“The great plan of happiness revealed to prophets is the plan for a happy family.
It is the love story between husband and wife, parents and children, that renews itself through the ages” (Boyd K. Packer).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Precious One

For four years I wondered and worried and debated about how to know if our family was complete.  Five children felt good.  Our last two children were only 15 months apart, so life had been busy.  In some ways it was like raising twins.  My arms were frequently full.  And yet I had a nagging feeling. A feeling of unrest.  Not a specific prompting that there was another child that The Lord wanted to send to our family.  Just a worry that I might be called upon to have another child when I was pretty sure I didn't want to go thought that experience again.  Life was good.  The kids were growing and becoming more independent.  I had more freedom than ever before.

Ten months ago, just weeks before my youngest turned four I finally humbled myself enough to tell The Lord in prayer that I would gladly welcome another soul to our family if that was his will.  Nine months ago I found out I was expecting my sixth child.    I didn't think He would take me up on that offer so soon, but I was not disappointed that He did.

My pregnancy started out challenging in different ways than usual.  The pregnancy itself was fairly straightforward.  Our lives we're what was hard.  My mom was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer the weekend I found out I was pregnant.  Our family suffered repeated illnesses, including a  three week bout with the flu.  I was unhappy that pregnancy and illness kept me from being able to care for both my immediate and extended families in the way I would like.  I was pretty miserable until I was 8 months pregnant.  Then all my unhappy symptoms left and  I suddenly felt fabulous.  For the next six weeks  I had tremendous energy, my body felt healthy, and emotionally I was better than ever.

For nine months we had pondered what to name our child.  We settled on Faith when she was one day old.  Somehow it seemed appropriate.

For my previous five children, the true challenges of a new baby always manifested in the first two months.  For me, those first two months were two months of misery.  Breast feeding is a challenge for my body, and takes a lot of physical and emotional pain in the beginning.

With Faith, I wanted to have happy memories of our first couple months.  I wanted to avoid the trauma I'd suffered with the preceding children.  I made some plans and said a  lot of prayers.

Faith is three weeks old now and I have had the best three weeks of my life.  I have received the greatest blessing and answer to my prayers that I could have hoped for.  Life has been smooth.  There have been small hiccups, but emotionally I have felt so good.  I have been able to snuggle my child without worrying and fearing the times she would wake up to be fed.

Heavenly Father has given me a gift....the opportunity to see the great blessing it is to have a child, in a way that  I have never experienced before.  Instead of the pain and fear, I've been able to experience the joy and relish the small sacred moments.  I don't want it to end.  I don't want her to be my last because it saddens me to think of never having these perfect moments again.  I'm afraid that I will forget them.  That I will forget the perfect feeling of a tiny body curled up against mine, of the soft, sleepy squeaks at the foot of my bed as she wakes for a midnight feeding.  I don't want to forget the powerful swelling my heart made when she was first delivered and we saw her precious face for the first time.

My prayers each day are full of gratitude for the gift Heavenly Father has given me.  I'm so grateful that I humbled myself enough to allow this blessing into my life.  Every day I feel a renewed sense of amazement that God lets us be co-creators with him.  He trusts us with these tiny bundles of perfection and innocence.

I'm not a perfect mom.  My imperfections sadden me far too often.  I lash out in anger, say things I don't mean, scold too harshly.  And yet The Lord sees fit to bless me with another chance to get it right.  Children are a gift from God in so many ways.  And I have felt more thankful and more in awe of the miracle and goodness of it than ever before.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Keepers at Home

Titus 2:4-5 reads:
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed".

I've been pondering this scripture, focusing particularly on the phrase "keepers at home".  What is a Keeper?

In modern day parlance, we commonly reference a housekeeper.  In the past a housekeeper was someone who had charge of the keys of the manor; who oversaw the day to day operations involved with keeping a home functioning smoothly.  The housekeeper makes sure that the meals are cooked and served on time, supplies are purchased, bills are paid, laundry is completed, and other arrangements are seen to.  They don't necessarily do these jobs themselves.  I see the role as more supervisory than anything else. The manager of the home.  In this sense, a keeper is someone who is responsible for the maintenance of something.

A Keeper is also a guard.  A guard is a protector and defender.  A guard is to keep us safe from harm or danger.

A Keeper is one who assumes responsibility for another's behavior.

Finally, a keeper is someone charged with responsibility for the preservation and conservation of something valuable.

A keeper is the role that God has given to women.  There is so much meaning wrapped up in that one little word.   How can we be Keepers at Home?

I have to say, some days I get a lot of joy out of my responsibility as housekeeper....and other days, not so much.  On the days that I feel joy, it is because I recognize that my efforts have made our home a better place to be that day.  There is joy in fulfilling our Godly purpose.  Like most things that God asks of us, it isn't going to be easy all the time.  But we are richly compensated for our efforts.  When most people think of themselves as keepers of the home, this is the role that first comes to mind.  It might feel like a drag.  You might think to yourself, "yes, my job is to do the laundry and change the diapers while HE has all the fun".  And some days that will be true.  Other days your role as keeper of the home will be manifest in witnessing small delights such as a child's first prayer, a flutter of kisses on your cheek, or the look of silent appreciation as a feverish family member slips between freshly laundered sheets and tucks comforting quilts around their body.  There is joy in being that kind of keeper.

As keepers of the home, women are tasked with being the guardians of their home in spiritual ways as well.  As co-chair with our spouse in the running of our homes, I believe women have been blessed with a particular sensitivity to the needs of our family.  That is what we bring to the table.  It is our responsibility to create an environment where we and others in our family can receive the personal revelation necessary to make appropriate choices.  We support our husbands in their role as spiritual leader in our home, but recognize that they depend upon our insights and in-the-trenches experience in the day to day management of the home.   As women, I believe it is our duty to keep the influence of Satan at bay; to stop evil in the form of music and other media from crossing the threshold into our home.   We create the haven that our families need.

If a keeper is also a conservator - what, then, would we be conserving?  Along with the atmosphere of our home, I believe that women can quite literally be the tie that binds a family together.  As keepers of our husband and children, we foster and establish quality family relationships.  Family relationships are the number one priority in this life - and our main role is the preservation of this unit.

Why are women counseled to stay home and concentrate on their families?  It is not to enslave us to our husbands, to make us utterly dependent.  It is because our job is so important.  It is time-consuming.  It is vital to the salvation of our family.  If we are focusing our efforts in other areas, we will not be as successful as our family needs us to be.

Happily Ever After

I read an interesting book this week called "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty.
In it the antagonist loses 10 years of her memory and is surprised to find herself with three children and separated from the man she thought she was happily married to.  Surprise!  I won't go on with what happens in the story, but it's a fascinating look at how a marriage can go from happy to over in a fairly short period of time.

I've seen it happen with people I care about as well, and it's not pretty.

But HOW to avoid it?

I've thought of a couple things that seem to ring true across the board.

1.  Your marriage should be the number one relationship in your life - always.  Kids will come, but kids will also go and live their own lives.  Hopefully, a spouse is with you forever.  I know a lot of people who put a lot of other things before their marriage: work, children, friends, hobbies.  All of those marriages have taken the first step towards ending.  Even if they don't end, they won't be as happy as they could be.

2.  Communication.  You really have to talk things out.  Another thing that I wondered about is how many separations end in divorce simply because the couple couldn't or wouldn't open up about their feelings.

3.  Selfishness on the part of one or both spouses is probably the single main contributor to divorce.  If you're not thinking about how you can help your spouse and their true needs (more money and perfect children don't qualify as true needs), then you are succumbing to the selfishness trap.

4.  Time.  Regular time together and regularly having intimate moments.  You won't divorce someone that you love to spend time with.  Guarantee it.  Be best friends.