All These Things Are Decisions

My father would have been 55 years old today. It has been six years since he passed away. The month of November is always difficult. Celebrating the month of All Souls, the anniversary of his death, Remembrance Day and then his birthday. The end of Autumn. The darkness of winter creeping in. Without fail every year this is the time I find it most difficult to hold on to my hope.

This morning I woke up remembering as if for the first time that I would never hear him laugh again. Hot tears rolling down my face and into my hot coffee. My heart in my throat.

Then my three children woke up and the day began. Hot eggs to make, cups to be filled, a diaper to change. It felt like a carousel that I couldn’t get off. Helping little bodies dress, make beds, dishes to be washed and a dishwasher to be emptied. What is for supper tonight? Oh yeah, we need to do reading lessons and you know, *school*. As a mother there is often very little time to just feel how you feel. There is always something to do, someone to hug and read to. I am so grateful for this. Holding my six week old daughter when my father died is possibly the only thing that kept me from being swallowed whole by grief. She needed to eat. I had to stop. Slow down. Remember my body. Drink water. Take a nap. Change a diaper.

This morning I was tempted like I haven’t been in previous years to just turn on the TV for the kids and go crawl into my bed and hide. That isn’t like me. I can usually offer my pain at the feet of the One who knows me. Who made my heart to feel the good and the ugly. Not today though. I went searching in my closet for an old letter from my dad. Searching for some wisdom or validation that I am okay. I will be okay. But before I could find one, I came upon an old typed up letter from his mother, my grandmother, who died just a few short months before my father.

What my eyes fell upon shook me to my core. The irony. The incredible strength. The wisdom. I had to share it with you here, friends, because I know with certainty that there are those of you who struggle from day to day as I do, to choose JOY. Not happiness as that seems to come and go with circumstances but I mean an overriding joy that comes from knowing who made me and who loves me.

Letter to my grand-daughter Katie

Now that she is Sixteen

 

Dear Katie:

When I was a little girl of six years old, I was being prepared for my first Communion, which was a lovely May day. My mom had made me a white dress of tulle, new shoes and also Mum had made a little coat, it was beige. At some time during the day the thought came to me that I promised myself I would always be happy, at least try to be always happy!
“Is that all?” you might say.

However that was quite a promise for a little six year old. I learned much later as a woman of 40 or so that love, hate, unhappiness, happiness, all the emotions we have- all these things are decisions. I didn’t know it then as a little girl, that I had made a decision. I just knew that I was determined that life would be happy for me and that I was going to work very hard to make it so. I knew God was going to help me. I even knew the big blue sky that was all around me was bigger than me and yes, even bigger than my parent. My father had passed away when I was three years old. I knew he loved me. My brothers and sisters told me so. Even the Holy Spirit within me (whom I did not know of as yet) filled me with wonder of creation.

How fortunate for that little girl to be able to think and have the kind of wisdom that much older people search for all of their lives. And where did this wisdom come from, you might wonder. Well, you have the answer within you. It came from a loving God who gives it to you as well.

I can say now at my age, and I am 75 years old, it worked. My decision to try to be happy was a firm one. Has my life been easy? Not always. I’ve had my shares of sorrow, pain (emotionally and physically) but through it all I remembered my decision to be happy in spite of the circumstances, because I knew my God was watching over me and that He had a plan for my life. The bad things would pass, I knew, I only had to believe in His plan for me.

It is not too late for you, my dear, to make such a decision on your own. I urge you to do it, even if it sounds silly  to you. Trust your Memere that it will work for you too.

My wish for you is that you will make the decision to be happy and that you will think carefully on the things that will make you truly happy. By truly happy, I mean to think carefully before you make choices that come your way so that when you are an old woman (and old age will come to you too, my dear, as it has to me), you can look back on your life with no regrets.

This is the way I can look back now on life. There are no regrets. I have done what was honorable. Did I make mistakes? Oh, yes, lots, but I like to think I never repeated the same mistake twice. With each mistake I learned; sometimes the learning was most painful. But, every human being makes mistakes-none is perfect, only God is perfect.

I asked God for patience in my life so that I could wait for opportunities I knew he would send me. All the while I continued to improve myself through reading, taking courses of different kinds, listening to those wiser than myself, choosing what seemed best for me. I would talk it over with God before making the choice. Talking things over with God is called Prayer. That’s all prayer is, just talking to God as I am talking to you now.

The opportunities came and when they did, I recognized them immediately. How did I recognize the right ones you ask? There seemed to be a certainty about the opportunity. It seemed to come at exactly the right time. I had a feeling inside that told me “this is it!” You too will know when an opportunity comes and it is right for you. You can simply say inside of you: “is this the one, Lord?” and He will answer. He will give you a confident feeling about it, whatever the opportunity will be. Whatever the opportunity might be, however God has given you a free will to handle it whatever way you want to. You can choose how to live out that opportunity. Will you decide to be kind to the people involved in the opportunity? Will you decide to treat them as you would want to be treated? When angry, will you take your anger out on them? Will you let jealousy rule your life? I’ve been there on occasions when you were not very nice to your siblings. Perhaps you should really give some thought to how you are around your family. These are all decisions you must make as you live out your life.

As to decisions, if you are not aware that all these things are decisions that you must make yourself, you will live a life of drifting from one thing to another, never satisfied. You will feel that you have no control in your life, which is not true. You alone have control of your life as an adult, for you are, now that you are sixteen.

Memere prays that you will use all the wisdom that God the Father gives you to live a good life, one that you can look back on with pride of accomplishment, but all the time remembering to thank God, who helped you through it all. Maybe some day, you’ll have a granddaughter yourself and maybe when she’s 16, you might want to write her as I’ve done for you.

You are very dear to my heart and I pray constantly that God will watch out for you, if you let Him and trust in Him. I love you, Katie

Memere Toner

xxxooo

 

I am thankful for the heritage of faith my grandmother has left for me. I pray that I can be as discerning and wise as she became in her lifetime. I hope that I can look with kindness on my husband and children when I am feeling unkind. I hope to be the grandmother she was to me.

Take these words as I did, friends and let them remind you that no matter how life is treating you right now, you get to decide what you do with that. We get to stop navel gazing and call a friend or put on a pot of coffee and invite the neighbors over. Maybe we can’t choose our feelings but we can make a choice what to do with them and how to express them.

 

198163_19521786232_2431_n 1385932_10152087433993974_1610731033_n

Five For Fun

1) October is flying by. Whoa. Our days have been busy even though we Homeschool and stick pretty close to home most days. My eldest¬†daughter is gaining confidence in her reading and it is such an honor to be there to watch it happen. We are using the book “How To Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” and we are about halfway through it. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone that likes short, easy lessons that can be done for 5-10 minutes a day.

2) We wanted to take the kids to a pumpkin patch to each choose their own pumpkins and then go apple picking but the day we chose ended up being way too cold and within ten minutes all the kids were squabbling and crying about cold hands. We promptly got back into the van while my husband loaded three huge pumpkins into our trunk.

IMG_5484

3)That same day we spent the afternoon at the farm. Whenever I say “the farm” I am talking about the farm my husband works for. We consider them family and love spending time out there. The kids all jump on the big trampoline, play in the woods and go visit the sheep, donkeys and cows. I hope they will always remember those days as being special because for me as their mother they really are. My dad grew up on a potato farm and I like to think it would make him happy to see my kids in rubber boots running around getting dirty and talking to the animals.

IMG_5525

4) I am not a good sleeper. It is currently 12:11am and I have to be up at 7 am. Not every night is so late but I have so much trouble getting my brain to switch off that I have to stay up most nights until I am completely toast. At least I have good sock knitting and Gilmore Girls on Netflix to keep me company.

5) My girls are super pumped about Halloween this week. They have decided to be little witches and keep begging me to let them wear their hats around the house. I am saying no all the way until the 31st because in previous years I have caved and then by the big day they were bored with their costumes and would end up wearing something random from our tickle trunk. Either way, this week will be fun as we get ready by carving pumpkins, baking something pumpkin-y and make some new memories trick or treating on our street.

IMG_5564

What I Wore, Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving day, friends! I hope you are all getting to be with people you love, eating food you enjoy and giving thanks for you have. We had our big feast yesterday and we are now enjoying a deliciously quiet day at home together with leftovers for supper.

Today I give you one of my typical mom outfits. I am certainly no fashionista and I wear 20% of my clothes 80% of the time but I do like to look somewhat put together and cute. My husband and I are on a major mission to be completely debt free by 2015 so there is no room in the budget right now for new clothes. However, when I do buy new clothes I typically buy lots of basic, classic pieces and add in an occasional fun accessory.

Here, I am wearing some brown boots my mom bought me on a shopping trip to the states a few years ago, some black leggings, a second hand banana republic tunic that once belonged to my sister-in-law and then my newest piece of clothing, a wonderfully soft sweater made of 100% extra fine merino wool.

image

Turning 30

I recently turned 30.

30 y’all.

image

Leading up to my birthday I wasn’t sure how I felt about entering a whole new decade. The last one had been epic in so many ways I wondered what this next one could possibly offer by comparison. My twenties were full and exciting and about really coming into my adulthood. I did some traveling, missionary work, got married, went to college, lost my father when my oldest was just six weeks old, had three kids, learned to knit, started homeschooling, bought a house, gained and lost and gained and lost many pounds. This is just when I think about my life for the last ten years in point form.

I have to say that so far 30 is magic. There has been such a freedom in letting go of all the indecisiveness and uncertainty of my twenties. I feel so ready to fully embrace this one awesome life that God has given me and do what I can with it. To really embrace this body He has given me and all of the incredible things it has shown me it can do.

image

As a young woman I was so quick to compare myself to every last female I came across without even meaning to, really. “She is prettier than me, thinner than me, in better shape than me, look at her beautiful breasts that haven’t nursed a baby and barely need support!” I mean, come on.

I went through a rough patch after my third baby was born. The winter was long. The cookies were all so delicious and it felt so good to just sit on the couch and knit. Well, Spring was a wake-up call because I couldn’t put any of my pants on. I immediately mentally went to war with myself thinking, “girl, how could you let this happen? Get it together. Why can’t you just eat less? Why can’t you just be like that mom with loads of babies who always looks put together and in shape??” I am ashamed to admit that I was unkinder to myself than I would ever treat another person. I would never stand for my own girlfriends or my daughters to treat themselves that way so why was I doing it to myself? Something had to give. For me, it was turning 30. I just decided it was time to be my own friend. This body is the only one I’ve got and I certainly can’t bully it into being more petite. Plus, it’s not even about being a certain number or size anymore. I’m done playing the numbers game. It’s about balance and moderation. I will tell you right now that I am never giving up wine or peanut butter cups. Life is too short. But I *can* put my shoes on the next morning and drag my kids out in the wagon for 30 minutes or choose to take us all to the pool for a family swim instead of just going to the movies.

Now having crossed over to this side I can see that this here body of mine deserves some credit. It has grown babies until every square inch of my belly is marred for life. I have been blessed enough to be able to birth these babes and then feed them from my own body. It’s amazing really. So what if I don’t have the chest of an eighteen year old…tell you what, I bet that eighteen year old wishes she was as confident in who she is, regardless of what she looks like, as I feel.

I’m just done punishing myself for not looking like the 16 year old me. She thought she was chubby too so why should I listen to her? From now on when I walk past a mirror I will not avoid eye contact or start picking apart every flaw I see, I am standing in my own two feet, the body God gave me and saying, “Hot damn, mama. You look good!”

image

 

What’s for Dinner

 

image

Last night we celebrated going “Back-to-Homeschool” with a fun and kid-friendly supper. Cheese pizzas, a Caesar salad and our favorite homemade brownies to finish off our feast. It was simple, quiet (as quiet as three kids under the age of six can be) and just what I needed to remind myself why we do this thing called homeschooling. We have many reasons for that and maybe someday I will share them here but for now this is enough for me. To know that we all sat together and ate and laughed and shared about our hopes and goals for this year. I know it is going to be rich with memories made and a year of wonder and growth for all of us.

Hiatus Hijinks

Wow! It’s been awhile. How’ve you been?

That’s great to hear.

Us? Oh, you know. Same old. Trips, new babies, school days, pantry challenges, the magic and hilarity of the everyday.

Mama Might was born out of a desire to share the mutual experience of motherhood, but it turns out that motherhood is a lot of work! So much work, that we’ve found ourselves with little time to write. We wanted this to be a place where we talk about what’s real, and the reality is that we’re all in this same busy season of our lives. So why not talk about that?

Watch this space for regular glimpses into our lives: what we wore (No designer labels here!), what we ate (Who loves a food budget? We do!), and who we are (…evolving?).

Speaking of evolution, we’d like to introduce you to our newest Mama Might co-author, Katie! We can’t wait for you to get to know her.

As always, we welcome contributions from anyone in the Mama Might community. Have a story to share? Leave us a comment here, or get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by! You’re welcome here anytime.