Friday, September 22, 2017

Too Much Guilt

Too Much Guilt

I don't know what my problem is, but if I can't be perfect, I feel guilt.  We each have a different threshold for how much we can handle, but no matter how much is put on our plates, we try to do it all.  Because if we don't, somehow we aren't living up to our wife and motherly responsibilities.

Some things that make me feel guilt:

Not making a homemade dinner every night, having a maid come and clean every other week (Matt doesn't even know about this one, but he's about to:), not being all made up when Matt gets home (he doesn't care, but I do), not having energy to do more during the day, not having graduated college (I'm working on that), more one-on-one time with the children, not feeling like I can handle everything on my plate sometimes.  I struggle to understand why I can't handle everything on my plate.  I should be able to, right?  What's my problem? 

These are just the ones that come to mind off the top of my head.  There are many more that eat away at me.

The problem is, all of this is MY problem.  No one else thinks I don't do enough.

Now that our children are growing and getting bigger, the stresses that came with their childhood have gone, and a completely new and different set of worries has entered into my life.  Perhaps this is the biggest weight of all.  It's the knowledge that Matt and I have an eternal responsibility to teach our children certain truths, and to have that somehow sink in to the point where they have an independent knowledge of that truth.  Namely, that Jesus is their Savior and they have a responsibility to live in a way that would reflect Him in their lives.  I can't make them accept that.  They have to have the desire in them at some point.  Every child learns differently and I often wonder if I'm doing enough, or doing it the way that would be most beneficial to each of them.  We only get one shot with each of them.  Once they are grown, the opportunity has passed and can never be redone.

We each have our free agency, including each of our children, so it's not unheard of for a child to go a direction that makes their parents disappointed, sad, angry, or maybe even feelings of guilt could creep in because we feel that their choices are a reflection on our parenting.

Being a wife and mother is the best and most wonderful experience in life.  It's all I've ever wanted.  It's what gives my life the most meaning.  There is nothing bigger to aspire to than those two things.  There are many other important things in my life, like getting an education, but for me family is  fulfilling.  It is eternal.

Self doubt and guilt for anything less than perfection is absurd, and I know that.  It's a natural reaction for me though.  So much good can come from one person, from me!  Heavenly Father would tell me that I am enough and that I do enough.  I know He would.  But I still question things.

I am a happy person because I know who I am and I know where I come from.  My eyes are open to truth because my parent's showed me and I understood and felt the reality of it all.  I know for myself that I am a daughter of God, and that our children were sent to us from Him to take care of and teach.
That is a huge responsibility that Matt and I take seriously.  With the help of the Spirit, all things are possible.  I can know how to parent better.  I can know that Heavenly Father is pleased with me.  It is the other guy that puts thoughts of inadequacy in my mind.

It is easy to get down on ourselves for our perceived imperfections.  We are life givers and healers.  We are the heart of our families.  If we don't believe in ourselves, our families suffer.  That is the objective of the adversary who has his aim set on destroying the family. He has been working hard on getting me down.  He knows the power we possess in this world.  It is much greater than his.
It's just a matter of remembering and believing how my Father in Heaven, who knows all, feels about me.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What is "Family Home Evening" (FHE)

What is "Family Home Evening (FHE), otherwise known as "Family Night"?
There has been interest among some friends from my youth, who are now parents, to explain what exactly we do on Monday nights with our families.  What is FHE?  What is that thing we do with our families where we set our phones aside and hang out with our siblings and parents?

First, every family is different.  I'm just going to tell you how our family does it.  We do what works for us.  Which means, sometimes we do it on Sunday evening because that's when everyone is home.  This week we did it on Wednesday evening because it worked for our schedules.  It is best to nail down one day of the week that the family can sit down together and catch up, or at least spend a little time together.

We give assignments out so things are somewhat orderly.  We start with a song.  Usually a primary song from church.  Wheels on the Bus may be a song your children know.  One of the children will be assigned to lead the music, someone else will try to play the piano.

Next we have an opening prayer.

After prayer we do Family Business.  This is where I ask, "Is there any family business for this coming week?"  Everyone's hands shoot up because they all want to say something.  I'll call on Selah and she'll tell us that we are going to Utah at Christmas.  Okay, this time is to share anything going on THIS COMING WEEK.  We talk about birthday's coming up, sporting events, something cool that happened at school, or anything out of the ordinary that is happening in the near future.

After family business is when we get into the "lesson"of FHE.  We usually have a topic we want to discuss, and we like to assign at least one of the children to take a few minutes to plan something to share.  This week Selah helped out.  We talked about having a healthy body and a healthy spirit.  She had just had a lesson on those things in her Activity Day Program at church, so I asked her to give a little presentation with the poster she made of good and bad things for our bodies.
The lesson was short and sweet.  Selah got to stand up and speak, while the rest of us listened and contributed when needed.

Ira has requested that the next lesson be a singing/karaoke night.  We have done this once before, this past summer, and had a blast!  They can pair up or sing a solo, and then preform in front of everyone.  Even Matt and I have to do a song.  Usually they are funny and entertaining.  The children are always shocked when I get up and let go.  They love it!

We have done lessons where everyone draws a name out of a hat of someone in the room and writes 10 positive things about that person.  Then they stand up and read them out loud.  This lesson usually goes along with being kind to everyone, especially those people who might need it most. 

We have had lessons on pornography and the dangers of getting into that.  Also ways to avoid it, and ways to react when situations out of our control arise and we need to make a choice on the spot.

For Matt and I, the most important reason for being diligent in holding a weekly FHE is to take time out and regroup as a family.  Schedules are crazy and it's easy to miss each other in the shuffle.  Family Night is for instilling character building attributes in each other.  There are many teaching moments that come when we allow ourselves a few minutes to focus on something important to us, and let one or two of the children help with the lesson.  There are wonderful memories created. 

Not every lesson needs to be super serious.  We want the children to look forward to FHE.    

Honestly, we TRY to do every week, but sometimes the days just fly by too fast.  Sometimes an abbreviated version is all that we can muster.

For all of my friends who have been curious about what FHE is, this is how we do it.  Every family is different and does what fits for them.  My family held FHE every week while growing up.  We didn't answer the phone during that time, and we always had a treat at the end.  It's really always been a part of my life and family culture.  I have kept up the tradition because I see the good it can do for families, and I have good memories of those times.

We end with a prayer and sometimes a treat.

Our family can seem like a mess, but we love each other.  One thing that we have tried to teach them is that they should be best friends.  They will always have each other.  When school is behind them and life starts to happen, people move on.  Your family will always be there to stand up for you, protect you, and help you.  Their eyes have been opened to that truth now.  They are starting to understand and grasp that reality.  They are becoming best friends and it makes us so happy!

If you have any questions, let me know and I'll do my best to answer them!  Also, if you have ideas or additions to what I have posted, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane Harvey has come and gone.  We live in Houston, Texas.  Our home was not damaged in the flooding.

I have never lived through a natural disaster of any kind.  I grew up in Olympia, WA. where nothing ever really seems to happen.

When we were warned about the hurricane, my husband, Matt, was in Maine where he is currently working.  He had no choice but to stay and watch and pray as Harvey continued to progress and flood our city over the course of many days.  There were no flights coming in or going out.  Even if he had gotten a flight in, he never would have made it home through the flooding.  Watching from afar was torture for him.

Here I was, sitting at home with our six children who still live at home, wondering how this storm would affect us.  What would I be forced to do alone, without the help of Matt?

Through the years we have accumulated everything that I think we would need if power went out, or if we were stuck in the house for days on end.

I sat the children down after the second straight day of rain.  Houses were flooding, families were being forced out of their homes in rafts and boats.  Some waited on rooftops for help to come.  Seeing all of this unfolding in the streets not far from where we live, the children and I got all the backpacks together and put together our 72 hour kits, in case we were forced to leave our home at a moments notice.  We have MRE's that Matt has accumulated over the years and brought home from his overseas trips.  Those filled our bags, along with water, first aid kit/medicine, and some clothing.  We talked about what would happen if we got flooded out of the house and couldn't get out by car.  We talked about climbing the trees to get to the roof.  It was a scary prospect, but necessary to hash out in order for them to be prepared for the worst.

Then we started hearing news of looting, and people bragging about breaking in and stealing from "white folks".  I tried to keep the fact that Matt was out of town to a small amount of people.  Mostly just my church and immediate neighbors.  But we do have guns at our house that are locked in a safe.
I went through the plan on what we would do in the event that an intruder made it into our house.  I had to brief Eliza (17), and Brower (13), on where the guns were, and what they would need to do. The smaller children were briefed on where they would hide.

I felt like all of our bases were covered.

Hurricane Harvey came and went.  We didn't have to implement anything that we had rehearsed.  We didn't have to use any of the items that we have accumulated over the years for disaster situations.
The only thing we did use was our food storage.  Our church has been a step ahead in their council and wisdom of how to protect our families.  I have always known, through the council of the church, that I need to have food storage, which includes water.  We are also encouraged to have 72 hour kits ready in case there is an immediate need to evacuate.  It has proven a blessing to our family to be prepared in these ways.  No, we didn't have to use our generator or our 72 hour kits, but can you imagine me, alone at home with six children?  Feeling a little more prepared than I might have been otherwise was of great comfort to all of us.  I was able to encourage our children that we were prepared for anything.

After the storm passed, our three oldest met up at the church in organized groups wearing their bright yellow "helping hands" t-shirts.  They worked everyday they could from early in the morning until dinner time.  Eliza, Savannah, and Brower came home filthy and exhausted every night.  Everyday I would ask if any of them wanted a break so that I could go out and help while one of them stayed at home and watched the little ones.  Every day they said, "No, I want to work in the houses."

While they were working, the little ones and I baked cookies, passed out pizzas, made dinners for the working crews and those who lost so much in the flooding.  I decided that was my part in this since I couldn't be out with the work crews.

School was out for about a week and a half.  All of that time was either waiting out the storm, rescuing people, and/or gutting flooded homes after the storm had passed.  There was really no time to think.  Matt wondered why I didn't seem nervous or emotional at all.  I knew the fear and anxiety were in there, but I didn't pay it any attention.  I couldn't afford to do that during a time when I was supposed to be potentially guiding six children through the storm, so to speak.

School started up again yesterday.  At 1:45 that morning there was a storm with loud thunder and lightening, and pounding rain.  I used to think those storms were exciting.  Now they bring anxiety and uncertainty to the surface.  Nothing happened to our home or our children during Harvey.  We came away completely unscathed.  But while talking with Matt over the phone this morning all the emotions of what had happened here without him clawed their way to the surface.
How was I alone supposed to guide our children through those waters to safety?  How was my limited physical strength supposed to save two children if two got swept away while climbing a tree to our roof?  All of these things came rushing to my mind today.  I held it together during the threat.  I didn't let my mind go to those thoughts.  I am good at suppressing feelings and fears.  At some point though, they will inevitably come out.  That point was today, while all at home was quiet and the children were off for another normal day of school.

Matt and I talked on the phone and expressed the fears and anxiety that are still in us.  Again, we didn't lose anything.  It is the prospect of all being lost, including children, that can have a profound effect on a person.  It was a real possibility.

There was a lot of praying going on all around us.  That's all Matt could do.  Our friends and family from all over the world, of all faiths, were raising their voices to the heavens in fervent and desperate prayer for the people of the gulf coast of Texas and the Houston area.
I am so thankful for prayer, and the faith of those who lifted their voices to heaven in our behalf.

We have a lot to be thankful for.  People are good.  Hearts are full.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Selah at the Louisville Slugger museum in Kentucky

Selah could barely hold it, but she had to take her turn holding an authentic Mickey Mantle bat.
During Spring Break our family went to visit Matt's cousin, Aaron, and his family in Kentucky.
I had never been there before. It was beautiful and we all had a great time with the cousins.

Brower turned 6!

Brower had a great year in Kindergarten. He loves to learn and can't get enough. He is very patient when he wants to know how to do something. He will sit and watch until it is finished. The picture above with Uncle Aaron, Brower is watching how he makes waffles from scratch. He'll do the same with electricians, builders, athletes, and anything else.
The two kids sitting next to him are a couple of his best friends. Francisco is his best buddy and Rachel is a little sweet on him. And I think he likes her too (although he would never say it). She is a very forward little girl, but so cute!

Sumner's Birthday...

Sumner loved the candle on his cupcake. He kept reaching for it while the family sang "Happy Birthday" to him. He got really frustrated and started crying until we finished singing. As soon as he got his hands on the treat he was just fine!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Growing Up Fast

Everyone keeps asking me to post some pictures of Sumner. He is the sweetest, best baby ever!
Just look at that smile! He loves his jumper. The other kids come by while he is jumping and swing him as high as can be. He gets a kick out of that.