Monday, June 2, 2014

Define: Eternal Family

This particular topic has been on my mind a lot recently. And it wasn’t until this morning that I decided I needed to write a blog about it. But before I dive in, a little back ground for anybody who isn’t Mormon. . .

We believe that the family is at the center of the gospel. We believe that when a marriage (or sealing) is completed in an LDS Temple it is for time and all eternity because those who perform the sealing have authority from God to bind on earth as well as in heaven. We believe the power to procreate is a gift and an endowment of power from God only to be used in the bonds of holy matrimony (and solely between a man and a woman-but that is for another entry). You can find all of what we believe about marriage and family in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

However, what you won’t find anywhere is how big a family has to/should be. No prophet, apostle, or other general authority has ever stated a “minimum family size” needed for exaltation. And that is because there isn’t one.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am NOT bashing on large families‼ There are 5 kids in my family, I want a large family, and some of the best families I have known in the church have 6+ children. But some of the other best families I have known are not large. My husband comes from a family of 3 children and they are possibly one of the greatest families I have or ever will meet. One of my very close family friend's  do not have any children, and I dare anybody to spend 10 minutes with them and tell me they aren’t virtuous, humble, and righteous members of the church. They did all they could to bring children into their home but have been unsuccessful for one reason or another.

And this leads me to the topic of my post today. . . Eternal Families.

There seems to be an underlying, unspoken, unconscious prejudice in the church that in order to have an eternal family you need “X-#” of children; and in what I have experienced in my slim 4 years of marriage it’s a minimum around 4 or 5. THIS. IS. FALSE.

 It is (as I believe) also thought that the “typical” Mormon family consists of Mommy, Daddy, and 4.5 perfect little children.  Again, in my opinion, this is also false.  What is normal or typical in the church is changing. We are “hastening the work” and as such the “typical” member is changing. The typical family is changing. People are entering this church who are from different walks of life. They have gone through things that those of us (myself included) who are life-time members can’t imagine. There are single parent, no parent, foster parent, divorced parent homes in our church. They are good people who searched, found, and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord loves them and will not deny them blessings of happiness.

Of course, there is and always will be the IDEAL situation. A mother, father, and children all sealed for time and all eternity in the Temple.  And it (a temple marriage) is something we should all strive for.  Because in the end it’s the temple marriage that makes families eternal. (and continuing to keep the covenants made there-obviously).  It’s not the number of children you have that creates an eternal marriage. 0 kids, 4 kids, or 10 kids – if the parents weren’t married in the temple, it’s not eternal.

I believe that we need to do all we can to bring children into our families. We must exhaust our options. The Lord has commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth.  . . but what of those who can’t?

 I suggest we focus on the fact that they are ALREADY ETERNAL FAMILIES. I currently do not have children, and while my little family of 2 doesn’t look “typical” – it IS eternal.  Just because the Lord’s plan for me is different than others doesn’t make my family any less eternal. For those whose wombs are empty and heart is full – your family is not any less eternal.

As for the single/divorced members (with or without children). Whatever your past or current situation, the Lord has a plan for you. And it’s a great one – if you stay true and firm in the gospel. You must continue to exercise faith, love, patience, and virtue in your daily life. And the Lord will, one day, bless you with an opportunity to make your family eternal.

There is a typical phrase in the church (one that has irked me at times) but its – “all will be made right in the millennium”. Meaning , those without children will receive them, those without spouses will marry. No righteous person will be forever denied those types of blessings of happiness.

And yes- that is true. But rarely do people talk about how hard the endurance process is. And the strength and courage it takes for a person to wait AND stay firm and true in the gospel. I believe those who are asked to wait until the millennium have THE. STRONGEST. FAITH. They have THE. MOST. COURAGE. . . In my opinion the Lord has asked more of them than the rest of us. I have been blessed to receive the gift of an eternal marriage in THIS life. And will (hopefully) be blessed with children one day too.

But others aren’t so lucky – and boy, are they stronger than I.

So in my last moments of typing I challenge us to reconsider and reconstruct the definition of an Eternal Family. To look again at those different from what we think is “typical” and consider their strength, courage, and fortitude as they take on and conquer the challenges the Lord has given them – look again and ask ourselves,

“what can I learn from this beautiful, righteous, different, un-average, ETERNAL family.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

To Be. . .Or Not To Be. . .

I, like so many others out there, am FINALLY coming close to finishing my degree! (Insert party dance here!) And as I do I find great joy in telling people that I am almost finished! (who wouldn't?! - 4 years and however many of thousands of dollars later. . .)  These happy moments in my life always go as follows:

Person:  So Chels, when do you finish
Me: *almost dancing* I've ONLY got ______ time left! SO Close!!!
Person: Wow! Congrats! This part is going to fly by! What are you studying?
Me: Chemistry

. . . this next part goes one of the following ways. . . 

Scenario 1:
Person:  *horrible grimace* Oh wow. . . chemistry. . . I hated chemistry. Good for you.
Me:  I really like it. Its fun and keeps me on my toes. There's a lot to learn.
Person:  Yeeeeaaah. . . .Soooo. . . .what do you plan on doing with that degree???

. . . .

Scenario 2:
Person:  *Smile*  Hey! Me too! (or they may be studying bio-chem/pre-pharmacy/something similar) Which chem class are you currently taking?
Me:  Sweet! I love it! . . . I'm currently in _________. 
Person:    Yeah! I remember that class. . . What do you plan on doing with that degree?!?!

. . . .

Now, the conversation itself is always great! Its fun to find other chemistry enthusiasts (we are generally few and far between). . . and its also fun to watch the person try and hurry and hide their pained expression as they reflect back on their high school chemistry class. Then listen as they try (not well) to hide their distaste for the subject and not let the conversation die because they are no longer interested in what I do because of the nightmares it will bring them if they continue to talk about it. . . .Hahaha! I really do get a kick out of this one. Because I will usually comment on their look of discomfort. Which usually tends to lighten the situation.  :)

But, for those of you who didn't notice. . . both these scenarios ended the same. . .

 "What do you plan on doing with that degree?"

And up until about a little while ago. . .it never really bothered me. (mostly because it wasn't asked all that much) But now. . . as I begin the final leg of this 4 year race. . . I kind of stumble over my words and get caught in my own web of. . . Duuuurrrpppp.....and just have a hard time answering the question.
Not because I couldn't. . .I know what I COULD do with the degree. . . But what was more important is what i PLAN on doing with my degree. . . and I found myself being rather disheartened when I wasn't able to just spit it out!

I hate to admit it. . .but I was scared of peoples reactions of when I told them what my plan was. So usually I would just spit out an array of possibilities. . ."My long term plan is to teach, but i could also get a position in a Lab doing analytic work for a researcher, or work as a product quality analyst for a company. . ."

But the truth is that none of these are what I PLAN on doing! 

My plan is to become continue to be as good of a wife as I can be and to become a stay-at-home mom. 

My plan is to use my minor in Psychology to hopefully have a better understanding of my children's developing brains - so i can plan activities that are both fun and mentally stimulating.

My plan is to use my background in Chemistry  (math & physics a little too) to help my kids with the "hard subjects" and relate real-world scenarios to them in ways they can understand and enjoy. . . .think of how much fun my kids will have when we are doing AWESOME science experiments in the kitchen and they get to show Daddy when he gets home!

My plan is to use the education to which I have been exposed and have had the privilege to receive to better my home and my family. By being there to teach, educate, rear them in the ways of truth and right.

And for whatever reason, I had a hard time saying this. . . I didn't think the world would understand. (and most haven't). I've had people say things like, "You've payed for your degree and now you're just going to sit at home???" . . . or. . . "Oh Chels, don't say things like that. You don't want to waste all your hard work.". . . 

At first it was hard. . . I would just kind of half laugh and brush off their comment and change the subject. . .I have never liked disappointing people. It can feel like a rock in my stomach. . . 

But then one day, after reading an Ensign article entitled, "Nine Principles for a Successful Marriage and Family"  it hit me that the only people I should worry about disappointing was myself and the Lord. If I want a happy and successful marriage and family then I need to follow this guidance and stop worrying about the world.

So I made a promise to myself, that whenever anybody asked "What are you planning on doing with that degree?". . .I would tell them that my plan is to first and foremost, be a good wife and mom. And use my knowledge to help raise a successful and happy family. . . then, after my kids are all in school, to maybe look for something to do part-time that would let me use my back ground in Chemistry.

Its been an interesting process. . . I still get the weird look or comment. . . But I've found that  when I say it with confidence and enthusiasm- people usually respond positively too. I want people to know how much raising a family means to me, and how important I believe it is. And this is a way that I have found to do it that I feel pleases my spirit and pleases the Lord.

*As a disclaimer. I know there are many different situations throughout this world. There is nothing wrong with not-being a stay-at-home mom if that is what your circumstances mandate. . . but, there is also nothing wrong WITH being a stay-at-home mom. And I believe that is what we as women should strive to be. A strong wife. A caring mother. A virtuous woman.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Spare Minutes

What do we think about in all the free minutes in our day? . . .Let me guess, you just thought "Pshh! What free minutes is this crazy chick talking about?!?!?" Well . . .allow me to name a few.
1- What do you think about when you are at a stop light?
2- What do you think about in the shower?
3- What do you think about during a commercial?
4- What do you think about before you fall asleep?
5- What do you think about when you are waiting to pick up your kids from school/practice/etc. ?
6- What do you think about when you are doing you're hair/make-up/etc. ?

There . . .I just named 6 "spare" minutes that you could be thinking about anything. So, what do you think about? Do you just stare aimlessly at the light waiting for it to turn green? Which, by the way, if you only sit at one stop light a day - that approximately 1,095 minutes a year (or 18 hours) that you could be putting your brain to good use. Are you? What about the shower? My showers take about 10 minutes . . .so that's  3,650 minutes a year (60 hours/year) I could be exercising my mind. We don't even want to think about how many pointless minutes are wasted on commercials every DAY, let alone a year.

I do not remember how or when this thought came to me. (Ironic considering the topic of this post!) But it did. WHAT was I doing with all these spare minutes??? And how could I use them to better myself?

Well, this was NOT an easy thing to think about. Nor a simple task to take on. After all, this would mean examining myself and possibly adding MORE things to my already jam packed schedule. . . But then I thought - well, these are minutes already built into my day. Its not like I am trying to cram more activities into my life. . . and if I don't examine my life and try harder, nobody is going to do it for me.

So I started simple. Doing my make-up. Every morning for 15 minutes I sit in silence and put on my make-up. How can I make this more worth while? . . .I was revved up! I was going to become great! I was going to do something with these minutes! I was . . .human. And I forgot about it for a while!

I think we all do this, right? We get excited and pumped. . .and then suddenly you're brain is an etch-a-sketch and life gives you a little shake, and everything is erased. . . But then again, it came to me. I MUST DO SOMETHING WITH THESE MINUTES!!! . . . Only there was one difference this time, I had a smart phone. I had a smart phone with the scriptures downloaded to them. I had a smartphone with the scriptures downloaded to them that could read them to me!. . . and I already knew that I needed to do something with this time. So, one morning I put the phone next to me and pressed play and. . . "I Nephi having been born of goodly parents. . ."  began playing next to me! I was SO EXCITED! I could listen to the Book of Mormon every morning while I was getting ready! :) :) Now, it was hard at first to remember that I was doing this. . . but once I got into the groove I was easily doing 2 chapters or more every morning! And doing so much in a day really brought the scriptures to life! I was able to get through the whole book in about 3 months. . .and now I have started again. It had become the favorite part of my morning! And the best part is, I get to do it in my spare minutes - - and those minutes are so much more meaningful!

Now that I was doing well with these minutes,  What about all my "spare minutes" in the car? Stop lights. Cross walks. Searching for parking on campus. Rush hour. . . What could I do here? How could I make these few minutes each day as meaningful as my 15 minutes each morning? . . .Well, my wonderful husband is the hero of this part of my story. He has spent the past 10 years of his life collecting gospel talks/lectures/stories from various LDS General Authorities on CD. Throughout our marriage we have enjoyed listening to these various CD on our hour drive to the Detroit Temple. (our favorite to listen to is Truman G. Madsen).

Again, I started simple. I knew I could easily turn off my radio for 20 minutes each day (10 minutes to campus and 10 minutes home) and listen to a talk on CD. That way, when I came to a light/crosswalk/etc. . . I would have something to ponder and think about that was worth my time. . .I am going to brag here. This was BRILLIANT! It started out as these simple 10 minute chunks of my day. . .then, I found myself sitting in the parking lot to listen and not wanting to get out of my car. . . Then, I wouldn't want to turn it off when I went to Wal-Mart. Slowly, the radio faded out and was replaced by the voice of Truman G. Madsen (my FAVORITE) teaching me about the lives of the Prophets of the Church! And it has been an amazing blessing! It has helped in my Church lessons, my time at the Temple, and my day-to-day life!

Now, I know that I am lucky in the sense that I do not always have a car full of kids that demand Radio Disney, so I am fully in charge of my radio. :) Also, I am not saying that every once in a while I don't need a stress-relief-break where I can blast a Carry Underwood song and sing at the top of my lungs! (because trust me, I DO!! as do we all!!!) And I am in no way saying that I use all my minutes wisely!!

But what I am saying is that there have been irreplaceable blessings and indescribable incites from these spare minutes put to better use. And as I search out more spare minutes and more opportunities to better them - the richness of my life will increase and I will be able to find a greater happiness in more places.

So. . .what will you do with your spare minutes???

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Race to the Finish!

This was the first week of classes for the winter 2013 semester and its been crazy getting back into the swing of things! Two weeks of vacation never feels like a long enough time. . . but it is certainly enough time to fall out of practice with your schedule! :)

This is by far my busiest semester and will be the busiest semester of my whole college career! I've got Organic Chemistry, Physics and Physics Lab, Calculus, Psychology of Adolescence, Social Psychology, and Gymnastics. For a grand total of 18 credit hours. . . Luckily I am only on campus Monday - Thursday and I get to keep my 3 day weekend :)

Usually, the first days for class are "Here is the syllabus and here is what is expected from this course" Blah-dee, blah-dee, blah. . . But not Calc. or Chem. or Physics. . . Us science people like to jump right in. . .several pages of homework for each class. . .Which normally wouldn't be all that bad, but I've been a little under the weather this week. So its been kinda rough getting back into the swing of life.

Also, I have been getting ready for my first class of teaching the new curriculum! Can I just say that I am VERY excited for it!! I always like my girls to have a fun time and enjoy coming to class! And its been hard in the past -  when they are really into the lesson and we are having a great discussion and then - - - times up! And we have to end - and they want to continue the lesson next week. In my mind I hear "Must. Keep. On. Schedule. With. Designated. Lesson!" But in my heart I feel, "Continue on next week! Teach these girls what they are longing to learn!!"  . . . My heart wins out 99.9% of the time, and we would continue on the next week. But then I'd have to cram the next two (or three) lessons into one week and the spirit would suffer. :( :( BUT NOW!!! We have this awesome new curriculum and we get to talk about the same topic all month and the girls can help choose the more specific topics! I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS CHANGE!!!

Confession:  There were a few weeks over this past year when I completely left the lesson manual in the dust and had the girls decide what they wanted to learn about! . . . Now, I was fully expecting "We want to learn about boys!" or "Can we have a lesson about 'grooming' where we learn about hair and stuff?" . . . But what I got was - "Can we learn about the difference between our Divine Nature and Individual Worth? We think we'll get more out of our personal progress if we have a better understanding of their similarities and differences" . . . *Jaw Drop*. . . Don't I have the MOST AWESOME group of 12 and 13 year-old girls EVER!!!!! I believe I did this 3 or 4 times over the past year, and it always turned out spectacular! :) :) So I am very excited to be able to have the girls more involved with the lesson planning and increase their participation even more!

So, between the homework and the lesson and the illness. . . my wifely duties of house-cleaning-upping have been lacking a little :(  . . . Hey, it happens to everybody, right?!?!. Buuut, seeing as Jason will be coming back from his world travels tomorrow, I am on a tight race to the finish to get it all picked up before he gets home :) Which, for me is actually a fun little game! See, I always want Jason to be able to come home and relax after his days gone at work :) If I can have everything all nice and clean and organized - then we BOTH get the whole weekend to relax and be together! Neither of us has to worry about the laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc. :) :) Its a great feeling and a blessing to be able to have it just be the two of us in a clean home. We are able to focus on our time together and grow closer together as a couple! :) :) :) Its just fantastic!  (Now, I am only human - so it does happen that cleaning isn't always done due to . . well. . .life. . .but Jason is always wonderful about helping me finish up so we can relax together.)

Its been a busy but rewarding week. I know I'm always going to be playing the balancing game of Life! Whether its School or Kids, Cleaning or Church Calling, FHE or Grocery Shopping, Cooking or Personal Scripture Study. . . there will always be at least two things competing for my time! :) And I know I can not do it all on my own! And luckily, I don't have to :) I know the Lord is here to help me. I know as long as I am trying my hardest to do what is right and prioritize my time wisely He will help me to accomplish all things I need until I finish my race!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What's In A Name?

Starting a blog is a lot of work. Which is why it has taken me so long to actually start one. You have to decide what you're going to blog about (not easy). Come up with a name (really Really not easy).  Then actually make the blog (really Really REALLY not easy). Did you know that there are actually blogs out there that are about how to make and maintain a blog?? . . .Yeah, losers. Haha. . . although, I was the loser that actually looked through them. So yeah. . . Moving on. :) :)

I decided I needed to make this blog for my own record. Once upon a childhood I was great at keeping a journal. But now real-life has set in and "ain't nobody got time for that."  :) :) So with the idea of a journal in mind, I set out to come up with a good name for my blog.  I wanted something that was fun, catchy, practical, and represented who I am and what I love. Aaaand. . . Since that's what all the blogs about naming blogs say to do - I was already one step ahead. What can I say, I'm naturally awesome at blogging. . .

Well, one thing led to another and  "Life of A Mormon Wife" was born. After all, this blog is about my life (which is actually pretty snazzy if I do say so myself). I'm a Mormon and I'm a Wife (the 2 things I love being most!!).

Soo. . .even though this blog is probably only going to be read by people I know . . .I'm going to do a small intro to myself. So for all you friends and family out there -  you can skip the next few paragraphs. Its all going to be review. :)

My name is Chelsey. I currently live in Ypsilanti, MI  (a candy bar to whom ever can say that name who has never been here). I am married to Jason, the most amazing man ever. You can argue if you want, but you will lose. We were married in August of 2010 in the Bountiful LDS Temple for time and all eternity. (for a picture of the temple click here) Yep, you heard right, TIME and ALL ETERNITY :) I get to keep my prince charming forever! Not just till death do we part. (you can be jealous! If you don't want to be jealous any more follow this link). . . hey, you're reading a blog called "Life of a Mormon Wife" you're going to get links about the awesome-ness of my church!! 

We are here in Michigan until a date that is TBA. Jason flies airplanes for Delta Connection and has been here for the past 5 years. We met when he was commuting from Salt Lake City. He would fly back over the weekends and spend the time with his family and then fly back and spend the week in Detroit doing his flights. (Yeah, its more exhausting than it sounds!!) Well, one cold October night he and some friends decided to crash my Stake's Halloween Dance. . . and the rest is Romantic History! We went on our first date 4 days after we met and were married exactly 10 months after our first date! We moved to Michigan so we could have more time together and so he wouldn't have to keep commuting back and forth. Although we do travel together whenever time/schedules permits :) :)

I am LOVING Michigan! Growing up my dad was in the Army and the mid-west was always my favorite region to live! Its always so green and I love the rolling hills! Once I got Michigan residency, I started back to school at Washtenaw Community College and got my Associates Degree and I am now at Eastern Michigan University studying Chemistry. Less than a year bay-beh!! and! :) :)

We have had many many adventures here in Michigan. Each one crazier and more unplanned than the last! We've done everything from taking tours of historical sites, to accidentally purchasing stolen computer cords from a shop down the street (we haven't been back), to getting lost in abandoned neighborhoods, to Detroit Lions games!!

I also have the amazing privilege of being the Beehive Advisor for my ward. (I teach the 12-13 year old girls Sunday school.) It is by far one of the most rewarding things I do! They are so fun to be with and always surprise me with how wonderful they are! I love love LOVE teaching - and I LOOOOVVVVEEEEE teaching them!!!! Although, the curriculum and lesson plans are changing Big Time for 2013! So I am a little nervous for this weeks lesson! :)

Now you know a little about me :)

Hopefully this blog will be filled with snippets of my life. Crafts I steal from pinterest, lesson handouts I create for my young women, pictures of places we travel to, our adventures in Michigan. . . . .

Basically. . . its my life as a Mormon wife!