Earthlife

The Bomb

I just read another mommy blog post that although long-winded had a great little tidbit of wisdom.  From all the places in the world for it to come from, I never expected it from Stephen Colbert. After digging for a bit, I found the GQ article where the wisdom orginially surfaced. It’s a gem. Go over and read if you have time. It might bring tears to your eyes.

If you don’t have the time, here is the Cliff Notes’ version. While at Northwestern University, Colbert was introduced to improv. Here are his words:

“I went, ‘I don’t know what this is, but I have to do it. I have to get up onstage and perform extemporaneously with other people.”

“Our first night professionally onstage, [our director said:] “You have to learn to love the bomb.”

Colbert spoke of how not just living with discomfort but embracing discomfort – really loving it – is essential to joy and success. He’s a deep dude:

“It took me a long time to really understand what that meant,” Colbert said. “It wasn’t ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get it next time.’ It wasn’t ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you’re failing.… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.”

He shared how his mother helped him to live with courage after they lost his father and two of his brothers in a plan crash.

“I was left alone a lot after Dad and the boys died…. And it was just me and Mom for a long time,” he said. “And by her example I am not bitter. By her example. She was not. Broken, yes. Bitter, no.” Maybe, he said, she had to be that for him. He has said this before—that even in those days of unremitting grief, she drew on her faith that the only way to not be swallowed by sorrow, to in fact recognize that our sorrow is inseparable from our joy, is to always understand our suffering, ourselves, in the light of eternity. What is this in the light of eternity? Imagine being a parent so filled with your own pain, and yet still being able to pass that on to your son.

“It was a very healthy reciprocal acceptance of suffering,” he said. “Which does not mean being defeated by suffering. Acceptance is not defeat. Acceptance is just awareness.” He smiled in anticipation of the callback: “ ‘You gotta learn to love the bomb,’ ” he said. “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was 10. That was quite an explosion. And I learned to love it. So that’s why. Maybe, I don’t know. That might be why you don’t see me as someone angry and working out my demons onstage. It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”

He went on to quote Tolkein. {Wow, he really knows how to get through to everyone: even the nerdiest, especially the nerdiest.}

” ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head…. It’s not the same thing as wanting it to have happened, but you can’t change everything about the world. You certainly can’t change things that have already happened.”

escape

I was in awe of how much Colbert’s message correlated with the post I started in my head yesterday based on the this sermon. Here are my favorite parts of it:

A vision of our Father’s incredible promised blessings must be the central focus before our eyes every day—as well as an awareness “of the multitude of his tender mercies” that we experience on a daily basis.

What will  it matter in the end if what we have suffered here are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation.

So maybe you are wondering how the two correlate. Let me see if I can make sense of this. I just learned that some people who I love and adore just received the awful devestating BOMB that the last of their IVF transfers was unsuccessful. Of course after a year of full commitment and a $20k investment, they are devestated. They are paralyzed with grief founded in lost dreams. More than anything they just want to be parents. I cry with them today. I don’t understand the intricacies of their trial, but I do understand their pain. I have known BOMBS in my own life. Bombs leave devestation and paralyzing questions and fear. But, like Colbert says, we have to learn to love the bombs. Maybe not today, but eventually. So, after we process, we get up and walk in the direction of acceptance and understanding. The escape is in the light at the end of the tunnel.

We let our faith guide us and comfort us. We walk with God and we let him turn it into beauty. Like Tolkein versed, we turn the punishment into a gift. Or, like Linda Reeves said, “A vision of our Father’s incredible promised blessings must be the central focus before our eyes every day.” He’s going to give us everything he has. It may not be right now, and it may seem like he’s withholding, but he is always blessing us. Always.

So, when all crapola hits the fan in the form of your greatest fear manifested. Just listen. God’s voice is on the other side of the bomb. It’s quiet, but it is saying, “I’m here.” When you are forty-two and live in a two bedroom condo and just wonder why when you work so hard God doesn’t give you as much as everyone else. Just be glad you don’t really live in a warzone. When you have to put an elderly parent in a home because you don’t have the capablity to care for him and you’re heartbroken. Embrace the explosion. When you are suffocating under the weight of depression that most others don’t understand. Know that the black ball of TNT was meant just for you. On the other side of the sphere, opposite the TNT, it had your name on it. In a nice pretty mongram with an escape clause in small letters the words were etched, “I understand. I’ll get you through this.”

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Motherhood: it’s not for the birds.

I know I must be starting to sound crazy, always talking about interactions with the birds. Honestly, I feel kind of crazy because I swear the birds around here are ancestors trying to contact me from another realm. Maybe I should convert to Hinduism. Maybe I should just stay eccentric. Either way you are going to hear about it.

birdsI hope you remember this story about the pregnant robin staring at me through my back door because this story just kind of builds on it.

Mothering has been getting to me. I feel worthless a majority of the time. Between the monotony of the baby and the daily drudgery of dealing with hormonal and self-absorbed typical teenagers I often wonder why I have dedicated the majority of my life to them.

I’ve been praying a lot and searching for wisdom and peace. I want to know that my sacrifices will matter. I need to know.

Well, a few days ago after a particularly hard weekend I had another little bird miracle. My very rare weekend get-away had been snatched from my needy little fingers. (The therapist thought it would be a good idea for my husband and daughter to have some bonding time, which left me at home alone with the other 4 kids for two days.) I was looking ahead to the grind of another week, and wasn’t feeling too rested after the weekend. I was indulging myself in another, “WHY?” crying session.

I ended up with the baby in arms while attempting to let the dog out the sliding glass door to relieve herself. Just before opening the door, however, I noticed something new. I’d never witnessed this before: There were so many robins in the branches of the trees that I couldn’t count them. I froze. They all stared at me as I stared at them. They were all sexes, all sizes, and all singing to one another.

It came in the most unexpected way, but my answer to prayer had come on the wings of the robin family. The secret to life was laid out before me. Maybe these birds were ancestors from my past (not really but symbolically.) Maybe they represented my family in the future, but they were definitely a sign with a crystal clear message supporting my motherhood: It’s all about the family.

The other day a single friend from high-school posted a picture from his back porch. It was him, his beautifully landscaped yard, and his beer. I assumed he’s on a hiatus from traveling at his high profile life of being a TV producer and was enjoying the downtime.

I commented, “Your life looks so peaceful, can we trade for a week?”

He answered in jest, ” Alice, thanks for the offer but I highly doubt I could ‘Survive’ your life. You are an amazing mom/wife.”

It’s amazing what a compliment like that can do for a struggling mom.  I so appreciated every single word. He validated my extreme exhaustion and simultaneously encouraged me. I didn’t think there was anything that could help me more than his words. I also didn’t realize that I could communicate with birds. They gave me a moment’s peace. Without the beer. Without the perfectly landscaped backyard. And without any peace and quiet. There’s hardly ever peace and quiet in a family of 7.

I let the dog out. Between the noise of the sliding door and the happy barks of the dog, the robins quickly dispersed. I smirked and speechlessly thanked them all as they flew away. I then admitted to myself that I didn’t need to feel worthless anymore. I have the highest profile job ever: mother.

And the birds understood and communicated what I needed to hear. I matter. I matter now. I matter even more in the future. The kids aren’t the ones making me feel worthless. I am doing that to myself.  The future of mankind is depending on me. My hundreds of progeny know what I am still learning: I matter. I guess they know that they got the message across because they haven’t been back.

Maybe they upgraded to the form of cat? I hope not because if the next time I get down on myself (which can be any moment now) and there are 50+ cats staring at me through my back door, I think it’ll freak me out just a tad.

grandchildren

Look what I found on the internet. I guess I’m not the only crazy one.

It’s About Who’s Waiting For Us in the End.

Come with me back to a high school track meet. It happened two weeks ago. I sat in the stands watching my teenage daughter and hundreds of other high-schoolers, all vying for their own personal records, hoping to beat out all the other competitors. Unlike the athletes, I, however, had a completely opposing mantra for myself. “Let it go, Alice.” “Let it go.” The Sunday before, my track-star daughter, my husband, and I had a heart-to-heart. Come to find out, I have always put undue pressure on the poor girl in all areas of her life, but especially when it comes to sports and grades. Yeah, I’m not proud. What can I say? She’s my firstborn? That doesn’t really cut it. You’ll be relieved to know that I am working on it. I have specific goals, one of which is not being result-obsessed.

So, my daughter had just run her 100m. Unlike her past track experiences, she’s not typically in the Top 3 this year. She’s running at the middle of the pack. Thus the mantra. “Let it go, Alice.” I was pep-talking myself, “This is about your daughter, not about you. Abigail is having fun. Abigail is getting exercise. Just because you want her to be in first place, it doesn’t mean that is where she needs to be. Be happy. Love your girl. Let it go.”

Then an amazing thing happened.

the end

It was the boy’s mile. The mile takes forever. As my thoughts were repeating in circles, I haphazardly watched the male athletes going round and around. I watched while I wrestled with my only baby boy and started imagining his future. I wondered to myself if I could master being a better mother by the time he takes to the track. I hoped I would never put too much pressure on him, too. I questioned whether or not he will even be an athlete and silently wished I will be able to embrace whatever it is he decides to love, even if he only loves it with mediocrity.

The race was over….or so I thought. My mind moved on. Then, right in front of me, I saw some super energetic young man rally his whole school to their feet. He hooted, hollered, jumped, cajoled, begged, and demanded full participation. I silently hoped, “Oh, I don’t wish that for Max. Please let him be an athlete, instead of a cheerleader.” Stay with me. My mind was abruptly changed.

It so happened that there was one runner left. He was way behind the pack. He belonged to this crazy make-shift athlete turned cheerleader’s school. This runner was a runt. He was slow. He was in last place. Yet. Yet, as he slowly made his way to the finish line in front of the crowd, his school was cheering for him like he was an Olympic gold medalist. All because of the efforts of his crazy encouraging teammate (that he hadn’t even seen rally the crowd) his stride quickened. His chin lifted up in pride. There was a wide smile on his face. The finish of this race is one he will never forget. Neither will I.

I hid my face in shame for being such a proud person. And because I was bawling my eyes out. I whispered to Max, “You don’t have to be an athlete, but please be a make-shift cheerleader wherever you go.”

Then I ran over to tell Abigail that she did awesome in that 100m.

The following Sunday, while I was driving to church, this song came on the radio. It took me hours to find it but it was worth every search effort.

Enjoy.

It’s not about how fast we get there, it’s about who’s waiting for us in the end.

Life is always worthwhile when you cry or smile.

image

When I die the most important thing I would want to say to my family is “I love you and I’ll see you on the other side.” If I was allowed more than one sentence I would probably elaborate on my wishes for them to live good authentic lives.

I would tell them how I hope for their happiness, and I would tell them I would regret not being able to be there for them physically in their times of sadness. I would want them to know that if I can negotiate something with God, I will and I will always be right by their sides watching over them until we are reunited.

The song “Smile” from Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 movie Modern Times is one of my favorite songs. (Did you know the lyrics were added later based from themes and scenes from the original film?) This song brings back a lot of good memories for me. LG gave me some Happy by Clinique perfume for one of our first Christmases together. It came with a CD full of happy songs. We used to lay in bed together listening to the CD. When “Smile” came on it always seemed so appropriate. Those were really happy times, some of my favorite from my entire life.

However while re-listening to this song recently I discovered how the message of smiling when you are in pain is just kind of screwed up. I thought about Michael Jackson and Judy Garland (both have beautiful renditions of this song – go ahead – hit their links) and how their lives came to tragic ends way too soon. I thought about how they both may have lacked the emotional intelligence and/or support they needed. Maybe nobody ever told them it was o.k. to cry? I wish I could have helped them somehow and see them die in happiness, not out of their desperate attempts to escape.

Crying is an important part of life. Without times of sadness we wouldn’t know how much to treasure the times of happiness. We don’t have to run away from sadness. In fact I’ve found trying to run from it makes things much worse. Sometimes we just need to take time to process our emotions. We need permission to cry in our pain. Everyone should have someone in their lives that will just hold them while they cry.

I’m thinking about the pains I’ve experienced in life. They have been my very best tutors. Not all my days have been spent smiling while laying in my bed with my husband. In fact, I would say that I’ve probably had a close equal amount of time laying in my bed alone crying over life’s sadness. (If you read my blog regularly, you know this. I often use this as a place to process a lot of my emotions.)

So, in short, what I am trying to say is. It’s o.k. to cry. In fact it’s as necessary as smiling is for your emotional health. So do both. When you are in the middle of either happy or sad, most of all, know that your life is worthwhile.

I changed the words of the song to reflect the healthier message.
I am not voice-trained so feel free to skip the video, I made it for my family. I love you guys.

 

Just the way you are, you matter to him.

uchtdorf

Here is some great spiritual enlightenment for your day.

The older I get the more I appreciate my kids’ imaginations.

A while back while I ran in to pay for gas after my card didn’t work at the pump, Bella captured Caroline lip-syncing. It’s so cute how Caroline always keeps up with her older sisters on pop culture. Days later as I came across this surprise video on my phone it brought tears to my eyes, partially because the words to the song were so fitting and partially because of the tenderness of one sister being able to see the value in the moment of her little sister just being little and care-free. Watching in after the fact was super overwhelming to this emotional proud mom. I also got a little chuckle about the fact that my kids can’t just sit in their seat-belts for 30 seconds unsupervised but always have to misbehave and jump around in the car.

As a busy mother of 5, I really love the one-on-one time I get with Caroline right after kindergarten gets out at noon. While Max naps, she tells me all about her day. Yesterday in P.E. they got to play with a parachute. She thought that was totally awesome and I smiled thinking back to a time when I was young and innocent and experienced the large parachute at school for the first time. I thought it was awesome too.

A few weeks back, while talking to Caroline about everything and nothing at all, she declared:

“Mom, when I grow up, I am going to create a green planet with rings around it.”

I immediately got out the watercolors and had her paint me a prototype.
IMG_20141016_115042

I hope she will get the privilege of making her own planets someday, (which is totally possible according to Mormon doctrine) but for now I am so glad that her whole big universe with infinite imagination can fit on my fridge. What a beautiful beautiful privilege it is to be a mom.

[Oh, and on a cool sidenote: I love it when science catches up with God’s truths about the galaxy. I believe God definitely has his children helping him out with planet creations. I know if it’s up to me someday I am totally putting Caroline in charge of all the green planets.]

IMG_20141016_115048

After post; check this out;
We Lived with God: http://youtu.be/JR8qIrJcJh4

This scientist says my thoughts way better than me.

Maximus is the greatest

Introducing our SON
Maximus LeGrand Gold
Born at 1:17 pm. 7 lb. 9 oz. 20″

aliec and max

At the ripe age of forty, I gave birth to my crowning jewel last Monday. After four wonderful beautiful daughters, God saw it fit to bless us with a son. I don’t deserve him. I don’t deserve any of them, yet, they are here and they are mine. Bear with me as I indulge myself a post to reflect on motherhood and what it means to me.

I believe I could just type “All I’ve got is tears,” and that may be my best explanation, but let me try and put those tears into words, no matter how pathetic it may turn out.

We struggled with naming Max. LeGrand got to pick the name and was really set on Nathaniel, but our 15-year-old, Abigail, hated the name. I liked it, especially since it is the name of one of LG’s really cool great great grandfathers, but I didn’t want it to be shortened to Nathan or Nate. And you know that they (meaning everyone) always shorten everything (coming from the mom of an Abigail who is Abbie, an Isabella who is Bella, and a Sophia who is NOT Sophie out of her sure determination in correcting everyone.) Sophia loves Greek and Roman tradition and so we went back to the drawing board (the internet) and looked up Latin names. When I read aloud Maximus, the name instantly sang to the whole family. As everyone gave their approvals individually it became official as we went around the room and each one-at-a-time declared a collective fondness for Maximus. It just clicked with all of us. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The meaning of the name was just a perfectly fit bonus:

The Greatest

Not only did “The Greatest” go good with the already chosen middle name of LeGrand, which means the “The Big”, but it was a ringing of what was in all of our hearts…we were all finally getting another man in our family and that was pretty much the greatest thing that could ever happen. And we have not been disappointed. He is the greatest. Honestly.

I don’t know what it is, but there is something special about this baby. I don’t know if it’s because I am so much older or if it’s because he’s a boy, or maybe it’s just that I am reflecting an obvious adoration from our whole family, but this kid is the greatest. I have never been so proud. I feel like a peacock strutting around with my feathers. He is total perfection…..and God granted me the privilege of creating him, growing him, and birthing him. How does God find me worthy for that? I don’t know, but He does. It’s completely astounding.Totally overwhelmed is how I feel at the honor of the privilege and responsibility.

Last night as we were going to bed, LG and I talked about each of our kids individually (as we often do) and submerged into the swamp of life as we reflected on emotional, physical, and spiritual needs that always seem greater than what we feel we have to give. If you think about it, it really is a miracle that parents show up every day, knowing they are going to fail no matter how hard they try….and that they do that day after day, year after year. The hardest part about kids growing up is not that they become sassy teenagers (that’s actually pretty entertaining): it’s that they become your reflection.

I’ve been made to stare at myself four times over with my girls: at times all of my glory shines through them…all of God’s glory shines through them. Often, though, all I can see is my many vulnerable raw flaws in them….ones that I don’t want to have, much less bestow upon my most beloved children. Yet, I’ve given it all to them: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Looking through my own trash is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. Knowing that I’ve embedded even the tiniest sliver of it into them is suffocating: like a deadly respiratory virus with no doctor. I know that I’ve screwed them up. I can’t deny it. No matter how hard I have tried to keep my trash to myself, it somehow got to them and tarnished them. Oh, how that fact hurts.

But, guess what? When I allow Him, God sorts through their trash -my trash- for me and He throws it all out and allows me to see only the shining jewel that I started with. The shining jewel that was His, that he loaned me, because He loves me and believes in me and wants to give me His joy. All five (it sounds so awesome to say FIVE) of my children are shining jewels. Walking miracles. Beloved son and daughters of God. It is God that gives me the greatest miracle – the miracle of the atonement – the miracle that sometimes shines brightest for me today in my kids: imagine it: only shining jewels to be found where for years I have involuntarily deposited my trash.

It’s just that when I look at Maximus (and oh how I could stare at him all day), there isn’t any trash to sort through just yet. The only deposit I have made so far is not trash but my greatest gift to offer: childbirth. God in his infinite wisdom and mercy knew exactly what He was doing when He called upon me to be that “older” mom. He wasn’t giving me a burden, He gifted me a rare jewel. Max is the greatest because it is he who has helped me see the jewel in all of them. Maximus is the perfect name because he came with the greatest message, “They are mine Alice. They are all mine. They are the rarest jewels, and yeah, you will dirty them up, but you are still good enough to be their mother. I will clean up your mistakes: all of them. You are my jewel and I have not a single flaw.” God is so good at reminders.

God loves broken things.

Photo Dec 30, 2 58 51 PM

So, I haven’t been blogging like I should.
Did I mention that I am 40 and pregnant?
And a broken vessel just trying to cope with life?

Trust me, coping is hard to do when you are pregnant with what could be your own grandchild. I like to tease that I have always been a do-it-yourself kind of gal so I took the matter of having grandchildren into my own hands.

Oh, the really great news that you have all read on facebook by now is that after having four wonderful beautiful daughters, we are finally having a boy!!  I still can’t believe it. As you remember from this post I referred to the then un-sonogram-ed kid as a he. From the experience I had in the temple I knew that he would be a boy, but I didn’t want to admit it publicly until I knew for sure. (I have another special story about this boy to tell you some day.It started with a dream about 9 years ago.)

God has a great way of taking broken people and making them whole. In my case, one really astonishing way He has made me feel whole is by sending me a son. I’ve always felt like something was wrong with me so that he wouldn’t trust me with a boy. Until I recently read something about the same gender parent having the greatest influence on their kids, and then I realized that it was actually LG who finally must have passed some kind of test. I’m glad LG fixed the broken part of himself that was keeping God from giving us a boy. (This is sarcasm for those of you who don’t know me and think I am the world’s worst wife. I’m really just glad that God finally decided that if we could screw up all these girls, why not throw a boy into the mix?)  I am really excited for this adventure. I can hardly wait to see my beloved husband hold the son that I have always wanted to give him in his arms. Watching him with his infant girls has always been special, but I am excited for a new kind of special.

This morning I got a really sweet message from a friend who told me he read my broken post weeks ago and was touched. On his way to work this morning he heard this song on the radio and wanted to share it with me. One of my favorite things of all time is having a friend reach out at random times and with special messages telling me that they thought of me. This share was especially beautiful. I cried. I loved it. I had to share it with you all along with the most intense feeling that I had with the lyrics, “Could it be that God loves broken things?” I know he does and I know if He were to search the whole earth over, I am one of those most special broken ones, just as you are.

I am thinking of certain people this morning:

  • The friend who is in her forties and has so many kids that I lost count (is it 8 or 9?) and is exhausted and terrified that there still may be one more.
  • The divorced dad who still can’t find a job after months of searching, but doesn’t quit.
  • The thrice divorced mom who is just trying to love her kids and herself.
  • The mom of a very special boy in and out of hospitals.
  • The mom who deals with chronic illness and a slew of medical bills and no acceptable answers.
  • The friend who is trying to learn to walk again after a very scary life-altering surgery.
  • The widower raising his son without his beloved by his side.
  • You who has two completely unacceptable grades because you once again procrastinated turning your homework in, even though you know better. But change is so hard!!
  • The dads out there who bust their tails and still never feel like they can provide enough.
  • The addict who just can’t lay off the sauce.
  • The lonely person who has everything that they could possibly want financially but nothing that they need.

So many more of you are suffering in ways I don’t have time to relay in this post.

I just want to tell you that I know you’re broken and with all my broken I still love you.

But more importantly, God knows your brokenness, and in all his perfection He loves you. And better than loving you, He will fix you! I should say He will fix us! Because I need the most fixing. God not only can make us whole, He will, in His own time, in His own way. From experience I know that His way will only make us suffer as long as is absolutely necessary for our own growth.

Mom, I’m here. Don’t forget me.

I sounded so crabby at the therapist’s office the other day while explaining my mixed emotions about being 40 and pregnant, “I’ve never been the kind of woman who was like, ‘Oh, please let me bear children. It’s my life dream to have a whole houseful of darlings. My only ambition is to be a mother.’ ” In fact, even though I’ve always assumed I would have a large family and was even quoted in my high-school yearbook that I planned to have a dozen kids, I have also been quite conflicted about it ever since I can remember. I love kids. I came from a large family that I also love. But, I have always also been full of dreams and ambitions that had nothing to do with family. In fact, I knew kids would just get in the way of a lot of what I wanted to do: graduate from college, serve in the Peace Corps, write a book or two, travel, and have a successful career in one thing or another.

I further explained to the therapist, “I’m a willing vessel, I’m just a broken one.” LeGrand and I both chuckled. Ain’t that the truth! He knows it even more intimately than I do. I am a very spiritual person and I try to live my life in communication with God. This is a good thing and a bad one. Because I listen to the voice of God, my life is always full of conflict. What He wants for me always seems to be in direct opposition of what I want for myself.

I remember when my hubby and I had been married for just a month. We went to the temple together and separated to do some work. I was 24, he was 22. We were both in college and working full-time. After we were done with our service in the temple, we walked out to the car hand in hand, both very quiet. Something was up. You could cut the dark sky in front of us with a pocketknife. My newer-than-new husband turned to me and said, “Alice, I felt it too, we are supposed to start our family now, and have joy in our posterity.” Nooooooooooo. I couldn’t keep the spiritual impressions I had felt in my own heart a secret like I had planned. This was crazy, but it was also undoubtedly what God wanted for us. I knew that this family business would rob me of all if not most of my own dreams. It took me six months to even become willing to go off birth control and then I was still resentful. And pregnant.

So, bring us up to the present day. We have four kids. I’ve had four miscarriages. I am forty and pregnant. Four seems to be an important number for me right now. This is my fourth and final blog. I know many people are reasonably questioning the child growing inside of me. Heck, they can’t question any more than I am. I am questioning. My husband is questioning. The only ones who are not questioning are our four children. They couldn’t be any more excited. Kids are really good at instinctively knowing what is most important…plus they don’t have to worry about paying the bills or losing three years of sleep.

I’d like to take this chance to explain and write down this little tale so that I will always remember it. There is one reason and one reason alone I am pregnant. The reason is that this child spoke to me from its pre-mortal realm. In August of 2012, my hubby and I found ourselves again at the temple. I had just suffered a pretty brutal miscarriage at 18 weeks. As we sat in the chapel, I turned to my husband and said, “LeGrand, I am not praying about this today, but I just want to be done having kids. I’m 38. I’m so tired, and I don’t think I can handle it emotionally anymore.” LG answered with his full support, “It’s up to you Alice. I don’t blame you. I don’t want you to have to go through that again either.” I wasn’t going to pray about it because I didn’t want any other answer from God besides my own.

mom im here

But something miraculous happened. Something I couldn’t deny. God sent a messenger to the temple that day. In the spirit form of a child. My child. The one I hadn’t yet given birth to.

It’s hard to explain the special place that are Mormon temples. They are very sacred. God is always there. They are a place where the veil between two worlds is very thin. In the temple I’ve felt the presence of many of my deceased loved ones who have gone on before me.  They have been there with me often, telling me that they are watching over me.

I never expected to be visited by someone who had yet to come to earth, but somebody had an important message that day. One that I really didn’t want to hear. In fact it was the last thing I wanted to hear.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked behind me to see no one there but to feel someone as assuredly as if they were standing there. There was no doubt someone was there. I then heard an audible voice, “Mom, I’m here. Please, don’t forget me.”

I instantly started bawling. How selfish I am! How easily distracted I become. I so willingly forget that this earth-life isn’t about gaining the adventures that I want to have, but is all about being willing to take on the ones that I already promised God (and others) that I would achieve. My most important calling in this life is to be a vessel, even if I’m the most broken one that there ever was. I answered with a pledge in my heart, “I won’t. I promise. I could never forget you.” It took me sixteen more months to get pregnant again. Every day I was haunted by the pleading of my child. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant or stay pregnant. I convinced myself that it was just the miscarried kid talking to me. I would maybe get to meet him at a later day in heaven. I told God that if he wanted it to happen, forty was as high as I was willing to go. Miraculously, I got pregnant on the first cycle after my 40th birthday, almost as if God wanted me to know that he got the message. But also in typical God-fashion..in the 11th hour…after we’ve been tested to the limit.

I’ve vacillated between anxiousness, depression, and elation. I’m only four months in and I’ve already had to give up my running,  my plans to go back to school and work, and a portion of my sanity. A big chunk of money that was put aside for our new home will now be used for doctor bills and baby items. I worry every day that this child will have special needs, but one thing dismisses my many worries. There is one thing that I will always know: this child is special. More than anything, this child wanted a chance to be mortal. He knew that for that to happen I had to be his mama. He traveled from wherever he was all the way to the temple to remind me of my promise long ago to not forget. I smile at his bravery and his audacity because he chose the day that I least wanted to hear it to remind me.

And then I cringe at what is in store for him. He’s going to be stubborn. He’s going to be brave. He’s going to have his own ideas. He will also have a mother to remind him that more than anything he wanted to come to earth because that is what God wanted him to do. I will remind him as much as I will myself: We might as well keep on listening to God…no matter how much harder it seems to make our lives and how much it robs us of our own dreams and ambitions. Ultimately we both will have to answer for how we used our time on earth and every single one of our choices. God will never be concerned with how much we traveled or achieved, His main concern is for the immortality and eternal life of all of His children. For that to happen, He first has to get them to earth….even if the vessel is forty and all washed up. All we can hope for is our own willingness to say, “I am a vessel, God. I am broken but I am here and I am listening.”

* I say “he” because I have this secret wish that the lucky number five will be the son for which I’ve prayed for my husband, but we are 99.9% sure that “he” is really Vivienne. There is always that .01% though, I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.

Together we are better.

I just got done watching this great news coverage
on the silver medal win for Noelle Pikus-Pace.

I loved Noelle’s quote:

“Together we are better.  Together we are stronger.
Together miracles can happen and dreams come true.”

Photo Gallery  Kragthorpe Family bonds make Pikus-Pace’s medal meaningful  The Salt Lake Tribune - Google Chrome 2172014 120401 PM

Together we are better as families.
Together we are better as a country.
Together we are better in our marriages.
Together we are better as parents.
Together we are better as citizens of earth.
Together we are better as Christians.
Together: It really is the best place to be.

Home on the Range

My third grade teacher died at 91-years-old a few months back. His name was Mr. Panman, a WWII Nazi camp survivor from Holland, and one of the best teachers I ever had. I’ll never forget the emotions I felt the day he told us about running from the Nazis and tearing to shreds his back by crawling under a barbed wired fence. I cried in class while I heard his living history. I loved him so much. He always played the piano in class and he often sang us the song Home on the Range.  The class quickly learned the lyrics and always sang along while thoroughly enjoying the musical break to our daily studies. Oh the good old days. I swear if I am ever a teacher, I would employ this simple form of educational entertainment.

Oh give me  home, where the buffalo roam,
where the deer and the antelope play.
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day.
Home, home on the range.

I’m sure Mr. Panman is roaming free on a very vast range that includes a piano. Love you Mr. Panman. I can’t go to a place with buffalo and not think of Mr. Panman.

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On Saturday, while at Antelope Island, I had to break the law and get out of the car to take the photo above (of the buffalo – and the family, actually) The law-abiding family was in the rental van freaking out. I just laughed while I shot away. I was pretty sure I could outrun the buffalo just 20 feet away. The kids were begging LG to make me get back in the car saying I was going to get arrested. He assured them, “I’m staying in here with you, so one adult doesn’t get arrested.” Bella put two and two together really quick. (We were in the rental van that only I am allowed/insured to drive.) “But Dad, if mom gets arrested, who is going to drive us home?”

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On the way home we met up with Amy and Tyler and went to our favorite family restaurant. It was such an enjoyable dining experience with the cozy atmosphere, big fire, good food, and kids all getting along.

We love you Cracker Barrel. Our waiter, Kyler, was the best waiter I’ve ever had in my entire life.
I just got off the phone with the store manager to let him know to keep that kid around. I wish I would have got his photo. I guess we’ll just have to go back.

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Have a great Monday wherever you roam the range.

Feel free to sing along with your munchkins. Mr. Panman would very much approve.