Friday, February 6, 2009

The HAND of GOD in our lives.....

I was called in to substitute teach a Seminary class this past Wednesday. I enjoy teaching about the gospel and sharing my testimony that GOD does in fact live and IS as involved in our lives as we are willing to allow HIM. AND, even if we do NOT allow HIM, HE is still there!

Anyway, I was supposed to have the class watch a short video about the Apostle Paul and then have the class fill out a worksheet. The final question on the page, asked the students to reflect upon their lives and share any thing that they knew they had experienced that had help mold them and shape them into what the Lord needed them to be or to do. I was struck by the beauty of God's workmanship in the lives of HIS servants and HIS prophets. It is an awesome thing to look at HIS HAND in their lives.

Take Moses for instance. He was miraculously preserved and taken into Pharaoh's own household, where he received the training and the education and the tutoring that never would have otherwise been possible. And yet, he was also nurtured by his own mother and taught somewhat of the Hebrews thanks to Miriam---his sister's quick response to the Pharaoh's Daughter who found Moses and pulled him to safety; out of the bulrushes and raised him as her own child.

Paul, likewise, was tutored and trained in ways not normally available to those around him. He was a Roman citizen, which allowed him greater freedoms than other Jews were granted. And, because of this, he was able to converse with and gain audience with those in high positions of power----such as King Agrippa! And on and on it goes...the Lord's hand provides the weaving of the tapestry of ALL OUR LIVES so that we each can fulfill our own unique missions while we sojourn upon this earth. It is totally up to us as to whether we avail ourselves to or even acknowledge HIS intricate patterns as HE weaves.

As I tried to share my own fervent testimony that this is the TRUTH---THAT we each do have a mission here on earth and the LORD is involved in our preparation and our paths, I shared just a couple of examples from my own life. I will share them with you now. I am in no way comparing myself to any of the Lord's anointed. I am NO PROPHET. BUT, I do wish to be HIS HANDS while I am here on this earth. One of the ways I feel HE has allowed me to do that--- is by being a mother. I had always wanted to be the mother of a dozen children. I just always wanted my home filled with many children from the time I was very young. And, Heavenly Father provided a means for me to prepare for that role. When I was about 15, our church would meet on Sundays for Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting. But, because in Marquette Michigan, our members traveled great distances to attend, we also had our Priesthood for the men and Relief Society for the women on Sundays as well. This meant that the children were unsupervised for just over an hour. Well, the youth were asked if they would assist in tending the children while their parents were in these additional Sunday meetings. Unfortunately, only two youth volunteered. It was my sister Stacie and myself. SO, Stacie was given an adult to help her tend the children between the ages of 3-11, while I was given the toddlers and infants to 2 years old. I had about 10-12 babies each Sunday. I was alone, in a fairly good sized room and I would just take each baby, one by one and feed them, and then change their diapers and then just go around holding and loving them until their parents came to claim them. I am not sure how many children my sister and the adult woman had, but, I am sure it was probably close to 20! For my part, I LOVED my babies. I was in heaven. Little did I know that I would, myself have 11 of my own babies to love and care for as an adult! I know that the years that I was blessed to care for all those sweet babies, did help prepare me for the demands of having all my own children.

Around this same time period, as I planned what courses I would take during my high school education, there was a great deal of peer pressure AGAINST taking homemaking courses. I am not sure why this was, and I was even more unsure as to WHY I succumbed! I always wanted to be a wife, a homemaker and a mother. AND, the courses of cooking, sewing etc. were essential courses! BUT, those who took those courses were demeaned and made to feel as though they were less intelligent for taking those courses. ( NOT too many years later, I truly lamented my poor choices in courses and that I had NOT taken any Home Economic courses! ) But, instead, I signed up for Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Integrated Chemistry and Physics---for two years! etc. I struggled with the math and the science courses, but, I would not yield, I stayed the course of taking all the difficult courses. I went into Nursing, and after becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse, worked for 2 years before marrying and beginning the family I had always wanted. My education---(for I did want to get my RN or B.S.N)...was quickly placed on the shelf as I settled into doing what my heart wanted all along---and what I had dreamed of---finally became a reality and I was blessed with all my beautiful babies!

It was not until 2006 (nearly 30 years AFTER my graduation from High School!) when I saw the reason for the weaving of the tapestry of my life's high school course choices. I was on trial and fighting for the custody of my 8 minor children. I had chosen to home-school them once again---after the divorce. We had moved to Utah and I had complied with the court's order to enroll them in public school upon our arrival in Utah. But, since none of my children had ever been in a school setting, it was such a shock, AND, coupled with the divorce---the rending of our family---well, the children were floundering. AND so, I decided that it would be best to home school, once again. I was not at all aware that it would mean I could lose my children. BUT, my ex-husband, who has always had the means to have the very best legal representation---used this "breach in the divorce decree" ( my return to home educating my children) to alter custody. IT was the fight of my life. I was in shock. I had no idea that I would come so very close to losing my children. BUT, there I was, in the most adversarial of situations. And, the opposing attorney was attempting to portray me as an ignorant woman, who was--for all my adult years, barefoot and pregnant and knew little else. As he began to interrogate me, he asked, so very snidely, "Can you read?" I said that of course I could read! He then asked me what courses I had taken in High School. I was unprepared for the shock that rippled through the courtroom as I felt the strength of the LORD whispering what my response should be....I began to state the Honor's English classes, and the Anatomy and Physiology and ended with the Integrated Chemistry and Physics! ( My ex-husband obviously did NOT know that I had taken such courses in High School because his attorney was silent for a time!) It was tangible, the shift in attitude. It was THEN I realized how far back Heavenly Father had been preparing me for that pivotal moment in time! I was so very humbled that HE would have cared so about my maintaining custody of my children, to have so weaved the tapestry of my life! (I am sure it also helped to be able to share with the court that my oldest son, who had been home schooled exclusively by me, had just taken his GED in order to get into college and he had scored in the top 5 percent of the entire nation!!! So, clearly, I had NOT failed my children in their education.)

That two-day court appearance was without a doubt, the very worst experience of my life in many ways. I was in tears, sobbing as the judge raised her voice and refused to allow me to explain the answers the opposing attorney was extracting from me. Yet, through-out the horror, I felt my Heavenly Father's strength and I knew HE was assisting me, bringing answers to my mind and enlightening me as to what I needed to say.

I was told the judge would deliberate and her decision would be made and communicated to me prior to the beginning of the school year. The trial was held the last two days of July in 2006. I can not even begin to relate the agony of those weeks which stretched into months. Finally, when I felt I could endure the agony of NOT KNOWING whether I would retain custody of my children or not----I remember praying fervently, as I was sitting outside the school, waiting for my children to finish their recess. I just began weeping and petitioning the Lord for my children. It was now NOVEMBER! I went home and noticed that my attorney had called. I called her back and she told me that she knew I would be distraught at not knowing, so she said she had not even read the entire brief, but, that she had read enough to know that though there were stipulations, I was, in fact, being permitted to retain custody! As I write this account, my eyes are filled with tears as the memory of that ordeal is still so poignant and raw. I can not recall the trial or the call from my attorney without shedding tears afresh.

BUT, again, I say with all the fervor of my being, that GOD DOES LIVE! That JESUS IS THE CHRIST! THE HOLY GHOST DOES whisper and CAN AND WILL reveal the Lord's will to us, if we will but listen! I know this, because I have had to rely upon the GODHEAD so very often in my life. And, I KNOW that if THEY are willing to be there for me---an insignificant, weak and most unworthy vessel, THEY are most assuredly available and willing to be there for YOU! For all of us! WE are ALL important to THEM! I praise THEIR NAMES forever and I know I am nothing without THEM! I have done nothing on my own....I am so very grateful none of us are required to do any of this alone! I pray that I will be found worthy to do whatever is needed to be THEIR hands while I remain on this earth.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Random Musings

January 13, 2009 at just minutes before 4 p.m., my firstborn, my daughter, Bonnie, had her first child. He came into the world after many difficult hours of labor and was 8 pounds, 2 ounces, 21 inches long and had an amazing head of thick, long dark hair! It is impossible for me to articulate the jumble of emotions that surrounded that blessed event. I could not help recall my own travail for each of my own beautiful 11 babies. My heart went out to Bonnie as I watched her suffering---knowing I would willingly have taken the pain for her, but, alas, that of course was an impossibility. I wished that I was back in time and was the one in travail, wishing with all my heart that I could relive the moments just after each of my precious babies were placed in MY ARMS! I watched in awe as I saw the same wonderment and fulfillment fill my daughter's eyes as Trevor was handed to her. I saw firsthand the circle of life and I was mesmerized by the colossal beauty of this divine process. And, I knew, that though the pain was just moments past, that pain would soon be swallowed up and swiftly forgotten as the love and the inherent miracle of birth, bound up those fleeting feelings of suffering and in its place allows only the deepest reverence and love to remain.

Trevor has not been a baby that sleeps much, if at all. The ironic thing is that my last post relating to my children was about Carrie Ann, and she too, was not a baby that would ever sleep or eat! I was fortunate if I was able to snatch 45 minutes at a time--of sleep, for the first 6 months of Carrie's life! And, Carrie Ann was the babe that introduced me to the world of mastitis! Yet, I could not have loved her more. I found that there was nothing that my children could do that would keep me from loving them so fiercely and so deeply, that in an instant, then as now, I would gladly give my life for them or do whatever feat might be required to keep them safe. I find it also ironic that it is now Carrie Ann that is staying with Bonnie, Scott and Trevor as the helper I would dearly love to be if so many states did NOT divide us from each other! Having 6 children still at home, and being a single Mom with a job----I could only take one precious week to be with Bonnie as she entered the world of parenting! I wish with all my heart that I could be as close, if not closer to her as I am so very blessed to be to my son, Christopher, Susie and my little grand-daughter. I am so very grateful for the awesome blessing I have to babysit my Becca three days a week---on average----while her parents attend school. I am praying for the day to swiftly arrive when Bonnie, Scott and Trevor will be nearer, so that I can be the Grandmother I have always longed to be for my children's children!

It is such an incredible experience to be given this instructive perspective first as a child---and if we focus we do NOT have to lose that perspective or any of those we gain as we grow and mature!!! It has been invaluable to recall how I did feel as a child, or as a teen or as a young mother when mentoring those I love most and those I wish to assist! (Which is everyone that would appreciate encouragement and love~!) It also serves to humble and continue the tutoring from on high, when I see how I would reach out to prevent certain hurts and pain, yet, I know because of my maturation process, I can NOT. IF I were to remove those pains and sorrows, much of the character building would be diminished if not vanish altogether. SO, I watch as I see MY HEAVENLY FATHER, allowing me to suffer the pains of my travail of my own spirit and character. AT times, I am submissive and humble and think to THANK HIM for this wondrous process of development and growth. Then, sadly, there are STILL TIMES when I shrink and shout at the heavens for the inevitable pain that comes from my own poor choices or folly or misguided actions. I pray that I will live long enough and REMEMBER WELL ENOUGH AND to THANK THE LORD GOD IN ALL THINGS!!! AND,also, to mellow to the point where I never again charge my Heavenly Father falsely! I am nearing a century of this life's experiences. I pray that I can become a more grateful, sober, kind, thoughtful, loving and obedient Child of GOD! I pray that my children will see my weaknesses and have the good sense to only replicate any strengths that they may see in me or others, and eliminate any of the negative examples, regardless of where they were seen!

I am so very grateful for the opportunity I have had to be a mother and now a grandmother. I look forward eagerly to the day when OUR family will be together here on the earth and in the eternities.