Sunday, September 25, 2011

Making Room for Virtue

Stir and noise are a constant part of modern life. Everywhere we go, for much of the day, we hear clatter and clamor, jangle and din. We are wired with ubiquitous earphones and cell phones, computers with dazzling sounds and flashy graphics, and other forms of technology that have accelerated the tempo of life and made it louder, disrupting the more natural and peaceful rhythms. Sound is all around us, dissonance within us, noise everywhere.
Inward stillness allows us time to tune out the world, even if only for a moment, so we can ponder and receive revelation—so we can learn to really hear. By suspending our Martha-like intensities, we can focus on things of greater worth and loving relationships. Too often, the world tells us what matters, and we listen. In so doing, we fail to hear the Lord, through the Spirit, offering us a better perspective or “a more excellent way” (Ether 12:11).
In quiet contemplation and inward stillness, we may think more of everlasting things—of faith and charity and other timeless values; we may ponder more deeply the gift of agency and the virtue we desire to cultivate; we may feel a desire to become more like Jesus and to live His abundant life (see John 10:10). Our thoughts may turn to others who need our concern and care. We may consider more seriously the purpose of life. Put simply, silence gives us the opportunity to focus more earnestly on the things in life that truly matter. President Thomas S. Monson said: “We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the ‘thick of thin things.’ In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes.”1
Without stillness, quiet, solitude, and silence, it is difficult to live a moral life, let alone a spiritual life; it is difficult to truly become our best moral selves unless we take time to evaluate our standing before God.
Time for holiness is a precious gift, a sacred offering to the Lord. Perhaps we need to simplify our lives so that there’s more room in our day to sincerely ponder the path of our feet (see Prov. 4:26), to feel the Spirit, to interact with others, and to respond with calmness. Some of our distraction, anger, and frustration come from our overcommitment of time, which often comes from the mistaken notion that the abundant life comes from an abundance of things or an abundance of tasks or demands or experiences. If we listen to the Spirit and heed the message of the gospel, we realize that the truly abundant life is spiritual, and very often the best way to achieve it is to unburden ourselves of our worldly excesses. Perhaps we should take a deep breath, step off the treadmill, and let the Spirit speak to us.

—Lloyd D. Newell (BA ’80), BYU professor of Church history and doctrine

BYU Magazine

Our Week

Monday and Tuesday Bella and I were downtown at appointments.

A scene from our living room – what I love is Bella is in there!IMG_4593

Sept 25 001We had to pick up supplies for Jessi’s Orchestra Program so we headed off to the violin shop and WalMart.  I finally figured out the perfect way to bribe Joy into being good at WalMart – hint…a little carbonation goes a long way!



I found an app for Joy that I really like!  She is doing so well with it.  Bella loves water bottles.


Tuesday – well after therapies and Orchestra and private lessons, I was trying to figure out my schedule for the next couple of days.  I had put the chicken on the grill and was quietly working inside.  Jason got home about then a little panicked.  Evidently, my chicken had caught fire.  As Jason drove down the street, he could see billowing smoke.  He was sure our house was going up in smoke.  When I got out there, there was fire droplets literally dripping out of the grill.  We got it out, but Jason was sure if it had been the previous week before we got any rain, we would have started a rather large fire.  Scary!  We had pizza for dinner.

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One of my notes cards to reminder me of everywhere I need to be and when.  Cute Jessi

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Lizzy collected all the coins she could find to buy popcorn from Becca’s friend – a Latin Club fundraiser.   I finally finished my baby table.  Without the glare, that is a picture of Jason and I on our Wedding Day – and then our family as babies.  Very sweet to me.


Wednesday dentist for Jessi and Joy – Lizzy had to have a tooth smoothed out and Joy has three more cavities – that brings her total up to 9 for the year.  Poor kid.  You would think we never brushed!

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In addition to our normally scheduled therapies, Sammi also had an eye appointment.  Her eyes are changing so rapidly that the doctor wants to see her every six months.  She is now at –3.75 (don’t know what that means except that like her Daddy, she is blind).  New lenses were ordered.

Thursday was intense – we had five therapies – hard to fit into one day, but we got the results from Sammi’s OT eval.  She is gifted in spatial visual perceptions.  Hmm…makes sense with her artistic abilities.  She has a lot of great coping strategies with her ADD.   She is starting a therapeutic listening program.

Thursday evening was wonderful!  Sammi got to go to the temple for the first time.  She was sick the last time the youth went.  My sweet girl!  How I love to see my children in the temple!

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Just silly Friday morning pictures!


Friday I got to have lunch with Kathie for her 36th birthday!  Happy birthday Kath!

Lizzy reading to Bella


Saturday morning:


Jason took the girls up to the Farm for Mandy’s birthday party.  He took pictures of the aftermath of the Fire.  We just thought the cow was funny – she looks so startled!


Mandy’s Art Party – the girls had a lot of fun!


Happy birthday Mandy!

Meanwhile at home, Becca and I ordered Chinese and watched a weird British mystery.  Fun!

That evening Kathie, Mama, and I went out to dinner and then to the RS Broadcast.  I loved Elder Uchtdorf’s talk.  I’m thinking of planting some Forget- me-nots.  I was reminded last night that I need to develop compassion.  I am afraid that events of the last three years have made me a bit hard.  I want to do better.

If you read my post, Wanderings of my Mind, then here is an update.  I enjoyed this article in the BYU Magazine, particularly “Making Room for Virtue.”  I think I shall post it in another post.  Then last night Elder Uchtdorf mentioned some things for me to think about.  After writing down my thoughts last week, it helped me to realize why I am doing this project: (sorry for the glare)

IMG_4603The gold stars are temples, the red stars are children’s hospitals, we are adding starts for things like climate, cost of living, everything.





and why I love this:

the reality is I would be busy anywhere.  No place is going to give me peace.  Peace comes not from things or locations.

Anyway, life is about progression.  This morning I feel blessed with my family and a home.  Happy Sabbath to all!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wanderings of my mind

As always feel free to not read anything I write, especially my ramblings…….It’s safer for me anyway to think no one reads this.

I will be 38 in a couple of weeks, so maybe that explains it. Maybe I am having a mid-life crisis.

There are so many thoughts. I’ll write them all down and see where I go with this.

Jason and I are trying to make a baby. To be honest, a baby of the male variety. This little soul has been haunting me for some time. We tried domestic infant adoption. Remember this? It never went anywhere and I really thought that would have been much too simple, at least with my track record. We tried adopting from foster care. I got an email just this week from the agency. We only lack one piece of paper and a visit from being approved. But after our millions of hours of training and reams of paperwork, it stopped feeling right, so we stopped. International adoption is not an option for us. Jason and I can’t even get away for a night by ourselves – how could we go to a foreign country for weeks on end? So all that was left was reversing Jason’s vasectomy and hoping that the little guy, the one that visits our family from time to time to tell us we aren’t finished, decides to take advantage of our restored fertility. Only thing is now we are old. We have old parent’s issues. One of my sisters asked if we would consider IVF, which is what couples do with our issue. No. No, we won’t. If we were 38 and 41 and didn’t have any children, you bet. I’d be knocking down the door of the nearest fertility clinic. But we aren’t. Not by a long shot. We have six children. Six beautiful girls.

I explained to her that my life is complicated, hard really. I spend every waking hour (and a lot of my sleeping hours) worrying and caring for my Bella. I do everything in my power to make sure she gets everything that will A. Keep her alive and B. be all that she can be. Then there is Joy. For Joy I spend an incredible amount of time trying to make sure that she gets all the therapy we can fit in, all the advantages I can arrange so that she can be the very best she can be. Then I have four “normal” kids. Kids with their own secret hidden challenges. Challenges we work with and deal with every day. And then on top of that, I want them to have the best “normal” life they can have. I want them to succeed. I want them to be happy. I want them to have every opportunity so that they can be whoever and whatever they want to be. So do I have time for hormones and procedures and a huge chance of a multiple pregnancy? Absolutely not. I am barely keeping it together. My doggy paddle to keep my head above water seems to be growing weaker as it is.

So I don’t have the strength of character to go through IVF. I don’t want to go there. We aren’t going there. Our baby will have to come the good old-fashioned way. He (hopefully!!) will just have to be our little miracle. Because a miracle is what it’s going to take for us to make it through everything anyway.

But sometimes I stop and let my mind jump past the miracle to the future that includes Little Brother (our name for our persistent visiting spirit). I imagine the life we have and try to include him in it – and I don’t want to. My mind revolts. No, I will not go there. You can’t make me, it screams as it stomps it’s feet. So what do you want? I ask my tender, so what bruised and harried self. Peace, clarity, simplicity, calm. I long to share with him time out of doors, time to read with him, time to discover this beautiful world. Time.

So I ponder that. Right now I am in the busy phase of motherhood. There is the physical-ness, the neediness of the little ones. There is the fun-ness, the excitement of learning, the energy of preschoolers. Then there are the schedules, and the growing importance of outside influences of schoolers. Then the give me money, drive me here, and love me from a distance of teenagers. I feel the busyness. I feel it down to the depths of my soul. It is exhausting. President Uchtdorf even spoke about it. We are always running, but are we becoming?

I think about a new little one and wonder when I would even have the time to sit quietly and nurse that sweet little one? I think about time. I try to carve out time. I sat and sang with Jessi for a half hour on Friday afternoon while waiting for Lizzy’s piano lesson. Jessi left for her lesson with a spring in her step. I read thirty pages to Lizzy from an AR book last night. Becca and I talked about the future, about college, about the boy she wishes would join the church so he could play a larger role in her future plans. Sammi and I stopped and bought a smoothie at McDonald’s. All of that takes time. And I don’t have any of it. To be honest, I was thinking of all of the millions of other things I NEEDED to be doing while I was having those moments with my children. Needs – real needs. There are only so many hours in the day. But those moments need to happen too. Sometimes I can’t carve out the time and I pray really hard that somehow He will make up the difference. I pray they won’t resent their sisters or me.

I saw a picture of myself on Friday. It was probably taken seven years ago. Man, could you tell. The lines of worry, the exhaustion, they weren’t there. My eyes were bright. I see pictures of the kids when they were younger and I want to cry. Time is so cruel. It keeps moving. Ever onward. Relentless. It takes babyhood, toddlerhood, childhood. It leaves only the memories.

I am trying to be normal for the kid’s sake. I want them to have normal lives. I want them to have lessons. I want them to play instruments. I want them to be considered successful. I want them to be confident, willing, and able to face whatever life throws at them. But lately I’ve been wondering… What is success? How do we define it? Why do we even care what others think? What about those people who are different? Who dare to walk to a different beat? Who are completely content with their unusual lives? I want to say that I don’t care what others think or that I am different. But I do. Deeply. What others think of me has always matter to me. Profoundly. I am a people pleaser.

I also sometimes wonder if guilt doesn't push me to be so normal. Guilt of bringing Bella into our lives which took me out of my children's lives for so long. How fiercely I love my Bella! But oh the guilt my mother's heart holds for all that time I was gone and they had to grow up alone. Am I compensating? When is enough and how do I forgive myself?

Perhaps that is my next major lesson to learn in life. To be me - only me, not what I should be and not "normal". Perhaps Little Brother will help me progress to this next level. Progression. It’s a thrilling and exhausting ride. Whatever is coming, I hope that I can hold on. I hope that when it is all over, there is One that I have pleased.

Our Week

This was a happy week for Joy!  Picking up Jessi after school, riding on the dinosaur, doing Becca’s hair, and practicing – just like her sisters.September 18 001September 18 009IMG_4523IMG_4537

The giant tomato we harvested from our garden – it tasted good, though!  Sammi made mosaics at Art Club.


Studying Science outside – one of the benefits of homeschooling!  Sammi and Becca have a game they like to play together on Facebook.IMG_4554IMG_4555

Jessi playing with her Clay people.   Becca using technology – she is so funny!  This week she used facetime on her itouch to be able to get some tutoring in Chemistry and then she used it again to help Dad who was upstairs in the attic.  He was trying to adjust the antennae and needed to know how the signal strength changed as he turned the antenna.  She is a child of the 21st century!IMG_4556IMG_4557

It was actually humid on Saturday!  It almost felt like Houston.IMG_4559IMG_4560

Lizzy, in peace glasses, with some carrots from the garden.  SWINGING!!IMG_4561IMG_4572

Sammi made a countdown until her birthday      My countdown till summer!IMG_4574IMG_4575

RAIN!!   Jessi teaching Becca a song on the piano


Joy helping me make banana bread


Working in some composted manure and getting our fall plants in – cauliflower, cabbage, zucchini, and cucumbers.  We are also trying some heirloom tomatoes.  Once we pull out the zinnia, we’ll plant some lettuce.


Becca and Jessi planted some flowers in the front.  This drought has been so long and hot!  I’m hoping the Fall is kinder.




Jessi went to the big meeting for 5th Grade Strings this week.  I can feel it in my bones…..and so it begins.  Another one in the Orchestra program. 

The girls had two birthday parties and Sammi played in the Volleyball Championship at church.  We also went to Hobby Lobby twice this week – so out of character for me!   Jason is hoping to do some crafts with the girls during the upcoming holidays.  We are all excited for Fall, for Halloween decorations, for cooler temperatures, for fun!