We've Given Up the Easy Life for the Good Life

Monday, May 22, 2017

Facebook Post about Losing Weight

What's on my mind? My body. I'm so thankful for it. This is long, but bear with me. I'm trying to change the world.
People are starting to notice that I've lost weight this year. They're asking what I've been doing. It makes me a little uncomfortable because I hate our culture's obsession with body image. So what do I say? Here's my story:
I've struggled with my weight since puberty when I went from size 5 to size 12 in a matter of weeks in 7th grade. Always hated my huge breasts and curvy hips. Detested shopping for clothes because cute stuff never looked good on me. Gained a lot of weight during pregnancy. I never lost weight when nursing. Spent years studying nutrition, trying to find the perfect diet. Tried and tried and tried to exercise regularly. Willpower was always short lived. The needs of my family always trumped that battle. A few years ago I finally put it in Gods hands and trusted He would walk me through it in his gentle way. He has. What did I do?
First, I loved Him. Then he showed me how to love me. Then he showed me how to love everyone else better. For over 3 years I worked on ditching the shame. I ate what I wanted without guilt, and thanked God for the food I enjoyed. I only exercised if I wanted to. I worked on being grateful for my body just the way it was, accepting that if it never changed I'd be fine.
Earlier this year I made the most important step. I repented of all the judgemental thoughts I'd had about other people's weight or lifestyles.
And the poison flowed out.
I realized I'd been holding myself to standards that had been set by my own stupid and false judgements of others.
THAT is what I've been doing to lose weight.
I also by the grace of God (not willpower) happen to not like sugar anymore, I occasionally listen to hypnosis tracks that help shift my thoughts, and I workout now and then. But those things are fruits of the real workout. The real workout is to repent immediately of poisonous thoughts about myself or others. That poison is what really dims a person's beauty.
So I worry a little about getting attention for losing weight. I know it's well-meant and I can't deny it feels good, but I don't want my kids to hear it. They've ALWAYS thought I was beautiful. So has my husband, bless him.
I was beautiful when my curvy hips supported the creation of 8 human bodies. I was beautiful when my giant breasts nourished not just my own babies, but a handful of others. I felt most beautiful when this 200+ pound mama bear breathed and roared babies into this world in the sacredness of my own home. I was beautiful when my squatty body threw itself across a mama who was shaking after a rough delivery. I'm beautiful when I have to ask for help cause I can't reach something on the top shelf. I'm beautiful when I smile understandingly at people who treat me as less because of my weight. I was beautiful when I got up in front of people and sang or taught or testified or wept. I was beautiful curled up in my bed fighting the demons of postpartum mood disorders. I was even beautiful in the dressing room at Old Navy when I tried on some super cute leggings and I laughed out loud because they looked so ridiculous!
Here's the truth:
Everyone is miraculously beautiful.
Stop. And. Look!
Find it in you. Find it in everyone. Repent of the judgements. Repent for believing the lies. Don't just notice when someone is losing weight. Notice everyone and speak the truth about their beauty. Tell the fat people and the thin people and the addicts and the shy people and the annoying people and your family and the disabled and the healthy and unhealthy and friends and strangers.
Because IT IS TRUE!
Change things for our kids. Cause they will notice if the only complements you give out are to people who are losing weight.
Take back beauty. It is THE truth of our humanity.
Then return it to ALL of its rightful owners.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Learning to Fly

Then it was April.  A new season.

When the caterpillars first hatched, they were in a netted cage.  Once they started really flapping those wings, it was not long before we realized they needed to be set free or they would get hurt.

April was like that for me.  Exciting to be trying my wings, but I felt like I kept knocking things down.  Like everything was different and I had to learn how to do life as a different creature.

April started as workshop week came to an end.  The week with Janis, Amy, and Holly is one to be cherished forever.  A Mormon, 2 Christians, and a Jew....We laughed all week that we were like a bad joke.  How incredible to feel so safe so quickly with a group of people so different.  I want to remember Holly's steadiness and her comforting North Carolina accent.  I loved hearing her talk about her farm and homeschooling and her upcoming humanitarian trip to Africa. I loved that she felt free to talk about her relationship with the Lord.
Amy's fun chatter and willingness to be vulnerable were endearing to me.  I loved hearing her pray over the phone with her kids.  She even came and prayed over me the time she found me in my room sobbing because I was so nervous to attempt an IV stick.  Being from Texas, she was so curious about the mountains and canyons so the 2 of us went up to Sundance one day.
Christine came on as the other assist when track started.  She was so anxious and careful to do things right.  She figured out the checklist and routines down like nobody's business and kept our team running like clockwork.  I learned to appreciate her willingess to go forward with so much time and effort and expense to be a midwife in a state where she's forced to swim upstream.  She impressed me several times with her thoughtfulness when working with the moms.  She had good ideas.
And Janis from NY.  My granny midwife mama.  Steady and beautiful with her white braids. Everything she says is like a poem. At 61 still willing to start this amazing, demanding work.  She can stand on her head and do yoga like nobody I've ever seen.  She stayed on track with me as the Primary student.  That woman holds a pretty big piece of my heart.  Together we laughed and cried and learned and loved the midwives and the mamas.  At the end of a crazy sleepless week and a difficult night, I went crawling and bawling back to the dorm and Janis.  And she held my soul for me while I held a cup of her warm, sweet, creamy tea close to my heart and let all the worries come out.  

As I met new people and learned new skills and embraced new ideas, I did a bit of bumping around in my cage.  It's like I had a room full of block towers that I'd spent my life building: one for church, one for parenting, one for homeschooling, one for midwifery, etc.  As I knocked about, trying my wings, the towers came tumbling down.  All of them.  I felt like I didn't know anything about anything anymore.  I knew I needed to build just one tower, and I knew the center would be Christ, but I wasn't sure about the wreckage around me.  Do I really need all of those blocks?  Which things still matter to a butterfly?  It was a lot for a sleep-deprived heart to consider.

But learning to fly was also exhilirating!  When I am at the ocean, I feel so soul-fed, so alive.  Like, God made this for ME!  When I am at a birth, I feel so soul-fed, so alive.  Like, God made me for THIS!

I felt strangely and wonderfully at home at the birth centers.  I knew it was where I belonged.  I felt instant respect and love for each of the midwives I was privileged to work with.  I pretty much adopted Harmony.  I mean, her name fits right in to my family.  She agreed to step in as that baby of mine who never came.  And her other first name IS Rose...  I once asked her to give me feedback about my performance on track.  She had given it to the other 2 students, and I wanted my turn.  She said, "I feel like I can just give you a look and you'll know..." I wasn't completely satisfied with that answer, but it's what I got.  I could write for another couple of hours about Harmony, but "the look" will have to suffice for now.  If you ever read this, Harmony Rose, I'm giving you "the look" right now!  Colorful, amazing, strong person.

Then one day my track ended. I said goodbye to my friends. I spent a glorious weekend at 3 births with angelic Roxanna.  Seeing her in her element from a different perspective is a treasured experience. That woman knows how to love.

And then I went home.
Where I used to live.  When I was a caterpillar.
But I wasn't a caterpillar anymore, and I wasn't at births anymore.  I didn't know how to BE.

I've spent the last month learning how to do mom, homemaker, wife, homeschooler, churchmember all over again but as a butterfly.
My wings have gotten tattered a time or two.  And more than once I've wanted to crawl right back into that chrysalis.  But I don't fit there anymore.
Week by week, I've slowly figured out my wings at home.  They work here too!

I was asked to come back to the birth center.  I am thrilled!  I can't wait!  I am breathless and blown away at how this miraculous journey has unfolded.
My heart is soaring with gratitude for this incredible experience.

Year Two means Biology.
Life.
Babies.
Butterflies.
Change.
Yes, Change.  Time to fly!


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Friday, March 31, 2017

Seeing in Color

Then it was March.  A new season.

I was definitely not pregnant.

I belonged to a study group of midwifery students.  Wonderful friends, supporters, mentors.  I drank it all up like nectar.  They suggested a doula training so I signed up.  I spent a weekend with a dozen amazing women. And I fell in love. And it was scary.

I went to a week long training with 3 other students from around the country. Drinking from a fire hose for 8-12 hours a day.  Eating and sleeping and learning with friends who shared their hearts and their stories. And I fell in love.  And it was scary.

I was asked to stay and work at the birth center for a few weeks.  14 different mamas, 5 different midwives, a team of student midwives.  And I fell in love with them ALL.  And it was scary.

You see, I had learned as a caterpillar how to love and be loved.  I had learned how to protect my intense, passionate, vulnerable heart from getting hurt.  And as a caterpillar it worked out okay because everything was black and white.  I knew to place my love where it would be properly returned.  My heart was safe.

But what was this?  The colors!  The people, so different from me, so colorful, so beautiful. Differences that used to seem divisive to me now seemed interesting and enjoyable. My heart was not safe anymore.  The old ways of coping and hiding and wall-building around my heart just didn't work anymore.  And I wasn't sure if I wanted it to because--the colors!  And I was in love.

But what if.  What if they don't love me back?  What if I unleash this crazy heart of mine because I love the colors but they just see a grubby caterpillar and my heart gets broken?  I don't think I can love this much and survive my heart being broken.  If butterflies see differently do they love differently too?

God said yes.  They love without fear.  Can you? Can you trust in my love enough that you don't have to worry about whether they return your love or not?  I have enough love to fill you.

Can I? I have to try.  I will try.  Because even if I wanted to, I can't go back to being a caterpillar.  And I really, really love to see in color.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Wings?

Then it was February.  A new season.

It all started with Facebook.  A post advertising a conference.  Something telling me I needed to be there.
At the time I thought I was pregnant.  I knew I needed to take the Newborn Resuscitation class.  I thought it was because the baby I was pregnant with might need resuscitation. Though I had definitely been interested in studying midwifery for over a decade, it had completely fallen off my radar.  I'd contentedly given up on that dream and focused on my family dreams.

My dear friend Roxanna, my midwife was also attending so we drove up together.  Spending 3 days with her was a treat by itself.  Having her hold safe space for me while I entered a new world was more than amazing.  I saw some old friends and made lots of new ones.  Something began to wake up inside me.  It told me I belonged there.  It told me the next step:  A week-long training at the birth center. Wings?  Me?

Delightful discovery. And frightening.

On my knees again and again.  Are you sure, God?  Me?  A Midwife?  Yes I know I've been praying about this for years, but I never thought...
But my FAMILY!  If you haven't noticed it is HUGE!
I can't ask them.  I can't just be gone.  I'll have to study.  When?  I'll have to leave in the middle of the night sometimes.  How can I do that? What about homeschooling? What if I fail?  What if I choose wrong and hurt them.  I HAVE to succeed at home, remember?   WHAT IF I FAIL?
Okay, I'll do this, but you have to promise I won't make a mess of everything.  Promise me I won't fail?

He wouldn't promise.  But he reminded me that just like the Nephites had faith in his atonement before He was ever even born, I could have faith that he has already paid the price for my future failures.
A new level of trust.  And freedom.
I felt like-maybe? Maybe I can move these things.

...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Coming Out

And then it was Christmas.  A new season.

Time to come out.

It started with an idea about sewing and service.

I always feel a little guilty about the focus on "stuff" at Christmas.  I always want it to mean a lot more than that for my kids.  But I also LOVE Christmas! I love the gifts and the music and the goodies and the friends and the traditions.  So we do all that stuff and we do stuff for Jesus too.

We had donated all of our "Christmas Jar" money to a refugee project the month before, and the kids were feeling a little sad about not having a surprise to leave on someone's doorstep this Christmas.

And it was our year to do sewing.  And it was my year to stay home, so I really wanted to watch ALL of our Christmas movies.  Something really wonderful worked out.

Just like that my afternoons of reading and resting were over.
It was okay.
It was a new season.
I taught the kids to sew reusable Christmas gift bags that we sold online to friends.  We earned enough money to leave a substantial Christmas surprise on somebody's doorstep.  And we watched a LOT of Christmas movies.

The chrysalis began to bulge and break.

Then it was January.  A new season.

Time to come out.

It started with a heartbroken daughter.

She needed something, what?  What could I do to help? The trouble seemed serious.  And scary.
But my reservoirs were full, so it didn't get me down.  Little by little, I sought and received help.  Consultation from a psychiatrist friend.  Neighbors reaching out at just the right moments.  Learning about a workout group for moms just a block away.

Yeah, a workout group.  As in me exercising in front of other people.
ONLY to save my baby.
I bought workout clothes.
And I felt just like the heavy, droopy, newly hatched butterfly that doesn't even realize it has wings.
But I came out.  I worked out.
A sparkle came back to my baby girl's eyes.
And I learned to trust my friends with my heavy, awkward body.
We laughed and cried and lifted each other.
It felt good to be out.

...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Into The Chrysalis

It is year Two in our homeschool rotation.
Year Two means Biology, Modern World History, Family History, New Testament, Sewing.

Biology means microscopes and sea monkeys and microscopic pond creatures and models of the human body and babies and seeds and plants.  This year it also meant butterflies.

They were on sale one day on Amazon Prime.  Butterfly kits that came with everything you need to hatch butterflies.  Two days later, we were watching 5 grubby little caterpillars eat their way through a tub of.....caterpillar food. They ate and ate and we watched and watched.  Watched the skins shed, watched the chrysalises appear, waited and waited.  One by one they hatched, slow and heavy with newness.  Eventually they learned to use their wings.  We fed them nectar and gave them hibiscus flowers to sip on.  We set them free on a warm fall day, utterly different than the ugly grubs we started with weeks ago.

I didn't realize the significance of choosing butterflies for this particular year or how beautifully it would tie in to my own metamorphosis.  I didn't realize that it was the beginning of my own grub for nourishment before I wrapped myself up for awhile.

All summer long I thought and prayed and planned what we would do when school time rolled around.  Slowly but surely a picture emerged of what we should be doing.  Things fell into place for Brandon and Ruby to be at public school half time.  Any lessons were scheduled to happen at our house.  I wasn't in charge of ANY homeschool activities or co-ops. Any kid driving that needed to be done was done by Brandon.  My weekly schedule was such that I never had to leave the house.  Never.  And I LOVED it!

Could this be me?  The person who thrives on friendships and creating opportunities for my kids to be with other people?  The person who gets awfully grumpy if she spends too many days without seeing friends?  Somehow it was me.  And it was wonderful.

Every morning I would get up early, eager to plan my homeschool day.  I'd spend time on my own studies before making breakfast and awaking the kids for scripture time before Dad and the big kids left.  Every day I knew I'd get to sit with my kids, just them, and teach them whatever I wanted.  We covered so much more material than we usually get to, and we did it in such a joyful way!  We took a different approach to math: reading stories and playing games.  We played games with logic and grammar and had one-on-one reading time.  We did loads of science experiments and watched our snails and Sea Monkeys thrive.  We got SO excited about the pond-water creatures, I even recorded them with my phone! At lunch when the big kids got home, we'd sing or play lovely songs together and read lovely stories: Cragbridge Hall series, life stories of ancestors, Sherlock Holmes and Encyclopedia Brown.  Every day was different, but rich with learning and loving and play.  Then the house would go quiet.

The big kids would do their chores and homework.  The younger kids would rest or read quietly somewhere.  And I would put the baby down to rest and go to my room.
For hours.
I rested and I read.
I read Cleon Skousen's commentary on Isaiah.  I read Tale of Two Cities and Scarlet Pimpernel and a few Jane Austens and a few other classics.  But mostly I read dozens of cheesy clean romance novels. I loved them!  They were easy and fun and reminded me that my own relationship should be more romantic.
As I read, my reservoirs were filled.  Some reservoirs I had completely forgotten about as they had been given up on after years of drought.  I drank and drank and drank during those hours.  I was careful not to schedule anything during afternoons.  My social life dwindled to only occasionally seeing my very closest friends.  I disappered from the outside world. I even turned down a church calling (gasp!) But it wasn't depressing or strange.  It was delicious!

My whole world was my home, my chrysalis.
I was grateful, oh so grateful, for that time.  I knew I needed it, but I had no idea that God was preparing me--that he has always been preparing me-- for something new.

Year Two means Biology.  And Biology means life.  And life means change.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Washed Clean

(January 2017  This post has been tucked away in draft mode and tucked away in my heart.  My blog has been on hold because I didn't know how or if to share.  Because this experience colored the rest of my year I felt stuck anytime I thought of writing.  But this year needs to be written, so here goes.)

Written April 14, 2016
Nathan turned in his mission papers on Sunday.  It was exciting to see him glow with excitement all day.  He has worked really really hard the last year to overcome some weaknesses in order to preapare for his mission.  I could tell that though excited, he was a little sobered by the reality of it as well.  He was excited to tell Grandpa Millington that night that the papers were in!  Dallin's family rejoiced with us as we anticipated the call that should come within the next two weeks. 

When we got home, I was burdened with an incredible heaviness.  I knew that part of it was jumping back into life after Spring Break, but I could tell it was more than that.  I often feel excited to get back into the schedule after a break, but I was feeling so much fear and dread about going back to my life of trying to plan things out and improve, only to have interruption after interruption.  I was nervous about the struggles with Brandon and school.  I was feeling badly about my own weaknesses and unmet expectations.  I did NOT want to get back on the mountain and climb.  I spoke to Dallin about my feelings a little, but it was late.  I asked for a blessing, but he felt he needed some time so I said it was okay to wait till tomorrow.  I already felt a little better just for talking about it.  I was getting some ideas about waking up early and helping Brandon get a good start.  We prayed, and I specifically prayed for Nathan, knowing that he was likely to have some opposition from the adversary for his decision to serve a mission.  I prayed that our ancestors would come and help us and protect him. 

When I awoke the next morning, Nathan was at school and Brandon was at seminary.  I had gotten up early and read scriptures but gone back to bed.  I was geared up to get a schedule written out with some assignments for Brandon.  I called a friend to ask what she had done for her older kids, but she didn't answer.  I checked my phone for messages.  My world fell apart.

In checking my messages, I discovered a mistake that Nathan had made that could jeapordize everything he had worked for.  And I knew for sure his mission was at best on hold.   For a horrible couple of hours I tried to get ahold of Nathan, tried to get ahold of Dallin, talked to the younger kids and we prayed together.  I met Dallin at work to talk for awhile and make some plans.  I finally got to talk to Nathan.  Many of my worst fears were unfounded, but it was still a devastating mistake. 

The rest of the day was spent counseling Nathan, crying, praying, wondering how I could take care of my family with such a heavy burden on my heart.  I remember the Spirit giving me specific instructions to just keep moving.  "Write that check....Get an envelope....Put the stamp on...."  Of course because I have little ones there were moments of smiles and joy, but the weight was ever before me, with so many unknowns. 

I took the kids to violin group lessons and tried to pretend I was okay.  A meeting with the Bishop--not good news, scary news, even.  Dinner.  Keep going.  Family Home Evening.  We can Sing.  Brandon came through with an impromptu lesson.  Get milk and a treat at the grocery store.  Put kids to bed.  Keep going.  I was so tired, so so tired.  Sleep?  Please come, sleep.  Give me a break from this weight, this sadness, this disappointment, this hurting to see my child hurt, this wondering what will happen, this wishing, wishing it hadn't happened.  If only I had....Don't go there.  A noise in the hall--is it him?  Is he okay?  A sleepwalking child rushes into my room thinking its the bathroom.  A tender-hearted daughter can't sleep for worry.  I grab my pillows and lie by her in her bed.  For a few minutes I drift off, grateful for some respite.  But it is still there when I wake up.  Not a dream.  Real.  I went back to my own bed.  Sleep, please come.  Thoughts swirl and haunt and I try to sleep, to pray, to escape.  I try praise.  At least it distracts me from the incessant thinking.  Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of Creation...I sing in my mind.  Praise God from whom all Blessings Flow...Why couldn't I remember the words to any other hymns?  Concentrate, focus away from the pain, away from the thoughts.  After over an hour, Dallin got up to use the restroom.  I asked him to check on Nathan.  And finally I slept for 3 hours. 

When I awoke at 6, I knew I needed to go to the temple.  I was really tempted to just go back to sleep.  I was SO tired and sad.  But I didn't want to ignore a prompting from the Spirit.  A friend had asked Ruby to babysit so she could go to the temple.  I felt I needed to ask to go with her.  I thought maybe I would be helping her with her own difficulties, getting myself out of the self-pity bubble.  Thoughts flooded in, trying to convince me that it wouldn't work.  Who would watch the baby?  Brandon needed to do school work and the girls would both be gone.  A name came to my mind.  She was willing to rearrange her morning to come help with the kids.  Lovely, wonderful person!  On the way to the temple I asked about my friend and she assured me she was doing very well and was excited to go to the temple with her dad, who was following us in his car.  I shared some of my burdens, and she shared that she had told Nathan's sunday school class the story of Peter on Sunday.  Of Peter facing the Savior and saying he would serve him and die for him.  But the Savior knew him and knew he would deny him 3 times.  And Peter denied him, and was devastated, but he carried on, becoming the leader of the apostles.  I was stunned.  How perfect that she had shared that with my son on the very day he would have a similar experience. 

I sat in the temple with Emily's temple name card in my hand, and my friend with another ancestor of mine, Lottie.  I prayed for them to be there today.  To be with me.  It became apparent how much I needed my friend with me.  Throughout the session as the tears began to flow, she put her arms around me and I was not alone.  By the end of the 2 hour session, I was very tired.  It was hard to stay awake, and we were at the back of the line to go through the veil.  As I finally approached the veil, a small weakness of mine came to mind.  Then I was flooded with my weakness, my smallness, my insignificance, my inability to be successful in so many ways.  I went to the veil feeling utterly humble.  I sobbed through the veil ceremony and stepped into the celestial room.  I sat and sobbed, continuing to let the emotion flow out.  I thought of my insignificance in the universe.  I looked around the room of the beautiful brand new City Center temple Celestial room.  It was full of loveliness.  I was there.  I looked back at the veil.  "That was all?"  I wondered.  That was all I had to do, and I was in this lovely place.  Me, insignificant me, with all of my faults and weaknesses.  I had "humbled myself before the Lord".  How often do the scriptures ask us to do that?  I had never paid attention to that phrase before.  I looked across the room.  Directly in front of me were 2 empty chairs.  Emily and Lottie. 

It was time to go.  I walked into the sunshine and blossomy fragrance of a perfect April day.  My friend asked me to drive her car home so she could go out to lunch with her dad.  I drove home alone, feeling a little less concerned about my troubles, mostly anxious to be with my baby and little children whom I had been away from much longer than I expected.  I was not quite conscious of what had just happened. 

When I got home, all was at peace.  A neighbor was helping Simon with his reading.  The kids had had lunch and it was cleaned up.  Brandon was working on school.  The baby was asleep.  The other children were playing nicely together.  I sat at my table to eat lunch and it hit me. 

I was free.
My burden was gone.  Completely gone. 
I knew all would be well.  Knew it. 
I felt clean and pure, unspeakably clean, inside and out.  It was sweetness, it was joy, it was freedom.  I have known of, worshipped, loved, and tried to trust Jesus all of my life.  I have been comforted by his love and peace, I have been directed by his Holy Spirit, I have had many witnesses of the reality of his life and mission and love for me.  But I realized I have never felt the atonement.  Not like this.  It is truly the sweetest thing I have ever felt.  I can not describe it, but I can say that as wonderful as it was to be at the ocean in a vacation home, I wouldn't have traded this feeling even for that. 
Like Enos, I have to exclaim, "Lord, how is it done?"  How could I have gone from being beside myself with sadness, to utter humility, to this complete joy?
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows....and with His stripes we are healed." 


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