stewardship and potty training

Today I started potty training my 2.5 year old. It went really well considering he had zero interest going into it and I only had to scrub poop off of my carpet once. As I did said scrubbing, I found myself thinking about the uncelebrated task of teaching a child to use a toilet.  On any given day I might have a real chip on my shoulder about having to be the one to mess with the mess that was before me.  I have been known from time to time to wonder why tasks like this fall upon my shoulders and not, say, my husband’s. If I allowed myself, I could get really worked up about spending the day inside directing bowel movements while my husband (really just in my mind) receives accolades all day for his hard work in medical school and his PhD.

My work may feel so trivial at times, but the truth is, as long as Steven and I are each being our best at doing our best, our work is equally important. There is a quote that David O. McKay, a previous leader of my church loved that says, “What E’re Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.”  I love this quote too. I don’t believe the Lord cares so much about WHAT we are doing so much as HOW we are doing it. I also know that this is not just a personal mantra to pacify myself as a stay at home mom, but pure and simple truth, because it’s also been my experience that we’ll find much greater happiness in this life (surprise!) by focusing more on the how than the what.  We can find this promise also in the parable of the talents. In Matthew the lord gives 1, 2, and 5 talents to his servants. The servants who were stewards over the 2 and 5 doubled what they had and received equal praise. The servant with only 1 said he was “afraid” so he simply hid his talent and was rebuked.  The naughty servant wasn’t rebuked because he had only been given 1 talent from the start and everyone made fun of him, he was rebuked because he didn’t do his best with even the little he had. I find myself at times not being the best steward over my seemingly small-in-the-eyes-of-the-world tasks because I fear the world outside of my home more than I should. I spend too much time concerned with WHAT I am doing and whether or not it’s important enough than HOW I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing. It’s part of digging into this life that I’m working on.  So, the next time you come to my house, I’ll still just be scrubbin’ poop, but it’ll be the best scrubbed carpet I can muster and I’ll be darned if there’s not a smile on my face. 🙂

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digging in

Many times I find myself struggling with being a stay at home mom. Not uncommon. But sometimes I wonder if the depth of my struggle is normal. Just ask Steven, my husband. Probably at least once a month I have a mini life crisis wherein I question my validity as a human being, wonder why it feels so hard to be doing something that’s supposed to be so right, searching for something that will bring a different kind of fulfillment in my life. I let the important things slide as I search for the answer; as I make my plans to become a dietitian, no, personal trainer, no, cosmetologist, no, lawyer… I’m like the mouse on the wheel, continuously wearing myself out running for the morsel that I think I’m chasing but that is actually right beside me. If I would just step off of the wheel, give it up, the morsel could be mine. That small morsel that turns out to be so much more than it is at first glance–of peace, sense of purpose, clarity, light. Instead of stepping off of the wheel and taking it, I find myself avoiding the reality of the opportunity of this moment in my life, relying on my own limited wisdom. “Hey God, I know you’re trying to tell me your way would be so much easier, but no, that’s ok, I got this one.”

I had an experience lately that reminded me of the reasons I stay at home with my children. The reasons that I don’t always pay attention to. These are opportunities that use the skills I have that I don’t always work on improving. I have a friend in my church congregation whose husband recently was diagnosed with (another) brain tumor. He had had one several years before that had been removed and the prognosis was that there would likely be a re-occurrence in 10-15 years. And yet, here is my friend, pregnant with her 5thchild, and only 2 years after the first surgery preparing for yet another brain surgery that will take place only 2 weeks before her due date. If Christ can do anything with my life, please let Him show me how best to love this friend of mine and those like her. Let Him show me how to love like He does. How to serve without question and without bidding. Help me to find my life losing it in others’.  I find myself now asking, Lord, just tell me how, just tell me what, and I’ll do it. Qualities that I already possess have lain dormant because I’m searching for ones the Lord hasn’t given me, at least not yet. But Charity, I can do that. And with Him, I can work on it even more. At this time in my life I have the opportunity to help whoever I want, whenever I want, however I want. I have a love and curiosity and comfort with all people. My Savior, be my teacher, help me to know.

There is a beautiful quote by Sister Marjorie Hinckley, a wise church leader who has passed on, that I have always loved. It is this:

“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden.
I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”
― Marjorie Pay Hinckley

This is digging in. This is what I can do because I stay at home with my children.

I need Christ to show me how to stop avoiding this beautiful season and opportunity He has given me and Just. Dig. In. If I can turn myself over to Him, He can fill the whole depth of my struggle, and then make it overflow with what is true and good and beautiful and worth while. If I can just reach for Him, He can make this life so much more than I ever could on my own.

A Maternal Wave

I recently returned from a glorious summertime stint with my family, immediate, original and extended.   After bouncing in and out of each other’s lives for a solid month, it was hard for all of us to part.  But part we did, and for most of us it was done on the back deck of a houseboat as one family after another loaded their bags into the speedboat to be ferried back to the dock, where they then packed their cars and headed for home.  Just after breakfast on a Friday, we smothered my sister Allison and her family in hugs and kisses as they made their way to the back of the houseboat.  Her husband Steven lifted first little Eric and then four year old Evie over the railing where Allison waited with open arms in the red boat which was laden down with coolers, suitcases and beach bags filled with almost-empty bottles of sunscreen.  Steven coaxed, and then finally hefted, their 3 year old golden retriever, Birdie, onto the boat before jumping on himself.  My dad gave us the ok to shove them off and we stood there, waving on the back of the houseboat, until we couldn’t see them anymore.  It’s our tradition, you see, when leaving each other, to wave until the departing party is out of sight.  No matter where we are and no matter how long it takes.

As I watched my mom, who had devoted so much of herself into creating this time together, I saw the beauty of motherhood written in her face.  As she wiped a few tears from her eyes, I caught a glimpse first of love and then care, concern, a bit of longing, and finally resolve to send Alli off, knowing we would be waving her our love for as long as we could.  I also saw a measure of peace in those wise eyes of my mama, knowing, despite her longing for them, that she had loved them and enjoyed the time she had with them as much as she could.  I am beginning to appreciate how much motherhood is a series of such departures as independence beckons children away a small step at a time.

And as for Allison, she made it home safely and you’ll have the chance to meet her later this week because she’s got some beautiful ideas to share.

Until next time,

Lindsay