Sunday, April 28, 2013

Simone and Rochelle ♥

Rochelle and Simone April 2013
I invited Simone and Rochelle to go to Stake Conference with me today.  They are such great girls.  Heavenly Father has a way of placing people in my life who have blessed me and taught me so much about life.  These girls are two very special girls, I am endeared to them forever.  I met their mother at Mayo Clinic 4 years ago, she is a single mother raising 4 teen children, and I am impressed at how well she has done.

I love spending time with them, teaching them to bake, going to lunch, and sharing thoughts.  We have so much in common with our up bringing--they too, do not have a father figure in their life who is respectful or loving to them, as they share their thoughts and feelings,  my heart is full to point of wanting to burst into tears--so many memories are flooding my mind, memories of a childhood that should of been different, could of been different.

I was impressed a few weeks ago by the spirit to invite them to our home to watch General Conference and have breakfast with our family.  Audrey (their mother), the twins and one of their brothers and his girlfriend came over.  What a delight they are, I enjoy spending time with them.  Audrey is a greeter at the church they belong to and could only stay for the 1st half of conference.
I noticed Rochelle crying, she and I went into my living room and spoke, she hugged me tightly, telling me how much she loves me and Mr Williams, that she loves the feeling in our home and how she wanted that for herself--she then shared some personal stories with me and at that moment I knew the Holy Ghost was whispering to me every word to say--

1.pray for light, pray to know HIM--HE knows you and he loves you
2. serve someone everyday, a smile, a hug or a special note can mean so much
3. be prepared that darkness does not always leave immediately, sincerely look for LIGHT
4. ask for the Light to be with you everyday, live what you believe, walk in the light
and lastly " As you walk toward the HOPE of God’s light, you will discover the compassion, love, and goodness of a loving Heavenly Father"

After conference today I had the opportunity to talk to the girls and answer any questions they had.  One of the things they were wondering about was why there were not any other black people at church.  I told them what a myth it is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not allow blacks to be baptized, the girls actually had heard this. THIS STATEMENT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE AND OPPOSITE OF WHAT WE BELIEVE IN.  We just happen to live in a geographical area where not many African Americans live.  I explained to them, as I will explain to any of you who are reading this and also have this misconception.  The LDS church has never NOT allowed blacks to be baptized, across the nation and throughout the world we have active incredible members of the church who are of African American Heritage--we are inclusive, we invite all who are willing to truly listen to the truth of what we believe in to come to church with us.  I explained to them at one time in the church history the black men were not able to hold the Priesthood, for what reason I do not understand, but just as many things in life change, this was a change the church was impressed to make.  I explained to them, across the nation and around the world no matter what language every church building in the world is teaching the same thing, on Sundays we take the water and bread in remembrance of HIM who died for us, the sacrament helps us to remember the covenants we made when we were baptized, I also think of it of a time to repent for all the little things I do during the week, the Atonement is available to each and everyone of us. I also explained to them, "you girls can walk into any church from here to Africa, and you will not hear anyone from the pulpit talking bad about another church, we love all people, because we know our Heavenly Father loves all his children the same. Walking in the light of Christ means trying your hardest to be exactly like HIM, of course we know this is impossible but trying and repenting and trying and repenting is what we do everyday to try to be more like HIM"

Every talk that was spoken today was perfect for what these girls needed to hear.  A member of the Stake Presidency spoke about the presence of Satan in our lives, Rochelle told me she was so glued to the words he spoke.  There are times in our lives when Satan wants us to feel as though we are not quite good enough, he wants the young mother who is trying her hardest to raise strong healthy, spiritual children that her house is not clean enough, the father who has lost his job that he is not quite doing is job as a husband and father, the young girl who did not get invited to prom or homecoming that they are not quite beautiful enough or good enough.  I told the girls, I remember feeling inadequate as a child of God, I was too skinny, to ugly, and not quite good enough for anyone to ask me to prom or homecoming---I never went, and yes, I did feel those pains of not being quite good enough--how sad is that?  If we could all feel the spirit enough to know, our Heavenly Father loves us for who we are,  and what we contribute to life.

There have been times in my life when I felt small, and insignificant, I felt that the world was my Goliath,  I yearned for the feeling of surety that HE loved me.  It took me searching in my soul, and truly asking for guidance,  there were things I had to let go of, when I questioned choices I made I finally realized it was Satan trying to keep me from the light. Satan is smart and cunning as he travels and moves through the lives of our youth especially, he does not like to be alone either, he always snatches one, then cunningly says "now go and get your friend to partake" especially for our youth who are trying so hard to follow in Gods light, satan does not want that to happen, he wants them to invite their friends--misery loves company--and satan wants you to justify your actions with others around you who are doing the same thing--following in the darkness. Don't get caught in that trap.\

It honestly took me going through my cancer journey to realize that it was OK even though I was 46 years old to start to listen to my heart, to turn things over to the Lord, to accept the Gift HE had given me, the gift was the Holy Ghost--listening and preparing myself for the day to day, HE is leading me through this journey of life--we all have more strength then we know, and when we start to LIVE WHAT WE BELIEVE we will gain the confidence we need, no matter what we are  experiencing in our lives, no matter where we are in our journey,  for some the journey towards the light starts at birth and for others that light of Christ comes when we are adults,  if we follow in HIS light HE will guide us home.

I wish for every youth out there in the world, member of the church or not, that they could just HOLD ON-we all try and fail, some have been in darkness longer than others, but one of the lessons we can learn is that HE has promised the answers will come when we ask.  There have been nights I have prayed, thinking I was the only one who was walking in the darkness, oh how NOT true that is, there are so many who walk in darkness, and fear, but if we can HOLD ON continue to pray, serve, and be obedient, repeating this day to day until we finally GET IT, he will never leave our side.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sticks and Stones🚩

Remember the phrase? "sticks and stones, may break your bones, but words will never hurt you?" Who ever came up with that saying was a little off their rocker--sticks and stones will certainly hurt bones, and scratch the skin, but words, oh words can leave a lasting sting on the heart and soul.

Even at my old age of 50, words can hurt.  They can penetrate a heart and soul and for many leave a lifelong scar.  It's interesting, we sometimes say the harshest words to the ones we love the most. Why is that?  Maybe because we know them the best and we know what will hurt them, maybe we know they will forgive us, especially when it is family.  I was so upset a couple of weeks ago, my daughter was wearing a pair of pants that belonged to me, and although this was not the source of my anger, it escalated into me telling her to take them off before she went home, I did this in anger, and immediately felt the pain I had caused her--of course an apology was necessary, and I'm quite sure this will be a comical story told at my funeral or memorial service one day when I am long gone, but truly as I write this now I am embarrassed and sorry for how I treated her, it was not necessary.

I was deeply saddened by words spoken to me recently, it's going to take a long time to get those echoing words out of my mind, and then out of my heart, not necessarily by a family member, but even a complete stranger can not knowingly trigger a memory or  thought that can hurt.

One of the only compliments I ever heard my mother give me growing up, was that I had the ability to be stung by the words of others, sting back (sometimes unnecessarily) get over it, and move on.
In so many ways I am still that little girl,  I am usually not effected by the words of others, unless they are words of wisdom I can use in my life. Other than those words I try to keep the negative out, but I have this nasty side of me that comes out like the devil sometimes, you know when someone says something mean about one of your children?  That mother hen comes out and fights for her own.

It's amazing to me how a song or smell can take me right back to my childhood, or teen years.  There are certain songs I listened to during difficult times in my life, that now I cannot stand to have my ears hear.  There is a smell that will take me back to an awful memory of life.  However, there are tender moments with music that will immediately take me back to a grateful place, a place to keep me grounded and happy for who I am, and what I believe in.

The Lord gives us the ability to forgive others, this is a commandment.  For so many years I wondered how this was possible, how could our Heavenly Father ask us to forgive those who had hurt me so deeply, especially the people in my life who I was sent to from Heaven to be protected by and loved unconditionally for eternity.  I soon realized it was my responsibility to form my own relationships with others respectfully and worthily.  As a young mother, I was unsuccessful in doing these things, I tried so hard to keep my covenants, but many times missed the mark by raising my voice or speaking unkindly to my children or my husband.  I realize now after attending the temple on a regular basis that Satan has his ways of  getting us to follow him, then he says "now go and get someone else to do this too" oh how evil enjoys company, and so many of us follow as it is so tempting to act out instead of embrace and say "I'm sorry, I was wrong" so much of this selfishness we portray is Satan getting his way, prompting us to follow in his ways. I promise those ways will bring you into the darkness and can be a black whole hard to get out of.

Recognize the good in others, not their stains. At times a stain needs appropriate attention to be cleansed, but always build on his or her virtues.
When you feel that there is only a thin thread of hope, it is really not a thread but a massive connecting link, like a life preserver to strengthen and lift you. It will provide comfort so you can cease to fear. Strive to live worthily and place your trust in the Lord.

We need not worry if we can’t simultaneously do all of the things that the Lord has counseled us to do. He has spoken of a time and a season for all things. In response to our sincere prayers for guidance, He will direct us in what should be emphasized at each phase of our life. We can learn, grow, and become like Him one consistent step at a time.--Richard Scott.

I love you my sweet children, there is nothing you will ever do or say that can take away my unconditional love for you--

Monday, April 15, 2013

Let The Light Shine

I think sometimes it's hard in life to keep ourselves in the "Light" for me it has been a constant and continuous struggle.  I remember being a young child and wishing my life was different, the darkness of my life seemed to continue to spiral into an endless tunnel of blackness.

 There was a time when I was profoundly misunderstood by so many people around me, teachers could not understand why I stared out windows during class, obviously not able to concentrate on what was being taught in class.  I recently found my report cards from elementary school, for many years each teacher would comment saying "Monya seems to have a difficult time concentrating during class" or "Monya is  not able to keep up what is being taught" year after year these were the comments by each teacher, I wonder now, why my mother did not pay more attention to the signs.  Being deaf in one ear and the tallest child in class always landed me a seat on the back row of classrooms. Maybe this is why it was so difficult for me to concentrate, perhaps I could not hear what was being taught, it was at those vulnerable young years that I learned to read lips in order to see what the teachers were saying, and even then I only caught half of it.

 We had wooden desks that opened where we could put our books and # 2 pencils, for me they were a place to smash my fingers between the wood trying make my fingers bleed, maybe the pain would take a bit of the pain I was feeling in my heart,  Young and impressionable, I didn't understand divorce, it was not explained to me, where was my dad and who was this other man taking, or trying to take his place?  I know my mother was doing the best she could, but now looking back I realize she was a victim also, and perhaps was even afraid of her future with 3 young girls to raise.

For a child who endures the process of a divorce, they sometimes become more of a commodity than the most important piece of a puzzle.  For so many of us we become like leftovers in the fridge, only looked at or considered if there is nothing new or more interesting to engage in, pushed to  the side hoping to one day be discovered,  unfortunately by that time it is too late, and the leftover has spoiled and needing to be thrown out.  For some, even most people especially those raised in a home of respectful love and unconditional love the thought of this type of life is unthinkable.  For me it was a reality, for so many children today it is a reality. 

As years moved forward, I never really pulled myself from that darkness, the wounds were deep and seemed to scar my soul to the point of not actually letting any person in, sure I had friends in my ward, Linda and Jamie were my best friends and I still love them deeply, however, those two were truly best friends I was just the tag a long.  I distinctly remember one time Linda came to pick me up and as we were driving, I remembered I had not kissed my father goodbye, I asked her if she could please take me back.  Later as we discussed some of the dysfunction that was happening in my home she too remembered that story, only she remember thinking "I wish I had that type of relationship with my father" Linda's father is a quiet humble man, and not a member of the church, I think she silently always wished he had joined, and I always silently wished my dad was more like him.  I had plenty of "friends" in high school, I was the one everyone thought was funny, made jokes I tried to disguise the ridicule and abuse happening in my home with either complete silence or a joke to cover up an awkward situation.  Yes, I think it is safe to say, on display for everyone to see,  was a perfectly well put together family, loving, kind and respectful.  But truth is, I dressed in my closet, feared my fathers voice and  flinched every time he raised his hand to scratch his head, for fear he was going to slap or hit me.  Many times the hurt was not the physical or sexual abuse that hurt the most, it was the words, the penetrating words of belittlement and discouragement--protection came from not letting myself feel--believing and accepting the fact that this was my life, this was who I was and there was no future for me, "no man will ever want you and no doctor will ever be able to heal you"--those words rang clearly in my head--I became numb to any compliment that would often come my way through others in the church.

Stan Johnson, my seminary teacher during high school, was a great influence in my life.  He showed a movie called Cypher in the Snow, in Seminary one time, WHAT? was this real? There were other children in the world who were being miss treated, were there children actually dying of a broken heart?  I did not want that to happen to me, but deep inside I knew I was one of those cyphers in the snow.  I needed to find a way to bring myself out of this aching heartbreak I was feeling.
As Brother Johnson taught me day after day in class, I learned that the Heavenly Father I had been praying to was real, I learned about the spirit of Jesus Christ, as soon as I began to consciously yearn for that spirit to be in my life. I began to open my eyes and see the goodness around me, to hear the spirit whisper to me saying "you are a daughter of God, HE has a place for you, choose to walk in the Light of Christ"  There is an amount of faith that comes with leaving the darkness and trying to let the light shine in our lives. I was, and still do sometimes sneak back into a little shadow of darkness, this is the darkness in which Satan wants us all to live in.   Happiness and Light in our lives is a choice, no matter what our circumstances, we have a choice to lift the lives of others with our light or to bring others down with our darkness.  Satan, well Satan does not want to be alone, he always grabs and takes who he can, then he encourages them to go and get others to follow--I choose to stay in the Light.  There are many times I still feel fear, have loneliness, and need reassurance from my Heavenly Father, it is in those times I get on my knees and pray for that light to enter my heart.

Julie Greer once taught me "the spirit can only grow in the light, nothing can grow in the dark"

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ezra Ray Was Blessed Today

Kaitlyn asked me, "mom is it weird to see your grandchildren, knowing that your own children created them?"  Oh, yes it is weird, well maybe weird is not the appropriate word, it is a beautiful blessing to the circle of life,  our Heavenly Father has taught us as a perfect circle of love.  I believe our family will be together forever, so it brings great peace to my heart knowing if I live righteously and obey the Lords commandments I will live with these wonderful people forever.  I am thankful for the families who my children have joined, they too have taught their children the importance of having a belief in Jesus Christ and in the power of the Atonement.

Today Ezra was blessed and given a name on which in the records of the church he will be known, Ezra Ray Roussel.  I have listened to many blessings given to babies, but today as Jeremy blessed this sweet baby, no words connected with me more than his.  He blessed Ezra to be a strength to his older brother Recker, blessed him to watch over Recker and teach him.   It will be a blessing to have a brother for Recker, already we see this connection between the two of them.  Recker is extremely soft and gentle with Ezra, it is my opinion Recker has patiently been waiting for Ezra to join us, Recker has been trying to desperately to communicate with his sounds, trying to make them into words, concentrating on each sound.

I so look forward to more grand babies to join our family, and I sincerely hope my children will take traditions and values from both their families to incorporate the best possible family values for themselves--I already know they will be far better parents than Eric and I have been and will instill in their children a stronger healthier bond--this is the traditions of the fathers, for each generation to be better than the last--the best have been saved for the end.  I moving into a new journey and phase of life, a bit hesitant to live up to the task as a grandmother worthy of these beautiful spirits HE entrusted us with, and a bit relieved knowing my children will be so much better than I ever was.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Speaking without Words

My sweet grandson Recker has moderate to severe autism, he is non-verbal.  This baby boy was born into a family who loves him unconditionally, he has a special place in my heart.  If not for him I remember a day while I was going through my chemo treatments that he was an infant and would lay with me on my bed. keeping me from literally wanting to end my life, so deeply in depression and pain, all I had to do was kneel and pray, get back in bed and look at his little face then I knew I could get through one more day, now I know why the Lord answered my prayers so many times.  I have some refining to do in my life so that I can live eternally with this sweet little guy eternally.

He was diagnosed at a really early age of 16 months.  We have still to hear him say "mom or dad" I can't imagine how hard this must be for Jeremy and Kayla, but there are times when he will look at me in the eyes, those piercing blue eyes,  starring intensely I know he is trying to tell me something.  As badly as I want to hear him speak, I also believe he knows so much, the veil is so thin for him still.  Many times before Ezra was born he would stop in his tracks look up on a shelf in my kitchen and smile, or jabber in Recker language as if he was talking to someone, every time he did this my heart would melt.

Recently, a person said to me "you must be so disappointed"  I have thought of this statement quite a bit, because for one, not once have I been disappointed, that word has never crossed my mind not even for a nano second, and for two I feel so blessed to know that my Heavenly Father has entrusted my daughter and her husband with such a beautiful soul, he is perfect in every way, we continually learn from him.  I realize there are people who do not understand the behavior of an autistic child, patience comes with raising a child with special needs and without this opportunity I would have probably never taken the time to learn more of just how special he is.

I don't have harsh feelings for those who do not understand, who judge,  and wonder why we cannot control his behavior or his ticks and noises, I wish I had an answer for those people, I don't understand either--but I am trying to understand, I am learning that speaking without words is something we all should learn to do--a smile can mean everything to a person, a hug can save a life, a note of encouragement can help self confidence--yes I believe speaking without words is having FAITH in a higher being--faith that HE has a plan, a plan for each of us, especially for those who cannot speak for themselves.

I love you Recker Jay--you will forever be in my heart

XOXO Bon Bon

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Memories, looking forward and Dixie Cups

 When my children were babies, I wondered when they would be potty trained, or done with nursing and able to take a bottle, I loved  when they were sick in the night they always woke Eric up for comfort.  I wanted kindergarten to start, I looked forward to summer vacations with them,  I despised constantly cleaning up after them, day in and day night I tried my best to teach them right from wrong, reading scriptures, teaching them to pray, gathering for Family Home Evening every Monday night, which usually ended in frustration and tears on my part.

I have always wanted to believe my children would never move out of this home with memories we have created together. Now, well now they are all gone and as I look around tonight I see memories in every room of the house. In the kitchen, my children heard me say a very bad word one time and when it happened they scattered like mice, to this day I have wished that didn't happen upon their sweet ears to hear. But also in that very kitchen, we gathered and learned to bake, cook meals and share stories from our busy week while doing dishes.  Our "pretty room" was and is saved for special visits with friends, blessings from Home Teachers and Stake Presidents.  The table we ate every meal on is now old and jagged, ready to be replaced but we have many memories of games played as a family, many Sunday meals learning from each child what they had learned in church that day.  The family room, where our FHE lessons are taught, many tears and much laughter has come out of that room. Eric gave all of our children fathers blessings in that room as we all gathered to listen on the night before school started every year.  The laundry room, many, many lessons on how to wash clothing, how to separate and how to work the washer and dryer, after a few pink t-shirts came out Blake finally got it down, and to this day I think he does all the laundry at his house. I specifically remember locking the door in my office and having a dance party with my girls and I, singing at the top of our lungs a Carrie Underwood song.   Every bathroom in our home has been decorated and redecorated several times.  I will never forget spending many nights on my knees next to Blake's bed while he was on his mission, begging and pleading with the Lord to bring him safely home to me. But my favorite memory of all is the front door, everyday when it opened and those little voices would yell out "mom? where are You?" ready to wrap their arms around my neck and show me their latest art project or grade on a paper.  Also through that front door came many acts of service to my family, many hands have brought meals, many friends have come through that door to bless us with their love, to pray with us on behalf of children, oh behalf of threatening health issues, those are sacred doors open to anyone and everyone I meet.  My home has become a refuge for many of my children's friends, and a few of my own--I remember one time when a friend was struggling with her marriage knocking on my door with her 4 young children, needing a place to stay, of course she was welcomed with open arms--the next day another knock came to my door with criticism for allowing them to retreat to our home--at the time I didn't fully understand, and I was angry, my response was "Christ would never turn anyone away" the difference between my response then and now is that NOW I truly believe that statement and understand more fully the Atonement of Jesus Christ, perhaps this person does too.

Oh what I would give to have those little foot prints of mud dragged in from a puddle outside, or sticky finger prints on the windows and refrigerator or freezer, the continuous teasing his sisters, Blake loves his sisters so much, I miss those things.

Now they have their own families, hopefully bringing traditions and good from both sides of their families to create their own, their new lives.  I hope to continue to make memories in this home.

Saturday, we buried Betty Williams, my mother in law.  While I listened to her girls talk about her, I wondered what my family would have to say about me--I really do not want a funeral, it is a continuous disagreement in our home casket vs. cremation with a memorial instead of a funeral. Let;s face it, none of us want to see a dead body, it's uncomfortable, and I certainly don't want you all staring at me either.  Just burn me, put me in a pink Dixie cup and spread my ashes at my happy place, with a few words from close friends and family.  I know it won't happen that way, Eric will spend money on a beautiful casket that will get put 6 feet under covered in dirt--what a waste of money. Just please let it be known to someone out there reading this, that my request is for a Dixie cup of ahses.  I know who I am, I know where I came from and where I am going, the memories are all in the heads of those I loved and learned from.    I want my grandchildren to know my love for them, my children to know my admiration and respect for them and my lover boy Eric to know I've loved him from the beginning, as frustrating as he can be, I loved him dearly and will be saving a place for him in Heaven.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Haleigh & Scott Bigelow

It.s always been my dream to have all of my children's receptions in my backyard, Thursday night that was made a reality.  Our youngest daughter Haleigh was married to Scott Bigelow. We now have had all of our children married within 5 years, sounds crazy, but back in the olden days (ha ha) when Eric and I were first married I wanted to have all my children born before I was 30 so we could enjoy them, so they could enjoy being adults with their own children together.

 I can honestly and proudly say I have made oh so many mistakes along the way, raised my voice to many times, wished I had forced them to practice on that beautiful piano Eric bought for that reason, been more patient with everyday messes that truly didn't matter, not worried as much about what others thought and focused more on more important things.  I not always listened, but felt I was the adult and knew more than they did, turns out they are the ones who have now taught me to be a better person and grandmother.

Many people have asked me if I am sad about my last child leaving and getting married, my solid answer is NO.  However, today as I write this post I am teary, I think I am glad the planning stages for the weddings are over, but not having my children around on a daily basis is hard--I want to hear that front door open and the little voices say "mom? where are you?"  I am so blessed, all of my children have not only chosen to marry spouses who's family live within a few miles, with the exception of Brian who's parents live in Utah, however they raised him in Arizona and he has grandparents, aunts uncles and cousins who live here, but who are gentle kind and supportive of them and our crazy family.

Me and My Baby Girl Haleigh Bear