Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Family, Home, and Me with Kassidy

Next up in the FHandM series is one of my dearest friends, Kassidy. She's having a baby shower tonight for her third kid/first daughter and I'm so excited that I get to be in town for it! Even though she's my little (much taller) sister, she has always been an incredible example to me. If you had told me when I was a pre-teen that I would one day view her as one of my best friends, I wouldn't have believed you in a million years. There was a long time where we definitely did not get along (understatement of the century), but it's amazing what a similar situation and the Gospel can do to bring people together. I love her with all my heart and am so proud to be her sister. 

Living peacefully in a family isn’t always easy, but in God’s restored Church, marriage and families are the most important social unit now and in eternity.” 

I feel so very blessed to have the husband, and children that I have. I never thought a love so deep was so possible. Every day I thank my Heavenly Father for my blessings, and everyday I feel like he gives me more. 

When I walk by my three-year-old’s room and hear “Dear Heavenly Father, please bless that my toe will stop hurting. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen”, a joy fills my heart greater than I could have ever imagined. He will then rush to me exclaiming with glee “MOM! I prayed and because of my faith it worked!” This is pure joy.

When I watch my second try for minutes, hours, sometimes days to do something he’s seen his older brother do, and he finally “gets” it, the look on his face is pure joy.

When I watch my boys wait by the front door for their dad, that is pure joy. When I ask my kids what they want to do, and they ask to read the book of Mormon, that is pure joy. When my husband waits until I catch his eye just to blow me a kiss, that is pure joy. 

It’s during these times that it is easy for feel peace and the spirit with your family. It’s during the trying to cook dinner, the house is a mess, and the baby is crying times that it’s more difficult. So how do we live peacefully in a family all the time? We’ve been taught that we need to spend our time on the things that are most important to Heavenly Father and eternal salvation. If it is the most important social unit now and in eternity, then we should be spending our time WITH our families. While quality time is important, so it quantity. As mothers, it can be hard to appreciate the time we have with our children. For those of us that are able to stay home with them, we are with them all the time. For some, it’s hard to get over the monotony of the day-to-day happenings. For some it’s coping with the phase changes from the happy sweet stage to the tantrum-throwing fit, fight over everything stage. And for some, it’s trying to find peace in the crazy-never-having-a-moment-to-stop, endless responsibilities of life with kids. We must focus our attention on the precious spirits we get to spend time with. We must try, even when we’re tired, to teach our kids the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the importance and reverence of everything He did for us. We must show through example, how to keep our cool, and that happiness is a choice, not something someone or something has to give to us. We must show patience, even when everyone is crying, sweat is dripping off your face, the shopping cart has a broken wheel and your car door won’t open. We must focus ourselves on living as close to Christ as possible, including our kids in our spiritual moments, and inviting them to share their testimonies with us. We must show them unconditional love if we want them to stay close to us and to our Heavenly Father.

A critical part in feeling peace in our families is the way we treat our spouses. More and more research is showing that the most important thing you can give your kids is your love to your spouse. Spend time with them, make their favorite treat, stop what you’re doing to give them a hug and kiss when they get home from work. Show your children that your spouse is your #1. After all, they are the one you get to spend eternity with. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to go on a date every night and ignore your kids, but when you have kids, they are the activity you do with your spouse. Share stories, read books, laugh, play cars (or whatever your kids are interested in), go for a walk or bike ride, build a fort, clean the house, make a treat together, the possibilities are endless. In the last general conference, we were taught that dinnertime should be the main focus or center of our days. We must not turn the TV on every night until bedtime, too exhausted to move. We must find the energy needed to show our kids that we have fun together, all together.  Make sure to talk to your spouse.  Talk about their day, anything going on in their life, and ask them questions. It’s easy to become critical and find problems with our spouses. After all, no one is perfect. There are several couples I have observed over the years, and while I don’t see what happens behind closed doors, you can just tell they are each other’s soul mates, and they cherish every second they have with each other. One thing they all have in common is they are always thinking about each other. They are always finding small things they can do for the other one, without expecting anything in return. Most of the time, they do get something in return, but no one will find happiness and peace while thinking of themselves. Show your kids this. Be a good example of unconditional love to your spouse. Show them how much joy there is to experience through the eternal bonds of being sealed in the temple. Be the spouse you want your spouse to be, and it will happen, I promise.

So the way to have unconditional peace in your family? Have unconditional peace in your heart and it will pass on to the rest of your family. It may not happen overnight, but show them the love, and they too will show you the love, therefore bringing joy and peace to your family, home, and eternity.

A mere desire to become self-reliant is not enough. We must make a conscious, active effort to provide for our own needs and those of our families. Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop, reminds us that when we have done all we can to be self-reliant, “we can turn to the Lord in confidence to ask for what we might yet lack.” Being self-reliant allows us to bless others. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says, “Only when we are self-reliant can we truly emulate the Savior in serving and blessing others.” 

One goal my family has is to become self-reliant. We’ve started by raising chickens, rabbits, gardening (very, VERY beginner mind you), gathering food storage and preparedness materials, learning to make our own food, and learning household and car maintenance tasks. We still have a long way to go, and to be honest it’s completely intimidating. It is hard work to go outside when it’s 90 degrees outside, pretty pregnant and clean chicken poop while carrying at least one kid on my back, but you know what? It’s completely worth it. I love this quote about being “active”. I’m finding what it really means to be able to “rest” on the Sabbath, and my relationship with the Savior is able to grow as I catch a glimpse into what it was like to make the world knowing there was a rest day at the end.  I wonder though- do you think they just napped the whole day, or do you think they were a little excited, relieved, documented what they learned, what they might do differently next time, and think about what is next?

My piece of advice on this one…Do something to become more self-reliant. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but do something. Whether it’s storing a couple gallons of water, learning a new skill such as sewing or car repairs, or growing some herbs, anything is a good start. After all the warnings and counsel we’ve been given, we NEED to start somewhere. We need to turn to the Lord in earnest prayer to figure out “where we lack”, and know where to start. I’m probably the last person to be giving anyone advice on this. It’s just something I personally have felt is important to focus on with raising a young family.

As in all things, the Savior set the perfect example in the love He showed for His earthly mother. In the final, most pivotal moment of His mortal life—after the anguish of Gethsemane, the mock trial, the crown of thorns, the heavy cross to which He was brutally nailed—Jesus looked down from the cross and saw His mother, Mary, who had come to be with her Son. His final act of love before He died was to ensure that His mother would be cared for, saying to His disciple, “Behold thy mother!” And from that point on the disciple took her unto his home. As the scriptures say, then Jesus knew that “all things were now accomplished,” and He bowed His head and died” 
– Bradley D. Foster 
Second Quorum of the Seventy

The whole point of this life is to become like Christ with His love for others. I love the way Brother Foster described the Savior’s love for his mother. The last thing he did was make sure his mother would be cared for. I hope I show my children the love Mary must have shown the Savior for him to think of her while in so much pain. No one would question if his last thought was “wow, this really sucks”, or “It’s almost over, I can do this”. His last thought was for his mom.
I don’t think there should ever be “me time”. It may sound harsh, but it’s a skill we need to develop if we are ever able to become like the Savior. Did the Savior ever say “I need ten minutes to myself”, or did he ever need to veg on a treat while catching up on his favorite “show” to be able to continue on with his day. He faced much harder things than I, and he continued to show love and concern for others above himself, yet I find myself daily in the food closet needing 30 seconds of chocolate chip medicine so I don’t lose it.

My piece of advice for this “me” section would be to lose the “me”. Think of others. The more we think of others, the more we are like the Savior. The more we’re like the Savior, the closer we are to living with him again and the better “me” we are as an example for our influential kiddos. When we are lying on our deathbed, it won’t matter how we looked while out with our kids. It won’t matter how many miles we ran, and it won’t matter how cute our house was. What will matter is the “me” we were for our children to look up to, come to, and become like.

Thanks so much, Kass. What an incredible, motivating message. I'm so lucky to have a sister like her to be an example for me. 

If you are interested in contributing to my FHandM series, please email me at
gracefullykensie [at] gmail [dot] com.

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