This past week was the funeral for one of our dear friends, Robertson Ward.
When I got the text that Rob had passed away, I just sat in the van by myself for awhile. The sun was shining, and the rain was falling. Isn’t it interesting when that happens. I called Bryant.
Maybe two or three years ago, in Bible Study, I had said something about Bry counseling members of our congregation about their finances . Diane pulled me aside after the meeting and asked if he would consider helping her and her husband as well.
Rob was a doctor, and, at that point, had no thought of dying anytime soon. They were plenty comfortable financially. But Diane said she’d had an impression that they needed to get their finances in order. Bry started immediately. Together they made some pretty significant financial decisions. Then, less than a year later, Rob was diagnosed with ALS.
I remember one of the last times Bry and I saw him alive, we were in their basement and Diane and I were chatting, and Rob, in his wheelchair, barely able to speak, pulled Bry aside to make sure with Bry that Diane would be taken care of once he’d passed. When Bry told me on the way home, it was the most tender moment. “I need to make sure she will be taken care of,” Rob said.
I don’t know that I’ve ever been with someone more close to the Lord as Rob these past couple months. He cried out of love for the Lord and for the people in his life. My memories of him these past couple months will be some of my most cherished memories.
What struck me at the funeral was when his adult son talked about Rob, as a dad and as a man, before joining the church and before marrying Diane. He talked about Rob trying his whole life to find truth and to figure out who he was. This son referred to the past decade as the “Diane Years” – the years that they were married and where he found absolute and total acceptance from her, and I think he found it from himself, finally, too.
I left the funeral hoping that that is something that I offer Bryant. And my children. Years in which they can search for and find truth for themselves, and years in which they are accepted for exactly who they are and where they are right now, every day, in every way.
PRINCIPLES STUDIED THIS WEEK:
“I like to do an exercise at the end of the year where I stop and I intentionally think about my successes for the year.
And when I say my successes, sometimes it’s things that I’m proud of that I accomplished. Sometimes it’s just my observation of my family, or the world, or people around me, in a way that I observed that life is better than it was at the beginning of the year or last year… I like to, at the end of the year, pause and notice all the things that have gotten better.”Jody Moore – Successes From 2020
I wanted to take some time this week to do the same. I’ve looked through journal entries and pictures from 2020, and I made a list of 20 things that are better in my life because of 2020. Ready for this!
- My children’s attitude toward education. I have to be honest. My kids were not loving school 2019. The weight of the hours at school and the work load, their relationships with their teachers, and even with me. When we started doing school from home in 2020, we made some decisions and took some risks. And, do you know what? The whole attitude in our home changed! The contention all but disappeared. And each got straight A’s, without stress. They (mostly) happily did their homework, and then went about helping their younger siblings. 2020 was a big year for us and relationships in our home. As well as our relationship with education.
- Mosaics. While the children were busy with their school work at the kitchen table, I liked to be at the table with them, so I picked up on paper mosaics. I really created beautiful art this year!
- Two words. Pepsi. Chicken. It is a new recipe we tried as a family this year, and is now a favorite. It’s fun. It’s delicious. And it’s the first meat that I can remember my vegetarian son volunteering to eat. This is what happened: I was picking the bird apart, after it was cooked. And when I got to the wings, I commented out loud, “There’s really no meat on these wings.” Jono said, “Hmmm. If there is no meat, maybe I’d like it.” And so started his relationship with Pepsi Chicken and wings.
- I went on two tropical vacations this year. And both improved my life, and not just because of the rest and relaxation involved. I took notes on what I learned from the ladies I was with on these vacations.
- I want to be more generous with my money, like Anne.
- I want to laugh at myself more, like Ruth.
- I want to take care of myself more, like Kyndra.
- I want to “drive” life more confidently, like Liz.
- I want to absolutely reach for my dreams, like Amy.
- I am strong. I am brave. I am kind. I am grateful. I am particularly grateful for these women in my life, and who I am when I am with them.
- Toilet paper. We did not have much of a supply, and we didn’t take the toilet paper shortage seriously. Until we needed to. Shoot. I learned my lesson, though. My food storage and supply storage is more hearty now than it has ever been, my entire married life.
- Funny memes. I’m sorry. I just can’t help myself. I was never a meme follower before, but, when reports and numbers reported got so discouraging, I found perspective and a good laugh in following my friends’ memes!
- We got a free trampoline. You may be wondering, does that really make my life any better? With the children home from school for months on end, YES. The trampoline was an absolute life-save.
- At the beginning of the pandemic, a local artist, Colby Sanford, offered to the public to paint postcards for individuals that we loved, at an incredibly low price for an original piece of art work. We bought one for each of our children, which we framed and hung in our home. These pieces are priceless to us.
- Ella got her wisdom teeth pulled. Glad to have that done with.
- Liam joined the XC team. Glad to have him honing down on a new skill.
- Instead of hosting a Primary Program live in 2020, we made it into a 30-minute video, featuring each of the 60 children in our Primary. This will be a treasure for me and hopefully for the children, for years to come.
- In church, we have really had to be creative as per church activities or parties. At Halloween, Bry and I racked our brains for a safe way to gather the children and the members of the congregation. And we came up with a brilliant plan! A Headless Horseman! Bry, dressed in a Headless Horseman costume, rode his horse through the neighborhood, passing out candy to our neighbors waiting for him in their front yards and on their driveways. We had over 200 people come out to be a part of this socially-distanced activity. And Bry was absolutely in his element.
- This was the first year we have ever put Christmas lights up on the house.
- We were challenged by the prophet, President Russell M Nelson, to use social media at Thanksgiving to post what we were grateful for. This gave me an opportunity to put some of the things I am most grateful for, to words. Doing so made my life better.
- One Christmas season, Bryant and I got separated in a shoulder-to-shoulder crowded toy store in central London. It had been maybe twenty minutes, when I saw him, standing on a staircase on the other side of the shop, scanning the crowd for me. I remember that very moment. My heart in my chest swelled – I could physically feel it. I stared at that beautiful man, overcome with gratitude. Out of the hundreds of people in the crowd that day, it was only me he was looking for, it’s me he loved. It’s me he’s always chosen. To be loved by a man so able to love has been the Lord’s most kind gift to me. #givethanks
- My body has done everything I’ve asked it to do. It wakes up when I ask it to wake up. It goes when I ask it to go. It has run, mile after mile after mile. It fasts when I need it to fast, it digests vegetables when I need it to do that, and it heals and cares for and literally lifts me. My body has given me five babies. It even kept our fourth baby alive inside me, when no doctor could keep him alive once outside of my body. My body creates what my mind imagines. It has served me and my family, day in and day out, with few complaints. I am so grateful today for my amazing body. #givethanks
- Road trips! So many road trips! So many memories with my precious family on these road trips.
- In 2020 I finished my ONE YEAR of blog posts. My friends, I am a different person for the year I spent researching and learning and challenging my beliefs and my thoughts. My family is a different family. My children have skills I only gained when I was long married. My relationship with my husband is stronger. And my relationship with myself is beautiful – I didn’t even know what I was missing. I am thankful to the Lord every day for the work I did over the past year, and for the path that it put me on in my life.
- In 2020 we started our monthly sleepovers with cousins. Love these relationships!
- In 2020 I signed up for Self Coaching Scholars.
- In 2020 Bry and I set out to learn how to sail. We are no better at sailing today than we were when we first started out. Ha ha. But we have made new friends in our efforts, and those friendships have made our lives better.
- In 2020 new families moved into our neighborhood. I made new and dear friends. And my other friendships were only strengthened, as we got through a year of pandemic and racial injustice and a presidential election and earthquakes and cancer diagnosis’ and deaths – we got through all of this together.
When I’ve been doing my daily thought downloads, I’ve noticed that the thoughts and stories I write are almost all negative. I don’t think that that’s because I am thinking primarily negative thoughts, but I have it in my mind that the thought downloads are only for the negative thoughts that I have. Does that make sense?
This morning, I picked through this week’s thought downloads, and chose one circumstance that I already have positive thoughts surrounding, that I recorded in my thought download, that I want to use for my model today. I’ve never done a model like this before. Let’s try it out.
CIRCUMSTANCE: I woke up from my dream at 4:45am this morning.
THOUGHT: My dream was so negative. I wonder why I would have such a negative dream?
ACTION: Instead of berating myself for having such negative thoughts in my mind and then brushing it under a rug, I sat quietly in the car and thought through the dream, kindly and curiously, and let myself relive it and investigate it. I don’t fear sleep, or my dreams. My dreams don’t affect my morning mood.
RESULT: I manage my brain better, through curiosity rather than through resistance.
This didn’t take any work to “get” to, in my brain. This is an example of a positive experience I had, with positive results. I want to record more of these, more often. The advantage of writing even the positive out in model-form, and investigating even our positive thoughts, is that we not only validate it and even strengthen that positive feeling/action/result, but we can better define it. Rather than, Oh I just didn’t let that dream bother me, I can see that I’d intentionally chosen my thoughts surrounding that dream.
I am in control of how the dream affects me, it’s not just chance or luck that lead me to a positive experience.