Monday, December 23, 2013

Once Upon A Time

Once Upon a Time…isn’t that how all fairy tales begin?  Well at least all of the good ones?  This story does too, but I have a secret, you see, this story isn’t a fairy tale.  Well not truly for all of it is based on fact and all fairy tales are based on fiction, that is except this one.  Maybe that is why it is the most wonderful fairy tale of all time.

It goes something like this…

Once Upon a Time in a land so distant called Jerusalem a tiny baby was born in circumstances so low and in a time so desperate that all of the world quietly watched for Him.  For you see, He was their king, the one prophesied to save them all.  This tiny baby was God’s son, and not how you and I and all mankind are God’s sons and daughters, but in the flesh and blood the Only Begotten.  And although there were a few, very select few that knew and watched and recognized the signs of His birth the heaven’s knew and the angels rejoiced.
They were some, perhaps most, who could not understand that someone so poor, born under circumstances so meek, could be their king sent to save them.  And even though His whole life was lived in service to them and in teaching to them, so many could not understand who He was.  How could their king come from something so low?

But what they didn’t understand, was although He didn’t ride in on a flaming chariot and although He wasn’t raised in golden courts and spectacular castles, He really was the King, the very son of God come to save them all, not with a flaming sword and wild armies, but with peace and kindness and redemption that only He could bring, and that only He can still bring.  Raised from the dead three days past, resurrected so that someday we might be, and bearing and feeling, understanding all of our sins, weaknesses, and heartaches.  Was it any wonder the heavens sang on the night that He was born?

I have had a whole lifetime really to contemplate just what that means to me and for me and it is impossible to put into words and impossible for me to understand how they could reject Him then and how our world can reject Him now.  How can the very being that brings peace, that is peace, not be the very thing that the whole world would strive to believe?  How can we reject Him still?

I’ve had time as of late to feel His love and to see His blessings in my life and my heart has been filled with love and with peace and I wish I could give this to all.  But how can you when you don’t quite understand it yourself? 

I’ve known of a few friends and neighbors who have felt the pain of loneliness or disappointment this Holiday Season and although I want to say that I understand, I know in reality that I don’t and I have no idea how to sooth their pain.  But I know of one who knows it all, who has felt it all.  He’s that king from that perfect fairy tale.  He came to this world just for that, to understand every emotion, joy or sadness, that we would ever feel.  He came to be the Great Healer, the Lonely Man’s King, the Bringer of Peace and the Savior of All.  He is God’s son and He knows when no one else might, and He listens when no one else can hear, and He will bring peace when the rest may pass you by, because He loves you like no one else can.  Because every fairy tale, fictional or true, ends with one great phrase no matter the pain or the circumstances that may have come along the way…And They Lived Happily Ever After.

                                                             Christ is our Happily Ever After.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Who is Jesus?

Shouldn’t that really be the question that is in our hearts right now?  I say this as I just got done making almost 20 dozen cupcakes for my neighbor gifts.  It’s easy to get caught up in the gift giving and the memory making of Christmas and forget the whole “Reason for the Season” as they say.  I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

“Are you all ready for Christmas?” I’ve been asked a hundred times already this month and I in return have probably asked a hundred people that same question.  Well, yes I am I can gladly say.  Every gift is bought and child’s friend gift will be officially made today including our neighbor gifts.  Is this something that I should be proud of?  I’m asking that of you because I really want to know, and I am honestly proud of myself for doing so.  Over all the joy of this Christmas has been sweet.  I’ve had more time to make things happen so to say, and every day I have done something “Christmasy” with the exception of two days when I was absolutely desperately ill with a stomach bug.  But in all that “Christmasy” how much of it really was about Christ?

Today I listened to Conference talks as I sat baking a gazillion cupcakes and I felt happy, not at all overwhelmed as I should have felt.  Quite literally that is an insane amount of cupcakes to make in one day and be on my feet for the whole of it, but all I felt was joy and peace and gladness about the task I was at.  “Why,” I asked myself.  Shouldn’t I be wishing the day was done?  Shouldn’t I be exhausted?  In reality it has been a wonderful exhilarating day.  Why?

Because in the background of all my “Christmasy” preparation were the sweet words that spoke of Christ.  How could I not feel the real “Reason for the Season” when his words and his servants were speaking them right to my ear.

So today after school as my children came in from the bus, or their carpool ride, whichever depending on the child, I gave them each a blank paper and asked them to tell me who they thought Jesus was.  “Why,” they asked.  And I said, “Because it’s Christmas and we should be thinking about him.”  I won’t quote what they said, that’s personal and something only our family will share together tomorrow as the last week of school ends and the break for both Jason and the kids begin, but I will say this that all of their thoughts  had a common thread…He was sent here to help us and that He loves us.  That He is Heavenly Father’s son.

So who is Jesus you might ask.  Can I answer with the innocence and the absolute truth of a child?...He’s Heavenly Father’s son and He loves you and He was sent here to help you!  Need I say anything more?
Jason and me on our trip Monday to Temple Square.  Can I just say that it was sooo cold...and due to missing a train we had to wait for over an hour to meet our connecting train in Salt Lake to get back to Provo to grab our suburban.  Thank heaven's for the bus station that was so warm for all of the other cold people who missed their train too.  If only tracks had been on the schedule it was supposed to be on none of us would have froze, but as Angie said, (Jason's sister Angie, not me) "Just think of the story we'll have to tell.  Just think of the memories that we are making."

Five of our kids and Brooke and Megan our sweet neighbor girls.  The rest of their family was elsewhere on Temple Square and Jason's sister and brother and their families wondering somewhere else looking at lights too, but there were a bunch of us that had a brilliant time, even if we did freeze absolutely to death...and I assure you I am not exaggerating.  The only reason any of us are alive is because the bus station revived us oh and City Creek Mall before that...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Heaven on Earth

Why does it feel so hard at times to put words to paper?  Most days as I am going about doing all that a mother of six crazy kids does I think of what I might next write here.  When I hear Suzy in the other room singing at the top of her lungs trying so desperately to sound as beautiful as her sisters, and she does by the way, or Stephanie at the computer typing out her spelling words each in a different font and color trying to please her teacher and learn a little at the same time, or Sam, silly serious Sam coming up with one crazy idea after another I have a million thoughts on what I might write the next day.  But then the next day comes and I watch a million other things go by and write out the things in my head that I might say and yet again I don’t put it to paper.

So, on that note, today while I was folding towels and listening to conference talks as the thoughts came to me I decided to do better and write them down.  After all this isn’t just my journal of my crazy mundane life, it’s a journal of my testimony and I would be pretty ungrateful if I didn’t share it.

When school started back in this fall for my children and for Jason too, no he isn’t going back to school but rather he works at a University, I decided I needed to change a few things around the house to take some of the stress off.  Two girls in high school, one a freshman and just getting used to the high school scene, and the other a junior and trying to juggle work and school and family all at once, my brand new middleschooler and all that means, man I hated middle school… kids are so nasty, and two little ones sad to give up the carefree days of summer.  Jason was coming home from work stressed.  Start of school for him means new college students who have no clue what is going on and chaos on the technology front, hence my feeling of need to bring some peace to the home.

My solution, keep the house ridiculously clean.  Now I’m not saying you can look into my closets, because let’s face it, keeping a closet spotless is pretty close to impossible unless you’re a little psycho, which I am just not about closet maintenance.  So the first week was crazy and I was tired but once you get the house into perfection, maintaining it isn’t so hard. 

Whala!!  It worked.  Suddenly the kids were fighting less and Jason was coming home and able to relax and even I, crazy mommy that was keeping up that perfection, was feeling all together peaceful and delighted with life.

Zoom forward a couple of months.  Is the peace still in our home, you ask?  Definitely.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t still hear my children fighting like Suzy and Steph did this morning, but it is less often and less severe.  I’ve been attributing it to the cleanliness that is in our home, and don’t get me wrong I believe that is very much part of it, but as I have been listening to conference talks while I work, on the encouragement of the Relief Society Presidency, my mind has thought on a few things that have changed in our home, the spotless nature of it being only one of them, and I have come up with the following conclusion.

While I am busy working I listen to conference or to the scriptures thus bringing the spirit into my home.  I have struggled like many of us to find the time and a quiet place to study and most of the time I have done a pretty decent job, but the time to really delve into the scriptures hasn’t been there.  My sister in law’s mother told me at the start of the summer that she listens to the scriptures as she cleans and I decided that was just what I needed to do.  She happens to also be the stake Young Women’s President and I try to brown nose whenever I get the chance so of course I thought this was a great opportunity.  And presto chango, that is what crept into the home while I was keeping a spotless house, the spirit, the word of God.

I remember as a little girl my mother reading to me and encouraging my talent and imagination.  I remember feeling like she loved me more than anything, a very important way for a child to feel, but more importantly I remember as I got older and school was hard, and the pressure of feeling like I fit in was overwhelming and the need to come home and leave the world completely behind was so important that I walked into a house that radiated peace.  My father was off at work and only my mother had been there all day, but I knew that she was there.  I could smell something like fresh baked bread in the air and feel the warmth of a clean warm house, but what I felt most was the presence of my Savior’s love radiating in that quiet house.

Jason and I have talked off and on as the kids were little whether or not I should go to work when they were all in school and Jason has always said, “They needed a mother home.”  I agreed, after all who would drive them to piano or pack their lunches for them when school lunch just seems too gross?  Who would bring them their homework when they forgot it at home or pick them up from school half way through the day when their tummy hurts or Nan or Suzy gets one of their dreaded migraines.  It all made perfect sense to me that the home was where I was needed, but that crazy world crept in about the time Sam went to first grade and question after question of, “What are you going to do now that all your kids are in school?  Are you gonna get a job or go back to school?” seemed to follow me everywhere I went.

I began to wonder if I was being lazy and sitting around doing…well nothing very important.  What was wrong with me?  Why wasn’t I being productive and adding to the family income?  I would talk to Jason about this and he would always say it was my choice, do whatever I thought best, but he strongly felt that I needed to be home, that our kids needed me more now than they ever have.  After all aren’t the teenage years the hardest and most heartbreaking?  Don’t they need me more now than ever?

This year I finally got it.  I finally understood just exactly what he was saying and just exactly what Satan was trying to do, take me out of the home where my greatest work should be.  I think it is no great secret that my oldest son, as awesome as he is, has always struggled and been the one that has most been in our prayers, sometimes at great exasperation on my part.  He is still searching for his testimony and need to live life in a more holy attitude and I have great faith that he will find that, but as I have talked with him, now that he is a grown man, he mentioned just how important it was that I was home, and how important it was that he was raised with the gospel in that home.  He has told me that he would have had no hope without those things growing up.

So now as I look around me at this very clean house, only a few dishes that need to be washed and one loud of laundry to be cleaned, I hear the thoughts of the scriptures and the prophets and the Christian music in the background strumming across my little kitchen speakers and I know the real importance of this clean home.  It’s that I am here and I am living in this house while the kids and Jason are gone, bringing in the spirit and light of Christ, so that when those kids come home from a busy day at school (and work too for my Jenny) and the world and Satan trying to crush them down and Jason comes in from insane busyness with a million college kids and over an hour of driving home on a crazy busy highway, they walk through that door and feel the peace that a mother spent all day building just for them.  Because you see, that’s my job, helping the home become a heaven on earth.