Life is Good: words to live by
Just in case you haven't "liked" How to be Pleasant -A blog on facebook (why haven't you! go do it!), I want to say thank you for all of the kindness shown to me this week. I have received many emails and facebook messages and a few comments and phone calls about this week's posts about my UN-Christmas letter, the day our cold water pipe froze in our kitchen, my lack of uninterrupted showers during winter break, and even my post about Mary during Advent and it is so lovely to know that these posts are touching other people!
This blog is for our two curly-haired little boys. It is all for them. The thoughts, the recipes, the favorite quotes of inspiration...all for them. However, I have discovered that more of you are reading this little blog than just my mom and my dad! ; ) Of course, I can't see who exactly is reading this. But I am able to decipher the home country of readers. I continue to be amazed that hundreds and some days, even thousands, of people all over the world---in places like China and Turkey, Germany, Finland, and Greece, France, Russia, the good ol' USA, and more---are reading this silly little blog of mine. So I just want to send my greatest gratitude your way. It is really uplifting and encouraging. I'd love to hear how you found my blog and why you read it. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
A few of you had some lovely words to say to me about my thoughts on parenting and I thank you so much. I am just trying to do my best with what has been given to me. I have the privilege of knowing some very thoughtful, intentional mothers who love to share the ups and downs of parenting as much as I do and I am grateful for their friendship. I tend to be a sharer and relational in conversations. I think this is so helpful with parenting---and with life, in general. When we share our own experiences, we learn from each other and when we can show how we relate to what someone else is saying, I think it can create a bond and affirms the other person's feelings or stance.
I try to keep my eyes and ears open all of the time. I feel there is so much that I can learn--about parenting and life--from others. But the best parenting advice I ever received wasn't even told to me as advice.
As many of you know or have read on this blog, my older sister passed away when I was a little girl. My parents were always open to talking about her and I so very appreciate that. They did their very best to keep our life and our family as "normal" as possible after her death. When I think about it, I am absolutely amazed that they kept their marriage in tact through their grief. And I am so grateful for that. It is crippling to imagine what it feels like for a parent to have their child pass away.
When I was about 27 or 28 or even 29 (so a couple of years ago...ha!), I went to visit my parents. One night, my mom and I sat on the couch and she rubbed my feet for me. Yes, this is just one reason why she is the greatest mama ever! We began to talk about my sister. My guess is that we probably were talking about her spunk or her mischievousness. She was sassy! ; ) Then, we began to talk about her death. And our faith. And I asked my mom how ever was she able to make it through that? I wasn't yet a parent and I still couldn't imagine how she didn't throw herself out of a window or tear all of her hair out or need a padded room. It was unimaginable. And what she said to me was equally mind-blowing.
She said, "I had to keep it together for you and your brother. I owed it to you both. And I clung on to the fact that she was God's child first. She was His. And He had shared her with me. With us. I had to be grateful for the time we were allowed together." She explained that she didn't think it was in God's plan for her to die, but that when she became ill, God showed mercy on her and our family and took her pain away. She had to accept that she had gone Home. She clung to her faith, which sustained her.
I am not a person who is often at a loss for words, but this left me speechless.
When I returned from my trip, I remember telling Grant what she had said. He was equally impacted. We both spoke of our admiration for my mom's strength and faith. We made a pact, then and there, that if we were blessed with children, that we would always remember my mom's words. That this is how we would parent. These would be the words that would guide us as a family.
And so this is how I start each day. I remember that these children are a gift. They are a gift shared with us. They are sent from heaven on loan. And that they are God's children first. When I remember this, I remember that they are people, not objects. That they are treasures. Gems more valuable than jewels. And when I remember this, I don't try to control them or use conditions for love. When I remember this, I accept them for who they are and not who I think they should be. When I remember this, I feel grateful for each teeny tiny little spec of a moment with them---even the sleep deprived ones, even the trying ones, every single one.
No, we're not perfect. Oh, let me say that again. No, we. are. not. perfect! Yes, we have an occasional bad moment and even fewer rough days, but I believe that because we start from the right place, from the place of intention and gratitude, those valleys are less often and the peaks more predominant.
I believe we have darkness to appreciate the light and getting through rough times makes us appreciate the good ones. And I always try to find a lesson in a challenge so that something positive comes out of it all. My sister's life and death have taught me a lot. And I am still learning from her. And I am still learning from my parents, too.
"Thank you" seems so insignificant, but it is true. Thank you, mom and dad. From the deepest part of my heart. Thank you for the words of faith and love and strength that guide me as a mother and guide us as a family. And thank you, heavenly father, for the gift of these children, these precious little people, whom you have entrusted with us. Guide us, keep us, protect us so that we might have all the time we want together.