Deciding Factors

There is good news today!  Isn’t that a nice change of pace?

First, the children came home!  I mean to say, today was the first day with our new nanny whose only job is to pick up the younger three children in the morning, take them to school, pick them up in the afternoon, and bring them home again.  That’s all.

But it’s kind of terrifying to send your children in someone else’s car, right?  I mean to say, even besides my dead mom and all, I grew up in the Adam Walsh generation.  You just don’t let your children talk to strangers.  Ever.

Excepting if they pass a gazabillion background and fingerprint checks, and you have their license and car tag information, and they seem really legit nice and not creepy-fake, right?

That doesn’t make it any less scary.  She was very kind, and very patient with us, as we asked her to text us when she got to the school and when she was on her way back to us, so we would know, and we talked to the school to confirm when they got there and when they left.  Not that we want to stalk her so much as make sure we aren’t more foolish parents than we already are.  It’s a pretty real threat most days, you know.

The other good news maybe only matters to me.  But I can carry my clipboard again!  At my evening shift job, where I do psych assessments in the ER, I have a clipboard that I carry because I never know when I might need to put a legal psych hold on someone to hold them for treatment, or do a safety plan, or share resources, or help set up an ambulance transfer to another facility.  My office is in a different part of the building, so there are some things I have to just keep with me in case I need them right away.

But I haven’t been able to carry it for six weeks because that’s how bad I hurt.  This is the part where you roll your eyes because once again I was doing too much, or not asking for help, or enduring pain when I should have been resting.  But it was a brand new job, and I really needed to keep it!  So instead of giving up, I made my coworkers crazy (we share desks) by changing the settings on the chairs all the time to support my ribs and back as much as possible, and gave up on the clipboard and just did my best.  I don’t know how I got through the last few months, but I have come through on the other side again, and am starting to feel better.

In fact, I am starting to be able to do some stretching and some light yoga again, even though I am not yet cleared for the gym.  My legs are enjoying walking, and even after a day with the children my back is just tired but not hurting.

Except for that time Kyrie tried to use me as a trampoline.  That hurt.

So yeah, it turns out hospital work is pretty rough on your body.   Working at two hospitals is just ridiculous, really, and I will be glad when my chaplaincy residency is completed and I only have one job.

Well, I will be sad, too, because we have a really tight group and I adore my colleagues.  But it will be a relief to just focus on one job.  Hopefully, I will be applying things I have learned about myself and about the world, and be a way better therapist.  I am grateful for the healing process CPE training (Clinical Pastoral Education training) brought me after the hard things we have been through; specifically, the Wednesday class days that are eight hours of group therapy every week have been so intense and painful, all while the hospital shifts bring a more complete healing as we continue to serve others.  I have loved that service was part of my healing, and I know it’s part of what pulled me out of what could have drowned me if I had stayed focused on myself and how hard life was.  It really helped me snap out of it, and I feel way more myself than ever before.  That’s a pretty good feeling, even if 8 hours of therapy every week is exhausting.

I see evidence of it in other areas in my life, too.  Like this week four different people have contacted me about a new hot shot job opening up soon.  I’m a great fit for it in many ways, and the pay is decent but the hours long.  The job would look really good on paper, and make my name extra fancy cool.

Except that’s not who I am, or what I want.  Not at all.

I just want a job that I enjoy, where I work with people I love, and get fair pay for hard work, and then I want to go home.

Because really, all I want is to be home.

Practically, that’s not possible right now, but working this evening shift is pretty close to that (after residency is finished), where most of my work hours is after the children have gone to bed.

Plus I love the ER work.  It’s really my favorite.

And right now I have a really kind boss, and good people I work with, and that is as hard to find as anything.

And not only is my pay okay, but my insurance is free because of some kind of social justice program that qualified my family for free insurance.  How amazing is that?

So, hot shot job or not, I’m not sure they could beat the experience of this job, even if no one will ever know my name or understand what exactly my team does here.

We save lives.  That’s what we do.

So I have thought about it a lot, and talked with Nathan a lot, and prayed about it a lot, and while it’s a brilliant opportunity, I just don’t think it would make me any happier than this job.  Nathan doesn’t think I would actually enjoy it once I was in the position and doing that work, and he thinks I would be gone more time than they say, and so maybe even resent it because of so badly wanting to be home with the children.   When I pray about it, I do not feel disapproval for asking, but I get a very clear no, and I’m okay with just taking that without needing to find out why.

I really like and believe in who I work for, and I really enjoy the work I do.  I love my coworkers, appreciate my schedule, and think that it fits me in many ways.   I know that may not last forever, but for today, today, it is good and right and as it should be.  I have decided not to even apply for the other job.

And I hope, crossing my fingers praying hard hope, that the bizarre nanny sponsorship situation buys Nathan enough time he is able to work more, too, after these months of being so supportive of my calling.

We are excited to go home, and to settle back into our yellow house.

We are even excited to not have any baby stuff in our bedroom for the first time in four years!

We are excited to be home, together, all of us, and to rest, and to play, and to just be.

That’s what is worth it to me.

 

Sunday Honey

If you read our post yesterday about going to the movies, you will know that’s pretty much how going to church went today.

We were there before church started, but had the usual struggle for who gets to sit by Mama.

This is always ironic to me, because by the end of church no one wants to be by Mama because it means you are in trouble.

Happy parenting, right?

Except not, because how much trouble can you get in at church?

Barrett spent the hour telling us he forgot sign language, so could he please just go on to primary class, and Anber spent the hour trying to crawl on Nathan – but only when she was jealous of Kyrie, not when she wanted her own actual cuddles.   Kirk was desperate to study for his talk for FHE tonight, but kept dropping his scriptures because it’s really hard to hold on to such a giant book with just one hand.  Mary thinks she is getting too cool for the Friend magazine, but it’s not quite time yet for New Era.  Really she just says that in hopes for crayons, which is not a bad idea except that Alex will use them as army men (thank you, autism).  Alex, of course, in his effort to try so hard to be good, freaks out about everything wrong that everyone else does, which leaves him jumping up and down off the pew and standing and talking and doing all the things that actually get him in trouble when really he was being great just before that.  They are so funny, so normal, and trying so hard!

Kyrie managed to stay with us for the entirety of sacrament meeting today, for the first time since she woke up as a toddler.   We did take one bathroom break when she announced very loudly that she needed to “GO POTTY NOW MAMA!” But she did make it, all the way to the closing song, where she stood up on the pew with one of her churchey board books, shouting the “ABC” song at the top of her lungs the whole time we are singing the closing hymn.  She was very participatory.

There was also some commotion most of the way through the service, as she has learned – just this morning, just in time for church – how to get her shoes back on.  She has been able to kick them off for while, but she has finally figured out how to get them back on as well.  We also had some baby drama when she opened her lunch bag (since we start at 1pm right now, we let her sleep through lunch before we get to church, or she wouldn’t make it at all) and discovered it was full of peppers and squash and eggplant from our lunch kabobs.  She shouted, “Mama!  What is this stuff?!  Why did you give me this stuff?!  Don’t you have any cereal?!”  as if we don’t pack her the same lunch we eat on Sundays most weeks.

But it’s all okay, because Nathan and I got sit for an entire hour during Sunday School, and just snuggle and learn about and discuss important grown-up things in adult language (without getting slimed in process), getting both rested and refreshed all in one class.  It was lovely!

I even made it back to nursery in time to take Kyrie to the bathroom again, and she went, and was very proud of herself!  It was perfect, too, because snack time was a great motivator for going back into class.  She stayed dry all day today!

She took her braces off in the car, so she didn’t have those, but she was wearing her hearing aid.  She spent nursery time running around and playing and singing and talking so much!  It is so good to see her healthy and happy!

She did well enough that I even got to go to Relief Society for the fourth time in the whole last year.  I was so glad, though it is humbling to be in that room of women that have cared well for our family when I haven’t even seen them or gotten to know them because this was residency year or Kyrie was sick.  This ward, for nine months, has been such a lovely host to our family, and I am sorry that I missed out on getting to know them more.  I adore the people here, and am so grateful to their kindness to us, but was not able to build deeper friendships by doing much for them.  It was an all together different experience than any other ward.

Turns out, primary was an all together different experience than any other day, as well.

When I saw Alex after church, I got this:

Um, Mama? Remember how this morning we decided that Family Home Evening this week would be about language? Well, I will have the courage to tell you the truth that I can sign up for sharing my testimony on that one because I held it in long as I could all primary, but finally blew up a cuss word in front of everybody.

This is a true story:  we talked this morning about what we wanted to do for Family Home Evening tonight, and the children decided language.  The second graders all have a copy of For The Strength of Youth in their scripture totes, and we have gone through it several times, but that section was one we hadn’t done in awhile.

Then apparently, and allegedly, another child in primary was not behaving during sharing time.  Alex said, “I was getting my autism overstimulated, but I was trying so hard!”  Finally, the other child knocked over his chair and hit Alex (or something like that), and Alex had endured enough and lost his temper and shouted, “WHAT THE CRAP?!” at the other child…. right there in the middle of sharing time, in front of all the other children.

Sigh.

Needless to say, he got pulled out of primary and taken to Nathan.

I don’t know why they took him to Nathan instead of me, except maybe being used to Nathan being there and not knowing when I am there or not (except that I had helped Anber pray earlier).

Regardless, Alex felt legitimately terrible, and knew he was in big trouble, but had the “courage to confess” after many “Tell her the truth!  Tell her the truth!” self-psych-ups muttered under his breath.

I was proud of him for doing so.

I just listened, and let him tell me the story, and watched as he cried some authentic tears.  That’s a big deal in Alex world.  But he processed really well, and with insight, though maybe also because he had already talked with his teacher and with Nathan by the time I got my hands on him, er, I mean, by the time it was my turn.

We don’t know where he picked it up.  It’s not a word Nathan and I use, and the nannies don’t start until tomorrow, and he’s not in school right now.  But we talked about it had to already be in his heart somehow, or it wouldn’t have come out of his mouth.  We also talked about times we have lost our own tempers when he wouldn’t stop doing something over and over or was hurting us, and how we felt bad about losing our tempers and shouting at him (that part we do confess), but that we have been trying really hard, and talked about how we are all getting better at yelling (it was a 2016 mission project at our house, for everyone), and that’s way happier than yelling just because we lose our tempers.

And again, emphasizing that regardless of where the “c-word” as it is now called in our home, no matter where it got picked up, it wouldn’t come out if he hadn’t thought about it or already tried it out or filed it away as something to use sometime.

So for family home evening, Alex had a new testimony to share, which was redirected a little as it began with “I have a testimony of why we don’t use the c-word in primary”.  Because then the younger children wanted, of course, to know what the c-word was, and Nathan told them it was a crude word for “poop”.   Alex then freaked out because he hadn’t realized that, and was beyond embarrassed he had talked about poop in the middle of primary.

Trying to refocus our lesson, I gave them each a spoonful of lemon juice, and we talked about “bitter words”.  Then I gave them an empty spoon, which was the same as just not-saying-bad-words.  Better, though, was a spoonful of honey, which is saying kind words – that are also true, not just fake compliments, which we had to clarify, as they thought a string of compliments would get them more honey.

We are trying guys.  I’m sorry my two year old shouted out “vagina” during sacrament meeting last week, and my eight year old shouted out “crap” during primary this week.  Really, I am mortified.

But I promise there is some honey in us, too.  It’s a miracle Kyrie can breathe well enough to shout out anything, do you remember that?   And if you knew Anber when she was a baby, you would know it is just as much a miracle that she wants any cuddles at all.  Barrett may be wiggling and sometimes napping on the floor, but he is quiet and staying in the pew with us, and that is progress.   Mary thinks she is seventeen already, which scares me to death, but she is picking up the language needed to share her sweet smile with us, and that’s more than we got out of her a year ago.  Alex may have made a mistake today, but he was honest about it and apologized sincerely and chose his own consequences and served them without complaint.

And me and Nathan?  We stuck with the honey.   We let consequences fall naturally, but stayed calm for the rest.  We let the older children work out their own issues, and stayed focused on the nurturing piece for all of them.  We made sure we came full circle to the increase in love phase, even though it was exhausting.

“Because when life gives you lemons,
you choose the honey.”

~ Alex, age 8

Disaster Plan

From the outside in, our life has got to seem pretty crazy sometimes.

Maybe most families feel that way, as we all learn together.

But we really do hold out faith that there is purpose and reason behind all this hard work we are trying.

Even moving to Bartlesville had purpose.  We wanted to be closer to Nathan’s parents, and I had work there, and now in hindsight we understand half our children were waiting for us there.  We had to move.  When we were prompted about it, and acted on it, everything happened so quickly!  We closed on our house in Bartlesville in less than a month after finding it.  So insane!

Coming to Tulsa was worth it, we decided, because if nothing else it would mean saving me two hours on the road each day, which I normally wouldn’t mind but that’s the two hours before and after school that’s playtime with the children.  They wouldn’t have seen me at all if we hadn’t have moved here, and moving here meant getting them all into the sign language school and the little ones into the sign language preschool.  That was worth it.

Now it feels just as crazy to be moving, finally, back to where we started, to settle in back home until we know what happens next.  It’s like we were sent on a mission, and now having completed it, are getting released and sent back home.  It will be an adjustment, and hard work, and even life there will be a little different just because life is never the same.  We will miss our friends in Bartlesville, even though we will still see them sometimes, and we will miss our friends and some of the fun things of Tulsa.

But we know our purpose: doing what Heavenly Father asks us, and becoming a family.

This all really hit home this weekend, as I enjoyed my first days off – both Saturday and Sunday, for both hospitals – for the first time since October.  We already had the house cleaned up – intentionally (and finally), so that the weekend could be play and rest and not just more work.  We had such fun today!

Well, in our normal disaster plan kind of way, where everything we plan is a disaster.

Like, the funny idea that since the children have been waking at 6 like clockwork, but for the last six weekends have taken themselves to the bathroom and gone to the playroom, that we could assume we would be able to sleep late, shower, and then greet them all rested and comfy.

You know, because you assume that if you are rested and comfy that you will be nicer or somehow parenting will be easier.

That’s false, by the way.

But it also doesn’t take into the equation that your two year old will be hunting you the way your uncle hunts deer, or that she will be camouflaged behind the shower curtain, so that just as you are ready to start brushing your teeth, she jumps out and shouts, “Here I am!  I got you, Mama!”

Nearly scared me to death, she did.

Or like how you have a great plan of getting everyone cleaned up and showered and dressed for the day, and then working together to make a lovely brunch because you have lunch plans later.

Excepting then you realize you are out of milk, and out of eggs, and out of everything except a tomato and an apple.

So you tell them you didn’t say “brunch”, you said “buffet”.

And everyone gets two kinds of dry cereal, as if it’s a game on purpose, plus bites of apple and a tomato, which you decorate on the cereal into little monster faces with raisins because that somehow excuses everything away.

I would thank Nathan for the run to the grocery store today, excepting that I know he volunteered on purpose to get some peace and quiet!

Or like how you plan on treating the children to a movie at an actual theater, because they have been so good and surprises are always fun and you have free vouchers to use, so what a treat, right?

And a brown-girl movie is still showing, so that’s perfect, right?

Even when everyone is actually in the van on time, and you can be on time somewhere for a change, right?

Excepting then it takes forty-five minutes at the snack station, and so you are late to the movie anyway.

Why forty-five minutes, you ask?  Well, let me tell you.

First, because there was a line even before our eight people showed up.

Then, because there are eight of us.

Also, because there were eight of us who had a fake breakfast and so a fake lunch seemed like a good idea, since it was all covered anyway.

And it was a bonus because it was one of those theaters that still has hot dogs, right?

Except they only had three of them.

And they didn’t know how to serve them to us without buns (for Nathan and Alex).

And so they wanted to give everyone else nachos, because they felt bad about being confused.

Which is great, except that it takes a long time to make eight nacho bowl things.

Especially when the children had already turned in their coupons for the kids meal of a drink with popcorn in those little bucket tray things.

If that didn’t all take long enough, then there was the loading up.  By the time it was all sorted out, we pretty much had two meals per person, and all the children had armloads full of coats.

I should have gotten pictures.

So what was there to do, except hang their coats on their heads by the hoods, stick hot dogs in their overall pockets, hand them each a popcorn and drink tray, and hope for the best?

Then there is the whole piece about our children not having television at home, plus all their special needs, plus actually just being normal children as well, and so trying to get us seated with all of us having our hands full, while the children were frozen mid-step staring at the giant screen?  Well, let’s just say it was another piece of the disaster plan.

Nathan led the kids into our aisle, which was halfway down and in front of everyone else because that was the only place there were enough seats together.

None of the children followed him because they were all staring at the screen.

He had Kyrie on his shoulders, and she was shouting “my drink!  my drink!  My drink!” only because she saw a straw, or eight, and assumed all of them were for her.

We had to nudge the children down the aisle, at which point they all remained standing simply because their hands were full, they couldn’t get their coats off their heads to sit down, and all of them are too small to be able to get the cushion seats down and scoot back while holding anything.

That’s when I heard Alex shout, “Hey, Lady!  Can you help me?” and some poor stranger just in front of us, all by herself, held his popcorn and drink and hot dog while he took his coat off his head.

Except then he didn’t know where to put it, and didn’t think to help his nearby siblings, so he still just stood there.

Anber froze halfway into the row, already sucked back into the screen, so there were not enough places for the rest of us to sit, so I was stuck standing in the main aisle and unable to help anyone with my free elbows not holding anything.

Kirk didn’t see Anber stop, and so ran into her, with his popcorn and drink he was carrying with one hand, which sent clear soda over her head and down her shirt, which made her scream and turn and punch him in the stomach.  That knocked him down to the ground, where he was stuck in full blown cerebral palsy cheater position with his legs splayed to one side of him, and his stronger arm on the wrong side to be any help.  “I’m stuck!  I’m stuck!”

Meanwhile, Alex still stood frozen, with his coat hanging off to the side in the air, except that was in front of Barrett’s face so he couldn’t see the screen (all of them still standing in front of the people in the row behind us), so he started to cry.  Trying to get away from Alex and get to me, he started “whining and signing” and asking for help, except when he turned toward me, he ran into Mary, who was still walking into the row but looking at the movie screen.

Barrett walked right into her nachos, spilling her chips all over the floor, and cheese down his hair, face, and overalls.

“YOU GOT CHEESE ON MY BIRTHDAY BOOTS!”  Barrett screamed!

“YOU MY FOOD SPILLED FLOOR WHAT?!” Mary signed back, her hands flying like puppet shapes in front of the big screen.

While I was crawling on the floor to part the waters-of-cheese enough for Barrett and Mary to get to the seats, Nathan had Kyrie, who was excited about popcorn and a drink, but started hoarding all the food.  She nabbed his hot dog and started on it, and then demanded her own theater seat like the big kids.   Except they didn’t have those plastic booster seats like some places do, so he set her down in the big chair next to him, holding the theater seat down with his knee.

Except that’s when – because all of this was happening at once – that’s when Kirk fell, and so Nathan reached over to help rescue Kirk, which let his knee off Kyrie’s seat cushion just long enough for her to fly backwards in a cloud of popcorn, and slip down the back of the chair to the floor, where she started shouting, “No!  No!  I’m stuck!  I’m stuck!  I’M NOT HIDING HERE!”

That’s the same time Anber decided to just take a flying leap into her chair, except she missed, but only because her coat got caught on the arm rest next to her, which whiplashed Anber sideways, landing her tray of popcorn and the last of the sodas in the purse of the lady sitting behind us.

Yeah.

This is our life.

We did, eventually, get everyone in seats, with some form of something to eat and drink, and coats in a pile in the chair next to me as a safety cushion for Kyrie, who sat on me anyway because no way was she going back in one of those theater seats.

I don’t remember anything about the movie.

It took awhile to clean up after ourselves, and then all the slime off ourselves, once it ended.

The children loved the movie, cleaned up without prompting or complaint, and we headed back out to our family van to drive home.  Nathan said nothing about the disaster, and I said nothing about the disaster.  I had plenty of things to say, plenty of corrections I could make, and plenty of threats I thought about making.

Except the children were just happy.  They had a grand adventure, loved the movie, and loved getting the rare treat of a movie and snacks.  They didn’t remember the pieces of the experience that Nathan and I remembered.

And we were able to let it go, at least in front of them, though I still had to write it here to personally process the horror and hilarity of it all.

We got home, and I still made home made taco shells and tacos for dinner.  We still played legos.  We still played in the backyard.  We still read our books for the day (“Baby Flo” and “Frederick Douglas”).  We still came up with the energy to let Mary make our dessert in her oven she got for Christmas, and we still read scriptures, and still had prayers at bedtime.  We still acted like monkeys as we tucked them in, making monkey sounds and tickling to end our day well.  We still sang primary songs to settle them in, and we still told them we loved them as we turned out the lights and left them to sleep.

The purpose is the plan of happiness, even when it feels like so many moments are disasters.

So maybe the life we have had has been really hard, or super intense, or even crazy, but it has also been intentional.

Maybe it’s all my fault, this mess we are in with these little ones, but I promise it was the right thing for us, even if it might not have been your style or your way or what you would choose.

Elder Oaks said:

It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life…

Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall…

Modern revelation shows that our first parents understood the necessity of the Fall. Adam declared, “Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God” (Moses 5:10).

Note the different perspective and the special wisdom of Eve, who focused on the purpose and effect of the great plan of happiness: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11). In his vision of the redemption of the dead, President Joseph F. Smith saw “the great and mighty ones” assembled to meet the Son of God, and among them was “our glorious Mother Eve” (D&C 138:38–39).

I’m not to any kind of “glorious” state yet, and we are pretty much still a mess.

But we are trying, and I think it counts.

Even if we ended up missing most of the movie just trying to help all the children get in their seats and get them the (bits of) snacks that they needed.

So while we may offer our apologies to the people having to sit in the row behind us, we don’t apologize for trying.

Because we made it.  We made it to the movies.  If you ask the children tomorrow, about the movie they saw today, they will tell you all about it and the popcorn they had.

They won’t remember that we landed in our seats like the long lost family of the Three Stooges.

Getting back to Heavenly Father is kind of like that: we’re going to make it.

That’s what the whole plan is about, and why it brings us happiness.

We just might be covered in cheese when we get there.

Rest

This was a beautiful thing to come home to tonight:

And I don’t just mean the adorable baby high top sneakers on the bed.

I mean rest.

I mean, laundry is done, the dining room and kitchen finally clean again, and playroom cleaned up.

We even went through too little Barrett and Kyrie clothes again, since they don’t have to hand their clothes down, and I passed on more things as well.

It’s good to declutter sometimes.

And with eight people in a four room house the size of our van (not really), it gets pretty crazy pretty quick.

But tonight, it as nice as we can make it, and I came home to rest.

What a gift!

It means Nathan and I get a late date tonight.  It means I can braid the girls’ hair tomorrow.  It means we can play with the children.

Rest.

Rest has been a hard lesson for me to learn, but I am starting to crave it.

Do you want to work an extra overnight shift for extra money?

No.

Do you want to stay three extra hours for overtime?

No.

Do you want this awesome job coming up, and you could keep working two full time jobs when residency is finished?

No, no, no.

It is worth it to me to just stop, and have time in the day to hold Nathan’s hand.

It is worth it to me to just come home, and be awake when my children want to play.

It is worth it to me to see their shiny faces, to be present in the little moments, to enjoy time that seems so overwhelming but passes so quickly.

It’s sometimes hard to say no, because I really love my work.

It’s sometimes hard to say not no, because there are some really good opportunities.

It’s sometimes hard to say no, because we have six children to put through college – and buy milk for.

But it’s right to say no, sometimes.

Sometimes saying no is how you say yes.

It’s saying yes to a husband who then also gets some rest.

It’s saying yes to children with smiles instead of temper tantrums.

It’s saying yes to little ones who were newborns when residency started two years ago, but who can now put on and zip up shoes, and take them off and leave them on my bed like a hug.


Saying no can even mean saying yes to me.

I have spent five years learning limitations I never asked for, shifting into a shape I never wanted, and facing hardships I never knew I could endure.

But I learned a lot about rest.

I learned about pacing myself, and about playtime, and about enduring to the end.

I learned that every day matters with the ones you love, and that time isn’t something you get back.

I learned what love means, and that love is always worth it.

Birthday Work

For my birthday, Nathan and the children let me sleep all the way until 7am!

I was not impressed that it was time to wake up.

I was less impressed to waking up to more cochlear implant drama, as Mary keeps playing with them and breaking them as she never has before.  I was, at least, able to fix them this time, and got her ear cups (those little circles on the end that go in her ears in a way I do not have on mine) replaced with new ones because hers are always so gross.  That girl – and Barrett – have more ear wax than anyone I have ever known!  But she’s all fixed up now, and all our ears are working again.

The children were gone by the time I got out of the shower, but when I stepped out to get in my car, they had colored on the sidewalk.  How fun is that?


I made it to work on time because when the children are gone, it only takes me ten minutes to get ready.  That’s as opposed to when the children are home, and it takes ten minutes to get ready, but another two hours to actually pull out of the driveway.

I worked all day at one hospital, and it was crazy busy!  I also completed a project I have been working on developing the whole residency, so it felt good to have that finished.  I just need to find a skinny notebook to put the plastic sleeves in, and I am done.  Yay!

I worked my other job tonight, too, so how’s that for a birthday?

Excepting I am so grateful, because I love my work, and my family is provided for, and Nathan has been able to write this week.

And… drumroll… we have interviewed, offered, and accepted to officially hire some nannies!  It’s all done and settled, and they have all their paperwork for taxes done, contracts ready, and everyone has had their flu shots and whooping cough booster – because that’s how we roll around here.

They start Monday!

The kids are so excited, Nathan is relieved, and I am intrigued.

Our main nanny is a CODA, which is “child of Deaf adult”, and her name is Whitney, in case you hear me talk about her.  Her primary job is tutoring the second graders while I work with individually.  She will also be doing some personal assistant work related to the book.  We are so excited to have her!

The “fun Nanny” is Elizabeth, and she had a Deaf roommate in college.  She is nicknamed “the fun nanny” because she is giving the second graders cooking lessons twice a week so that two evening meals are covered for Nathan while I am gone, and taking all six on outings every other Saturday.  She also just has a super energetic and bubbly personality, and the kids are all in love with her.

Shawn has, in some ways, the hardest job, which is unfortunate because she’s the sweetest, and she will be running the children to school and therapy appointments for us.  She is the one who gets stuck in traffic and waiting rooms.  I mean, we will still go to regular and emergent doctor appointments, but we have six kids who are each in five kinds of therapy – that’s thirty appointments every week, not counting anything extra!  She’s going to be running the children around to the regular appointments that we don’t need to follow other than what the providers can update me via text anyway.

We also are all lined up for the new physical, occupational, speech, sensory, and developmental therapies for when we move to Owasso.  It’s so hard getting everything moved!  But we are set up as best we can be, at it feels good for it all to be falling into place.  Piano and dance teachers are ready to go, too, soon as we get home.

So yeah, I got nannies for my birthday.  Who ever could have guessed that’s how that would play out?  Not me, for sure, but you also never know what’s happening in our family.

Kyrie may or may not have shouted out, at the most inappropriate time, “Hey guys!  I have one bah-gina and two nipples!”   Oh my, these children.

The best thing, though?  Tomorrow is Barrett’s birthday.  We really, really need Barrett to be five.  He has worked so hard on growing up, and we want him to just be him, but we also want him to be safe and happy and that requires a little growing up even if we don’t want to push the rest of it.  In effort to help him and encourage him, we decided to make his very own music video!  We will post it tomorrow, but we thought of all the things we want him to learn, and made the video as if it has already happened.  That way, instead of fussing at him all the time, we can just sing the song with him and as he watches it over and over, he will be able to incorporate those things as strengths instead of what he is failing and in trouble for all the time.  We are so excited for him, and he was so proud of his movie!  We can’t wait to share it!  It’s so great!

Weeping Nanny Angels

If I were just going to stereotype the whole Nanny world, not knowing how it works or how hard those people work or how badly my own family needs help… well, I think I would be insulted by the whole idea.

I worked hard to gather my children.  I don’t need someone else mothering them.

I work hard teaching my children.  I don’t need someone else undoing all our hard work.

I know what’s best for my children.  I don’t need someone else interfering.

I have really good, really amazing children.  I don’t need someone else corrupting them or spoiling them, when little things are life or death because of all their little selves have already been through and the drugs they have been exposed to – it’s always bigger than what is happening in the moment, and that takes a mother’s vision.  No one else knows them like that.

I don’t need no nanny.

So when we won a nanny last week, or more specifically, nanny hours, I wasn’t sure how to handle it.

I mean, as very mortal parents, Nathan and I made all kinds of jokes about how many naps we can take now, or how we can just go off on vacations by ourselves, and about all the delightful meals we will get to finally eat while they are still hot.

But seriously, as real parents – real parents – we are supposed to do the parenting.

That’s part of the deal.  That’s the agreement we made.  That’s what the children are trusting.  That’s how a sealing works.

So the first thing I had to do was research not just this program, but what exactly are these roles, and how could they help us?  I had to learn the difference between a nanny and a personal assistant, between meal prep and cooking, between light housekeeping and helping with laundry.  I don’t know the difference between all these things because this is our life, all the time, multiplied by eight.

But as I began to understand what they were offering, the next questions quickly became figuring out exactly what Nathan needs help with and what I need help with and what would be best for the children.

We didn’t just want a housekeeper, not when Nathan and I take good care of the children, and the children themselves are in the middle of learning some mad skills for chores – and deeper yet, responsibility and stewardship.

We didn’t just want a babysitter that spoils them and cuddles them, because that’s what grandparents are for, and Nathan’s parents have been so kind and generous to help out in that role.

Even asking for help at all is hard.  We didn’t know how to do it when we were fostering, and we didn’t know how to do it when I got cancer.  I don’t know how many Bishops and how many Visiting Teachers begged us to let them know how they could help throughout the years, and we were never very good at answering that.  Our ward families always came up with ingenious ways of doing it anyway, despite ourselves, but knowing how to itemize the way your family survives one day at a time is pretty tricky.

I started with Nathan, because that’s easier than looking at my own stuff, right?

The thing he needs more than anything is time.  As a serious and legit writer and artist who works from home, he needs time and space to create.  He also needs time to collaborate with his composers or do his own composing.  He’s brilliant at it, and I love the pieces and works and things he creates, but all of it requires a time.

That’s not very easy when he’s also a sweet and faithful husband and father, working very hard to care for all of us who depend on him for so much.

So how do I use nanny hours to create time?

The first thing I thought of – especially as we prepare to move to Owasso – was driving the children to and from preschool everyday.  That’s a nightmare with traffic, and while Nathan is more than willing and has done a great job, it would be almost four more hours in his day if he could just work during that time.  That would make him more present in the evenings, too, because his work would already be finished for the day, instead of trying to do it all at the same time.

Trying to figure out what I needed was harder.  I still filtered through Nathan’s needs and the children’s needs.  Nathan needs relief from fixing every single dinner just because I work nights so that I can be home with them during the day (after chaplaincy residency).  The children need help with homeschool work, especially when the younger three are home also, because we may have worked out a system that works for us, but there is still only one of me.  So I picked out a part-time nanny who can tutor, who is available just two hours each morning, and who knows sign language.

I also had the idea of what if I got one of the nanny persons who also is willing to cook.  But instead of just cooking for us every night, what if she specifically comes a couple hours twice a week to teach the children how to cook and help them prepare a meal two nights a week?  Then they get to cook, which they love and which is still play for them, but also learning even while I am not home, but also it provides two of the dinner meals for while I am at work at night so Nathan doesn’t have to do it?  I can fill in at least one in a crock pot, and that gives Nathan only a two to worry about!

The other thing for both me and Nathan that I thought of, obviously, was date night.  My bishop in Owasso promised to sign my recommend to get married if I promised to always have date night no matter what.  We have worked hard to keep that promise, even when that was just apples and cheese with a movie after the kids were asleep on a weekend night!  But they are older, and now we have this opportunity, so even if we just have to go out and do free things, why not get to have some couple time together?

When I thought of the children, I thought of a couple things.  They need time to just play, without worrying about if Kyrie is sick or not, and just for physical therapy and trauma healing and social skills and because they are CHILDREN.  So what if I used a few hours to also just make sure they had playdates, and could go whether or not Kyrie was in crisis?

What I finally decided on for me was help not with the children or writing, but help with all the work that comes because of writing.  We need help running to the post office, replying to public appearance requests, selling books at those public appearances, watching the children while we speak until it’s their turn to surprise the audience, and those kinds of moments where maybe it really is time for some assistant work so that I could spend more time with the children.  There are also some times that because of my pain I cannot hang my clothes back up even though Nathan runs everything through the laundry for us, or those kinds of random things kind of specific to just ongoing recovery.  What if I got help with those kinds of things, so that I could get back to resting and healing, which has actually NEVER HAPPENED.

So that’s what I did.  Instead of hiring one person just to nanny in a way we didn’t need, I chose several people to help in a variety of ways for all of us.  Maybe I made life harder, or maybe I beat the system.  Maybe it will be a great help and good for all of us after these hard years, or maybe we will all hate it or not be able to find good matches in people and none of it will work out.  But regardless, it’s going to be a grand adventure in the next few weeks.  We will see!

But we researched the people available when we needed, and then filtered those through who was able to work with special needs children and then of those who knows sign language.  We ran extensive background checks, more than even what we had to do to foster.  Then we picked about twenty of those to email and get to know a little, and interviewed a handful of those in person.

Then we hired a bunch, instead of one person for everything, mostly because our family is crazy enough we couldn’t find one person who could do everything.

Here’s what we have now, just for this one season of sponsored nanny hours: a person who is going to just pick up and drop off the preschoolers for school and the second graders on Wednesday nights; a nanny-tutor for the second graders for two hours in the morning on Monday-Thursday; a nanny for two hours one night a week for Nathan and I to go out on dates, two hours for meal prep with second graders twice a week, and four hours for field trips for all the kids two Saturdays a month; two hours with a dance teacher every week; one hour with a piano teacher; one hour with a political science tutor; one hour with an art teacher; and a very part-time assistant to help with book stuff.

It seems crazy exciting, but six of the eight people in our family are introverts, so we may all hate the whole idea except for the two extroverts.

Or maybe just the two extroverts need a nanny, maybe one each.

Because this is crazy, a whole staff just for us.

It’s hilarious, in a ridiculous kind of way.

It’s maybe the scariest birthday present I ever got, EVER.

Also, we would have just taken a gift card for groceries if they had asked.  That would have maybe fit our needs better, it would seem.  Except that this forced us to look at self-care and healing from the last five years in a whole new way than we have ever been able to before even with Bishop prompting.

It’s making me super anxious, actually, just this side of horrified, so much so that in my head the nanny concept has already morphed into mascots in my dreams, and I am terrified of mascots, if you didn’t know.  And then by the end of today, when it was all said and done, nanny mascots had morphed into weeping angels from Doctor Who.

Can anyone else hear my dead mom laughing, because this feels like the kind of birthday joke she would pull on me.

Classy, mom.  Classy.

Or maybe it’s real.  Maybe it’s what I need post-heart, post-cancer, post-fostering to finally rest and recover my strength.  Maybe it’s the kind of help that will keep Nathan alive and able to function.  Maybe it’s the kind of stimulation the children need, with so many special needs, and maybe that’s part of special-need parenting, is learning how to rely on the entire village.

We know it is a blessing, even if we don’t yet know what we will learn from the experience.

But I thought maybe in the beginning that it was a blessing so that I could keep working extra, and just keep making things easier after so many hard years… except that I don’t think a blessing would be sent to help me stay away from my family more.  I don’t think a blessing would come to make me work harder.

I think it is a blessing, after very-very-very hard work, and I think it is a blessing of rest.

Not laziness.  Not not-working.  But a lightening of the burden placed upon us, a freedom to work more effectively and at the things we enjoy, like writing and creating.

I think it’s a blessing sent as part of the experience of turning forty, of coming out of forty years in the wilderness, the wholeness-perfection of my eighth year since getting baptized, all of these pieces that are my Jubilee.

Not an easy life from now on, and not complete rest or rest forever.

But a going home, a just be-ing, a being present with my family.

It’s like what we have done medically with Kyrie, making her comfortable only and just letting her be and hoping that lets her regain her strength instead of putting her through more… it’s like somehow, by some miracle, Nathan and I get to give that to ourselves mentally and emotionally.

And that’s huge, after what we have been through, I am not even kidding you.

Life is full of maybe’s.

Maybe we weren’t able to rescue our children in time after all.

Maybe my cancer will come back again.

Maybe Kyrie will die tomorrow.

Or, maybe she won’t.

And maybe I will be healthy as I can be.

And maybe our children are doing just fine, just for today.

Maybe that’s what we are learning: how to be okay, just for today.

That’s a pretty big birthday present, you see?

Nanny News

This is going to be the wildest, craziest thing we ever shared.

So, as it turns out, there are fancypants agencies with online websites and uber cool apps that let you find all kinds of caregivers.  You can find everything from a pet sitter to a babysitter to personal assistants or even full-time nannies that “live in” or “live out”, and everything else in between – errand runners, grocery shoppers, all kinds of help.  How fascinating is that?

And one of those places heard about our family, and has decided to sponsor us!

I can’t say where yet, because I have to write about it later in a sponsored post.

But how funny is that?!

Also, what an answer to prayer as Nathan and I try to keep up with everything!

They are going to interview us for their commercial, and we get to approve the final cut, and it’s all legit and confirmed by attorneys.

In exchange for that, we get free premium membership to their services, which includes background checks, offender registry checks, motor vehicle checks, credit checks, reference checks, and all those kinds of safety pieces, and a certain number of nanny/personal assistant hours a week.

WHAAAAT?!

Here’s how it works:

We set up a family profile, with a picture and enough information to let people know who we are and what kinds of services we might need.  We set our budget of what we are willing to pay, and any filters we have for specifics about our family – like someone with their own transportation, or someone available on Wednesday nights to run children to church activities, or someone with enough nursing experience to run an oxygen machine, or someone who is willing to work with our special needs children, or someone who knows sign language.

For instance, date night.   What if Nathan and I wanted to go out on an actual date night, but his parents weren’t available to watch the children?  Now we can.

WHAAAAT?!

Yep!  We just post the date and time and what kind of help we need, and then anyone who meets our safety criteria and whose availability matches and whose capability matches (some people might be available, but not want to watch six children!)… they get to apply for our “job”!  We get to screen their profiles, and then pick a few to talk to online, and then interview them on the phone, and then interview them in person.

And then they are hired!

The website takes care of payment, even taking care of taxes and all of that so it’s done for us and for the caregiver.

There are even some who are qualified to do personal assistant work for me and Nathan, even can go with us on speaking engagements to help sell books.

We are so excited!

It’s kind of amazing when done well, and we found several qualified, safe people who also know sign language and have medical experience and have special needs experience!

It is such a silly, frivolous thing, and yet such a miracle to us for all that is going on and all we are trying to do.  Now when I am at work, but books need mailing, but Nathan is trying to write, we have someone who can run things to the post office for us.  When Nathan is on the phone with his composer, we have someone who can fix a quick lunch for him and the children.  When my pain is so bad I cannot even hang up my clothes, or lift my toddler, or braid the hair of my daughters, we have help!  When I am homeschooling the children, and giving music lessons, we have help to keep the others on task while they wait their turn.  When we have six children with therapies and doctors and all kinds of places to be, while we have our day jobs, plus the writing, plus the books, we have help!  When Nathan is away at a production, I still have help!  I could cry!

Help!  We have help!  We learned how to ask for help, pleaded for it, and our load has been lightened, just like that!

We have a nanny!  We have personal assistants!  It’s so weird!

The trick now is to figure out how practice using them wisely, so that it is really the most effective and productive use of our time.  We need to delegate what we can that most buys time for writing, and even more importantly, what gives us the most time to actually just be together as a family – especially as we move home with Kyrie on palliative care.

Oh! We have people who will be helping us move!  It’s crazy, what has happened!

I don’t even know how to explain it, or how exciting it is, or how hilarious it is…. or how tired Nathan and I have been, or what a relief this is.

I just know this from Mosiah 24:

15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort…

Painted Flowers

There are days where you have to get up early to work a ten hour shift at one hospital, and then get off and go work an eight hour shift at another hospital, and then the ER gets crazy and you don’t even know if you will get off at 2am, even though you have an eight hour class the next day, and you wonder how you will make it, not counting ever getting to see your family again.

The only thing that’s harder than that kind of work intensity is doing it on Valentine’s Day.

But you do it, because it’s the best gift you can give your family, paying for that expensive tube feeding food and extra oxygen supplies for preschool and all the stickers medicaid doesn’t realize you use trying to keep feeding tubes in your baby.

Or maybe you do it because your husband is a writer, a real kind, not pretend like you are, but a real writer, and it’s pretty much true what they say about starving artists.  And maybe he could get some 8-5 desk job, but he would cease to be him, and you don’t want that.  You married a writer, and you knew it when you married him, and so royalty checks at the end of the year and random production bonuses when you don’t expect them are the way he contributes, and that is all sufficient for your needs.

Because maybe he contributes more than that.

Maybe it isn’t just about money.

Maybe it’s how the laundry is clean when you get home, so all you have to do is put yours away.

Maybe it’s how the dishes get done, and the children are fed, and gas is always in your car.

Maybe it’s how he doesn’t complain when you wake him crawling into bed in the middle of the night, or how delighted he is to sit on the floor of the bathroom with a toddler who thinks potty time is singing time (just like her daddy).

Maybe it’s how, regardless of any other audience he has, he always makes time to write lyrics for the family, to sing poems to you, and to leave sweet messages between your glasses and cochlear implants as a surprise early in the morning.

Maybe it’s how he runs the children to school, and to doctor appointments, and even delivers caramel corn to your office when there is an emergency.

Maybe it’s the weight of his hands on your head in blessings, or the twinkle in his eye when he thinks he’s extra funny, or the geniusly creative ideas he comes up with that help you see the world in a way you never noticed before.

Maybe it’s how he held you when your mother died, when your babies died, and when you had cancer.  Maybe it’s how he held babies in the night when you never heard them cry because he wanted you to sleep, or how he welcomed children that were not ours just so they would be safe for a time, or how his heart softened toward the children who stayed.  Maybe it’s how he held you when you came home from being life flighted away with the last baby, or how he stroked your hair when you were told she wouldn’t live, or how he held tightly to your hand through bizarre moves that were blind acts of faith and made no sense otherwise.

Maybe it’s how he rolls out of the bed directly onto his knees each morning, or how he holds your hand as he prays each night.  Maybe it’s watching him read scriptures to the children at breakfast every day, or maybe it’s the sight of him cooking dinner in that ridiculous yellow apron I made him when we were newlyweds.  Maybe it’s the way he challenges people to discuss, or the way he facilitates kindness even in difficult circumstances.

Maybe you do whatever you can, because you know you lucked out in getting him for a husband.

Maybe you know he’s something special, and that the miracle isn’t that you finally got married, but that you married him.

Maybe you know he’s worth it.

Maybe he makes you feel like you’re worth it, too.

Here’s the funny thing about our Valentine’s Day that played out so differently than either of us expected or hoped… it’s so…. us.  Even though we were apart, and even though we kept trying to catch each other on the phone or FaceTime, we were separated and prevented from connecting in those ways.   But rather than ruining our day, it was tender because it reminded us of when we first met and dated from a thousand miles away.

That was pretty special.

And that was worth it, for sure.

So what did I do for Valentine’s Day?  It’s not that I had work 18 hours.  Or more.

It’s that I woke to a hand painted rose before my eyes were even awake, and I get to (eventually) slip back into bed and curl up with the man who painted it.

Those moments make the 18 hours in between seem like nothing, mostly because we are made of eternal stuff – and he is my forever.

Yellow Roses

When I did chapel this morning at the hospital, I talked about stress.  I gave examples of the last few years from my own life, and how hard it has been.  And then I showed them this cartoon:

 

We laughed, because everyone has days that feel like that, but I also talked about authenticity and not faking a Pollyanna smile just because it’s a hard day.

Even when life has a lot of hard days.

And sometimes there is not much we can do about it.

Our degree of fault is high at the end of the spectrum marked as sin. We should accept responsibility for problems caused by sin by repenting and continually striving to do better. However, as we continue down the spectrum, our fault drops to zero at the end marked by adversity, where we may bear no responsibility at all. These trials may come to us regardless of any conscious action on our part. If we blame ourselves for things that are not our fault, we make a bad situation worse by seeing ourselves as bad people who deserve bad things.

~ BYU Devotional, 2007

Other times it’s because we agree to do hard work, either to help ourselves grow or to sacrifice for our families or to serve in some way.  All of that can be very good.  We are even promised that the atonement will strengthen us beyond our own capacity to do more than we could on our own in these ways.

And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

~ Mosiah 24:14

But lots of times we take on too much because we aren’t paying attention, or don’t set good boundaries, or don’t realize how it all adds up, or forget that we are worth caring for, too.

If we are going to “love others as ourselves” (Mark 12:31), there is an implication that loving ourselves is part of the deal, right?

Even when we endure adversity, or progress through our own weaknesses, or sacrifice to care for those with no one else to care for them, such opportunities come in seasons.  It is not forever.  Seasons change, and spring always comes.

And I am really excited for spring.

Those are the beautiful yellow roses Nathan got me for Valentine’s Day.  I don’t know how he did, or who gave them to him for giving to me, but it was a lovely surprise and I was delighted.  They are beautiful!

It is also exciting because do you know what happens exactly one week after Valentine’s Day?

My birthday.

And know what else?

I turn 40 next week.  FORTY.

Do you know what 40 means?

It means a coming out of the wilderness.

It means my time of wandering is complete.

It means it is finally my turn to enter into the promised land.

Know when I turn 40?

Exactly 8 years after I first met the missionaries.

Know what 8 is?

Perfection.

I’m just saying.

I mean to say, perfection in a completion kind of way, meaning whole.

Never has anyone ever been so excited to turn forty as I am for next week, seriously.

My body is swollen from cancer meds, and sore from never-ending post-chemo pain, and weak from missed gym days because of broken feet and cracked ribs.  My hair is starting to streak with grey in all the places where hard-earned wisdom bursts forth and cannot be contained.  The boldness of the testimony I am sent to give is tempered only by the Spirit, and my heart is full of the love for children that fill my arms I once thought would be forever empty.

I earned this forty.  This forty is mine.

I have always been far more ancient than I was, and my body has survived far more than it should have been able to survive.   But this?  This is a coming into my own, a going home to my own home, a growing up my own family until they are the ones who are old.

Then I will be really ancient.

But do you know what I said in chapel this morning, about that stress rock squashing the little two thumbs up bug?

I said I’m not a rock collector anymore.

I don’t fill my pockets full of other people’s stress.   I don’t dig through granite when others don’t want to pick up a shovel to even try.  I don’t load up my backpack with the stones other people throw.

I only use stones to line my garden path, to step across the puddles, to set boundaries that protect me and my family.

This is good and right and as it should be, and makes every grey hair worth it.

That’s why we had to go to the temple this week, just so I could be sure where my tent was facing.  Forty!

And to say thank you.

Forty!

The truth is, that what I know, is that my “rock” is my Redeemer, and rather than weighing me down until I am squashed, I am given a firm place to stand.

“Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God”

~2 Nephi 4:28–31, 35

I testify, even with Alma, that we are:

“supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; . . . and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me” (Alma 36:27).

“I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 38:5).

It is true that:

All the dilemmas illustrated in the Book of Mormon contain dangerous elements uncontrollable by mortals, so that when deliverance comes, no one will be confused about the One from whom it comes. Life’s path is strewn with seemingly unsolvable dilemmas so that people will be driven to God for help. The Lord’s methods may be based on the principle that the greater the trouble, the more likely one will turn to Him for help. We are reminded that the only way that God can teach how faith works is through experience, some of it necessarily very dangerous. When the hand of God is revealed in the midst of a seemingly unsolvable situation, one’s confidence in the presence of God gains strength.

~ Types and Shadows, BYU Archives

This is not just a theology of suffering.

It is more than just a fake Pollyanna two-thumbs up.

It is progression, even the promise of life eternal, of the happiness sort.

And this journey through hell has been mine, and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

It was exactly what I needed, and I know it is bringing me through the wilderness, just as He promised.  I know He will keep His promise because He is my Father and my God, and because He always has.  I know there is a promised land waiting, and that makes every moment of it worth it, no matter how dark it has seemed to be at times.

Or how many grey hairs it gave me.

I know the song the wilderness sings, and I know what hope it brings.

Hope for deliverance, to a promised land, where we are wholly holy.