Thursday, June 21, 2012

And the Winner Is ...

_________. I have a shy audience and receive most comments through e-mail. My last post A Trip to the Store brought many insightful comments as well as some drop dead funny retorts.

Here is the winner for me: You should just tell people,because it's summer, "The kids wanted a slip and slide!"

Now that is some funny stuff right there! I wonder what winter, fall, and spring would warrant? Feel free to give me some material, I'd love it.

Sorry to all who thought they were going to get some wonderfully insightful post on how winning isn't everything and we are all doomed to fail in this society of extreme competition. Nope, nothing insightful here, not today. Sometimes, you just need a good laugh!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Trip to the Store

What would you think if you saw a middle aged woman with a shopping cart full of groceries, 7 tubes of personal lubricant, and a pack of 50 pet pads (you know the puppy training pads that soak up pee)? Yes, you read correctly, 7! tubes of personal lubricant. What could she possibly be doing? The mind goes wild.


Well that lady is me, on a regular basis, and there is nothing "personal", illegal, or disgusting (by perverse standards anyway) going on with those tubes of lubricant and packs of pet pads (no, we don't have a puppy). If you want to know what does go on with it, you can go to the family site and start in February of 2011.

How much of what we perceive about other people is actually even close to accurate? The simple fact is that we really know little about other people. More to the point, what we do know, like how many boxes of personal lubricant the weird lady at the store just bought, even provable facts, tell us nothing about a person, their life, or situation.

Come up with any scenario and I assure you I can give you another way to look at it. My next statement will likely ruffle a few feathers, feel free to comment or e-mail me and we can have a discussion, I welcome open communication.

Take the terrorists that wrecked havoc on 911. Weren't they just following their traditions, convictions, and quite frankly, things that had been ingrained and brainwashed into them from the time they could breath?

I make no apologies for the actions they took and the horror that was caused by their choices and actions. I am not on the side of the conspiracy theorists and do not think it was "an inside job". Nor do I purpose that there are not necessary consequences for actions we choose to take. I also won't be inviting anyone to to my backyard for a barbecue that believes that the country in which I live, and I myself, am the root of all evil and need to be killed. Important to note, I do not believe radical actions have anything to do with an entire group or religion.

It's not my business to determine whether a person is evil. It's my business to determine whether it is in my best interest to be around said person based upon the belief system that will dictate their actions.

I offer the following thoughts to ponder. Are we really as awesome as we think, and do we really posses the ability to know anything about anyone but ourselves? If we worried less about what we know about another person, or group of people, and more about what we understand about ourselves, wouldn't we be happier and more able to create peace and contentment within our own lives? Would that peace and contentment be contagious? Do we have vaccinations for peace and contentment in the form of ideas and words that make it nearly impossibly for us to catch the awful disease of peace and contentment?


After one too many stares, whispered comments from onlookers (not so quietly most times), and questions from the check out clerk, I sort of went postal. Okay that would be an exaggeration, but it was startling to realize how much was behind the smiles and pat answers I was putting forward that were apparently not a true representation of how things had been affecting me.

I didn't yell, or even raise my voice. I put on that same smile and gave a short, but much too long, narration of life with Malachi from the beginning. The silliest part was that this particular clerk didn't have anything negative or implicit to say. She actually said, "Oh look at his cute rosy cheeks. He is so adorable." I proceeded to let her know that his rosy cheeks were due to a skin condition and he was born with a disease and, well you get the point.

That experience was valuable for me in many ways.

I associate, and am friends, with a great many people that are nothing like me. They believe differently than I do, they live differently than I do, they eat differently, medicate their children differently, educate their children differently, and so on. I genuinely like and enjoy each and every one of them.

There are those that hear and read my words, which are often times very direct, and assume I am coming from a place of passing judgement on others. It is very easy for me to be exact and decisive for myself and my family while having no need whatsoever to decide what is best for another. I can easily leave your business to you.

I am that lady buying 7 tubes of personal lubricant. I really don't care what you are using yours for. As long as you are not going to require me to join you, then you might see me get a bit feisty :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Light; It's a Good Thing, Right?

As I was adjusting my position to reach a different side of the bookshelf I was painting, a glaring ray of sun shone in my eye, and I was momentarily blinded. In this moment of temporary darkness, I found light.

Light is a curious thing. It is good; in the right amounts, at the right time, and shone on the right things at the right angles. It is a hindrance; when viewed at the wrong time, in the wrong amount, and shone on the wrong things at the wrong angles.

We are curious beings. We judge. We peek around corners of each others lives. We shed light on things that are better left unlit, especially with our light. We travel to dark corners, with huge flashlights, in our best efforts to illuminate things that are not our business. We hold differences up to the light, in hopes of judging another to prove our ways are best.

Then, there is the even more curious, self-judgement. We pick our worst parts and hold them up to another's light. We tell ourselves we aren't good enough because we aren't where they are. We wonder why our life, in their light, looks so muted, gray, and lifeless. Worse yet, we pick our best parts and hold them up to another's dimmer ones to try and make ourselves feel better. We have anxiety and depression aplenty while we run around trying to live someone else's life, with light that does nothing for our own. We wonder why we can't see. It must be me. I am doing it wrong. Life is dark.

My step-dad says the greatest thing. "There are 3 kinds of business; God's business, my business, and not my business." I am so grateful that it is not my business to judge another. I am even more grateful that it is not my business to judge myself. Judgement is a Godly duty. A heavenly virtue, of which I am not qualified, or allowed, at this time. I am so glad.

Only God knows how much light each of us needs at any given point on our spiritual journey here. He knows which points and colors of light, will illuminate the right things, at the right angles, and at the right times. He knows we all need different light at different times. While one is ready for further light and knowledge in one area, another is ready in a different one. He knows what is needed in order for us to progress on our individual path to Him.

He sent the perfect light. "I am the light of the world,"  John 8:12

We are conditioned to look at others in order to judge our own progress. All we need is to look at ourselves, in the best light. If we stay the course, on our own straight and narrow path, we will get where His light leads. There is only one way, but there are many, many, different paths to the Way. Everyone has their own straight and narrow way, even our children.

It is not a competition to see who has the best way. It's not a race to see who can can get there first. Not a single one of us can claim to know that our way is better or another's is flawed. We live what we know. We remain open to the messages He sends.  

Sometimes the words of another person are His way of reaching us. Confirmation of His truths will always come if they are sought. We seek the Lord and follow Him. In our own way. In our own time. On our own path. He will be our judge.

In this world we offer ourselves in many ways. Our lives, with all the experiences, ideas, heartaches, and joys we live, offer us opportunities to connect. In our connections, we learn.

Sometimes we learn that another's journey is so much different than our own, it would not be beneficial to stay connected. Sometimes we learn we are so closely aligned with another, that we can glean valuable information to help us in our practical application of core values and principles. Sometimes we learn that others can be very loud in proclaiming that their way is the best way and you must join them. We learn to not learn, from that source. 

Sometimes we learn, that when we are not comfortable enough with ourselves, we tend to be defensive or feeble.
Sometimes we feel utterly alone in a community full of people, be it church/religion, family or single life, working or stay at home moms, neighborhoods, cities, or towns. We feel alone in our best efforts to seek Him because others tell us we aren't doing it right. It comes in many methods, both passive and aggressive, the spoken and unspoken; the message is clear. Sometimes we even make it up in our own minds. The delivery method is moot, the affect is the same and can be debilitating.

Hopefully we know that there is one connection that will always be there. It will never fail us, or lead astray. We are always connected with God. Always. Seek the best source. Check everything worldly by those values, standards, and character traits that come from the best source. We learn what is best for us to learn, when it is best for us to learn it.

I strive for an open heart and contrite spirit so that I can be open to His light. I want to see what He sees and reach what he knows I can. I want to soar with His light, which light is also in me. Do you see His light in you? 

There are many paths to the One Way. Seek His light. He will give you the right light, in amounts perfectly suited to your path. I love people. I love journeys. I love diversity. I love to share. I love to connect. I love to learn. I love my newly painted bookcase! I love my path. I hope you love yours.

An interesting thing to note about me: I believe in God, and that is how I refer to things and live my life. I am also of the belief that much of what I experience and share, is relevant to those who define their "light" and "source" in different ways, and vice versa. I don't need you to fit into my boxes or choice of words in order to understand where you are coming from. I hope there is a place of realization that we are much more alike, and have much more in common, than we realize. It's easy to take a stand and create a war of ideas and words. Once we stop warring about how things are said and what they are called, we might find it easier to communicate and learn from one another without fear. But that's just me! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It'll Build Your Character

If I had a nickel for every time my Dad said that growing up, we could retire to Alaska.

It was torture sometimes. Calling to find out information from a store, going on outings away from home for a week at a time, saving my allowance and paying for something myself, transacting business with local companies when I had a seemingly debilitating fear of doing something wrong, going up and making a friend, riding a bike, working on something that was sure to cause early death due to manual labor, finishing chores when everybody else in the whole world was outside playing because they had nice parents; I remember it all like it was yesterday. I was convinced I was the only kid anywhere with a dad concerned about character, and I wasn't convinced I needed any at all.

Hmph! I didn't die or meet some unconquerable quest. In fact, I gained some pretty great realizations about myself and abilities. I also developed an ability to be comfortable with myself. Add that to a bunch of people going the other way and it's a different story, but for this story, we'll leave it there. Funny thing those parents. They do know a little bit I guess.

I now find myself in the character building mode with some of my children. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "I hope you have a child just like you when you grow up." I think I mighta just gotten your wish dear parents o' mine; times 5 even. The great part about it is, I enjoy allowing time for life to be the teacher and not feeling pressured to conform with whatever outside source is trying to break through. I also have a clear perspective that these things take time and I cannot expect instant results. Instant results never yield true character.

Let me be clear, I have great children. But they are normal children that mouth off and disrespect, refuse to conform to my idea of what is best in a particular situation, and so on. My children are incredible actually; we get comments quite often about how much so. There is one thing that is particularly difficult for me though. I get comments, a lot, like this, "You can do it because you have such great kids." Aren't all kids great? You know this character building stuff is hard work. It really is. I put a whole lot of thought, effort, prayer, teaching, and training into it, and my ego is bruised when people think my children were born obeying my every whim and speaking to me as though they worship the ground I walk on. My children are great, but come into my home and you'll see the same things you see in yours.

Man that ego! Yep, I've got one.

A friend happened to be here one day when one of my children decided it was time to test boundaries with other people watching. It was a particularly incredible example of putting me in my place. I followed my usual broken record calm mom mode and stated that the behavior was not welcome in our home and didn't work for our family goals, then told said child they needed to go out to the garage step. I repeated this several times before the child's will bent far enough to 'exit the building' on its own accord. All the while, I was called lovely names and had statements with vicious intent hurled at me. My friend was shocked. Her comment, "Wow! Your kids really are normal." was enlightening to me. People really do think I live some idilic life with porcelain dolls for children. Wow!, is right.

She added, "You remained so calm. I couldn't do that." I beg to differ. Anybody can do it. You just have to create the proper environment for yourself to be able to do it. I focus a lot of my efforts on first understanding myself, and what I need to remain calm in teaching and training, before I try to parent. I was not offended by my friend's remark, it just opened my eyes to how people see me and our family. It made a lot of things make sense instantly.

I read something from a mom of 10 children recently. She related an experience of many years ago when her children were young, as they are now all adults with families of their own. She was that lady. You know, the one with the 10 perfect children, arriving 15 minutes prior to the start of services in order to listen to the prelude music and evoke reverent hearts, they sat perfectly still, never fought, always listened, and of course, never disobeyed or strayed. You know, that lady. She cried all through church one Sunday because it had been a particularly challenging feat to get everyone to church on time and seated. Not to mention her husband was a part of the clergy and arrived hours early so she was doing this all on her own. Someone behind her leaned up and said, "I don't know how you do it, I suppose I could do it too if I had your perfect children." She felt judged, harshly.

The tears flowed all through church services and she was devastated. It took an extreme amount of work to pull of what she did each and every day, let alone the Sabbath. Sunday preparations would start early Saturday morning and by the time she was sitting in a nice little row with her children and all their smiling faces, any number of things had transpired and been handled. Her priority was to create a calm and reverent experience for her family. She spent many hours of her week (and life) making that happen and to have it all chalked up to being such a breeze because her children were perfect, was more than she could take that particular day.

Having had similar statements made about my children and having been referred to often as, that lady, I can empathize with her. I haven't ever had that kind of emotional reaction, but I have felt robbed of the opportunity to say, "You know what, it takes a lot of work to do what I do, and while I love my children and would never take away from their role in it all, it's not a cakewalk most days, and I deal with the same stuff you do." I guess I've said it now :)

Turns out character is not such a bad thing and it does take building. I am grateful I had parents willing to navigate the storm called Amy, and stay fully anchored. I see so many children today that don't have parents willing to take the time, put forth the effort, and stay the course. It's easier to follow popular culture, placating, coddling, and hovering to the point of robbing opportunities for character building. I am sure my children dream of such parents, hopefully they will understand and thank me later. For now, I am towing the line (along with my husband of course!) and buildin' that there character as solid as I know how.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk

It's only milk.  Although, sometimes it's formula, that costs waaaaaay more than milk.  Even if you are buying organic milk, shipped from India.  Which I am not, but just saying, we could probably have a summer home in Alaska for what we have spent (and continue to spend) on formula, much of which goes down the drain due to how our little guy eats.  It's a bit of a 'thing' if you haven't guessed.  Now, about the milk.

Sam is gone.  Chaos is in full motion, speeding brilliantly ahead.  It's almost bedtime; blessed bedtime!  I haven't gotten to bottles, they are all dirty and there is no formula made.  Guess who is more than ready to eat and not interested in learning about how virtuous patience is?  As I methodically wash and make bottles, I am breathing deeply and chanting to myself silly things like, "You can do it."  "Don't worry about what just crashed in the other room.  It already crashed, nothing to do about it now." "Someday they'll all understand how wonderful quiet and calm are, especially together."  "He won't die, even though you've seen him at the brink more times than you wish to recall, he won't die in this next few minutes as you ready his nourishment."  "How did you forget?!"  Silly mommy.

The phone rings.  It's Sam calling for his nightly ritual of individual time with the children.  He starts talking to me as though I am on some sandy beach somewhere with a tall glass of ice water in one hand, a marvelous book in the other, and all the time in the world.  You know, as though I am his wife and might be interested in his day.  I took a nice deep breath and said, as nicely as I could, "I am sorry, it's been a long day, I can't listen right now.  Can you start with the children?"  He knows me.  He was happy to oblige.

The fighting ensued.  Who's first, who was first last night, who's fastest to the phone, you always promise you'll remember the order and then you for get, you are a liar mom, yada, yada, yada!  And then it happened, the milk (formula) spilled.  Just as I was almost done, with all 10 bottles.  Nobody cares when the milk spills on the momma.  Under the wheat grinder.  In the drawers.  On the cabinets, behind the cabinet doors, stuck in the cabinet panel joints.  All over the floor.  Not a drop made it to the sink.  I was inches away and not a single drop had the courtesy, to just get on over that way.  Thousands of milliliters of super sticky, mess everywhere.  I lost it.  The tears were at the ready and they just came.  I am not sure how I saw to clean up the mess through the salty puddles in my eyes.  I am sure;  it was at my breaking point where the Lord taught me.

I wasn't upset because of the spilled milk.  I was stressed because of all the things I was trying to control at the moment that weren't my business.  The gracious offering of the milk, spilling freely on account of gravity, human anatomy and physics colliding, and other such things that are entirely out of my control, created an opportunity for me to see clearly.

There are thousands, probably millions, of things every day, that are completely and utterly out of my control.  Whether or not my children get along at the moments most beneficial to me, how at the ready I have resources to fill their bellies, if and when they have any interest in listening to me, and on, and on.  There is always one thing completely in my control.  My reaction to the uncontrollable world surrounding me.  

I enjoy those times when I am able to step back and see that everything is happening at precisely the right moment.  Crying over the spilled milk was what I needed.  In that moment, I needed to let go, and the milk mess was able to get me there.  Chaos breeds a need to control; a need to control what is not ours to control.  Sometimes things need to break before they can be fixed properly.  Tears can release humility we didn't know we needed.  Humility leads great places.

Patience is a virtue and I need more.  More holiness give me.  More strivings within.  More patience in suffering.  More faith in my Savior.  More sense of myself.  More gratitude give me.  More trust in the Lord.  More hope in his word.  More meekness in trial.  More praise for relief.  More purity give me.  More freedom form earth stains.  More longing for home.  More fit for His kingdom.  More, Savior, like thee.  (* words taken and adapted from More Holiness Give Me, a sacred hymn of our Lord.*)

Thank you milk :)