FamiliesChange Update: On August 8, 2013, I married Brian Weidmer, a close friend from Northern California. We grew up together, laughed in high school together......................families change and as they do, I continue to learn and grow and trust my Heavenly Father. Being a step parent is just that many more opportunities to change the world, one child at a time!!!
Monday, November 5, 2012
My husband and I had just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a weekend getaway. It was picturesque and so relaxing. We had 4 children ranging from 8 to 18 years of age, each of them so amazingly talented, in their own way. I was working a couple of afternoons each week as a lunch recess duty at our son’s elementary school. It was perfect. I had enough time during the day to take care of the house, serve on the PTA and was anticipating serving as the PTA president at the junior high the following year. I was done with diapers and was excited to spend my days serving in our ward and in our children’s schools, to sort of pay back all those wonderful women who had dedicated their time and days, when my children were all babies at home. I was supposed to meet my husband for lunch, that afternoon, as soon as I finished at the elementary school. I returned to the car, looked at my phone, to find a text from my husband. It read: “I’m sorry. I went to the house and took my things.”My sweetheart had been struggling and I had been aware of his challenges for a few years prior. Well, that day, he gave up, Satan won, and he was not only done trying but done being part of our family as we knew it. He was gone for good. I immediately knelt in prayer and asked Heavenly Father for peace and direction for the coming hours, weeks and even months. I felt as though my handcart had just been loaded to its capacity, and I had been sent out to join a company, without a map, only the Spirit and my faith as a guide. I also knew it would be hard and long------but I KNEW we would make it!!
The next day, I posted a laminated strip on the wall in our kitchen. It read: Family Theme 2010, I CAN do hard things……..and SMILE! I introduced this theme that night during family prayer. I told my children that this was indeed a hard thing, but that our attitudes would dictate much of the outcome. I reminded them of Pack Meeting, baseball games, softball games and community plays that they were all involved in. I reminded them of their school work, and the importance of their personal prayers and scripture study. Most of all, I reminded them that this family change did not DEFINE them, but that it would REFINE them. I told them that this difficult challenge was no excuse to give up or for failure and that we all had obligations awaiting us, and to get to work! Joseph Smith, during some very lonely and dark hours in the Liberty Jail said it best, “Therefore, let us cheerfully do all things that lie within our power.” I found some things that really helped our family during this difficult time of family change:
1. We posted a motivational Quote of the Week. I introduce the new quote each week during Family Home Evening and we talked about how we could become better throughout the week, by keeping this thought in our minds and hearts. One particular quote we had up was from President Monson. It read, “We face many challenges in the world today, but I assure you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of us. He loves each of us and will bless us as we seek Him through prayer and strive to keep his commandments.” April 2011 General Conference
2. Start a new family tradition. That first Friday night, that my husband was gone, the stillness frightened me. I began to feel the loneliness and I did not want my kids to feel that deep pain I was feeling. Though, I knew it would come. So, I announced, “Hey kids, it Friday Family Pizza Night---invite as many of your friends over to our house, I will supply the $5 pizza and let’s have fun!” The house went from quiet loneliness to a house full of laughing kids in about 30 minutes. We had a great time! We were together. Still, over a year later, everyone anticipates Friday Family Pizza night. Friends are invited and we continue to have fun together and look forward to Fridays with excitement, not sorrow.
3. Have regular Family Home Evenings, family prayer and family scripture study. If your family has always done these things than this is the time to keep it up. If your family has never done these things, than now is the time to get to work. There is incredible power that comes not only from studying and learning the gospel as a family. But, there is power in obedience and during any family change or challenge we need that power. It is a power that brings peace. A power that brings blessings. A power that brings hope, when you may feel all hope it lost. And, it’s a power of unity during a time of trying change. It is the glue that unifies during a time when it would be easy to fall apart.
4. Serve together! I have always said that a formula for great day is to do something for myself, something for my family and something for someone else. It works every time!!! It does not have to be something big. Talk about it in Family Home Evening and do something each week. Perhaps, it is to get up early and shovel a neighbor’s driveway, to make cookies after school one day and deliver them to someone who has been sick. If extended family is nearby, perhaps it is to plan a surprise visit to one of them. Or, write letters to the full-time missionaries. Holidays are a great time to be a secret Santa, Easter Bunny or deliver a Halloween treat. My kids love to ding-dong-ditch the treats and they always make elaborate plans on who will run, carry the cookies and ring the bell. Then, we hide and watch our gift be received. Lift up the hands that hang down, and your’s will feel lighter as you do.
5. Re-decorate a room. Home is where the heart is, so we need to make it warm, bright and even a little bit of heaven. Move the furniture around, hang a new picture, re-organize some cupboards and even clean along the way. It is fun to rediscover long lost items under a bed or dresser, to clean, change and even brighten a room with a new coat of paint. We did this and then we had a great lesson on how some change comes our way because of our own choices, like re-doing a room. And, other times, change comes our way because of someone else’s choices. Stephen R. Covey teaches us that we are not products of our circumstances, but products of our decisions. We talked choosing to do hard things and smiling. We talked about becoming better not bitter. We enjoyed the newness of the room……and we realized that each day we could choose to be happy and the importance of good choices and how they lift and brighten the soul and all those around you, just like the new room.
The words to I Am A Child of God have never been more true than they are today. I plead each morning and night for a loving Heavenly Father to lead me, to guide, and to walk beside me………and He always does. I know that Heavenly Father loves his children. Better yet, I know Heavenly Father loves me and my children. I know that He will direct me as I put my faith in Him and “cheerfully do ALL things that lie in my power” to adjust and help my children adjust to change, challenge and even trial. We all can do hard things------ it’s smiling while we do them that is difficult. But, that smile shows our Heavenly Father that we trust His plan. That smile tells our families that things will be all right. That smile gives courage to those around us to do the same.
Families Change..........and so can we......for the better!!