Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Motherhood has Blessed My Faith in God

I was almost 27 years old when I had our first child. I quit my job 2 weeks prior to my due date, hoping to finish preparations for our new little baby, but he was born the next day, quite in a little hurry to get here. He was tiny and skinny at barely 6 pounds, 22 inches. We were thrilled, scared, excited and happy.

The day we all went home, he was scrawny as he swam in the new car seat. We padded it with blankets to protect his little head, but he was still so small. With the awkward seat facing the rear of the car, I could not stand the thought of riding anywhere but next to my baby and so I did. My husband drove us home and all I could think about was how completely dependent this tiny little soul was on us.

That first night in our apartment, I did not know what to do. The baby was crying and obviously hungry. I wanted to nurse him, but my milk had not come in. He did not like the pacifier. He would not take a bottle. My husband got him to sleep and we fell into bed, exhausted. Only an hour had passed when we woke to a wailing little baby. I was scared. I could not get him to stop crying. I was so exhausted and too weak to walk the floor with him all night, frightened I would drop my precious baby. So I prayed. Like I've never prayed before.

I remembered the little infant seat we purchased to use for feedings and went to find it. I put my itsy-bitsy boy inside and covered him up. Then I collapsed on the floor next to him, gently rocking the seat back and forth with my hand, trying to help us both to sleep.

It was a long night. Baby would wake up, I'd feed him as best I knew how, put him back in the little seat, and stay by him again, and gently rocking him until my arm went to sleep. We did this several times through the night, all the time while I was praying to God. Please, I pleaded. Please, help me. My little boy needs me. You know what he needs, but I don't. Help me to help him.

By morning, my baby and I were bound to each other. We had made it together. He had been patient with me, his brand-new mommy, and I had protected him, my new little baby. And I knew that God had stayed with us all night.

Three years later, we added a darling daughter to our family. I was not afraid to bring her home that first night. I had learned how to listen to God about how to take care of new babies. I was more relaxed. I knew what to do. That night home, the four of us---my husband, our little boy, and our baby girl and me, we all celebrated and bonded as we shared the wonder of our little family together.

Our son is now 24 and is on his way to medical school this summer. Our daughter is 21 and will start teaching junior high this coming fall. How speedily the time has commenced. There have been terrifying moments when our children have been hurt and very sick. Our son served a church mission where he thrived and I survived. We have seen them hurt by romances and friends. We have seen them fall and pick themselves back up. We have celebrated their successes and watched them grow. It has been beautiful.

I thought I knew what faith in God was before I became a mother, but if I did, it was insufficient, or a different kind of faith. Perhaps merely the kind of faith that everything would all work out, as people often say. It changed suddenly for me when I held those babies in my arms, knowing I was their only earthly mother and my husband their only earthly father. We had a huge responsibility and needed heavenly help. I could no longer afford to believe, because now I had to know. I needed to know that God would bless and protect my children. I needed to know He was really there. I needed to get closer to God so I could know what He wished me to do. It forced me to pray actively, even begging a lot of the time, for help in knowing how to be a good mother. I am grateful that God answered my prayers, not always immediately, but He always did and still does.

What motherhood has done for my faith in God is given me more compassion for Him as my Father. If I love my children as much as I do, and I know that God loves them still even more, then why would He not want to bless them and look out for them? He is their Heavenly Father and He is also mine. I can and do trust Him. I feel confident that He knows all, and I only know a shred.

What I think might be best, God knows is not. He has the whole view and I can only see a few hundred yards. Having babies has helped me to know God, to rely on Him, count on Him, and ask Him. Motherhood didn't change my faith in God as much as it gave me faith in God.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Grandpa Joe!

Wow!  That fast and now it's Spring and today is St. Patrick's Day!  Now we're almost a quarter way through 2016.  When I was a kid, the thought of the year 2016 conjured up ideas of space men, metallic clothing, electric cars, and robots.  Well, here it is, and we're well into 2016 now.  Most people have smartphones, a few have electric cars, and maybe somebody has a robot.  I don't wear metallic clothing, but I like jewelry; does that count? 

I used to laugh when my grandparents would say, "when I was youir age we had to milk the cow if we wanted milk," and things like that.  Now, I find myself saying to my children, "when I was in college, we didn't have smartphones or Google or even a home computer--we had to go to the library and use the card catalog to look up something."  That makes me feel old.  It also makes me feel very lucky and very blessed.  Why?  Because I got to experience things at a slower pace.  Not as slow as my parents and grandparents, but slow compared to now.  And I'm grateful for it.  

I am missing these grandparents of mine today, the ones on my father's side.  My grandfather was of Irish descent.  I remember him as a kind a loving man, with huge hands from hard and honest work both on a farm and as a blacksmith.  He could make anything with those hands when he was a younger man.  He played the fiddle and loved music.  He especially loved The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and when I would visit on the weekends, we always went to church and watched The Spoken Word with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  He was old even when I was young, but I knew he loved me and I knew he loved Jesus Christ.  Church books and scriptures were always by his chair; that's how he spent his days---studying.  His face would light up whenever I came to stay and he never wanted me to go home.  He always asked me to play the piano and thought I was brilliant.  My grandmother was a princess to me.  She never said an unkind word to me.  She always told me I was smart and had a beautiful smile and that I should share it with those who didn't have a smile at all.  She was a schoolteacher and instilled in me a love of reading by always giving me books as gifts.  Suppers were simple there, consisting of bread and milk, fruit preserves, cheese, and onions.  On Sundays it was always a roasted chicken and sometimes pineapple pie.  What I wouldn't give to go back there for just one weekend by myself, to stay and be loved by them, basking in their elderly wisdom.  I love them and always will. 

Maybe it's because of Grandma and Grandpa that I still like to read real books.  I like to turn the pages and make notes in the margins.  I like how they smell when they are new and when they are old.  They can be expensive and take up shelf space.  Just ask my husband.  My biggest fantasy is bookcases covering entire walls in every room of the house, filled to the rafters with books.  As it is, we have bookcases in every room and they pretty close to filled.  There are books on tables and desks and everywhere you look.  We do read them, too.  We don't just look at them.  And I love the library.  I ran into the former head librarian of our local library a few months ago.  She has long since retired, but she remembered me and asked about my children.  I know they hated seeing us coming every week, each with our own bag filled with 15 books, there to get another 15, so 45 total.  Every week, for years.  Yes, I'm sure that's why she still knows our names.   

I like to talk to people on the phone and not text.  Texting is fine for, "I'm on my way home," or "can you pick up the drycleaning."  It's not good for conversations.  At least not if you want to have a healthy relationship with a person.  But there are also those who won't have a conversation on the phone and so texting can get tricky and people can be easily misunderstood, including me. 
I like to cook real food, from scratch. I love to go out for Indian or Thai food, true, but I really like to cook.  When I'm feeling up to it, I love to get in the kitchen and make mean Italian meatballs, or a killer lasagne.  Maybe Russian meat dumplings, or Irish Shepherd's Pie with real potatoes, peeled and mashed with lots of butter and cream.  I love to make cherry pie with the real sour cherries and crust from scratch.  My kids have never had maple syrup from the store.  We've always had homemade.  I like to sit out on our deck on summer evenings and eat with a plate in my lap, my husband and kids around me, and visit for hours, long after the plates are empty.  I like to draw and paint and make things with my hands.  I love to sew when I have time and don't mind the mess for a few days.  I love to write real letters on pretty paper and send them with a stamp.
I love the technology we have today.  It makes writing this blog possible and doing my work from home a reality.  It makes it easy to buy clothes, since I never have to go the mall.  The good stores deliver and I know what size works, so it's all just a click away.  Technology actually allows me more time to do the slow, old-fashioned things I prefer.  Because I don't have to commute to my job, I have more time to play the piano.  Because I can write this blog in my jammies and in bed, it's more fun to do.  And because of the internet, I have resources right at my fingertips.  No more Dewey Decimal System, even though I do miss those drawers full of musty cards. 

I turned 51 last year so now I'm officially in my 50s. That means I'm more than halfway done with my life.  I'm sure I won't make it to 100, so that means I'm on the downward slope to the end, but then again, these grandparents pictured above lived well into their 90s, so maybe I have a shot.    Sounds depressing, right?  It can be if I think about it in that way, but I'm choosing not to.  I'm choosing to look at this next phase as a right of passage, a reward for all that I have lived through and dealt with.  I think I've earned the right to speak my mind.  Not that I ever haven't, but maybe I hadn't earned it yet.  I think I have the right to expect certain things from certain people and situations.  I think I've learned how to listen to my heart and gut and know when something is true and when it's not.  I think I've learned a few things.  I know I have a lot more to learn and am always anxious to try new things.  
Here are some things I've learned so far:
1.  There are always two sides to every story.
2.  Karma is real.  What goes around really does come around, so be careful what you send around.
3.  People just want to be understood.
4.  If you keep getting burned, stop touching the stove.
5.  Forgiveness is between me and Christ; it doesn't mean I'm okay with what someone did to me. 
6.  Difficult things happen to good people.
7.  We all will die, it's just a matter of when, and we will meet Christ face to face. 
8.  People are inherently good.  We were all created in God's image.
9.  Getting married and having a family is the best decision I ever made.
10. Jesus Christ is real and loves you and me. 

It's March now and I love how spring is almost here.  Shortly it will be Easter.  A time for a fresh start, a new beginning, with thoughts turned toward Jesus Christ, I'm feeling happy and grateful.  Instead of stressing out about making a hundred thousand goals for this year, I chose to just have one.  It's kind of all encompassing, but it's easy for me to think about:  LEARN MORE ABOUT JESUS CHRIST AND THINK OF HIM, ALWAYS.  If I am more centered on Christ maybe I can be more patient, kind, loving, charitable, forgiving, meek, with more faith.  Maybe I can be happier and more trusting in my afflictions.  Maybe I will be able to focus more on things of an eternal nature and not on a worldly one.  Maybe the meatballs will taste better and the sleep will be sounder.  Maybe I can think more about what I can do for Him.  Maybe I can work harder at building the kingdom of God.  Maybe my eyes will be brighter and I can bear my burdens more easily.
I just want things to be simpler.  I want the world to stay away from me--I don't care about it.  I just want to read good books and sleep well, eat homemade pie and smell grape juice steaming in October.  I want to remain ignorant about what's on television and who is famous.   I want to listen to my "oldies" music and smile because it's actually real music.  I don't want to be younger than I am and I don't want to be older, either.  I just want to be 51 this year, and enjoy it.  I want to smell the flowers and take the hikes and be in the sun. The cold winter weather and its friends, ice and snow, can take a rest now.  My daffodils are up and the tulips are shortly behind.  It's going to be a glorious spring!    So Happy St. Patrick's Day and luck of the Irish to you!  Tonight I'm going to make a mean Shepherd's Pie and Irish soda bread.  I'll be making a toast to my Grandpa Joe.  I wish he was here, but because of Jesus Christ, I know I'll get to see and be with him again.  What a wonderful blessing!  Resin up your bow, Grandpa!  We're going to do an Irish jig tonight! 

If you're not familiar with The Corrs, you need to be!  One of my very, very favorite bands---an Irish family band.  Enjoy!