Thursday, August 20, 2015
Where did summer go? Depending on where you live, some kids have been back to school for three weeks already. I am not a fan of year-round school schedules...or even modified year-round schedules. In most of Arizona (I have to qualify that because many people are surprised to learn that Arizona does have climate zones with four seasons), July and August is just too stinkin' hot to go to school. Besides, kids need time to play - and by that I mean imaginative, free play. No rules, no teams, no adults calling the shots. Kids need time to pretend and explore and create. They need the chance to experience natural consequences and how to solve problems with their peers without a grown-up stepping into the middle of things.
Wow. I got a little carried away there. While I'm not calling for free-for-all, let kids beat each other up and destroy a neighborhood kind of play, I do feel strongly about the lack of freedom children have now to develop creatively and at their own pace. And this has nothing to do with what I'm really thinking about. Or does it?
My youngest child teeters on the edge of that metaphorical nest. I've mentioned before how uncomfortable I am with this whole empty-nest thing. Six a.m. Saturday morning he will be headed north to step into the world of greater intellectual pursuits. To top it all off, our bishop let us know last night that Levi's mission papers have been sent to Salt Lake. What! I knew it was happening, but now it's real. In a few short weeks, he will receive a call to go out and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! (I'll post a request for guesses as to where he will be called to serve at a later date)
I catch myself watching moms of young children and wishing I could have a do-over or nine. Don't get me wrong. I love the people my children have become. I wouldn't change anything about them. What I would do is slow it down a bit. Savor the moments more. Yell less. Appreciate more. I would spend more time at the park and less time scrubbing floors. I would pray harder and worry less. I guess that's where grandmothering comes in. I do get to do those things with our grandchildren. And I adore it.
I also love spending time with our adult children. They amaze me. What I appreciate most is the way they reach out to each other. I love that they want to skype or google chat and spend time together, despite the hundreds of miles that separate them. I love that they encourage their children to get to know their cousins and develop friendships with them. Even when they disagree about something, they express their love and acceptance and respect each other.
Each family carries their share of trials and tribulations. Life is messy and no one gets out unscathed. But when you have family to share those challenges with, the burden is lighter. Someone is there to watch your back, no matter what (And since some of them will be reading this - Don't you ever forget we will always be here for you).
Every day brings me greater understanding and appreciation for my knowledge of the plan of salvation - that great plan of happiness prepared for us by Heavenly Father. Oh, what comfort there is in knowing that our family is sealed together for time and all eternity. I thought about this quite a bit last week while reading the final chapters of the Book of Mormon. Moroni 1 has just 4 short verses - but the messages between the lines could fill volumes.
Here's Moroni - all alone. All of his family and friends have been killed by the Lamanites. If anyone had a reason to be angry, offended, vengeful, or full of hate, Moroni did. Instead, Moroni chose to "write a few more things that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord." Moroni forgives his enemies and finds purpose for his life. How easy would it have been for him to just raise his hands in surrender to his enemies? All he had to do was deny Christ. But Moroni knew the truth. He knew the Savior and he could not deny Him. Moroni loved the Savior and he loved his enemies. He wanted to them to know and love the Savior, as he did - so he wrote down everything he could - having faith that someday in the future their descendants would be able to read his words and treasure them. And oh, how I treasure them.
I love how Moroni quotes his father Mormon: "It is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time." Both of these great men recognized the gift they had been given in being permitted to live and share the sweet message of the gospel.
Do I treasure my own callings - at home and in church - as the gifts that they are? As a young mom, I found myself frequently getting caught in a trap of negativity and whining and complaining. Then I would remember that if I didn't have a mountain of laundry, it would be because I didn't have clothes and people in the home to get them dirty. My sink overflowed with dishes because I fed a lot of mouths - and we had plenty of food to put in them. I learned to recognize that trials come with blessings and blessings often come in the guise of tribulation. There isn't a challenge in my life that I would give up if it meant giving up my family.
At the very end of the Book of Mormon, despite being alone and not knowing how much longer he had to live, Moroni bears a joyful testimony of Christ and His doctrine. How can one be joyful amidst all the tribulation Moroni witnessed? Because Moroni knew Christ. He also knew that he, too, was a son of Heavenly Father and that through Christ, he would return to His Father's presence...and into the arms of the family he lost during mortality. He knew that no matter what happened, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everything was going to be okay.
So, if you read this far, you truly are my friend. I know I rambled, but that's really how my life feels right now. Either that, or I've been watching too many episodes of Gilmore Girls. Or both. I'm sad our children are all grown up, but I'm thrilled that they've become self-sufficient, contributing members of society and that the world is a better place because they are in it. And whether they like it or not, we are all stuck with each other. Forever. And that makes life magnificent.