Friday, November 06, 2015

My Thoughts on Recent Church Policy

I remember as a teenager how I would frequently think, and sometimes say, how unfair my parents were and how differently I planned to do things when I was a parent. One of those things that I thought were so unfair and horrible for my parents to do was to always make me have a job. Not only would they make me work, they would also not let me quit just because I was sick of it, didn't like it anymore, or didn't care for my co-workers. They would listen to me cry and complain and then send me on my way the next day to go do it all again. I really fought my parents over this issue. I had so many friends whose parents didn't make them work, or if they did, they would let them quit their job if they didn't like it anymore. It just wasn't fair. I thought my parents were so unmerciful and unloving. Which is actually quite ironic looking back today. I am now doing the hardest job I could ever imagine. I am raising five little girls who test my patience every single moment. They are often disobedient, ungrateful, messy, and stinky. On top of the children I am raising, I also spend every single day doing the exact same things that I did the day before...endless laundry, dish washing, scrubbing, dusting, picking up, making meals, etc. The other day I was feeling so under appreciated and overwhelmed. Cory was home early and I was starting to fix dinner. As I was cutting some potatoes, watching my children and husband having the time of their life outside, I started crying my eyes out. I decided that I just needed to leave. I'd go to they gym, sit in the hot tub, and just have some alone time. Cory and the girls could figure out something for dinner. I got in the van and drove away. At first it felt good, but as I approached the last street in my neighborhood, I came to a stop. I knew that I needed to go back home. I needed to fix a healthy delicious meal for the people that I loved more than anything in the world. I needed to bath my children, tuck them into bed, and kiss my husband. I turned the van around and went back home. My job isn't easy. In fact, I'd be lying if I didn't say that the thought of just walking away hadn't ever crossed my mind on a really bad day. But, I wouldn't ever do that. And I believe that part of the reason why I wouldn't is because I was taught by a loving mother and father that even when your job is hard, monotonous, tedious, or exhausting, you can cry and complain for a moment, but then you pick yourself up and get busy doing it again the next day. As a 16 year old girl, I did not understand how my parents could be so unmerciful, and yet as a 35 year old mother, I can't even express how grateful I am for parents who knew better than me. Parents who could see how important it was for me to learn what hard work was and what endurance was all about. There are many other examples I could give of things that my parents did or enforced that I thought was absolutely ridiculous. But now as I look back, I can only applaud them and thank them for having the courage to teach, persist, and battle through my immature and selfish understanding of life. They could see what I could not, just as I can see struggles that my own children will face in their future if I do not help them to overcome their individual weaknesses now. The perspective of experience is a powerful one. One that only a parent can understand as they do their best to raise good children in a confusing world. Recently my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has come out and stated new church policy regarding homosexual families. They have stated that children (under 18) cannot be baptized as a member of our church if their parents are homosexual. There are many people, people whom I love and respect, who feel that this policy is unmerciful and unjust. I do not understand all the reasoning behind this policy, but in my limited understanding and perspective, I feel peace because of two things that I know for sure.... 1. The prophet and apostles who lead the church today are men of God. I recently read a comment of someone saying that this new policy is completely inconsistent with the gospel of love. When I think of President Monson, the one word that comes to my mind is charity. He is a man of incredible love. He loves others in a way that I only dream of. As I have studied his life through books and articles, I have been so amazed by his kindness, thoughtfulness, and charity toward ALL men, women, and children. I also know how much each of the brethren who stand beside President Monson show love to all men, women, and children of all faiths, races, and cultures. They stand for love. Just recently Elder Oaks stood in front of the court and fought for the rights of homosexuals in regards to jobs and housing. I also remember a talk given by him called "Protect the Children". These are wise men who are educated in amazing ways (heart surgeons, professors, lawyers, presidents of companies, etc) and who have chosen to lead a life of service and love in proclaiming truth and testifying of Jesus Christ. There are no decisions that are made lightly by these 15 men (12 apostles and members of the First Presidency). In my life I have had the blessing of meeting a handful of these men in person. I don't know how you can look into the eyes of one of these men and not know with your entire being that these are men of God. These are men that I will stand beside, even when I don't completely understand the whys. This is not me following with blind faith, rather it is faith with eyes who have seen the hand of God in my life as I have chosen to be obedient the words of his anointed prophets and apostles. 2. The Lord counsels man in the Bible that God’s ways did not come from man or from this earth. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8–9). Just as a child doesn't understand why their parents would enforce rules that just seem to make no sense or that seem completely unmerciful and unloving, we too, are children to a God who sees all things. His ways are not our ways. In my studying of the Old Testament a couple of years ago, I felt somewhat bothered that the God that I felt I knew, seemed to be different in the Old Testament than he was in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon. The loving merciful God I knew seemed so inconsistent with the one who would create a flood so great that the entire population, save a few, would be destroyed. But then one day in my studying, I came across the following quote, "But says the caviller, is it right that a just God should sweet off so many people? Is that in accordance with mercy? Yes, it was just to those spirits that had not received their bodies, and it was just and merciful too to those people guilty of the iniquity. Why? Because by taking away their earthly existence he prevented them from entailing their sins upon their posterity and degenerating them, and also prevented them from committing further acts of wickedness." All the sudden I understood. Although this example is different than the recent policy, I feel that at some point I will more fully understand the why of this as well as the why for an entire population to be destroyed in a flood. But for now, knowing what I know about our loving Father, I know that all things will be made right someday. I know that his love for the children who may not have the opportunity to be baptized until a later day because of their parents' choices, are just as loved as any other child in the world, because they are HIS children. His love is perfect. His ways may not be our ways, but his ways are perfectly just and merciful.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Weekend to Remember

This last weekend Andrea, Abby, and Ethan came over and had a slumber party with us. I LOVE when my sister comes to visit. I wish it happened more often, but between her busy school teaching schedule and my schedule, I'll take what I can get. :) After playing games with the kids, feeding them, and getting them ready for bed, we left Abby in charge and went out on the town. I took her to one of my new favorite "almost as good as Cafe Rio" Mexican restaurants and we ate and talked for a couple hours. Then we roamed Target and finished the night with some delicious hot chocolate from QT (why is that gas station hot chocolate is my favorite?). I love spending time with Andrea. She just gets me (which is kindof scary, right Andrea?). Growing up, I remember a lot of fun times with Andrea. We played a lot of Barbies (well actually I think we spent more time "setting up" than actually playing, rode bikes, did yard work together (only because there was no choice in the matter), and made up dances in our backyard to Andrea's Madonna tape. Wow, those were the good times. But then as we got older, the good times turned into a lot of not so good times with us fighting over anything and everything, especially clothes, friends, and boys. By the time Andrea went away to college, I was SO ready for her to be gone. But then, just as it usually does, as time went by and years passed, I realized that my sister was my best friend. I cannot imagine my life without her. My younger sister, Katie, grew up mostly as an only child because in between me and Katie was my brother Kelly, who died as a baby. So there is 8 or 9 years between Katie and I. It wasn't until Katie got married and started having children that I think we really connected, and I'm so glad we did. Katie is an amazing person with so many admirable qualities that I would love to have. My sisters far exceed me in talents and intelligence, but thankfully, they are patient with me and love me anyways. :) After Andrea and I's slumber party, we all got up really early Sunday morning and met my parents, Katie, Jason, and their girls, Jason's family, and Mike, Nancy and Alyssa at Katie and Jason's sacrament meeting to be part of Clara's baby blessing. It was so awesome to have our family fill two pews. The blessing was beautiful and the testimonies born that day were nice, but my favorite part of the whole experience happened while we were singing the closing hymn, I Know that My Redeemer Lives. I have always loved that song but for some reason it hit me differently this time and I had a really hard time controlling my emotions during most of it. I'm not sure what it was, but I think it was a combination of a couple things. As I sang the following lines, I had all sorts of memories and thoughts come to my mind... "He lives to silence all my fears. He lives to wipe away my tears. He lives to calm my troubled heart. He lives all blessings to impart." I thought of both of my sisters and some of the trials that they have, or still are, overcoming in their life. I thought of my mom and dad who have experienced their share of heartache, disappointment, and insecurity. I thought of myself and the specific times in my life where I have felt the Lord's love in personal and incredible ways. Ways and means in which my tears were wiped away and comfort and blessings poured upon me and my aching and trembling heart. I know that in my life and in the life of my sisters and parents, we have each, individually and personally, come to know for ourselves that He lives. Which is why I could hardly get out the last verse as I listened and felt of the power and conviction of the voices singing around me. Voices that I have known for a very long time. Voices that are so familiar to me and bring such joy to my heart when I hear them...the voices of my parents, sisters, and husband. And then there are the sweet little voices that are still learning and who have yet to learn, or remember, that he lives. Voices of my nieces, nephews, cousin, and my own children who will hopefully one day sing with their own conviction the words, "He lives! All glory to his name! He lives, my Savior, still the same. Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: "I know that my Redeemer lives!". It is no small thing to stand united as a family in worshipping the Lord. It is an experience that I will never forget and that I know will continue to bring strength and joy to my heart for years to come.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Things I learned in 2014...

*my body can't do quite the things it could do five or ten years ago, but I can still push its limits and be grateful everyday that I can. *disappointments and bad days will always be part of life, but they don't have to define who I am or who someone else is. *People make bad choices, but that doesn't mean they are bad people. *Raising five girls is hard work. Period. *Having regular fun date nights with my husband is necessary for my sanity and marriage. *It doesn't matter how old I am, I still just need a girl friend to shop with, watch girl movies with, cry, vent, laugh cheer, workout, and stuff our face with chocolate and coke zero. *It is important to serve the Lord in my callings, but my family will and must always come first. *Personal daily habits of discipleship and worship are essential to my happiness and endurance. *Personal daily habits of physical exercise are also essential to my happiness and endurance. *Gray hair can always be covered up. *Children grow up way too fast. *The older my oldest gets the more I realize that my role as her mother is not to create her identity for her, but rather, to help her discover and celebrate the identity that is divinely hers and the gifts she was born to share. *I have always wished that I was more organized. I have dreamed and wished for a day when my pantries, shelves, and cupboards would be orderly, alphabetized, and highly functional. That may be a reality for some people, but this year I have learned that for me success in organization means that my time is organized well enough that I make time for all the essentials and still have leftover time to write, play with my kids, talk to a friend, serve, and just savor and enjoy all the moments that pass too quickly. Someday my shelves may be labeled and my towel closet featured in a Home and Garden magazine (or maybe even pinned on Pinterest), but if not, that's okay. As long as I learn to organize my life in order to make time for the things that matter most, then I can deal with the rest. I may continue to cringe when I open my towel closet because it was Makayla's turn to fold and put the towels away, or laugh as I open the silverware drawer because Hailey decided to rearrange everything when she unloaded the dishwasher, but when I lay in bed I will feel peace in knowing that there is a season for everything. :) *Saying "No" is not only okay, but crucial in my life because when I say no to something it is because I need to say yes to something even more important. *The Lord places people in each other's lives at certain times for specific reasons. *Self-discipline is very empowering. Here's to a new year filled with new lessons to learn.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Thoughts on New Year's Eve 2014

This last year has come and gone so quickly. Today, as I have looked back on the past year, I have had a lot of emotions. I woke up in the middle of the night last night in a panic (something that isn't that abnormal for me over the last couple of years). I started to worry about everything and everyone. I got myself into such an anxious mood that I ended up awake for the next two hours trying to finish reading my Book of Mormon (I am 45 pages from finishing and if I don't finish it will be my first time in a decade to have not read my Book of Mormon all the way through in a year's time). But eventually I fell asleep with a child in one arm and my scriptures in the other. When I woke up this morning, I decided that today I would definitely finish reading the last 45 pages. But, then life happened..children need attention, laundry needs doing, meals need making, etc. I have decided that it's just not going to happen this year...and THAT'S OKAY! Which leads me to all my panic, anxiety, and emotions about this last year. In so many ways I feel like I have failed on so many things. My house isn't that much more organized (a goal I set every year), I still haven't written a book (a goal I've had forever), I still have weight to lose from having six babies, I still struggle every single day to remember to say my morning and night prayers, I'm obviously still struggling to read my scriptures every single day the way that I should, I didn't visit teach like I should have this year (I had way too many drop off letters/gift kind of "visits"), I wasn't a very good friend to a lot of people, I have way to many bad mother moments, I didn't share the gospel as much as I should've, etc, etc... The list could go on and on. But, in my whole pile of endless guilt that I keep accumulating in my mind, I had a couple of other thoughts come to my heart. Thoughts that were not from me, nor from a place of failure, despair, or guilt that regularly consumes my mind. Instead, they came from a place in my heart that is occupied and reserved for divine messages from a loving Heavenly Father. A Father who is trying to teach me about repentance, change, faith, and grace. It is this kind of message that fills me with hope. Hope in tomorrow. Hope in the five beautiful children and amazing husband that I love more than life itself. Hope in friends and family, and most importantly, hope in myself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 months

Halloween 2014

A Letter to Our Neighbors

First Ride on a Horse

I love date night!!

Mann Hair Studio

What Hailey does with my phone..

YW to Missionary

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch


Usually it is really easy for me to forgive. I consider it a spiritual gift that the Lord has so mercifully given me because it is really hard for me to hold a grudge against people. I may be upset initially but once time has passed, I realize how insignificant the offense was/is and I am able to see their reasonings a little more clearly which allows me to give them the benefit over the doubt and forgiveness will fill my heart. But, there have been a couple of situations and people in my life who it has not been so easy to forgive. They are the ones that have required a lot of time on my knees praying for the Lord to soften my heart as I seek forgiveness. There is a person in my life that I'm struggling to forgive right now. I seriously hate feeling this way about anyone but for whatever reason the hurt feelings just seem to still ache with pain. I don't see this person very often but when I do I feel like I can't get out of the room fast enough. The hurtful actions took place a year ago, which is way too long for me to be harboring them. I just don't know why I can't let it go. About 10 years ago, Cory and I were living in Fayetteville, NC. Our stake president, President Catlett, was one of the most Christ-like men I had ever met. He loved everyone and it didn't matter how busy he was, if he passed you in the hallway, he would stop and talk to you as if you were the most important person in the world. I always looked forward to hearing him speak in stake conference. Cory and I both felt so much love for him. He could speak as bluntly and forcefully as he wanted and we would feel nothing but humility and a desire to do better. He was just that kind of person. I will never forget a particular Saturday night adult session of conference. Cory and I had been fighting previous to the session and as we sat on the bench we would hardly even acknowledge one another (I can't remember for the life of me what we were arguing about but I'm sure it was really dumb). I anxiously awaited for the spirit to soften Cory's heart. I awaited his arm reaching out to me as he softly whispered "I'm sorry" in my ear. Well, that was not what happened at all. I don't remember anything that was said the whole evening, except for one sentence spoken by President Catlett in the very last talk. He said, "Whatever it is that has been said or done to offend you, just let it go." So I did, and so did Cory. At the end of the talk we were back into each other's arms and apologies were offered. I think of this counsel quite often in my life. I have had to use it over and over again. It seems so easy, and yet, at times it is so very difficult to do. How grateful I am for a Savior who not only redeems me from my sins and fallen nature as I sincerely turn to him for help and forgiveness, but he also redeems others from the same. So, I am officially deciding right now to lay this heavy burden of a grudge at his feet, to just let it go and let God purify my heart. I know that as I ask the Savior to heal my heart, the forgiveness will come, not just for the offender but for me as well. Thanks be to God for the gift of His Son.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Nickname

I LOVE the picture that Hailey drew of our family the other day. If you notice, at the top is Clairisa and Kelly (my brother who died as a baby) watching our family from up in heaven. Every time I walk by our fridge and see this picture it brings a huge smile to my face. This morning Hailey was practicing writing the names of everyone in our family (I swear this girl is SO smart and driven...I'm so excited to see all that she accomplishes in her lifetime). After she had them all written down on a post-it, she brought it to me to make sure that she had everyone's names so she could start writing them herself. There was Katelund, Cloey, Hailey, Makayla, Cory, Lainey, and "MOM". Then she said, "I did your real name, not your nickname Melissa." How funny is that?! Sometimes Melissa really does feel like a nickname instead of my "real name" of Mom. I hear the word "mom" all day long by five sweet, sometimes not so sweet, little girls. I'm not going to lie, there are times that I cringe when I hear that word being yelled from the other room as they are looking for some validation of why they should be the one to get _________ (fill in the blank with anything and everything you can think of) instead of their sister. But, overall I thank God everyday for the blessing it is to be called "Mom" or "Mommy". There is so much debate in the world of the roles of women in society. This has never been something I've struggled with. I know my purpose and my role and I wouldn't want it any other way. The other day when I was at the dentist with Hailey, Makayla, and Lainey, I was asked, "You have five girls? How do you do it?". I wasn't really sure how to answer that but I said something about how much I love having five girls and how although sometimes it is chaotic and hard, I love it nonetheless. I also told him that I believe that being a mother was what I was born to do. I know that is true, and I know that my role as a mother will have greater influence in this world than any other accomplishments out there. President Hinckley said the following, “Women who make a house a home make a far greater contribution to society than those who command large armies or stand at the head of impressive corporations. Who can put a price tag on the influence a mother has on her children, a grandmother on her posterity, or aunts and sisters on their extended family? “We cannot begin to measure or calculate the influence of women who, in their own ways, build stable family life and nurture for everlasting good the generations of the future. The decisions made by the women of this generation will be eternal in their consequences. May I suggest that the mothers of today have no greater opportunity and no more serious challenge than to do all they can to strengthen the [home]” (Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes [2000], 152)."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Feeling Incomplete

I hate not running. For the last three weeks I have been trying to heal my achilles from what I believe is achilles tendonitis. I am literally going crazy. It is amazing how much running has become a part of my life and my sanity. I don't run to be the fastest runner ever, nor to be a size 2. I run because it makes me feel alive. It rejuvinates my body, mind, and spirit. It makes the thankful for the body that I have, the health I am blessed with, and the beautiful world that God created. It just makes me so happy. While I run I listen to gospel centered talks and speeches from the Mormon Channel. I couldn't run without doing this. It is the perfect way to listen, ponder, feel the spirit, and refresh my soul. It's the perfect combo. So, now that I'm "resting" (how does a mother of five children really rest anyways?!), I'm feeling unfulfilled. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mother and homemaker, but I have learned that in order to be my best self. I need that hour or two of time in the morning to go myself. :) I have tried to have running buddies, which I really do love but after a couple of days of this, I find myself trying to figure out times that I can get a second daily run in so that I can do it by myself and with my earphones in. I am supposed to "stay off my foot" for the rest of this week and then next week I will try to begin running again. Next Saturday is the half-marathon that I have trained SO hard for! I definitely over-trained and over-did it in an attempt to be super prepared and beat my last half marathon time of 1:58. Now, I will most likely not beat that time, but I don't even care. At this point, all I care about is running again, even if I'm slow or out of breath. I guess time will tell. Meanwhile, I will just continue to "rest" today as I finish my reorganization and decluttering project in the girls' bedrooms.

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