So I have been thinking about a few things recently. In fact, I think the thoughts have been like a pinball bouncing around in my head to the point that even my dreams have been pretty erratic bouncing from one thing to another and leaving me confused on waking.
Last week I went to lunch with a dear friend (aka 1) and she shared with me a story regarding a mutual friend (aka 2). It seems my friend 1 had been to an event where friend 2's husband was present. During the conversation the topic of budgeting came up and this husband started to brag how he provided friend 2 an allowance for household expenses and when he felt she had been "bad", he would reduce the amount of money he provided her and then see if she could run the household on the lesser amount of money to teach her a lesson. I was horrified that this individual who is a respected member of his community would feel that this was appropriate behavior in a marriage and not emotional abuse.
It made me think of my own marriage and yet again appreciate how blessed I am to have Rick. When we got married, we were so young. I look at our oldest son Hunter and realize that he is the age Rick was when Hunter was born. I know that when Rick and I married, we had no concept of what marriage really meant. What we did have was a solid friendship and respect for each other and a commitment to create an eternal PARTNERSHIP.
I recently finished reading The Vow. I haven't seen the movie, but I am sure it will be a date night selection at some point. Two things struck me from this book:
1. While trying to rebuild their marriage after the accident, things did not start working until they started being partners and developing shared memories that provided the emotional ties that hold a relationship together. They also built their marriage on the firm foundation in their mutual faith in God.
2. They both felt strongly that their experience had made them stronger and was a gift from God and in order to show their appreciation to Him, they needed to share it to uplift and strengthen others.
The idea that sharing our faith promoting experiences is not unfamiliar to me. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, once a month I have the opportunity during our worship service to hear of the faith promoting experiences of others and if impressed to do so, share my own experiences. The experience of sharing and talking about faith is not uncomfortable to me in a religious setting, but I am trying to learn how to share my experiences of faith outside of my local congregation in the hope that others might find strength in Jesus Christ.
I recently had the opportunity to write to Wil's mission president in Japan as a way of providing him some background on this young man whom he will soon meet. I struggled for quite a few weeks on what I should tell him about this special son of mine. Wil is a probably the most private of all my children; don't make a fuss is his motto. What I realized was that by going to Sendai Japan, Wil is going to an area of the world where he will have a unique empathy for the people he meets who have lost everything. Wil has always been extra aware of the needs of others, but I have witnessed that part of his personality grow in the year and a half since our fire. I wanted to share with the mission president Wil's own words about that time and how it had changed him as a human being, so I included a copy of Wil's essay, The Worst Day, that I have previously posted on this blog with the letter. I wanted this man, whom I believe is called by God to lead the mission, to understand that there may be times that Wil is more withdrawn and there may be times that he is more passionate about helping.
Since writing that letter, a story was shared with me regarding one of the young men Wil mentored in the Special Needs Mutual (Youth Group). This young man was so excited to see Wil sing with the choir during the LDS General Conference that he was inspired to step out of his shell and offer a special prayer at the Youth Group's next meeting. Again, I received affirmation that when we step outside of ourselves and act in faith, we will not only receive blessings, but we will become the tool the Lord needs to bless others.
I often find inspiration from the strength of others. A lifelong mentor/friend shared the blog "Living Life 'Single-Handedly'' with us. I have found Katy Pluim's story of life inspiring. Her openness as she shares the challenges she faces as she learns to do things a new way is humbling to me. Her post entitled, "Why I will never watch Soul Surfer again..." resonated in a profound way with me.
We are routinely reminded of the terror of the house fire and what we have lost. Even today as Emily's school class was heading outside, someone mentioned that they smelled smoke and Emily's head popped up and she started looking around. I am sure her heart was racing just a little faster, as was mine. Instead of dwelling on the loss, we have chosen to focus on what a counselor advised - For everything we remember we lost, we also need to think of something we have had good that came from the fire. This has helped all of us, especially the girls, remember how we have been blessed.
Looking back now, after being in our new home for a year, I am amazed at how we have grown. At dinner recently, Emily mentioned how much she was missing a particular doll. She said that she wished she had a time machine so she could go back and stop the man from setting the fire. We asked her if there had not been a fire how would she imagine our life today. As we talked about it as a family, many things were mentioned that we could say were a blessing that had come to us because of the fire and the love and support of our Heavenly Father as witnessed through our community. By the end of the dinner, Emily realized that while she may not have that special doll, she has the memories and she has other dolls now that are just as special.
Later on as I was again talking to my friend, she said something that I felt was truly important - Too often when we lose someone or something, we stop talking about them because we are afraid it will hurt too much to talk about it. But, said my wise friend, by not talking about those things, we stop remembering them and when we lose the memories and the emotions that made them special is when we really lose them.
I think that is part of why I blog. I don't hold any preconceptions that I will be able to inspire people like Kim and Kricket Carpenter or Katy Pluim, but I want to hold on to the memories and have something for my children to look back on.