Monday, June 20, 2011

Goodbye Floyd

I have recently said goodbye to my home in Floyd, moved to an apartment in Roanoke, and will soon  be moving to a home near Troutville, VA.   Do not mistake 'home' for ''house.'  The house was only a shell, a means to reach my TRUE home.  The loving people I met in Floyd - the feeling of warm, family-love and goodness - the kindness of strangers - the common-mind mentality and most of all, the soul-shaking humility and everyday honesty.

I resisted, I struggled, I cried for hours, days on end. I came to Roanoke, lost, and without direction, feeling as though I were waiting for my life to begin, holding on to the life I had left.  I felt empty and unholy.  I felt alone, and nearly crossed the line to regret.

Yesterday, for Father's Day, we went home to visit Kevin's folks.  I felt, as we drove, a part of my heart re-opening. The closer we got, the more shackles fell away, and tears came again and again, as I received a cleansing feeling of relaxation and relief, so happy to be home again, and also the twinge of pain and guilt, feeling like I haven't made them proud.  After only a few weeks away, my empty cup filled to overflowing as I sat through church and enjoyed the love, spirit, honesty, and openness I didn't know I was starving for.

I felt that old feeling telling me to stop and reach deep down to the source.  I felt a window inched open in my soul, and the Holy Ghost Himself calling to me plainly a truth I knew, but forgot:  That my happiness is in my own hands, and no one and nothing can take it away from me, but ME.  I felt the call to FORGIVE.  I knew that the PEACE I long for is only a moment away, when I can release my resentment and anger, and I cried again, knowing that with my Floyd Family in my heart, I can do it.

 I am an emissary, a missionary, a soldier called away.  I squeeze their memory close to me for warm consoling hugs as I step into the unknown. My distance from them only strengthens my love, it only solidifies my resolve to make them proud.  To be the kind of person who could say, "I'm from Floyd," and have my fellow 'Floydians' be glad I said so.

Their faces, their lives and their examples flash before me constantly, and today I rise to make them proud, to live as a monument to them.  To be ever-changed, to become more like them--more like my true self, reflected by honest eyes and unassuming natures.  My spirit reaches out to them, constantly enlarged by them, and the feeling is indescribable.  I swell with gratitude.  I weep with joy at God's mercy, and such great, great love for me, to allow me to rest in their bosom, and love them so fully, and then to leave them, so that they will be with me, inside of me forever.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Personal Revelation

Relief Society: Episode 12 - Personal Revelation

Please, please, moms listen to this broadcast! I was in church Sunday, and a mom got up to speak, and I began to cry as she spoke, because it was as if I were speaking to myself, her words were so familiar.

"I am a mom of several young children, and I have struggled with something I think many moms struggle with. I had a lot of anxiety, depression, and unhappiness, and there was one day I was sitting in front of a mountain of laundry to fold, and I had this thought. 'This is the plan of happiness...So why am I not happy??" She said, "I was raised by good parents, who were members of the church, and taught me all about the plan of happiness. I understood it intellectually, but I was missing something. Some part of the gospel, I was not quite getting." She said that from that time, she began to seek, and over the next few years, she learned, not just intellectually, but experientially, that we can use the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our every day lives, and every need can be filled by Him, and the happiness comes into us."

Since the miscarriage, I've felt a darkness set in, and depression begin to overtake me, and I haven't known how to write anything uplifting, hence the long silence. Many times the Lord has comforted me, and especially at first, He carried me. But I understand that He has to let me learn and grow, and so He has to let me experience pain, and learn to walk with Him. And so in order to walk, I had to be let down. I have felt like I'm sitting on the ground, with no desire to try to get up.

Then I heard that mom speak Sunday, and remembered that I once took that journey, prompted by the same exact question, and wouldn't rest until I found the answer. I cannot express how much I appreciated that journey. How it changed my life, and my family. I realized Sunday that it's crucial for my happiness and my family's to start asking questions, and seeking for answers. It's time to re-establish trust in God, and a two-way communication that I can count on. I'm such a weak and sorry excuse for a disciple. I wonder sometimes how many times He is willing to teach me the same lesson. I have learned that His mercy is never-ending, and with hope in that, I'm not going to sit down and give up. I'm going to get up, force myself to ask for and seek for the meaning and the purpose and drive in life, and mostly to seek for the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Above is a link to an interview of Sister Julie Beck, the leader of all the women of our church at present. She answers honest questions from women, like "How do I feel the spirit when I'm physically and mentally exhausted?" "What does it feel like to receive revelation from God?" "I have tried and tried to hear from the Lord. It has never worked for me, and I have given up." Sister Beck gives such inspired advice, it solidified my resolve into action, and I have begun my journey anew.

What are your questions? Are you asking any? What are your emotional needs? Are they being met by the Lord, or some other source? What are you focusing on? Where do you spend the majority of your time? Do you long, as I do, for a secure attachment to your God?

Friday, May 06, 2011

Miscarriage at the hospital, WARNING contains details

Roanoke Memorial Hospital, inspired by a nurse a few years back, does something special for parents who are grieving for a lost baby.  They allow you to bond with the baby, treat the baby as important and precious, because it is to you.

After many calls, my uncle Dr. Mike Jones and family friend, Dr. Ross Hanchett, OBGYN, paved the way for me to enter the hospital emergency room expected, and the doctors who would attend me were notified ahead of time of what was going on, so the way was prepared for me to go gently in.  My uncle performed an ultrasound, and then left me in the hands of a doctor who was a great listener, and very respectful of patients' rights, Dr. Heileck.  I was induced to allowed to labor naturally.  I was allowed to be unhooked from the IV, because I was claustrophobic and it really bothered me.  I was treated with kindness, not pity, with respect, not impatience.

Here are the details, for those who want them:

I labored for 10 hours, with my loving mom for support, feeling as though I were going through a form of pains of childbirth.   I was told I could have an epidural, but if you know me, you know I would be very unlikely to take that option.  The pain was hard enough.  It wasn't as hard as having a full term baby, but it was no "cake walk."  We rocked, we sang, we cried, we prayed, we slept, we mourned, we talked and talked and talked.  Mom rubbed my back for what must have seemed like hours.  I went through a kind of transition, and just lay there, too exhausted to move or protest as I was stuck with needles, and bruised because of my weak veins.  The nurses were wonderful, my veins we just tiny and weak.  After 6 attempts and three nurses, a vein catheter was finally secured in one of my hands.  I tried to sleep between cramping pains.

After six hours, I was told I could try to push, because they could not see the cervix as the bag of waters was descending.  I pushed on my hands and knees, and was able to push most of the bag of waters out, but I was unable to finish pushing the part with the baby out, though I tried my hardest.  The doc and nurses encouraged me in squatting with my mom holding me up on one side and a nurse on the other.  I asked for a mirror, and it did help me focus my efforts.  I pushed till I was blue in the face.  But once the bag was out enough, the doc was able to move it out of the way and check my cervix.  It turned out my cervix had only dilated ONE cm.  I was completely disheartened, and felt suddenly so sorry for all those mothers out there who are routinely induced, and don't know that true labor pains are SO much easier to bear than drug induced pains.  I felt like I should be at a 6 or 7 at least, when comparing to the pains of my natural labors.

Only 2 hours later, I lay exhausted and feeling pains ranging from 9-10, but tried focusing on the empty space above me that was not hurting.  As I lay back, unable to fight anymore, I completely surrendered to all of it.  The miscarriage, the pain, the fact that this baby was not going to live... all of it.  The baby finished descending without my knowledge, born inside the bag of waters which remained intact, my total dilation unknown.  I continued to have pain, however, because the placenta was still holding on.

Dr. Heileck was wonderful, patient, and not at all pushy.  He began the work of getting the placenta, which was full of white calcium deposits, gnarled and in pieces, out as quickly as possible, because I would not stop bleeding.  Finally, in agony, I pleaded for him to stop, and asked for pain meds, which had been available all along, but I had wanted to tough it out as long as I could, and he respected that.  But extracting the placenta piece by piece felt like digging into a deep cut with a knife.  He said it may be necessary to sedate me and take me to surgery, but when the pain meds kicked in, he said, "let's just try this for a little while, and see how it goes."  The meds killed the worst of the pain, and I squeezed my mom's hand and a nurse's hand, (who was telling me everything going on every step of the way,) and breathed deeply to manage the rest.  Finally, the ordeal was finished.  I was able to lie back, and rest-- saved from the operating room, and thankful.  I thanked the doctor over and over as I closed my eyes and enjoyed being free of pain.  the Doctor seemed amused that I was thanking him after he'd been digging inside me with pinchers.  I felt emotional completeness, having completed labor, but I did miss my husband who was unable to take off work, due to a death of an employee's father.  

The doc and nurses carefully examined the baby, wrapped his 4.5 inch body in a receiving blanket, handed him to me, and promised he would not be out of my sight unless I gave permission.  I say "he," because between the tiny legs was the first thing I looked at, and was overjoyed that I could see it!  It was a boy, and they encouraged me to name him.  I named him" Luke," the name Kevin and I had agreed on long before, if it were a boy, and they made a "Certificate of Memory" for me.

They left me alone for over an hour to bond, and I drunk him in.  I tried to memorize every teeny tiny finger, every teeny tiny toe, his little perfect ears that were still pinned back to his head, his almond shaped blue eyes, that had not yet finished forming, his little mouth that was also unfinished, opened, and sported teensie little lips.  His round little tummy, and the tiny, gnarled cord, the tiny collar bones and ribs, so perfectly formed, the legs so adorably tucked up in the fetal position, the primitive muscles so easily outlined.  His hands pressed together, with his head resting on them, like he was just a little baby going to sleep.  

I fell in love with this little miracle of life, yet as I looked on, I could see him slipping away.  Each minute he was exposed to air, his body darkened, and lost fluids.  He began to decompose almost immediately, because his skin was not thick enough to prevent it.  Mom and I tried to hold on to each passing moment with him, as he quickly slipped away from us.  The nurse came and asked if we'd like her to take pictures, and I eventually agreed, though I knew the pictures would not capture his true form at the first moments I met him.  They brought me a couple of tiny gowns and asked which I would like to have for him, and I got to choose a crocheted blanket, as a keepsake.  They asked me what I wanted to do with the body, and I said I wanted to take him home.  They gave me a tiny casket, and they gave me literature both religious and non, to help aid the grieving process.  The nurses and aids all called him "Luke" and said he was beautiful, even when his form had changed, and he was not anymore.  Our last nurse gave us a sympathy card, just from her, and they gathered a beautiful white cloth envelope of keepsakes for us, and encouraged us to honor this baby's memory.  Kevin arrived before checkout time, and was only able to see the bare remains of what used to be our baby, but it meant so much to me to have him with me, even for just a little while.  

That night I slept soundly, and cradled all my kids in the bed with me.  The next day, I got up, showered, and set about the plans of what to do with the baby's body.  Through tears and disagreements, saying things we didn't mean, then having to compromise and reconcile, we finally decided on a plan.  

My parents-in-law and we took the tiny casket, a blanket, and some literature and keepsakes, and met my mother at the family cemetery.  My husband and his father dug a little hole directly over my brother Seth's grave, just big enough for the tiny casket.  We sat on a blanket provided by my mother-in-law, and put the casket in the middle, decorated by tiny flowers the children had picked, and the crocheted blanket and some pretty things the hospital had given us provided a lovely centerpiece.  We prayed and sang a song, and thanks to smart phones, we even had the music to go with it.  We sang, "I Know That My Savior Loves Me."  Or at least we listened, and the children sang, and we teared up between the words.  We read the following poem provided by the hospital: (Passed around because we could hardly read it without breaking down.)

In the most beautiful of gardens
Most carefully tended,
There is an occasional rosebud that never opens.
In all respects that rose is like all the others,
But some unseen cause keeps it from blooming.
It wilts and fades away without coming to its radiant unfolding.
What happens in nature's garden occasionally also happens in God's family.
A baby is born,
Beautiful and precious,
But with some unseen, mysterious band sealing
That life so it never comes to its rightful unfolding.
This child, too,
Gradually fades and is gathered back into the God's heavenly garden of souls--
Where all imperfections are made perfect,
Where all injustices are made right,
Where all mysteries will finally be explained,
And where all sorrow will finally be turned to joy.

Haylee Christine Shepherd
May 9, 1997

The feeling was one of comfort and warmth, not hurt or grief.  We all smiled and felt love for one another, and felt the loss, but also the sweetest peace.  Then all of the children took the casket, and together walked it to the grave.  Kaylee and Peter laid it in the ground, and they all threw flowers on it, then each child got to shovel a mound of dirt into the hole, then Kevin and Grandpa finished the rest.  One little perk, was that the baby's casket rested directly on my brother's vault.  
I felt good about it, and did not wail or cry, only shed a few quiet tears every now and then.  

Next we went to the location we're building our house, and planted two apple trees, one to pollinate the other, and will eventually be dedicated to our little Luke, a tiny rosebud in God's garden of souls.  The children got to play with their cousin, and I got to talk to my sister in law, and try to find some kind of normal.  

I felt a much needed closure, and ready to begin a healthy grieving process, and that is what is now going on.  Little by little, I can start to feel the full impact of my loss.  I waffle between apathy and unimaginable hurt.  Of course Kevin is going through his own grief.  He reminded me yesterday that this baby was a part of him too.  I saw him tear up many times, I saw him push through emotions, and I know he is grieving, only quietly, the way a man often does.  

It is not the same as if I had lost a living child, the pain is not constant and shocking, but it is acute, and sometimes shoots through me with such effort that I break down secretly every night, and every morning.  I have not had the courage to go to the basement where all the baby stuff is still sitting.  

Literature I got from the hospital reads, "Don't take my grief away from me."  In order to let others know that grieving is healthy and necessary, and not to always try to comfort or avoid  emotional subjects that could make the grieving person upset.  There are times I want to FEEL something!  Anything!  I want so much to get these feelings OUT!  So many people don't want to listen, because they don't want to see me cry, or cause me pain, or don't want to risk something coming up that they won't know how to handle.  I know, because I've been that person.  But being on this end makes me feel differently.  Now I understand that it's okay to face the issue head on.  It's actually a relief.  

Today I got to talk to another mom who's been through this.  It was reassuring that she could get through it and be okay.  Still, we both teared up as she remembered her experience, and I was honest about mine.  It felt good to tell someone what I'm really going through.  I am finding so much love all around me, I'm so blessed, I hope I can BE that love for others in return.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Today, at 19 weeks gestation, my unborn child was found to be without a heartbeat.  I am praying for understanding, praying for answers, praying to know God's plan for my family.  I keep thinking of the large pack of newborn diapers we had been given, and the newborn clothes.  All the boxes and bags of supplies we'd saved for this little one...I suppose I will pass them on.

I feel such a variety of feelings, numbness, pain, regret, guilt, and I know more is yet to come.  I will fret about whether or not I will ever have another child.  I will mourn, and I will question why... I will pray, and I will hold my other children tighter, appreciating even more, that the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.  Today I opened a book that came in the mail, and chapter one read, "Remember who your children are."  ...And who they really belong to.

The children didn't cry, but they were sad in their own way.  I could see more hurt on Peter's face than I expected, sometimes he'd crawl up and rock himself in the rocking chair, looking so quietly sad.  Other times he smiled and reminded me of funny things just to see me laugh, his face glowing so brightly.  He told me, "I have good news Mommy!  You don't have to worry, we'll have a new baby, but It's going to take a long time."  Then he drew a couple pictures of me with a baby in my tummy, with a smile on my face.  One of the pictures showed a smiling unborn baby, and one showed just a ball.  He gave them to me, hoping I would take heart, and have hope.

Kaylee wanted to be held a lot, and wanted to be happy and reassured that everything, especially me, would be okay.  But sometimes she hid her face in my arms, and when I told her it was okay to be sad, she wanted to know why everyone wasn't crying.  I felt the strength of prayers.  I told her I did cry, and will cry some more, but I feel Jesus giving me comfort, and I feel God's love so strongly, it's like I'm in His arms.  He is blessing me right now.

Kendon knows nothing, and wouldn't understand if he were told.  But I am comforted each time I nurse him, and I don't think that's terrible to admit.

Right now the dormant baby is in my belly, waiting to be removed.   I can't sleep, I can hardly eat, just waiting for what will inevitably come.  I want to meet my baby with all my heart, to hold him or her in my hands.  I want to have some closure.  I want to know all the details of what the baby went through.  I want to know if it was a boy or a girl.  I want to know what God was thinking by, giving us such an unexpected and joyous gift, then taking it away before we could enjoy it.  I know, I know, we can't understand the mind of God.  We don't know His plan.  But somehow, I still want to.  Some of these questions and desires may be answered and fulfilled, some may not.  I am going to have to be okay with that.

Kevin is taking it like a man, feeling the way men do.  He is doing this his own way, worrying for me, and not allowing any sympathy for himself.  Yet he too has lost his baby.  And of that I am keenly aware.

It may seem brash and uncooth to speak of miscarriage in such detail.  In our society it is not discussed much--it is awkward for our friends and family to deal with.  So many women go through it, and yet we still don't know how to handle it.  We want to make sense of it, and we want to help one another feel better about it, but in the end, we just have to get through it and let time do its work of healing the pain.

I don't feel so different, I don't feel anything much, but the reality still hasn't hit me.  I know it will soon, and I'm bracing myself.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


We have moved to a new address, and do not have internet for another week.  I'm having withdrawals.  I hope to be able to post soon, but for now, just know that you have a friend who wants you to be successful in finding your own, Peaceful Way.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Something Parents All Over the World Are Struggling to Learn Right Now: Including Me

Attachment Parenting:  Developing and utilizing a close parent-to-child bond in order to discipline and teach our children.

One of my favorite phrases on the Attachment parenting website is, "It's not called PERMISSIVE parenting!"  
So many think that in order to "be nice" to our kids, we have to be permissive.  Many see parents who are patient and non-confrontational with their children, and assume that those parents are permissive.  It is difficult for our society to understand that there is a sweet-spot between Authoritative and Intimidating, and Permissive and Uninvolved.  That middle ground is Attachment Parenting/Positive Discipline.

Attachment Parenting isn't a new skill to learn or a new philosophy of parenting.  It's the true spirit of humanity.  It is the embodiment of the second greatest commandment given by Jesus Christ.  It's loving others as we love ourselves.  In other words, it is loving others while we love ourselves.  

One of the hardest tests of being a parent, is seeing our true selves reflected back through our children.

Do you see yourself in your children?
Do you consciously or unconsciously despise what you see?
Does the thought of them becoming like you, scare you?
Does this thought make you want to hide or lash out at [yourself in the body of] your child?

If you searched your heart and found the answer to any of the above is yes, you are not alone.

Attachment Parenting is seeing ourselves in our children, and having unconditional love, compassion, empathy and understanding for that self we see.  

Isn't that how God sees us?  Doesn't He tell us that He is in each of us, and He loves us as Himself?  Recently I read an article on about how one mother taught her son to do a chore.  He was a teenager, perfectly capable of doing the actual chore, but she understood that he was not necessarily capable of developing the habit and remembering to do it on his own.  So she met him with a smile, and they did the chore (bringing the trash cans in) together.  They did this for several weeks, and then, he started doing it on his own.  "Just as it took Kelly several weeks of teaching her son to bring in the garbage cans, it will most likely take kids several teaching sessions before they get the hang of a job and are able to think it through on their own.  Kelly says she even expects her son to forget again, as his priorities are simply different than hers.  But she is ready and willing to step in and do it together with him again...teach many, many times!"  I thought about that, and cringed at how I have gotten exasperated when I had to teach my child something more than once, and I asked myself a tough question: which way is God's way?

I can picture Him knowingly and patiently taking our arm in his, and walking us through His way again and again.  Then we take over and start to do it on our own, but He knows "My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts."  So He expects us to forget again, doesn't He?  He knows we will need Him to walk us through it again, because we are immature.  We are children, and that is our nature.  His promise is that He will be there every time we forget, smiling and ready to teach us again.  His patience is infinite.  His love--unconditional.  What can we learn about parenting from Him?

When you look through the eyes of your child, what do you see?

What will be the story of his childhood?  What will she remember most?  Are you creating a childhood she'll speak openly of 20 years from now, with an honest, genuine smile?

One of the best and most straight-forward helps I've found is at  Specifically, the section on Effective Discipline.  I have recently forgotten, and relearned much of this, and am grateful for a patient Heavenly Father who is ready and willing to take my hand...again.

"But I Already Raised My Children!  It's Too Late to Change the Past."

Even if your children have left the nest, even if they are having babies of their own, it's never too late.  We all need this attachment at any age, and we all need to reconcile our pasts.  An amazing change can come over you and your relationships when you have reattached to your parents, no matter how old, to your children and grandchildren, no matter the age.  Even if your parents have deceased, you can attach or re-attach to a reconciliation of their memory.  You can say within yourself, "this is what my parents knew, this is what they did not know that I now know."  As the first Nephi in the Book of Mormon, you can say, (paraphrased) 'I am thankful for their examples, good and bad, and thank The Lord that I can see the difference.'  You can find compassion in your heart for them, and for yourself.  You can learn to parent yourself, through positive self-discipline.  Again, it is NEVER ever, too late.

"I Don't Have Any Children of My Own"

If you have no children of your own, you can connect with a niece or nephew, a close friend's child, a student...many many kids long and need for a kind, empathetic adult to reach out to them.  You can change someone's life by simply creating a few wonderful, loving memories.  For more information on ways to do this without anxiety, (which destroys all our best attempts) there are several resources I recommend:
Book: Attached at the Heart: 8 Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children  by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker  [I have not read this book yet, but it is recommended by the attachment parenting website, and I look forward to checking it out from my local library as soon as I am finished moving.]

I am so happy to report that my relationship to my children is better than it was several weeks ago, and the more I study this way of being, the easier it becomes to lead and guide them.  They are better behaved, they are happier, and they are healthier.  Everything from their grooming and eating habits to their public conduct has improved. Not to perfection, but progress, definitely.

My challenge for you all is to find a child to connect (or reconnect) with in a healthy way, whether it is your own child or someone else's, and then write me and tell me about it.  I want to hear from you!!  You may find your story posted, unless you specify not to.

Friday, March 25, 2011


In my last post I said something I need to clarify.  When talking about my daughter, I said, "She is not responsible for her actions..."  Taken out of context, I do not believe that.  Even a 2-yr-old is responsible for choosing their own actions and re-actions.  But a young child is not ACCOUNTABLE for his actions.  Accountable is defined as: Required or expected to justify actions or decisions.  Before age 8 is a learning and absorbing time of life.  A young child cannot repent, therefore, it would be a great injustice to believe that they can sin.  However, the lessons they learn early in life can stay with them forever, so teaching them is a great responsibility.  

What I meant by saying [she is not responsible] was, she doesn't have to carry the burden of change and growth.  She was not the more responsible party.  The responsibility to be a good example and teacher lies solely with ME.  To put the pressure on her to be an example of love and goodness while being treated with frustration and irritation, is erroneous, and unfair.  By saying that, I really actually mean that I am responsible TO her and TO God for MY actions and re-actions, and that she IS responsible ONLY to herself at this point.  I am not responsible for HER actions, I am responsible for MINE.  I am responsible for the family environment, because I have the power to create it by controlling, or not controlling MYSELF.  

She, according to her age, will generally act the way she perceives she is treated in general.  Either by me, or someone else.  She is learning little by little to have control over her feelings and choices, but she is still too young to master these skills.  This is a time when it is crucial that I am a rock of stability in her life, not what I have been, a wavering example of inconsistency.  

Let me demonstrate by an example:  Just a few minutes ago, my kids were playing a game of piling up pillows and jumping on them.  Peter was jumping on them over and over, without order, and Kaylee wanted them to take turns.  She, in trying to control his actions, became very upset that she could not control him, and eventually, started shouting, and then pushed him.  He remained calm, because he has spent a long time practicing this skill.  But he looked to me to intervene.  She whined about him not taking turns.  I remained calm, and said, as any parent would, "Apologize.  You pushed him.  You cannot force him to take turns.  But DO you have control over your body.  What did you do with that choice?"  That was kind of a controlling reply, but at least I stayed calm, right?  (Evidently my daughter gets her control issues honestly.)  Naturally, she was upset and defensive, and began to cry, and said, "I will never, NEVER apologize!"  She lashed out at her littlest brother, and I told her it was inappropriate, and Peter did as well.  She was defensive again, as anyone would be.  But then I calmed my inner anxiety and said to her, "When you're ready to talk without shouting, I am happy to listen."  That was all.  She buried her head in her pillow, and when her brothers remained calm and ran to play in another room, she lifted her head with a smile.  "Mom, I have something to say to my brothers.  I think you know what it is."  And then she ran to play with them, happily and apologetically.  

When I was controlling, she was controlling.  When I controlled only myself, she reacted by seeking that self-control as well.  Our kids must have self discipline and self-control in order to be happy and successful in life.  Yet how many of us are modeling these attributes?  How many of us never learned these things as children because our parents thought they had to bear the entire responsibility for controlling US (instead of themselves)-through fear and intimidation, never allowing us to trust them with our mistakes and challenges, never learning the power of self-control?  Do we want that for our kids?--Our Grandkids?  Here's some questions for all of us, including myself, to ponder.

Am I ready to be my child's Hero?
Am I ready to be the rock of stability in his/her life?  Unmoving--uncompromising--in control?
Am I ready to BE the model of Christ's love and forgiveness, patience and persistence?
Am I ready to take back control of my emotions from the hands of my child, and BE the Grown-up?
Am I ready to break the patterns of the past, and perhaps the patterns of my friends and associates?
Am I ready to be accountable for my own choices, regardless of the choices of others?

In my family, I have an example of this.  It is my father.  He broke the patterns of his past and found a new way to relate to his kids.  But he also had an example to turn to when he was ready.  That example was the memory of his grandfather.  Sometimes extended family members wield more power over a child's rearing than they realize.  This grandfather was instrumental in my father's upbringing, and though his grandfather didn't raise him, he gave him an example that he could look back on and mimic when he needed to.  Now I have my own memories to look back on--I use a variety of sources.  I'm thankful for each one of them.

See, we are adults.  We can choose our Heroes.  We can choose what memories we dwell on.  We can choose whose example to mimic.  We can choose to wallow, or choose to learn.  We always have a choice.

I guess the thing I want to stress most right now is this:  Self-mastery and positive discipline does not happen accidentally or automatically.  It does not happen while we're avoiding conflict or pushing problems under the rug.  It does not happen while we're ranting, lecturing, raging, fretting and worrying.  It is a muscle.  It is developed by constant effort and hard, hard work.  It quickly atrophies when we do not use it.  It is developed most easily and quickly through faith and following principles of Christianity, though many non-Christians have mastered it as well.  [I believe that Christ is the source of all goodness and truth, so even those who do not believe in Him, who ascribe to His teachings, still receive the blessings that many who profess to believe, yet do not live His teachings, are held back from.]  I look at the faces of those who live with integrity, and faith in Christ, and they glow with radiance.  I want that.  I need that.  I want that for my children.  It's time to get there!  We're getting closer, we really are!  I can feel it!  Each time we read the scriptures and think and talk together about our faith, each time we forgive and show love, each time we hold back from re-acting, and instead pro-act, we get a little closer.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The most Christ-like person I know

The most Christ-like person I know is my 5 year old son.  I know that may sound very much like a mother, but it happens to be a genuine observation.  I see him in action more than anyone else in the world, and I see his heart as well as hear his words, and experience his treatment daily.

To give just one example, I will recount what happened last night.  Kaylee had a rough day.  She had many emotional struggles, and her facade of not caring was crumbling slowly, and that evening, close to bed time, she bit her cheek.  That was the last straw for her, and she began to cry, real tears, and needed her mother's arms.  She doesn't get to cuddle with mom much, because that spot seems always filled with the littlest one.  Kendon was nursing at that moment.  I was torn.  I asked Kendon to let go, and we would nurse later, but he was determined not to be unseated by his sister, who tried to climb on my lap, and was pushed off.  I don't believe in pushing a young child away, so I didn't want to push Kendon away from me, but I unlatched him, and told him firmly and kindly, "I'm sorry, but you will have to nurse later.  I have three kids, and right now, Kaylee needs a mommy too."  Well, that worked like you'd imagine it would on a 2-yr-old.  (Not at all.)  And so I sat there, with two crying kids, each wanting to get on my lap, and each pushing the other away, and me, caught in the impossible position in the middle.  

That's what my peacemaker intervened.  Peter comes over, calmly and cheerfully and says, "Don't worry Mom. I'll take care of Kendon."  He is not put off by Kendon ignoring him, continuing to fuss, and trying to get back on my lap.  He just sweetly puts his arm around his brother's shoulders and says to him with a warm smile, "It's okay Kendon, It's okay little bro, I'll take care of you.  What do you want to play together?"  Kendon stops, looks at his big brother he has learned to trust, and puts his little head on his brother's chest.  Peter slowly walks away with him. Kendon says quietly, "I want to play dinosaur."  Peter says, "Do you want to  be Tyrannosaurus Rex?  The king dinosaur?  You go like this..."  And off they went, saying "Raaaarrr," and playing happily together.  Meanwhile, my daughter climbed on my lap, and received some much needed comfort. 

Kaylee and I were able to enjoy about 10 minutes of agenda-free time, reading scriptures together, and just enjoying the feel of one another's touch.  I realized that I don't hold her anymore, and I have missed her.  It felt good to hold my big girl, even though she is almost 7, and it felt good to listen to her, and enjoy her, instead of correcting her.  All that was made possible, because my middle child had prepared himself to be okay, so he could reach out to others.  It was not an accident, he works at it every day.  He is striving harder than anyone I know, to be exactly like his idol, Jesus Christ.  One way, is by strengthening himself, so he can be a strength to others.

I am humbled deeply today, and I have been on my knees all morning, asking my Father to help me to be more like my own son, who is more like His son, than I am.  Can I, by turning to the Lord, become emotionally secure enough to be a strength to others, and not constantly be needing strength from others? 

Family News:

I don't like to be constantly giving updates on all the family news, because this blog is not supposed to be all about me.  But there are some things that will be affecting my posts in the future, and need to be said.  

First:  I am currently pregnant with our fourth child.  Due in late September.
Second:  We have recently sold our house and are moving, we have no idea where yet, except for a little while we'll be moving to my husband's parents' home during the transition time.  I have three weeks to pack our house and house-hunt, so I will not have much time to post for the next little while.

To Be Honest:

I have recently started listening again to Kirk Martin's, Celebrate Calm.  That is because since I've been pregnant, I've been less calm, and less in control of my feelings.  I find myself crying more, shouting more, and overall, giving up more on being the kind of mom I want to be.  Then a few weeks ago, I lost it with my daughter.  She is going through a transition age right now, and all sorts of problems with relationships and schooling are bubbling to the surface, issues I have feared, and all of us are on edge and faced with new issues we haven't dealt with before.  I guess I started reverting back to what I know best, fear and intimidation, distracted, anxiety-ridden parenting, and that just made everything so much worse.  Then one day, I snapped.  I said things I'm so ashamed of, I can't believe left my lips.  I hurt her so deeply, and I saw it happening, and didn't care.  I didn't care until about 5 minutes later when I had a minute to process, and I thought I would throw up.  I was so heartbroken at what I'd just done, I didn't even know how to apologize.  I didn't say anything, I just cried, and cried, and cried.  I felt intense, enormous grief and pain, I can't even describe.  That was anguish!  Truly, deep, heart-wrenching sorrow.  How could I make it better?  How could I come back from that low, low place?  How could she heal from that?  How could I?

We went to my mother's house who unwittingly said some things that helped both of us.  My daughter looked at me, and I looked at her, and the words were unspoken, but she smiled and nodded, and I smiled back and nodded.  We both resolved to try harder to be peacemakers.  Later, she asked me why I hadn't apologized, and I said that I was so ashamed, I didn't know how to say it.  But then I apologized, and I asked her if we could start over. I told her how precious she was to me, and how lucky I was to be given such a special girl to be my daughter.  It was a new beginning, not a new arrival, meaning it was still a painful time, still we needed help.

The next few weeks I spent more time on my knees, crying, seeking, and asking for Christ's help, healing, and instruction.  Wisely, He let me struggle awhile, and let me feel the full brunt of my shame, and see clearly the pain I have the power to cause before offering me solace.  Eventually, when the time was right, that comfort came.  It wasn't all at once, it was a little bit each day.  As I showed willingness to change and grow myself, He offered a boost up each time.  It is only through consistent effort and obedience that peace can be availed to us.  If I were to repeat the offenses, I would negate the blessings.  I would be unable to receive any comfort, only added anguish.  So through obedience to God, I opened myself to receiving the blessings of my Father, and the love and healing of Christ.

Now I feel that healing love, and walk in it daily.  I give thanks and do not take it for granted.  Now that I am on firmer ground, it's time for me to reach out to my little girl, and show her once again where true growth,  peace and healing can be found.  In the arms of her loving Savior.  She has the right and privilege to enjoy those blessings right now. 

Our relationship is beginning to heal, and I can feel her longing for love and healing.  I can see her reaching for any help, any hope she can find.  She did nothing wrong--nothing she has to answer for, but she did get hurt.  She is not responsible for her actions, she is still too young to be expected to be able to control herself completely.  Before age 8, kids are still expected to be the result of their environment.  While they begin to learn the principles of choice and accountability, it's not right to demand it of them until they are completely mentally and emotionally ready to be independent of their surroundings.  (Which is yet another reason it's incredible to witness emotional and spiritual integrity in my 5-yr-old.)  Before age 8, the responsibility for repentance (i.e. struggling to change and grow, praying for forgiveness and help to improve,) lies solely with the adult.  This is a doctrine of my church, but also a universal truth I believe.  Universal truths can be forgotten, or put on the back burner of our minds.  It's time I remember this one, and realize that the fault is mine when there is a conflict with her.  I have seen my own power to affect our relationship for the good in the past.  Her actions do not hold merit against mine.  That is the bad news, and that is the good news.  As long as we have faith, there is still hope for us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

AMAZING! One Man Plays Two Grand Pianos At Once - La Campanella - Josh W...

Readers, I have many things to tell you. Much of it I'm still trying to get my thoughts together. But this much I will tell you. My daughter and I were having one of THOSE weeks, and riding in the car seemed to be a trigger for all sorts of bickering every time. One day I turned on some mellow music, and she calmed down immediately and said, "Mommy, whenever you play this kind of music, it makes me want to be nice and not fight. I want to love my brothers instead of be mean to them." I'm not saying it's some kind of magic trick to play music, but it's a tool to keep in your bag. Then the other day my kids were in need of some mental stimulation, (wild, bouncing off the walls.) I put on some classical music, and they started playing as if they were in a performing orchestra, and had a great time "playing" the violin, flute, piano, clarinet, etc. and even conducting. They played this game no less than 3 hours. No joke. I had to drag them away from it to go to bed, and even then my daughter insisted she be allowed to listen to classical violin as she went to sleep. Those of us with intense kids who require intense stimulation find quickly that sometimes music can unlock a hidden door to their brains.

I hope you know readers, that I would not waste your precious time with fluff. Above is a video of a remarkable pianist who will no doubt be making headlines when his album comes out on April 5th. Stay tuned for a possible give-away! I've previewed much of his music, and I am very impressed with Josh's talent, feeling, and artistry. Enjoy this video, and go to the website by clicking on the title if you'd like to see more!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Following Motherly Instincts, Ignoring Voices of Judgement

Simply put, it just feels right. A mother's intuition truly can save her baby's life. Click here for an incredible story of a mom who follows her instincts, does everything the doctors told her she MUST NOT to do, and saved her baby's life!

When my daughter was first born, she was so tiny I couldn't imagine having her in the bed with me. I was scared we would crush her!  So she slept in a bassinet by the bed. I would wake up suddenly and jump to check on her, and rub her till she took a deep breath. I was sleep-deprived in a big way. My ear was constantly in tune to her breathing. Friends and family, even doctors told me to just move her out of the room so I couldn't hear her, and I'd finally get some sleep. I tried it briefly, but it was worse.

I would jump out of a deep sleep and run to her room, and rub her, I'd sit on the floor and listen to her breathing for hours. I am very aware that people saw me as a nervous mother. And I was. I had this nagging feeling that her breathing wasn't right. It was too fast, too fitful. I brought her back in the room, and started letting her sleep next to me after breastfeeding. After that, both of us started sleeping peacefully, finally. My husband would sometimes let her sleep skin to skin on his chest. I noticed that when they did this, her breathing and his were perfectly in-sync. He would take a deep breath, she would take a deep breath. Her breathing was rhythmic and peaceful, as long as she was close to us. I was sure that my daughter slept better on her stomach than her back, and had been laying her in the bassinet that way after she had cried so much on her back. But when she slept in the bed with me, she almost always pushed up to her side. Sometimes she faced her daddy, sometimes she faced me, but always she slept more soundly and breathed evenly.

My night-fears subsided. This was the answer for us. I would wake along with her, and easily slip back into sleep after her needs were met. I wore her in a sling during the day, didn't let her cry, and carefully nurtured her every need.  She thrived, gained weight, and was a happy, strikingly beautiful little spirit.

From the time she was 3 months old, whenever we had a problem, concern, any struggle we went through, everyone I went to for advice told me the same thing. "Get her out of your bed room." I thumbed my nose at them and said, I don't believe that's the answer. They said, "you and your husband will not be able to connect." We connected more, in our mutual bond with her. They said, "you won't get any sleep." We got more sleep. They said, "She will think she's not okay if she can't see you." "Your relationship will not be sound." "She will be unable to self-soothe." "She will not mature emotionally." "You are holding her back out of YOUR need to be close to her." "She will be insecure." "She will be spoiled." Oh yes, I heard it all. Still, I did not budge. I am glad I didn't. If you want to know more about co-sleeping, and the scientific research surrounding it, click here.

10 months
I am proud of my courageous behavior until she was 15 months old and started having trouble sleeping. Maybe it was a growth-spurt, maybe she was just going through a developmental phase, maybe she wasn't getting enough activity during the day, maybe it was that she wasn't full enough. She would squirm, play, get up and down, kick us in the face, jabber until 2am, etc. I answered the new sleep deprivation by assuming that everyone was right. I thought co-sleeping wasn't working anymore. The Ferberizers must have been right. It didn't even occur to me that there could be a physiological reason for her sleep issues. We moved her out of the bed to a crib in our room, and then when we couldn't handle the constant crying all night, we moved her out of the room.  She was old enough for us not to worry about SIDS, so we knew she would be "fine."

She was not fine, and neither were we. I was shutting down my motherly instincts and closing myself off to inspiration. Had I been willing to cultivate and follow my personal inspiration and intuition, ignoring the voices around me, we might have figured out what was causing her sleep-problems, and we would have saved ourselves and her a great deal of pain.

I still feel the sting of those early days.  I see their negative effects on my daughter.  I see insecurity, social anxiety, and other issues stemming from her babyhood that she struggles with. These are issues that I saw developing and turned a blind eye, not willing to admit I had made a very huge mistake.  I put away the slings and I quit breastfeeding her during this time, against my mother's advice.  My reasoning was she's already crying, she might as well get it all over with at once.  I thought that like a band-aid, I should just rip it off all at once.  I was 7 months pregnant, so for the most part I was applauded for keeping it up as long as I had.  But she felt completely rejected and cried for days and days, hours upon hours, begging me to take her back.  Oh yeah, and I started potty-training her around that time as well, because of social pressure.  I just threw it all at her at once.  I sent her the message--it's time to grow up.  NOW.  I don't care if you're still a baby.  I think I might have even said that to her!

16 months
The secure bond that I had worked so long and hard to form with her was severed, causing her emotional scarring beyond my comprehension.  For her psyche, it was as if her mother had suddenly died, and been replaced by an uncaring, unloving caregiver.  To make matters worse, I began punishing her for 'misbehavior.'  When she responded negatively.  Time-out, spanking, scolding, all things so foreign to her angelic experience, I still held her and cuddled her sometimes, sure.  I thought I was a really good mother, because I was "tough" on her she was obstinate, and super-duper sweet when she was compliant.  But I was nervous about her clinging to me when the new baby was born, so she was pushed to give up all things that gave her comfort and security, even her own diaper.  She had no soft place to land, no one to lean on, no one to cling to, and she gradually began to give up.  She was never the same afterward.  She never will be.  I just hope that out there a mother is reading this and thinking, 'I would never do that to my child.'  That is my deepest desire.  I didn't know which part of what I did was wrong.  I knew something was wrong, and it took me until less than a year ago, 5 years later, to finally see what had actually happened--what I had actually done, with clear vision.

My life now is dedicated to becoming the kind of mother who would never dream of acting without inspiration, and never against my nurturing instincts.  I am devoted to helping my daughter heal as much as she can, and overcome the difficulties she continues to have.  My life's goal is to teach her (and my other children) where her greatest comfort and solace lies, and teach her how to access it.  My mission is to be a bridge between here and there for her.

I can't say if all her problems stemmed from when she was a baby, maybe she was born with an obstinate personality, I don't know.  I will never know.  But a part of me did see what was happening to her, how tortured she was, how she hurt inside, yet I kept on looking for the rewards everyone promised.

I waited for the 'security' and it never came.  I waited for the 'independence' and it never came.  I waited for the 'compliance' and it never came, I waited for the 'trust' and it never came.  It didn't come for a very, very long time, and it wasn't because of anything that Dr. Ferber, Dr. Phil, Oprah, Parenting Magazines, Mommy Message boards, family members or anyone else suggested.  It is still a work in progress, and it comes only by and through principles of Christianity.  Principles that I am just now beginning to understand apply to all parts of life and family rearing.

Moms, why are we giving other moms advice?  Why do we judge each other?  Why do we push young moms to do things OUR way?  Are we arrogant enough to think that we have all the answers to someone else's problems?  Do we really think our advice should trump personal inspiration?  Do we think that Dr. Spock knows more about our children than their creator?  Do we honestly think that our natural instincts to nurture and protect our children should be squashed into non-existence?  On this page I have several links to sites that explain the ideas I am speaking about.  Even the self-help books I recommend, I do not suggest you read or study them if you are not inspired to do so.  If God wants to speak to you out of them, He'll let you know.  But make sure you know where your inspiration comes from.

My sister and I have an agreement.  She does things differently than I do, I do things differently than she does.  But we both encourage and support each other.  We champion each other's efforts to receive inspiration on behalf of our children, and although we may not agree all the time, we respect the effort each of us goes through to find the answers we are seeking.  This is the most important work we will ever do with our lives.  Our children are counting on us to shape their characters and establish an environment they can truly THRIVE in.  Their success as parents, a.k.a. future generations hang on our efforts.  Will our great-grandchildren look back and thank us for how we lived?  Or will they look back and shake their heads, and have to strive to break the patterns we established?  Who do you want to be in the course of history?

MOMS!  Young, old, empty-nesters, and newly weds, YOU are the expert!  YOU are the specialist!  YOU are wiser than all the collective knowledge in the world, when it comes to YOUR child!  BE your child's CHAMPION!  Be courageous enough to BE what your child needs you to be...YOUR BEST.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

One Week?

Why did I think one week would be enough?  I barely got to face my demons and see the problems I've been distracted from head on, much less improve or become a better person.  This week was more of a humbling experience than a lifting experience.  I have gotten what I needed, not what I wanted.  But I am hoping and praying that when God is finished bringing me to my knees, He'll lift me up again, and higher.  I'm going for week 2 of striving to face problems, not hide from them--to be the kind of wife and mother who inspires confidence and gratitude--to separate myself from media, and focus on God's plan for me and my family.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Tired, but had to write

Today I'm very tired.  My arms and legs ache, my eyes are sagging, and my head is throbbing.  Yet my heart is full, my soul is resting, and my face bears a warm smile.  I feel peace inside, and I am falling asleep with a sense of comfort.

I could have lost it a little while ago.  I couldn't get my children to pray with me.  I was tired.  I just wanted to get to bed, write, read, and be done for the day.  But my children were busy using their imaginations and playing happily together.  They ignored my every weak and tired plea.  I started to get uptight, and felt hot anger knocking.  On top of that, the house keeps getting messy, and sometimes it feels like fighting a losing battle when it comes to laundry and clutter.  But as I prayed, I felt that familiar warmth come over me, and my daughter who was in the other room, sensed something, and came and knelt down with me.  I prayed aloud when she came, so she could participate, and she started to hug me as I was praying.

When I finished, we sat still and basked in the warm light that surrounded us.  I said, "I feel the Holy Spirit in my heart right now."  Kaylee said, "I feel it too."  I said, "It feels so warm and loving."  Kaylee hugged me and said, "I know."  She said, "Mommy, can we read the scriptures now?"  So we did.  

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

How it went today

Today I found that I could not feel the Spirit as much as I wanted to.  There was unfinished business in my home.  Laundry undone, dishes piled in the sink, and clutter taking over.  I spent much of my time running kids to and fro, and then realized that I would not get where I was seeking to go if my house is not in order.  The Spirit cannot dwell in an unclean 'temple.'  So this evening I got to work, cleaning, getting the kids to help.  At first it was a frenzy, and I did a lot of scolding and snapping, and then I realized I was still "missing the mark."  

I changed my tone, and explained to the kids why we were doing this.  They became engaged, because they wanted to feel the Spirit too.  They have missed it too.  Then the cleaning took on a smoother gate, and swifter progress was made, because it was done in the spirit of seeking, and serving God.  

There was a heavenly moment today that gave me just a tiny taste of what I'm hoping for.  A moment when I got really honest with myself, and in turn, my kids.  As I drove in the car, a feeling of anguish overcame me, and I felt inspired to share this journey with my children.  I told them why they had seen me crying half the morning.  I told them I feel such sadness, because I miss my Savior, I miss feeling His love all the time, and having it in our home all the time.  They in turn shared that they have felt that way too.  Remember, my kids are ages 6,5, and 2.  They told me that they remember when I did not know Christ, and I was so angry and pushed them away from my heart, but now, especially after we moved to this house, "you are different," they said.  "You want to love Jesus, and you keep trying to know Him.  You still get angry, and then you get happy, and you just keep going back and forth."  I shared with them that I want with all my heart to be a better, more loving Mommy, that they can trust to be close to Christ all the time.

I spent a lot of time crying today, yearning for what I used to be, the relationship I used to have with God.  I spent some time on my knees, some time in reflection, reading, listening to, and watching inspirational media.  Yet I did not read scriptures themselves.  I feel like the Spirit has still not pierced my heart.  It may be that only the actual words of God can break through these hardened walls.  Look for an update tomorrow.

Monday, February 28, 2011

by David Wilkerson - Part 5

One Week of Silence

This week I am taking one week of silence from the world's clatter.  All music, books, and media I watch, read, or listen to from today to Sunday will be spiritual in nature, uplifting, and unoffensive.  I'm so tired of filtering, tired of saying, "close your eyes kids!"  I'm tired of trying to push scenes from my mind, the constant assault against goodness and purity I endure daily as I partake of the entertainment industry that has pushed its way into into my home.  

Sweet silence.  Sweet rest.

This desire came to me the other day when I got home from a movie I will not mention, that I felt I was tricked into seeing, and I was offended and insulted by its content.  I then had a dream where I was screaming and ranting at someone for a choice I had made, blaming him, resenting him, working myself into a frenzy and frightening my children, losing my own self-respect.  I awoke in the middle of the night, and wept bitter tears.  I and no one else am responsible for my ALL my choices.

I remembered, like a distant dream, a time when I entered a place in my spiritual development where I felt the purity and peace Christ offers with such perfect intensity that I could not feel anger, resentment, or blame.  In that place, I had only the desire to do good, to see good, and had no hint of desire to partake in anything unworthy of a saint.  I felt an enormous sense of FREEDOM I could never have imagined.  I cannot stress that enough!  I felt as though I could fly!  Really!  I felt the deepest anguish for suffering and sins, and equally intense and thorough JOY for God and Love!  I felt released from all burdens.  Any troubles that came my way were easily handled, gently and simply, with all the effort of turning a head, or a releasing a warm smile.  Perfect clarity of vision and thought.  The clarity is physiological, so much that it appears to you that colors hold more vibrancy, shapes have more defined lines, your physical vision seems to improve, and your thoughts are orderly, without confusion or forgetfulness.  Things that once were old and stale become new, exciting, and fascinating.  This kind of experience can only be found when the Spirit of God is in you, driving you, and surrounding you.  It is Heaven on Earth.  Heaven in you.  That is my goal this week.  If I do not reach it, I will try again, and again, and again.  I testify that it IS possible to reach your personal heaven now, it is not necessary to wait until after we die.  In fact, it is crucial that we do not.

Who has not found the heavn' below
Will fail of it above,
For angels rent the house next ours
Wherever we remove.

-Emily Dickenson
HEAVEN is worth any effort to get to.  The reward is worth any sacrifice!  I promise you, He promises you, IT IS WORTH IT.

It requires a pure heart, it requires a deep, yearning desire, and willingness to surrender to God every moment of every day.  It requires studying scripture intently, and avoiding any possible temptations to darken or confuse one's spirit.  Love instead of anger, humility instead of indignation, kindness and mercy instead of impatience and irritation.  To think of Christ, to focus on myself instead of judging others, reaching out to others in service and love.  

The progress forward is easily lost, just one unkind word, one surrender to impatience or irritation, any degree of entertainment of non-virtuous or impure thoughts will hamper it.  But if we are seeking constantly, to only do GOOD, we will have no desire for these things. 

I recently heard a talk given, wherein the ability of Jesus Christ to remain unspotted by sin and darkness was looked at closely.  The speaker reminded us of the scriptures all throughout the New and Old Testament, that speak of His temptations, which means he was absolutely free to choose sin (spiritual separation from God.)  Yet he did not, as we so often do.  How?  The answer is revealed in the scriptures as well.  "He went about doing good continually."  He had the intense desire to always do good.  That must be our desire as well, if we wish to follow His path.   


I will seek, pray, and study during all my free time.  When I am not free to read or study or pray, I will work internally.  I will not waste any time this week.  He promises that "If ye seek me, ye shall find me."

This journey is impossible without deep humility.  I cannot say, "I am so glad I don't have THOSE problems, and I don't make THOSE mistakes!  I'm really doing pretty good compared to...(what I used to be, him or her, etc.)"  Instead I must look without blinking at my own flaws, not even thinking of others' flaws.  "I am nothing.  I am pained by my sins, and all sin in general.  I am flawed and weak.  I have no strength of my own. I could not exist without His grace and mercy. I am SO unworthy of His love, and yet he gives it freely!  My will does not matter, only His will.  My wants are meaningless, only His matter.  I do not want my wants.  I want His wants.  I am powerless against my addictions (can be TV, Internet, Food, Caffeine, you name it!)  I give up!  I, of my own free will and choice, give all I am--to HIM."  

One of the most heartfelt pleas I have heard is A Call to Anguish by David Wilkerson.  I ask you to ask yourself the questions posed there. Godly anguish is a clear first step, if we are ever to experience true joy.  I hope this will have the effect on you it did on me, to shake you out of apathy and contentment, and give you a desire to mourn for your own sins and the sins of the world.  "You allow HIM to melt and break you..."  and if you have done this before, do it again!  Do it again and again, and your heart will change within you.  You will become an instrument in His hands.  You will find a place of peace, rest, and rejoicing in Christ, which joy is always deepened by  your anguish for sin.

I do not know if any of you have been to the place I'm speaking of.  But I do know, and promise you that it is worth ANY effort you make to get there, even if you can't maintain it forever, just a small taste will be unforgettable, and you will strive your whole life to get back there.  The memory will be an anchor, a constant fixed point you can use to gauge your decisions, and take your spiritual temperature.  You will never forget, and there will be times you may say, how did I get there?  You will feel homesick for it.  You will mourn for it.  You will feel lost without it, and beg Christ to help you back there.  And when you find it again, it will be sweeter than you remembered, it will be as though you awoke from a very deep sleep, and you are now finally living!  You will rejoice with all your heart, and you will bless others beyond your imagining.

The Children Will Know, and Thank You

Perhaps the sweetest reward of arriving in the place I speak is that you will be a catalyst to your children through this journey.   Young children are so homesick for heaven, they will feel that touch of HOME immediately, and rejoice!  Their mouths will be loosed, their faces will beam with an almost visible light, joy will pour from them, as they speak things so profound you will be astonished, afraid to speak, lest you spoil the moment with your unworthy words.  
This was our experience, and it is beyond description. You will see them as wise, privy to knowledge and understanding you do not have, and it will humble you further.  It will effect them in ways they will remember for a lifetime.

click here for Heavenly Music

OH, I wish I had the words to adequately describe it--the purity, the freedom, the overpowering joy!  The sweet, sweet feeling of ultimate rest, the calm assurance, the LOVE, the cleanliness, the PEACE.  It is available to us ALL!!  We can begin TODAY.  I choose THIS day, to strive for Heaven.

"Remember that the only REAL control in life is Self-Control."

-Jeffery R. Holland

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ScreamFree Marriage, Part 2

Thank you so much to those who participated in yesterday's GIVEAWAY!  The winner has been notified.  I so badly wanted to give a copy away to everyone who wrote me!  I do hope that you who did write to me, and were serious about wanting to use the book to improve your relationships will purchase a copy of it yourself, or at least request it at your local library. 

As promised, here are some highlights from the book:

One of my favorite parts of the book is the Preface.  It is an eye-opening, appetizing spoonful of the hearty meal he is about to serve.

Preface pg. xvi  "I believe all people function best when given clarity about their situation--the truths about their situation--and then given clarity about their specific choices within that situation.  Which choice you make is up to you and can never be determined by another, even a so-called expert like me."

pg. xv The Only Commucication Skill You Need to Learn Is Authentic Self-Representation (ASR)

pg. xvii  "I am writing this book directly to your integrity, because your integrity knows that life and marriage are difficult, and that no growth in life or marriage can happen without clarity, challenge, and truth.  Your integrity also knows what you want most, and the very fact that you're reading this book testifies to your deepest dream:"

"Again, hold on, because if you dare to keep turning these pages, you're in for a bumpy ride--a ride that may turn all that you've been taught about marriage upside down."

The real meat of the book begins immediately:  

pg. 4 "If you want a warm, lasting marriage, you have to learn to keep your cool.  "Keeping your cool" does not refer to simple anger-management techniques or artificial rules of engagement (fighting fair)....

pg. 5 "Here, keeping your cool means discovering and holding on to your truest self...It means willingly and calmly facing the natural fires of marital commitment, and actually growing up--and getting closer--through them...It means keeping your cool as you face conflicts with your spouse that may have previously set you off in some form of "screaming."

"Being ScreamFree means holding on to your deepest desires for connection and boldly making yourself vulnerable...without knowing how your spouse will respond." 

"It means viewing old marital patterns through new lenses, no longer seeing those patterns as indications of irreconcilable differences, but rather as opportunities to grow your personal integrity and transform your relationship.  It's not a journey for timid spirits, but the rewards are certainly worth the struggle."

"Chapter 1-- If You're Not Under Control, You Cannot Be In Connection"

pg. 12 "We all scream too much.  We are either screaming at our spouses on the outside, or screaming at ourselves on the inside.  We scream because we react to the anxiety of the relationship and the anxiety of the moment."

"Now I hear what some of you are thinking.  "But I don't ever scream at my spouse."  Screaming is the term I use to describe...emotional reactivity...allowing our worst fears to drive our choices, instead of our highest principles."

(See appendix A for the five ways we scream...only one of which entails raised voices.)

That is just through Chapter 1!  It gets even better from there, but since I can't go through the whole book.  Here are just a few of the gems I found:

Runkel speaks honestly about his relationship with his wife:

pg. 86 "I wanted to grow up and assume more responsibility precisely because she didn't need me to."

Runkel on adults growing up beyond our parents:

pg. 123 "skiing is hard.  Really hard.  There is just a natural difficulty to it.  And when children encounter this natural difficulty, if their parents are anywhere in sight, they will naturally go to lean on them...and never learn to lean on themselves."

Chapter 7 A ScreamFree Marriage Leads to Scream-Filled Sex

Let me just note here that as a strong Christian, I worried about what I might find in this chapter.  I found it enlightening, intense, and still porn-free.  Here's an example:

pg.183 "One thing I always investigate with couples who come to see me is their practices of sexual initiation.  This is because learning how couples dance around this most intimate and risky of proposals is a fantastically clear window into the relationship, and the individual partners as a whole."

pg. 187 "'s not about your spouse validating your efforts--it's about you validating yourself as a whole, mature, sexual person, capable of owning and pursuing your deepest desires."

pg. 189 "It is no use wishing to see Europe if you're too afraid to travel."

"You got married with a biological, emotional, and spiritual desire for intense connection.  Now, the years and kids and mortgages and fights have a way of disconnecting you from that's not completely dead.  It is within you, waiting for you to Calm Down and Grow Up enough for you to Get Closer to your partner."

Chapter 8  Intimacy Begins With An "I"

pg. 220 "...self-representation is the answer to every problem in marriage...[it] makes for a remarkable connection because it ensures that the two trying to connect are at least trying to be authentic and truthful...[it] eradicates the villain of marital boredom."

Chapter 9 Let Love Rule

"When you are calm and present, you become a calming presence."

pg. 229 "Stop focusing on what your spouse is trying to do to you, and start focusing on something much more fruitful: changing yourself."

Readers, I will leave you on that note, with a disclaimer that Runkel is a much better writer than I, and if I have taken these words out of context and made them seem rote, or uninteresting, I apologize.  The fault then would be mine, because this book is riveting--downright hard to put down. It is funny, sad, exciting, emotional--all the things a good book should be.  I highly recommend it if you are ready to take the plunge into a deeper, more satisfying relationship with yourself, your spouse, and everyone else around you.  

I do not recommend this book if you are looking for ways to manipulate your spouse.  You will not find those answers here.