Step 1: Smile and say, "Thank you!"

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Thoughts on self-reliance…we women may need clarification on occasion…. as we (I) sometimes get confused.   Do you ever feel that if you let another person help you that somehow you have failed at being self-reliant?  (Might have to take the capital letter off your cape?) After a week of laying low with back problems, I came across this affirming quote:

“Self-reliance should not be mistaken for complete independence.  After all, we are ultimately dependent on  our Heavenly Father for everything.  We need His continual guidance, preservation and protection.  We also depend on one another.  Since we are given different spiritual gifts, we are expected to share what we have been given so that all may be blessed.  The key is to become self-reliant where we have the power to do so, to serve others when we can, and to allow others the blessing of serving us as the need arises.”  March 2013 Ensign, pg 65.

I have been reminded of the balance many of us are trying to achieve; being self-reliant and service- minded but also being willing to receive the service of others when we are in need.  Without receivers there are no givers.  It has also occurred to me, in my quiet-slowed-way-down hours this week that the all-powerful, all-compassionate Jesus received the precious ointment that a humble woman had saved to use in anointing him as a token of his burial.  He did not push her away or insist that she save the ointment for some other purpose, but with graciousness accepted her gift.

Because of all of the service that has been given to me and my family of late I am humbled; mostly by the warmth and compassion that has been shown in each kind gesture but also by being made more aware of those opportunities I may have missed to reach out to someone who needed some encouragement or laughter, something I could have given to them, but didn’t. And so my perspective is continuing to shift and I am learning. It is a good thing to be tutored and taught by what we experience, and certainly our learning is made easier when we are tutored by kindness and hope as well as sickness and uncertainty.

We rightly sing the question, “Have I done any good in the world today?” but we’d do well at times to add an alternate verse, something like, “Did I graciously receive when I was in need today?”

I surely hope that wherever you are on this spring day, the Son is shining in you.

Love,
Jacque

My December Wish for You~

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Dear Mom;

It seems that a big part of what can make life overwhelming is letting your mind think of all that you need to do, all that you want to do and all that would be nice to do, all at the same time!  Especially in December right!?  Prioritizing your time is a big deal since there are all of those need to’s, want to’s and nice-to-do’s that surround creating a memorable holiday season……

My wish for you is that if you are feeling crowded by too many to-do’s, that you will pause in what you are doing, take a minute to close your eyes, breathe deeply and take your expectations down a few notches!  And here’s why.  Your children are going to remember your smile more than they will remember the perfectly decorated tree.  They will remember hearing a story and singing a bedtime song more than getting five more gifts.

And very importantly, they will gain self-respect and consideration for others when a calm Mama holds them accountable for their behavior, (even in December!) kindly, gently, respectfully and FIRMLY.  (And you and I both know, yes from experience, that it’s nigh on to impossible to have the brain power to parent our children when we are barely aware of life because WE are running too fast and in too many directions!)

As a mother I appreciate the words of Charles Henry Parkhurst:

“The completed beauty of Christ’s life is only the added beauty of little inconspicuous acts of beauty–talking with the woman at the well;…showing the young ruler the stealthy ambition laid away in his heart that kept him out of the kingdom of Heaven;…teaching a little knot of followers how to pray;…kindling a fire and broiling fish that his disciples might have a breakfast waiting for them when they came ashore from a night of fishing, cold, tired, and discouraged.  All of these things, you see, let us in so easily into the real quality and tone of [Christ’s] interests, so specific, so narrowed down, so enlisted in what is small, so engrossed with what is minute” (Kindness and Love,” in Leaves of Gold [1938], 177).

I wish you the spiritual awareness to know when you are doing the truly important things in your home this December.  When you are wiping sweet potatoes from a little face, putting on little shoes and socks, when you are singing, when you kneel down to listen to a child, I hope you will feel God’s light and His appreciation for being a mother to His children.

I wish you joy in every small act of kindness you bestow on your family this Christmas.

You can do this.

All my love,

Jacque

Barbara Bush

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Love, love, love this quote by Barbara Bush, wife of President George Bush.  She was speaking to graduates of Wellesley College:

“But whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first.  You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love your children.  Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house.”  (Washington Post, 2 June 1990, 2.)

On days when you feel that the world is in a downward spiral and you think there is nothing you can do about it, remember Mrs. Bush’s profound thought; what you do as a mother matters.  Small and simple things, reading, giving a hug and plainly loving your children will reap benefits on the world that will be seen and felt by generations.

You can do this.

All my love,
Jacque

Thoughts On Pulling Weeds

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I was reminded recently about something a friend of mine taught me a long time ago. Her name is Carol and she was my neighbor in northern Utah. Carol and her husband had raised their children and were living in a beautiful home across the street from ours. She had a knack with everything “homemaking”…she was a good cook, her home was beautifully decorated and their yard was immaculate. Carol herself is a lovely person who looks nice and is bright and friendly.

I was standing on the sidewalk in front of her house visiting for a minute one summer morning and as I admired her yard, I wondered how she kept her flower beds free of weeds. I mean, I couldn’t see one! I remember thinking that maybe when I got to that point in my life when I wasn’t on the constant treadmill of cooking, dishes, cleaning, laundry, etc. etc. maybe then I would be able to keep my flower beds free of weeds too…?

So, I asked her how she did it. What was her secret to a weed-free yard? In her sweet, energetci way she said that each morning (or evening) she would quickly go through her flower beds and pull out the tiny, almost invisible weeds that had sprouted the day before. It only takes a few minutes and then, she said, it never became a big chore. 

That was about the end of our conversation, but her idea and all it can be related to has stayed with me for many years. Slowly it has taught me some important things about the way I perceive my job as a homemaker.

I decided that the thing I love most about Carol’s answer is that it was full of accountability! We already know that when we have a yard that weeks will grow. We know when we cook and eat that dishes will get dirty. And we know clothes get dirty and laundry needs attention, and that when we start a project it will inevitably be followed by some kind of a cleaning-up process. Yet so often we talk about our dishes or laundry as if it is in charge and multiplying on its own! Like, “these dishes just keep appearing!” and, “when will this laundry ease up?”

For all of us who sometimes feel overwhelmed by the mundane, I hope that a fun an accountable voice might start to speak up and to make plans! When could we plan to pull weeds while they are small? Would having a sink of hot, soapy water ready to wash pots and pans during the dinner cooking make the evening lighter? What about thinking through the laundry schedule (or making one!) and finding a way to do it that doesn’t feel like drudgery?

As Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said, “we are the daughters of the most creative being in the universe!” We are in charge of our homes and we can use creativity in our desire and responsibility to keep our homes and families happy and functioning.

And, besides, now I know that Carol wasn’t in a time of her life when there wasn’t plenty to do! She wasn’t bored or lacking for something to fill up her days, but she was choosing to be in control of herself  and win the battle with those elements of our job as homemakers that have the potential of using up our mental and physical energy before we even begin! I’ve learned that even the empty nest is a busy and vibrant nest… and around that nest, the weeds still grow!

My Chicks Have Flown

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My chicks have flown. They came to nest in a bunch and then flew off in a flock. I guess I should have known it would happen that way. It’s just that for so many days and weeks and years, it seemed that they would never be able to fly on their own! Now looking back at the mind-boggling short time they were actually in our nest, I wish I could have loved every minute of the time I spent doing those seemingly mundane tasks that make up so much of a mother’s day. But loving the tasks is not the point. Here at the the end of one personal era and at the beginning of another, I see that I did LOVE every minute, that is, I did love THEM every minute, and that love motivated me to stretch further than I thought I was able, dig deeper into my soul than I thought I could, and hold tightly enough to the belief that making a family was the most amazing thing we could or would ever do, that I would make it successfully through…

I look back and feel gratitude.