Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Arise... And Be Men"

One of the aspects that I enjoy most about my job placing exchange students is meeting with potential host families in their homes. I inspect their homes to make sure they are clean and suitable and then sit down with them to ask them a variety of questions regarding their finances, the stability of their home life, and their motivations for hosting a student. It's not only an interesting process it's also great to have reaffirmed again and again that most families are good families that are trying to do right by their families regardless of their religious affiliation. 
A few weeks ago, I met with a single mom that had hosted a student through another organization when she was still married and she was now ready and wanting to host again through our company. As I started the interview process, she immediately started telling me about her husband and the dissolution of their marriage. They had been together for 15 years, married for 13, and have three boys together ages 8, 5, and 3. She told me all about their wedding and vows, how they went through pre-marital counseling as required by the Catholic Church, about how her husband had said that there was not one single thing that would ever justify divorce, and about how her current home had been their dream together. Then she told me that about nine months previous he had decided that he didn't want to be married anymore and he didn't want the burden of responsibility. She said she was devastated. I asked how she was coping and her eyes welled up and said, "Well, it was only nine months ago so it's still pretty raw. It's especially hard on my oldest son who asks every day if he can see his dad or asks if dad is coming over." She then went on to explain that one of the reasons she wanted to host another exchange student was so that her oldest son could have an older male to look up to in the home. So sad. I met the little boy and he seemed downcast and sad. I found out a little later in the conversation that her husband had been engaging in extramarital affairs and that he was now living with one of his mistresses. She seemed to think that he might come to his senses one day and I asked her if she would take him back if he wanted to come home. She replied, "I think I would. I just want us to be a family again. I want my boys to be happy again. I think he just got stressed out and couldn't deal with the birth of our third child. You know, divorce is one of the three most selfish things a person can do in this life--divorce, abortion, and suicide." I would have to agree. Now, in writing this, I am aware that I only heard one side of the story. Maybe she was a shrew of a wife. But the thing is, she didn't seem like a shrew. She seemed like a very sweet woman who had devoted her life to God and her family. And as I walked away from her home all I wanted to do was call her husband and punch him in the face and some how make him understand all of the heartache he had caused his wife and his innocent children. I wanted to ask him if he really understood the repercussions of his choices and if he knew that his boys would have trust and commitment issues for a long time because their hero destroyed their family and broke their hearts. 
Which leads me to the above book. I recently finished reading The Broken American Male and How to Fix Him by Rabbi Boteach. It's an insightful read and his familial and religious morals run parallel to my own. His ultimate goal is to save families. While reading it, I couldn't help but think of the father and husband from my story. I also thought about my husband and father and how thankful I am for the gospel and particularly, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which teaches us the sacred distinction and importance of the roles of mothers and fathers. We live in a world that teaches us that the only thing that makes us valuable is how much money and fame we have. I'm grateful for the gospel which keeps us grounded and is a consistent reminder for us that our real value and worth is determined by our loving relationships (including our relationship with God) and our contributions to others. I'm grateful every day for a loving husband who fights the good fight every single day; who is a loving father-- the kind of father that sacrifices is own birthday to take his five year old son on his first Fathers and Sons Campout. He is James' hero. He's a hero to each member of our family. Not only because he works really, really hard but because even at the end of the day, when he's physically spent and mentally drained, he still musters up enough energy to play with the kids for a while or fix something around the house that needs repaired or help out with the baby. Many times I will look out the window to see James following right behind Adam and mimicking his every move. He wants to be just like his dad, a man, which echoes Lehi's counsel "Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men..."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Talk

I was "blessed" with the opportunity of speaking in church today. On Mother's Day, of all days. I never realized how daunting it is to have to speak on Mother's Day. I gotta tell ya, I struggled just a little bit. I know that this day is not the happiest day for a lot of women and a lot of men, for that matter, including my dad. He commented one time that Mother's Day wasn't his favorite day because his mother had some struggles in her life. I also wanted to be sensitive to the single sisters and those women who desperately want children or more children and that dream has not been fulfilled. So instead, I decided to shift the focus of my talk to womanhood and incorporating motherhood into it. The basis of my talk was on this quote by Sheri Dew:

Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us. President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that 'God planted within women something divine.' Elder Matthew Cowley taught that 'men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. They are born with an inherent right, and inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls...and the regenerating force in the lives of God's children.' ... We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality.  (For the full talk )

I also shared this quote by Neal A. Maxwell:

In our modern kingdom, it is no accident that women were, through the Relief Society, assigned compassionate service. So often the service of women seems instinctive, while that of some men seems more labored. It is precisely because the daughters of Zion are so uncommon that the adversary will not leave them alone. 
We salute you, sisters, for the joy that is yours as you rejoice in a baby's first smile and as you listen with eager ear to a child's first day of school which bespeaks a special selflessness. You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today's world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms. 
So often our sisters comfort others when their own needs are greater than those being comforted. That quality is like the generosity of Jesus on the cross. Empathy during agony is a portion of divinity. 
When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this. 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Be Kind to Your Web-footed Friends...

A couple of months ago, we decided we would start a new journey by getting a pet(s). Adam and I decided that a dog was definitely out. I'm forever ruined on dogs due to my in-laws awful canines. I can't stand fur scattered around the house, I hate dogs' slobbery tongues and stinky breath, and I especially don't like picking up their nasty poop. That, and I don't have time for a dog since my plate is pretty full already with three kids. A cat was never even an option. I hate cats. I haaaate cats. I developed a special loathing for cats at our old place when every bloody cat in the neighborhood decided to use our yard as it's toilet. No thanks. I hate cats. So, we decided to get chickens because 1) they are ALWAYS an outdoor pet 2) they produce something useful 3) James was really excited about getting some. Mind you, I never thought that we would ever actually get chickens until I woke up one morning to the sound of a hammer and looked out the window to see Adam building the darling little coop in the picture. (Side note: Adam never ceases to amaze me with his endless talent. He simply looked at a picture of a coop that he liked and went outside and built it. Amazing! That is not an easy thing to do. I can't build anything without detailed instructions.) So, we ended up with two ducks and four chickens. The other night, a raccoon broke into the fenced area and killed one of our ducks and a chicken. James was pretty heartbroken.
I have been so pleased and proud as I have watched James take care of his chickens. He checks on them first thing in the morning and multiple times throughout the day. He loves getting them out of their coop and holding them and running around the yard with them. He always refills their food and water as needed. He loves them. One day we came home to find that they had escaped the yard. We couldn't find them anywhere so we started circling the block. He was crying and crying and looked at me with big tears in his eyes and said, "Maybe they ran away because I didn't take good enough care of them and they wanted to find a new home." That was so sad. I assured him that he takes exceptional good care of them and that they just wanted to go on an adventure. Adam's brother came over to help us and found them right away, walking in a group half-way down the block. What a relief that they were all safe! James was so excited to see them.
James will frequently make 'deliveries' to the house. He'll ring the doorbell and yell, "Delivery!!" and there will be a 5-gallon bucket with a chicken in it. He thinks that's hilarious. It has been a really great learning experience for James--he is learning responsibility and learning how to treat his pets with care and love. We have enjoyed adding them to the family.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Swim Suit Season is Fast Approaching...EEK!

I have really got to get by bum in gear. Swim suit season is almost here and I am feeling very frumpilicious. I have been drooling over these suits and these ones too  Maybe someday I'll have the bank account to go with them. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Good Clip. But then, I've always been a Jon Stewart fan. Thoughts?