Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dear Anonymous

I signed in this morning, missing blogging. 
I told myself maybe I could just go back and read some old post, maybe my boys last years birthday posts, seeing as I felt like I probably wouldn't get to them this year.

Trying to push away that sad feeling, of wanting to do so many things, but feeling forced (by these pesky 24 hour days, and my own limited energy) to choose.

My friends are probably sick of hearing me talk about my non-blog-time whoas.
They offer sound advice about "time how other challenges come to fill their place.

Then I read your comment on my last post, my anonymous friend.

And realized that the truth is I want to keep blogging.

For me... and for you, anonymous.

Just like so many essential things--scriptures, prayers, date night--it's not easy to make the time for these things. Blogging may not be essential but it is a good thing I want to choose to do, and therefore just like all the others things, I have to safe guard and protect on my crowded daily schedule, I can do this. 

Maybe not as often and most certainly at the sacrifice of some other non-essential (like sleep and cleaning, usually). 

So thank you dear Anonymous, for reminding me I don't have to have hundreds of followers to make a small difference in someone's day. Because I do hope that every once and a while something when I take the time to write that it will bolster up another young, stressed out mom, so she can make it though one more insane before-dinner hour! I hope that I can inspire a mom to pick up her scriptures or turn on a conference talk while she folds yet another load of laundry. 

Because, as I admit in the very title of this blog-- this is the hardest things I've ever done. 

To raise these children and not loose it. To remind myself of the eternal course my everyday choices are  determining, for me and my family. To humble myself and admit I can't do it alone. That I need heaven's help-- in all its many forms--

In the voice of prophets and prophetesses, only a few clicks away.
In angels, I know are round about,  even if they don't intervene when my kids are spilling things...again.
In scriptures that I scatter about my house, so I can flip them open and feel their power, quickly before the next crisis.
In the primary songs softly playing in my kids room, as I lay down with them desperate for them to have a nap...oh please nap today.
In my friends, their words of encouragement in our phone conversations punctuated by our kids squabbles and screams, their perspective and wisdom sometimes shared in words, but more often gleaned as I watch them in action. My friends and their blessed sewing machines, helping me once again with a sewing project I'm incapable of, but need done by tomorow mornings preschool Halloween party:) Thank heavens for my heavenly friends.

Even ones I don't know, like you anonymous.

And if I can be that kind of voice--helping and urging us all to look to Heaven more for answers and strength and the endless patience parenting seems to require--then I want to be that voice.

Thank you Anonymous for reminding me of that. And giving me the courage to admit my own desires and take accountability for my own choices. To feel that I truly can decide to keep doing a good thing, if only because I want to.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My highlights from conference...and a grocery analogy outta nowhere!

School blessings, General Conference, catching up on the Relief Society we missed while we were in Mexico, and Stake conference today. 

I love how my new notebook (which I purchase along with my kids school supplies each year) has been filling up with so much good. So much inspiration. So much truth.

Like stocking up on groceries, filling the pantry with flats of cans and bulk packaging, there ready for thrown together dinners, or neighbours to call "Do you happen to have any..."

My notes feel like that. A bit of storage, to access in times of need over the next six months. Food storage doesn't mean you don't grocery shop regularly--daily scriptures and weekly church are the produce and milk, so to speak. 
Even the most stocked up items won't last forever, come next spring my spiritual shelves will need replenished. 

But for now I feel as though I'm standing before full shelves, with lots of worthy goals and things to repent of and feelings of determination to be better to choose from.

Here's a few Highlights from my conference "shelves":

 The missionary announcement is so exciting! I loved my mission and I love that it'll be just that much easier for girls to serve, plus all my debating about when to start McKye  in school so he won't hafta wait to go on his mission...resolved.  

I loved the feeling the announcement gave me, that the Lord's kingdom is rolling forth, and that it will continue. I had this image of a large vessel  and thought, I just need to "Get onboard!!"  and be awed by the privilege it is to watch and participate in its progression. We only struggle when we think we need to dip into the waters of the world and then we end up getting dragged behind, wondering why the gospel is so hard. The church will go forth, no matter what, we only need to decide if we're going to be a part of it. 

How fast did we know these were gonna be made!
Right before Ann Dibb's talk I'd turned to Ben and said, 
" I love this church!, I just love it!
Ben just smiled at me when she said it moments later.

 My next highlight, is my very, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY VERY favorite thing I learned at conference.

It was when Pres. Uchtdorf said he tried to imagine the Saviour rushing about Galilee...oh wait I can get the actual quote:

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.
I can’t see it.
Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.
I loved that. As convenant keeping latter-day saints it is easy to get going on the inertia of duty.  Of striving to lengthen our stride, with out running faster than we have strength. It is such a balance. But I loved that what Pres. Uchtdorf could imagine was the Saviour purposefully blessing others.

I was blessed to sit in a stewardship interview recently where my wise Bishop reminded me that it is easy to get caught up in trying to make sure "The machine" is running, that the administrative aspects of our callings are running smoothly, that we sometimes forget why the machine was started up in the first place, we forget that we are really called to minister to God's precious children. Sheer busy-ness does not ensure success, and does not always result in the most effective discipleship

That was what so much of conference came down to for me. Discipleship.

That we just need to follow the Saviour.
We need to listen to Him.
We need to be on His errand.
 And we need to get rid of anything that gets in the way of hearing and heeding Him.

Before I'd got a chance to listen to the Relief Society general meeting, my wonderful friend told me about Elder Eyring talk, how he related the experience of his daughter who made it to the hospital to deliver her baby prematurely just in time, because her visiting teacher felt that she should "just stop by". My friend got emotional as she said, "I want so badly to be that person. To be someone the Lord can trust to respond. Someone He can say,
"Go! Now! " to and I will!"
I thought about all the days she'd called at just the right time or told me just the right thing. She so already is.
She is a disciple because she listens.
Because she is trying.
And she listens and tries because she loves the Lord.

Which leads me to my favorite talk? Elder Holland.
It's WAY better to listen to then to read, by the way. He made you feel like you were right there on the shores, smelling the fish and the salty nets, feeling Peter's confusion as the Lord keeps asking him the same question.

"Peter said for the third time, 
“Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.”1 
To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach   my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do....

So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back... Your Father in Heaven expects your loyalty and your love at every stage of your life.”

I say "I love thee" all the time in my prayers, but how do I show it?
How many times would the Savoir need to ask me before it really sank in?
I was talking my deeply spiritual sister-in-law and she had applied the New Testament story to her mothering/. In essence she said Our children often ask us, in their own way,
Do you love me more than these? More than the dishes, more than facebook, more than your to do list? I say I love my kids all the time, but when they truly feel it is when I show them by putting them first.

The Saviour wants to know we put Him first. When we do, we gradually become like Him.
As Elder Johnson's said in his talk

 Discipleship is all about doing and becoming. As we obey His commandments and serve our fellowmen, we become better disciples of Jesus Christ. ...Ultimately, it is total submission to His will that helps us become as our Savior is. Again, becoming like Him and being one with Him is the ultimate goal and objective—and essentially the very definition of true discipleship.

That doing and becoming was reiterated in Elder Bednar's talk about the testimony needing to grow into conversion.

Yes, for me, Discipleship was a definite theme.

Then today at Stake Conference Pres Low was talking about dedication (tying in the Calgary Temple dedication this month) and ways we can more fully dedicate lives to the Lord and His work. 
As he shared all these "little" examples of times he and his family choose to keep the sabbath day holy, or to be generous in their offerings when they were still struggling through school, or as he read from his journal when he was a young bishop with a house full of young boys--I just looked at Sister Low and thought, you don't just magically become a great family, you just aren't somehow amazing people just because...they are amazing because they have consistently chose 
to sacrifice, to obey, to serve. We can all become those stellar people, the great examples we admire, it just takes faithfully living the gospel, just like we know we should. As we choose to sacrifice it's that sacrifice that "makes us"--makes us better and makes us more. As Pres. Low put it (according to my notes):
"[Our choices to sacrifice  set our course, because we knew and were determined that such sacrifice would always brings blessings.]"

All the conferences left me feeling that Discipleship is an exciting path. 
However soul stretching, and perhaps even exhausting it can seem ooo1at times. But it is the only way that will leave us knowing we did all we could, that we gave all of ourself, and that in return we were made more than we could have ever imagined. 
The blessings and promises to those who serve the Master are worth any and every effort.

Pres Low shared this great quote form Sister Hinckley that shows the desires of a true disciples heart.

“I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. 
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”

I too want those marks of discipleship. I want the Lord to know that I love Him, not just because I said it, but because I feed His sheep. 

Even if sometimes, it was only peanut butter sandwiches.

We told McKye he could only drum during the songs,
so this is him ricking out with the Mo-Tab.

My first Wednesday

The prologue one  of Linda Eyre’s  first book said something like
“For my birthday this year my husband gave me Wednesdays”

I always liked that idea.

“You should write a book.” My husband tells me all the time.
“We’ll be rich” he teases. 
And I look at him, like sure, yup, in all my spare time dear, no prob.
“Honey”, I say, “ books don’t make that much money.”
“Um…Harry Potter???”
I tell him why I can’t. (Really reaffirming to myself why I can’t.)
Tell myself I don’t want to.

But I do. Not a book. But I do want to write.

I always have.
I wanted good grades, even in math (even though it was sooo much harder for me than the other subjects). But when It came to writing  it wasn’t the “A “I was shooting for.
It was a need.

A need to express. A need to emotionally dismantle and hopefully in the dissection understand, even just a little.

As my new hero Anna Quindlen says “Women [are] in the business of emotional deconstruction."

Reading good writing always makes me want to write.  (And man was Anna Quindlen's book a good book!)

I’m just so impatient. I don’t want to crumple up drafts. Or delete.
I don’t even want to edit (obviously) .

But maybe I’m ready to do some of the preliminary work. 
 Yikes! I already cringe at the level of commitment even typing this proclaims.

I am still so selfish in my writing. Greedy. Wanting words and phrases to effortlessly flow. Just like I want to “be a runner”, oh but I can’t run everyday. I want to run once in a while and still have all the glory with none of the sweat. And then I’m shocked that after just a few skipped mornings I’m thrust back to square one in my endurance.  

Muscles and skills deteriorate so quickly.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly” 
Ben’s mission president’s slogan has always stuck with me.

I have always wanted to do this. Known that part of me feeling like life is compete, includes me writing (journals, notes to friends, this blog.)

I was (and am) just scared.

“A successful novel is always driven by character. And frankly when I write, I’m mainly telling the story to myself. Thinking about audience is too daunting…” wrote Anna Quindlen, in an interview at the end of her amazing novel that had me bawling on the way too and from Mexico...no really, full out sobbing on the run way!)

The truth is, I think about audience all the time.  The young mom needing a boost to make it through her afternoon with crabby kids. The grammer conscious reader who can harldy believe this girl has a degree, let alone  a major in English (what is post secondary education coming too?). Furutre generations-- some distant great-great grand-daughter who for some reason feels maybe her dead Grandma Bretzke’s thoughts might clarify her own experience.  Mrs. Quindlen is right, it is daunting!

Maybe I’m still too self absorbed. Egocentric in my need to still figure out my own thoughts and feelings. (Both that flow faster than I could ever hope to type anyway!)

I want to write myself. Not because I think I have any really profound ideas, or unique thoughts, in fact I very much agree with  the quote,
"There is nothing worth thinking but it has been thought before; we must only try to think it again."

Yes, perhaps I haven't thought it yet. Just because millions of women have given birth doesn't lessen the singularity of my own experience bringing my children into this world.
Vicariousness only goes so far. Experience brings understanding to a whole other level. 

No I'm not ready to equip characters free of my autobiographical baggage. 
I’m still figuring out my own story.

I like non fiction anyway.

So I will try and forget “audience” (although I’m pretty sure that was included in some clever acronym about writing in jr high. ) and just explore.

I'll try and stop myself from thinking this blog has to be a complete and chronological journal of our family life (oh how I envy you organized souls who can keep things so systematic, when my brain's approach is always so messy!)

Maybe this ramblings belong in a  scribbler somewhere, but much to my mother's dismay my penmanship just isn't what it use to be.

Just writing.

Little jogs. Training. Feeling my breath deepen and my echoing pulse, telling me I'm getting stronger. Little by little. No race. No destination. Just running to run.

Writing to write. It feels good.

PS by the way, Ben’s gonna give me Wednesdays.