Update

18 years & still going strong…

A few days ago, I just wanted something to listen to, so I turned on a podcast I like.  (Better Than Happy).  I heard the title of the podcast (Managing Depression with EmyLee McIntyre).  I didn’t think it’d apply to me because I’m not currently depressed.  But oh, how wrong I was!  18 years ago, I was VERY depressed, & the podcast applied so well to my 18th stroke-a-versary (which is today, 3/16)!  First thing to catch my attention was this gem of a conversation:

You create happiness cause you’ve been through hard things & you’re still ok…

-EmyLee McIntyre

We don’t have to dislike who we were in the past to become a different version of ourselves… “But I liked her! I still want to be her!” Ok. You can like her AND become an even better version of yourself.

-Jody Moore

(because) She’s you!

EmyLee McIntyre

Then they shared this cool idea:

“Write down a thought u want to have & each day write down 3 evidences of how u saw it was true” (for example, if you are having trouble believing that God Loves u, write down “God loves me” & each day find 3 reasons why that is true)

What a fantastic idea!  I don’t need to prove to myself that God loves me – these past 18 years have been filled with reminders of how God loves me & has stayed by my side these many years.  But for fun (& because it has been on my mind), I will list 10 I have seen recently – though there have been many, many more!

  1.  Because of choices He has prompted, I believe it helped me to have a quick encounter with COVID (though I’m still recovering, I feel great & well cared for)
  2. My husband was sick before me, so he could help me when I was too weak to do anything
  3. I am always amazed at the physical strength of my husband when he’s ill, & knowing how weak I got, there’s no doubt in my mind that he received heavenly assistance!
  4. My helper was also sick slightly before us, so she has also been here & could help me both when Mark was sick, & while I am sick!
  5. By some miracle, I didn’t get sick with COVID until my helper AND Mark were both well enough to help me, but it was close enough to when they had COVID that they could feel confident about their antibodies
  6. I saw my grandbaby just the day before we had to quarantine
  7. In 2020, I finally had surgery (that I’d put off forever) on my deviated septum…it has TOTALLY helped me deal with COVID
  8. Not too long ago, my husband picked up Navage (which basically sucks your boogers out – Ha, Ha).  Not to sound like a commercial, but it has helped me SOOOO much!  I’m less congested than I’ve ever been from a common cold!
  9. Years ago, it seemed like a mean, cruel trick how my diet had to suddenly change, but now all I see is how it blesses me!  The week before I had COVID, my diet was jam-packed with anti-inflammatory foods!  Stuff I never would’ve eaten 18 years ago!  It was like I was being prepared for a battle!  … & the clincher: it wasn’t even planned! (which is strange, since I’m a planner!)                
  10.  Recently, I was reading an article called “The Joy of the Saints” (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/10/14christofferson?lang=eng), & I was reminded of a man who had a lot of influence in my life during the early years after my stroke.  The article read, “ Once in an interview, Jack observed: “Problems will come into all of our lives; it’s part of just being here upon this earth. And some people think that religion or having faith in God will protect you from bad things. I don’t think that’s the point. I think the point is that if our faith is strong, that when bad things happen, which they will, we’ll be able to deal with them. … My faith never wavered, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t have depressions. I think for the first time in my life, I was pushed to the limit, and literally there was nowhere to turn, and so I turned to the Lord, and to this day, I feel a spontaneity of joy.”

Now I should pick a phrase I want to believe, but am having trouble believing…

Life is moving too fast

A quick recap of the last 3 or 4 months:

1. Sophia married Davis Wycherly in October in the Jordan River Temple (though it mostly just meant more travel – my awesome S-I-L, Margot-Mark’s “big” sister–by 1 year, was the most awesome wedding planner!)

2. I had my first primary program in October, & I have now been the primary president for a year. Being the primary president at church is crazy busy from September (when I finish writing the primary program) until January (when I’m finished organizing for the new year).  But I love it! It makes me so happy to feel like I still have something to contribute!

3.  We went on a cruise during thanksgiving. It was great if u are vaccinated & go w/o the kids. They have the non-vaccinated & vaccinated sections, so u can go w/o a mask sometimes. It was also very uncrowded. 

4. Jessie just got engaged & will be married in June in the Timpanogus temple to Kyle Van Roosendaal. All 3 of my kids married within TWO years…crazy!

5. Zach, & his wife, Maddie, had my first grandbaby, James, in December, & they just moved to Texas! (Yes, I’m a grandma!  I’m not a fan of the word “grandma” though … my mom is “grandma” & she’s really old! Haha – love u mom!) 

Prior to my stroke, I was a “Pintrest mom”.  I threw amazing birthday parties (I’d taken a cake decorating class so my cakes would be amazing, & I went all out, like making Superman shirts w/capes, or balloon light sabers), made file folder games (thanks to my Elementary Education background), etc. 

After my stroke, I had a really hard time re-defining the word “mother”. If u know the enneagram, I’m a 3, & I define that word by what I do. All of my “best mom” identity was stripped away with my stroke.  It was so tough for me, but Mark says my stroke made me a better mom…the kids didn’t care about all of that!  they were happier just having me there to cover with stickers, watch a puppet show, or to play our improvised version of hide-&-go-seek! 

I don’t think I learned from it though, cuz I’m facing the same issues as a grandma!   I think I’m facing the “Pintrest grandma”. I seem to define that word by what I do, as well, & my OCD-personality only makes it worse, because I don’t “do” what I “think” I should do. To me, a grandma helps mom, possibly by take care of the kids, & does stuff like bake cookies. I do neither. So, I’m working on re-defining that word now.  In the beginning last time, I felt so useless until I discovered unique ways to still be a mom.  Hopefully I’ll learn faster this time!  I’m sure it will help having him live closer!

What helps me to endure

I have been asked what has helped me to endure the trial I’ve been given & I’ve always felt that my beliefs play a big part & that my testimony of Jesus Christ has strengthened me throughout my entire life, & especially during these 17 years post-stroke. So (as usual) I’m excited to watch general conference this weekend, but I get more excited when Easter is the same weekend!

“General conference is the worldwide gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Twice a year, during the first weekend of April and the first weekend of October, Church leaders from around the world share messages or sermons focused on the living Christ and His gospel. Viewers learn how to find peace, hope, and joy in Jesus Christ; how to strengthen families by following Jesus’s teachings; and how to receive personal guidance and inspiration from God. General conference is streamed and broadcast live in about 70 languages and is later translated into more than 100 languages. We invite everyone—of all faiths, beliefs, and backgrounds from everywhere in the world—to watch, listen, and participate.”(https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/learn/general-conference?lang=eng)

If u want to watch with me, here are Ways to Watch or Listen to General Conference Live: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/learn/ways-to-watch-general-conference?lang=eng

There are 4 sessions (Saturday 11-1 & 3-5, & Sunday 11-1 & 3-5, central time. U can watch 1 session, or all 4 sessions! Or, after the conference, the messages are published on ChurchofJesusChrist.organd in the Church’s Liahonamagazine.

Here’s an Apostle Testimony Montage:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/video/2015-10-0001-apostle-testimony-montage?lang=eng

How have u been prepared?

This last week has been crazy!  Since I had a lot of time with no power, I did a lot of reading on my ipad.  I’ve been reading a book about the Children’s Songbook for primary (https://kobo.com/en-US/ebook/stories-of-the-children-s-songbook?utm_campaign=TextQuotesIOS&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=App_Acq) & read this this week:

“She (Adele Howell, who was recently widowed, & needed a “distraction” from her husband’s recent passing) was called to serve as a counselor to her friend, May Hinckley. “What a Godsend work is!” she wrote. “I’m so busy I have not time to think about myself and how lonesome I am.”

Being primary president is Godsend work for me as well…I’m so busy that I, too, don’t have a chance to think about my own issues, either.  I think of others instead of me & my quiet house.  I had planned on serving a couples mission with my husband (for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) when my kids were grown, but since that is not a possibility now, I see this as one way I can bring the gospel to others.  But what is so amazing to me  are the multiple ways I’ve been prepared to be a primary president!

Lately, I have been thinking about how the Lord prepares me for the challenges of life & the trials I must face, either through resources, knowledge, or experiences. Sometimes I’m prepared in small ways, like just charging all my electronics & my wheelchair before a power outage, or by filling my 32 ounce waterbottle w/water prior to my pipes freezing.  Other times He prepares me in bigger ways (like marrying a man who’d stay by my side, & help me pull through some of the darkest times in my life), & there have also been things I have learned throughout my entire life whether from a variety of experiences (from school, college, dance/singing classes) or just from being raised in my family & in the gospel..  These experiences have prepared me for things I’ve faced as an adult, as a parent, & even now. I’m just so grateful to be watched over, protected, & to feel so loved.

When my 1st child was born, I felt such an overwhelming responsibility, because God was entrusting me w/1 of His children. Now that all my kids are away, I’ve struggled to know my new definition for “mom.”  Knowing that I, too, am a child of God, to see how He has continued to help me (even when I’m “away from home”) is pretty eye opening! I know that just because my kids aren’t in my home, it doesn’t mean “I’m done” or anything (once a parent, always a parent!). But looking at how He “parents” from a distance, helps me to see how I should be.

Where have I been?

It has been too long since I posted.  I think I’ve over-extended myself. When I do, the 1st thing to go is taking care of myself, so I’m re-gaining all the weight I lost the last 3 months, I’m doing less therapy, etc.  The 2nd thing I do is put my church calling (a volunteer job) before my friends & family … hence, I rarely text or call my kids, I isolate myself a lot, & as u have noticed, I haven’t been posting. Sometimes I realize it & spend time w/Mark, or text one of my kids.

In my last post, I mentioned how I liked being an empty nester, & over Christmas, my youngest, Sophia, mentioned how when she hears how we like being empty nesters, & she feels like we are saying that we are glad she is gone — but that simply is not true!  With the birth of EACH child, my marriage has changed—not in a bad way, but Mark had to share the spotlight. & I had to give up parts of me…& when I had my stroke, I lost a LOT of me—all but the “mom part”.  So, I’m getting to know “the new me”, & that spotlight is back to Mark.   I like having the chance to get to know me, & re-acquaint w/Mark (prior to my stroke, I prided myself on my multi-tasking abilities, & it made me so proud to know that when I was in the hospital, it took 5 women to do what I did alone…but now, I can only focus on one thing at a time, & finally that one thing is Mark!)   

So that’s what I’ve been doing.  There’s no feeling of “oh, good…he/she/the kids are gone”.  I will always love & miss my kids, but it’s a nice change to have more time for myself & Mark!

Through the years I’ve re-gained parts (like having a church calling), so the time I spend for myself has been devoted a lot to my church calling.  Our church has a program called “primary”.  The church handbook describes it as: “a home-centered, Church-supported (children’s) organization. It is for children ages 18 months to 11 years. At home, parents teach children the gospel. At church, Primary leaders and teachers support parents through lessons, music, and activities.”  The last few years I have voluntarily served as the primary secretary.  Recently, I was asked to be the Primary President…yes, me!  It was exciting & simultaneously scary in so many ways! 

So, lately I spend a lot of time being a primary president. I love doing it & having more time to be with Mark!  I just need to find a better balance!