbled he didn’t mean to upset me, and I left.

Then, when my sister and I were together again, she told me that she and her husband had talked about it and had decided to use another name. I told her I didn’t care. It wasn’t the name that had hurt me. This is true. Though before finally saying what I was thinking, I would never have called the girl by her name (ever), it wasn’t about her name at all. We had a nice long talk about loss and infertility (if you’ll recall, she lost her baby last year at 28 weeks). It gives a strong bond most sisters don’t share. We know mutual suffering. She talked about how she understood the agony of trying. I know she does. I’ve watched her. She’s been such a blessing in my life because of all she has taught me through her own trials and how they correspond with my own. Then she used another well-overused line. ” when you get your baby, you’re going to get a very special spirit.” It’s a nice thought, isn’t it? But it is so shallow! It doesn’t soothe the pain. It doesn’t make up for anything. I’ve learned that God doesn’t reward our suffering with exactly what we want, and that saying I’ll get a special spirit doesn’t make it even. Nor does God really work that way. It is what we learn that matters, not what we get. But even the learning doesn’t seem to be enough while we are in the midst of the storm. In fact, I was so done even trying. It seemed like I was faced with continuing to try, continuing to be mad at God every month when once again, he “failed to keep his promise,” and continuing to be exhausted or to just stop caring. I expressed with her my struggling faith, and she understood. She just listened. It comes down to choosing God or choosing to try for a baby.

It was so much easier to just not try, not care. After 3 years, that’s where I was at. It was easier not to care. I’ve been through the wringer with my faith. And what have I learned from it?

  1. You have to believe in God to be mad at Him. It seems like a silly thing to learn, and a silly place to start, but when you’re severely struggling with your testimony, it gives you rope to hold on to when you’re spiraling downward with your faith. When I was questioning what I believed in, it gave me a foundation. You have to believe He is real if you’re going to be angry. First stone in the foundation. He exists.
  2. You have to believe He CAN keep His promises, if you are going to be frustrated that He isn’t. Once again, I realized that if I believe in God, I have to believe he CAN keep his promises. If I was going to be angry with Him, I had to believe that he really could fulfill his promises. Second foundation stone.
  3. You can’t gain faith by “praying” to gain it. Praying isn’t enough. Neither is holding an ultimatum. “God, I’ll believe if you will give me a baby.” “Lord, help my faith by giving me what I want.” and “Can I just learn the lesson already, so I can move on?” are not words that bring faith. Nor do they work, just FYI. I was constantly seeking the answers to building my own faith, but  I wasn’t actually doing it right. I couldn’t find a clear-cut formula for faith-building anywhere I looked.
  4. Instead of seeking to understand faith, seek to understand the atonement. True story. As we are reading about faith in the scriptures, it is not in the miracles that faith is found. It is not in the stories or examples. It is in understanding the atonement. Luckily, the book of Romans discusses the connection between faith and the atonement so well, that I discovered the connection in our studies. Faith must be founded on the atonement in order to take root in the soul. All the studies of faith just slip out unless there is also a study of the atonement.
  5. When you believe in the atonement, you must question your proximity to God and his will. This is the walls of a testimony. There was a beautiful talk about this in conference, though I confess I had a pretty snide answer to the opening questions (“Why, yes, I would “confidently walk up to” Heavenly Father. I’d look Him in the face and ask him why on earth he’s doing this to me!”). Seriously, that talk was meant for me! He expresses the struggles of my soul! I’ve made it this far in my faith. I’ve stripped down my testimony to it’s foundation, but it will go no further. So instead of continuing to attack my testimony in God, Satan tried to attack my testimony in myself. In all the blessings I have received in the past 3 years, one phrase is always there. “God loves you.”  And, sadly, I don’t think I ever accepted it. In fact, I rolled my eyes. I feel like my testimony is going through it’s teen years. You know, like every time your parent told you they love you and you just rolled your eyes and think, “Whatever. If you loved me you’d let me go to Stacy’s party.” [Yeah, I never thought that, either. I don’t know where that thought came from. I was a perfect child. And if you believe that, I invite you to re-read this post]. There are 3 parts to questioning your proximity to God:
    1. you must ask yourself if you believe that he loves you.
    2. You must ask yourself if you love  Him.
    3. You must ask yourself if there is anything in your life that is keeping you from following God’s plan for you. For me, the answer here is my own stubbornness and hurt feelings. My need for justice and fulfilled promises.
  6. Question C leads directly to where I’m at. Once you put away those things that are keeping you from drawing closer to God, there is just simple faith left. You’ve stripped away the doubts and hurt feelings. You’ve come to just accept Him and His will… yeah, it’s just that. It is the “peace, be still” of the soul. It is the calming of the personal storm. It is the acceptance of who you are and where you are. Giving God back the wheel. Just… Being. And being okay with just being. It is the roof on the testimony-fortress. Acceptance of God’s will is the protection we all need.

So, here I am. I am not pregnant. And I’m okay. I’ve since learned that in order for me to get and stay pregnant, I’m going to have to give myself shots every day. Shots that aren’t cheap. Shots that cost more than my house payment. And did I mention that they’re SHOTS? Self-injected shots? I’ve also learned, through more blessings, that there is a divine reason for this, though I don’t know what it is. And that’s okay.

Thomas, too, needed a testimony boost. His testimony walls were severely shaken. I think that Thomas was the last to see the Savior, because although he truly wanted to see Him, he was so caught up in his own head, so busy, that it was impossible for him to accept and understand. It was through the agony of waiting that Thomas began to accept the truth of God’s miracle for him (The agony of waiting. Nope, can’t relate…).Through the desperate sorrow of the loss he felt, he eventually came to be still. And when he was still, Christ was there. I am grateful for Thomas, and that through Thomas’s example, I, too, can learn to wait and be still. I’m grateful that he didn’t have perfect faith. I’m grateful that he needed to see to believe. Because we can see that God loved him, anyway. Chastised him, yes, but still loved him. And by feeling the nail-marks, a physical representation of what Christ did for us – you could say it was by understanding the magnitude of the atonement – Thomas’ testimony became stronger than it had been before.

Why My Mom Likes Thorns (an archived post)

Originally posted on my old blog Feb 25, 2011.
I don’t know what Mom was going through. I was only a kid. But as an adult, I look back, and I realize there must have been SOMETHING going on in her life, when she first came across this story. Otherwise, it would not have meant what it did and still does.
For at least 15 years, but probably more, my mother has had a vase of dried, rose-less thorns sitting in a prominent place in her house. They’re quiet and unobtrusive, but distinctly different, And if you ask her what they’re doing there, she will tell you this story…

THE THANKSGIVING “SPECIAL” BOUQUET
by: Author unknown

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.

During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

“She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with a shudder.

Thanksgiving? Thankful for what? She wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an air bag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, may I help you?” The shop clerk’s approach startled her.

“I….I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra.

“For Thanksgiving? Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving “Special?” asked the shop clerk. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories,” she continued. “Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?”

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”

Then the door’s small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, “Hi, Barbara…let me get your order.”

She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses; Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

“Want this in a box?” asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

“Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said as she gently tapped her chest.

“Uh,” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, uh….she just left with no flowers!”

“Right, said the clerk, “I cut off the flowers. That’s the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.”

“Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that!” exclaimed Sandra.

“Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today,” explained the clerk. “She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.”

“That same year I had lost my husband,” continued the clerk, “and for the first time in my life, had just spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.”

“So what did you do?” asked Sandra.

“I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly. “I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I have always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.”

Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.

“My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement…twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems,” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

“Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra incredulously. “Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?”

“No…I’m glad you asked,” Phil replied. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from “thorny” times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific “problem” and give thanks for what that problem taught us.”

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special.”

I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life,” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all too…fresh.”

“Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment.

“I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.

“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?” Sarah asked.

“Nothing; nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.” The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first.”

It read:

“My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the life I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”

Praise Him for your roses, thank him for your thorns.

Fascinating

How our brain works
provided by Flickr user _DJ_

My schedule has completely deviated from it’s outline today. I just have to deviate. It would be a shame to stick to the planned itinerary when this information is so fascinating and crucial and important. I don’t want to forget what I’m learning and I don’t want to miss a chance to tell you about it. The best opportunities are often seized and not plotted. Especially when it comes to learning and teaching. So instead of doing the baby quilt on my floor, the half-finished mending projects, and reading the rest of my homework without taking a break to jot down what I’m learning, I’m doing some major note-taking and blogging today I’ve also just spent about 3 hours staring at the same page on Flickr to try to add a picture to this new thread. I gave up. No picture. Sorry. Flickr’s back! Yea for less frustration!

Can I say this again: This stuff is FASCINATING!

FIrst off, let me just say I highly recommend Once Upon a Brain: How Neuroscience Can Be Your Colleague in the Classroom by Thomas Morley for any teachers, homeschoolers, PSR workers, or anyone involved in a relationship with any other human that wants to improve upon understanding . I’m finding it incredibly valuable. I think it links so many pieces I have gleaned from other sources, like Charlotte Mason teaching methods, Thomas Jefferson Education methods, Love and Logic, and even LDS principals of accountability and how we do the “weird” thinks we do. I’m only in chapter 4 and I’m pretty impressed. I’d like to share about a million things from its pages.

2013 Review

In an effort to close old things in order to better open new things, I was looking over my journals and old papers from last year. It’s amazing what hindsight does for clarity. Last year was soooo frustrating! I was spinning my wheels in the mud for an entire year! And now I’m looking  back at the goals I made last year, and over my nasty court battle with my ex. I am amazed at what I’ve gained.

Last year, I was timid, scared, and hoping. This year, I’m confident, patient (okay, more patient), and determined.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

Last year I was a tiny seedling screaming for justice. This year I’m a massive oak, standing firm while winds try to stir me.

Last year, the slightest breeze sent me swerving. This year, gales of wind don’t make me bend.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Last year, the slightest flaw in my diet, my mentality, or my day-to-day life, and I’d have to pick up the pieces of my tumbling tower of strength. This year, I’m in control of my fate. This year, I’m placing the stones.

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

For the first time in my mortal existence, though I don’t know exactly when it happened, I am my own strength.I guess  I feel like I have a wider base, a higher center of gravity. I have gained so much strength! Last year, I let so many outside forces crush me. I had less control and less serenity.I think if I’ve mastered one skill over the last year, it would be that: SERENITY. And by golly, that’s a worthwhile skill! And one I wasn’t even looking for. It was the exact skill I needed, though.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

I can’t get over how much I needed last year. I needed one exhausting year of pushing against a mountain in order to know my own strength. The mountain never moved, but now I am strong enough to make my own mountains.

When my court battle was over, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t see any benefit. But when it ended, I asked my lawyer, “what now?” and she said something that I think back on now and know she spoke truth. She told me she was proud of how much I’d come into my own, and how she didn’t think I’d let anything stop me. I looked back on all the old paperwork the other day, and all the stuff from the most recent endeavor this morning. It’s amazing how much I’ve changed. I think of all the turmoil of emotions I experienced then, and if I were to do it all now, I’d be much calmer. I’d be solid. And a judge would be able to see that. Since that court date, I think about all the bull my ex has pulled. Some of it I let slide. I just add it up. Other stuff, I smile to myself and say nice try. I don’t react any more. I learned how to use his “use-y-ness” against him. I learned to give no reaction. Except a smile. I’m grateful to have learned that skill. I’m also grateful to know that I am worth more than any outside force tries to tell me. I have the power to do what is right, what is needed. And I can use my assets to achieve it. I feel free from the clutches of my ex like never before. The last chains of control are off. The statement that it takes just as long to get out of trouble as it did to get into trouble is apparently true. But the chains were deeper than just court cases. They were locking up my mentality and my emotions. And now… I’m free to feel how I want and what I want. It’s been such a blessing with my daughter and with my husband. It’s also helped me have stronger relationships with my friends and even acquaintances. because I’m allowed to have boundaries now.

But I’m stronger than even that! Last year, I spent so much time so sick! I had to work my way out of every second of illness. It was like climbing a rock-faced pit. Sometimes I’d fall down and have to start all over. I just wanted to be at the top. I just wanted to be all better. No more food-allergies. No more weak moments of eating garbage and then paying for it later. I was so frustrated that people, especially friends and family, didn’t understand what processed food was doing to me! I would let down my boundaries just to keep the peace, then feel sick, berate myself for eating garbage just to please everyone, and then do the whole fiasco again. But then a glorious thing happened. I cut ties. I told the loudest nay-sayers in my life that I deserved better treatment. When they responded and proved that their status-quo was more important than my well-being, I both knew where I stood and that I was enough with or without their approval. I didn’t talk to some for quite a while. When I started a relationship up again, it was on my terms. Can I just say, that was amazing! I’ve learned that toxic people are not necessary in my life. I’ve learned that I don’t have to solve problems for people who don’t care about me for me. I have also learned that people can try to tell you how to run your life, but you don’t have to listen.

I’ve watched my husband experience many of the same lessons, if a bit grudgingly, at times. I’ve watched him grow right along with me. We can grow together, now, instead of just growing individually. It’s so interesting to look back on life… In my past marriage, we grew colder and further apart. The more time went on, the weaker our marriage was. But with Ranger, the longer we’re married, the stronger we are. The stronger our feelings are. I’m so blessed to have this experience of marriage and love.

And all this from a year that I really didn’t like very much.

Invictus by William Earnest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Who’s Kid is She, Anyway?

While we’ve been talking about my grandmother and grandfather, and how Grandpa’s my guardian angel, the other day, my daughter asked me what my grandpa looked like. I told her I had a picture of him from when I was born and he came to visit. So we pulled out the scrapbooks and took a look. Naturally, you can’t just look at one picture. I showed her pictures of my Christmases, pictures from school, and silly pictures from my childhood. She giggled, and said, “Mom, you look JUST LIKE ME!” So we pulled out her scrapbook and compared.

Our discovery was just too funny not to share, even though it makes me nervous, so embrace this singular glimpse of my daughter

Untitled
update: Yeah… after seeing the last superbowl, I shoulda picked a different pic…

I was laughing with her that her mouth was always open in pics (blaming the fact that she had both asthma and huge tonsils), until I saw that I was just as bad. I didn’t have asthma (that I know of), but I also got the huge tonsil trend, and they didn’t last long inside my body.

Untitled

Can’t tell I’m her mamma at all, can you? I don’t think we look TOO much alike, but there are definite similarities.

It’s even funnier to note that she thought that pics of her grandmother were really pics of me! Guess my family’s got some crazy genes! The funny thing is, I looked a whole lot more like my dad when I was little.

 

Wrong Roads

There has been a video on YouTube I’ve been circling around. You know the type: the video you see in your suggestions, see in your subscriptions, and just never get around to watching? For me personally, there’s a bit of shame in that, but I’m getting past it. I finally put off the shame and just watched it. And it didn’t phase me. A “that’s nice,” type video.

And then I took my daughter to ballet. The instructor whom I adore commented on how much my little athlete has mastered the skills, and I said in passing that I wish there was another beginners class for an older age, because I watch my too-mature daughter get frustrated by kids just being kids, because she is there to soak in every second of it, not to get distracted. The instructor said, “Oh, but I do!” and invited us to sit in on the class the following day (yesterday). It’s definitely not the same beginner class as the younger girls. There is memorization, and repetition, and major skillsets being developed and worked upon. But we went anyway. About 3/4 of the way through the class, my daughter looks at me, beaming, and gives me the thumbs up. It’s been intense! I have watched the whole time. She doesn’t have the muscles yet and she’s worked really hard to keep up with the rest of the girls. I mouth “do you like this class?” and I get a strong affirmative head-bob.

ballet shoes
Attribution: Katherine Kirkland

And I think about how if we hadn’t homeschooled, I never would have gotten her into ballet. I’ve always been hesitant about the subtle lessons taught to impressionable kids; about modesty, about decency, about what is acceptable in behavior and body movement. Personally, some dances should not be danced by adults in front of an audience, not to mention the teens or kids I see dancing them. And some outfits I wouldn’t leave my house with, so why would I want them on the daughter I’m responsible for teaching modesty and providing safety for? It just never made sense to me. But getting to know the instructor personally (she homeschools, too), and watching her movements and light, I knew that I was comfortable with this ballet school, a school that teaches discipline and dedication, structure and love. A school where every student is sacred and precious. That is something I can believe in and support.

 11-3

And suddenly something occurs to me: What if the homeschool frustration was so that I could get her into ballet? I don’t think that’s the only thing we learned and gained from that glorious month that we couldn’t keep, but I do see how I could have had such a strong prompting for something I wasn’t allowed to keep. I kept what I needed to. And that is enough.

Day 29: Waiting.

[warning]Warning: This post is two days after it should have been written and it’s still emotionally triggering.[/warning]

Major confession: This is the challenge that is the toughest for me. If something is good, why do I have to wait for it? The only answer I have is Garth Brooks’ Unanswered Prayers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU9ovUxiwGo

(sorry for the TV show playing with it. It’s the best vid I could find on Youtube) My dad was a thorough Garth Brooks fan; had all the CD’s (or tapes; some of them were tapes). I heard this song throughout my entire childhood. Still doesn’t mean it’s easy though.

dare

And I know people always say you’ll value it more because you have to wait for it. I am willing to say that that might be true. But it’s still not a comfort when you have to wait.

I was hoping from the get-go that by building up to this for a month, I’d have some answers, but I don’t. I researched it to find answers, but the truth is, I really don’t know. I’m sure it’s pride getting in the way of not knowing and not wanting to accept, and I’ll work on that; But I still just don’t know.

Ready for a secret? We’ve been trying to have a baby for two and a half years. At first it was just the “whatever happens, happens.” But with an already-mature 7 (now eight, and eventually 9-year-old), we didn’t want to stay in that phase too long. The gap is forever growing; and it’s growing rapidly.

And I don’t talk about it because it’s too raw. So very raw. There have been miscarriages, there have been months I was convinced it’d finally happen. And here I am, Nursery leader and baby-less. Sometimes I think I’m finally over it and moved on and then something will happen and I’m thrown right back into it, and it’ll prove how so un-over it I really am. And then I’ll spend countless days trying to figure out why I am still so stuck in the same place. I’m not the type to want pity, though; that doesn’t work for me. That’s yet another reason I don’t talk about it.

Pity is so inadequate when your sister calls you Christmas morning and tells you that your Christmas present is that she gets to hold a new baby soon. And that it’s due on your birthday.  Or all of the times your sister calls to brag about her expanding abdomen. Or the incredible loss and shame when that same sister calls and tells you that the baby you’ve been dreading isn’t going to live in this world and knowing that even though you struggled with your feelings, you never wanted that. Or holding your sister’s hand while she buries the baby she rubbed in your face. And then there’s all of the times she needs your shoulder to cry on because she doesn’t have a baby to hold and you just wish you had the guts to lose it and scream at her that at least it was only one! At least she was barely trying. At least she got to see and hold and caress a body! At least, at least, at least. But you know that wont help. And that even though she is naive, she doesn’t deserve that. No one deserves that. But no one deserves the hurt I’ve had to face, either. And she needs you, and you’re the protector. So you just take it.

Pity doesn’t cover the fact that your ex has had two babies all in the time you’ve been trying.  And that both he and your ex-best-friend he’s currently married to have complained about having so many kids… Before these two were even conceived. It doesn’t help the agony of knowing that they get pregnant with oops babies they don’t even want and you’re begging for a family that isn’t coming. The first one really got to me. I at least had my head on a little better by the time they announced the second one. Wherein they told my daughter (remember, she’s 8), they didn’t even want it, and that it was a surprise.

Or all of the people advising you on how awesome babies are, in case you were needing encouragement.

Or realizing that some of the sunbeams you are watching were born during the countless months you were trying, and miscarrying, and still trying. Or the hours bawling that they’d even call you to nursery! And as the baby-quilt maker for the ward. At the same time.

People mourned with my sister. And I’m glad they did. But no one mourns with me. No one sees my grief. My best friends both know how much I want it, but both admit they can’t really understand. At least they listen. At least they are there for me, but no one else even knows. Because the pain is too real to tell anyone. Not even my mother knows. Well, she knows enough that we never talk about it and pretend the elephant in the room doesn’t exist, but otherwise, she doesn’t know.

I’ve had blessing after blessing where the Lord says he’s so grateful for my desire to be a mother. One time, the person blessing me didn’t even know my heart, started bawling through the blessing and told me that my body would heal itself and I’d be able to bear children. That was a year and a half ago.

And there’s countless conference talks about waiting patiently. President Eyering even gave one recently on having to wait for a baby. I’ve read the talk countless times, begged for everything I could think of, and I’m still here, wondering what my mission in life really is.

And then there’s my husband. At first I think he just wanted a baby because I wanted one. But now… His level of sorrow is just as intense as mine. Mostly more than mine, as now I’m mostly numb.

And I’ve got all of this added burden because sometimes, after years of heartbreak every month, I wonder if it’s all worth it. 9 years is a big gap. And I’m not used to babies any more. And I enjoy my free time. And even though women my age have babies all the time, I feel so OLD. But I feel so guilty for those thoughts creeping in; something I’ve wanted for so long and now I don’t? It’s such a complicated place to be. I don’t even really know if I don’t, but the tears currently streaming down my face could testify to the fact that most of this paragraph is a lie I’ve been telling myself to make it okay. To make two years worth of hidden battles I’ve faced somehow be okay. Even wanted.

That’s why I have no advice on being grateful for the chance to wait. Some day, I’ll change this day’s answer in the Gratitude Dare. But for now… for now this is what I’ve got.

Day 12: Anyway

Once when I was a teenager, I learned a concept that stood out to me. I brought it home to my family, and we realized how much a part of our life the concept is. We always called it the Anyway Principle.

If you’re going to make dinner anyway, why not make extra and give it to the family of a sick mother?

If you’re going to go to an activity anyway, why not fill the empty seats in the car with someone who needs a ride?

If you’re at your desk anyway, why not write a “just thinking of you” note to someone on your mind?

When I googled the Anyway principle, it came to my attention that there is more than one “Anyway Principle,” and that my version is all but obsolete. The other principle, which is more of an “Anyway Challenge,” discusses a few paradoxical commandments, written by Kent M. Keith.

dare

Although at first the principles seemed so different to me, I thought about it, did some research, and studied a bit of the grammar that I love. Whether something is negative or not, like in the paradoxical commandments, it doesn’t change the word (from what I can tell, the direction you’re looking – positive or negative – is the only difference between the paradoxical commandments and the anyway principle I knew: one states the opposition to the plan, while the other focuses on the proactive side of the plan. It doesn’t change the use of the word. Both mean “regardless,” “in any  case,” or “nevertheless”). If you are going to do something anyway, do it. Don’t let something stand in your way. Do something good no matter what opposition you face. If you’re going to reach out, who cares who tries to stop you! Especially if the person trying to stop you is yourself. Do it anyway.

But to me, grammar aside, there is still a difference I can’t ignore. One is active, the other is proactive. One is looking back and saying “I will move forward, anyway.” The other says, “I will move forward anyway, so what’s one more step.” One looks back and sees all the reasons not to do something. The other ignores all the reasons not to, and just looks at what they can do, and how much further they can go. If you are doing something anyway, is there someone you can bring along with you or something you can do while you’re out? If you’re cooking dinner anyway, can you make extra? 

The difference in the word "anyway"
The difference in the word “anyway”

I guess it’s the anyway principle inside of the anyway principle. You can choose to follow Kent M. Keith’s anyway principle (it’s still forward movement, so it counts. And some days, that might be all you can handle. Smile anyway…), but if you’re going to do it anyway…