Friday, May 23, 2008

Susan Nadean Clark--Christopher's Eternal Sweetheart!

I will write more about Christopher I am sure, but today, I just wanted to highlight my very first Daughter-in-law. My first memory of meeting Susie was at a Young Men's/ Young Women's activity. I had driven our 15 passenger van to Logan where the activity was taking place. We had not lived in Utah long. I did not know anyone in our ward. (our church congregation) My youngest, Shawnie, was just 2 years old, and I had all my children at home at this time. While the little ones waited with me out in the van, Christopher approached the van with two or three young ladies. One of the young women, (it was Susie!) began to name off each of the children that were with me. I was amazed! She knew all of my children's names! And, she identified each one correctly! There have been many times that I can not get my children's names straight! And, I must simply resort to pointing my finger directly at them as I say," YOU, you know who you are!"
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

Christopher Michael Hildebrandt--NOPE--RANDOM MUSINGS

It just occurred to me that relating stories about each of my children, and posting tributes to them might be a very dangerous venture. I am reminded of a time when I had just 4 little ones. I had heard a mother say that she had taken each of her children aside, individually and secretively told them that that particular child was HER FAVORITE! She told each of her children this, and it had made them all feel so very special! In my zeal to try out new ideas and be the perfect mother, I decided to do the same. Colleen, my fourth child was just an infant, so, I began, as I have always done everything---"littlest to biggest" I took Kathryn aside and told her she was MY FAVORITE! The most amazing thing happened at that point, BEFORE I could even get to Christopher and Bonnie, to tell them the same thing, Kathryn had already proudly announced to them, that I had just told her, she was MY FAVORITE!!! I was devastated! What to do NOW??? Well, the damage was done, there was NOTHING I COULD DO! Bonnie and Christopher never would hear the same words from me and believe me.

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

Scott Barton, my very first SON via Marriage!

So, I have posted two entries in honor of my firstborn. Now, it is time to share my love and pay tribute to my FIRST SON to capture my heart via his marrying Bonnie! Scott has been such a sweetheart from the very beginning! He captured all of our hearts so very effortlessly! He has such a gentle and calming disposition.

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

Bonita Banana---my Beautiful and Pure little girl!

From the beginning, I totally confused Bonnie. Gary would work long hours, and I would be home alone with Bonnie. I would play with her until it was her bedtime, then I would put her in her crib and I would go to the living room, or my bedroom. After perhaps a half an hour, I would get lonely and I would go back into Bonnie's room. I would peer into the crib to see if she had yet fallen asleep. Bonnie was truly an amazing baby. She would play quietly, but never ever tried to get out of her crib, and long after she was 3-4 years old, she would never even leave her bed unless I came for her! Remarkable, but true! And, Bonnie was the only one of my children to do so, it was never repeated by any of my other children! I guess she knew that I would always come for her. Each night, I can not even tell you how many times we would play, I would place her in her crib or bed, then, I would miss her, feel guilty that I had put her to bed and go and pick her back up and play with her again---repeated repeatedly!

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!

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Tribute to My FIRST Daughter---BONNIE KAE

Well, this was my 26th Mother's Day! I remember so very well, the pregnancy, labor and delivery of my firstborn! Bonnie Kae entered the world just a little after 11 pm on March 28th, 1982. I was so excited that she would forever share the Prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball's birthday! He was my favorite Prophet! And, now my daughter was born on his very birthday!

My introduction to the joys of pregnancy, however, was less than joyful! At first, the pain was so intense, the doctor thought I might actually be experiencing a tubal pregnancy. What a blessing that was NOT the case. The months of lying on the couch and vomiting and retching was not what I had expected at all. I had heard of all the typical cravings and yet, I could not even think about food without an overwhelming attack of nausea, followed swiftly by vomiting! I wondered if I really could endure the agony, but, the day that I heard my baby's heartbeat and then later, feeling the baby move within me--well, all the suffering was so very worth it! I was not anxious to repeat the experience, but, I knew that all I had gone through was so very worth it all. I could not wait until the day I would be able to hold, love and snuggle my baby! I had been babysitting for well over a dozen years, and I was so very excited for my turn to have a baby that would call me MaMa, would reach for, smile and coo for me, and I would not have to give back to it's mother!

I am embarrassed to admit that I did some bargaining with the Lord! I reminded Him that unlike many of my friends that were also experiencing their first pregnancies, I was the ONLY ONE of the group that had suffered the morning sickness all morning, noon and night! (I thought it was very deceptive to term it "morning sickness" when, for me, it was all day and long into the night!) Additionally, where most were able to feel so much better after their first trimester, I suffered with the nausea and vomiting well into my third trimester! (in fact, I vomited on my way to the hospital to give BIRTH!!!) So, given these facts, I just told the Lord, I deserved to have an easy labor and delivery! (Like I had the power to alter how things in my life occurred by reasoning with the Lord!!!) Yet, I was blessed to have a "text-book" labor and delivery. It was not inordinately long, nor was it unbearably, incredibly painful. So, perhaps that is what led to my belief that I actually could successfully bargain with the Lord!

Anyway, the moment I was able to hold Bonnie for the first time, I was overwhelmed with the greatest joy I have ever experienced---( the only other times I had experienced that type of joy being the other 10 times my precious babies were placed in my arms! ) I had always known that I wanted, first and foremost, to be the most loving wife and then the best mother ever! I had not fit in well in "the world," but, with that amazing baby girl, I finally felt I had discovered my passion in life! Being a Mother was just that! My passion!

I made many mistakes as I learned how to be a mother. ( Actually, I am STILL learning how to be a good mother!) I cringe to this day at some of my more colossal mistakes! I can not even believe that my children---but Bonnie in particular---could really ever forgive and still somehow find it in their hearts to love me! Bonnie not only opened the matrix, but, she opened my heart, mind and soul to what mothering really was, and how very tender and precious a mother/child bond can be. I was willing to do any and everything for her, I would have given my life to protect her and provide for her. I learned early on, though, that children do not really care how we go about our roles as parents, as long as they know we are willing to admit when we get it wrong and if we do all we do, with LOVE. They do not want us to give our lives, they just want us to give them our lives, as in a lifetime of loving and caring!

Today, Bonnie is 26 years old. She is no longer just my firstborn daughter, but, she is my very best friend! I love her on so many different levels! Fortunately, I can not imagine life without her, and I am praying I will never ever have to be without her in my life! She provides me with encouragement, comfort and support. She is the most beautiful young lady I have ever known, bar none! (well, OK, she shares that distinction with all her sisters!) She is the most dependable, reliable, hard-working, independent, resourceful, talented, clean, intelligent, compassionate, tenacious, loyal, honest, strong, articulate, and faith-filled young lady! Whenever there is a need, she will discover it and do all in her power to provide! She calls me to seek us to gather as a family and pray for her, when she has a need. She will give the shirt off her back to someone in need, she will do infinitely more for any member of her family. She has never ever been selfish. I have been able to count on her to assist me in every way to care for all of her siblings! I am in awe of all she has become and the beautiful woman she has always been.

I know this is a very personal post, but, I would like to, over the next week (in honor of those beautiful children that have made it possible for me to be a mother!) share experiences that I cherish about each one of my children.

I thank my Heavenly Father with all that I have, that HE was willing to bless me by entrusting me with the care and nurture of truly, the most amazing spirits that I have ever had the opportunity to get to know. Thank Goodness for my own mother that has given me such a great example in so many ways! I would have no idea how to be a mother if I had not had such an awesome mother myself!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Musings and Currant Bushes

Last August, I had begun working at a plant here in town as their nurse. Monday through Friday, 6 am to 2:30 pm--awesome hours--full time though, but the pay was more than I have ever had with the promise of great benefits. It was right here in town; less than 3 miles away and I would no longer have to work nights. With teenage daughters, working nights just was not wise.

Things had been rather tight, and so, with Kathryn needing to have me support her on her mission and gathering all her needed supplies, this job was an answer to prayers! It was, however, very stressful and my supervisor was very unkind and demeaning. Yet, I was happy to endure it because I thought, finally, we can start being financially secure! Right? Wrong! I have had Heavenly Father remind me numerous times that I need to be home taking care of my family, but, the financial demands are so overwhelming at times, I guess I just do not have sufficient faith and so, I go out and get a job, which lasts----not very long----and then I am back where I started!

I am sure none of you are as dense and as slow to figure things out. I keep hitting my head against the wall, only to ask in bewilderment and frustration, "Why does my head hurt so badly!?!" Well, I lost that perfect job early in October of 2007, after a brief two months! I have been able to muddle through, and yet, I have been so depressed and worried. I have not lost faith, because I do know and accept the fact that most of my struggles are self-inflicted or just part of being a single mom with so many depending upon me! But, as I prayed, I was reminded of an article I had read in my (long-ago) youth. I looked it up on the church site and found that it was in the January 1973 New Era! So, immediately, I knew that it had to be the spirit that was bringing it back to my remembrance! It was an article by Elder Hugh B. Brown, called the Currant Bush. It was perfect! It gave me such comfort and peace!

THE CURRANT BUSH---by Elder Hugh B. Brown:

You sometimes wonder whether the Lord really knows what he ought to do with you. You sometimes wonder if you know better than he does about what you ought to do and ought to become. I am wondering if I may tell you a story that I have told quite often in the Church. It is a story that is older than you are. It’s a piece out of my own life, and I’ve told it in many stakes and missions. It has to do with an incident in my life when God showed me that he knew best.
I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. It was run-down. I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it, and smiled, and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk. And I thought I heard it say this: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.” That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’ ”
Time passed. Years passed, and I found myself in England. I was in command of a cavalry unit in the Canadian Army. I had made rather rapid progress as far as promotions are concerned, and I held the rank of field officer in the British Canadian Army. And I was proud of my position. And there was an opportunity for me to become a general. I had taken all the examinations. I had the seniority. There was just one man between me and that which for ten years I had hoped to get, the office of general in the British Army. I swelled up with pride. And this one man became a casualty, and I received a telegram from London. It said: “Be in my office tomorrow morning at 10:00,” signed by General Turner in charge of all Canadian forces. I called in my valet, my personal servant. I told him to polish my buttons, to brush my hat and my boots, and to make me look like a general because that is what I was going to be. He did the best he could with what he had to work on, and I went up to London. I walked smartly into the office of the General, and I saluted him smartly, and he gave me the same kind of a salute a senior officer usually gives—a sort of “Get out of the way, worm!” He said, “Sit down, Brown.” Then he said, “I’m sorry I cannot make the appointment. You are entitled to it. You have passed all the examinations. You have the seniority. You’ve been a good officer, but I can’t make the appointment. You are to return to Canada and become a training officer and a transport officer. Someone else will be made a general.” That for which I had been hoping and praying for ten years suddenly slipped out of my fingers.
Then he went into the other room to answer the telephone, and I took a soldier’s privilege of looking on his desk. I saw my personal history sheet. Right across the bottom of it in bold, block-type letters was written, “THIS MAN IS A MORMON.” We were not very well liked in those days. When I saw that, I knew why I had not been appointed. I already held the highest rank of any Mormon in the British Army. He came back and said, “That’s all, Brown.” I saluted him again, but not quite as smartly. I saluted out of duty and went out. I got on the train and started back to my town, 120 miles away, with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. And every click of the wheels on the rails seemed to say, “You are a failure. You will be called a coward when you get home. You raised all those Mormon boys to join the army, then you sneak off home.” I knew what I was going to get, and when I got to my tent, I was so bitter that I threw my cap and my saddle brown belt on the cot. I clinched my fists and I shook them at heaven. I said, “How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?” I was as bitter as gall.
And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, “I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.” The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness and my bitterness. While kneeling there I heard a song being sung in an adjoining tent. A number of Mormon boys met regularly every Tuesday night. I usually met with them. We would sit on the floor and have a Mutual Improvement Association. As I was kneeling there, praying for forgiveness, I heard their voices singing:
“It may not be on the mountain height Or over the stormy sea;It may not be at the battle’s front My Lord will have need of me;But if, by a still, small voice he calls To paths that I do not know,I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:I’ll go where you want me to go.”(Hymns, no. 75.)

I arose from my knees a humble man. And now, almost fifty years later, I look up to him and say, “Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.” I see now that it was wise that I should not become a general at that time, because if I had I would have been senior officer of all western Canada, with a lifelong, handsome salary, a place to live, and a pension when I’m no good any longer, but I would have raised my six daughters and two sons in army barracks. They would no doubt have married out of the Church, and I think I would not have amounted to anything. I haven’t amounted to very much as it is, but I have done better than I would have done if the Lord had let me go the way I wanted to go.
I wanted to tell you that oft-repeated story because there are many of you who are going to have some very difficult experiences: disappointment, heartbreak, bereavement, defeat. You are going to be tested and tried to prove what you are made of. I just want you to know that if you don’t get what you think you ought to get, remember, “God is the gardener here. He knows what he wants you to be.” Submit yourselves to his will. Be worthy of his blessings, and you will get his blessings. "

I then read all I could about Elder Brown and his life. He was an amazing man and had endured many, many disappointments and had witnessed that it was the hand of the Lord directing his life----not always in the ways he had hoped or wished for! Boy, did that sound familiar. BUT, he handled it with such grace and dignity! So, I decided I should at least TRY to handle my disappointments with some faint hint of that same kind of grace! I wish with all my heart that I was not living the life of a single mother of so many, that I had not lost my marriage that started out with the expectation it would last forever! It has been and still is such a bitter part of my life, but, that does not have to be the only facet of my life that defines who I am---right? I can be grateful I have the blessings I do and stop mourning for the losses I have suffered! It is, after all, a choice, right!?! I just wish I could always remember that~!

Well, in November of 2007, I received a call from a young woman that has had a really tough time lately. In July of 2007, I told her that my kids and I needed the blessings of serving and would be happy to help watch her three children---ages 8 months, 2 and 4 years. We did not always have all three, and initially we had them more than once a week. In September, we were only watching them on Saturdays, for about 12 hours. I wanted my children to have younger ones to care for and to learn the joy of service, so babysitting for them was totally self-centered on my part. Anyway, she called and said that the ones providing her child care during the rest of the week had cancelled. She was getting the child care funds from vocational rehab in order to go to school and she has to be gone 5 days a week for 11-12 hours and asked if she could have me do that and she would have vocational rehab pay me not only for the additional 4 days of care, but for the Saturdays we were already watching the kids. I was overwhelmed! I was in shock. It was quite a bit less than what I was making at the plant as a nurse, obviously, it did not have the promise of benefits and the hours were longer. But, I was able to be HOME! Also, it was more than enough to take care of Kathryn's mission and even have some additional funds for food and clothing! It was a miracle to me! I had decided that I would just sit back and wait for the Lord to reveal what HE wanted. I was sure, if I did what I wanted, which was to rush head long into any type of employment just for the sake of being employed, it would work out as well as ever---which is not at all! (or not for long!) I have finally figured out that HE does not wish me to ever have to deal with the temptation of riches! And, I am at peace with that. But, the night previous to her call, when I did not have but one vehicle that would work, and I thought, this relying on the Lord is rather a wild ride at times, ( Please do not misunderstand, I do know it is the very best way to go, because when I try to rely on myself or the arm of flesh---well, it truly only leads me to greater heartache and pain!) anyway, as I am thinking, OK, I am trying to do whatever I can to obey; then out of the blue comes an opportunity to work at home!

I have been thinking a lot about Elder Eyring's conference address of October 2007 and have realized that I do not take the time to write out all that the Lord does indeed do for me and my family. And, because I do not do that, I am so easily pressed down with the cares of this world and I am so easily discouraged. Well, for today, I am grateful and I just wanted to share my testimony of the Lord's awesome patience and love for us all, even children like me who are constantly walking into walls and wondering why I have a headache! I do finally get a clue, even if it is only for a few short weeks & I am back to my bewilderment stage (far too quickly~!---if my history repeats itself---as it usually does! )

I know Jesus is the Christ, I know we have His prophet upon this earth, and He does direct our paths through him and through personal revelation---if we will just take advantage of it. I also know HIS ways are far above mine and I can not conceive of how HE will make something of me, but, I am trying to be patient as HE does prune my branches, so to speak!

I have been so very blessed and know that whatever we as a family have needed, it has been provided by a loving Heavenly Father and often, by inspired family and friends!

Well, please know that if Heavenly Father is so very good and kind and patient with me, think of all HE will do for YOU!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Illuminata, a book by Marianne Williamson

As the title suggests, this book, when seriously pondered, brings added light! If taken seriously by all who now inhabit the world, it would change the world. But, is that not the promise made by religion? Indeed! But, what if we, as a conglomerated whole, could somehow order the universe and facilitate the shedding forth the purest source of "LIGHT" (irrespective of which religion each individual ascribes to...) to all of earth's inhabitants; would it not be the beginning of the most enlightened age ever known to mankind? Is that not what the Savior, Jesus Christ---the LIGHT of the WORLD taught by example and precept?

As in the child's story, "Horton Hears a Who," Marianne Williamson presents the world with the bold idea that EACH individual on this earth has a mission and DOES matter! (Again, exactly what our Savior taught...) Unlike Dr. Seuss's contribution, though, Illuminata is not a work of fiction, nor is it intended to merely entertain. ( Now, one could argue that Dr. Seuss was just as serious about this topic, and I will not deny that possibility.) Actually, as one sincerely cogitates this literary work, it expands the mind and cognition, until we are led to the conclusion, ultimately, that our actions, our attitudes and our very thoughts alter the course of our earth's life and has a direct impact, for good or ill, on each individuals quality of living. Once amenable to this realization, can ANY of our interactions be the same, can the course of history remain the same? Ms. Williamson claims that whether we wish to acknowledge this vortex of power, light and truth; it has come, and is changing the world as we know it. While some are busily doing their part to prepare for this ultimate Renaissance, there are yet those "asleep" to their own, and the world's possibilities. In Marianne's introduction, she states: "A mass movement is afoot in the world today, spiritual in nature and radical in it's implications. After decades of declining influence on the affairs of the world, there is once again a widespread consideration of spiritual principles as an antidote to the pain of our times. Like flowers growing up through pieces of broken cement, signs of hope and faith appear everywhere. These signs reflect the light of transcendent force at the very center of things, present in our lives in a corrective and even miraculous manner, a light we can reach personally through internal work of devotional nature. We are experiencing now an alteration of collective consciousness, centered not in government or science or religion, per se. It is centered nowhere because it is present, at least, potentially, everywhere. It is the rising up of our true divine nature, a reassertion of God in the consciousness of modern man."

The author then implores the reader to "test" her theory, and become one among thousands of others which have found this portal to true "LIGHT" and its healing Love. This passage requires one to become truly religious, not to merely select membership in an organized religion. She states,"...self-actualized people are hard to manipulate, difficult to control. Genuine religion does not respect the world for it sees right through it. It's goal is to supplant the world with something much more beautiful." Abraham Lincoln was described as being, "so religious that he was beyond religion!" And that is where we must go----forever beyond the confines of the "world's view" of religion. We are at a juncture in History that may very well usher in the greatest enlightenment know to mankind since the world began. Will we do our part to facilitate this emergence? Before we can ever hope to be a positive influence, we must first realize this colossal shift is before us. The author uses the example of those alive during the Renaissance, and their, perhaps, unwitting impact upon all subsequent generations. She writes: "I doubt many people walking down the street turned to each other and said, " This is the Renaissance, don't you think?" "But, looking back, we're clear there was one."

Not only do I wholeheartedly agree with the author on so much of the content, I have witnessed this "shift" for myself and had entertained in my limited consciousness, these very thoughts! It is thrilling to read these familiar thoughts in book form---and with the adornment of superlative articulation! Is this not the time to prepare even more intensively as the Second Coming of our Savior must surely be so very near?

Eighteen years ago, as I embarked on the amazing adventure of Home-schooling, I was awestruck to encounter a massive ground-swelling of parents, Mothers in particular, that no longer were willing to accept the abdication of the past. We, and rightly so, truly are a force to be reckoned with and we will not blindly or blithely follow the past generation's lead. We were entrusted with these precious children, and we have taught them all they know to this point, we are confident we can and should continue to educate and inculcate in the them, the morality that is so sorely lacking now! Home-schooling was my first and most poignant encounter with this "religious" movement that now permeates all areas and disciplines of our world. It encompasses far more than the didactics of children. It is, as Ms. Williamson suggests, " a spiritual quickening; a celestial speed-up through which, although the darkness is getting darker, the light is getting lighter! We have reached a critical mass of spiritual yearning---despite worldly appearances. There is a mass curiosity and openness to spiritual ideas unprecedented in modern western culture. Things we thought were primitive beliefs turn out to be more sophisticated than we are! As our thoughts rise, the world rises. This is the resurrection of the human mind." This also is the resurrection of the family's true and essential role in society, the mother's crucial role. We once again see how vital and indispensable a mother's SELFLESSNESS and DAILY NURTURING of her children must be, we can not be so cavalier about these roles, if society is to endure, let alone excel.

I find that this is, indeed, an awesome time to be alive and nothing is, or ever will be more fulfilling than knowing we contributed to THIS spiritual renaissance; our existence or being, matters!

Yet, I am reminded of C.S. Lewis's masterpiece, "The Chronicles of Narnia" in book seven, "The Last Battle," chapter 13, which is entitled, "How the Dwarfs refused to be taken In," we find the Kings and Queens of Narnia and even Aslan Himself, trying to convince the dwarfs that they are in a paradisaical place with a bounty of sumptuous food and drink. Not only do the dwarfs disbelieve, but they can not "see" who is trying to help them. They respond by stating, "Well, at any rate, there's no Humbug here. We haven't let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs!" Aslan states, "You see, they will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they can not be taken out..." How often has the "world" chosen cunning over belief? How many of our fellow sojourners are refusing to be "taken in" by the message of hope, love and peace made possible through dedicated and sincere prayer to Our Savior, the author of all LIGHT?

Marianne concludes her work with prayers for a variety of occasions, rites of passage and beckons the reader to "Search for God!" That search is a lifestyle decision, she explains that prayer is the time we talk to God, meditation is the time to LISTEN for God's response. She further writes, "Meditation is a time of quiet when the mind is freed from it's attachments to the hysterical ravings of a world gone mad. Nothing is more important to the future of the world then, that millions of people begin daily prolonged meditation and prayer. Prayer is a conduit for miracles. Most of us have more faith in the power of AIDS to kill us than we have faith in GOD to heal us and make us whole. Prayer gives us access to a sweeter, more abundant true and lasting inner peace."

I was so very grateful to a very dear friend who recommended this book to me. I have always trusted her judgment and in this work of art, I was not disappointed. I have always been a prayerful person. But, the attitudinal transformation endorsed by this author on the subjects of prayer, Light, Love and personal accountability were powerful. The Spiritual journey and healing emphasized in this book has far-reaching, even endless implications, limited only by one's own self-imposed limits. This is a book to be savored. It points the way back to Christ, back to our HOME; as do the scriptures, The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. The Scriptures are THE ultimate SOURCE of LIGHT and TRUTH and I try to daily sup from those pages as I fervently pray to OUR HEAVENLY FATHER for HIS LIGHT. May we all choose to use these sources that will light our path and guide us and provide us with the peace we all need, as we dwell here on this earth.