Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Enduring to the End

I've spent the last two days with Rachel in Park City as she has participated in a dance convention. I love to watch the sparkle in her eye as she gets her groove on during hip hop or attempts a sexy pout during the salsa.

Today I also enjoyed a two hour lunch with a few of my friends and fellow dance moms. We had a very intimate, revealing discussion as we spoke of different trials in each of our lives. I so appreciated the candor, the honesty and mostly the perspective I gained from sharing so much of ourselves with each other.

As I go through various trials in my life, I often wonder 'why me' or 'why this'. The past four years have been hard on so many levels and many times I have questioned my ability to deal with my set of circumstances. But I have also realized that everyone has issues, everyone I meet has trials to endure. Some are just more evident than others.

Oft times as my frustration grows and I want to proclaim the unfairness of it all, I receive a gentle reminder, a tender mercy even, that others are suffering as well and perhaps whatever strength I have garnered or growth I have realized could be used to lift anothers' burden.

Today as our words ran together, we saw each other with new eyes. I had this same experience a few weeks ago after an hour long phone conversation with a new friend. She trusted me enough to share her heartache with me. My view of each of these women has softened. I love them more. My heart is full of tender compassion for them. I marvel at how much they have helped me by simply sharing with me. It has made me feel not so alone. Somehow my burdens don't seem as heavy, simply because I know others are suffering too.

I find it strange and sad even that all too often we put on a good front, a happy face when the whole world can be crumbling at our feet. Why is it that we are so proud that we cannot share our grief and despair? I'd like to believe that one of the greatest lessons I can take from my trials is how to help others through theirs. My life is infinitely blessed by kind friends who not only carry me through my darkest hours, but who trust me enough to let me carry them through theirs.

I arrived home late to find an upsetting email on my computer. I did what I always do when in crises mode, I sent out an SOS. I'm grateful for an immediate phone call from a kind older brother. I'm grateful for a mother that patiently listens without unsolicited advice. I'm grateful for my husband's undivided attention when I most need it. I'm grateful that I can simply tell my friend 'it's been a bad day', and she doesn't need the details to know exactly what to say to me.

Just now, I received an email from another friend with this quote from Richard G. Scott:

"Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be, requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain."

I haven't spoken with this kind friend for a few weeks, and yet, somehow she knew I needed this quote tonight. I'm grateful for dear friends who listen to the promptings of the spirit, who take the time to care for me, to light the path for me when all I find is darkness. So grateful am I for the earthly angels sent specifically to strengthen me

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Home Again

Of the past 18 days in July, we have only been home for 4. We have had a wonderful few weeks traveling to Newport Beach and Seattle. The kids have been troopers...they've gotten along remarkably well, had no major meltdowns and have been genuinely thrilled to discover new places. Even Baby Miles has become a well seasoned traveler, seeming to understand the necessity of sleeping on the plane and sitting in his stroller for long periods of time.

Last summer I think I whined through the entire twelve weeks the kids were out of school. I was hot, pregnant and battling kidney infections left and right. Tony was in his third season of training for the Lotoja and essentially was consumed with the bike. The kids were grouchy and bored and we had very few summer plans. Did I mention I was hot, pregnant and battling kidney infections? Yeah, that's right. I felt pretty crummy.

What a difference a year makes. I was determined to do things differently this summer. We have been oh so busy. At times, too busy. But I have yet to hear my children tell me they are bored. I have yet to hear them whine or complain. If anything, they are exhausted.

So you can imagine how good it felt to actually sleep in our own beds last night. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see 600 thread count covering my very own memory foam. The air conditioner practically ran all night, sigh. I didn't trip once on my nightly sojourn to the bathroom. And we all slept a bit longer than usual, not wanting to leave the familiar comfort of our own rooms.

I can't tell you how nice it is to open the fridge and know exactly what's inside. To be able to leave a load in the dryer for a day or two if I want. To have my entire closet available instead of a few t-shirts in my suitcase. To stand in my own shower with just the right amount of water pressure.

I love to travel. I love creating memories with my children, love watching their eyes light up at a new discovery. But these past few weeks I have also discovered that I love my home. I love our routine. I love having the kids home from school. I love seeing more of my husband than just his back tire as he pedals down the driveway. I love our life.

I imagine I will always have the desire to venture out and explore. But as Cole said when we pulled into our street last night "It's good to be home". Indeed it is.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Building Doors

Last Week Rachel served as Little Miss Draper in the Miss Utah Pageant. When Miss Draper, Jessica Bingham, called to ask Rachel to be her Little Miss, the timing couldn't have been better.

Rachel is the proverbial middle child, the pleaser, the easy one, the peacemaker. April was a difficult month in that she was struggling with a valued friendship and the sweet antics of Baby Miles had knocked her off her princess rocker. She's never really one to demand attention, she just kinds of rolls along, busy doing her thing. But I knew being Little Miss Draper would be the type of confidence booster that I as her mother couldn't give her. I knew working so closely with Jess would be an invaluable lesson in service and friendship.

Rachel and Jessica have become kindred spirits. They share the same goofy, silly personality, the same easy going attitude. I have loved watching Rachel blossom under Jessica's care. From notes passed during church, to phone calls, emails, play dates, jumping on the trampoline and throwing back handsprings, Jessica has become Rachel's favorite pal.

Rachel has many older cousins that dote on her in much the same way and shower her with all sorts of attention. They talk to her about girl power, about rising above the drama of first grade, about her crush on a certain tow-headed boy in her class. And yet, her friendship with Jessica has strengthened her in a much different, more powerful way.

I'm sure some of it has to do with getting all dressed up for teas and beauty pageants. But I think it has more to do with the type of girl Jessica is and the type of girl I hope Rachel is becoming. We've had many conversations about what being Miss Draper means and how the very least of it is pretty dresses and make up. We've discussed Jessica's platform (Power in You), her opportunities to serve not only our community of Draper, but the entire state of Utah; we've discussed her talents, her poise, her education, her ability to shine on stage and off. She is to Rachel a role model in every sense of the word.

And as Little Miss Draper's mom, I am most grateful. I see the spark in Rachel's eye again. I see how this friendship has lifted her. I see her stretching herself in ways that will serve her well in the years to come.

When Rachel and I attended the Miss Utah devotional, the director of the pageant told the girls that only one of them would win and be crowned Miss Utah. She told them that they were already winners for all that they had accomplished thus far, for the service they had rendered, and most importantly, she told them if this opportunity didn't come knocking, then they were to build another door.

Our darling Miss Draper was not crowned the new Miss Utah, but as I visited with her the night after the pageant, it was evident that she was already building more doors. She was gracious and kind; she was making plans and was confident in who she was and determined in where she was headed. There is no one I would rather my daughter look up to.