Friday, February 28, 2014

The Atonement

January 1 came. It brought a newness I wanted. It brought the desire for change. I love setting "real" goals. I am not a work out everyday goal setter. Not that  that is bad. I just know I fail with the thought alone. :)

So, my goal was more of a focus. I would focus this year on learning the strengthening power of the atonement. I fasted for it. I prayed for it. I constantly thought about it. I realized something amazing. It encompasses so many aspects.

One of the many nights I lay awake. I heard the baby and got up to realize he had a high fever. We are talking 104.7 high fever. Scary. I was scared and I knew at any moment he would start puking. I ran a luke warm bath to help it come down and gave him medicine. And I waited. We sang. We snuggled. And I waited for the puke. And sure enough it came. I called for my husband to come and help. He came threw me some wipes and got back into bed. Now don't be angry. He was exhausted. It was not his character to do that so I knew he was super exhausted. In that moment though I was at the low of all lows. Here I am....I don't know who I am. I have lost my routine. I have lost my comfort. I carry this massive burden of supporting service. All while carrying the weight of 5 kids. Five little kids. It became to much at 2 am. So while I was getting a baby back to bed and cleaning up the puke I knew I was staying up until I had answers.

I lay in bed looking at the ceiling contemplating my life up to this point. What got me here? Where had I gone? I counted my blessings. The tender mercies. I came to realize I had been strengthened by the atonement but I needed more. I needed peace. I needed answers. I needed to borrow the balm of Gilead. I needed to know I mattered. I needed to know I had a place. And so the counting went on. It took me back to the day of asking if the church was true. That day was a game changer. I made a promise that day. I promised if I knew it was true I would do WHATEVER the Lord wanted me to do. With that thought came an overwhelming amount of peace filled with the spirit. I literally felt the burden lifted. The weight was gone. I felt the Lord told me "This IS what I want YOU to be doing". I hadn't had that conviction yet. The spirit I felt was amazing and all in a matter of minutes the weight, blindness, and burden of this calling went away. I woke with a new light. I jumped out of bed. My kids were fabulous sites to see. I knew I could do it. And I am with the help of the Lord. I repented. I apologized to the Lord that I had not kept my end. And I moved forward.

The atonement was my answer. I can see it in a whole new light. And so with that makes those hard long and impossible days worth it. It hasn't taken away the roller coaster of being a bishops wife, but it gave me new eyes to see and new ears to hear. Even on hard days I still feel light. I don't feel the burden. It has been lifted. It is an amazing, wonderful, powerful thing.

And so maybe you are reading this as a bishops wife who googled looking for answers. Looking to see if you can find anyone that simply understood. Just know the peace does come. I can honestly say serving is a wonderful thing. I cannot wait to share what I have learned having a new perspective. I would love to hear from any of you reading this as well. I will never look at a bishops wife the same. I hope I will always remember the long hard days just to remember to reach out and serve those who are probably having long hard days, but masking it well with a smile. We are all famous for masking it all with a smile. :)

Vacation Came and So Did Reality

Mid December finally came. We loaded the car with a week of supplies including three doses of antibiotics for three kids. We were off to what others say is the happiest place on earth! Disney!!!!!!!!

I had never been before and for months I set boundaries. We now had boundaries on the calling and protection on our family, but I still needed to get away. Mr. and I could not be happier. No phone calls, texts or email checking was allowed until kids were in bed at night. It was wonderful!

The drive down however was not so fun. A child was sick and when we stopped realized he had another fever. I cried. We all needed this vacation so bad and it included a vacation from being sick! As we walked into the hotel I looked at John and mustard up all the faith I could to ask. I knew my baby needed a blessing. But I wanted a blessing of complete and immediate healing. Did I have the faith to ask for that? I had so many doubts. I knew I have a bit. I knew I could asked humbling knowing I was not worthy of such a blessing. But I asked. When the words were uttered that immediate healing would be granted, I cried. I was humbled. I was weak. I felt the love that I yearned for. That blessing and miracle I witnessed would carry me through the remainder of the month.

Needless to say the vacation was heavenly. So heavenly. We were us. We were us alone. We were together 24 hours everyday for 8 days. It was grand. And then the drive home happened. Neither wanted to go. We both wanted to stay. We had lived for 8 days. It was so so so wonderful! We cried starting the drive home.

Reality slowly hit on the way home. I felt the weight again. I felt the hardship, the burden, the anxiety, everything. I couldn't do it and I knew I certainly didn't want to. The weight of it all continued to wear on me and seemed to hit much stronger then when we had left. Mr. was gone a lot. Tithing settlement was in full force. I was completely alone all the time. I had more sick kids. I had more to do with the holidays. My tree wasn't even up. I didn't feel it this time around. I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. The stress became unbearable. And it came to a cross roads. Either I ask for him to be released or I figure this out. But how?

Well, that talk on the atonement. I read it. I knew what I needed. But I had never felt this side of the atonement before and had no clue where to start. So I started with a goal at the new year. I needed strength. I had heard the atonement covers that. So I started. I prayed and fasted for the strengthening powers of the atonement to over take my life. I was done. I quit. I was just going through the motions at this point. It was scary to see yourself slipping so far down. It was scary to watch the weight I didn't have fall off. It was scary to think I had no testimony and it was quickly slipping. How, in a service of saying yes had this happened. All I wanted to do was serve, but not in this way. Feeling worthless has taken over. I faced the adversary daily. I had to get out of bed and use every ounce of energy to fight. The energy was nearly gone. I wanted friends. I wanted outlets. I wanted a place. I wanted a home. I wanted more then anything peace. How do you find it? What has to change? What if nothing changes? Could my heart be changed? Could I change? Would I ever been happy inside and out again. Happiness is a choice. How could I choose to be happy despite my circumstances. January 1 was a welcomed date. It was a date that meant change for me.

The Stake President

Sometime around October, or earlier I don't remember, Mr. went to a stake meeting. There the stake president asked how I was. My husband hides a lot and keeps me close to him. He doesn't share the truth with people about me. He has the upmost respect. So, I hope that gives an idea of how bad off I was when Mr. told him I was struggling. They talked and decided I should meet with him. When Mr. came home to tell me I had a meeting I was not pleased. How could I go take someones time when as the wife I knew how that felt. But, the day came and the nerves were all over the place.

I walked in sat down. He asked how it was. One word was all I could say......"crap". I asked him if he really wanted honesty because he may regret asking. :) He then asked me to tell him the highs. I told him working with the youth and being around them more was a treasure to me. I love the youth of the church. The spirit they have, the hope, the happiness it just all radiates. They didn't judge me for being a bishops wife. They embraced it. It became my comfort. He then asked the lows. He asked me to expand as to what "everything else" meant. So I started.....I never see my husband, he meets with other women, he drops everything, being told "I don't know if I can talk to you anymore now that your the bishops wife, the meetings, the lonely Sundays, the lonely nights, the tears, the pain, the burden, the thought that your not your husbands life anymore, so yes......everything else.

He then counseled me some of the best counsel. I wish all bishops wives could have. He first told me it is normal for the relationship to be more heated then before. The stakes are higher. Their will be more crucial conversations because of the stakes being higher. You have two choices. Crucial to silence or crucial to violence. Meaning, you go silent its no longer worth the fight, or you scream and yell. He counseled that I needed to find a good medium. That my friends is not an easy task.

He also mentioned that what I felt was nagging was not. What a relief. Me saying no was a needful thing. He compared it to a new puppy. If you let go of the leash the puppy with run and get lost. My part was to hold that leash. To say no. To help him say no. To guide him. To encourage him. All while pulling him to keep him close to us as a family otherwise he will run off doing great work, but in the end loose his family. That is the last thing they want to have happen! I know that would be the last thing my husband would want to have happen as well.

He taught me about an emotional back account. When that is full it is easier to let them serve. At that time mine was bone dry. We needed to come up with things that would help fill this up so he could serve with out making me feel not needed or worthless. My cup would be full and it would make it easier for him to fill other peoples cups with counsel and love.

The meeting had only begun when it ended. He handed me a talk on the atonement. Told me on a hard day to read it. It sat in my car and then on my nightstand for weeks until I finally cracked it open.


Summer soon came and I couldn't have been more thrilled! A sweet HUGE tender mercy was I was prompted to make a summer calender. Complete with daily activities. Places to go. Things to do. A reason to get out of bed and make the most with my children. It was the best summer!!

Reality hit more near the end of that summer. We went on a family vacation and on the way up was hectic. I was mad. I was sad. I missed my Mr. I missed my old life. I felt like I kept looking back and it prevented me from looking forward. I didn't know how to over come this feeling of fear every time he got a call. Or loneliness every time he had to go. I felt the entire weight of our family on my shoulders. I had taken out more trash then ever before, made more dinners that I ended up eating alone. And had more feelings of resentfulness then I cared for. Getting out of bed was a chore. So here was this vacation that I thought was mine. We would have a whole week of just US. Boy, I was so so so so so wrong. Texts came constantly. I suddenly felt like a back burner of my husbands life. I felt I was just a title to give him this position. Their had not been a single day I had not cried over my new life and reality. We were told it would be hard, but their is nothing that can prepare you for the depth of just how hard! The weight was just so heavy.

During this difficult time I could still feel the Lord beckoning to me. I prayed daily to recognize the tender mercies to know He was aware of me. I felt them. They came in many forms. Friends who brought meals on random days, cards, phone calls, texts, and flowers to name a few. I just hadn't learned yet how to release the burden I carried. It was taking its tole. It didn't help that my hormones were all over the place since he was called as bishop when my baby was only 6 weeks old. And my hunt started. All I could ask for was peace. Heaven only knew how bad I needed it.

The following months were awful. I had sick kids for three months. We caught everything that was going around. To name a few: hand foot mouth, colds, ear infections, more colds, stomach bugs, more stomach bugs, pneumonia, more ear infections and more runny noses. To top it off I started to see mice coming into my house. No one thought the problem was a big deal except me. My dear Mr. bless his heart thought they would just find there way back out. I knew differently. It pushed me over the edge. I couldn't handle my own house any longer. Our landlord had an orkin guy come out twice and just when I thought we nipped the problem in came another beast. Finally, after many attempts my landlord came out, found the hole, patched it up and we were good to go. But, life was still overwhelming. So much so, that depression set in. It was probably always there, but I could see it. I could sense it. I had postpartum after my second child. It's ugly stuff. I had over come it once. I was determined to over come it again. I made the choice to fight. And fight I would do.

To be continued.

The Day Had Come

April 22 will be a day that is forever in my memory. As we walked in and sat down I felt a million eyes right on me. People knew. Was is that obvious? Mr's parents came, but they visit often. And then my four year old announces to those with in ear shot...."My Dad's the new bishop." The sacrament ended and it was straight into business. I remember being humbled seeing how many arms went to the square to say they support and sustain. I was humbled. The tears flowed. The 17 month old went crazy. Thankfully I have great friends. One of which I could pass him to knowing I wouldn't need to worry about him the rest of the meeting. I just had the baby. My husband squeezed my hand and I knew that was the last time I would have his help and companionship during church. It was rough.

 Finally, it was my turn to speak. My last talk was at the funeral of my friend. I was just as nervous to get up there again. Me....a bishops wife. Why? How? What? Me? I can't remember what I said, but I remember the spirit being there. After the meetings I was in a whirlwind. All I kept hearing was "congratulations". Are you serious? I didn't ask for this. I didn't pray for this. It wasn't something I wanted to achieve. And I get a congratulations. Where were all the "I'm so sorry?????" :) I loved hearing how many said the spirit had prompted them with who it would be. I was thankful. We are so young. 31 to be exact. I knew others would need that prompting to support and uplift. But, I in no way felt it was an honor to be called "mother of the ward". I was already the mother of five and that was plenty for me.

In the first few weeks it was a new high. I received cards of support and wisdom. Texts. Phone calls from dear friends and ward members. They were the tender mercies I had no idea at the time would pull me through.

Then reality of it all hit. The late nights. The all day Sundays. The weight. The worry. The burdens. The highs. The lows. And the adversary. The adversary came strong and with full force at me. I couldn't get a handle on it all. I mourned the loss of my husband. But my goals remained the same and I was so determined to accomplish that this in fact would be a memorable time with GOOD memories. But How????

The Phone Call

It was March 30. A completely ordinary day. My youngest was 6 weeks old. My oldest 7. We were cleaning having a family day when my husbands phone rang. I knew the look. I knew who it was. I was immediately in shock. This couldn't be happening.

A few months prior to this phone call I received one of the worst phone calls of my life. It was my husband. He called to tell me to stop what I was doing and say a prayer for our current bishops wife. She had been in the hospital and took a turn for the worst.  So I did. I listened to the heart wrenching prayer by my then 4 year old. She asked plan and simple that Jesus would make her okay. And he did. Just not in the way we all hoped. He took her back to her heavenly home that night. I had to sit by my husband and he made call after call after call after call to every member informing the of her passing. It was agonizing. It was hard. The world lost a wonderful person. I lost a dear friend. 

My heart was sad and still is. But time went on and no changes were made. We were happy. We watch a dear man loose his wife and still serve the Lord. It's humbling. And I had not thought that my Mr.'s calling would change. He was the elders quorum president.  But the call came. I have seen the look time and time again when he gets a call from the stake. They wanted to meet the following Sunday before church. 

That rest of that day was a blur. We tried to not think about it. We tried to reason that he was just being called as a counselor. In fact I was sure of that until 3 am came. I shot out of bed knowing. I knew what the Lord wanted of us. And I cried in disbelief. So, we got up and got our 5 kids ready and off we went. My life will never be as it once was.  

So, with the six week old in arms we got to the church. The Stake President first took my husband in and within seconds it was my turn. I sat down and heard him say "I am here with direction from church head quarters........" the tears immediately started. "We would like to ask your husband to be the ward bishop. And we want your support. Will you support him?" All I could do was nod my head. I had snot draining wild and tears that wouldn't stop. He gave us some counsel. And sent us on our way. I wiped my tears and mascara off my face and had to go sit in church. The baby started to cry thank heavens after his blessing and I escaped to the mothers lounge to cry  more tears. Another sister walked in to ask if I was okay. My response was the spirit was just in abundance! This would be our secret for THREE WEEKS. The longest three weeks of my life to say the least. 

To be continued.......