Saturday, March 10, 2018

Safe Spaces

Today I needed an outing. We cleaned house and packed a lunch and headed to a city park located on Puget Sound. I had felt strongly that it's time to get past the feeling that something is wrong when we go out as a family. The plan is to take day trips on Saturdays. Everyone must participate and we have to spend some time outside.

As we were driving we got to talking about the apartment where we lived when I had my first child, the job I had during that pregnancy and the library we walked to in my first three years of motherhood. Before I knew it we were talking about Matt and where he worked. We took a side trip and visited the airport where they park the planes before final delivery and they had two of the completed aircraft parked near the parking lot.

I was amazed at how interested the boys were in this airplane. I told them everything I could remember about it and pointed out the specific parts their dad helped design. I told them about the day I went to clean out his desk and how his manager said by helping design this military aircraft he literally helped make the world a better place. Their eyes lit up at that and I realized that something special was happening. Somehow in the telling of those memories and those facts they felt connected to their father.

When you lose someone close to you there are times when those memories are very painful and there are times when those memories promote healing. I remember laughing through tears during the funeral at the stories my brother-in-law told. As I have worked to understand what's happening in my heart and mind I realized that somewhere in my grief journey I let go of enough of the pain that the memories don't hurt so much and that happened by choosing to process the painful parts until only the good remained...or at least the pain was tolerable.

This process happened as I found safe places to talk through my grief; as I learned who the people were that would listen without judgement and without trying to fix my grief (it's not something you fix, it's a journey you undertake). Today I felt blessed, even if for only a short time, to be that place for my children. 

Many shy away from the subject but that doesn't help either (I know, I’ve tried). Even the avoidance of the painful subject can cause pain as you exclude the mourners and that is painful. Invite but don't pry, support but don't linger unless needed, and be patient as the individuals are embarking on a difficult journey. Create safety when you can and know they have little to give some days but they still need to be loved.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Ship Shape Faith

Have you ever wondered where the term "ship shape" came from? Quentin L. Cook learned that in Bristol Harbor the tidal range was 43 feet.  "At low tide when the water receded, the old ships would hit bottom and fall on their sides, and if the ships were not well built , they would be damaged.  In addition, everything  that was not tied down would be thrown in a chaotic fashion and ruined or spoiled." He was encouraged by mission leaders to be "shipshape and Bristol fashion." Read his full remarks here.

Having ship shape faith implies a strength that we don't always feel.  There will be times when everything we know is swept out from under us, those are the times we really need to feel the Love of Christ in our lives. When we're tipped over and all the people and things in our lives fall out of our lives because we're just so shaken.  When we question EVERYTHING, every decision we've ever made, everything we know to be true. Before reading this talk I described this as spiritually being knocked on your butt.  It's when you get hit and you didn't even see it coming, you're knocked off balance and down you go.  Those moments when we get knocked down hurt SO much.  The times of questioning are SO hard.  

What's gotten me through those times is coming back to the basics; God loves me, I am His child, Jesus Christ suffered and died for me, and He is with me every step of the way.

We had a stake relief society conference (for all women over 16 in our 8 church congregations) last week and the theme was "Live Like You Believe." The point that was driven home to me was that when we've been knocked on our butts, when we don't feel strong we need to do the things that we did when we felt our faith was strong;  we need to pray, we need to go to church, we need to seek answers in scripture and from inspired leaders. When we do these things it strengthens our faith and builds us during a time when we feel week; a time when we need strengthening most. 

These acts are important during calm times in our lives as well. Like the sailors on Bristol harbor must tie down their load even when the tide is high or when the seas are calm we are in essence tying down the important stuff even when we don't see the storms coming.  Elder Cook explains, "life is not easy, nor was it meant to be...Like the old ships in Bristol Harbor, there will be times when the tide goes out and it seems as if everything in this world keeping us afloat disappears. We may hit the bottom and even be tipped over on our sides [or knocked on our butts]. Amid such trials, I promise you that living and maintaining temple-worthy lives will hold together all that really matters." (Ensign, Nov 2015, p 42.)

That promise has brought me through SO much. There have been moments when I've had to look long and hard to see the things that REALLY matter in my life and I've had to let the other things fall out of my life but I know the things that really matter have been held together. I KNOW God loves us.

Read More Here:

Finding Light In Spiritually Dark Times

Finding Joy

Faith and Piano Lessons

Friday, February 2, 2018

I Don't Need Easy, I Just Need Possible

My life has been a game of extremes over the past year.  I would struggle through a hard day or two and go looking for something that would help so I learned that hot baths were nice and for a few days I'd end up in the bath once, sometimes twice, a day for a while before moving on to something else.  In my mind I felt that  if a little was good then a lot was better. My latest fixation is tennis.  I played in high school and intramurals in college, nothing serious I just seriously loved the game.  In August I had a friend who has been trying to get me to join the tennis club for years injure her knee and wrist.  This put her out for about two months and she asked me to cover for her. Being out on the court was awkward at first as I got my coordination back.  Once a week led to twice a week, which led to evening league (with men which was a big transition for me), which led to another evening league. I hit my limit the week I played four times.  I hurt in places I didn't even know I had. I've cut back to three times a week and even that is a bit intense.  I tweeked my right knee sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I am currently wearing an ace wrap almost all the time.  I also am developing tennis elbow which is really crumby. So, what have I learned from this experience? Even a good thing isn't good when it's taken to excess. 

 You can exercise too much, you can control your diet to the point of being unhealthy, you can travel so much that your home doesn't feel like home, you can over schedule your children, you can obsess about your home, your looks, your clothes and any number of things.  The principle that is needed here is moderation.  One of my favorite quotes right now is from Vincent Van Gogh "The best way to know God is to love many things." I also assert that the best way to enjoy life is to learn to love many things.  

That has been a difficult part of my grief journey as so many things hold pain for me and I have had to learn to love things like singing, listening to the radio, watching a movie, reading a book, taking a walk, visiting with friends, watching a sunset, having family dinners, praying, family activities.  All these things 
were so painful for a time but I have slowly been learning to love them again and letting the pain drain from my experience.  To those who are
struggling, just know it is possible.  I remember watching a movie about Bethany Hamilton (the competitive surfer who lost her arm to a shark attack). At one point in the movie she approached her father and asked if he could help her learn to surf again.  He told her it wasn't going to be easy and her response was, "I don't need easy, I just need possible." That's how I look at my challenges right now, not easy but possible.  Every time I have a moment when I cry my eyes out over something that wasn't supposed to be my job or I have a blow up with one of my children  or I day I'm so exhausted I finally give in and go back to bed I know that it will pass.  Tomorrow will come, the sun will rise, my children and my God will be here loving me and we will find one more tool, one more encouraging word, one more inspirational thought that will keep us all going. It won't be easy to find happiness in the little things and help my family heal but I KNOW IT IS POSSIBLE!

Read More Here:

Lessons From Elsa

Stop Selling Yourself Short

Fear and Faith