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Thursday, February 26, 2015

I didn't think I could do this, but I'm doing this!

I had my fifth child Eden when I was 37.  The counselor and I always wanted six kids and I wanted to be pregnant with our last baby before I turned 40.  We never had a problem getting pregnant before, but pregnancy didn’t happen at 39 or 40.  This was a very difficult time for me.  I tried to move forward with goals – both personal and for our family, but every time I did I felt stuck.  In some ways I felt guilty for not being able to have another baby.  Was it something I was doing wrong?  That’s when I started down a somewhat destructive path.  I assumed I wasn’t having another baby because my loving Father in Heaven, who knows all, didn’t think I could handle it.

I remembered nights of getting up with sick children or days of trying to make our family budget work.  Yes, this is why we were not meant to have another child.  I had health issues and struggles with helping my kids keep up with school work and activities.  I’m horribly unorganized with scouts (something all my boys participate in), it was difficult keeping the house clean and we’d need a bigger car.  Were these the reasons I wasn’t getting pregnant?  

I did my best to trust in God.  Was this what He wanted?  I started looking at other times in my life when something good I wanted didn’t come easy.  I remembered when I came home from my mission.  I had little money and no car.  I wanted to start my junior year at ASU, but circumstances seemed to say “No.” With the odds against me, I could have said “Well, since God hasn’t provided the resources, I guess I can’t go to school.”  Instead, I took out a student loan and rode the city bus to campus.  I worked as a nanny for a family with a newborn and was able to keep up with my studies while earning a decent salary.  By the end of my first semester, I was offered a full-ride academic scholarship.  My dad purchased a $300 car from a friend who owned a golf course and gave it to me.  This little Nissan hatchback had a section of the floor cut out to attach the handle of a rake-like device used to pick up golf balls on the shooting range.  The roof had a hole in it for a sky light so golf balls could be seen and collected at night.  (Man, I wish I had a picture of this car!)  The air-conditioner didn’t work, nor did the radio.  The stick shift had been put in backwards, so reverse was where 1st gear should be and 1st gear was stuck in the reverse position.  I drove this car back and forth from Mesa to Tempe that entire year.  True, I had to stop most commutes to add water to the radiator because of overheating, but it was my car.  I learned to love that car and nicknamed it 'The Cadillac'. I think back on that experience time and time again.  What if discouragement and difficult circumstances would have kept me from obtaining a college degree! 


So, I couldn’t give up on what my heart was telling me about this next child.  Deep down I knew – I just knew there was one more baby.  At times I buckled under the pressure and discouragement set it.  I learned the difficult lesson that even when we have good desires and intentions, we may not have the opportunity to follow through with them.  Some things are out of our control.

I bounced around from gratitude to discouragement.  Grateful for my five beautiful children – their health and strong minds, their goodness and unique talents.  Wow!  I had five amazing and really fun (sometimes crazy) children.  
Why wasn’t that enough for me?  Enter discouragement.  Why was I not meant to have this one more baby I desired?  Was I ready to have all my children in school?  Was this phase of toddlers and preschoolers really over? Did I just need to grow up?

After I turned 41, I started accepting our family might be complete.  We had an amazing summer.  I ran and played on the beach.  

I loved my ability to move my body, free of baby weight from the past.  I played tennis with my boys, we hiked and took family bike rides.  Maybe this wasn’t so bad.  My children were growing up and with Eden at the age of three, then four we had so much independence.  

No longer was a stroller needed, diaper bags and bottles.  We could all participate in adventures. 

I didn’t need to stay back with a napping child.  This could work.  I still had the ache in the back of my mind, but there was nothing more I could do about it.  Life was too beautiful.

It was at this content place of no more questioning, no more worrying and acceptance that I found out I was pregnant.  How ironic is that!  Interesting - something I’d wanted for so long just didn’t quite fit into my busy life anymore.  I’ve had to do some self-evaluating.  I’ve had to rearrange certain priorities for others.  In some ways, I’ve been tested/blessed on both ends of the spectrum.  Heartache of years while trying to get pregnant only to reshuffle and question my life path to make room for one more.

As women, we all make sacrifices.  Mothering certainly isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but by far the most meaningful.  I never knew my heart had such capacity to love and experience joy.  As woman we do all we can to fulfill our purpose to love and nurture others.  Some of us have children while others do not.  Some of us want for children we cannot have while others struggle with an unwanted pregnancy.  I think what I’ve learned is it’s all in how we handle what comes our way and how we treat others.  There are always children (and adults) out their in need of love and mothering.  When I struggled, I looked around at all the children in my life I love.  I made a commitment to love and nurture my beautiful nieces and nephews and the children of my friends I hold dear.  
These tender relationships have grown by leaps and bounds and I love when they wrap their little arms around my body.   


So, I’m having a baby and there are many emotions wrapped around this event.  I’ve learned hard lessons and witnessed beautiful miracles.  I’ve felt overwhelmed only to be carried by loving arms.  I worry and remind myself to give it to God.  This is my path and here I stand tall, only because I’m leaning on so many loved ones who support me and stand by my side.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Overwhelmed - My Word of the Year

Last week, I turned into the driveway and parked the car.  In the back seat, Eden unbuckled her self from her booster seat and I jumped out to open her door.  Not sure how it happened, but her booster scooted too close to the door and when that door opened, her booster seat tilted and shot Eden out onto the cement driveway. 

I screamed. 

I froze.

I watched my daughter fall head first out of my large and tall SUV and land like a rag doll on the cement.

Nearly 7 months pregnant, I bent down and scooped her four year-old body into my arms.  My boys ran to our aid.  Chandler took her out of my arms and we rushed her inside.  She was crying.  I was crying.  We took her straight to my room.  Laying her down on my bed, I started the inspection that all mothers do when their child is injured.  Scanning for blood, bruises, scratches, looking into her eyes, asking her questions.
“I’m alright, Mommy,” she said, just wanting to be held again. 
Five minutes later, she stopped crying and wanted to go play.
I, on the other hand, cried for over an hour.  Full on panic attack, uncontrollable crying, terrified, overwhelmed and it was Eden, along with my boys, who comforted me.

I don’t know how she wasn’t seriously injured.  I think an angel must have caught her.  When we talk about it now, she says “Mommy, you cried more than me.!” 


Yeah, I’m not proud of that.

So, I have realized my ability to handle stressful situations right now is a bit off kilter.  When I’m pregnant I’m very aware of my mortality and the mortality of my children.  The vulnerability of the entire experience, hoping and praying everything goes well, yet there is very little I have control over is well . . . vulnerable.  Pregnancy requires being submissive, giving into God’s will, feeling the tug-of-war from one life experience to the next. 

Several of my friends, including my sister have chosen a word of the year.  I’ve thought and thought about a word that could inspire me, keep me on track and define me.

There’s a word that keeps coming to me.  So far, it hasn’t been positive.  The word is overwhelmed.  When close friends ask how I’m feeling, I sigh somewhat defeated and say “Overwhelmed.”

Well, while reading my scriptures I read the following verse:

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

My heart was touched and all of a sudden my perspective changed.  I was overwhelmed by all the blessings in my life.  This feeling of being overwhelmed, all along I felt it was a weakness, but I know God.  I’ve seen him turn my weaknesses into strengths before. 


As a young girl and teenager, I had a lisp that prevented me from articulating the letter S.  I couldn’t say words like “thought” or “think” without them sounding like “sought” or “sink.”  At the age of 22, I was called as a missionary for the Mormon Church to serve on Temple Square as a public speaker and tour guide.  This volunteer opportunity would for 18 months.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it.  Especially under stressful situations, my lisp became more pronounced.  However, I memorized all 11 scripts (some 10 pages or more) and prayed the Lord would help me.  Slowly, I learned to articulate and pronounce words much clearer than I would have otherwise.  Sure, I still had set backs but making the mistake allowed me to practice with more focus and effort.  I felt guided by the Spirit, even healed.  Near the end of my mission, I loved when I had groups of 50 or 60 people on my tours.  I was called to direct/instruct the huge tour buses that brought hundreds and thousands of people who came to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  No longer did I have to focus to say words properly as my new speech patterns had turned into habits.  Later, my degree at ASU required advanced public speaking classes.  The blessing of my mission helped me gain confidence in my abilities to public speak and I never had a problem with my lisp.  Many times I’ve been on the news and had to public speak in stressful situations, all the while feeling secure in my ability to speak without a lisp.  The counselor teases me because when I’m excited, my lisp still comes out.  So, when I'm really happy, especially sharing something wonderful that has happened to me or a dream/goal I hope to accomplish, I find myself reverting to that young girl with a lisp.  I'm not sure why, but my hubby loves it (which I think is ironic!)


Over and over again, the Lord has turned my weaknesses into strengths.  Could He take this feeling of being overwhelmed and do the same thing?  Overwhelmed at the love and joy, the happiness and health and with this feeling came the desire to pick my word of the year:

Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed by Him.
(artist Akiane Kramarik  - link found here)

Overwhelmed at all God has done for me.

Overwhelmed God knows me better than I know myself.

Overwhelmed I have such a beautiful family.

Overwhelmed I live in a neighborhood, town, and a country where so much goodness abounds.

Overwhelmed I had a kind and loving husband who is just as committed to this family as I am.

 Overwhelmed the Lord trusts me to be the mother of another one of His beautiful children.


I realize now the reason I was so upset when Eden fell out of the car is because I have such an overwhelming love for her.  It was painful watching her fall, but would I give up the love to not feel the pain when she hurts?  This type of love resonates with all my children.  That's why I hurt when they struggle and fall, but that's why I feel elated when they strive and accomplish.  Yes, I feel overwhelmed and with God’s influence I choose to focus on my blessings, for truly there is such abundance how can I not help but feel overwhelmed.




Linking up to:
Jenny Matlock

Friday, January 30, 2015

Staging or Not

There are so many things I love about re-doing/refinishing furniture.  


I love the blank slate.

How it begs to be reinterpreted.  

I love the finished product.



I love interpreting each piece.



But lately, well, things have been flying off the shelf and just out of sheer time, I've left one little thing out of the process.
Staging.



Staging has left the building.

I love staging - pulling out unique finds to accent a certain piece.  
The master of staging is Miss Mustard Seed.
Her staging is amazing.
(photo found here)

But lately, staging just isn't happening.
We're too busy.
The counselor delivers a piece to either Antique Plaza or Merchant Square before I get any staging done.


Bless his heart, he tries for a bit of staging, but it's just not the same.


Sometimes the photo looks really professional, fingers and all.

That's it.
And they still seem to fly.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kind and Sweet Little Things

There are too many to count, but I had to share these tender moments I've had recently.

Last night as I was laying Mayer down for bedtime, Eden asked about a picture he has hanging on his wall.  

I’m not sure where Mayer found this photo.  It’s from about 8 years ago when he was just a baby.  I thought I’d had it tucked away in some scrapbook, but Mayer had found it and hung it on his wall.
“I love that picture of you,” I told him.  “You were such a smiley baby and look, you’re holding a little motorcycle.”
“I hung it up because Grandma is in it,” he said.

Sure enough, looking past his bright one-year old eyes is his beautiful Grandma Lofgreen.  

She passed away last spring and my kid’s are having a difficult time with it. 
I thought back to that day, Easter 2006.  Grandma had made a ham and scalloped potatoes.  Her and Grandpa had hid eggs in the yard.  Little did we know in a few short years, she’d be gone.
Love.  I love that Mayer knows his Grandma loves him.     


___________________________________________________________
I was particularly tired a few nights ago when I heard Eden crying.  The counselor was helping her get ready for bed.  Teeth brushed, pj’s on, prayers said – so what was the problem?  I was too tired for meltdowns and as soon as she rushed in the door I told her she was to go back to bed and lay down. 
“Mommy’s had a long day,” I said.  “You need to go back to bed.”
“But, Mommy,” she said, “I forgot to pray for the baby in your tummy.  Can we say another prayer?”
Yeah, that got my attention.  Love that sweet girl and her articulate prayers.

______________________________________________________________________
I was at church on Sunday and the last class had just finished.  I was hungry and tired and the high-heeled shoes I’d worn were not the best choice for a pregnant woman!  The counselor and I gathered up the kids when Payson came running up to me. 
“Hurry, Mom.  Come here,” he announced.
“Payson, we’re all going to the car now,” I said.
“Please,” and he grabbed at my hand. 
“What is it?” I impatiently wanted to know.
He pulled me down the hallway until we stopped right next to a friend of mine who is also pregnant.  However, her pregnancy has been so rough she’s been in and out of the hospital.  She is so nauseous she has suffered and fainted.  She can’t even keep water down at times.  I’ve offered to watch her sweet little daughters off and on so she can rest.
“Mom, can you set up another time we can watch her kids,” Payson asked.  I guess Payson didn't remember the name of the mother, so he had to physically take me to her so I would know.  My friend’s little daughter reached up to Payson and he gave her a hug.  
Here they are at their playdate.
Mayer got in on the action too.

 ________________________________________________________________
Pregnancy although wonderful, doesn’t necessarily make me feel beautiful.  I can’t see my feet anymore.  Nothing fits and I’m only getting bigger.  A few weeks ago I was looking through my closet before date night.  Was there anything cute I could where that wasn’t black yoga pants!  I pulled out a denim shirt my sister-in-law had recently give me, found a pair of pants with just enough spandex they still fit and did up my make-up.  Once out the door, the counselor put his arms around me and whispered in my ear “You’re so beautiful when you’re pregnant.”  Although the counselor is always full of compliments, I had been feeling low for several days.  How did he know what I needed to hear?  My insecurities swept away.  The words entered my heart and made a permanent impression.  
If my husband thinks me beautiful, that’s good enough for me.  That sweet compliment has carried me ever since.

 _______________________________________________________________
My dad (who lives two houses down the street from us) will bring home children bikes from thrift stores and fix them up for his grandkids.  When we all visit, there can be up to 10 little kids peddling Grandpa’s bikes up and down the street.  A few days ago, I noticed our little neighbor’s bike tire was flat.  This didn’t stop him from riding it up and down the street, keeping up with my kids as they raced and jumped off burms.  A little while later, Mayer and the little neighbor came up the street from Grandpa’s pulling a different bike.  Mayer had found a bike just the right size for the neighbor, but the chain was off.   I watched as Mayer went to the tool box and took the tool he needed to fix the bike and offer it to the neighbor boy.  All fixed, they raced until sunset. 

 _________________________________________________________________
My sweet neighbor Diane loves to thrift.  This Saturday was ½ day at Goodwill at to my surprise, she bought bag after bag of baby boy clothes.  How did she know I’d given away all my boy clothes and baby supplies years ago?  All washed and ready to go.  

Diane also comes over and helps with the evening dishes.  

She was recently baptized and we've so bonded over this spiritual journey.

When Diane found out Eden was Mary for the Christmas nativity, she found her the best baby Jesus.
How did I get so blessed to have a neighbor like Diane?



I’ve heard this song a hundred times, but today it has new meaning to me. 
Toby Mac – Speak Life
Our positive words and actions can make such a difference in other’s lives.
I know God is looking out for me.

Everyday there are so many beautiful experiences that keep me present.
Linking up to:
Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Give and Take of Motherhood

I have been immersed in motherhood.  My mothering soul is reaching out to the universe looking for enlightenment and encouragement.  I take long walks and listen to talks on motherhood, love and parenting, raising children and creating loving family relationships. I'm reading books, talking with other mothers and reaching out more and more to my own mom.

A few weeks ago while thrifting for more stretchy skirts and xl shirts to fit over my growing belly, I found two old wood ornate frames.  I knew immediately I wanted to turn them into chalkboards.  This is my thing lately, and I do it with old mirrors too.




The first old frame had a thick cardboard print-out with this painting photocopied on it. (I want to emphasize photocopy so you don't think this is a blog post about the 25 million dollar painting I found at the thrift store!)



I’d seen the painting before.  I’m not sure where, but it did look familiar to me.  I looked at it for a moment, appreciating the beauty, then quickly moved on.  I was ready to chalk-paint over it when something told me to look at the print a bit longer.  Was the image sisters, friends, mother-daughter? 

I set it aside, painted the beautiful frame it had come in and thought nothing more of it.

Until the next morning, I sat down for breakfast and opened a book I’ve been reading.  


Art of Motherhood is filled with a collection of beautiful paintings and text discussing mothering through the ages.  I found the book many years ago at the thrift store and you can see from the tattered corners, it’s been looked through a few times.

Would you believe I opened the book up to this exact page?


I found it amazing.  Was this painting trying to teach me something? I stared like I was seeing it for the first time.  How tender the embrace, how in love the two are.  I began reading the history of Madame Vigee Lebrun’s painting title Madame Vigee Lebrun and Child.  The painting is the artist with her daughter, Jeanne Lucie Louise. I grabbed Eden and hugged her in my arms while reading.

The text read:

“One wonders what sort of mother she was to little Julie.  She reportedly took her impending motherhood in stride, continuing to paint energetically throughout her pregnancy.  On the day of Julie’s birth, the artist’s closest friend, Mme de Verdun, came to see her in the studio and found her working, as the artist remembered, “between the throes.”  Urged to take to her bed, the artist replied that this was simply not possible, she had a sitting for a portrait the next day.  The artist did, however, take her friend’s advice, and her daughter was born that night.”

Oh, the joy I found in this little piece of history.  That Madame Vigee Lebrun was too busy in her heart's passion/painting to attend to her own labor is simply wonderful.  I remember editing a manuscript while in the hospital laboring with Reef.  I find the pull in motherhood between giving of ourselves but the desire to keep a bit of ourselves is constant.  We make sacrifices for our children, but still desire to make our mark as individuals, not just mothers. 

I recently found the artist Kate Daisy and I’m in love with her work.  

(images found here)

Here she is, painting with baby in tow. 


Passion to create.  Passion to live life to it's fullest.  Passion to love beyond measure.

And my sister-in-law Monique who I admire so much.   Here she is living her passions with her baby.  They are both so beautiful.

I love strong mothers.  I have friends going back to school for higher education, training for marathons, learning about interior design, teaching dance classes, traveling to exotic places, learning about whole foods or essential oils and writing books.  I admire strength in woman who do all they desire to do.  Nothing holds them back.  To teach these attributes to your child is a great thing.

I find with each child I have there is a larger capacity and desire to be creative in mothering, but in other things too.  How is that?  Sure days are busy and time is limited, but in some ways my passions are magnified and I’m able to accomplish more then before.

My favorite gift this Christmas was something my father-in-law said to me while we were out on a walk with Eden on Christmas day at sunset.  The air was cool and crisp and he lovingly held my arm in his.  I love this man and think he is very wise.  He’s just lost his wife and finding his footing again.  He’s felt sorrow beyond my comprehension and still, with hope and optimism he said to me:  “The heart has an infinite capacity to love.” I've thought about this over and over again.  I always have room in my heart  to love more.  Love will always grow.


I didn’t turn the copy of Madame Vigee Lebrun and Child into a chalkboard.  I hung it in Eden’s room as a reminder as mother’s and woman, we can have it all!  


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