Tag Archives: trials

Finding Peace

I was first asked to give a talk in church a little over a month ago. We were on our vacation in Pennsylvania, all packed in the van just having left the campground when Paul’s cell phone rang. With five kids crammed in a van for long periods of time, things can get rather tumultuous. After numerous reminders and scoldings to the children to quiet down and quit squabbling, I answered.  It was a member of our bishopric asking me to speak in a few weeks time, and the topic would be “Peace in the Home”.  I chuckled as another outburst broke out in our van, and I thought, “I’m sure our home is very peaceful right now.” After all, “there is beauty all around when there’s no one home….” lol.

Then I received the wonderful news that I wouldn’t have to speak because of a change in the schedule do to General Conference. But that relief was short-lived when I received another phone call.

Since receiving the assignment, I can say our home has been anything but peaceful. In fact, it seems to have grown in chaos, and I began to think long and hard about what Peace in the Home is and how we find it.

Is it possible to have peace in your home in the midst of great heart wrenching tragedy? Is it possible to have peace in your home with children who have special needs and seem to enjoy wreaking havoc? Is it possible to have peace in your home when the children fight and squabble? When you feel stressed and stretched to the max? When you wonder how you will make ends meet and live within your means? When you have to tear your house apart and completely dismantle it? When you work yourself to such levels of exhaustion that you laugh at anything and cry over everything? What about in homes where there is marital strife? Or children gone astray? Is there peace in the home and if so, where can it be found?

As I began to ponder on what peace was, I learned what peace wasn’t. It’s not how well-behaved your children are. It’s not how quietly they sit during scriptures or whether or not they call out their siblings’ bad behavior during prayer. It’s not based on the number of fights or the chaos that might surround your home. It’s not a period free from trials or stress – though it would be nice.

What I believe peace in the home is, is the quiet assurance that Heavenly Father sends to your heart in the midst of all the chaos and madness that everything will be all right – some how, some day. It’s terribly easy to miss – it can get lost in the frustration of dealing with squabbling children, or the hecticness of taxi service. It can get lost in the trials that beset and overwhelm, but if we stop and look for it, and search it out in our hearts, we’ll find it, glimmering there beneath the surface, assuring us, that we can get there, we can get through.

The kind of peace that we are searching for, isn’t the kind where all fighting stops – if you have children, you know that’s impossible. It’s not a halt in our troubles and disagreements. We are told in 2Nephi chapter 2 that there must needs be opposition in all things – so we will always have discord and trials – sorrows and heartaches to teach us about true joy.  The peace we can find and achieve in our homes and in our lives is emotional peace – freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. As we turn to our Heavenly Father and, through the atonement, turn our burdens over to him, we will in turn be given peace.

It will still be hard and at times it can still feel impossible. There are many many times when we question how we can possibly manage to continue on and make it through. Satan besets us with thoughts of unworthiness, discouragement, or worthlessness, but if we fight through the darkness and concentrate on the light of Christ and his atonement, we will be able to fight free of the oppressive darkness and find peace. Sometimes it may feel faint and fragile – it might be hard to grasp onto, but it will be there and if we give it room and nurture it, it will grow.

How do we find peace if we feel like we don’t have peace – honestly, this last week we had quite a bit of chaos going on in our home and I had a hard time finding that peace. I wasn’t sure it was there – I doubted my ability to feel or receive that peace. But as I began to look and see and open my heart I saw it – and as I put my trust more and more in Heavenly father I could feel that peace.

As I pondered this topic I thought of 7 key things to help us have and find peace in our homes:

1. Prayer – we can pray for peace, pray to feel it – regular and consistent family and personal prayers will give us the strength and foundation we need to make it through the daily tribulations and the even bigger trials that beset us. Prayer invites the spirit into our homes, and with it comes peace.

2. Scripture Study – as we have focused on reading the Book of Mormon this year, I feel peace has grown in our home – there are still fights and squabbles, I still get frustrated and have “wits end” kind of days – but in general things are just a touch smoother and peace is easier to find-  if you look for it.  Personal scripture study is just as important – through it  I have received the strength to carry on through trials. I am more spiritually focused, and peace is taught and found.

3. Gratitude – I was feeling particularly overwhelmed at the end of this week. I was feeling rather picked on, honestly and having a hard time finding anything to be positive about. I was exhausted – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I went online and started to read an Ensign talk that happened to be about gratitude. Immediately I began to focus on all the blessings we had – the miracles the friends who have helped us time and time again, our family, and the myriad of blessings  that I have in my life. There are so many more blessings than trials. And in that moment I felt the stress begin to melt away and peace enter into my heart. Yes, even if things look rather bleak at the moment, we have so, so much to be grateful for. Gratitude helps us realize all that our loving Heavenly Father has truly done for us and allows the peace he is trying to send us enter into our hearts.

4. Service – losing ourselves in the service of others allows us to forget our woes and troubles for a few moments and not only brings peace into our hearts and families, but in the hearts and families of others. We have been the receivers of wonderful acts of service many times and I can’t not describe the lifting of burdens it has brought us and the beautiful peace that accompanied every meal and act of service. As I have striven to serve others and taught my family to serve others – we have felt the same peace.

5. Love – allowing ourselves to feel Heavenly Father’s love – he truly loves us, he wants to help us and bless us. If we seek out His love we will also find His peace. As we show love in our families – reprimand with kindness and try to take the harshness from our voices love and peace will grow in our homes. As we teach our children and practice our selves to be more loving, kind, understanding, tolerant, long-suffering, and patient, love and peace will grow in our homes. We won’t be perfect at it, but each day we can improve a little.

6. Laughter & Joy – there was a moment when we were stressed to the max and exhausted – everyone could feel it – we pulled out the scriptures to read and it seemed like every little thing began to happen to keep us from reading – kids talking, hanging upside down in the chairs, pulling faces, we were at the table – so dishes being spilled, dogs nudging and licking toes, everyone telling everyone to be quiet, after numerous starts and even more stops the ridiculousness of the situation just hit and both Paul and I started to laugh. The tension snapped as everyone joined in and it spread through the family. Finally we all sat at the table laughing and joy began to replace the tension and stress – and with that joy came peace. Peace that all would be well and that things would work out somehow.  Another day I was impossibly grumpy and frustrated with the children and life in general. Knowing that I can’t dance and be angry at the same time, Paul began spinning me about the kitchen. My dark mood broke and with the joy and laughter came the peace and soon we had boys dancing about (and on our feet). 2 Nephi 2:25 says that Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have Joy. We are meant to be a happy people. But happiness isn’t something that happens to us – it’s something we choose.

7. Finally, and most importantly, remember the atonement. If there is anything that can bring peace into our lives and homes it is a knowledge and remembrance of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Elder Richard G. Scott has taught,

“Be certain that every decision you make, whether temporal or spiritual, is conditioned on what the Savior would have you do. When He is the center of your home, there is peace and serenity. There is a spirit of assurance that pervades the home, and it is felt by all who dwell there.”

Jesus Christ is the bringer of Peace. He suffered not only for our sins, but for our every pain, worry, stress, and heartache. When we may feel no one knows or understands, He is always there to comfort and lift. Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite scriptures “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  He is our strength – through him we can make it through every trial no matter how defeated we feel he is there, waiting to help us. He will pick us up and carry us through the times when our steps falter. I have a testimony of our Savior. I know he Love us. I know He Lives. I know He lives to bless us, to comfort us, to bring us peace. I think often in the hymn “I Know my Redeemer Lives”. In moments when peace feels hard to find – I turn to that hymn and remember the atonement. Not only does the peace then enter my heart, but strength to pick up and keep moving on.

In a conference talk by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin given in the April 2000 conference he said,

“When you feel tossed by the storms of life and when the waves rise and the winds howl, on those occasions it would be natural for you to cry in your heart, ‘Master, carest thou not that I perish?’ When these times come, think back upon that day when the Savior awakened in the stern of the ship, rose up and rebuked the storm. ‘Peace, be still,’  He said.

“At times we may be tempted to think the Savior is oblivious to our trials. In fact, the reverse is true; it is we who need to be awakened in our hearts to His teachings.

“Use your ingenuity, your strength, your might to resolve your challenges. Do all you can do and then leave the rest to the Lord. President Howard W. Hunter said: ‘If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.’

“In our own storms in life the Savior is our solace and our sanctuary. If we seek peace, we must come unto Him. He Himself spoke this eternal truth when He said, ‘My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’  When our souls are anchored in the safe harbor of the Savior, we can proclaim as did Paul: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.’”

Over this week and the past year and a half I learned what it means to have peace in a home and it surprised me. I thought the fighting had to stop or that I had to be the “perfect mom”. I thought that peace was something that happened in those little blissful moments when everything is the picture of perfectness – where the kids are playing together happily and the trials seem lesser and it’s like a spiritual sigh runs through the house.  Those are examples of peace – but if that is what we think peace in our homes is, we will seldomly find or obtain it.

I have learned that peace can be found anytime – any where. It’s part of who we are. It’s our conviction in following the savior, living His gospel, and trusting in our Heavenly Father even when things seem impossible and we don’t understand what he is doing with our lives, we only know that it hurts and we cling to faith and pray for the strength to get through.

I know that in those moments when we feel overwhelmed and beaten down by life’s trials we can find peace. We can bring it into our homes. Our Heavenly Father loves us, he truly does. He will grant us all the things we need to succeed in this life and overcome the trials that beset us. Sometimes we might need to quiet ourselves or look past the chaos that surrounds us, but His peace is there waiting to bless us and our homes. I am eternally grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows and understand our needs. I am grateful for the peace he sends and for the tools he has given us to have and find peace in our homes.

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Filed under Child loss, Gratitude, Philosophy, Religion

Tired

I have come to the realization that I am tired. Exhausted. WORN OUT. Mainly emotionally. I started thinking of all the things I am tired of and making a list. These are things people in my situation think about day in and day out. I don’t want to offend or make anyone back off – you’ll notice there are many opposites such as wanting to be left alone, not wanting to be left alone, etc. I don’t know if I will share it – maybe someone else will be able to relate and realize others go through this, etc.

I am tired of….

crying

this empty ache that will never completely go away

of trying to figure out how to answer people when they ask how many kids we have  – she was part of our lives for 12 years, we can’t just pretend we have 5 kids, but then things get awkward when they ask ages and such.

of feeling like being happy is an effort

of reminding myself to smile – it used to come so naturally

of feeling inadaquate to the task at hand of helping my dear sweet children cope with losing a sister

of never knowing when grief will sabotage me and push me to tears

being this person

not being the person I used to be

being the example

being the friend who lost her  daughter

having red eyes

looking tired

hoping someone says her name

people being afraid to say her name or talk about her

conversations becoming awkward when they realize who we are/we have a daughter who died

feeling like everyone else has moved on with their lives and I’m stuck

wishing there was a pause button so I could deal with this nice and tidy before moving on

trying to respond to cliched (though very well meant) comments

craving her laugh, her smile, her hugs

empty arms

having to snuggle with her blanket to feel close to her

sleepless/fitful nights

not being focused

the pitiful looks that come my way

staring into space

not being able to cry when I feel like I am about to burst

family time being so hard sometimes

having to visit a cemetary

needing/wanting to visit the cemetary

going home to 1 less child and 5 who desperately need me to be brave and keep it together

being reminded of my tragedy

being afraid I will somehow forget all the details of her life, her face, her smile, her walk

being afraid that others will forget

of having to write out my thoughts and feelings in order to release

of having to rely on others

being miserable

living moment to moment

trying to keep busy

looking at kids her age and trying not to cry

having to switch stations on the radio

not being able to watch my favorite movies – or crying my way through them

just trying to make it through the day

wanting to sleep until this goes away

being restless

worrying about future events – reminding myself that I need to let my children be children and not over protect them

watching my loved ones suffer

dreading going to bed at night for fear of the morning

dreading waking up in the morning

not having my normal spunk

not wanting to go to places that remind me

feeling sorrow

having to talk about this for a release

my nervous energy

pacing

feeling cut off

crying when I am alone

avoiding human contact

wanting to hide

feeling guilty (most of the time I can shove it aside, but it is still there)

cloudy and rainy days making me sad

the 7th of the month

feeling this

thinking about this knowing this

trying to make my heart understand

my brain understanding this

losing time to this

wanting to be alone

wanting to be around people

not knowing what I want or how I feel

needing support

wanting to talk

feeling lethargic

wanting to talk about it

not wanting to talk about it

nerves

my nervous habits

being the one who will make a difference

having to give myself permission to be happy

holding my sobbing children trying to find the right words

not being able to find the right words

of being brave

of being an inspiration

replaying events in my mind

not knowing how to help my children/husband

defending my grief – as in it’s normal, not a lack of faith, I’m not self pitying, I just miss her,  etc.

feeling scatterbrained and disorganized

forgetting things

 
of being tired

Now, with all that being said – the crazy thoughts in my head. Those are just things I’m tired of – I don’t feel them all, all the time, they change faster than the Cincinnati weather and my 12-and-a-half-year-old daughter’s moods. I like to think I’m managing to hold my fraying ends together, but  if I seem a little spacey the above might be why. If you have a loved one or friend going through a loss, be patient with them, we appreciate it. 🙂

Lastly, even with this being so incredibly hard, I think often on Joseph Smith and what Heavenly Father told him as he struggled – and he faced things far beyond any that my family has:

“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”  (Doctrine & Covenants 122:7)

That’s why we’re here. No matter how hard. We’re here for the experiences. To learn and to grow. To be stretched. To learn to have faith even when we feel faithless or can’t understand why things have to happen the way they do. All these experiences can be for our good if we let them.

And though at times I wonder how on earth I can possibly survive this, how I can muddle my way through with my family intact, I know that we are here for this purpose. We can let this build us and make us stronger. Sometimes it can be hard to see how any of this is for our good, but so much good has come about in  the months after, Lizy has made such a wonderful difference in the lives of others both in life and in death.  No matter how it hurts, there is good in it somewhere and we’ll be together again for all of eternity.

I know Heavenly Father loves me and gives me the strength I need to get through all the tired.

Now……

time to go do all those things I’m tired of! 🙂

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Filed under Child loss, Lizy, Philosophy, Religion

Topsy Turvy

Sometimes things flow along rather smoothly. Sure, there are a few bumps along the way (we have six kids after all) but nothing too out of the ordinary. And then things get turned upside down and inside out.

Last week I received a bit of news.

A rough bit.

I found out my father has brain cancer – lymphoma – though now they aren’t too sure what it is and are doing more tests. What they do know for sure is that he has lesions on the front and back of his brain – and it came on fast in the last month and a half (or at least, that’s when the symptoms showed up).

My dad is an amazing man. Has always been active and healthy. He taught me to love hiking and nature. He taught me to be and do my best.  He has the wackiest sense of humor – the kind where some people  can’t tell if he’s joking, but there’s a twinkle in his eye, and he makes the craziest goofy faces.

I never thought about how old he was getting (he’s 74, after all) and how he was slowing down. He always seemed invincible to me, like he would live forever. But I feel my time with him here on earth slipping away between my grasping fingers.

Maybe I have many years yet to come, I choose to hope for the best. But, in case the time is short, I am going to visit. I’ve only seen him one day in these past 3 1/2 years – because of their mission and our move – and it’s been too long. I am so blessed to have such a supportive husband and family to allow me to take off for a while to be with my parents.

I’ll try my best to blog while I’m gone, but I might not have much time. I’ll be hanging with my most amazing parents and visiting amazing old friends too. I plan on having a blast.

But, all while I’m having a grand time, I’ll be praying. Praying for my dad. If you don’t mind sending a prayer our way, it would be so appreciated. And if you aren’t the praying type, good thoughts and wishes work well too. We can feel the support from everyone around us.

And I believe in miracles.

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Filed under Family, health, Religion

Waiting

Weekly Anamnesis #13

Waiting

Expecting, anticipating, languishing
Stealing time, the thief creeps in
Binding my hands as the hours
Drift by listlessly

Time abducted is lost forever
An act of piracy,
Pilfering away the minutes,
I cannot retrieve even a second.

Hollow heart and barren arms
I can but appreciate moments past
And cherish the days
When the thief relinquishes his hold.
-J.H. Schmidt

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Filed under Anamnesis, Heart, Parenting, Poetry, Writing