Thursday, August 26, 2010

What did you do today?

After reflecting on this post I wrote on motherhood, I've decided that I need to be able to answer, "I've been doing God's work." I need to be sure that how I'm spending my time is in line with what it means to keep my eye single to God's glory.

I loved this -- from a devotional I recently listened to, given by Jeffery Thompson (a grad school colleague of mine, actually). He quoted his mission president's wife, who said this:

When I do the laundry, I am building the kingdom of God. When I scrub the floors, I am serving the Lord. When I tidy the clutter, I'm an instrument in His hands. I do a lot of mundane jobs, but if my eye is single to God and I'm trying to serve my family, then I feel [great] purpose in my work.

That's not to say, of course, that there isn't anything else of value that can be done in a day besides housework. (And I'm not saying housework is only ever the role of a woman...we should work together as partners to tackle the tasks that need to be done. But for a SAHM, it makes sense that a lot of the work should fall under my umbrella.)

But I think it's so easy to relegate the routine tasks of life to the category of 'unimportant' while envying others' tasks or jobs or responsibilities that seem more glamorous.

The glory should be God's and we should be His instruments. Truly.

I'm going to try answering my husband's question with "building God's kingdom" and see if I feel I'm really being honest. Because I think I'm going to realize that I need to tighten up my time a bit more to really be better at giving Him my heart and my time and my life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Power in Partnership

The focus of Family Home Evening last night was back-to-school blessings for the children. We started with them each picking a song for us to sing; two of them actually sang solos for us. We then had a family prayer. I also shared a couple of thoughts, one from this talk by Elder Bednar (reminding them of the story of a priesthood blessing that didn't come to pass until after the mom and son exercised their faith to help it come to pass) and this recent one from Elder Oaks (reminding us that the words themselves are perhaps not as important as the faith we bring to the blessings we receive). The idea was to invite the children to be active participants in these blessings -- not just to listen, but to act on them, to implement them.

This all set the tone and helped the children settle their spirits to prepare to receive their father's (Father's) blessings.

The Spirit was thick, the counsel direct. Interestingly, the warnings that came through the blessings reflected concerns that had been on my mind all day as a possible lesson topic. To me it was a witness that the Lord was involved in the process and that He was guiding our thoughts and words to help guide our children.

And it *was* a 'we' thing. My husband was voice for the blessings pronounced, but I was an integral part in the process of making this happen, helping set the stage, and then encouraging the children to record their thoughts and feelings. In addition, the discussions that followed were priceless; the journal entry from our 8-year-old was simply stunning. (All I could say to her was "I can tell you wrote this with the Spirit." The Lord can open the mouths, as it were, of children to testify powerfully of truth. Wow.)

I write this to remember the experience, but also to emphasize the fact that priesthood and the divine role of a husband to preside does not prevent true and equal partnership. The power of partnership I felt last night was real...and it's something I have felt time and time again in our home.

Back to School

How is it possible that it's that time again?

You can feel it in the air -- the cooling crispness, the excitement in the kids' faces, the buzzy hubbub at the stores. (I thought I had it all ready -- but, alas, I still ended up with a last-minute trip to the dollar store tonight.)

This summer has in some ways been personally very difficult, but all I really remember is that it was fun. And I think this post by my friend Julie sums it up very well:

“The adventure [summer] is over.  Everything gets over, and nothing is ever enough.  Except the part you carry with you.  It’s the same as going on a vacation. Some people spend all their time on a vacation taking pictures so that when they get home they can show their friends evidence that they had a good time. They don’t pause to let the vacation enter inside of them and take that home.”
E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
I welcomed my summer inside of me.  I made real clicks and heart clicks over and over to preserve the vibrancy and action and emotions; the people, the places, the feelings.

Most of my favorite childhood memories were just the times of pure play. I have many photos in my mind and heart of watching my children be children this summer, playing until way past sunset (oh, boy, are we having a hard time readjusting to a sleep schedule). My inability to be all over the place has in some ways been a real blessing. We did have some outings and a vacation, but mostly, we had a lazy summer here at home. Ahhhhh.

I'm more than a little sad to see summer end. But I'm excited for my children in their excitement. As we went to the back-to-school open house, it was fun to watch my children scurrying around the school visiting former teachers, walking around the grounds surrounded by their respective friends -- content (close to giddy, actually), ready to be getting back into the swing of things.

In their prayers as of late, they sometimes say, "Please bless Mom that she won't be too lonely while we're gone."

I will miss them, that's for sure. But at the same time, I LOVE watching them grow. I love who they are becoming. Mothering just keeps getting more and more fun, and more and more rewarding.

All sorts of sighs, for all sorts of reasons.

Monday, August 23, 2010

When a BYU Education Week Financial Class Becomes a Miracle

"But I don't want to end my Education Week experience with a class on finances," I argued silently.

I figured it was probably my overactive brain talking anyway, so I marched away from 446 MARB toward the Jesse Knight building without thinking much of it.

Until I had gotten settled in the next class.

I had picked a nice seat, way in the back, where I could juice up my laptop and convince myself that I could find the information from the finance class online. With no internet signal available in this particular room, that approach failed. I couldn't dismiss the nagging feeling I had that maybe I needed to go to that finance class. I was not happy.

As the nice host gave his usual schpeel about moving in toward the center so the latecomers would have a place to sit (this brother's class filled up every night -- he was good), I realized it was now or never. I walked past the instructor apologetically and marched back out into the gorgeous evening.

Right back to 446 MARB. (Ha. Joke's on me. Chalk it up to exercise for the day.)

After sitting for ten minutes, I thought of leaving. After all, I got the handout when I walked in. My stomach was in knots; I couldn't help but wonder what I was missing in the other class (and I've been known to split time between classes when I've been conflicted about which to attend).

But I held on, looking for something perhaps that could give me some reason as to why I felt pressed to come.

I learned a couple of cool things, got information about a great budgeting spreadsheet (you should check it out -- it's a Dave Ramsey special), and felt overall that it was a good class. I figured I'd leave and share the spreadsheet and hope someone could be helped by it.

But as the class ended, I looked over and saw a woman who looked familiar. I did a double-take (or two) and decided I'd take the chance that she was who I thought she was. (I even had a name come to mind.)

She was, indeed...someone from my high school days. Someone I'd never talked to, mind you. Someone who had actually moved away during our high school years.

But we proceeded to chat, and the chatting turned into a heart-to-heart conversation that lasted, er, well, a long time.

Oh, OK, I'll tell you. It lasted four and a half hours. It was as though we'd been friend a long time. (Bonus: We saw seven deer cross the parking lot and street while we talked in her car.)

Interestingly enough, she had planned on going home before this class, but a few things happened and she stayed.

The experience left us both in awe and feeling the Spirit from all that we had explored together. It was amazing.

I really need to learn not to argue with that "voice in my head." I'm glad ultimately He won out.