Thursday, February 13, 2020

2020: Moving Again

I'm packing up to move again.
It'll be the second time in 2.5 years.
Mr W did not get the job offer in Colorado as hoped,
but he did get a one in a town north of Eugene
 and he accepted it.

So we're moving one hundred miles to a place
that is exactly where my Heavenly Father wants us to be.
It's a tiny town.  The smallest I think I've ever lived as an adult.
The one street that runs through it is a secondary highway.
One high school. Two grocery stores. No theater.
Less than four square miles end to end.
There's no homes to buy either.
Well, I looked yesterday and there was ONE.

So while we looked at different areas around this town,
more towards Portland in towns like Wilsonville,
we even had a realtor show us some properties--
but nothing felt right, so we chose to move into an apartment
in the little town until the right thing comes along.

Good things about the move:
It's 2 miles from Mr W's  work.
Twenty-two minutes from the Portland Temple.
Seventeen minutes from Costco and Target.
It's not in a valley like Eugene is,
so it gets more SUNSHINE!
Those are soul-affirming things on their own.
And I am grateful.

I am grateful.
I am developing gratitude even when I cannot see the purpose of this journey.
Even when I'm thinning out belongings and packing up again
to move some place I'm not sure about.
Even when I'd rather, SO MUCH, rather,
move home to the Springs.
Because I believe that God has a purpose for my life.
He has promised me that my life shall be "exciting and joyful."

Last weekend, we took a drive to the Oregon coast.
I cast my eyes on the Pacific Ocean horizon,
with it's wintery clouds enveloping the cliffs and giant sequoias
and again I thought,
"I didn't know Heavenly Father had this in store for me.  I always had a desire to live in the Pacific Northwest, but never dreamed it was part of His plan all along."
I love this part of the country.  The landscape is breathtaking.
I love the roaring ocean.
The huge green lakes and winding forceful rivers.
The rolling evergreen hills, the mossy trees that hang over the grey ribbons of highways.
The natural beauty is inspiring and it's a gift that we are here at all.

I do believe that this is a timed adventure and we'll be home before we know,
talking all about our Oregon Adventure someday.

But right now, I'm cultivating gratitude when I cannot see the way.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Momza Wisdom: Fragile Isn't the Same as Broken

Egg shells.
Heirloom dishes.
Antique books.
Museum fine arts.
Plant sprouts.
Flower petals.

What do all of these have in common?
They're all valuable, useful, important things that we come across in life,
sometimes more than we even realize.
They're also Fragile.
 We treat them differently than everyday sturdy things
that we handle, right?

Know what else is fragile?
Men, women, children.
Every size, shape and color.
Relationships can be fragile too.
Health can be fragile: mental and physical.

My awareness of our fragility
became more sensitive recently
after learning about the experiences of some dear friends
who are going through some very big trials.
Some are going through a divorce,
another a serious illness,
a death in the family of another,
a loss of employment in yet another.
And on and on.

One thing I've heard a number of times recently
is the phrase: "I'm broken."
I've been there--
in that emotional state of feeling lost, forgotten, hopeless.
Is it not a Universal experience
for most of the human beings that have ever lived on this planet
and most of those that are here now?

Yes, I've been heart broken.
With time and lots of mending,
The failure of my first marriage,
the birth of my special needs son--
both times I felt completely damaged into fragments
of who I thought I was and what my life would be.
Understanding came through perspective,
healing followed with time.

There have been other times though,
through deep examination of my own challenges,
the discovery that I am not broken.
I struggle, maybe even weep, lose sleep, and fret,
but a more fitting word is "fragile".
Meaning "handle with care".

Doesn't that sound more accurate?
Handling with care means I slow down a little bit,
examine the pain more closely
looking for the tenderest areas and seek remedies for healing.
Having a mindful approach to my circumstances
creates an inner dialogue that sparks hope in the darkness.
Do what needs to be done,
but invite patience and forgiveness in that space--
maybe for someone else
maybe for my self.

I was talking to a friend who asked my opinion of his actions
in a certain business situation with his nephew,
who had stepped out of line and behaved unprofessionally,
resulting in a loss of business for the family company.
My friend took it as a betrayal and fired the nephew.
There were repercussions within the extended family over this.
I asked one question of my friend:
Was the action of the nephew unforgivable?
My friend thought for a moment and said, "No. Not unforgivable."
"Then, with patience and forgiveness, proceed towards healing.", I told him.

It wasn't even two weeks later
I needed to listen to the same advice myself
within my own family.
Feelings had been deeply hurt and if I let it fester,
the relationship could have become broken.
"But, were the words and actions unforgivable?"
the prompt came front and center to my mind.
Could I forgive and allow time for healing?
Yes, I can do that.
Feelings were raw, emotions tender, the relationship was fragile.
But not broken.

What helps healing come along quicker and completely?
For me it is faith.  Faith to ask Heavenly Father for help.
I believe in Jesus Christ's desire and ability to heal my wounds
because He has done that for me all of my life,
at every turn, you see.
I know there is healing and hope in His love for me.
Turning my pain over to Him and asking to see things clearly,
to be able to move forward and make weak things strong--
in my self, in my loves, in our relationships
is all possible because of His atoning sacrifice made long long ago
in the Garden of Gethsemane.

So, if we're able to look at our reality in the light of
"Fragile Not Broken"
we can see things more clearly, right?

Fragile isn't the same as broken.
Fragile requires extra attention, care, compassion, love, patience, and mercy.
Asking for what you need is important.
And while you are healing whatever it is--
know this:
Fragile things are still useful, valuable, important and worthy.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Opening Up to New Adventures

A new adventure is afoot here in Momza's House.
It began like all our adventures began:
"Heavenly Father, where should we go?"

The job we accepted in Eugene, Oregon turned out to be not-so-good.
The company has had eight new leaders in the 2 years we've been here.
That is loaded with red flags, people.
We had our own reasons for looking at other opportunities--
but that company's flailing about was as good as the others so we started looking.

Mr. W turned his passive looking into agressive searching,
and lo! within a month he had several opportunities come to him.
Two in particular overlapped in the interviewing process,
so he's accepted one--a very good one, here in Oregon--
while he's being interviewed for a better one in Colorado next week.

Now, you know, you have to know that I am praying for Colorado.
It is home afterall.
It's where my Dean is.
Where my mountains are.
I've fasted and prayed for this company twice already,
hoping that this is the best place for us.
And now we wait and we trust.


We are the company we keep!

As our Caboose led the way to Brigham Young University-Idaho
three weeks ago,
she still expressed her fears that she's not ready for college,
not ready to be on her own, not ready for "adulthood"...
I love my grown Caboose.
It was hard to let her go too.
A friend reminded me that the thing about Caboose's is that they're just behind us,
if we know where to look.
That's true, hunh?
Moving Day
As we unloaded and put away her things in the new apartment,
feelings were tender as we all felt the newness of the season in front of us.
Helping his sister get set up.
And ending of the family circle it has always been.
The youngest is out of the nest.
It was hard. I can't even pretend it wasn't.
Brotherly love
I have taught her all I can within the walls of my home,
within the reach of my arms.
Now is the season for her to test what she's learned from me
and learn how strong her own abilities serve her needs.
It's been a rough three weeks,
but she's learning and stretching and adjusting
like we all do in new seasons, right?

At General Conference with friends
Just today she sent pics in our family chat
from the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City
as she attended with friends.
Look at that smile, people!
My little Caboose is a young woman in the world.

We have just about 44 days left with Boofus
before he leaves for his mission.
He's cramming in as many camp-outs, hunting trips, kayaking and fishing days
as possible before he turns his time and attention to being a full-time missionary for 2 years.
This week, he will prepare to enter the temple for his own endowment.
Another milestone, my friends.
Such gratitude in my soul for his choice to trust and move forward!

Can life be any sweeter than when we ask the heavens,
"Where should I go, Lord?"

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The One Where Momza Learns Kayaking

 IN the category of You're Never Too Old to Learn New Things:

I've learned a new passion: kayaking.  I even have my own. I fantasized about owning a kayak since last summer when I saw a woman on a lake in her own kayak at a golden hour dust and thought, "That gal has life figured out."  

That was it for me.  I thought if we still lived in Oregon come summer 2019, I'd have to try it out for myself.

 I love it.  I love everything about it.  The ease of rowing across the water, the scenery of beautiful lakes and shorelines, the solitude and peace...I am smitten.

Mr W and I have gone out on a few different lakes around us--Fall Creek Reservoir in Lowell, Oregon, Woahink Lake in Florence, Oregon, and Fern Ridge Reservoir in Eugene area.  

This is Fall Creek Res. last Saturday.  It was warm and drizzling rain.  We were the absolute only people on the water for at least an hour.  Complete Bliss. I cannot live a life without my kayak. Forever and Ever, Amen.

And Then There Were None

If you've been here since the beginning of 2008,
you know that I have been raising children a long long time
and writing about it--
the good things like moving from Idaho to Colorado Springs to Oregon,
and mission calls and homecomings
weddings and grandbabies
careers and callings
travels and recipes--
I have written all of that and then some!

I used to blog daily for years--those deeply-up-to-my-neck-in-kids years
and I loved it!
I'd get up before the kids on school mornings
and stay up late on summer nights just to get it all down
before I'd forget those moments in the mix of things.

I'm so glad that I did all of that typing and editing and loading pics
that used to take
It blessed my life then and it continues.
I love looking back over those busy years and recalling them all.
Journaling is a great memory keeper.

It's gotten more and more quiet around here as the last two at home
approached adulthood thru high school.
So I didn't write as much online but kept writing in my personal journal,
because journalling is good for me.

So here I am eleven years later,
the house asleep, it's nearly midnight
and my brain is buzzing such that I need to do a blog dump
so I can let it all go.

First up,

our youngest son, Joseph, has received his mission call.
It was not a straight shot from high school to this moment.
Deciding to serve a two year mission--completely trusting in the process of
where he'd be asked to serve,
moving away from family and friends,
postponing college and career,
and all of the conveniances and habits that accompany his daily life--
including leaving behind a cute young lady he's been dating since last Fall,
and who also happens to be a non-member and doesn't really get why young men do any of this--
well that decision was a hard one to make for Joseph.

And knowing what the sacrifices are,
as parents we couldn't simply insist that he serve.
We encouraged him along, hoping and praying truly that he would make the decision
to go on his own.
A mission is hard. There's not much that is easy about it, so it had to be his choice.
He wanted to go, but wasn't sure if he was ready to trust in the process
or had enough faith that Heavenly Father actually knew him and would place him
exactly where he should be called to serve.
So he vacillated for a few months before finally making the commitment to go.
Once he did, from beginning to end was less than 3 weeks.

He's in Houston, Texas visiting Danielle and her family
as they just returned from living in Saudi Arabia for five years.
His call came last week via email.
His joy is palpable! I've watched this no fewer than 30 times! I love it! We used to live there.  We've only been gone from Colorado two years this month. We are all amazed at his perfect call.
He doesn't leave until November--time enough to get in some fall hunting, which was important to him.  He'll have Christmas in the mission field.

And lastly, The Caboose.  She's heading to Brigham Young University-Idaho in a month.

She and Joseph have made the best kind of friends here in Eugene.  They are loving, fun, and accepting of each other.  Zero drama.  Camp-outs in the mountains, at the beach or lakes, movie-nights, and sunrise hikes.  All of these young people are tightly knit and supportive.  After enduring the depressed environment in Colorado Springs from so many of their classmates' suicides for two full years, my teens needed a break from it all.  It took them awhile, especially Arianna, to heal from the grief that so intensely held her breath that she could barely attend school there.  She says the friends here made her feel like she has permission to be happy again.  The healing continues for both Joseph and Arianna and it seems that's the best part of moving here.

So with the two youngest leaping out of the nest pretty darn soon here--Mr. Wonderful and I are about to become Empty Nesters!  I can't even believe it.  I've been raising children since 1983, since I was 21 years old.  Seven children!  And we've reached the Finish Line of: laundry piles, endless sinks of dirty dishes, meal planning for a family, carpools, curfew watches, bags and bags of groceries and the umpteenth trip to the market to get those groceries, school lunches and PTO meetings, afterschool activities, sleepovers, Church youth activities, looking for the TV remote (and the batteries that always disappeared in them!), shoo-ing kids out the door for church on Sundays and Seminary...I can hardly believe the end is here.

It was a long long Season in Life, but it's finished.  And man, I'm missing it already.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

My Last Day of School: Celebrating 31 Years As a Mother of School Children

Pardon my sentimentality today, but it’s a really good day for me! I reached a huge milestone in my Motherhood Career.  This morning at 8am, I dropped off my seventh child-- my youngest off at the curb of her high school, culminating 31 years of getting children to school since September 1988, when I dropped my oldest son, (who’ll be 36 years old this summer) off to kindergarten at Shaw Butte Elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona.
Seven children over three decades—no matter what else was going on in my life, or in the world-- I was in charge of getting them to school for 9 months (and some summer school sessions too—the guilty parties know who they are!) to gain an education.  

My children went to several different schools, in a few different places:  Phoenix, Arizona; Spartanburg, South Carolina; Glendale, Arizona; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Fort Collins, Colorado; Meridian, Idaho; and lastly Eugene, Oregon.  Seven children have had more teachers, more assignments, more lunches, more field trips, more sneakers, backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils, crayons, markers, posters, Science projects and Book Reports than I can even begin to remember!

When I began this long season in my life, George Bush was President. There have been 4 other US Presidents in the same span as my decades of Motherhood.  Three Republicans and two Democrats. And believe me, it used to be more civil. Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa; AIDS was the biggest news on MTV; shoulders pads and big hair was the fashion (for men and women!), Cassette tapes hadn’t been replaced by CD’s yet. VCR’s were the new thing and they were pricey.

Technology was just on the cusp of what it is nowadays: the Hubble telescope had just launched in 1990. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon or Google were still ideas. Laptops and cell phones were a decade away.  Dolly the Sheep had been the first successful cloning.  The Euro was created.  And Operation Desert Storm began in January 1991.  It was the first war that was shared in real time on national TV and I was glued to the television.  I even wrote in my journal the name of the first US military casualty, Airman Michael Scott Speicher, shot down outside of Iraq.  I cried and promised to remember his name.  The kids still had school.

A new gal on TV, Oprah Winfrey with huge hair and earrings you could see from two towns over, was taking over daytime TV talking to mostly everyday people about controversial realities which essentially replaced Phil Donahue—the TV host of my mother’s generation.  Television was changing faster than we could keep up with new channels popping up—whereas there’d been about 5 channels for most of my life, suddenly MTV ushered in a host of others—VH1, HBO for starters—and then all the news channels too—CNN and FOX and more filled up the TV log of programming.  We got the details of OJ Simpson’s wild Bronco ride on LA freeways and the trial afterwards.  We also got the tragic news as it unfolded in Paris the night Princess Diana was killedAnd we still had school through all of this—lunches to be made, buses to catch, homework due.

School supplies went from Trapper Keepers, pens and pencils and scratch n’ sniff stickers, to backpacks, laptop computers, n' fancy Scientific calculators.  I’ve lived through several fashion trends too—Reeboks craze, Skechers, Jeansco, Skaterboy, denim skirts, Doc Martins, NIKE-everything, and now Birkenstocks.

I’ve helped make school assignments out of marshmallows, Starburst candies, pixie stix, Legos, and Dixie cups and plates, like alot of other parents.  I can write reports on Madagascar and komodo dragons, Florence Nightingale, Harriet Tubman, Women’s Rights, Abraham Lincoln and Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men—and so much more, at a moment’s notice.

Having so many children gifted me the opportunity to learn alongside them more subjects than I would’ve ever learned just on my own. I've done each grade eight times, people!  First grade through twelth grade--eight times! Their school careers enlarged my world seven times over. I learned more than school topics—I learned about being an Advocate for my child and myself. I learned from writers of books like Wilson Rawls “Where the Red Fern Grows”—a book that I caught my then-8-yo-son reading, one night, as I walked past his bedroom long after bedtime and heard a soft whimper that came from under a blanket where a small flashlight shone.  Lifting the covers, his little tear-filled eyes looked up, “Old Dan died.”   I’d never heard of the book before that moment.  What a sweet memory though.  I love that book.   Reading has become a passion for most of my children, as it has been mine. 
Staying up late creating posters for “tomorrow’s deadline” has stretched my patience as well as my creativity! We can do alot in a crunch these days!  From printing off pictures to creating Power Point presentations, the technology available in our home has made our educational experience so much easier and fuller.  I can say that with a great appreciation and perspective of not having grown up with it. Definitely a game changer. 

Thirty-one years.  That’s a Career.  I don’t know anyone who’s done the same thing-- consistently for 31 years. I mean, I am certain that those people exist; I just don’t know them.  I didn’t even think about it through all of this time either. Reminds me of that old Dunkin Donuts commercial, “Time to make the donuts”.  It hasn’t mattered what else was going on in my life, my family’s life—School was Number One.  Go to school, get an education.  It’s the only thing that can never be taken from you.  

Yesterday I was talking to one of my daughter’s about my sudden 31-year-realization and she said something that is still resonating in me today, “We always knew that education was important. Going to college was an expectation.”   And just last night, another conversation on the edge of my youngest’s bed, she spoke about registering for College classes today for a Fall semester.  Although she is nervous about going to college and the unknowns that are out there yet to be discovered, she said, “I have to go to college so I can have a good Life and not be a dumb-flip.”  Yes, you do, Sis.  Of the seven children, only one will not attend college in his life—Dean, because he has a handicap that will prevent it.  But so far, we are on the right track: all of the gang has gone to college or has plans to attend. Can I just say, without sounding arrogant or hoity-toity, that I am so grateful for this family tradition of ours?

 I was raised by a mother who only finished 10th grade and a father who could barely read though he graduated high school.  They never spoke of college to me or my brothers. It was not a family tradition where they came from, so it was an Unknown to them too.  Different times, for sure. But I wanted more for myself and my children and education is the way for us.

This morning, at that school curb, as my youngest popped open the car door and said, “I’ll see you in a bit.”—I just had this lump in my throat. Solid emotion.  This is my last day of school.