Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer

This post has been percolating in my mind for quite awhile--mainly because so much is happening that I'm not quite sure how to encapsulate it into one post.  Those of my friends and family members who keep track of me through my blog have been emailing me and asking, "Are you okay?"  (Because when I go quiet, it's either because I'm really busy or really struggling.  In this case, it's both.)

The best way I can think to sum it up is in three sections:
  • What I've been doing with The Power of Moms
  • What I've been doing with my family
  • The two main "life questions" I have, and how I'm trying to figure them out

Here are a few things I've been doing with The Power of Moms:

A fun interview with Sonia at Happy-Go-Baby.  Sonia is part of our Mind Organization for Moms community, and she's been working on a darling website with "creative, unique, practical" baby items.   I love seeing how this program helps moms move their projects forward.  Yay, Sonia!

This recent article at Deseret News: How to Let Go of a Lot of Things a Little Bit (where I tell all about the snags in my carpet, the hole in my ceiling, and the time we taped our car together).

A podcast about balance--recorded on a day I never took a shower, cried to my husband for 15 minutes, and took TWO naps.

Work with our board of moms (who I couldn't live without) as we keep the site running, expand our offerings, network with other bloggers . . ..  These ladies are some of my dearest friends.  I need to do a whole post explaining how they're changing the world.

A Power of Moms Retreat, which needs a whole post of its own.  My new friend Rebecca Walters took some amazing photos there that captured the beauty of the small-group discussion format, and I feel like I made dozens of new friends--women I truly admire and want to be like.



Here's a photo of Saren and me.  I am very, very grateful to have her as my friend and business partner.


We also got to hear from Courtney Kendrick, who truly inspired us with some readings about family and motherhood.  


LOVE the Retreats!  (Have you been to one yet?)  We're currently planning a Couples Retreat in September and full "mom" Retreats in October, November, and January--plus an Australia tour in March 2012 (more on that below in section #3--I've never even had a passport, and I'm feeling REALLY excited and REALLY nervous about flying around the world). 

Here are a few things I've been doing with my family:
 

A much-needed vacation to Aspen Grove Family Camp in Utah, where we met up with seven other families who went to school with us in Boston.  We also stayed an extra week and visited with my husband's family, Saren's family, my sister Page's family, and some other great friends we haven't seen in years.

The Library Summer Reading Program.  We have a darling librarian here named Nancy who makes our trips to the library magical.  My children love her and read their stacks of books with gusto.

Housework.  Our house is a happening place during the summer.  It's hot outside, so we stay indoors a lot, which means there is plenty to do to keep our home feeling "clean enough to be healthy, messy enough to be happy."  My children have been organizing, mopping, vacuuming, scrubbing, "picking up," helping with the cooking, playing with Spencer, and just spending lots of time with me (which I acknowledge won't be the case in a few years).  We're becoming better friends, and I love it (but I also need a little break once in awhile because the constant action is a little exhausting).

Development.  My husband went to Office Depot the other day and found some incredible CD-Roms on the clearance table.  Typing software and building-design software were just a dollar each, and my children (8, 9, and 11) LOVE them!  We found out that our library has a "Mango Languages" program for free, as well, and it teaches our children to speak Spanish.  I've also been working with my children on their "Summer Goals" (also another post I want to write), which has been such a blessing to our family (except that I haven't quite coordinated the goal-tracking sheets yet, so they're more like "Summer Ideas" at this point. 

Swimming, jumping on the trampoline, visiting friends, going to the park . . . being kids.  I had a good talk with my friend Elizabeth yesterday, who has been a foster mother for years and has lived through circumstances I can't even fathom.  Some of the children she works with have been victims of all kinds of abuse.  She said, "I feel so good when I can see my children playing and 'being kids' because not every child has that chance."  I know it's a blessing for my children to get to enjoy their childhood.

Alia is officially 11 1/2 today, and she is like "Mommy #2."  Spencer told his Sunday School Teacher, "Alia takes care of all of us."

Spencer took this photo of Grace in our backyard, and I loved seeing her from his perspective.  She is a sweetheart.

My nephew (left) came over for a couple of days, and he and my boys jumped on our trampoline for about 12 hours--sometimes with the hose, sometimes with water balloons, and sometimes just with the giggles.  (Spencer wanted to wear his floatee-suit out there.)  I love those boys.


And now . . . if you've read down this far, here are the two main "life questions I have, and how I'm trying to figure them out:  

(1) How much should a young (I'm 33--that's still young, right?) mother of young children do?  

I've always considered myself to be good at prioritizing and "not scheduling too much," but goodness, now that my children are growing up and my website is reaching so many moms worldwide, the options to "do" are overwhelming.

For example, I'm dying to meet Felicity and Naomi, two friends in Australia who are helping to plan our Retreat there in March.  Saren and her mom and sister might be going, and I don't necessarily "need" to go, but my husband is encouraging me to do so, and I know I would love the opportunity.

That's one of the bigger decisions I'm weighing, but there are also lots of little ones.  I want to take photography classes with Alia and Grace, work on Cub Scouts with my son, and read all our "baby" books to Spencer before he doesn't like them anymore.  I have video footage of one of my Mind Organization presentations ready to be uploaded to the site, I'd like to write as a special contributor to CNN, and I'd like to create the five new programs Saren and I have been brainstorming. 

I wrote about doing the things that can only be done now back in this post, but lately the lines seem to be blurring as to what needs to be done now and what can wait.  

(2) How can I be most helpful?

In my talk with my friend Elizabeth that I mentioned earlier, she told me about her hard, hard life growing up.  She wasn't complaining--just sharing her history and explaining why she now takes care of so many children (some adopted, some foster children)--even though she's 65 years old.  

Her grandmother was a maid for a family in Florida, and she had to go to work each week, leaving four children under the age of 10 (Elizabeth included) home alone most of the time, and only returning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.  She'd give the children a dollar for bread and syrup, and they would take care of themselves in a house that didn't have a stove, a bathroom, a heater . . . anything.  That's just the start of her story.

I hear experiences like that--along with stories about children and families worldwide who are struggling, and they pierce my heart.  I can't focus on things like home decor, shades of nail polish, abs of steel, or gourmet cupcakes because there is something deep inside me screaming, "DO something."

I have an education, a home, a husband I love, four healthy children, food to eat, and a platform where I can communicate with thousands of women . . . what am I doing with this life and the opportunities I've been given?  

I'm taking today to really think.  I'm thinking about my current projects and goals, thinking about the family and future I want to create, and doing my very, very best to hear God.  That's the only answer that really brings me confidence: Listen to God.  

Our church has temples around the world, where we can go to learn about God's purposes for us.  I've heard the temple referred to as the Lord's University, and today I'm going there to talk to Him.  It's a beautiful place--quiet and peaceful.  I know many religions have beautiful sanctuaries where people can commune with God, and I feel grateful to have our temple in Redlands as a place of Retreat.  

When I go there, I feel like I'm "going home."  I feel how much God loves us, I receive that sense of calm I desperately need, and I always learn something new about how God works with His children. 

Now that I've essentially poured out my heart, I feel timid about pressing the "publish post" button.  I keep a separate, private journal because the things that I'm learning are very personal to me.  However, I occasionally feel that I should share some of these things on my blog--in case it might be helpful to someone else out there.  

Have a wonderful day.  I'm off to my Retreat.


8 comments:

  1. April, you are wonderful. Thanks for sharing all you do, all you have shared here. Good luck with your answers for those big life questions, and here is my 2 cents for ya on that: What you are doing with M.O.M. is amazing and helpful. It may not be solving world hunger or orphans or all the big "real" problems out there, but it is helping moms, one life at a time, and all those moms, with some skills and strength under their belts, can help to change the world and all those "real" problems, one life at a time. I know there may be more for you to do, and I hope you find your peace with what that is (it's HARD!), but please know that you are currently making a very big difference. :-)

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  2. April, I want to say that you have a big heart and you deserve what is best for you and your family. I am also young :) (34) and I too have compared life situations and I have felt guilty. I have learned that "guilt" is not a healthy feeling to carry, instead I try to turn that guilt into gratefulness and pray for others who maybe struggling. Follow your heart and do what you love especially those once in a life things you will never be able to go back to. God will guide you, just watch for those little signs and follow those feel good feelings.

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  3. First of all, I think 33 is very young. Or maybe it's just because I'm 33 too:)

    Thanks so much for sharing. You are making such a big difference. The hand the rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world and I would add, the hand that helps shape the hand that rocks the cradle will rock the world.

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  4. I especially love the paragraph you wrote that ends with DO something. I really think you ARE doing just that and your words really resonated with me. I am so so blessed and when I look farther than my immediate friends and family it is shocking to see how other people live and realize, WOW, what am I doing with all of this? Just today I borrowed my sister's jogger stroller and was jogging through the streets of Ogden and I just was thinking how different things look from my own two feet rather than from 4 wheels, whizzing by in a car. It is very sobering to me and makes me really want to do something to lift others.

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  5. Thank you so much for the difference you have helped me make in my family culture (said the "young" 43 year old.

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  6. Thanks so much for your perspective and kind words, Ladies. Ingrid, I've thought about your reminder all day. Even though I personally can't be out there taking care of everyone who needs help, the mothers I work with CAN. And all those "little" acts of service add up.

    I can do my small part--helping moms become more organized and connected, raising my own children to be compassionate, and serving people who need me in my own neighborhood. Some day I'll be able to do more, but I'm learning to assess my life based on what God thinks, and not on the unrealistic expectations I have for myself (so hard!).

    Even though none of us can see the ripple-effect right away, it's a fact that deliberate mothers shape generations. Rebecca, your quote about the hand that rocks the cradle (and the hand that shapes the hand that rocks the cradle) brought tears to my eyes. The whole reason I focus on motherhood so much is because that is the most powerful role I know of, and I can feel what's happening with this movement. I got am email last week that said, "What you're doing is bigger than all of us."

    Sonia, thank you for your confidence in God and your confidence in me, and "redtilehouse," I'm not sure who you are, but yes, I think 43 is young, too! We've got years and years to do great things!

    Love,
    April

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks so much for your perspective and kind words, Ladies. Ingrid, I've thought about your reminder all day. Even though I personally can't be out there taking care of everyone who needs help, the mothers I work with CAN. And all those "little" acts of service add up.

    I can do my small part--helping moms become more organized and connected, raising my own children to be compassionate, and serving people who need me in my own neighborhood. Some day I'll be able to do more, but I'm learning to assess my life based on what God thinks, and not on the unrealistic expectations I have for myself (so hard!).

    Even though none of us can see the ripple-effect right away, it's a fact that deliberate mothers shape generations. Rebecca, your quote about the hand that rocks the cradle (and the hand that shapes the hand that rocks the cradle) brought tears to my eyes. The whole reason I focus on motherhood so much is because that is the most powerful role I know of, and I can feel what's happening with this movement. I got am email last week that said, "What you're doing is bigger than all of us."

    Sonia, thank you for your confidence in God and your confidence in me, and "redtilehouse," I'm not sure who you are, but yes, I think 43 is young, too! We've got years and years to do great things!

    Love,
    April

    ReplyDelete
  8. I especially love the paragraph you wrote that ends with DO something. I really think you ARE doing just that and your words really resonated with me. I am so so blessed and when I look farther than my immediate friends and family it is shocking to see how other people live and realize, WOW, what am I doing with all of this? Just today I borrowed my sister's jogger stroller and was jogging through the streets of Ogden and I just was thinking how different things look from my own two feet rather than from 4 wheels, whizzing by in a car. It is very sobering to me and makes me really want to do something to lift others.

    ReplyDelete



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