Thursday, April 24, 2014

second chances.

It has been so fun seeing so many beautiful Easter weekends spread all over the social media world. There are so many beautiful families out there, and we have had our share of beautiful Easters.

But this year was not one of them.

I digress. 

On Friday we were in Chicago at Baga's house with Grandma and Papa. It was a beautiful, albeit chilly evening, and we staged an Easter Egg hunt. Baga's backyard was perfect for a hunt for young kids, and they had all sorts of fun. They knew exactly what was in those eggs, so they were totally game. A squirrel knew exactly what was in the eggs too, and hacked a hole right through one of the eggs and spread the candy all over. But the rest were gathered by these eager cuties, and after a bit of candy we enjoyed Aurelio's pizza for dinner. It was a great evening.

We came home from Chicago late Saturday night, getting home after midnight. We knew, when choosing to go in the first place, that it would make for a late night and possibly a cranky Sunday.

Carly woke up first, and promptly pillaged all the baskets of whatever she wanted. I came down and explained that is not how it works. Barbie made her debut in the C house after extensive philosophical debates in my head, but I guess I didn't need to think too hard because, while the girls were initially excited, she hasn't been particularly popular.

Then the chaos began. We had all gotten up late. I made a carrot cake. We had a hectic breakfast. The kids were cranky. So so cranky. And you know what? I was too. And perhaps Chris was, or perhaps he was responding to everyone else's crankiness. We got ready for church in a flurry and spilled out the door for pictures that were totally unsuccessful. We were late, and missed singing He is Risen for the opening song. I love that song and it is only sung once a year. The kids were restless at church and I was sleepy. Afterwards, dinner preparations were all over the place and we didn't have any eggs left for deviled eggs. What!? I love deviled eggs on Easter.

Our one success of the day was the carrot cake. Oh, my, it was divine. It was my grandpa's recipe that I remember loving as a teenager. I made it gluten free, and did I already say it was divine? And that cream cheese frosting. I'd eat it out of a bowl with a spoon. So we had that going for us.

But that night, all I wanted was my kids in bed.

I got into bed and felt sad. This isn't what Easter is supposed to be like, I thought. Then, somehow, a thought occurred to me. Isn't this what Easter is really all about? Isn't it about how life is imperfect and things are hard and don't go as planned, but that it is ok? It is ok because of Him.

I know the Savior's sacrifice redeems severe sin and soothes deep aching. I've used it and I've witnessed it. But in my everyday life, it more often eases the stress of motherhood, brightens my perspective on a hard day, and helps be be better when I lose my patience and my weaknesses are beating my strengths. Easter, of all days, is about second and third and fourth chances.

So on Monday morning I turned up the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version of He is Risen and sang along while I unloaded the dishes. And boy, the Tab can rock that song. On Tuesday afternoon I ate Easter leftovers for lunch and made deviled eggs to go with it. And I cut myself a break and I tried a little bit harder to be a little bit better. And by Wednesday, we were all feeling quite happy.

Then I remembered something. On Thursday evening we had had a Family Home Evening lesson (we do FHE on whatever night daddy can be home early enough). I did those Easter eggs with the little items inside that tell the story of the crucifixion and the resurrection. To my surprise, all three kids became captivated (after being initially disappointed there wasn't candy in the eggs). When I opened the egg with the nail inside, Carly's face registered sadness. She knew what was coming next, and we spoke softly about Jesus being nailed to the cross. I pulled a white piece of fabric out of the next egg, describing how He was wrapped and place in a tomb. I pulled a rock out of the next egg, and we talked about how a big stone was placed in front of the tomb. I told them how three days passed, and I held the final egg. I opened it. "It's empty," Carly said. "Was Jesus in the tomb anymore?" I asked her. "No," she said. "He got resurrected." I showed John and Quinn and John said "Woah!" and Quinn said "Ooooo." And the Spirit was so strong. 

It was a sweet moment. A moment I forgot about in the hustle and bustle that was Easter Day, but a moment that matters more than deviled eggs and cute pictures. 

I'm grateful for this sweet family of mine.
I'm grateful for the chaos that people tell me I'll miss.

And this week, in particular, I'm grateful for second (and third and fourth) chances.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

it's all real.

Things have been a little crazy up in here. We ended March and began April with three sick kids. We were in sub-zero lockdown all winter and managed to escape without getting sick at all. But the snotty, whiny, 2-week-long hacking cough caught us. And it wasn't that much fun. The sunshine came out, and we have been enjoying time outside. Finally! The breeze is still so chilly, but I actually felt warmth from the sun, and it was glorious.

About a week ago Carly got a rash. She scratched at it, and it got worse and worse until it appeared infected. Her doctor was out of the office until Monday, so we tried to persevere. We have had night after night of her waking up 2-3 times screaming in discomfort and pain. Days of laying around because she is hurting. The babies got stir crazy; the house fell apart. Did I mention Chris was finishing a chapter of his dissertation? He has been coming home to help with bedtime, then heading to the library until 1 and 2 am. I would get up with Carly in the middle of the night and find he wasn't home yet. It has been a hard and exhausting few days (has it only been a few days?).

I'm not about to number myself among the women who fight for their children's health day in and day out, but watching Carly hurt, and not know what it was or how to help, was torturous. Monday we made it to the doctor, and that night Chris gave her a priesthood blessing. She woke up 3 times that night, still in so much pain, but I knew it was going to get better. I had hope. She got to go to school today and was so excited, she ran off to class without giving Chris a hug. It has been a brief moment in time, but watching my daughter in pain has had me thinking a lot about a Son in pain a long time ago.

A few months ago there was a tragedy in my home ward. A father, mother, and two young teenage sons passed away in their home from carbon monoxide poisoning. Their two older children were serving full-time missions. I knew these wonderful people when I was a teenager. I looked up to them. I remember those boys being born. But it wasn't my loss. I hadn't seen them in many years. Still, I felt overwhelmed with sadness, as I mourned with those who mourn. But the sadness became nearly debilitating. I couldn't sleep. I woke in panic and fear. I just felt so sad. One night I could hardly take it. I couldn't sleep and I was downstairs. I knelt to pray. I prayed for the remaining family members. I prayed for my babies. And then I fell silent. I needed something. I didn't know what question I needed to ask, but I knew I needed whatever the answer was. After a long silence, words fell out of my mouth: "Just tell me it's all real." There was barely a pause before I heard, It is all real.

I was raised in a faith that taught me about eternal families and life after death and forever happiness. And I never doubted, not for a second. But now I have these little people I would give anything for, a husband I cherish, family I live too far away from and don't get to be with nearly enough, and a realization that life moves much too quickly. Here I was, 27 years old and suddenly eternal families meant everything and mortality felt like it was staring me in the face. I didn't have doubt, I just desperately needed reassurance. How very grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who will provide reassurances, and for a Savior who made my forever family possible.

It is Easter time. In our chaos, we haven't dyed a single egg or made a single craft. Thank goodness grandmas send Easter packages, or we'd have some empty baskets. But I have been thinking about the Savior. I have been thinking about the peace that comes from faith in Him. I have been thinking about the comfort that comes from faith in Him. And I have been thinking about the joy that comes from faith in Him.

I'm grateful He lived.
I'm grateful He died.
I'm grateful He lives again.

And I'm so very grateful it's all real.