Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Missionary Mom's Heart

I can't even describe the feelings of my heart in sending my boy into the world to teach others about Jesus Christ. There are days my heart is so happy I can feel it jumping up and down inside of me. But there are other days I long for a "Caleb hug" more than anything in the world. He is a soothing son, and there are times I think I need him fiercely. But honestly, I wouldn't want him anywhere else in the world than where he is. Even in the moments I let the tears flow, I wouldn't want him back home right now. He is where the Lord wants him, and that's right where I want him, too. As I watched my niece being sealed to her parents in the temple last week, I loved what Caleb is doing. Everything he's doing is about bringing others to Christ so they can ultimately be sealed for this life and eternity in the temple of God. I want other families to have that, so I will "let my son go for two years so others can be with their families forever." It is worth the trade.

Caleb says he is not perfect at being a missionary. Well, I'll admit right along with him, I am not a perfect missionary mom. I count the days a little too often. I look at his picture a little too much. I still haven't washed the shirt in his closet so I can go down and smell it any time I want to. And I still call my other sons Caleb at times and feel the ping in my chest when I know he won't answer. But I am glad he is serving, and I will continue to pray for him and love him and support him in any way I can.  

And even from far across the continents, he carries me through many hard times with his love and encouragement. He is such a good son, and SUCH a good missionary. He brings honor to his father, his mother, and to me, his "second mother," an affectionate title he gave me that I will always cherish. He told me once, "You are my second mother only because you came second. There is no other reason." Well, he is my son that I share with his mother. :) It's wonderful how things turn out.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why I Love Being a Mormon Mom

I am a Mormon mom, and you know what? I love it! I think I love it most because I have answers. My children are full of questions; I get bombarded every day with whys, hows, wheres, and whats. There are plenty of questions I SHOULD know the answers to, but I don't. But because I'm a Mormon mommy, there are plenty of times I can give a confident answer to my little inquiring minds.
Sarah, Michael, Rebecca
Christina in front.

Jonny and Christina Halloween
I can answer with confidence why they live in this world, a world made beautiful by Someone who loves them. I can show them how to pray and then teach with confidence that although I won't always be there with them as I'd like to be, there is Someone who will ALWAYS be there for them- because they are that special.

My last hug before Caleb leaves us
 for two years on an LDS mission.
I can tell my children with full confidence that this life is not all there is. There is so much more, more before our time here and more after our time here. Because of this their value is incalculable. They have a purpose here. They have choices to make, and those choices matter.

I can tell them that I don't understand all things, but I know there is a God in heaven who does understand. They can go to Him to feel the peace and assurance they will need as life can be so very tough sometimes.

When they wonder what they should do when they are sad, I can tell them with confidence that this life is not all about them. If they find someone to serve, they will feel better.

At the beach after Sarah
 was married
 in the Los Angeles LDS Temple
I can give them many examples of people who have had rough starts, but were able to rise above them and become the people God wanted them to be: Esther, Alma the Younger, Daniel, Joseph in Egypt, Nephi, Joseph the brother of  Nephi, John the Baptist, the brother of Jared, Mormon, Moses, and many others. The Lord took these people from difficult beginnings and helped them to become great. I can teach my children that they can do the same. No matter what they have or are experiencing now, they can use their talents  to make the world a better place.
The children all dressed up
at the beach.

I can show my children that God speaks to all people, in the "old world" and in the Americas. There is another testament of Jesus Christ, even the Book of Mormon. It is so wonderful to be able to share these truths with them, the story of people who were brought to America from other lands and then were taught by people of God, and even visited by Jesus Christ Himself. 

I can tell my children that there are prophets living today, men inspired to speak for God himself. We have opportunities to listen to these great men every six months during General Conference. These men will give guidance, inspiration, and counsel to live our lives the way Jesus would want us to.

I can tell them that the priesthood of God has been restored to the earth. This is the power to act in Christ's name. Through this priesthood power families can be sealed together for all eternity. The love of their life can be with them beyond the grave as they are sealed in one of the temples of God on the earth today. What can be better than that? I can't think of anything! I LOVE being a Mormon mom!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Mom Living with Vertigo

A few nights ago I was doing the dishes when my husband, Gary, reached his arm in front of me to move the faucet. That swift movement sent my head swirling. I was immediately nauseous and had to sit down. Usually these episodes are short lived and I can resume my regular activity in a few hours or even minutes. Not this time. This time I got it good, occasionally that happens. After two days, I was still in bed. It's been four days now, and I have been up for most of the afternoon.

Learning to live with vertigo has been a process for me and my family. Not an easy one either, but looking back I can honestly say it's been an important learning tool for all of us. 

The Symptoms
-The room suddenly swirls, whether my eyes are closed or open
-Light hurts my eyes
-Noises are torture 
-I am nauseous
-There is a ringing in my ears that makes me feel like I'm going crazy
-My body is overcome with fatigue
-My balance is completely off 
The Research
When I first learned this was going to be part of my life, my mom told me of a woman who goes down a few days every few weeks. I was shocked that someone could live that way. I asked, "How can she do that?" It seriously seemed impossible. My mom said that she just adjusted her life around it as she learned to live with it. It sounded horrible to me. There had to be a fix.
I spent years searching for answers as to why I had this condition. Each doctor had his/her own theory. Is it damage to the balance nerve in the inner ear left from my first major incident caused by an inner ear infection? Is it anxiety? Is it sleep and eating habits? Is it stress? Or is it allergies?  They all have their answers. I have mine. My guess is it's probably some of everything, but the reality is it's part of my life, and therefore I've needed to learn to live with it.

The Grief
Grief is a real part of any loss. Losing my full balance (or the Jack Sparrow Syndrome, as Gary calls it), living with tinnitus, and dwelling in a spinning world is frightening. That's all there is to it. I do what I can to laugh, but sometimes, even still, I let myself have a good cry. Yesterday when I tried closing my eyes to escape the spins, I ended up spinning in the dark. When I realized there was nothing I could do to stop it, I let the tears flow. There's not a thing wrong with that! In fact, I think it's healthy.

The Guilt
I beat myself to a pulp for years because I wasn't the care giver I wanted to be during these times. I almost let it stop me from adding our three Ukrainian children to our family, reasoning that no one would want a mom that goes down for days at a time. When I felt the answer come from God that these were to be our children, something inside me started to change. God would rather they have a low energy, dizzy mom than no mom at all. Hmm.... maybe I was okay after all.

Each episode is different. This one is passing me by. The vertigo is waning, the ringing is dimming, and the nausea is almost gone. I still hang tight to the walls as I walk down the stairs, and sudden movements throw me for a loop. I won't be able to drive for another day or two and the weariness may take weeks before I fully recover, but I am on the mend. :)

I do much better now enjoying the good days. I love it when I see clearly. I love being able to drive my children where they need to be. I love being able to do the grocery shopping. I am so grateful when I can play and laugh and enjoy my family without laying down or holding my head. Then when the days come when I can't do these things, I really try hard to fight the guilt. I use to let it run its painful course, now I try to be more patient with myself and also with my children when we are frustrated that I can't do something. When Gary or one of my children asks me if I need something, I let them do it. There is so much growth in them because of this. They have had to learn that sometimes it's okay to take care of Mom.

I have two college age daughters. Both of my girls work with the elderly and the disabled. They have genuine concern for those they care for, making them everybody's favorite. I can't help but think this was instilled in them as children when they had opportunities to take care of me. Each one of my children living at home have come unsolicited to my room asking what they can do for me. I can't help but smile as I realize how much I love who they are turning into through this whole process. Would I wish it upon them? No, I wouldn't, but can I see the good that comes from it? Absolutely. Do I know what it is that causes this? No, but I think little by little I'm learning why.