Saturday, December 27, 2014

To Remember on Christmas Day

A couple of days before Christmas, my oldest daughter Catherine, made up a game to play with her siblings. She put different tasks into a jar and pulled one out at a time for everyone to fulfill. Whoever was able to complete the task the quickest was the winner. One of the tasks was to make a New Year's resolution list, even though they were still waiting for Christmas. My eight year old Michael, and five year old Eliza, were most excited to play. Neither of them really understood what resolutions were. So, we explained resolutions were personal goals you made to help you be a better person in the new year. Michael was excited and started coming up with goals. Eliza needed a little help. As a mom, who really loves for her children to be self-sufficient, I came up with goals that were pretty selfish on my part. Some of these goals included: to stop sucking her thumb, to learn to read better, to bathe, dry off, and get dressed by herself without asking for mommy's help. This last goal mostly stemmed from the fact that this is something this five year old used to do all the time, but since starting Kindergarten, she has wanted me to do everything for her, especially tasks that she was perfectly capable of performing before school. A lot of kids go through some kind of separation anxiety when they go to school. They are repeatedly learning new things they are expected to do by themselves. My five year old has loved school and has had so much fun learning new things and then showing us what she can do. At the same time, she has become really clingy and has wanted me to do everything for her. If I were a better person, I would relish these opportunities to do whatever she asks of me. But instead, I have felt frustrated at her constant need for me to be right by her side to accomplish simple tasks. I have prayed for patience and a desire to enjoy helping her. I have asked to be more loving and kind when she wants extra attention. There have been times I have been patient and more kind, and there have been times I have felt very frustrated at her need for me to do everything. However, sometimes things happen that put everything into perspective. On Christmas Eve Eliza was riding bikes with Michael. We live in a new subdivision with a couple of empty lots. Unknown to me, one of the lots the kids like to play on, has become a dumping ground for some of the other home building sites. We did not know there was potentially dangerous material our children were playing with. We thought the lot was just a fun open field for them to run around on. When Eliza and Michael stopped to play on Christmas Eve afternoon, they found a hollow, metal copper, tube that was completely rusted. Michael bent it into two pieces so they each had a "stick" to play with. They were pounding their metal sticks into the ground to see how far they would sink. Eliza found a dumped pile of dried cement and tried to poke her stick through. While doing so the stick bounced or ricocheted off the cement back up her arm and into her right eye, severely damaging the pupil and Iris. Michael came running into our house telling us Eliza was bleeding. I calmly walked to find her, hoping it wasn't too serious. When I saw her closed eye was seeping watery blood, I knew it wasn't just a scratch on the skin. I gently lifted her lid and saw that the damage was a very serious injury to the eye. I called a friend who is an optometrist/opthalmologist and asked if we should go to the ER or somewhere else. He had us meet him at his office where he examined the eye, and then told us we needed to immediately go to the ER at the El Paso Children's Hospital, forty five minutes away, because there was no one in Las Cruces who could fix Eliza's eye. We made it to El Paso, where eventually Eliza was operated on. The on-call Dr. and staff were amazing and did a wonderful job repairing Eliza's eye as best as they could. We were able to come home on Christmas day. Now we are in the waiting period for the wound to heal to see what kind of sight-loss has occurred. Her recovery will be a long process, with more operations over the next three to four months. In the meantime, Eliza has needed a lot of help doing everything. The night she came home she kept both of her eyes closed. She has a patch to protect her injured eye, but it's hard for her to use just one eye, so she keeps them both closed sometimes. We have had to lead her to the bath, wash her, help her step out, dry off, lead her to her room, help her get dressed, and lead and guide her through many other tasks she had been able to do by herself before her injury. The New Year's resolution list has come to mind on many occasions, and I can't help but think how stupid I am sometimes. I still want my kids to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible, but who cares if they want or need a little extra help. I do not believe Eliza's injury is punishment for my impatience. However, I do believe the Lord can teach us with any situation, good or bad, if we are willing to let him show us our strengths and weaknesses. Christmas was totally different this year. Some of our kids said it was the worst Christmas ever. We tried our best to salvage what we could when we got home from the hospital to feel the love, peace, and happiness all parents wish for their children on Christmas day. In years to come, it's possible we'll remember this Christmas as being one of the best Christmas' ever. For family night Christmas evening we read about the birth of the Savior. Then Brock shared his favorite quote from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, which has really helped me find meaning in these last couple of days. It reads: "And how did little Tim behave" asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content. "As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Me and the Priesthood

One night, when I was a little girl, I remember lying in my bed and feeling scared. At the foot of my bed I could see my open closet. I was certain something bad was lurking inside. I became more and more frightened of some dark presence hiding in my room. As my fear intensified, I hugged my pillow and blanket tightly around me for protection. Then I remembered the words of my mother, "Angie. Believe in God and that He will protect you as you call on his name. Jesus Christ has more power than anything on this earth." I sat up and said, in my small little girl voice, "I command you, in the name of Jesus Christ, to leave me alone." Immediately the fear I felt left, and again my room felt safe and sure. When I was in college, I got an ear infection, but for some reason I forgot I could go to the doctor and get better. The ear infection became worse and worse, constantly aching and pounding in my head. The pain went on and on for over a month. I finally remembered I should ask for a priesthood blessing and that I could be healed. My father laid his hands on my head and said, "By the power of the priesthood, and by the faith you hold, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command the pain in your ear to leave!" I knew that God could heal me. I believed that He could take my pain away. Immediately, at my fathers words, and by my faith to be healed, the pain left my ears. One sunny day, down a dusty road in a small town of Campinas, Brazil, my Brazilian companion and I were confronted my a man on a motorcycle. I felt the same fear that I had felt as a little girl lying in my bed with the dark closet before me. My companion and I started to walk quickly towards the mouth of the road to reach a more open area. The man walked quickly behind us and grabbed my back side. We quickened our pace. I could hear the man's feet coming up behind us even faster. I turned around and yelled with all the power and depth of my voice, "Do not touch me!" I felt adrenaline and fire coursing through me like I had never felt before. I was scared, and knew that this man could hurt me and my companion. But I also knew that I was in control if I believed God would help me. I felt like the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi, when he commanded his brothers who wanted to kill him to, "Touch me not!" As I yelled at the man, I felt God's power protecting me. I imagined an angel standing above and around me holding a flaming sword that would cut the man down if he came any closer. The man ran to his motorcycle and rode away as fast as he could. As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I have never felt like I have been limited in my actions or faith because I am not an official holder of God's priesthood. On the contrary. All my life I have felt that men value my opinion and believe that my faith in God is just as important and powerful as their holding of the priesthood. As I have served in callings, I have felt strengthened by men all around me. I have felt their support and their belief that, as a woman, I am wonderful and have the potential to do anything that my faith in God demands or needs. I am thankful to be a woman. I believe in God and that he has given both men and women the opportunity to learn and grow in life regardless of the responsibilities they hold. As a woman of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have never felt restricted in my power to call upon the name of God and ask for help. I know He is there when and wherever I may need him.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Motherhood and Kentucky Part 1

I have this ache that lives deep inside me. Occasionally it will rise to my throat and sting my eyes. Sometimes it pulses with great intensity, but usually it’s a dull throbbing. I’ve become so used to it that sometimes I forget about it. But then I’ll be in a grocery store, or at the library, or at a park and I will hear a new born cry, and, Bam! There it is again. Sometimes a certain smell triggers it. Most of the time the ache comes when I’m talking to an expectant mother, with her swollen belly, and her “any time now.” I envy her, and the ache flares again. The other day I went to a yearly OBGYN check-up. It had been longer than a year since my last one and I was over-due. I was planning on asking my doctor about some permanent birth control. Although the ache was still there, it had taken me a very long time to come to this decision. Before my doctor arrived I started looking at the birth control pamphlets hung on the wall in the plastic container. I picked up one that had written at the top “When your family is complete choose essure.” It had a picture of an older couple on the front and I thought to myself as I looked at the lady, “I don’t look that old, do I?” When my doctor arrived she saw the pamphlet in my hand and upon my inquiry started telling me about it. She explained that essure was a procedure where small coiled springs were placed in the opening of each fallopian tube and that over three months the body would build a natural scar tissue barrier around the coil, completely blocking off the chance of a sperm or egg reaching each other, thus preventing conception. She then went on to explain how this procedure compared to having your tubes tied, and said that though tying your tubes was just as effective as essure, it was a much more invasive form of birth control. I felt an inner conflict as I listened to her. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that by choosing one of these two forms of birth control I was ensuring that I would never again feel the joy or happiness I have felt from being pregnant or from nursing. I couldn’t accept the finality of it. The ache started to throb. I went home with these conflicting thoughts and emotions stewing and stirring inside my brain. With the ache more pronounced, I wondered if God was telling me I was supposed to have another baby. But then Catherine needed to be driven to flute, Matthew needed help with his math, Michael needed help with a reading work sheet, and Eliza needed to get ready for ballet, and the confusing ache started to lessen. However, the frustration from my doctor appointment didn’t go away, and when Brock and I got into bed that night I spewed forth my frustrations to him. With very careful wording and tender reminders Brock helped me with my frustrations, and the ache lessoned more ad we reminisced about the year we lived in Corbin, Kentucky.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2013 in review

The best and most fun event of 2013 was we built, bought, and moved into our very first house, bringing the number of times we have moved to 12! After almost fourteen years of marriage, we finally have entered the land of gentry. It's very exciting! I am not a big decorator, but it has been so fun to pick out furniture and the little decorations we have. We are discovering that now that we own a house, we don't have any money. Needless to say the decorating part of owning our first home is a work in progress. The next big event of 2013 was I went back to school after being out of school for 15 years. It has been so much fun! I absolutely love it. I'm totally Hermione this time around. A 36 year old Hermione. I got an A+ in all my classes last semester, (which wasn't hard to do since I was only taking one class) but all the same, I have a 4.0 at NMSU. I start spring semester in a couple of weeks. I'm so excited. School rocks, and even though it would have been nice to finish the first time around, I am so grateful for being able to go at my age. I think I appreciate it so much more. Since my blog is mostly about books and movies, I thought I'd make a top five of books and movies for 2013. My top 5 books are in not particular order, but they are the ones that stood out the most to me over the last year, and ones that made me think and feel real emotions. "My Story" by Elizabeth Smart, "The Fifth Wave" by Rick Yancey, "Blackmoore" by Julianne Donaldson, and "Hamlet" and "King Lear" by Shakespeare. I read 82 books in 2013, 2 for school, and the rest for recreation. I have a bit of a reading problem, but it's such a rewarding habit I'm going to stick with it. As for my movies, I will rate them by importance. I think my very favorite of 2013 was "The Impossible" about the real life family that survived the 2004 tsunami in Asia. My second favorite of 2013 was "Man of Steel." I just loved the message that we are all here to make the world a better place if we are only willing to stand up for what is right. "Monster's University" is probably tied for second. I love Pixar and was totally in love with the story from the beginning. Brat Pitt's "World War Z" was awesome. I loved it even though I'm not a huge zombie fan. I think "Warm Bodies" also was a great zombie show. "Captain Phillips" with Tom Hanks was another great Hanks movie. I haven't seen "Saving Mr. Banks," but I'm sure it will be a favorite of 2014. As or life lessons I learned in 2013, I feel that I am at a stage in my life of major transition. I feel that I am done having babies, and that decision has been really hard for me to make. Having a daughter or son of God grow within your body and come to this earth to experience mortality is one of the most miraculous blessings that has ever been a part of me. Deciding to be done with the creative process of having a baby is a really tough choice. But I am discovering that I am in a different stage of parenting, and the blessings of nurturing my children in the gospel and seeing their own testimonies become their own, is just as miraculous and important. That is probably the greatest lesson I have learned in 2013. God is good. He has blessed me with so much, and I am so excited to have another year to explore and enjoy His wonderful earth as a wife, mother, daughter, book reader aficiando, student, and woman.