Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The First Mormon U.S. President...Almost.

Forgive me if my faith and trust in politicians and the law hasn't always been very strong. 

I was born in 1978.  Just two years before I was born, there was a law in force in the state of Missouri that made it legal to kill any Mormon on the spot. Just because.  It was an extermination order put in place by the State’s Governor in 1838. In 1976, the law was rescinded.  In 1976, the law was rescinded.

Governor Boggs had a personal disdain for Mormons. (This was nothing new...they had already been kicked out of Palmyra, New York and Kirtland, Ohio.)  But the Governor felt threatened by their growing communities and industry.  My people were killed simply because of what they believe. And it was legal.  The law allowed it.

So they left Missouri and found a home in Nauvoo, Illinois.  It didn’t take long for persecution to find them there either.  Again, the State’s Governor was not fond of them; particularly, Joseph Smith, the Mormon President.  Ultimately, Smith was arrested for treason (because he formed his own militia in order to defend the city of Nauvoo against others trying to harm his people--the law did not protect them.)  Joseph Smith was killed by a mob while in Carthage Jail in 1844.  An innocent prisoner, a loving father and devoted husband, an extraordinary man who lived his life according to good principles, and he was unprotected by the law of the land and was killed, because of his beliefs.  My great-great-grandfather was with him, John Taylor.  He received gun shot wounds yet survived and following Brigham Young, he later became the 3rd President of our Church after the Mormons landed in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Governor Ford confessed that it was good for Mormons to have been driven out of the state and that their beliefs and actions were too different to have survived in Illinois.  He said “that some people expect more protection from the laws than the laws are able to furnish in the face of popular excitement.”  Five men were tried for the murder of Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum.  They were all found not guilty.  The man who led the defense team later became a U.S. Senator.

On so many levels, there is a silent outcry of injustice in our Mormon history as a people.  Yet, it remains silent.  Lives have been lost in this great country because of religion.  And it is often overlooked, forgotten. 

So try to imagine, if you will, the idea of the possibility of a Mormon being elected President of this great country, to Mormons.  Not to the general public. But to one who belongs to this history which I have shared.  Imagine, the feelings we felt.  And it was so close. So close.

So for me, I have not lost all hope in America.  But I feel a great sense of loss for a victory that would have meant more to me than to one who does not share my beliefs, my history.

You see, I have read friends’ blogs.  I have seen their comments.  I have witnessed how there is still animosity, misinformation and tolerable persecution toward my people because of what they believe.  Yet, when it comes to sexuality, women’s choices, or legalizing harmful drugs, how dare I judge others because of what they believe. And I am a bigot.

As Mormons, we hold our heads high. We honor those whose lives were lost because of their faith.  We strive for that same kind of faith.  Stalwart faith.  Nothing wavering.  We will have faith in our religion and in our country and we will stand taller because of it. I couldn't be more proud of my Faith and my Heritage.  We have not sought revenge or retribution. My ancestors fought for a freedom of religion even when it was not honored, and then they turned around and served the very country in which their freedoms were taken. 

Because I am a Mormon, I will obey, honor and sustain the law.  I will support my country’s President.  I will fight for freedom.  I will teach my children civility.  And I will continue to teach them their history; that in spite of the injustices of this world, we move forward in faith with an eye single to the glory of our God.

Because that is what we, as a people, do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Yellow Apron

As a young girl I had a bright yellow apron with tiny strawberry buttons.  Like most little girls, when my mom was baking and wearing her apron, I wanted to put on that yellow apron and bake, too.

The thing I remember most about this yellow apron is how it came to be mine.

I can't remember her face.  And I can't remember a name. (And my mom's memory is poor, she probably can't even remember this happening.)  But it was impressed upon my memory so much that it has influenced choices I make with my own children.  But there was a lady who lived nearby our family.  My mom used to visit this woman and she brought me along.  On one of her visits, the lady told me she wanted to help make me an apron.  I got to pick out the strawberry buttons.  I must have been four years old.

At the time, I was too young to understand this woman and her circumstances.  As an adult, I still don't know, but I have a very good feeling that this was a woman who was in need.  She probably wasn't my mom's first choice of a friend; I remember my parents having a lot of other friends.  I have little doubt that my mom was trying to make a difference in this person's life.  I don't ever remember her coming to my house.  I only remember visiting hers.

There are countless memories of tagging along while my mom went from house to house offering a helping hand, bringing meals, attending Tupperware parties to show support, and sharing her faith and talents with those who needed it.  She didn't do this because she had extra time on her hands.  She did this because she is a disciple of Jesus Christ and has made a promise to Him that she would bear another's burdens, mourn with those who mourn, and serve. 

These types of memories don't fade.  There is a lot I can't remember about my childhood, but these times seem to be stuck there.  Maybe because I needed to know how impressionable service opportunities would be for my own kids.  Because now as a parent, when an opportunity is there, I want my kids to be with me.  I want them to see that happiness in this life doesn't come from "things" but from service.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are countless opportunities to serve.  We are admonished to look for these opportunities and pray for them daily.  Often times, when I pray for an opportunity to serve, I'm guided to one of my own children or even my husband and a need they have that day.  Sometimes I have a feeling to call someone.  And sometimes, it is to give a compliment or a smile. I have been given assignments at church that have taken as much of my time as a full-time job!  There has never been a penny received in compensation!  My husband worked a 14 hour day yesterday.  Very normal for him.  But after that long day, I got a phone call from him letting me know he was going to be late because he needed to go help someone move some furniture.  There was no complaint, though I could hear in his voice it had been a long day.  He came home with a smile on his face and was grateful he got off work just in time to help.  My husband is also a disciple of Jesus Christ and has made a promise to bear another's burdens, mourn with those who mourn and serve.

Are members of my Church more kind than others?  No.  But members of my church have been taught, trained and admonished to serve their fellow men. From an early age, we participate in service projects, watch our parents care for the needs of others, we learn from scriptures how Christ served and we do our best to emulate Him.  There is also the challenge from the Savior himself who admonished us to serve those who persecute us. 

Just as little girls want to wear aprons and look just like their moms while baking, little children are learning from their parents example in how they live their lives.  My mom didn't teach me to serve with words.  That would have been very ineffective.  She has taught me to serve by the way she lives her life.  I hope to do the same for my kids.  They live in a selfish, self-centered world.  No wonder there is so much unhappiness.  If I can teach them this one thing, their lives will have more meaning and they will find happiness.

Because I am a Mormon, I have dedicated my life to a life of service.  For I believe that when I serve others, I am really serving my God.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why Missionaries Knock on Doors.

Probably because of where I was raised, I felt my “church life” and my “school life” were very separate.  I wasn’t ashamed of my religion, but I wasn’t very open about it either. I was perfectly content keeping it to myself!  When questions were asked, I answered them; but that was it.  My parents took us to church, taught us right from wrong and had high moral expectations of us, but there wasn’t a lot of doctrinal religion being taught in my home.  I believed in our faith, but lacked a lot of understanding.

At age 18, I moved to Provo, Utah where I was one among thousands of LDS college kids.  Religion was everywhere.  I met people who talked about religion anytime, anywhere.  This was so foreign to me.  As a student at Brigham Young University, I was required to enroll in religion classes.  I had read The Book of Mormon and Bible in high school and had a general understanding of the doctrine of my religion, but it wasn’t until attending these classes that I gained a deeper understanding and knowledge about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  My professors were so knowledgeable about ancient times, historical and religious practices, and things of a spiritual nature. The stories came to life for me and I had no doubt I was reading about real people from thousands of years ago.  As my understanding increased, my belief in Mormonism grew.  I developed a closer relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ.  For the first time in my life, I read scriptures every day.  I prayed to my Heavenly Father morning and night.  I began to ask real questions and sought answers.  And I found them.  Things had always resonated with me since I was a child, but this was different.  I was putting pieces together.  A natural and immediate response to my deeper understanding was my desire to share what I understood with those who I loved.  I began to engage in conversations about religion and took every opportunity to clear up misunderstandings when they were presented.  Looking back, I recognize I was probably a bit overbearing!  But I was a changed person.  I could no longer separate my secular life with my spiritual life.

At age nineteen, Mormon young men are asked to serve a 2 year mission to anywhere in the world (not their choice), at their own expense. All three of my brothers Italy, Guatemala and Spain.  For ladies, it is an 18 month mission at age  21.  I had every desire to go, but ultimately, I chose to get married before I had the opportunity.  There are many misconceptions about why Mormons serve missions.  A friend once told me she had heard that the more people LDS members “convert” to Mormonism, the greater reward they receive in heaven!  Another shared with me with certainty (I love when others are so certain what I believe!) that I would own more “kingdoms in heaven” if I led more people to baptism.  I don’t know where people learn these things...but it simply isn't true and has nothing to do with why I share my beliefs.

My religion has made every good difference in my life.  It has given me direction.  Jesus Christ is very real to me and I feel close to Him.  I believe He is the Savior of the World.  And I want others to know Him as I do and more importantly, feel His love.  I see people who once believed as I do and have turned away, and the light in their faces is dimmed.   I’ve known others who search for happiness in worldly ways and end up feeling empty and alone.  But I have also witnessed people’s lives being changed for good as they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. What was once dark and empty is now full of joy and peace.  There are many good religious and non-religious, happy and sad people in this world.  But like everyone, it is natural to want to share good things with others because we know it is a good thing!  There are no selfish motives involved.  It is a genuine effort to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I recognize there are others, a whole lot of others, who aren’t interested, and that’s okay!  I love them still!

So please don’t take offense when someone (like me) tries to share a message of hope with someone like you.  Please be kind when you see two young men in suits knocking on doors or riding bicycles to their next appointment.  Their motives are pure and they have sacrificed a crazy-out-of-the-ordinary amount for a college-aged person.  If you aren’t interested, there will be no hard feelings!  They are not salesmen!  They’ve been taught to find those interested, to respect others' choices; not to engage in debate or be pushy. They are simply trying to give you a gift, if you want it.  And for what its worth, these missionaries come home CHANGED.  I am a witness of this--I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes!  As a parent, I couldn’t wish anything greater for my children.  There isn’t a better way for people at this age to learn to think beyond themselves, to be diligent, hardworking, frugal, independent, devoted, better at problem-solving, humble, loving and enduring through hard times.  My husband has all of these qualities and no doubt, they were increased by his mission to Morristown, New Jersey, where he had doors slammed in his face left and right, a gun pulled on him and he was spit on!  But if you ask him today what was the hardest thing?...those things don’t come to his mind.  He told me the hardest part of his mission was always when someone was so close to making a big change in their life--a change that would make every good difference for their family and their own happiness--and ultimately, they didn’t have the faith to make the necessary changes and they gave up.

Because he was committed to something greater than himself, sincere heartache was more difficult than his pride or the fear of losing his own life.  How can something so sincere come from a selfish motive?

As Mormons, we take Matthew 28:19-20 from the Bible literally:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost . . .and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

Because I am a Mormon, I want to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others simply because I want to spread the happiness and peace it has given to me.

Brandon on his mission to New Jersey--1991.  I've never met these women, but I know he loves them!

Brad and me at SLC Airport--he's leaving for Rome, Italy--1995

Family get together in Snohomish, WA in 2000 sending Jeremy off to Guatemala.
Bailey and Uncle Jeremy 2002

Bailey and Uncle Tyler in Provo, UT before going into the Missionary Training Center--2003

Spain is a far, far away place for a two year old!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Women in the LDS Church

I was in sixth grade at Seattle Hill Elementary and was looking forward to our upcoming “Cowboy Day” where we wore boots, handkerchiefs, button-down shirts and braids.  Any day that was out of the normal routine was fully anticipated with excitement.  But as silly as it seems now, I remember as an 11 year old being bothered that it wasn’t called CowGIRL day.  Looking back, I think it is ridiculous that this bothered me so much, but it did.  Enough that I wrote about it in a journal I kept.  A few of us got together and approached the principal about changing the name to “Western Day”, which she did.  Somehow, I felt that made things right.

I have always considered myself a feminist.  Maybe it is because I have three brothers and we are all very competitive.  Maybe it is because I was involved in athletics and witnessed firsthand how girls were treated on the ball field or basketball court. In college, I seriously had a guy run right in front of me when the ball was hit directly to me and he yelled at me to move so he could field the ball.  Then I watched him lob a pathetic throw.  If there was one thing I was good at, it was throwing a softball.  Hard. Maybe it is because every time we’ve sat down with an attorney, accountant, broker or businessman of any sort, they speak directly to Brandon as if I’m there for the ride.  (If only they knew how little Brandon knows about where our money can even be found, let alone the amounts.) Or maybe it is because my personality is such that it simply begs for equality.

But there is a false perception of feminism.  I do not wish to join a movement for women to take over the world and bring down men!  I do not want to be a man or have the same responsibilities men have.  I also worry that the liberation of women’s freedoms has created an entirely different mess.  We are our worst enemy.  The outward expectation of perfectionism in women is frightening to me. In many respects, our freedoms have created great bondage in many women.

I belong to a church that is predominantly governed by men.  I know this bothers some women.  It is funny to me that a cowboy dress day would get to me, but the fact that only men are able to hold the Priesthood in my church does not. Not one bit.  The responsibilities placed on men are different than women.  This doesn’t lessen my self-worth or standing before God.  I am confident that He loves me just as much as He loves His sons. I have felt my own responsibilities equal to that of my husband's in assisting the Lord in His work.  I am so grateful for wise, kind, faithful men who lead and guide my family and me through their best efforts.  Unfortunately, there are always exceptions.  But in the vast majority of its members and in my own experience, I believe LDS men have held women high on a pedestal.  If they don't, they are not following the Savior and His example.

I am so grateful to be a woman; one who acknowledges that I am a daughter of a King. Women have a powerful influence for good in the LDS church and in the world.  Many meetings, welfare efforts and huge undertakings in the LDS church simply would not be productive without women. 

One of my all-time favorite LDS leaders, Gordon B. Hinckley, said this:

‘How thankful I am, how thankful we all must be, for the women in our lives. God bless them. May His great love distill upon them and crown them with luster and beauty, grace and faith.  May His Spirit distill upon us as men and lead us ever to hold them in respect, in gratitude, giving encouragement, strength, nurture, and love, which is the very essence of the gospel of our Redeemer and Lord.”

Because I am a Mormon I know that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). 

Even when it comes to gender.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Far above the price of rubies...

The older I get, the more clearly I see the dichotomy between the world's message on being happy and my own happiness.

Do what feels best for you...look out for you first...go and fulfill all your dreams at whatever cost... don't let anything or anyone get in your way of reaching your full're young, have fun; responsibility can come later in order to be important, you must make your mark in this world in a BIG way...loyalty means little if you aren't comes in a size 2 and DD...self-worth comes from having a successful career...peace is obtained on vacation in paradise or at the spa...a woman can and should do all that a man does...

I have a mom who never listened to the world's message on how to be happy. 

Thank goodness.

She never puts herself first.  She has always supported her husband in his endeavors and made it possible for him to provide for our family, even at great sacrifice.  She can't manage to let her mind rest for one minute when it comes to making sure everyone around her is content and comfortable.  Although she makes it a priority to take care of herself, her wardrobe and personal care is never outrageous.  She is modest. Her life is full of small and simple acts of kindness that have a great impact. Her vacations consisted of small ratty towns while sitting on bleachers, cheering at my softball tournaments or my brothers' baseball tournaments and our annual trip to visit her mom here in Utah.  Her career is being a mother. And now a grandmother.

I am so grateful I was raised by such a woman.  I think how different I would be if she had followed those other messages and the influence it would have had on me. 

And now I have two beautiful daughters who watch my every move.  The way I act, dress, talk, and live directly affects my children.  I am so aware that the way I live my life will impact them.  They will see through any hypocrisy, dishonesty or double standard I set.  I must teach by doing.

Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done.  No matter how I am doing, I always feel like I need to do better.  I always feel a weight of responsibility on my shoulders for these three precious children who were given to us.  I feel a constant sense of urgency to improve myself so that I can more effectively teach them.  I am deliberately doing things in so many areas of my life with them in mind--all in hope that someday it will matter.

Proverbs 31:10-30 has helped me know what will make me happy as a woman and a mom:

"Who can find a virtous woman? for her price is far above rubies...the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her...she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life...she girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms...she stretched out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy...Strength and honour are her clothing...she openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness...Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her...Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."

If every woman lived this way, imagine the world we would live in. 

I can call my mother "blessed".  Her life is a witness to me that happiness comes in virtue and in having our strength be in the Lord.

A couple years back I wrote in a personal journal my thoughts on being a mom.  I finished with this sentence:

"My part in this world is ever so small, but to my children, it is everything."

Because I am a Mormon, I know my worth as a woman and mother is great.  Women partner with God as we do His work in raising children and making this world better.  This is where women will find strength and power.  Sooner or later, we will bridge this dichotomy and happiness will be abundant in the lives of women throughout the world.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bursting the Bubble

I grew up in one of my favorite places on this earth.  I love my hometown of Snohomish, Washington.  We lived in the same area my whole childhood and my friends didn't change much from the time I was pretty young.  They are amazing people.  However, for the most part, there were not many Mormons.  The LDS population was small, particularly in my age group and most of my friends belonged to another faith, or no religion at all. I recognized from an early age that we were different and I felt it.

Boy, do my kids have a different life.

I realized it a few years back when my daughter started assuming everyone on the planet was a Mormon.  When I'd tell her specific people were not (mostly famous people!), she looked at me as if there was something wrong with them, like she didn't believe me.  I began to see that my kids thought every single person they knew was a Mormon.  To be fair, here in Utah, most of the people they know are of our same faith! Last summer we were visiting a good friend of mine and her family out of state.  On the drive home, I heard my kids talking about whether or not these friends were LDS.  When I chimed in to say that they were not Mormons, my daughter said, "but they seem like it...they are really nice people."

In an instant (and a panic) I was ready to make that 12 hour drive back home to Utah, pack up the house and move anywhere BUT there...far, far away from so many other LDS people!

Somehow, without me even aware, my daughter had made the assumption that in order to be a good, nice, decent person, you had to go to church; but not just any church, OUR church, and somewhere along the line her perspective became so contrary to reality that I didn't even know where to begin with it! How did this happen? Admittedly, it wasn't the first time I had heard this perspective, and it has always bugged me, but from my own daughter???

Good thing we got it out in the open!  This was a reason I have feared raising a family in Utah.  I didn't want my kids to miss out on something I experienced growing up: diversity.  There just isn't much of it here.  You have to look harder, that's for sure.  As much as I would love to live elsewhere, this is home and this is where work is... there are many great and wonderful things about living here, too, but I have been worried about this issue.  I knew after this conversation and a few others that we needed to make a greater effort to teach our kids that we are all God's children, no matter our religion, culture, race or beliefs. Brandon and I have shared countless stories of our friends and being in their homes and the goodness of those families.  We've talked about differences and that they are okay; that we need to be tolerant of others beliefs and hope that they are accepting of our own. We never need to be ashamed of what we believe, and we need to stand for what we believe is right, but its okay if others don't agree. I've talked about some of my friends who have never been to any church and how they are great people!  I've made an effort for the kids to get to know the one person we know in our neighborhood who is not a member of our church so they can see that she is a wonderful person. We've talked about never making others feel unloved because they are different.  There are a handful of people in the area who are not LDS, and I'm sure it is not easy for them to be such a minority. Hopefully this open communication is working and the paradigm is shifting in their little minds!

In the 1800's, a newspaper editor contacted Joseph Smith and asked him what the members of the LDS church believed.  Joseph's response came in the form of a letter with thirteen articles of faith.

Here is number twelve:

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

Some of the most charitable people I knew growing up were not of my faith.  I feel privileged to have been raised among hardworking, family-oriented people who lived Christlike lives and had a powerful influence for good on me. I am grateful for such good people.  I don't think any less of them for not believing as I do.

Because I am a Mormon, I believe we are all God's children.  God doesn't have favorites and His Light and goodness abide in each one of us.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Almost as good as Christmas...

Like most children, I remember as a young girl coloring Easter eggs, finding hidden eggs, then finding my Easter basket, getting a nice Easter dress to wear to church and of course, the Easter bunny.  (Though I never pictured an actual bunny, it was more like a six foot character you see dressed up at the mall....)   It was like a second Christmas--but not quite as good.

As a teenager, I once heard a young man speak and it had an impact on me.  He was a quadriplegic as the result of a boating accident.  He spoke of the Resurrection--the reuniting of his body and spirit, no longer subject to death or accident-- and what it meant to him.  It had a profound effect on me as I was able to see how this man, whose body was crippled and without proper function, had hope for a day when his body would once again be made whole.  After hearing him speak, whenever the Resurrection was mentioned around Easter time, I associated my thoughts with this man and others who were in need of a new body.  But I was still far from understanding.

Jesus is the Christ.  That doesn't mean much to a lot of people.  But it means everything!  It is hard for me to understand why the Jews were so blind that they couldn't see who He truly was; it is hard for me to believe that one of His closest friends betrayed Him for just 30 pieces of silver; it is too much for me to imagine the pain He suffered for all of mankind.  For me. 

But aren't we all guilty of betraying Him in some way or another?  Aren't we all blind to some degree?  Haven't we all added to His suffering and pain?

When Christ was risen from the tomb on that Easter morning over two thousand years ago, it meant so much more than my human mind can comprehend.  The pain and sorrow of death was wiped away.  It made all things possible through Him.  Not only for those whose bodies have failed them, or for the grieving parents who've lost their child to death, but for those who betray Him every day--for each of us.  Christ died because it was necessary for us.  But Hope did not die when Jesus Christ was crucified.  Because of the Resurrection, hope must reach all of us.  There is nothing that hope cannot touch.

I am still far from understanding the Atonement of Jesus Christ, His life and the meaning of all things. I know He is my Redeemer, that He lives today.  He loves me and is my advocate with the Father. I have felt that.  His mercy extends to all of us, no matter how much we have betrayed Him.  No matter our blindness. 

Everyone will be resurrected--those who followed the Savior, and those who did not.  He died that we might all live again. Families can be together forever.

Easter isn't second to Christmas.  Jesus Christ's birth would mean nothing without His Resurrection!

Because I am a Mormon, I believe in a Resurrected Christ.  He lives!

There is hope for all of us.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Model for Parenting

When I had my first child in my early twenties, I had no idea how my life would change.  In an instant, I said farewell to my old way of viewing the world and was left with a whole new perspective on life.  My life mattered in a way it had never mattered before and I wanted to make the most of this opportunity to be a parent.

I studied marriage and family relationships in college; particularly relationships between parent and child.  I worked with children whose parents had harmed them in every way imaginable.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I gained a greater appreciation for my upbringing, and a great sense of sympathy for those who suffer from broken family relationships.  In one of my classes, we had to write a book entitled "How to be a Good Parent"--based on our research that semester.  WOW...did I think I had all the answers! That professor was cruel!

When I need a good laugh, I read that book!

I had no idea how to be a good parent then and after almost 11 years, I still don't!  But what I do know is that I have learned more about myself and about life because I am a parent.  I am so grateful to be a mom.

My kids are children of God.  Yes, I gave birth to them, feed them, teach them, clothe them, make them do chores and practice their instruments and all the other crumby things parents have to do.  But at the end of the day, these children aren't all mine. When I see them as God's children, I see their greatness.  Their worth as individuals is greater than I can ever know or understand.  Their individuality and personality is present as a newborn. God knows them--inside and out.  When I don't understand them or don't have the ability to know how to handle a situation with one of them, God does.  And through prayer, I ask for help.  I know He gives me the ability to nurture them in the way He would, when I humble myself to understand.  When I acknowledge that I NEED help. 

Just today my daughter was crying over everything.  She clearly didn't feel well, but she was also overwhelmed by life.  She didn't want to do anything; her homework, practice her piano or violin, read, make her bed, pick up her backpack off the floor, get her pajamas on, brush her teeth, go to bed...anything I asked her to do resulted in tears.  I remained calm and did not react to any of the "noise" that she made after any request...."I hate school"..."I hate brushing my teeth"..."I hate waking up early in the morning". She finally broke down and sobbed.  She cried, "I just had a hard day and don't want to do anything!" 

As I was hugging her, letting her cry into my stomach, I had a thought come to me with great clarity.  Maybe it is common knowledge to most people, but I believe it came in the moment I needed it after praying to know how to help her.  It was this: when we want to quit life and everything seems hard, does God let us?  Does He take away everything challenging in our lives?  Does He give us a few days off when it gets too much?  Does He do hard things for us?  No, no, no and no.  But, He will be there for us, helping every step of the way if we let Him.  I knew I needed to follow that perfect pattern and do the same.  I left the unpacking, laundry and cleaning I was doing and spent the rest of the evening doing everything with her.

By bedtime, she was herself.

As I said goodnight, I shared with her the thoughts that came to me earlier.  She understood and fell asleep a happy, peaceful, very tired girl. 

My children know they are God's children.  They will find strength in knowing that as they live their lives.  When they struggle, and they will struggle, they will know what source to turn to when they need help--big or small.  When I struggle as a parent, I know what source to look to for help.  I know who my Father is and I believe that He helps me and gives me strength, patience, understanding and abilities beyond my own. When in doubt, I will look to Him and follow His way of parenting.  He doesn't coerce, He isn't critical, He isn't manipulative or controlling, He doesn't belittle, He isn't uninvolved, He isn't permissive, and He never removes His outstretched hand toward His children.

Because I am a Mormon, I believe there is a perfect example of a good parent. 

He is Father to us all.