Archives

Why My Ring is a Pearl

[disclaim]This article was put on my old blog on January 16, 2011. I wanted to share with you because it is the anniversary of the day my husband and I got engaged. [/disclaim]

My ring is a pearl. There’s a reason behind it. Let me explain:

Jenny’s Pearl Necklace

by: Author Unknown, Source Unknown

Jenny was a bright-eyed, cheerful young girl. One day when she and her mother were checking out at the grocery store, Jenny saw a circle of glistening white plastic pearls in a pink foil box. They were priced at $2.50. She begged her mom to buy them, they were so beautiful!

Her mother looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl and said.”If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you and you can save enough money to buy them yourself. Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another dollar from Grandma.” Jenny saved up and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel grown up. She wore them everywhere–Sunday school, kindergarten, and all around the house. She treasured her pearls. But since they were just beads, eventually they got pretty worn down. Soon they were nothing but white beads on a worn string.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?”

“Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.”

“Then may I have your pearls?”

“Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. These are my favorite, I love these pearls.”

“That’s okay, honey. Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?”

“Daddy, you know I love you.”

“Then will you give me your pearls?”

“Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper, if you want. But I love my pearls. You cant have my pearls.”

“That’s okay, Honey. Sleep well. Daddy loves you.” And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

This went on for quite a while, always with the same result, until one night as Jenny’s Daddy came to read her a story, Jenny was sitting on her bed. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.

“What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?”

Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. When she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here, Daddy. It’s for you. I know you love me, and you wouldn’t ask for my pearls unless you needed them.”

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the prized necklace. He quietly left and when he came back, the other hand held a blue velvet case. He handed it to Jenny and told her, “Thank you for giving me your most prized possession. I know you even saved up for it all by yourself. Now, I have this for you also.”

As Jenny pried open the blue velvet box, so nice a thing itself she’d never known, the glistening white sheen of the rich genuine pearls struck her teary eyes.

Her daddy hugged her tight and said, “I needed to know you would take care of these. I needed to know you would keep these pearls nice. And now I know.”

I remember when I was trying to make things work out with my ex, I called my mom one night and I said, “mom, what if this is like that stupid pearl story? What if God’s just waiting to bless me when I’m ready to let go? But what if I don’t WANT to let go? I already know what this is like, and I am okay with fake pearls. I don’t want to let go.

And then when he left, I realized just how worn and chipped those plastic beads were. And how much I would have been missing.

And now… Now I have my real pearl.

Archives, Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

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.

Educational, Life Lessons

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.

Life Lessons

Hezekiah

I have been reading the Old Testament for about 4 years. I’m still in Kings. I’ve changed the direction of the goal, though. Instead of reading to a specific point each day, thereby getting exhausted, and not reading for a few days afterwards, I am just going to read every day. Get as far as I get, and embrace the change. I know, sort of a no-brainer solution, huh? That’s what I get for looking so close to the problem.

I do have to say, up until the last few chapters of 2 Kings, I was determined that I would never read through the books of Kings again! So depressing and dry. I’ll take Leviticus any day. And then I come across a humble king in all the history of Kings named Hezekiah. He’s my hero. He saves the whole book for me. Here’s a guy, knowing all is lost, and still fighting for restoring faith to his people. He already knows Judah is going to face the same fate as Israel in a few short years, and yet he gives it all he’s got to save the people. Isaiah even says that it’s too late, that their fate has already been sealed. But that doesn’t stop Hezekiah from going to and doing the work. If you need a hero that fights for lost causes, he’s it. Then, he’s informed by Isaiah of his imminent death, pleads with God for more time, and is granted 15 more years. He’s also granted the opportunity to die before he sees the cause be utterly lost.

Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

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.

(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.

Gratitude Dare

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…

Gratitude Dare

Day 5: Bright Side

Look at the bright side. Sounds easy enough… and by thinking it doesn’t sound easy, you’re not looking at the bright side. By so doing, you’ll be creating an odd Thankgsiving-paradox. How’s that for motivation?

But seriously, spending a whole day looking at the bright side sounds exhausting and so worth it! Imagine how well your day will feel tonight when you only have the bright side left in your cognition?

Today, each time something undesirable comes up, think of the silver lining. I think this will look a little different for everyone. Some people will coat the day with silver in a slightly humorous way

The dog threw up again? Well, at least he’s a living vacuum.

Others will take the “some have less than I” approach

I broke my favorite dish! At least I was lucky enough to have more than one dish so I could pick a favorite.

I find myself at a different setting. I’m not very funny, so my humor would only come out sarcastic (which defeats the purpose). And I guess I’m too comfy with my possessions to be thinking of everything others don’t have. I’m more logical.

My daughter’s going to be late, again? At least she’s learning the importance of time management.

I’m also more creative. Especially when I get caught off guard.

Finances are tight this month? It’s the perfect time to rotate our food storage!

I’ve just spent the whole day working and I have nothing to show for it! … I remember a story about a man told to push against a mountain. Maybe today, I just needed to push.

The problem I usually have (and maybe this will sound familiar), is that I am both a realist (often misinterpreted as a pessimist), and a worrier (lets call it over-thinking. ;c). I think the worry is what makes my realist-side seem more pessimistic). I am also easily caught up in a black-vs-white, good-vs-bad mentality. Everything has a label, a category. Today, and for the rest of the month, I’m will need to make a conscious effort to take everything out of my “bad” mental folder and re-label it with a “good, because ______” folder. I think, at first, I’ll only be able to handle the obvious negatives, but I’m hoping by the end of the month, the little slivers of negativity can be caught and redirected, as well.

[warning] Don’t forget. We’re expanding upon this challenge every day. Keep writing 3 grateful paragraphs down in your place of choice until the end of the month. [/warning]

Archives, Life Lessons

Archive: Letting Go

***Archive: This post was published on a previous blog and transferred here.***

Letting Go” From The Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll

To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring,
It means I can’t do it for someone else.

To let go doesn’t mean to cut myself off,
It’s the realization that I cannot control another.

To let go is not to enable,
But to allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness
Which means the outcome is not in my hands

To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
I can only change myself.

To let go is not to care for,
But to care about.

To let go is not to fix,
But to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge,
But to allow another to be a human being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
But to allow others to affect their own outcomes.

To let go is not to be protective,
But to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny,
But to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue,
But to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
But to take each day as it comes.

To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
But to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go is not to regret the past,
But to grow and live for the future.

To let go is fear less
And love more.

This past week, 2 main concepts keep coming into my mind. Life does that, sometimes [Well, I’m not going to give life the credit, I’ll give it to the divine plan and the powers of the human mind], giving you a theme for the day.  The two focuses of my life right now are letting go and agency. The two concepts are friends holding hands, really; walking side by side. Letting go is allowing others their agency, while reserving your own. It’s sorting through what you do have control over and what you don’t. All anyone really has control over can be summed up into 3 things: personal thoughts, personal feelings, and personal actions. Everything else is someone else’s control/agency.

I’ve been thinking about my daughter, and how she can ride a bike but wont let herself; and how she can swim, if she’d just trust the water. Letting go, to me, is like that. It’s realizing that the water is not your enemy, but your friend. It’s realizing that the bike works with you, not for you. Letting go is just…trusting. And not the “okay, world, I’m going to jump, you’d better catch me.” but, “Lord, I know that you see what I cannot, and I’m okay with that.” Letting go literally, physically, feels different. I had no idea! Letting go is a calming in every muscle, because when you are calm, the water lets you float. When you relax, the bike lets you balance. And when you let go… life does the same. I wish I knew how to spare the world of so much fear and negativity, because I see how hard it is to not let go (and quite frequently have to remind myself of the difference), but I never learned that skill. Instead, I ache for a world – for loved ones – and pray that someday, they can learn for themselves

to just let go.