My oldest daughter called to tell me about the dream she had. She was sitting on stairs made of brick with moss growing around them and the surroundings were lush and green. She was picking up the pennies she found and looking up she saw a gentleman approaching her. He was holding an open umbrella even though there was no rain. As he got closer she recognized him; he was President Gordon B. Hinkley. He asked her what she was doing and she replied. "My mother told me that I should always pick up the pennies on the ground because they were tiny blessings". He smiled at her and said, "your mother is right".
Wow sisters and friends, it is a new year! I wasn't sure I would survive fall semester but I did and now just spring semester and I graduate! I will be the first female in my family to graduate university and my daughters are all on their way toward Bachelors' degrees.
This time of year most of us have made some resolutions to change something for the better. One of mine is to reach out to others more. Find ways I can be of service to others. I feel a shift in the "force".
Just the other day there were about 3 inches of snow on the roads and sidewalks. It was cold and windy. The cold where I live can be severe but that wind added; your face, and any other body part that is exposed truly stings.
I had just left my favorite thrift store when I saw a woman walking down the street carrying big plastic bags filled with toys. That day of the week, the thrift store sells anything but clothes, for half price. Therefore, the big bags of toys, was a savvy buy.
The bags dragged on the sidewalk as she walked and I could see that one of the bags had torn and some pieces were dangling on the ground. I pulled up alongside her, rolled down the window, and called to her. When I got her attention, I told her that I had a bag to give her so she didn't lose any of the toys. She told me no. Then I offered to give her a ride and again she said no, and began walking faster. She was afraid of me.
Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am not scary, or someone who appears threatening. And still, this woman was afraid of me. I couldn't help her. So I asked the angels to make sure she didn't lose any of those toys. And I've been asking myself since, how do we, in our communities, move through fear filled barriers?
What do you think?
Having my girls grown, but not too gone - one out west and the other two still in close proximity, I've tried to imagine how being single and alone was going to feel and look like. Where I am today is not anything like the life I imagined and believed I would have; it's painful.
I try not to make my prayers too whiney. I find things everyday that I am grateful for. I encourage my daughters to do the same. I witness blessings in their lives and gently point these blessings out hoping they will see the possibilities and not the roadblocks. That's what moms do. But when I turn inward it's easy to list all of my fears.
I found an article on prayer by Tessa Meyer Santiago at the Meridian Magazine web site that I want to share with you. It changed my perspective.... He hears me and listens too.
Tessa's blog is: tms-giraffesmakemelaugh.blogspot.com
Carry On My Wayward Son...
I had a vision a few days ago . . . an honest from God vision just as I was walking from my bedroom past the bathroom door into the hallway. I had been lying in bed thinking about a class I had to teach that Sunday. Prayer. And not only prayer, but a rather prescriptive way to pray so that our prayers can become more effective, as if there's an efficiency quotient by which one may measure our output and God's response on a scale.
Not a comfortable topic because I have felt, for years, that I pray incorrectly. Not with sufficient fervor, not with the intimacy of a best friend confiding the happenings of the day. More rote. Like a list, or a report to a superior officer after a successful/disastrous mission into Gabon. When I hear people talking about how they have poured out their hearts to God, how prayer is their favorite time of the day, a respite from the world, I can feel my eyes narrow and my head tilt and, simultaneously, my mind wonders and my heart wants.
I sort of envision myself as praying sideways, my prayers attached like footnotes and appendices to the really weighty matters of the day-crazed gunmen in Virginia and dictators in Zimbabwe, the definition of marriage in the California legislature, a child lying maimed and broken on a Thai beach. When you're accustomed to praying cripple-crabbed, it's a little difficult to suddenly turn face forward and straightout ask, "Oh, and, by the way, I really need . . ." Straightout blessing asking is fraught, at least for me, with the emotional calibrating of whether my recent prayers have been of sufficient intensity to warrant me asking for this particular without a severe loss of integrity. And, by then, I'm just a deer in the headlights. Frozen. Inarticulate.
So, it was with these thoughts wafting through my early morning mind that I stepped out of bed and past the bathroom door. And then I saw . . .
My two sons, Adam and Seth.
Adam is 9. He eats with his hands. Starts out with a fork, but by the end, his fingers are in his food, and in his mouth, feeling and tasting the runny yolk of his morning eggs. He angers with his whole body. His head shakes, his feet stamp. His hands throw things. He loves with his whole body as well. He has only just given up twirling his fingers in the hair at the nape of my neck while he talks to me. When he speaks to me, he lies across my lap, and his hand reaches up to turn my face to him. He speaks, and requires me to listen, with his whole body. One of his hands on either side of my face, his own face inches away from mine, his dark brown eyes looking into mine, gauging my reaction. There is a moment in every day when Adam lies across me, whether on the couch, or in his bed, or draped across my shoulders and the office chair as I type. When I am particularly short with him, he has been known to shout in anguish, "But that hurt my feelings. You hurt my feelings." It sounds like I have hurt not only his feelings, but his liver, his adenoids, his femur, even his prostate-although that shouldn't really come into play for another 50 years. That is how Adam likes to speak to me, and how he needs to be listened to.
Seth is a cool glass of water. Grey-eyed, dishwater-blonde hair. He starts a conversation, without apparently checking to see if I'm listening. Just starts talking. Mostly from the other couch. At a distance. Sometimes, he will sit next to me, his thigh touching, ever so slightly, mine, his hands busy shooting a basketball in the air, his eyes watching his follow through. But he talks. In questions and observations. About how a country determines the value of their currency; about the inanity of the ban against tackle football at Wasatch Elementary; of how he won the Geography Bee because he got less wrong than the others, and that was pretty sweet because he only went there for the cookies they handed out afterward. I don't believe I have ever heard him use the word feelings as it relates to himself. Still, he seeks me out . . . for his thigh-slightly-touching, hands-busy, eyes-somewhere-else, sideways-grin conversations.
I saw both these bodies, and I saw myself. Listening, as needed. Listening, because these were my sons, and I would listen to them however they chose to speak to me. I can listen so closely to Adam I feel his words breathe against my face. I can listen, head tilted, both of us staring at a point in the middle distance, to Seth. I listen as needed. I don't measure one against the other, and condemn Adam for his inability to reign himself in, or mark it against Seth that he cannot loosen up. They are as they are.
In that moment (you know those moments when time expands and you think you've been still for minutes/hours, but your foot hasn't quite hit the carpet at the completion of a step you took, what seems like, yesterday), I knew I didn't prefer one over the other. That I would talk to Adam and Seth for as long as they wanted to talk to me, in whatever way they needed. No prerequisites. I knew I would never, in my purest mother heart (we all have days), turn from the one who does not speak to me in the way that suits me most.
Then I heard a voice, "And neither would I."
With that, I walked down the hallway to start making Adam breakfast.
Tessa Meyer Santiago at Meridian Magazine
Tessa's blog is : tms-giraffesmakemelaugh.blogspot.com
School is about to start and my tuition bill was almost 4K. There won’t be much left of my financial aid for the rest of the semester. My oldest daughter’s hard drive fried and she needs a new laptop that can crunch the software she needs to use at art school. My other two daughters both need a laptop for school and luckily, they don’t need the whistles and bells their sister needs. It never ceases to amaze me how many things continually get in the way of my perfect financial plans. Books, for example.
I tried to find a cheaper place to live before this semester but I can’t qualify for the rent because I am on unemployment. So we will remain here and hope for the best. If we stay the owners will install a storm door on the patio door which should reduce my energy bills this winter. The girl’s father said he would try to help us from time to time. I am grateful that he will help because he doesn’t have to pay child support anymore. It is a balancing act. Any deviation sends my budget down the drain; trying to recover is painfully impossible.
I know I’m not the only woman trying to meet the needs of so many others. My daughters. My educatioin, & trying to find a job. Managing our bills, & gathering money to make sure all things are covered. But it is hard, frustrating even demoralizing at times. And then there are the times when I see how things work out; even when they should not have been able to. And I feel comforted. I am not alone.
I've thought about what to post for a week. Should I formally introduce myself? And if so, what best sums me up?
- I have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
- I served a mission in the early 1980's?
- I teach in Relief Society?
- I taught early morning Seminary for four years?
- My daughters struggle with the people in the church but not the Gospel?
- I am unmarried? (I hate the "d" word).
- My daughters and I attend college and university? (I have two semesters to go...yippy!)
- I struggle financially?
To be completely thorough, a list can take on a life of its own and then can lose the essence of who it is describing. Readers both identify with some of the list, or the entire list, staying on a site to read and post or they don't identify with the list at all and move on.
Like all LDS women, I am unique and average. I am traditional and non-traditional. I have struggles and strengths. I am learning and learned. I invite you to participate. Bring your uniqueness; share your struggles and strengths. Let's build this community because like you, I am an LDS Woman.