Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Gift of Time

Originally Written March 22, 2020

Yesterday as our family knelt in family prayer I was overcome with the feeling that God is giving me a gift. It is a gift he is giving me to prepare my children for whatever is coming next. 

In the past several months - really probably the past several years - I have been wishing that I could just have more time. More time to teach my children the gospel, more time to talk with them and get to know them, more time to slow down and play with them. When you have seven children there is never enough time. And being a teacher-mom means I have had even less time with each child.

I feel like I have been given a great and powerful gift with the current global pandemic. The gift I have been given is to have my children in my home full time, insulated from the attacks of the adversary, and in my care so that I can more intensely nurture them and prepare them. While our home has been a little chaotic this past week, I have also noticed some incredible God-given changes. My children are kinder, and more soft spoken. They are more helpful, and more spiritual. I get to control, for the most part, what happens in our home, and I have chosen to make sure that there are a lot of calm, peaceful interactions. Children must be taught to be calm, and the world doesn't teach them to be calm. We must teach them that calm and peace within the walls of our home.

Each interaction with my children this week has been precious to me. There is no rushing, just being together. I have honestly savored every moment. Let me throw a little reality in there, though... when I took my 16 year old son out driving, we got in the car and shut the doors and just sat for a moment. Then I said, "It's so quiet!"

Having all seven children home full time reminds me of the first few times my husband and I got our families together. The scene as chaotic, but full of joy. We called it "joyful chaos". Those two words are the most accurate description of our family life.

Today while we were participating in the ordinance of the sacrament with our family in our "home church", I had a beautiful vision. Our home was encased in great shield, not unlike the ones in a science fiction movie. I felt a power surrounding our house, keeping out the evils in the world, and increasing the love and strength inside our home.

We live in a confusing time, and for a lot of people, a scary and disappointing time. I feel incredibly blessed to have the peace that we have.

Staying Focused

"Being self-reliant does not mean that we can do or obtain anything we set our mind to."

I read this sentence for the first time last fall. It rocked my world. I have always believed that if I wanted anything, all I would need to do is work hard and stay focused, and I could obtain it.

I have been working hard my entire life to be financially secure and to have a strong family. And there I was, in a very precarious financial situation, blending a family and co-parenting with an ex-spouse. My life is so much not what I have been working for.

To be completely honest, I was beginning to get burned out. Working hard for so long and not achieving what I thought I would be able to achieve has been exhausting. I thought I was self reliant because of this mindset that if I just work hard I can do anything I put my mind to.

So if self reliance is not being able to do or obtain anything we set our mind to, what is it? The Church's Personal Finances for Self-Reliance course book describes it this way:

"Rather, it is believing that through the grace, or enabling power, of Jesus Christ and our own effort, we are able to obtain all the spiritual and temporal necessities of life we require for ourselves and our families. Self reliance is evidence of our trust or faith in God’s power to move mountains in our lives and to give us strength to triumph over trials and afflictions."

My focus had been on my own abilities, rather on the enabling power of Jesus Christ and having faith in God's will for me. I have been trying to be more focused on God's will in my life. One aspect of this was resigning as a school teacher. Being a stay at home mom has always been one of my life goals, and yet I always found reasons why it wasn't possible. When the global pandemic hit and schools were shut down and teachers were expected to teach from home, I was able to "test drive" my dream. It was beautiful. I loved being home with my kids, and it made me want it more than anything else. So I resigned. It took a lot of faith, because without my income, we wouldn't be able to pay the bills. But God will provide, and has. Going to Air Force basic training this summer allowed us to save a LOT of money, pay off some debts, and prepare for my exit from the full time workforce. It also gave my husband some time to figure out how to increase his earning power to be able to replace my income. 

Sometimes we loose focus, and rely on our own abilities, rather than the grace of God. I hope I can learn to stay focused on that grace, and on God's will.

Have you ever lost focus? What did you do to refocus yourself on the things that matter most? How have you learned to rely on God's will rather than your own ability?
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