Friday, October 28, 2011

when a door closes...

This month I was released from a calling I had in church to work with the young women in the ward (girls 12-18 years old). It happened a couple weeks ago but I have been slow to record my feelings about it since there are so many emotions and it's not easy to sift through them all. I am a list-maker, so I thought I'd just take the practical route and explain to myself what I'm feeling and why.

Initial emotions after being told I was needed elsewhere: frustration and some regret. I was frustrated with God for not feeling the same way I did - that I needed more time, that I wasn't ready to let go, that there were still things I hoped to accomplish with the girls. Nervously I wondered, had I been everything the Lord had needed me to be for the young women?

Second emotion: intense sorrow. You don't work this closely with people (other sisters who served in callings as leaders, the young women themselves) without getting attached. And while I knew I would still see them, I was realistic enough to know it would not be the same. I would not have as many opportunities to visit, to hear of their trials and triumphs, to hug them, to express my love and testimony to them. I shouldn't compare it to this because admittedly it is overdramatic, but for a brief moment it was like a mother being ripped apart from her children. I have loved these girls nearly as dearly as though they were my own. I have poured my heart out in prayer over these girls, sobbed for these girls, pleaded to the Father in their behalf, and strived to know how to best bring them to Christ and help them recognize the Spirit. I have as much desire for their happiness as I do my own children's. The adult women I worked with had taught me humility, compassion, resolve, balance, acceptance, rationality, and love. I was going to miss them dreadfully, too. Without regard to anyone else in the room, I could not control my tears and simply sobbed in the bishop's office.

Next emotion: shock. It was surreal - it felt like I was somewhere else looking down on the situation. The bishop, who is a dear friend, went on to explain the next calling he hoped I would accept but I hardly heard a word of it. My mind was in a fog and I could not believe this day had come and my time with the girls had come to an end. I confess I accepted my new calling as Ward Music Chairperson a bit numbly and a bit robotically.

The next few days I was in a haze and terribly ornery. I felt something I loved doing and being had been taken away. Looking back now I think I also felt unsure about my identity. For so long this had been a huge part of how I spent my time and energy - what now? I took it out on my poor family and it wasn't until nearly a week later that I got on my knees and asked Heavenly Father to help confirm it in my heart that this was indeed the path my life needed to take. It wasn't long before the familiar warmth and comfort of the spirit enveloped me. Peace came to my soul, and although I still felt sad to leave my station, I knew deep within that it was indeed time. It was time for me, for my family, but especially for the girls. Something whispered to my soul, "You've known for a while now that you'd hit a rut. That their progress had plateau'd and you'd been wondering what to do differently to shake things up a bit. You've known and prayed and this is how the Lord is ensuring His daughters have what they need to continue their progression in the gospel."

And then, it was okay.

Relief: I had been told who would be taking my place and I smiled knowing she would take the girls far. She is fun, she is happy, she is faithful, and she has a desire to serve. I know she will put their needs before her own. I know she is what they need. And I'm so very grateful for that.

This was the turning point - this was where any disappointment, regret, insecurity, or even sadness, although not fully removed, now took a back seat and I was able to focus on the positive. I was blessed with the ability to move forward and anticipate the good things that was to come for everyone involved. I actually felt excited! An energy of looking-forward filled me and I just can't wait to see what wonderful blessings are going to come into the lives of these girls that I hold so dear!

Thankfully since then I have embraced my new opportunity and calling. I've felt energized at the prospect of doing something different and contributing to the ward in a new way. I look forward to the blessings that I know will come into my life as I have opportunity to express my testimony of the gospel and my love for the Savior by coordinating music that will invite the Spirit into our meetings and witness of Him.

So now I'm left with one overwhelming emotion and that is GRATITUDE!

It's interesting to look back on times in our lives when we didn't have the full understanding we'd hoped for. Over three years ago, I bitterly and begrudgingly accepted the calling to be the Young Women President. I recall thinking I would have nothing in common with these girls. I recall their resistance to the change as well and what a struggle it was knowing I was not what they wanted. But the Lord knows - he KNOWS - and it was only a few months before I felt more confident in my new position and also had begun developing personal relationships with each young woman. I began to have the desire not just to go through the motions and provide activities for them, but to provide opportunities for growth, for learning, for testimony, for friendship. And in the process, I gained all those blessings as well. It is true that as we bear one another's burdens and serve others with full purpose of heart, we are blessed beyond measure. I will forever be grateful to have had this opportunity. I could have lived my entire life without it and how unchanged I may have been - how far behind in my spiritual progress may I have been! It has taught me to trust in the Lord, because what frequently seems unpleasant or too-challenging or confusing at first always seems to work for our good in the end. This has changed me for the better and Heavenly Father knew from the very beginning that it would.

And oh, how I LOVE Him for that!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

planning ahead...

The other day Carson, knowing how attached I am to my children, felt he should give me a head's up on his plans to flee the nest. Probably thought if he started telling me now, then when it was time for him to don his ninja mask and start throwing his ninja stars, I'd be prepared and handle it better - that is, IF I've lived long enough to see that day, considering I'll be a ripe old age and all...

Carson: "Mom, when I grow up, I'm going to have to move to China."
Me: "Oh? Why?"
Carson: "Because that's where ninjas live and I'm going to be a ninja."
Me: "You are? What do ninjas do?"
Carson (as though I should know this): "Oh, they work with the police to catch bad guys and stuff."

Later that night, in front of Carson, I relayed the bad news of our son's cross-continental moving plans to my husband.
Brett feigned tears and said: "That's so sad - we will miss you being so far away and all."

Carson looked confused and stated matter-of-factly: "Why? You'll be dead by the time I grow up."
Me: "And just how old do you think we're going to be when you are a grown-up?"
Carson: "Oh, like 28."

Hope Sig1

Monday, October 10, 2011

my baby's leavin' on a jet plane

This weekend was a humongous, gigantic milestone for me. Surprising even to myself, I let my child - my off-spring, my BABY - travel by herself across state lines. Alone. Solo. Without me!

For seven months, Halle has been saving her money so she could buy airline tickets to visit her Aunt Ashlee and Uncle Bret in Las Vegas, just for fun. She did extra chores and on more than one occasion denied herself opportunities to purchase temptations so her money could slowly add up. She had a great attitude about it and rarely complained. So for her birthday, Brett and I decided our gift to her would be one of his Southwest tickets he had earned from several business trips. She was beside herself when we told her and I felt proud of her, knowing she had pretty much earned it herself.

Halle was excited for the trip (driving us batty by counting down everyday from about two weeks prior) and thrilled at her opportunity for independence. I was happy for her, but it took all I had not to cry. However, I did NOT cry when I sent her up into the airplane - do you know how huge that was for me? Granted, I had to focus on some heavy-duty Lamaze breathing and blinked about a billion times to keep the tears at bay, but I bit my lower lip and kept it all in. I think I did a pretty dang good job of pretending I thought this was the most awesome idea in the entire world, when every instinct within me wanted to shout, "Who's lame suggestion was this?!"

A wave of relief swept over me when Ashlee called about an hour later to assure me my baby girl had arrived safely and was in the protective care of my wonderful sister-in-law! She returned last night and I could not walk fast enough to the gate to collect her. She may have been gone only 3 days but they were days that were too quiet. We definitely need our little Halle-Bally in our lives and are so grateful she had this opportunity, but even more thankful she came home safely to us!

Thank you, Ashlee and Bret, for setting aside your own personal time to let her come and have this experience. It was amazing for her and a major growth-opportunity for her mom!

(I have pictures, but am borrowing Brett's computer so I don't want to put the pix from my camera on here right now - guess I'll have to add them later.)
Hope Sig1

Monday, October 3, 2011

Construction Zones (of different kinds!)

All summer long (and now into the fall) we have been remodeling many aspects of our main floor. We took out the stinky dog-pee carpet and FINALLY tore out the nasty, poorly-installed slate tile in the kitchen. A backsplash was installed and now we're in the process of repainting.
Our home wasn't the only place
of construction going on, however.

I've also been busy
constructing something special of my own!
Most of you know that in May we had the shock of our lives
when we found out our family must have been
missing one because Heavenly Father
has sent Baby #4 our way!

The kids were also pretty surprised...

We broke the news to them at Babies R' Us.
They went there with us under the impression that we had to buy a baby gift for Brett's cousin who had just had the most adorable baby boy. Then we told them we weren't there to pick out stuff for someone else's baby - we were there to find fun things for our own!
Here's what they chose:
Here's our sweetheart in the 1st trimester - teeny tiny plum-size:

Last month we got to find out whether we were getting a brother or a sister. To be safe, I bought Yankee gear for either sex. Then we found out Halle will finally be able to let go of the claim that she is the "only" girl in her family - hurray!
Here she is, holding her hand up to her face

Kids and grandmas, waiting to hear the word on the gender

A sister?!

21 weeks

Treasures from the Laundry Room

This is what I found in the pockets of my family's pants while doing laundry. Of course, this doesn't include the garbage (gum wrappers, receipts, tissues, used sucker sticks, etc), but just look at all the fun. Who knew pocket lint had such cool buddies?

Finders Keepers????
Hope Sig1

"Thuthy thellth theshellth by the theshore"

You should hear this kid say his S's.
(Or should I say, "Eth'th" - you will die from the cuteness!)

Hope Sig1

how we all spent conference weekend...

The kids were excellent notetakers and sticker-putter-onners (they put stickers on pictures of the things the speakers talked about). The dog was extra cuddly and even Brett was super-reverent. Never made a peep. ;)
Hope Sig1
"The democracy will cease to exist when you TAKE AWAY from those who are willing to work AND GIVE to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson