Sunday, September 9, 2012

I have been blessed

I have been blessed with the gift of great faith. Faith has  never been difficult for me. It is just something that has always been a part of me. That is not to say that I don't question. That I don't doubt. I do, both. But, I have always had a great faith. I do not believe everything that I am  told; in fact,I believe hardly anything that I am told. I study, I pray, I think, I question. And when I am satisfied with the process and feel that I have an answer, I have faith in whatever principle, commandment, or idea.

Today, I taught the Relief Society Lesson #17 on Faith. (I don't remember the whole title,  but it was from the George Albert Smith book). The examples in that lesson are BIG examples. Examples of seemingly impossible tasks that required faith in the Lord to accomplish or overcome. While I love those faith affirming examples, I decided to take a different route for my lesson.

I started with the fact that if Heavenly Father came to me and told me that I needed to move across the country, I would do it in a heartbeat. If  he told me to build a boat, I would do it. Because I have faith. I went on to say that all of us in the room would do what Heavenly Father told us to do. Those are the easy pieces of faith. (And the unlikely pieces of faith because Heavenly Father does not just come down and tell us things  face to face....at least not to the people I know.)

The hard part of faith is the little things. It is knowing that after four years of pure hell...of adversity, or difficultly, of frustration, of depression, that things are going to be okay in the end.

I was terrified when my husband was sick for over a year, but I had faith that everything would be okay. Did I know what that "okay" would look like? No, I didn't. It very easily could have been my life as a widowed mother of two. It came close to that. Was I scared? You bet I was, but I had faith that everything would happen as it was supposed to. While it did not make the challenge easier, it made it more  bearable. Even when I was pressed down by the world and when I felt the world was gathering against me. When I was alone and scared and needed to be strong for my husband and children, I had a strong faith that lifted me up and helped me to continue putting one foot in front of the other.

And this year,  while my son is sick and we don't know what is wrong. While we know that it is dangerous and needs to be fixed, I have faith that things will be okay. Again, I don't know what "okay" looks like. And quite frankly, it terrifies me. I have had the "What if" thoughts in my head. I can't imagine my life without him. I can't imagine the pain of losing him. My entire being runs away from those thoughts, but that doesn't allow me  to escape them. I still have faith, and that faith gives me peace and comfort. Even when I do not know what the rest of this trial will look like. I have faith.

I have faith. Faith that my Heavenly Father loves me. Faith that He suffers with me. Faith that everything happens for a reason. I may not know why things happen, I may not know how long these trials will last, but I have faith that I am never alone. I have faith that Heavenly Father has blessed me the strength and ability to overcome these trials and accomplish all that He asks of me. And right now, He is asking me to walk with faith through these trials.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

When enough is enough

What do you do when you are not a welcome part of your own family? You know, the people you grew up with? The people who were supposed to be there for you when you need them?

My son is sick, major sick. You wouldn't know it to look at him, but there are potentially life-threatening things happening inside his little body. He will have surgery as soon as the doctors have some idea what they are dealing with.

I am...freaking out. I am holding it together for the sake of my kids and husband. Thankfully, my wonderful husband and I have our breakdowns on different schedules. It is a small blessing in our chaos. Thankfully, my husband's family has been wonderful. Our friend's have been amazing. Our ward has been amazing. We feel loved and supported by more people than we could have hoped for.

With one exception.

I emailed the people I grew up with...my siblings. We are all close in age, all four of us. After first learning of this, I emailed to tell them what I know. Things have been strained for the last several years. I have been excluded from many things. Not get-togethers, but information. Important information about the family. Everyone else seemed to know for a while by the time I was told anything. They don't call me, and they never ask how things are going. I tried for a long time to bridge the gap, but it only proved to show me exactly how big the gap really is.

So I considered not telling them, but I decided that would be unfair. I thought, "It is their nephew; of course they will care." I thought I would give them a chance to show that they actually do care about my family. I thought not telling them would be selfish. Wouldn't they want to know about their nephew's life? I could hear them calling me selfish for not telling them. I could hear the yelling..."How could you not tell us about something so big with our nephew?"

So I told them.

I emailed them. I emailed everyone who does not live within 10 miles of me because I just can't talk about it without sobbing. It takes everything I have to not sob in front of my children, so there is no way I could make all the calls saying the same thing over and over again. An email was efficient. I apologized for the email and explained that I just could not re-tell it twelve different times. I told them they could call and talk to me and talk to my son. (Incidentally, I called my parents first and emailed my siblings as soon as I hung up. My parents reacted the way grandparents should. With support. With fear. Even with love---also surprising, but for another post.

But what did I get from my siblings? A one line email from each of them, saying something along the lines of "poor thing". THIS IS NOT A POOR THING MOMENT!

This is a pick-up-the-damn-phone-and-call-your-sister-and-nephew moment.

But I didn't get that. I got equivalent to nothing. Nothing at all. That was weeks ago, and still I have received nothing. Not an email. Not a text. Not a phone call. My son has received nothing. Not an email. Not a text. Not a phone call. Nothing. He wonders where they are. Other people have called. Sent cards. Added prayers to ours.

So I am walking away. I am tired of being the selfish one without reason or justification. I have lived my whole life with them telling me that I am selfish. It was never selfish. It was always self-preservation, from the abuse that I endured from my earliest memory.

This is not the first time this something like this has happened, but it will be the last. This time I am going to be selfish. I am thinking of my children. My own well being.  Being a part of the poison that is my "family" is just too much. Too much strain on my family. So, I am walking away. I don't understand why this all happened the way it did, but I do understand that I can't do this anymore. I have to take care of my son, my children, my husband, my family.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Piercings and Tattoos (and some commentary)

There has been a lot of talk on the internet on this subject, so I thought I would take a stab.

Tattoos first; I don't have any. That is not to say I have never wanted one. When I was 20 I really wanted a daisy on my ankle, or maybe on my hip. The problem? I HATE needles, and the thoughts of a needle with INK being stuck in my body thousands of time to produce a drawing was just not appealing to me. I love daisies but not that much. I also struggled with the idea of having something from my early 20s a permanent part of my body when I turn 80. I can't imagine it would look pretty 60 years later. So, no tattoos for me.

Piercings: I have my ears pierced the standard once in each ear. When I was 15, I pierced just my left ear. That stayed until I turned 18 and went to a school (not a church school) where only one piercing was allowed. When I turned 20, instead of getting the aforementioned tattoo, I pierced both ears a second time. They are still pierced. I took the second piercing out when I was YW President (lest I lead the girls astray with the extra holes in my ears), but put them back in a month after I was released. Earlier this year, I took them out again. I will probably put them back in again. I like my double ear piercings. I really do, and I do not think that a suggestion from a prophet equals a commandment. It is not doctrinal, and with this I struggle.

Earlier this year, I wrote this post about removing my second piercing. I still feel the peace that I felt then, but now I am not sure that a second piercing for me is rebellious.  Does a second piercing make me unworthy? No, it doesn't. Does it make me immodest? No, it doesn't.

Now, a friend of mine will ask if a faithful LDS person cannot follow the suggestion of a prophet, will she follow the doctrine of the Church? This is an interesting question, and, at first, I liked it. However, I think it is too simplistic  a view.  I go to the Temple. I honor my covenants. I go to church. I pay a full tithe. I obey the Word of Wisdom. I am active in the Gospel (not just the church). I honor I body and my soul.  And a second piercing in my ears does not take away from that. A piercing in my nose (which I don't have, but I do know several wonderful people who do) does not make me unrighteous. To me, there is little difference between one piercing and two. They are both vain decorations. It is not part of my culture to pierce my ears. I did it because I wanted pretty and shiny things adorning my ears. I am not putting my second piercings back in, but this post just has me thinking about the perceived meaning of two ear piercings versus the actual meaning of the piercings.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Three Personal Traits that I am Proud of

1. Faith. I am a woman of faith. I accept that there are things that I do not understand. That is not to say that I do not try to understand everything I can, but I know that everything happens for a reason. I live my life based on this faith. I think, I question, but in the end, I live my life based on my faith.

2. Accepting. I am incredibly accepting of all people, regardless of who they are, what they do, or anything else. I know that every person I meet is a child of God. A child that God loves. I try to live every day with this in mind. My students tell me that they know that my classroom is a place without judgement. Where they can come and be. That I will accept them regardless of their past or their present. That I will listen to whatever struggles they have and not judge. That I accept each of them for what they are. I truly believe that each person is more than his/her actions, and I accept that about every person I meet. I love that my students know this. I love that my friends know this. Jesus said, "As I have loved you, love one another." I always remember this and remember that Jesus accepted and loved every single person he came in contact with. He never turned away from anyone. I try to live my life as He did.

3. Intelligent. I have a thirst for knowledge. In my Patriarchal Blessing, it talks about my intelligence and my love of learning. I love the words in that blessing because it truly showed me that Heavenly Father knows who I am. I did not know the Patriarch prior to walking into his home, but the words which he pronounced upon me were me. They were Heavenly Father telling me that He knows me and loves me. I have always loved learning; school is something that always came easy for me. I worked hard, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I still want to learn everything I can. In the 130th section of the Doctrine and Covenants it states, "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." I love this scripture so much, and it is another thing by which I live my life.

Here is the thing about these traits; often times people in my ward do not think they should go hand in hand. Take, for example, Faith and Intelligence. I cannot count how many times that I have heard that I need to put my educational aspirations aside and "focus" on my family. I focus on my family just fine. My children are proud of the fact that their mother is intelligent. I can not only help them with their homework (regardless of the subject), but I can also hold an intelligent conversation with them. My children are both naturally intelligent, and they are fortunate and blessed to have two parents who are not only intelligent, but that can help to develop the their intelligence!

Because of my desire for knowledge and education, I have student loans. They are just a part of my life. After we had children, I could not be the fulltimestayathomemom that everyone expected because I needed to work to make my loan student loan payment. I worked around 20 hours a week. My husband had a weird work schedule, so it worked out that when I was working, he was home with the boys. My boys were never in daycare (we could not afford it.) Well, several friends commented to me, "Isn't it funny how you spent all that money and went into debt to get your degree, but if you would have not gone to college, you wouldn't have to work now?" I was livid. I responded, "Yes, that may be true; however, I then I would not have a college degree." My intelligence is important to me. My education is important to me. It is a part of who I am, just like my faith.





Saturday, June 16, 2012

Life happens when you least expect it. (This is not a part of the 31 day blog challenge)

I posted a while ago about something being wrong with my son. Even though I knew it was not life-threatening, I was heartbroken and worried. I have been meaning to post an update about it, but I just have not had time. And then something happened to change my perspective.

My son is fine. After many conversations with doctors, we learned that what we feared is highly unlikely. There is still more "watching" to be done (as with any potential neurological issue), but things have gotten so much better with him. The things which scared us in December have all but disappeared. New things have emerged, but doctors have assured us that comes with his age. So, as for my oldest, we wait, we watch, and we pray. But, he is happy. He is not worried. He is fine.

We found peace with my oldest just in time to find fear with my youngest. My youngest is sick. He has been under a doctor's watchful eye for the last month. It has been both a blessing and a curse. It helped us to realize that nothing is wrong with our oldest. It is something that will get better with time. My youngest, however, will need to be monitored and checked for the next year (at least). Doctors are confident they can fix what is making him sick. I believe in them. I know that prayer and fasting work. I also know that everything happens for a reason.

I am so grateful for the Gospel in my life. I am grateful for my testimony of the Savior. I am grateful that my family is an eternal family. I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation. I am grateful for my faith.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I didn't forget about you...


I know…it has been way too long. The end of the year was absolutely crazy, both personally and professionally.

The good news is that school is out for the summer and that things are finally starting to calm down. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say that I have felt so many wonderful blessings in the last month. I finally feel as though my ward is a true ward family. We had some family difficulties as of late, and the ward stepped in to help in so many ways. There was not much they could do to help, but they fasted and prayed for our little family. I truly felt their prayers and was so grateful for their support.

Another bit of good news…the pesky entitled seniors from my ward that have driven me batty for the last two years FINALLY graduated! Whoohoo! They are gone. Things ended on a nice note for everyone. There did not appear to be any animosity at the end of the year. They are out of my classroom and off to college. Again, Whoohoo!

I have decided to do a 30 day blog challenge on this blog. We will see how it goes. I will start tomorrow.
A few things that I also want to write about this summer:
  1. Gratitude
  2. Am I a feminist? Sometimes I think HECK YES! And other times I think not.
  3. Forgiving (and forgetting)
  4. I am teaching Relief Society, and I have decided to post about my lessons.

I will be back tomorrow!

Update: There is just too much going on in my life with my children and family. I will have to postpone the blog challenge. Sorry.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vindication

Last year I had trouble with several LDS students. These teenagers are the kids that people at church want their sons and daughters to grow up to be; however, I know a very different set of teenagers at school. Don't get me wrong, they are still the same polite, "modestly" dressed, faithful Mormons at school, but there has always been something manipulative, judgemental, and entitled about they way they behave at school that people at church do not see.

I was actually pretty close to these students when I was YW President and several of them were in my class. It was in my class that I noticed that these kids are not exactly what they appeared to be. I had several run-ins with these students over integrity, honesty, and character issues. They would get mad if they got a bad grade, they would not turn in assignments, and they would blame me for both. I won't go into details, but, needless to day, I became very saddened by the fact that the students I thought I knew never really existed. They placed a careful facade over their true selves, and under pressure those facade's began to fade. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that they did anything huge to make me think this way. It was the small things. (Okay, there were some HUGE entitlement issues with these kids).But it was the subtle manipulations of things around them that really got me watching them. And boy, what I saw was HUGE! But, I did not talk about these things with anyone but another teacher. She noticed them, too, but we thought we were the only ones.

For the longest time I thought she and I would be the only ones to see this behavior, but yesterday I learned that we are not. THE WHOLE SCHOOL SEES THEM FOR WHAT THEY ARE! In a meeting about academic awards, one teacher mentioned these students as nominees, and to my surprise, almost every teacher that has taught them, said "no" for one reason or another. The responses were all similar...character, integrity, honesty. I was shocked, but I felt so vindicated. Their carefully constructed facade was not a facade at all.

I feel bad to say that I am happy in this fact, but it is not that I am happy, it is that I feel vindicated. People at church would always ask why I was not a fan of these students, and I always avoided the question (for many reasons). People would go on about how these students are excellent examples of "the youth of today" and that it must be so wonderful to have such "honest and Mormon" kids in my class. To that I always stated, that I have many students, and many non-LDS students, who have more integrity, class, and character than many LDS students...that usually ended the conversation pretty quickly.

I am sad for what this might make students think about LDS in our community, but grateful to know that I am not the only person who was not fooled by these students.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

So here goes...

Dear Readers: This was difficult to write, so please read this with that in mind.

So here goes...

Last year I won a national teaching award. I told hardly a soul. My husband, children, my parents (that took a while to tell them) and two sisters. Why didn't I tell everyone? I probably should have shouted in from the rooftops, but I truly thought that it would be a bad thing to brag about myself in such a way. So, my national award went mostly unnoticed by my family, friends, and community. Of course, the school new, but I asked my administrators not to make a big deal out of it.


Thanks to Lisa at FMH I am going to do the "unthinkable." I am going to brag about myself. This is not an easy thing to do, but I like challenges. 


So. Here. Goes.

I am the first person EVER in the entire history of my family to graduate from college. I am the first person (my husband is the second) to graduate from Graduate school. With Honors.

I am intelligent, and I love that I am. It is something that I am extremely proud of. I love learning everything I can and have a wonderful ability to absorb and remember what I learn. I have a ridiculous memory that allows me to memorize anything that I care about...from birthdays of every family member (extended included) and all of my friends to entire passages from books that I love. Even calculus formulas that I haven't used in years.

I am a good teacher. Yesterday a student told me that I am an "usually good teacher." Confused, I asked her to explain. She said there are some teachers who teach really well and students learn in his/her class, but those teachers are not usually fun and personable. They are strict. She said that kids learn a lot in my class but that I am not "strict" in the same sense. I laugh and smile, a lot. I interact with my students as human beings. She said that I am strict in my classroom standards, but I am also a really fun and personable teacher. She said that she learns more from me in my class than any other teacher but that my class is fun. I love that. Teaching is second nature to me, and I truly believe it is what I was born to do. I have created an environment in my classroom where students come to learn. It is also an environment where students feel safe. Other students agreed with this one student and another offered that he always knows that my classroom is a place where he can come to feel better, to celebrate when something good happens, to laugh when something funny happens, and to talk (and even cry) when something bad happens. This is something that I take great pride in and the fact that my student's test scores and success rates are high adds to my pride in this. I am a good teacher.

I read more books than anyone that I know. I read everything from Nabokov to Susanne Collins. And I read fast and still comprehend everything I read.

I am good at almost anything that I try. (I hate not being good at things, so whenever I try something, I go full throttle.) When I am not good at something, I do not stop until I am, thus, I truly believe that there is nothing that I cannot do. I am confident. Maybe over-confident, but I spend a great deal of effort hiding that fact from people who do not know me well.

I am a good dancer. I love to dance and spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years dancing in some shape or form. Dancing comes easy to me, even as 40 is way too close for comfort. (I still have a few years, but it is there...looming in the distance.)

This is really hard...I know that there are other things that I can brag about, but I cannot think of a single one.

Well, other than I am a good wife and mother. Which I am going to add because I am proud of it. My children are amazing. One particular (and unusual) thing that I take pride in is my children's vocabulary and articulation. They speak like adults. They use words that other children their age do not even know. They have a grasp of language that makes people stop and tell me so. (Of course, my children are also well behaved, polite, and all around good kids, but their language is a quirky thing that makes me smile...a lot. And I take full credit for this fact. :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Generation Entitlement

I read an article last week about how children/teens of this generation are going to be called "Generation Entitlement." This struck me as both interesting and sad. It also struck me as completely true.

The next day I was talking to a couple of students about the dress code at my school. Of course, they were complaining. One student commented that the principal approached her about her shorts being too short and told her to go to the office. She told me that she walked away from him while he was talking to her. (Now, I don't actually believe her because if she had actually walked away from him while he was talking, she would have gotten in some pretty big trouble.)

Other students began chiming in and saying things like "I don't know who they think they are, telling us what we can and can't wear. They don't have the right." In light of the article I just read, I began a discussion with the students about this very issue.

I explained that teachers and other adults do have the right because there are rules that need to be followed, whether at home, at school, at work, or in the grocery store. I explained that there is a standard of behavior that all people need to follow. There is an expectation of common decency. I told them you don't have to like or agree with everyone, but you should treat everyone with some semblance of respect and common courtesy. I said as teenagers in this generation, they seem to think that they have the same rights as adults. I asked how many of them call most adults they know (other than teachers) by their first name. Most students raised their hands. I asked how many use the terms "sir" or "ma'am" when addressing an adult they don't know. Not a single student raised a hand.

They said that people need to earn their respect. I said that while this is generally true, children need to be respectful (polite and courteous) to everyone, especially adults, because if children are not respectful, they will never earn the respect of adults. I reiterated that you don't have to like everyone you meet, but you should be nice to everyone, and when children act as though they are equal to adults, children assume things that are not earned. They overwhelmingly said that they are "entitled" to treat people how they choose and they are "entitled" to behave and do as they choose.

I once again explained, that you earn things in this world; nothing is given to you, and if you expect things to be given to you, you will be in for a rude awakening when you leave home. I said, once again, that they need to be respectful.

Several students agreed with me, but a few said, "I disagree, I don't have to treat anyone with respect if I don't want to."

To which I said, "Case and point. Thank you for proving my point."

Again, very sad. I am grateful that I can at least teach my children to be respectful of everyone.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It Only Took A Year

I think I am finally done rebelling. Not that I was rebelling against the church, but I was rebelling in my own way. After I was released as YW President, I put my piercings back in. Nothing scandalous...just the several multiple ear piercings. Maybe it was a silly childish rebellion, but I put them back in as if to say, "There...I can do what I want and your criticism won't affect me anymore."

After putting the piercings back in, I actually started looking for ways to rebel. I thought about getting a tattoo, but I knew that was something that I would regret. (Also, I hate needles.) I thought about getting my nose pierced or an industrial. I still attended church, I payed my tithing, I went to the Temple. I did everything I was supposed to do, but my heart wasn't in it as much as it should have been.

I was definitely disenchanted. All of the crap that was thrown at me during my time as YW President had a profound effect on me after I was released. I know that I was truly sustained and uplifted during the calling; I faced everything head-on and stood my ground. I prayed and knew that everything I did, every decision I made as YW President was made with the Spirit as my guide, but after I was released I really began to truly feel everything that happened during my calling. I did not want to be around anyone at church other than my family and my two closest friends. I honored my new calling, but did not attend anything else RS related. I was going through the motions, and, while doing so, I was trying to figure out the tiniest methods of rebellion. My piercings being the most visible.

Well, yesterday, something unexpected happened. As I was saying my personal morning prayer, I felt something that I had not felt in a long time. I felt peace in the Gospel. As I was praying, I felt the spirit of rebellion leaving me. Not only did I feel it leave, I felt an understanding of it that I did not have before. I felt forgiveness; I felt the desire to forgive others. For the first time in over a year, I truly wanted to go to church and be a part of it.

I went home yesterday and took the piercings out.

I have a long way to go in the process, but I am finally ready to begin again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Too Mormon for some, but still not Mormon enough for others

I pride myself on being able to balance family, church, and work. It is not always easy, but I try very hard  not to let the difficulty show. (I do not always succeed, especially in the confines of my own home.)

I pride  myself on being a good example of a Latter Day Saint everywhere I go; however, in the last two weeks I have learned that I am in fact "too Mormon" for some with whom I work and "not Mormon enough" for some of the people with whom I go to church.

Some people I work with feel "intimidated" by my Mormonness. They are uncomfortable that when we go out I don't drink or swear. I don't care if they drink. I don't care if they smoke. I don't care if they swear. I was raised in the company of sailors and Marines. There are few words that make me blush and it takes a lot to make me uncomfortable. I enjoy going out with my non-Mormon friends. We have a great time, but there are several of my work colleagues who just want to me to "relax and have a drink every once in a while." I live quite comfortably in the world and I am quite relaxed.

The other side of the issue is the people at church. They are frustrated (read that to say judgemental) because I am friends with many people who do not share my same values. This is not new to me. However, also in the last couple of weeks, it has come to my attention that several people do not like the choices I allow my students to make. One parent went so far as to say that she did not want her daughter in my class because I allow my students to write about sex, drugs, and "other objectionable" topics, if they choose to. What is most interesting, is that all teachers allow students to choose topics in which to write. Those "other" teachers are fine because they do not share "our" values. Excuse me? Maybe I am incorrect in my assumption, but to me that means that because I am Mormon, I should not allow my students the freedom to choose their own topics??? What??? Am I supposed to limit my students ability to choose because of my personal religious values?

So that leaves me too Mormon for some and not Mormon enough for others. It is a good thing that I am perfectly comfortable with who I am.