Sunday, December 28, 2008
It was during this same time period that a dear friend came over to see what she could do to help me as I was struggling with the mastitis and sleep deprivation. I shared with her my fears that I had made a horrible mistake. She thought I was referring to having so many babies so close together. I assured her that was NOT my mistake, I loved my children and had always wanted a dozen. I had wanted my children close together so that they would have a strong bond with each other! NO, the mistake I felt sure I had made was in my choice of a companion. It was increasingly clear that he was not interested in being a true companion to me. It was a bitter revelation. But, one that I did nothing about until my hand was forced 11 long and bitter years later!
Anyway, back to Carrie! She did finally settle down. It is so ironic to me that at this moment in time, Carrie is in Minnesota assisting her oldest sister with her firstborn son----Trevor. And, as it so happens, Trevor is so very similar to Carrie! HE too has NOT been able to sleep for any length of time---just short cat-naps! And, he too, has had difficulty in nursing. He, too, introduced Bonnie to the world of mastitis! And, it has been vital for Carrie to be there so that she can watch the baby while Bonnie and Scott are able to get some rest! I am so very proud of the fact that Carrie has been willing to sacrifice her time and dreams for this moment to help her sister make the transition to motherhood! I wish I could be the one to be there, caring for both my daughter and my new grandson! What a blessing to be able to send Carrie to take my place, since I still have 6 children at home who need me and depend upon me. I also can not take that kind of time off work either. Being a single mom does have its many limitations!!! But, with the wonderful, awesome, amazing children I have been so blessed to bear---they are for each other exactly what I hoped and prayed that they would be! THEY do have a strong bond of love and concern for each other that is beautiful to behold!
There just is nothing else on this earth as precious to me as my children. It is the greatest joy to see them grow, mature and serve not only each other, but all those around them. Having a son and a daughter serve missions for our church also has been a rich reward.
Carrie was asked to participate in the Miss Bear River Valley pageant this past summer. Again, I was in awe at her poise, her beauty both inward and outward! Her talent posed a huge dilemma. She is an artist, and she wanted to draw a portrait of the Savior to reverent music. The problem, they would ONLY allow her two minutes to complete the portrait. She could NOT begin it early, she could NOT complete it on stage, it ALL had to be done before the audience within the two minute time frame. I was in awe as I watched Carrie practice and practice to get her drawing done within the 2 minute time frame. She went from completing the portrait in 10 minutes to finally mastering it within the 2 minutes! IT was NOT the quality that she had hoped, but, I was amazed at how well she did and what a great portrait she was able to produce. I have witnessed her indomitable spirit all throughout her life. She is constantly beset with setbacks, and yet, I watch her square her shoulders and begin again, as often as she must to finally succeed! She is a marvelous daughter and I cherish our relationship!
Monday, October 6, 2008
My children and I have, for years, made this semi-annual event one of the most valued and most anticipated of all events! TO think that we are able to hear the word of GOD given to HIS Prophet and Apostles! It is truly a spiritual feast! AND, I know that I always am so very grateful that we are so blessed!
For years, it was necessary for us to travel to the church and listen to these great men and women via a satellite broadcast. AND, as my husband worked Saturdays, if I wanted to attend, it required a huge effort on my part to get all the children dressed in Sunday Dress, pack whatever provisions we needed, ie. diapers, lunches and quiet toys, to keep all the children quiet and reverent. The broadcast would begin around 11 am and last until 1 pm, with a two hour break, and then there would be the next session that began at 3 pm and last until 5 pm. To conserve on gas and the hassle of gathering all the children---(which, I had up to 9 children while we were in Michigan and of course, all 11 children in Minnesota!) I would just pack for the entire day! Eventually, I hit upon the idea to have the older children rewarded if they were taking notes and paying attention! I brought candy and goodies for all the children that were quiet and reverent enough to allow me to listen to what was being said!
Now, it was completely selfish, my rewarding the children for their reverence! I wanted more than anything, to listen and to learn! FOR me, this was the OIL that I needed to fill my lamp---so to speak! I knew that I would be a much better wife, mother, friend, and neighbor, if I was able to hear what the messages from a Prophet of God! AND, I yearned so for the spiritual renewal that accompanied their messages, and their very spirits! Little did I know that I was planting seeds that would bring forth great fruit! You see, it never occurred to me that anyone would NOT want to participate in Conference! I just never could fathom anyone NOT valuing this sacred privilege to sit, so to speak, at the Prophet's feet!
And, that attitude has been transferred to my children----perhaps it is just the treats that they yearn for, but, in time, I pray it will be far more that they look forward to. For the older children that have already left the nest, I believe that they do consider Conference as valuable as I always have.
I just received today, an email from my daughter who is currently serving a mission for our church. She thanked me for her "conference treat box!" and told me that it provided great comfort to her to know that though we could not be with each other, at least we were all watching conference together---though the distances divide, we were united in our faith, our worship and the messages that we heard, those, we were able to share! She told me how grateful she was that I had always made the sacrifice to take all the children with me and to make it a rewarding experience. You see, many of their friends' parents would take turns attending sessions, so that the children did not have to sit through so many hours of church! But, to me, it was an honor to feel the spirit that was so strongly with those men and women of GOD! And, I was probably even more anxious to listen to all the sessions, because as a youth, we were in Marquette, Michigan and the area stations would only broadcast one session of the five! I had always wished that we could hear each and every session; but it just was NOT a possibility!
SO, my joy was full when I was newly married and I discovered that if we would just go to the Stake Center, where the satellite dish was, we could hear and see every session! What a blessing that has been to me for all these near 30 years! There are some talks that I will never ever forget, as long as I live! There are some moments, where the spirit was so very strong, that there just could be no doubt that a Prophet of GOD was speaking!
I am so very humbled that our Heavenly Father cares so very much about EACH of US that HE provides a Prophet, Apostles and other wonderful, dedicated and worthy leaders to guide, direct and lead us. These awesome men and women are much like the Savior, in that they live exemplary lives and radiate such a light that it just fills my soul with great joy and peace. I am so very grateful for them, for this gospel of Jesus Christ and for the daily help that is available to us all, if we will just pray earnestly! HE DOES HEAR and ANSWER our Prayers! And, HE does speak to HIS PROPHET and APOSTLES and HE DOES DIRECT HIS CHURCH---PERSONALLY! WE DO HAVE AN AWESOME GOD!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
My mother had been able to come to assist me the latter part of January. I had (my now) weekly appointment with the Nurse Mid-wife on January 26th, and I had a long list of things to do that day as well. Mom stayed with the other children at our apartment at the University of Michigan's student housing while I took myself to my "routine" appointment. I was still suffering from nausea and vomiting. I had been losing weight throughout the pregnancy--this was typical for me. I think I had only gained 10 pounds by this time, and I was just days away from being full term! The one thing that was NOT typical was a reoccurring sense that I was NOT pregnant. NOW because I had gained so little, it might have just been that, but, when I would lay down on my bed, and I tried to feel my baby, it seemed that I was NOT pregnant. It was such an odd feeling, and it was very unsettling. I decided that I would just mention it to the nurse mid-wife. I will always be eternally grateful that I did. Rather than just dismiss my unsettled feelings, she insisted that we do a fetal stress test. During the test, I could see that the technician was concerned. After the test, I met again with the mid-wife, and she told me that she had some concerns and felt it was imperative that I be admitted immediately.
I told her that today just was NOT a good day for me. I told her that I just had too many pressing errands, but, I told her that I would happily return after I had done at least a few things on my list. Then, the Mid-wife shocked me by stating that if I left the hospital then, she could NOT guarantee that my baby would survive. Well, that got my attention! I tearfully called my mother and told her that I was being admitted right that minute and I requested that she convey the news to Gary. I then began praying fervently for the safety of my baby.
I was given an IV and they began to administer pitocin to induce labor. But, the dosage, though it produced contractions, did NOT effectively help in the progression of the labor. So, I was given a hand-held mask and was told that with the contractions, I could inhale the nitrous oxide to help mitigate the pain. Gary was sitting in the chair next to my bed and dosed off and on through-out the night. Steadily over eight hours, they increased the dose, but, to no avail. I was no closer to delivering the baby, and the signs of fetal distress were becoming more and more alarming. By the time midnight arrived, an OB/GYN was in my room telling me that they could wait no longer to deliver the baby. I was going to have to sign the papers and they would be prepping me for a C-Section. I was scared and I was concerned for the life of my baby. I prayed once again, and pleaded with the Lord to allow the baby to be born, safely and swiftly.
Then, just minutes after they had turned OFF the pitocin drip, I had a SUPER contraction. Then, another and another. The pain was so very intense, it was all I could do to just hold onto the mask and inhale the nitrous as deeply as possible! By the time the fourth contraction hit, I was unable to move the mask from my face, but, I could feel the baby crowning! Gary, was asleep and I could not get his attention. I prayed again for help and the nurse entered the room. As she lifted the sheet to check me, she saw the baby crowning and things began to roll! Within the next 10 minutes, Carrie was born! It was then clear as to the reason her heart-rate dropped with her movements and with my contractions. The cord was wrapped multiple times and so very tightly around her tiny neck! It took a great deal of effort just to cut the cord from around her neck! How grateful I was that the nurse mid-wife was so very in tune. I knew at that moment that had I left the hospital that day, without mentioning my fears, without that stress test, Carrie would have strangled to death prior to a chance at birth. What a miracle and a huge blessing!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Providently, the mammogram proved that I did NOT in fact have cancer. And, I was able to complete the pregnancy and have my daughter. I know that I did, in fact, relish nursing her far more than I had my other children. Funny how the threat of a loss helps you to savor what you do have! Colleen was a beautiful baby! AND, it was such an easy labor and delivery! She was nearly 9 pounds and for me, the bigger the baby, the easier it was for me to deliver that baby! I remember looking at her and just feeling so much joy and love! I have never found the miracle of birth anything but divine and a truly spiritual and elevating experience! What an overwhelming gift it is to participate in the bringing forth life! I would have stayed in that phase of my life forever if I only could have! To me, there is simply no other thing that I have done on this earth that even comes close to being as grand and glorious! It is such an honor and a privilege to be a part of this process of Heavenly Father's Plan of happiness. To be a co-creator and to witness HIS hand in every facet of this birth process is so very humbling and amazing to me.
Colleen's name was chosen by her father. He had seen a video called "The Award" and the heroine of the movie was a young woman named "Colleen" I thought it was sweet that he had selected that name and wanted to show her the video as she matured in the hopes that she too, would be a force for good and righteousness! Is that not what we want for all of our children? To help them find a hero to follow and to encourage them to model their lives after that hero! That is exactly what our Heavenly Father and Mother wish for us as well! And, THEY have provided that HERO to follow! They sent THEIR PERFECT SON, Jesus Christ, to show us the way that will lead us back to life with THEM! HE, Jesus, IS the perfect role-model! There just is not any situation that we will encounter that IF we will but follow HIM, we will succeed! That is just another witness to me that our Heavenly Parents DO want us to come back to them! They have done all possible to provide for our success! All we have to do is TRUST THEM and FOLLOW the Savior that they have provided!
Colleen has always loved her Savior. It was Colleen that would wear the WWJD bracelets and the only jewelry around her neck was a crucifix. Colleen has a very sensitive soul and she has always fought for the outcast and the loner. Colleen has a tender heart and she has always been sensitive and demonstrative. Colleen was the one that stepped up to the plate and took on so many of the household tasks while I was working long hours---18 hour shifts and so, for some time, was only able to work and sleep! I never ever heard her murmur with the increased work load. At this time, I still had 8 at home and Colleen essentially was the mom! I will never ever be able to express my deepest gratitude and love for Colleen! Her self-less service to her family was crucial and was the only reason our family did survive some of the darkest days I was ever forced to face.
I know that each of my children are very special spirit children of OUR Heavenly Parents. I know that they each have come to me with their own unique gifts and talents and I know that they each have enriched my life beyond measure, beyond my ability to express my deep felt gratitude and love. And, I pray that each of my children----especially Colleen, at this point and time---will know how I love and adore them. Colleen, you are a beautiful, special and choice daughter of God and it has been my privilege and my greatest honor to know you and to share this briefest---(for to me it is all too brief before they do leave my nest and venture out into the world!) period of time. Thankfully, we are working toward becoming an eternal family unit and it is my most fervent wish that we will be together forever, living forever in the presence of our Heavenly Parents and OUR BELOVED Savior!
I really do love you, Colleen!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
You know, it really is not at all about religion---at least it doesn't have to be. I think that any group of people that served humanity as well, should absolutely be honored. I happily celebrate other holidays that are not exclusively my own or relate to my own heritage. I wear green on St. Patrick's Day and I am neither Catholic or Irish! BUT, I can get just as excited about going "green" as anyone else! Why is it that we are all so very easily offended by other's beliefs and traditions? Why can we not all be happy for the distinct heritages and, as a courtesy, be tolerant and polite and be genuinely happy to honor and celebrate with other cultures, people and religions--- those fore bearers that have given us whatever honorable legacy that they have?
I am so very proud and feel a great sense of reverence for my own pioneer heritage. I am in awe of the multitude of sacrifices and the legacy of faith and perseverance. There are so many lessons that the pioneers left for us all---whether we are their direct descendants or not!
For instance, did you know that the Mormon Trail was improved upon by each company that used it, for the express purpose of making the trail more passable and pleasant for the next group to traverse its path? That is in stark contrast to the California/Oregon Trail. Those travelers, bent upon seeking their own fortunes, and so filled with greed, were intent to prevent any future travelers from ever making the journey---or at least they were willing to destroy the path and make the journey far more arduous. In this day where sacrifice and concern for others seems to be so very rare, I feel it is imperative that we hold aloft that pioneer behavior as an ensign to all people. How wonderful it would be if we had far more individuals that were willing to emulate that type of behavior. All of society benefits when we focus on such positive role models. Isn't it these type of morals and values that we desperately need to inculcate in our youth of today? How do we do that UNLESS we honor and celebrate those who have shown such character---not just in a time of ease and luxury, but, during some of the most difficult and trying times of privation and struggle? Believe me, the pioneers did not have a life of ease, and yet, most did, in fact, exhibit the greatest kind of self-sacrifice and concern and character imaginable!
Many left well established, comfortable homes and communities. Many were forced out into the winter cold to suffer, and some died due to the cruel, harsh exposure to the bitter elements. They had no idea where they would eventually settle. They just knew they were to head west, following their newly appointed Prophet and leader, Brigham Young. And, in spite of the most severe persecution and hostile treatment---many lost their homes to deliberately set fires, or they were driven at gun-point, from their lands---none of the Mormon Pioneer's sought to return evil for the evil way in which they were treated! They submissively left home, lands and possessions in order to seek a haven in the west where they could worship GOD and peacefully live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember that when they fled the Midwest, there were no Walmart stores, no 7-Eleven convenience stores with which to purchase needed supplies! They had to rely on the Lord, and upon their wits and they were so very creative in meeting their needs!
Again, I say, I am in awe of the great sacrifices and the great courage, strength and perseverance exhibited daily as the pioneers went west to find a refuge from the hatred and abuse of those who misunderstood them. Today, I reverence their memory and their legacy and I pray for an increase in tolerance for all. I am certain that tolerance and true love of all mankind is what they would seek for us, especially since that is what was denied to them! I long for the day when all men and women can treat each other as the Savior taught us to treat each other. And, I am certain that the most important thing I can do, is make certain that I behave so within the walls of my own home, in my own community and among my own family, neighbors, acquaintances and friends. "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with ME!"
Monday, July 14, 2008
With the media's control over the minds of those that submerge themselves in it's filth, I do not see much hope in a return to an attitude of reverence for our society as a whole. The only hope we have will come from a groundswell of individuals, families and communities that are able to shake off the shackles of the media's deadening of the soul's innate light. The light of Christ is given to all, but, we can extinguish that light so easily if we are not diligent in nourishing the thoughts and feelings that are pure, sacred, holy and divine.
While working in a care center several years ago, I had the privilege of caring for those that had lived long lives and now were no longer able to care for themselves. It was one of the most rewarding of all my experiences, and yet, it was also one of the saddest experiences--in that so many were just treated as cast-offs by their families. Rarely did some even see a family member. There were a few that had loving support and frequent visits from their loved ones, but, unfortunately, that was the exception, rather than the rule. And, this is a small community! I firmly believe that there is a strong correlation between how we honor, care and respect our elderly (and our young) and our level of Christian charity in our homes and our community.
Of the myriad of my experiences in that setting, I would like to share one poignant event. I had cared for Mr. Jones (not his real name) for many months. I watched as he rather rapidly lost all ability to care for himself and then, as he lost his mobility as well. He had been a farmer, and his body was used to hard labor. But, once relegated to the confines of his tiny room, with no useful work required of him, he deteriorated so quickly. Having witnessed the final breaths of several of the residents, I was certain that he, too, was near to drawing his last breath. A few of the Nursing Assistants that I supervised stood reverently with me as I held his hands. Tears welled up in my eyes and were spilling down my cheeks as I felt the spirit so very strongly. I have felt such an awe and reverence for the experiences of both the end of life;death and the beginning of life;birth. The spirit at each of these sacred events has always touched me deeply. Well, as I said, there were three of us, just quietly standing by as Mr. Jones was entering the after-life. I was not the only one shedding tears either, when, another Nursing Assistant abruptly entered the room and loudly asked, "Well, is he dead yet?" The sacred feeling fled and I now was crying for the affront to Mr. Jones. How is it possible that anyone can become so very callous to others? Did it help that I explained the sense of HEARING is the last sense to shut-down during death? NO, my entreaties for an increase of respect for the deceased fell on deaf ears.
All I can do is pray that I never lose my sense of the sacred and try even harder to instill those values and sensitivities in my own children. Unfortunately, a sense of reverence can not be imparted from one to another, rather, it must come from deep within our own spiritual reservoir. If we choose to seek and develop it, we can. But, it is a journey that is individual. And, as one of our Primary Children's Songs states, Reverence is MORE than Just Quietly Sitting, It's thinking of Father Above---It's a FEELING! It is deep devotion and awe coupled with quiet reflection.
Some of the things I hold in high regard, I reverence and I revere are:
1.) The Sacrifice and Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
2.) The GODHEAD, meaning our Heavenly Father, His SON Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Three distinct personages with three separate responsibilities yet all sharing the same mission, that of ministering to us! How amazing is that!
3.) The Sacrifice of all those that have provided us with our freedoms, our privileges---not just those that have fought and died for our country, but those that all throughout time have laid down their lives in defense of what they believed. Take William Tyndale, he suffered for 18 months and was finally strangled and burned to death. His crime? He translated the Bible so that the layman would be able to understand and read it! History is replete with such hero's! They ALL deserve our love, adoration and reverence.
6.) Those that are suffering, the handicapped, the aged, the infirm and all children.
7.) Marriage between a man and a woman; baptism and any other ordinance
8.) The scriptures, all sacred writings
9.) Holy Edifices, such as our churches, Temples etc.
10.) Our flag
11.) Our bodies, which means we do not expose our bodies, but we dress modestly and do not purposely mar or destroy it.
12.) Our parents and grandparents--our families
That is just the short list. I am certain there are many others that could be added to the list. BUT suffice it to say that we as a society must return to a sense of reverence or in time, we will find that there will be no regard for any one's feelings or respect for anyone or anything at all.
Finally, I wish to plead with any reading this post to reject the current tide of profanity. I believe that as we allow and accept the current trend of increased profanity, the coarsening of our society will continue. We must stand firm and be better examples of purity in our vocabularies and lead out in expressing ourselves with civility and courtesy! May we all become a leavening agent and the much needed antidote to our society's current degradation.
Friday, July 4, 2008
I do not know exactly how I became such a devoted patriot. My father served our country, yet he did not speak much of that service. But, as a young girl, I devoured biographies! I loved to read about real people and their lives. I know I read biographies of many of the great men and women that provided us with our freedoms today. I was deeply moved at their willingness to trade their tomorrows so that I could have my today! I guess I have felt that there really is no way to properly or adequately show my deep sense of gratitude for their ultimate sacrifices and honorable service! Yet, if I always retain in my memory and I share my awe and gratitude with my children and my grandchildren, perhaps I can be a part of a legacy of love and appreciation for this land, our freedom and my immense love and appreciation for those that have, from it's inception, made our freedom a reality!
I hope and pray that my family will NEVER forget nor take for granted the truth that our freedom has never come free! That a great deal of precious blood was spilt in order for us to have all the rights and privileges that we enjoy. And, that each individual that has sacrificed their all for others; for us, is in fact, a type of Savior! How grateful I am for our divine Redeemer, OUR SAVIOR who not only gave HIS life for us, but HE LIVED A PERFECT LIFE for us. His life was the perfect example of how we can find true liberty---freedom from sin, guilt, hate, destructive habits and behaviors. HE led the way and gave to us the LIGHT by which we can navigate through the dark days that often plague us as we journey on this earth.
Friday, June 27, 2008
I can not recall the story of their deaths, and that of another of their brothers, Samuel, shortly thereafter, without tears welling up in my eyes. How Lucy Mack Smith, their mother, endured the loss of three sons through such horrendous means---cold-blooded murder, or how their wives, also endured their loss, I just can not imagine.
Yet, it is because Joseph Smith labored all his life to restore the true church of Jesus Christ, that the ordinances and the promises of having our families sealed to us; to live forever together in the next life-- are once again available to us all!
I owe so very much to this great man, this amazing prophet of God. My life would be so very different had he not been so very courageous and valiant in serving our God. It is through him that I have received the greatest blessings that I have, bar none. I was baptized at 8 years of age because Joseph Smith restored the true Priesthood of God and the keys of authority were once again given to man to perform these saving ordinances! I can now return to live with my Heavenly Father and My Heavenly Mother, along with all my kindred, if I just remain faithful until the end!
And on numerous occasions, I have requested Priesthood blessings, for sickness, for stress or for counsel, and again, because Joseph Smith restored the Priesthood authority, many times, I have witnessed the power of God through the men of our day which hold that same Priesthood authority; passed down directly from our beloved Prophet, Joseph Smith who received his authority directly from Peter, James, John and John the Baptist, who of course, received their authority from Jesus Christ, HIMSELF.
My understanding of my Savior and Redeemer, my ability to read precious passages about the atonement that was wrought through Jesus Christ, My LORD and my all, have been made possible because Joseph Smith translated the ancient record of the Nephites and Lamanites---now called the Book of Mormon. These ancient prophets also testified of Jesus Christ and some actually saw HIM face to face. Their clear and concise testimonies of our Savior are so very sweet to me.
The perfect plan of happiness which is authored by our Loving Father in Heaven was also provided to us through this sacred record, the Book of Mormon, which is a perfect companion to the Bible. Joseph Smith provided additional scriptures and all that he was able to reveal using the power given to him by GOD, has only increased and enlightened my understanding of the truths found in the Bible.
I have been blessed to be born and raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I do not know how I would have ever been able to raise my own children with the standards, morals and the truths of Jesus Christ's ministry and His admonitions of correct and Christian living without being a member of this wonderful church and having all the awesome resources that this church provides.
My heart is so very full of the deepest gratitude today, for the self-less sacrifice of one of the greatest men to walk this earth, even Joseph Smith. I just would not even wish to know how very different my life would be without all that he did provide us with as he courageously and boldly restored to the earth, the true Church of Jesus Christ, along with all of it's saving ordinances, and doctrines and teachings. I would not be who I am today without the hope, faith and baptism that he did restore to the earth on April 6th, 1830. I am humbled that he did do so very much for all mankind. And, because all of God's prophets are a type of Jesus Christ, in many ways, he exemplified the Master whom he served! He was a witness for the Savior and he gave his life for him and for us as well.
I love the Lord, and I humbly bow before HIM and before the great men of all the ages that have served HIM as HIS prophets. I pray that one day, I will be given the privilege to thank all those great prophets, Joseph Smith being one, that have been God's voice to direct HIS people on this earth. For, I have been so very blessed by their sacrifices, their examples and their very lives. I pray that I will in some small way, be just as serviceable to the LORD in helping and loving and caring for my fellowmen while I inhabit this earth.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
By this time, Gary was not happy working at the Dental Office in the mall, doing Dentistry. He was making an excellent income, but, he was not happy. The malpractice crisis hit, meaning that due to everyone under the sun deciding to get rich quick by suing every medical/dental professional---all those professionals had their premiums for malpractice insurance increased by 400% I am not even kidding! We could NOT afford the premiums and it was financial suicide to go without that type of insurance. So, that factor, along with Gary not being happy in the mall practice caused us to look at his career path and we jointly decided that Gary would be happier going back to school to do something else with his life. I just firmly believed that if Gary was happier, we all would be happier. So, supporting him in returning to school was not a difficult decision.
We did a lot of research to decide just what he would go back to school for, and eventually he decided that he would like to get his masters or maybe even his doctorate in Dentistry and use that to remain at the Dental School, teaching and doing research. He loved the academic atmosphere and this would allow him to remain in that setting. We did NOT know how we would finance his education totally. He applied for grants and scholarships and I planned on working as a nurse to provide an income for us. With three small children, this was not going to be easy, but I just knew it would be worth it.
As we prepared to move back to the Ann Arbor area, our Bishop in the Royal Oak Ward asked to meet with Gary and me. He told me that he wanted me to serve as the Young Women's President in the ward. He felt very strongly about it! We then explained that we were in the process of MOVING out of his ward within the next month; Gary was going back to school to obtain his masters degree at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The bishop was adamant. He told me that he KNEW that I was supposed to be the new Young Women's President; he was sure he had received revelation! He told us that Gary should NOT go back to school and that we were to stay in the area! He was so positive, that it was a bit confusing. But, we had prayed about our decision and we knew that we were supposed to return to school. Everything was falling into place and we just had a peace about it. The bishop asked me---point blank---why would he feel so strongly about me becoming the new president if it was not revelation from God? I told him that perhaps he was just impressed with the way I had fulfilled my current calling in Relief Society and that was influencing his impressions.
It was a bit unsettling to have him be so sure that we were NOT to return to school. But, though we believe in sustaining and honoring our Bishop, well all of our Priesthood leaders, we just knew we were to be in Ann Arbor. So, we made the move. By September of 1986, we were living in the University of Michigan's Student housing. I had begun working for an agency that provided nurses to fill in at the hospital when they were short-staffed. The need for nurses was so great at this time, that I was able to set my own hours. I would work from 8 pm until 2 am, which is NOT the typical or traditional shift, but it allowed me to work while Gary was home so that no child care expenses were necessary. I did not work full time, but the hours I did work ended up being enough to make ends meet. And, we did not see any other way to get through school unless I did work.
So, when the Prophet, President Ezra Taft Benson gave his address just 5 months later, in February of 1987, it was a true leap of faith to follow his counsel. He was imploring mothers to return home and focus on raising their children. Of course, he stated that there were exceptions in which the mother had to work, but, he promised great blessings to those families that sacrificed the comforts that came from having two incomes ( not those for which it was a necessity--) and chose to have the mother remain in the home full time. Now, it could have been argued that it was a necessity that I work to keep Gary enrolled in school and our family fed! But, we decided that we would follow the prophet and allow the Lord to bless us for that leap of faith.
I am so very grateful that we did just that. It was such an amazing thing to witness the miracles of the Lord! Not only did we NOT miss the income, but, avenues were opened that we, I am sure, would never have been blessed with, had we relied upon ourselves! We relied upon the LORD and HE blessed us far more than we could have imagined! We had sufficient for our needs and the LORD preserved Kathryn's life! Gary was able to return to the Mall Dental practice on Saturdays only, and he made more than I could have ever made, working the nights that I had been working. Gary applied for grants and scholarships and was granted more than enough to cover all of his educational expenses. So, although when we made the decision to have me quit work, and at that time, we did not know how we would be able to afford to do so, from that moment on, we actually did far better economically than we had for the 5 months previous to our prophet's inspired counsel!
And, that is not all. In March, just a month after I had discontinued working, we had another miracle occur. Kathryn was now 9 months old. So, I decided to start her on cereal. For the next several weeks, Kathryn began to have horrible constipation. I took her into our pediatrician at least on four different occasions. By the end of the month, I was having to hold her little body over the toilet and actually push on her bottom to help her stool. Her stools would come out in a thin ribbon and caused her such pain, it was alarming. After doing everything that the doctor had advised and having nothing actually help, I remember going to my parent's home. Kathryn was lethargic and I was in tears. I told my mother that I just did not know how to help her. And, my mother took a look at Kathryn and said, "Kim, you have got to take her to the Emergency Room now!" Thankfully, I did as my mother directed. She went with me and watched over Bonnie, who was then 6 years old and Christopher who was 2 years old, as we waited for the doctor to come in to see Kathryn.
We had gone to the University of Michigan Hospital ER. And, it just so happened---(no, I do not believe for a moment that it was just happenstance!) that the physician on call for pediatrics was a Pediatric Surgeon! He took one look at Kathryn, he did a digital exam of her anus and told us that Kathryn needed to be admitted immediately. He then explained that Kathryn had a congenital deformity called Imperforate Anus. Being a nurse, I knew what that was. I said, "That is impossible, she has been stooling! And, you can see that she does have an anus!" But, he told me that it was just a dimple with a tear, that she did NOT have a true opening from her bowel and rectum to allow the stool to pass out of her body. The tear had allowed the soft stool she had from breast feeding, to pass out of her body, but, once I had introduced solid food, the tear was not large enough to allow that fecal material to pass. He told me that Kathryn was toxic and needed to have her stool evacuated and then she would need a surgical repair of the anus. Kathryn needed to have a true anus surgically made---the surgery was called a "cut-back anoplasty." It took three whole days to evacuate the built up stool throughout her tiny body. She had tubes in her nose, to help flush out the stool and they were doing enemas routinely. We had nearly lost her, because she was in toxic shock; that was why she was lethargic. And, I KNOW we would have lost her if we had NOT moved to Ann Arbor, where the Pediatric Surgeon was on staff.
There were just 5 Pediatric Surgeons serving all the Midwestern states, and all 5 were based in Ann Arbor at the U of M hospital. Though I had taken Kathryn into the Pediatrician on several occasions, we needed the expertise of a Pediatric Surgeon to diagnose and treat Kathryn. I was so very grateful that my mother had insisted I take her to the only hospital that had the only professionals that could help Kathryn. I was so grateful that we had returned to school and were in Ann Arbor when Kathryn had this urgent need! I now knew why we had a peace about our decision to return to school in Ann Arbor. And, I am grateful that I was a full-time Mom because my children did need me full-time!
As it turns out, the deformity was most likely caused by the accident I was involved in while pregnant with Kathryn. Thankfully, it was a deformity that could be surgically repaired with no lasting effects.
I testify that God lives! I KNOW HE does still speak to us through HIS living prophets that are once again on the earth! I also KNOW that we are ALWAYS blessed far beyond our ability to comprehend, when we choose to follow HIS prophets, and HIS counsel! HE will provide for us, even before we are aware we have a need! HE loves ALL of us! And, HE will be as involved in our lives as we allow HIM to be! I have NEVER regretted relying upon HIM.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Yet, Kathryn could have very easily been aborted, if I had listened to the advice of my doctor. Here, then, is Kathryn's unique story:
Kathryn's story actually begins long before she was even conceived. I had been visiting with some friends of mine. We had been discussing child abuse. I am not sure why we gravitated to that topic, but, I remember sharing an incident I had experienced just after having given birth to Bonnie. I worked at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids Michigan. I rotated shifts on the Pediatric floor and on the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The last night I ever accepted a shift on PICU was the night that a newborn boy was brought in. His father had decided he could no longer tolerate his cries and chose to throw that infant down the stairs. His broken little body hovered between life and death while I cared for him. I could not keep my supper down. It was devastating to me that anyone could harm such a tiny, innocent and totally defenseless baby. I cried and held my own tiny infant closer than ever, once I was home. It was that horrific memory that nearly had me convinced that abortion was warranted if the parents did not want the baby. I foolishly believed that it was far better that the baby never be born, than to suffer such abuse. I was in denial as to the pain and suffering that an aborted baby is subjected to as it is aborted. But, since I was married and had wanted at least a dozen children of my own, I really did not think the subject of abortion would ever be one I would ever have to seriously contemplate.
So, imagine my shock when, one day, approximately 6 months prior to Kathryn's conception, as I was walking into a supermarket with Bonnie and Christopher, a voice in my head said, "How selfish can you be?" I looked around! There was no one near! The voice repeated, "How selfish can you be?" I thought, "What have I done that is so selfish?" And then the floodgates, as it were, opened! Thoughts flooded my mind so quickly, it was difficult at first to sort through them all. But, basically the message was this: I was blessed to have been born here on earth. I had been given a body and my parents had sacrificed in order to provide me with that body. Now that I was married and in a position to do so, I, too, needed to sacrifice and provide as many spirits with bodies as I could. Additionally, I was to know that the spirits that were awaiting the gift of life and the gift of receiving a body---those spirits did NOT care what circumstances they were born into, they did not care what type of body they received, the most important thing was that every spirit be given an opportunity to have a body. It was pure selfishness on my part if I did not provide bodies for my spirit brothers and sisters if I had the ability to do so. I was a bit bewildered, because I had always intended to have at least a dozen children. ( Well, I did falter a bit in that determination after having had to suffer for all 9 months with hyper-emesis and dehydration with Bonnie! I thought, surely, Heavenly Father will not fault me for reducing the number of children I have when I am so deathly ill throughout the pregnancy! ) I think I probably said this in my mind in my defense! But, I was told in no uncertain terms that abortion was the greatest evil of our day and it was not pleasing to the Lord. I realized that my thoughts, that it would be better for the children to be aborted than to suffer, was not in keeping with the Lord's plan for His children and so, I repented of my position. I was a bit shocked that I would have such a dramatic answer come to my mere musings, but, I did not think about it again until six months later.....
It was early in October of 1985, Bonnie was nearly 4 years old, and Christopher was just 9 months old. We were living in Southfield, Michigan at this time. Gary worked at a Dental Office in the Southfield Mall. And, I had found a job opening up a Montessori School and watching the students that were dropped off early---as their parents were on their way to work. It was a fun job! I could bring my children and they could play with the students that were there with me for an hour or so before school started for them. Bonnie especially enjoyed the "friends" she could play with, and of course, it was also a thrill to play with all the toys at the school.
Gary's schedule at the Mall usually had him working afternoons and evenings. So, in the early morning hours that I needed to be at the Montessori School, I would try to take the kids so that Gary could rest and sleep in, if he wanted. I remember promising Bonnie that she could come with me, to the school, in the morning ---as I had put her to bed. Usually, Christopher would sleep all night at this point, and so, I had planned on getting up just a bit early in order to nurse him and change him and have him ready to go with us. But, Christopher awoke early and so, I nursed him, changed him and he quickly fell back to sleep. Bonnie, when she knew she would be going with me in the morning, was ALWAYS up and raring to go! But, she was fast asleep. I looked at both my sleeping babies, and the thought came, "Leave them in their beds, let them sleep!" I resisted and said in my mind, "If I leave them, they will wake up while I am gone and then, they will wake up Gary! I want Gary to be able to sleep in today!" But, the thought came yet again, "Let them sleep!" I thought, "Well, that would be so much easier, but, I promised Bonnie, and I just can not break my promise to her!" Yet, since I had just nursed Christopher, I was pretty sure he would remain asleep throughout the time I would be gone.
I hesitated, then shook off the promptings to leave the children in bed! I woke Bonnie up! But, by this time, I was running late, and so, I tried to hustle Bonnie into the car after hurriedly getting her dressed and having fixed her hair. I ALWAYS buckled my children! And, of course, I always placed Christopher in his car seat when he was with us. His seat was permanently secured behind the passenger seat of our four-door, orange colored Horizon. ( just as a side note, that Horizon vehicle should have been painted YELLOW! It was such a lemon! I had had to take it into the shop nearly weekly for over a month and just the week prior to this, I had in exasperation, asked the auto mechanic how much more would we need to do to get the car in proper functioning order! His reply was this: "Lady, if I were you, I would just get rid of it!" Little did I know that I would do exactly that! ) Anyway, for the first time EVER, I did NOT buckle Bonnie. We just jumped into the car and took off.
It was raining and dark out. As we neared the school, we approached an intersection. We were on a four-lane road. The lights were green for us and so, we were just about through the intersection, when without warning, the car in front of me stopped suddenly. I slammed on my brakes, but, due to the wet road conditions, we hydroplaned across the two lanes of on-coming cars and we were hit, broadside on our passenger side. It took a minute for me to comprehend what had just occurred. Then, I tried to move and locate Bonnie. The passenger door was up against me, and I was pinned to my seat. Panic flooded over me and I began to scream Bonnie's name. I remember thinking in that instant that I was NO ABRAHAM! I could NOT give up my firstborn! I pleaded and prayed with all the energy of my being that Bonnie was yet alive and not badly hurt. I heard a faint noise come from near my feet, and realized that it was Bonnie. Since she had NOT been buckled, she had been thrown to my feet. But, not until she had wiped the dash---radio dials and all---with her precious face. Her face was cut and bleeding! She had also sustained a serious fracture to her left leg. But, she was alive! Had she been buckled, she would have been crushed to death. Had Christopher been with us, he would have been killed as well. His car seat was mangled and completely crushed. ( FYI: I was NOT ticketed for NOT buckling Bonnie!)
A kind man asked for my husband's name and number after having called 911. Since we only had the one vehicle, Gary had to call his mother and request that she come and pick him up and meet us at the hospital. I always thought it was very interesting that he and his mother went FIRST to the impound lot, to check on the CAR!!! Anyway, I guess after seeing the totalled car, they decided they had better rush over to the Hospital! Our bishop, his wife and the Relief Society President all actually arrived at the hospital long before Gary and his mother.
Bonnie was on the exam table next to me in the Emergency Room and I was able to hold her hand and tried to comfort her as best as I could. As soon as Gary did arrive, I pleaded with him to stay with Bonnie and not leave her side. Christopher stayed with Gary's mother for the few days I was in the hospital, and then once I was released, my parents had Bonnie, Christopher and I stay with them while I was recovering. I had sustained multiple lacerations and bruises, 4 broken ribs, and had some kidney damage due to the impact.
I had had to undergo an IVP, which is a type of x-ray with radioactive dye---to check on the damaged kidney, along with all the x-rays to determine the extent of damage done to my ribs. I had been given potent pain medications and just the impact of the accident took its toll on my body. But, the worst was yet to come. Less than a week after the accident, I began to vomit. I was told to go back to the hospital for follow-up. It was then that I learned I was pregnant with my third baby! (Kathryn!) I was horrified! I was so hoping that the vomiting would be short-lived, since each time that I vomited, my broken ribs would MOVE!!! causing excruciating pain--the worst pain I had ever encountered! Now, I knew that the vomiting would NOT end, and my pain could NOT be medicated due to the pregnancy!
I went to see my OB/GYN doctor that next week. I told him of the accident--actually, my wounds were fairly obvious! Anyway, after explaining to him all that I had endured, his recommendation shocked me. He told me that given the impact, the narcotics and the radioactive dye and radiation from the multiple x-rays, he wanted me to undergo a D and C! He was suggesting that I have an abortion! I was dumbfounded! Here it was! The very situation I never ever expected to face. My doctor was telling me that there was no way that I would be able to have a normal healthy baby given all that had happened. Thankfully, I instantly recalled my dramatic experience regarding abortion and I was firm in my response. I WOULD NOT abort this baby. Whatever the outcome, this spirit wanted this body and I was not going to deny that spirit a chance to have a body---whatever that may mean. My doctor was not happy. He made it clear that I was going against his recommendations and that there would likely be complications. I was unmoved.
How very grateful I was that a kind, loving and all-knowing Heavenly Father had provided me with a dramatic experience 6 months prior to my need! When faced with a very emotional and potentially soulfully painful decision, mercifully, the decision had already been made! I was already committed to never even entertaining abortion as an alternative.
It was the most difficult pregnancy I had had. Yet, my ribs did heal and 8 months later, we welcomed Kathryn into our home. She was so very perfect and beautiful! It was not until another 8 months had passed that we discovered she had suffered some effects from the accident. But, that is yet another story with yet another miracle and so, I will save that for yet another post....
Sunday, June 1, 2008
One day in particular, stands out in my mind. Gary was home for the day, it was most likely a Saturday. We had only been married a short time, perhaps two months. I had just gotten ready for the day. I went into the bedroom, thinking that Gary was there, but, he was not. We were in a very small apartment, so it did not take me long to go throughout the entire apartment in search of Gary. I could not find him. I went to the sliding glass door to see if the car was still parked below. It was. I knew Gary would not have gone anywhere without first letting me know he had gone----that is if he could let me know! He had not said anything about having any place he needed to be, so I was certain he had not walked anywhere.
He was not in the apartment, he had not taken the car and I was sure he had not walked anywhere! I felt the panic rise. Then, I remember I began to pray. I said, "Oh, dear Heavenly Father, please, please do not tell me you have taken him! I know he is worthy of being translated, but, I still need him in my life!" I could feel the tears begin to well up in my eyes, when just at that minute, the door opened and in walked Gary! I remember being overjoyed with relief and I asked him where he had been, because I had looked and had not seen him anywhere. His answer? He was UNDER the car! He was checking something underneath the car and I just had not seen him there.
I felt really foolish for feeling such panic and for jumping to conclusions! But, perhaps it gives you a glimpse into my mind and heart! I just love so very completely! I also see the very best in others. I truly do see the awesome potential in others, and so, it is already a reality for me as to who they are, even if they have not yet quite arrived at that place; I can see it in them and it is how I see them. I can not see them as anything less.
I believe all people have great potential. I believe that we all are trying to do the very best that we can. I have always believed that LOVE is the answer. Always! I strive to do whatever would be the most loving and kind solution. I wish with all my heart that I did not fall so very short so very often. It is funny. I do not see others falling short as often as I know I, myself, fall short!
I have always wanted to live a life of service toward others. Yet, there have been times when I have wanted to do so much for others, to be of service and to be there for others, that the sacrifice has affected those I love. I do not mind sacrificing anything when it comes to my own personal comfort or pleasure. But, with the addition of a husband and less than a year later, a beautiful little baby girl, I began to realize that I had to consider the needs of my family when serving others.
This was a new concept.
I had been single and free to spend my time and money as I chose in helping others. I had served in my church over the single adults and had spent a great deal of my time and money providing activities, transportation etc. for those who fell under my stewardship. The time and money I gave, never seemed to be a burden. Serving my fellowmen was, to me, a tangible way of showing my deep gratitude to my Savior for all HE has done and continually does do for me!
But, again, now my circumstances were changed and I had a family to consider. I pondered and prayed at length. I needed to find the right balance between serving those in my community and church, and providing for the needs of my family. Shortly before Bonnie was born, I was invited--called by my Bishop, to be the Young Women's President. I was now responsible for between 15-20 young women. I was to provide them with Sunday instruction, weekly activities and various week-end activities. Additionally, I was to help them set goals and learn how to succeed in attaining those goals. It was a huge responsibility, and I felt very inadequate. My counselors were suggested by my Bishop, and so, they were called. I soon learned that neither sister was familiar with the program, nor were they willing to do anything delegated to them, initially. I needed to train them and orient them before I would have any real assistance with the program.
As I met with the parents of these young women, it became clear that they were not at all interested in supporting the program, if it required any of their time to do so. That made it all the more daunting.
After struggling with the load of this responsibility for a few months, I remember trying to deal with all the demands from the youth, the parents, my counselors, and my own husband and tiny daughter, and feeling as though I was failing EVERYONE!
Then, I had a dream...
This dream was so very vivid, that 25 years later, as I reflect upon it, it can still bring hot tears to my eyes and my heart begins to race.
This, then, was the dream:
I was walking with my daughter Bonnie. She was not yet a year old. She was in her stroller and as I looked around at the scenery, I realized that I was back in Marquette Michigan, where I had lived from the time I was 12 years old, (1971-1977) until I had graduated from High School. I had not been back there since 1978! ( I had graduated in 1977, but we did go back a year later when my sister had had her first baby. She had married and returned to live in the Marquette Area.)
Anyway, I was walking along, pushing Bonnie in her stroller. I was stopped by a mother of one of my young women. She was frantic and stated that she had lost her daughter, and did not know the area, and would I please help her look for her daughter. I paused, I told Bonnie to stay in the stroller and that I would return very soon! I then went with the mother to help her locate her daughter. It took, perhaps 15-20 minutes, but, we did succeed in locating her daughter! I ran back to the stroller, where Bonnie was patiently waiting, and we resumed our walk.
We had not progressed far, when we arrived at the bridge. We went under the highway and no sooner had we begun our descent, when a horrible auto accident occurred right before our very eyes. I was the first responder. I was a nurse and knew I had to help stabilize the victims. I again, asked Bonnie to wait in her stroller while I attended to the injured. I pushed her off to the side and commenced administering care. Again, a period of time passed, then as the Emergency vehicles arrived and began to assume the care for the victims, I returned to my daughter. Once again, she was just patiently waiting for me and we again resumed our walk.
Now, we were beyond the first bridge and we were just approaching another bridge. This bridge had a lively river running beneath it. The current was swift and the water pristine. Yet, for the third time, our walk was interrupted. I was once again, asked by another to assist them in locating their daughter. Once again, I pushed the stroller to the side of the walkway and told Bonnie to wait there and I would return soon. I assisted in the search, and it seemed, once again, that only 15 minutes had passed, when we were granted success and a mother and daughter were reunited.
I felt joy as I reflected that I had been able to assist others. As I said, I have always found my greatest happiness comes as I help or serve others.
I returned to the place I had remembered leaving Bonnie, but, the stroller was no where in sight! As I began to panic and search now for my own daughter, I saw on the hill, my brother Shawn. I thought, "that is impossible! How in the world could Shawn be here, he is in England serving a mission for our church!" I went to him, and it was indeed my brother, Shawn. His face was drawn taut and it seemed as though he was near tears. I said, "What is it Shawn?" He merely pointed down to the rushing river below. I followed his gaze, and to my horror, I saw Bonnie's stroller, upside down and stuck between two great boulders. I screamed, "Where is Bonnie?" And, Shawn said, "Kim, she is gone." I knew then, that she had drowned.
I awoke at this point in the dream. I was drenched in sweat and I was sobbing. The dream was so very real! It was so very vivid. It was as though I had actually witnessed that horrible scene. I have never forgotten the dream, the terror it caused and the lesson I believe I was being taught. I have not been perfect in applying the principles I learned from my dream, but, I have tried throughout my days as a mother, to count the cost of whatever I have chosen to do with my time. I have tried to make certain whatever I have done has NOT been at the expense of my family, especially my children. I knew I could never bear the pain of losing---either physically, emotionally or spiritually, a child of mine due to my neglect or my misguided notion that service at all costs was the goal. Yet, I have also known that since service has always brought me joy, I had to instill in my children a love of serving their fellowmen and each other. Hence the need for true balance!
One never knows how successful one is in training ones children. I mean, really, how can you accurately measure your success? But, I have had an inkling that perhaps I have not failed entirely in this, my quest to teach my children to serve.
My children are all willing serve and assist others and they do make helping each other a priority.
When Christopher was serving his mission from 2004-2006 in Houston Texas, he related to me one of the things that helped him to face and endure the challenges of serving a mission. He stated that during one of his greatest points of despair, he reflected upon what had brought to him the greatest joy in his life. He decided that his joy came when he was serving others. He reflected upon those times that we as a family had helped others by babysitting, bringing in meals or cleaning or when we had served at the cannery, or in the church's Bishop's Storehouse---where we would often go to fill orders, clean out the refrigerators or stock the shelves.
Christopher said it changed his mission. He began seeking ways to serve others always.
In the fall of 2005, when hurricane Rita ravaged the Texas area where Christopher was, they evacuated 100 missionaries. My son, Christopher, begged his Mission President to please allow him to stay with "his people!" He did not want to abandon "his people" in their greatest hour of need! But, he was forced to evacuate. I received a phone call and then a card from those in the area to which Christopher was sent. I have never been more pleased as I heard these ladies state that of the 100 missionaries that were sent to them, ONLY Christopher insisted on helping them serve the meals to the other missionaries. They went on to tell me that Christopher after he had helped with serving the meals, would NOT allow any of the ladies to clean the floors in the kitchen, but instead, got down on his hands and knees and washed the floors for them. They were in awe of how much he did assist them, when no one else even offered to help.
Funny how all my life my greatest joy has come from serving others, until now! Now, I would have to say, my greatest joy is seeing that my CHILDREN have caught the vision of service and that joy is even greater! How sweet is the knowledge that my children are continuing the legacy of love and service! My joy is full!
Friday, May 23, 2008
Needless to say, I was impressed! Then, as I watched her mingle with all age groups, it was clear that she was as comfortable with her peers as she was with the aged and the young! She was so very positive and up-beat! Susie radiated joy and enthusiasm! Her smile was infectious and her spirit so very kind and accommodating. And, she took a genuine interest in everyone she met.
It meant even more to me, that she extended her kindness and friendship to all of my children, because my children were struggling with a major cross-country move, a bitter divorce and adjusting to the public school system. None of the children had been enrolled in public schools---with the brief exception of my oldest, Bonnie. And, now, due to the specifics of the divorce decree, I had lost my freedom to choose how to educate my children.
I wish I could say that I was functioning as a mother at this point! But, I was not. I was working full-time nights as the Night Nurse Supervisor of the local Nursing Home and the work of maintaining the home and children was equally distributed amongst my oldest children. I basically worked, and slept and that was it! I do not think I was emotionally available to any of my children in those earliest, darkest days after the divorce.
But, Susie, bless her heart, adopted our family as her own and began to friendship and comfort us all.
I remember a particularly bitter Sunday. It was just before the Primary Program was to begin and I had been asked to sit with a group of restless, wiggly 6-7 year old children, during the entire Sacrament Meeting program. Just prior to taking my place on the stand with those children, a woman in our congregation approached me. She stated her name and extended to me a couple of 3x5 cards. Then she explained that a fireside was going to take place that evening and she wanted me to write down my experiences with marriage. I looked at her, puzzled and then said, "I know I am new, and so you may not have heard, but, I am NOT married, I am divorced!" The woman then responded that she was aware that I was divorced and that was exactly WHY she wanted my input most of all. She continued on by saying that all those who were married would be able to learn a great deal from my mistakes! She again asked that I share those mistakes with all those who would be in attendance at the fireside, by writing down my thoughts upon the cards she was attempting to hand to me.
I could feel the hot tears well up in my eyes, but, I said nothing! I absently took the cards proffered and I somehow found my way up to the place---IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE CONGREGATION!! and sat down with the children. I tried so very hard to suppress the sorrow and the tears. But, the pain was so very intense, the wound so raw that I could not. The tears began to flow freely and my vision was obscured. Thankfully, there were so many children and so much activity, I was sure that I would NOT be noticed, and I bowed my head and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. BUT, one person did notice. I honestly do not know how many others were aware that I was losing my composure, but Susie had, and she kindly came to me and asked me what was wrong. I could not answer. I could not explain. I struggled to regain my composure and eventually was successful in doing so. But, I was overwhelmed and never forgot the kindness, the awareness and the comfort extended to me by Susie---a young woman so very young! Susie could not have been more than 17 years old! I was totally amazed! She truly is an angel and her daily ministry to others has endeared her to everyone. She is known throughout the community as a young woman of virtue, compassion and kindness.
When Christopher told me that he loved Susie and that he wanted to marry her after his mission, I was so very excited for him. I knew he had made a very wise choice in selecting someone so very special. Susie, you are one of Heavenly Father's choicest daughters! And, we are so very blessed that you have become a member of our family forever! I love you sweetheart!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I had learned a very hard, sad lesson. Not everything you hear, should you actually TRY or DO
I learned that often, prior to implementing any new "advice" or suggestions, the critical next step is to PRAY and seek inspiration! Heavenly Father has NEVER let me down when I have sought HIS advice as to what would be best to say or do for my children.
(Well, just as I was in the middle of creating this post, a dear friend commented about my post for Scott! He mentioned that perhaps it would NOT be the easiest thing for Bonnie to read what I had written! DARN! I have blown it again! I did hurt Bonnie's feelings. I am so very sorry Bonnie! I will try harder to be much more sensitive, kind and discerning. Please forgive my blunder. I did NOT ever mean to hurt you! So much for my remembering to seek for inspiration! I will pause now to pray about this one!!!)
( This was written prior to the blunder!!!)
Anyway, I am hoping against hope, that this idea of highlighting each of my children does not backfire and I live to regret, or my children live to regret my posts! I do love each of my 13 children and my new grand-daughter with all of my heart and though I love them individually for their uniqueness and their amazingly distinct personalities, I do not love any ONE more than ANOTHER! I know at this point, ALL my children will mention that it appears that I do NOT love ADAM! But, actually, I do. I will have to admit that for whatever reason, he is the one child I have struggled the most with raising. But, my love is just as deep, even though it has been much less visible! Isn't that tragic! I pray daily that I can be a much better mother to all my children, but to Adam in particular---since I do struggle so with him.
Well, back to Christopher! Christopher arrived January 10, 1985. He was born in Detroit at Grace Hospital. I started into labor early in the afternoon. We went to the hospital around 1-2 pm and began walking the halls. When walking was no longer comfortable, we began playing a game, "Crossing the Plains" a game all about the Mormon exodus west to the Rocky Mountains. I remember having a great time playing, and during the game, my nurse came in, watched us play for a time and said, " Kim, you are having too much fun and seem far too comfortable to really be in labor!" Just a few hours later, I proved to truly be in labor, and Christopher was born just after 6 pm.!
I remember the tears of joy that came as I first held my beautiful, blue baby boy! He was so very blue! The cyanosis actually was so scary! They gave Christopher oxygen and eventually, he lost that cyanotic coloring. During the labor and delivery, I was so amazed at the peace and the joy that I experienced. I was not sure why there was such a difference, I thought perhaps it was just that the second time around, the fear and all the horrors of the unknown are no longer issues. But, in hindsight, after now having experienced 11 labors and deliveries, I know it was much more than that. Then, when Christopher went to Patriarch James White for his Patriarchal Blessing just after moving here to Utah, I learned why there had been such a huge difference during Christopher's labor and delivery. In his blessing, he was told that Heavenly Father was present at his birth. As I heard that, the spirit testified to me of that truth. And, I reflected again upon the feelings I had had of such peace and joy, and I knew that was due to Heavenly Father's presence, of that I have no doubt.
Christopher has always had a special connection with the Spirit, with our Heavenly Father. We learned early on, that if we were in a crisis, the best way to access divine assistance was to have Christopher pray! His prayers seemed to be immediately answered!
Growing up, Christopher was a mellow and happy little fellow. He was kind to his sisters and he was active and alert. He loved the outdoors and had a wonderful imagination. He loved to climb trees and to build with Lego.
One of my favorite things to do with my children while we lived in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Michigan, was to go to the Toledo Zoo! It was a circular zoo, which was just perfect for little children and their moms! Unlike the Detroit Zoo, which is linear, and takes foever to get from one animal to the next---Toledo Zoo is a circular zoo! And, each animal exhibit is just a short distance from the next! You can actually see the next animal as you are viewing the one in front of you! But, at the Detroit Zoo (of course this is the way it was over 12 years ago, perhaps they have made changes by now...) you would walk and walk and walk and it seemed you would never get to the next animal exhibit! How I miss being able to take my children to the Zoo as frequently out here in Utah. I will have to make that a priority---recommitting to going places and seeing things with my children. It came naturally as I home-schooled. We just were always going places and seeing things to stimulate their minds. Now that I have been forced into the public school system, it has been so much harder to just take a day and go. My, this was a random paragraph---sorry Christopher, I guess I should get back to talking about you!! But, you loved the Toledo Zoo almost as much as I did, I think!
You know, scratch this, I will start over for Christopher's post! Let's just call this random musings and leave it at that! It has been a very difficult day for me and I think I need a time-out! Sorry, Christopher, I will try this again tomorrow!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Bonnie, however, can be extremely high-strung.
Before Bonnie and Scott were to be married, I just had to level with Scott. I pulled him aside and I said, "Scott, I know you will not believe anything I am about to share with you, and that is OK. BUT, I do NOT want you coming back to me in a few months, upset that I did not ever at least TRY to warn you!" Scott looked at me a bit puzzled, but was polite enough to just listen as I continued. "Scott," I said, " I have lived with Bonnie for over 19 years now, and I love her with all my heart. BUT, she is NOT always the easiest person to live with. She has a hot temper and she is as stubborn as all get out....!" I explained that she was the ultimate "strong-willed" child and that she had not ever out-grown that strong-willed personality. I honestly do not know all that I did tell Scott. I am not even sure exactly HOW I said it all. But, I could see in his face, that he did not believe a word I was saying.
Now, I was NOT trying to change his mind, nor was I trying to stab my daughter in the back. I just KNEW that one day, after Scott had actually lived with Bonnie for a period of time, IF I did NOT forewarn him, he might just carry some resentment toward me.
When I had married, Gary's family would not accept me. I was a "Mormon" and they believed that I belonged to a cult. I tried to explain that the correct name for my church was, "THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS!" I said, "How can ANYONE believe that we are NOT Christians, when our church is named after Jesus Christ???" But, they were Catholic and were not at all open to their son marrying out of his faith. This was in spite of the fact that a full two years prior to Gary even meeting me, he had, of his own free will and choice, forsaken his church and joined the "MORMON" church! But, Gary's parents stated that if he had not married me, he would have given up his fling with my church and returned to Catholicism.
I wish I had listened to them! As it turned out, many years into our marriage, Gary did become disenfranchised with my religion and became an agnostic! That along with many other issues, (his abusive behavior towards our children and me being paramount) ended our union. Why do I mention this here? Well, over the 21 years I was married, I endured some of the WORST treatment from Gary's parents first, and then from Gary. I had always cared most about family relationships and had done everything I knew how, to find a way into their hearts. I just wanted them to love me and accept me like I loved and accepted them. But, it was never to be.
So, when it was time for me to become a "mother-in-law" I just wanted to be everything I had wanted, but never had! I wanted Scott to feel loved and accepted. I did feel I had to level with him and tell him what he may not have wanted to hear. In my mind, he deserved full disclosure.
Well, Bonnie and Scott were married April 13, 2002 in Mesquite, Nevada. I was still in the middle of my horrendous divorce, and so, they returned to Minnesota in June and moved west, to Garland, Utah with their 10 siblings and me.
Scott and Bonnie drove Scott's pride and joy of a car out, following me in a rented U-Haul truck. We were driving through Montana when Scott told me that his car was over-heating! He told me that the gauge was at the H!!! But, being the idiot I am, and thinking that we were NOT that far from Billings, where we could get help for whatever was ailing his car; I told Scott we would just continue on to Billings! I do not remember how many more miles that I forced his doomed, overheating vehicle to travel, but, suffice it to say, I am the reason his prized car bit the dust.
We did make it to Billings, and pulled into a bank parking lot. I think I was trying to get some cash for gas. Anyway, while stopped, all of the sudden, smoke came billowing out of Scott's engine, and, the very next instant, fire started to consume the engine. Bonnie, Scott and the children driving with them, jumped out of the car, escaping the inferno just in the nick of time. I just stared at the scene in total disbelief! I was horrified that I had caused Scott to lose his favorite car. What an entrance into the family! ALL my plans to show love and make him feel welcome and happy to be a part of our family, flushed away as the fire trucks flooded the area in an attempt to contain the blaze.
I do not think I will ever forgive myself for that major misjudgement, that horrible mistake!
And yet, Scott has NEVER once mentioned the loss of that car to me! He has never been anything but kind and loving and sweet and supportive! I just am amazed at the man he is! And, I love him more and more dearly with each passing year! He truly is one of my own! Mercifully, I was spared the pregnancy, labor and delivery of adding him to our family! But, I would have gladly endured anything to have him be a part of our family! (Of course, IF I had given birth to him, he could never have married Bonnie....) Anyway, I just love him to pieces!
And, after he had been married to Bonnie for a year or so, I did take him aside and I asked him, "Scott, do you remember just before you married Bonnie, I tried to warn you that Bonnie was not the easiest to live with?" He shook his head in the affirmative! I then asked him, "But, you did NOT believe me, did you Scott?" This time he said, "No, I did not believe you!" I said, "But, you believe me now don't you!!!" He just smiled! I said, "Well, sweetheart, at least I did try to tell you, right!?!?" He again smiled and shook his head! Since both Scott and I love Bonnie completely, and she is such an amazing woman, it is easy to overlook those moments that she can be difficult. I mean really, aren't we all difficult to live with at times???
Now, this week I have just learned that Bonnie and Scott are expecting their very first baby. They have 6 years of marriage under their belts, so to speak, and I am so very excited for them. I know that they will be as awesome as parents, as they have been as a couple. I have loved watching them care, love and support one another. They have made each other, their priority and I am so very proud of their choices and their successes!
Scott wrote in my Mother's Day card this year, " I want you to know you are the perfect Mom and you deserve a day for just you!! Can't wait to see you and hope you have the best Mother's Day! Love, Scott! In the same card, Bonnie wrote, " I hope you know how much you mean to me and Scott! You have always been there for us, you always give all you have and often even more than you have. You are an amazing Mom! No matter how bad life gets, no matter what you are called to endure, you've never left, you never have forgotten or given up your children. We've always come first, and you've always put yourself last....I hope you realize today what a wonderful mother you are and how much you have accomplished!..."She says more, and of course, Bonnie and Scott, your kind words of love and support meant the world to me and reduced me to tears---for quite sometime! I have been so very blessed to have such wonderful children! I am the mother of many, and the recipient of many, many blessings because my children are so amazing! Scott, I love you son! You are mine, forever!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I do remember one incident that occurred while we lived in Southfield Michigan. My sister, Julie was coming to spend a few days, and, since we did not have but one vehicle---and Gary was at work; I decided that Bonnie and I could just walk over to the store to pick up a few items needed for our dinner that night. It was likely just a mile or so away. Bonnie was not quite 3 and I was very pregnant with Christopher! Well, things went just fine UNTIL Bonnie saw that the store had CHOCOLATE MILK!!! She asked me if we could get some. I had very limited funds, and every penny was needed for the essentials. So, I had to tell Bonnie, "No, honey, Mommy can not get that for you today!" Well, Bonnie decided to do something that she had NEVER ever done before! (and fortunately, never ever repeated!) She began to throw the biggest tantrum I had ever witnessed! She SCREAMED! She KICKED! She threw herself on the floor! I was SHOCKED! I was totally embarrassed. This was my first child, and my first introduction into the extremes children will go to, to get their way!
The little manipulators!
Anyway, I know it was the spirit that whispered, "Just continue on with your shopping!" I was in a hurry, and I really did not have time to fight with Bonnie right then, so I did as directed, and I just continued on down the next aisle---leaving Bonnie on the floor, still screaming and crying! (Ok, so it also might have been that I was too pregnant and too tired to bend over and swat her right then and there....)
She was, I think, a bit bewildered that I had just left her behind. Yet, she was not finished with her tantrum and I learned from this, just how tenacious and stubborn my daughter could be! She decided that perhaps I had not heard her I guess, because she began following me, still screaming! There were other customers in the store, and they, understandably, began giving me some of the most hateful stares! I pretended that I did not notice them, or Bonnie! Bonnie carried on throughout the entire store, she could not have performed the role of a spoiled child better!
By the time I had reached the check-out with the items I had come for, she was (and I honestly do not know how she had the strength or the stamina to scream and cry the entire time, without a breath, but that is exactly what she did do!) STILL crying, trying to grab my legs, since I had stopped to unload the cart. By this time, all eyes in the store were upon us, this horrendous spectacle! The cashier, who had heard Bonnie scream for it seemed to us all, an eternity, vocalized what I am sure EVERYONE in the store wondered! She said, "M'am, what is wrong with that child???" I calmly said, "Oh, she wants some chocolate milk!" Then the cashier asked, and I am still baffled to this day at her attitude, "Well, why don't you get it for her??"
I am certain that everyone there would have loved for me to have done just that in order to have peace restored to the store. And, if I had not been in such a bind, and had not needed the items right then, I think I might have just left the store without purchasing anything, as soon as Bonnie had begun her tirade. But, I did not have the luxury of time, and I needed those items! So I could not deal with her behavior until AFTER we had disrupted the entire store for I am guessing, nearly 20 minutes!
I looked that cashier in the eye, and I said as firmly as I have ever responded to anyone,"Do you think that I would EVER GIVE my Child ANYTHING she threw such a fit for???" She will NOT have chocolate milk for a VERY LONG TIME!!!!" I could see that no one there was really concerned with my having a job to do as a parent to extinguish such horrid behavior. All anyone in that store wanted was QUIET! I do not know if anyone watched us as we walked home. I had one arm full of the groceries, and the other hand was spanking Bonnie after each step we took, as I firmly stated that she had never ever behave like that ever again or she would NEVER go to any store with Mommy, ever again!
Bonnie NEVER EVER threw another fit again!Bonnie did not have to share me until she was almost 3 years old. I remember one incident vividly! I nursed Christopher and then place him in the crib and told Bonnie to play quietly, while her brother slept! But, just seconds later, I heard Bonnie playing with her "marching band set." Do you remember the one made by Fisher Price? It had drums, maracas, cymbals and bells! She began hitting on the drum, while shaking the maracas and bells; making as much noise possible. Then, I heard the cries of a baby. I went to check on Christopher, and low and behold, Bonnie was playing with her marching band as she stood as close as possible to Christopher! What a scamp! Do you think she had some resentment towards Christopher???
But, some of my most precious memories of my Bonnie came as a result of paper routes that we had over the course of her years at home. We began doing paper routes as a way to earn money to go to our family reunion in Utah, back in 1992---we were living in Ypsilanti Michigan at this point. I had six children. By the time we had to give up the routes because we were moving to Minnesota, I had 9 children!
We had a 15 passenger van, and I would load all my children into the van. The little ones would roll the papers and bag them. Bonnie, Christopher and Kathryn would do the actual delivery. I would drive down the road, and they would jump out, running down both sidewalks and deliver the papers. I had not even noticed how very fast they had become until we were with our replacement paper people. As they stared in disbelief at the speed of my children's deliveries, they asked if my children were some kind of track stars---they were so very fast as they literally flew down the sidewalks! IT was excellent exercise for them!
While they exercised their bodies, I exercised my mind! I would listen to Rush Limbaugh as I drove our van to do the routes!
Since I homeschooled, we could get out and do the delivery as soon as the papers got to us! OUR customers LOVED that they always received their papers before anyone else in the town! And, they tipped the children well! We made as much in tips at Christmas as we did doing the deliveries all month long!
We had to deliver papers 7 days a week. We would deliver early afternoons Monday-Friday and then, we would get up in the middle of the night---usually around 2-3 am to deliver the papers on Saturdays and Sundays. That way, we did not miss church ever and we had plenty of time to get all the kidlets ready for church!
Once we moved to Minnesota, we tried to get paper routes like we had in Ypsilanti, but we lived in a remote little town, and there just were not the number of routes available. So, Bonnie and I took a motor route. The pay and the hours were actually much better than we had had in Michigan, but, no one tipped us and it was no longer a family venture. But, I loved the one on one time with Bonnie. We would have to report at 4 am and we would be done before 7 am. And, we no longer had to work any weekends! Once Bonnie began going to early morning Seminary, we had to start our deliveries earlier, so that we could be in Anoka, nearly 40 minutes south of us by 6 am!
I cherish my times with Bonnie more than I can express! I will share one last specific incident before closing this post.
Bonnie and I had to take the 15 passenger van this particular day, as we started to do our motor route in Princeton, Minnesota. Usually we tried to take the little Ford Aspire to save on gas, but, Gary needed to leave earlier than normal on this particular day, and so, we had to take that 1 ton van! We had already loaded up all the papers and had just finished doing the "in-town" deliveries. We were headed out the main street. It was just after 4:30 am, and it was DARK! I mean, it was pitch black! Visibility was so limited. I noticed a car in the road just in front of us, and I began to slow down. Too late, I noticed that the car was NOT moving, nor was it inhabited. At that moment of realization, I was alarmed to discover the reason for the vehicle being abandoned! The road was no longer a road, but was just deep mud and that vehicle had become mired in the mud. At that moment, I realized that my tires were no longer on solid ground, and we, too, were getting mired in the mud!
Our situation was desperate. We were NOT just a small car, but a one-ton monster van. And, at 4:30 in the morning, we had no one we could get to help us. We did NOT own a cell-phone, this was back in 1998, and we did not get our first cell phones until nearly a decade later! Bonnie screamed, as she felt us starting to sink. She said, "Mom, what are we going to do?" I said, "Bonnie, just PRAY!" I told her to pray like she had never prayed before! I began fervently praying as well---explaining that we had to get the deliveries done, that I had little babies back home that would be needing me very soon, and we had absolutely no way out of this WITHOUT divine intervention! I explained that I had no idea what lay ahead and so could not possibly have avoided this predicament. While I was still praying, I felt impressed to turn the steering wheel hard to my right, and to push on the gas. This I did, as Bonnie and I continued, without ceasing, our pleadings to the Lord.
Now, I have had answers to prayers all my life. I have felt the spirit of the Lord so very often in my life, and, even been blessed to have miracles occur. So, though, I am always amazed by the power and awesome wonders of the LORD, I have never ever been able to find those experiences common or unremarkable! SO it was again. As I turned the wheel, and pushed the gas pedal, I felt the van being lifted----it was literally being LIFTED out of the mud, and within minutes, we were driving on the grassy shoulder near by.
What an awesome thing, to have a TRUE and LIVING GOD! That does hear and will answer our prayers, our pleadings and petitions in our greatest hours of need! How wonderful too, to share those sacred moments with my children---with Bonnie! My children truly ARE the most important people in my life! I testify that these things are true, and I can not deny them! I am so very humbled that I have been so blessed to witness this and other such miracles, usually as I am just trying to do my best to be the very best mother I can!