Friday, January 2, 2015

Joy Cometh in the Morning

My son lost his job only a month after being hired.

He just finally graduated with his BFA in graphic design. He was approached by an in-house marketing department and hired. Life looked good. The pay was decent, and here he was, working in his field, in a job close to home!

Then it happened, right before Thanksgiving.

I have endured a lot of joblessness myself, but hearing this news was like a punch in the gut. I wonder if my mother ever worried about my work the way I worry about my kids'?

We prayed for him constantly. He is a young father of two. His wife took on more hours. He applied for jobs, and was getting interviews. We fasted every Sunday for him.

On December 11, just a few weeks after he was laid off, he was hired. Here, in Northern Virginia, with the company where he had served his internship! I couldn't believe my ears. Frankly, I never believed he would move back here!

So, he had three weeks to pack up and move across the country. As we were going out for Christmas, he swore me to secrecy so he could tell his father in person. I had to keep this news secret from my husband for ten days! Not an easy feat, as I was running around, renting a storage unit for them, and trying to discourage Wes from taking all kinds of stuff for the grandchildren on the trip. Nope, he doesn't need that, I'd say. Nah, he won't use that for a couple of years. It worked, and Wes left some stuff behind. I also had to talk him out of buying a pop-up unit for our daybed, since they are moving in with us and the daybed will be dismantled for the near future!

His worry about our son's job kept my husband from enjoying our Christmas preparations. The struggles of the little family were of great concern to him, and he felt this would be a bleak Christmas despite our all being together. But when the news was revealed--he was thrilled, and we knew the Lord had heard our prayers.

We never prayed that our children would move back here, though that was preferable for us. I always asked the Lord to bless them with good jobs and the ability to provide for their families. So we are thrilled to have some of our grandchildren living nearby, so we can be real grandparents to them. I want my grandchildren to know me, to feel comfortable in my home, and to feel that I am there for love and support.

I know intellectually that the Lord loves me and cares about me, but when I get some physical evidence of this, it is humbling and it touches my heart deeply. I know God cares about every one of us, despite pain and sorrows. Joy does come in the morning from time to time. What a blessing it is!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fall into Fall!

Quite a few years ago now, our daughters and some neighborhood kids created a little Fall Festival for their parents to watch. They sang out, "Fall! Fall! Fall into fall!" My older daughter was the ringleader, being the eldest of the eight little girls in four houses here. (In contrast, among the same homes, there were only three boys, more spread out in age.)

October is my favorite month of the year. My birthday (which was yesterday) falls in the middle of the month. We start eating warm soups and chili. I love to cook with pumpkin. I bring out my Halloween decorations, and after that the Thanksgiving tablecloth and arrangement for the dining room. The trees are alive with color. The air turns cooler, and I get out the flannel sheets and the down comforter.

I spent the past two weeks in Utah with my four adorable grandchildren. It is a blessing and a curse to live so far away. The blessing is that I am not constantly confronted with my failures as a mother, and I don't have to see parenting and housekeeping practices of which I disapprove all the time. On the other hand, I miss my children and grandchildren terribly. Thank goodness for the wonderful electronic devices that enable us to have face-to-face phone calls!

Of course, I played a part in damaging stuff at my dad's. No matter what I do over there, I seem to damage something. This time I am liable for cracking the top of the glass stovetop and ruining the oven light (by simply running the cleaning cycle on a very dirty oven.) No good deed goes unpunished in my world!

Still, I rub along, trying my best.

A friend's daughter got married while I was out there, and it was a great blessing to be able to attend the reception. My new little grandson is perfect and thriving. My son has a new, terrific job in his field of graphic design. I am proud of them all.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On Women, Men, and Ordination

Recently a young woman who is agitating for women to be ordained to the priesthood in the LDS Church was excommunicated.

Her position is that she merely has a difference of opinion with leaders, and that she is entitled to that. The position of the men who excommunicated her is that she is advocating and encouraging others to press for ordination as well, and that in doing so she is teaching principles contrary to the Gospel.

I examined her website, Ordain Women, and I have to agree with the church authorities on this. I have also listened to her on a couple of podcasts, and like many others who dissent, I feel she is re-interpreting Gospel messages and history to align with her own beliefs, and not what the anointed, ordained servants of God who lead this church, preach.

Because of the brouhaha this has caused, we had a recent Sunday in which women and the priesthood was thoroughly addressed. Two female speakers in Sacrament meeting gave wonderful talks. One woman quoted Sheri Dew, who is a former member of the General Relief Society presidency and served as president of Deseret Book. She said that women in our church do more than many ordained women in other churches. We teach, expound scripture, lead auxiliary organizations, and serve missions.

The speaker also pointed out that women do not have to be ordained to be admitted to the temple, but men do. I found that very profound.

Then in Relief Society, the young teacher, a mother of two, used Dallin Oaks' address in the April 2014 General Conference Priesthood session as the basis of her remarks. She humbly got up and admitted that she was a "feminist," that she had been discriminated against at times, and that she had been dismissive of the general "women are special" patronizing remarks made by the General Authorities. And then she admitted that she had been wrong.

After spending three months investigating and praying and pondering this subject, she beautifully expounded on the differences between men and women of the Church, and how it is in no way a gospel teaching that women are somehow "less than." And I agree. While some men are patronizing toward women at times (I have witnessed this in my own life) this is not what Christ teaches or advocates. It was wonderful to hear her humble testimony and witness her conversion to this point of view. A lot of women in that room needed to hear this.

A friend and I were discussing the re-emergence of this issue, and she pointed out something that I have pondered a lot: "Young women today have been raised with the idea that they can do anything men can do, and that they are equal. This is at variance with what they hear at church." True. While my parents raised me with the idea that I could and would go to college and have my choice of career without gender bias, there was also support for stay-home motherhood that is no longer the case. Girls have bought, lock, stock and barrel, that the highest and best use of their time is in a career. I used to believe this, but then I had kids. Suddenly my own agenda took a back seat, and rightly so. It took a while, but I learned to love and embrace being a homemaker and mother. It is, indeed, a holy calling and a great privilege.

Getting back to the podcasts I have heard, the young leader of Ordain Women stated something I found astonishing, and in nearly 40 years in the Church I have never, ever, heard this uttered by a childless woman: "We are childless by choice." What? I believe that bearing children and creating an eternal family is a commandment, and this woman, who claims to be a staunch believer, is actively refusing to take on this responsibility. That speaks volumes about her motivations, if you ask me. She is deliberately setting aside the opportunity for the greatest growth a human being can have.

These complaints seem to overwhelmingly come from well-educated, white, middle-class women. The Ordain Women website is overly academic and legalistic. And the grievances seem very petty. Look, nobody's perfect, even ecclesiastical leaders, and while I don't think anyone should put up with abuse, get over it, quit taking offense, and allow others' minor mistakes to roll off your back. Keep your eye on God and live the commandments.

I don't know why women are not ordained to the priesthood. I suspect that men would leave the Church in droves if they were, as has happened in other faiths. Men and women are different, in every single cell of their bodies. We cannot and should not pretend they are the same.

Furthermore, it does no good to speculate on when, where, or whether women will be ordained. Personally, I don't care, and I do not think it is ever going to happen, but if and when it does, I need to know that directive comes from the Lord.

I am literally seeing the very elect be deceived, and the sifting of the wheat from the tares has begun. As for me, I want to be one of those kernels of wheat. We know what the final score will be, and I want to be on the winning team.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Life is Beautiful

Tonight my husband and I went to a concert outdoors in Vienna, Virginia. The performing artists were the Sea Chanters, a 17-voice choir made up of members of the U.S. Navy. They are very good, and did a great variety of numbers. I really don't enjoy concerts most of the time; I often go just to be supportive of the interests of my husband, but though I went reluctantly this time, I was glad I did.

It was a beautiful evening. The air was not too warm and not too cool, and there was not much humidity and no breezes. Perfect weather. The Sea Chanters were originally formed to continue the legacy of sea shanties, songs performed by sailors, and they usually do one of those tunes. They always end singing the songs of the five military organizations.

Women were added to the group in 1980. Watching the women perform tonight, my eyes filled with tears. My daughter has the talent and charisma to sing in a group like this. However, she does not have the desire or motivation. Her talent is wasted, and that breaks my heart.

Friday night our son-in-law fell while skateboarding and broke his femur up in his hip. This required him to have surgery yesterday. The doctor is optimistic that he will be fine, and he is doing well, but this is a major blow to him and our other daughter. They have one child and are expecting another, and he does business-to-business sales, so he can't afford any downtime.

Our son has applied for a job with a hip, fun company. They were supposed to have gotten back to him over a week ago, but he has not heard. I guess they don't want him. He is frustrated at the difficulty of trying to find a fulfilling job and still take care of his family.

When your kid hurts, you hurt.

As we drove home through the beautiful evening, I thought about how crushingly disappointing life can be; how sad and frustrating and difficult. But it is also achingly beautiful. And there are currants in the cake (I read that sentence in a book one time!): I published my first book on Amazon's Create Space this week. I have already sold eight paperback copies and four e-reader copies! Go me! Something checked off my bucket list!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Guilt and Ambiguity

I really don't miss my mother.

There. I said it. I really don't miss my mother.

She has been gone for four-and-a-half years, and frankly, there are other women in my life who I miss more.

My mother loved me; I know she did. I never felt she didn't. She just was a very difficult person. She was harsh and judgmental and she could be very mean and tactless. As she grew older she became even more intolerant of anything that didn't fit into her narrow ideas about how things should be.

Mom saw things as very black-and-white, for example, either you were well-dressed, in an outfit she approved of (and you were never, ever to go without stockings or socks, even in sandals) or you weren't. You were a millionaire, or a failure. Only white-collar, well-compensated jobs were worthwhile. Your kids were either well-behaved, straight-A students or they were delinquents. If you weren't very slim, you were a fat slob.

It was very difficult, enduring endless criticism and disapproval, but I kept trying.

I firmly believe that Mom suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder, which is characterized by black-and-white thinking, fear of abandonment, mood swings and impulsivity. But while it is an explanation, it isn't an excuse. Mom was also intelligent and had access to the best psychiatric care available--she just had so much fear and anxiety that she couldn't have changed if she'd tried.

So here it is Mother's Day. I used to spend at least twenty minutes each year selecting a card for her. She wanted mushy and sentimental; she hated jokey, flippant cards. She wanted to be revered, loved, honored. But it was so difficult to do that. One card would wax on about the angelic, caring mother--nope. Another would go on about the mom who was never angry. No again. Finally I would find one that struck the right note between gratitude for her sacrifices and love, but not carry over into gushing about unconditional support and sweetness. She was usually very happy with the cards I sent.

So it is with mixed emotions that I approach Mother's Day. I have at least one child who thinks I'm sadly lacking as a mom. I have another who thinks I'm terrific. Whatever. All I can say is that I did my best. I am sure that my best wasn't good enough sometimes, but that is life. None of us is perfect.

So, to my imperfect mom, I love you. I appreciate all the good things you taught me and I forgive the difficulties. And to my children--you mean the world to me. I taught you the best I could to be decent, hard-working, and faithful.

Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Perspective on Home

I am home after 28 days away. What a marathon trip. I love my family, and I felt good to be able to help them all with what they needed. I spent the first week with my son's family, taking a day with my dad, and the next week with my older daughter and her baby, with days spent with my younger daughter. Then my husband arrived and we spent time with each of them again, and when he left I spent three days with my dad again. I got sick with the 'flu two days before I left. Yikes. I still feel lousy.

Living out of a suitcase for a month was less of a challenge than I had thought it might be. So I get home, and I want to get rid of all my clothes! I certainly don't need all I have, but I like having it. I do feel less inclined to shop and acquire more. So I get rid of a bit here and there.

Fortunately, despite ditching my diet, I only gained a bit over a pound. I have lost 17 pounds since December 30. What a relief. I still want to lose 5 more, but it is nice to be comfortable in my clothes again.

"The wise woman knows that even when she has done all she can, there will always remain more people who could use her help, and she is satisfied anyway." (Paraphrased from a talk by Julie Beck, I think!) I am trying to be satisfied with what I have done, rather than dwell on what I have not been able to complete.

Now to get back into my routine.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Grandmere is Available

I am in Utah at the home of my son and his family. I was supposed to get here on April 2, but I changed my flight because their newborn has been in the hospital with RSV, a viral infection that can be fatal to newborns.

Having a new baby is stressful, and having a new baby with a child at home is even worse. They were cobbling together child care and the house was a wreck, so I got on the next plane I could. Now I am here for nearly a month, and I hope I will get to see a lot of friends and get to do some things I usually cannot when I am here making a whirlwind trip.

Fortunately, things have worked out for me to be able to do this. I was laid off of my job a month ago. This causes me some worry, as I am spending a lot of money to be here and also to get my book, "If You Say You're Gonna Kill 'em, You Have to Kill 'em," a childrearing book, online. I saved most of the money I made during the prior six months, so I have a little cushion, but I was hoping to keep that in savings. So it goes. Still, I have the time and the health and the ability to help care for my family, and that is very important to me. 

The Spirit bore witness to me that I should do this, and it is my experience that I need to listen and obey, so I did. The baby is home now, but still needs to be taken in to the hospital daily for suction of his airways. But he is doing well, and is beautiful and well-loved. 

I am where I should be.