Saturday, July 26, 2014

God Works in Mysterious Ways

It is strange to me that in life, we are constantly thinking we have all the answers, that we know what's best, and that, somehow, it's the universe that has conspired against us. I have learned over the past year that we know very little when it comes to what we really need or want, and that in reality, what we really need is to stop and wait on the Lord.

For the past fourteen years, I have watched my husband, Sean, as he has left the house, so jealous that he gets to have a career where he is appreciated and paid for his opinions and ideas. Don't get me wrong, I love my children and I love being a mom, but I have always been the ambitious kind of person. As a stay-at-home mom, rather than a corporate ladder, there's the painting ladder and rather than business suits, there's yoga pants and children in birthday suits. I admit that more than once, I wished that I was the one going to work and he was the one staying home.

Well, God works in mysterious ways, because two months ago, that is exactly what happened. Sean had been struggling to find a good job for nearly a year when a good friend told us of a position in a company he knew that was looking for a full-time woman writer. We talked it through, prayed fervently, and decided to apply and if God wanted me to work, he would give us the job. The day before my interview, Sean received an offer for an engineering position an hour and a half away from our home with good pay but horrible benefits. The next day, I had my interview and was offered the job and with benefits included, it came out better than the engineering position.

Again we prayed and knew it was an answer from God. Our sons are now in Jr. High and I have been struggling to teach them at the level required in both Math and Science. Sean has been a high school science and math teacher for eight years and has the exact knowledge our children need for their growth and development. He is needed at home and I am needed to work. So, our roles are now reversed. It has been an interesting and humbling experience to say the least.

Here is what I have learned:

-Sean is a remarkable husband. I come home tired and worn out and have little energy or desire to want to do anything. When Sean came home from work all those years, he helped with dinner, helped with baths, helped with clean-up and helped with laundry. I rarely saw him sit down. I don't know how he did it. I have more respect for him now than I ever have. Because I am now in his shoes.

-Sean is an amazing father. When I come home, not only has he got the kids to clean the house, but he has taught them, taken them to the library, exercised with them, and read to them. He also has dinner ready. He gets more done in a day than I ever did. He is teaching our children the value of hard work, determination, and the importance of a father doing all things in the upkeep of a home.

-Being in the corporate world is not all it's cracked up to be. I miss being a mother. Now that I've tasted what I thought I wanted, I no longer want it. Isn't that how it always is. We think the grass is greener on the other side until we get to the other side and realize the grass is painted. It's not even grass at all and it doesn't feed us or fill our soul. Don't get me wrong, I like my job but I hate being away from my family. I feel like I'm missing out on precious moments of their life that I will never get back again. Time is short, make the very best of the time that you have.

-God is loving. God has provided us with a way to take care of our family in a way they need it and that doesn't always mean the traditional way of doing things. Our children needed what Sean has to give them and our family needed the ability to provide for our needs so God made it possible for both things to happen. I never thought in a million years that my English degree would provide a salary for us comparable to an engineering salary. That was God's hand, all the way.

-No matter what we do, it is important that we see the good in every situation so that we can be grateful for it. Although working may not be ideal for me, it is ideal for our situation at this moment, and it is making it possible for our children to learn at a level they haven't been able to before. It has also given Sean time to write. He has written nearly two books in the two months I have been working. Who knows where those will take us. All he needed was time and God, in His love and goodness, has given that to us.

I know that God's ways are not our ways and that if we just trust in Him, He will direct our path. If we choose to see the good, we will find it and we will truly feel God's love manifest itself in our life.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Our Imperfect View of Perfection

The picture of perfection.....

Smack-dab center in the middle of my living room is a four-year-old picture of my children. The picture is obviously old and outdated, but I keep the picture on the wall to remind me to let go of my need to be perfect. I remember the day of the photo shoot very well. My small children were tired because the only appointment the studio had was in the middle of the day, and right in the middle of my youngest daughter's nap time. I booked the time anyway because I wanted the pictures taken and, because of my "getter done" personality, I wanted them taken now. 

The photographer took individual and family photos and saved the group photo of the children for the very last. When the time came for the last photo, the children's patience were spent and so were mine. No matter what we did, we could not get everyone to cooperate and picture after picture was taken with no perfect photo as a result. Finally, with my children crying, me up in arms and my husband looking at me in desperation, I stopped myself. I realized what I was doing to my family. I was demanding perfection that my children did not have within themselves at the time to give me. They were tired, hungry, and miserable. The photographer kept trying to work with my crying miserable children to get them to smile and I stopped her. I told her that I am sure we would find the perfect picture in the photos that had already been taken.

As we looked through the pictures of the children, there was no picture of them sitting prim and proper in a perfect portrait like I wanted, but I did find the perfect picture that perfectly portrayed my children. In it, my youngest daughter was laughing hysterically while looking sideways, while my oldest son looked down at her with a big smile of love and admiration. My second oldest son was looking forward with the cheesiest smile on his face, just like he always does, while my oldest daughter was looking forward biting her lip nervously, which is a habit she has because she too worries when things are not going perfectly. My middle daughter was smiling her most beautiful smile staring off to the side, living in her own little world of laughter, where she likes to live the most. The picture captured each one of their personalities perfectly. Although people who come to my house and see the picture do not see picture perfect children, it is a picture of perfect children to me.

We are perfect in our imperfections....

According to the Mirriam online dictionary, perfection means: "having all the required or desired elements, qualities or characteristics, as good as it is possible to be."

I think about that definition and have finally come to the realization that I will never fit that definition in this life. My body alone has a whole slew of imperfections and we won't even talk about my bad habits, improper thoughts, poor choices or countless mistakes. There is no way I will ever be as good as it is possible to be and it is time I learn to be ok with that and stop searching for and expecting perfection in myself and everyone around me. I think we all need to recognize that trying to attain that definition is impossible in this life and only attainable through the Atonement and with the help of the Savior.

Linda Reeves said, "We may sometimes feel that we need to be part of a "perfect LDS family" in order to be accepted by the Lord. We often feel "less-than" or like misfits in the kingdom if we feel we do not fit that picture. Dear sisters, when all is said and done, what will matter to our Father in Heaven will be how well we have kept our covenants and how much we have tried to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ."

God expects us to be imperfect. As a matter of fact, He knew that's the way it would be which is why He sent the Savior in the first place. So why do we beat ourselves up every time we make a mistake, every time we are less than perfect in our calling, or any time we show that we are anything less than the perfect Mormon family. 

The promises we make.....

If the thing that matters most to our Heavenly Father is how well we have kept our covenants and how much we have tried to follow the Savior, then from here on out. let's make those things our focus. Just for fun, let's talk about the things we do and do not promise when we covenant with the Lord.

We do not promise....

  • To keep our house spotless, floors mopped, laundry folded, dishes done, toilet cleaned, sinks shiny, and beds made all the days of our lives.
  • To keep our children entertained, our spouse happy, ourselves happy, our neighbors happy, our extended family cared for every minute of every day.
  •  To have our children to school on time, our grocery shopping done in under an hour, our family's dinner on the table at six sharp, and our children in bed at eight come rain or shine.
  • To have cookies in our cookie jar, treats for the sisters we visit, handouts for our lesson, glitter for our child's birthday party invitations (or a birthday party at all for that matter), or homemade bread for all our neighbors.
  • To wear make-up every day, to volunteer for every service project, to know how to scrapbook, to have perfect children, to be the perfect mother.
Heavenly Father will never, ever require us to do these things. These list of things are things we have all required of ourselves. I know there are many, many more that I could add to this list, but I am sure you all get the point I am trying to make with it.

We do promise....

  • To take upon ourselves the name of the Savior, to become more like Him. Becoming more like the Savior does not require a clean house, it requires a pure heart.
  • To always remember the Savior. Sometimes, remembering the Savior means getting rid of all the things in your life that are making you busy so that you can sit at the Savior's feet and learn from Him. Remember Mary and Martha?
  •  To love one another. Sometimes kindness is thrown out the window when we are in a hurry to get things done and when we always feel rushed. Kindness should always take priority over a schedule to be kept.
  • To serve one another. Service does not require things at all. The only thing required is your time and your heart. The greatest gift you can leave with someone you serve is the gift of the Spirit.
  • To be like the Savior and follow Him. The Savior was not concerned with worldly things. He did not care what other people thought of Him. He was here to do the work of His Father. To many, He was anything but the perfect King they were expecting. But to His Father in Heaven who knew Him and His heart, He was a Beloved Son and the perfect Savior and Redeemer of the world.

If anyone is interested in this amazing portrait of the Savior, you can find the artist, Brent Borup at

So it is with us. Our Heavenly Father knows us individually and personally. He knows our hearts and our destiny. He knows who we are and who we can be and to Him we are remarkable. He loves us. He loves us because we are perfectly who we are because we are perfectly His.