Archives for May 2017

05.03.17

Real Life Featuring Melodie Webb

We Choose Love

My friends asked me to share how I have overcome fear.  I was hesitant of the opportunity and have really (seriously, really) struggled with this task.  In a conversation with my daughter about wishing I hadn’t accepted, she helped me to discover why all of the other dozen drafts weren’t acceptable and had been scrapped.

 

I can’t share with you how I have overcome fear … because I haven’t.

 

Before I shed light on that reality … I’ll share with you who I am.

 

I’m a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother (Mimi, in my case) to some of the most beautiful souls who have ever graced the planet.  My blessings are numerous, my cup overflowing.  I know the privilege to love and be loved and I cherish life.

 

Family is everything to me.  Always has been, always will be.  I wanted a dozen children – I wanted to be surrounded by mess and noise and beautiful people to love and fuss over.  I was an author, public speaker, and creator of games on the subject of close, happy families and I did my best as an intentional mother to practice what I preached.

 

4 children laying on ground

 

23 years ago today, 9 days after the due date of a particularly long and challenging pregnancy, my baby daughter (and final child) was born.  I was instantly and irreversibly smitten with her silken hair, soft blue eyes, and chubby cheeks.  She was perfect in every way, and although only my 4th child, she completed me.  And, it was a full, ample, exquisite complete and we lived life accordingly.  As with my other children, I added one more person I now suddenly could not live without.

 

baby on tummy

 

It doesn’t mean we didn’t have our fair share of difficulty, or even at times what seemed to be an unfair share of difficulty.  We just had a lot to live for and we worked hard at what didn’t come easily.

 

I had an aversion to fear.  Quite frankly, it scared me, so I tried hard not to ever experience it. I shut out thoughts of the horrors of losing any of my children, and taught them to eat their vegetables, wear a helmet and/or seat belt, and what to do in the case of fire.  Our basement had a room stock-piled with enough emergency food, water, candles, and toilet paper to keep at least 5 families our size safe in a disaster.  We would have all we needed in the event (God forbid) that we experienced tragedy.

 

 

With my children taught how to turn off the water to the house, passwords memorized to avoid danger with strangers, and my absolute assurance that there was no such thing as monsters to come and take them in the night, they were always tucked safely into bed with a hug and kiss after prayers to keep us safe from harm or accident.  We never went without saying “I love you, goodnight.”  It was our safe haven, and that safety was assured by our preparation, good choices, and blessings from heaven.

 

Even when I was “brave” enough to pray that I could accept God’s will if it were otherwise, I could never quite end it there and would have to choke out a quick tag line …

 

“But, please … just don’t let it hurt.”

 

Fair weather fan of life, … that’s me.

 

kids on slide

 

Unfortunately, life isn’t all fair weather.  And, fair weather was my life without the reality of something to be truly, genuinely afraid ofI characterize our life into two phases now, “before fear” and “since”.  And, the reality is that you can’t ever really experience courage until real fear is staring you in the face.

 

You see, I had lied about monsters coming in the night and nothing in the basement storage room could have prevented or prepared our precious family for the fearful and heart-wrenching tragedy staring each of us in the face.

 

child jumping into water

 

We now would experience something of which to be horribly, shake in your boots afraid.  That precious baby daughter who was born 23 years ago today had a rare Childhood Cancer.  So rare in fact, that there have only been 200 known cases a year, but so horribly vicious, that it is one of the leading killers amongst all far more prevalent cancers.  5 children (including her) in history have survived a second onset, and of those, none recurred in such vital places as hers.  She is the only one in history to have beaten it three times.  There isn’t a survivor of a 4th onset.  Hers set in for the 4th and final time as she began her sophomore year in high school.  The beast was just unrelenting; no matter how many times she claimed a clean and solid victory over it.  How something so vile found its way into something so perfect is simply beyond me.  How my thinking that basement storage could prevent or prepare for any disaster and grant us freedom from fear is also simply beyond me.

 

family picture in leaves

 

The battle was fierce and intense and full of fear.  There was reason for it.  Fear wasn’t a sin against our faith; it wasn’t a weakness, or an error in judgment.  It was exactly the emotion connected to watching her go through what she had to go through.  No one could anticipate any different.  The love we felt for her was inseparably connected with the fear of losing her … of having to live without her.   The horror was real. It wasn’t just scary; it was terrifying.

 

And then, she slipped through our fingers and returned to the God who gave her life.

 

beautiful girl

 

And, we were left to pick up the pieces of ourselves, to somehow discover “how” to live without her.

 

In doing so, we see that some fear will remain a part of our story, for it is inseparably connected with loving each other.  So, we will embrace it, for it drew us closer to the One who overcame death and hell by his Grace, matchless Mercy, and eternal Love.  Experiencing fear has made us more intimately, personally, and profoundly familiar with the infinite Hope engraved in his hands.

 

We didn’t overcome fear, but Jesus Christ has, and he will, just as he promised.  I have scooped up all my ashes that he has promised me beauty for.  And, my feet prepare for the day He trades my mourning for dancing.

 

And, I do not fear that He keeps His promises.

 

I wasn’t preserved knowing profound heartache and sacrifice, or prevented from knowing gripping fear.  I wasn’t prepared for the profound sorrow and grief that is so intertwined in my story.  There wasn’t chemotherapy in the basement, or a sturdy enough password to keep the monsters out of our dark … but there was a foundation of belief and an experience of his love that assures us a joyous reunion with her again one day.

 

While we grieve in a society that tries to stifle it, we continue to embrace the hard emotions that come with life’s experience.  We’ve learned that they are most often associated with loving an angel gone too soon from this life.  So, while it is hard for some to understand, we aren’t trying to “get over it.”  We believe that grief is not something we travel through; it is something we will travel with.  And, while my prayers asked for a pain-free life, it was as nonsensical as asking for a love-free life.  The privilege to love and be loved also intrinsically accompanies this exhilarating journey of life.  Thank heavens (and the CEO thereof) He doesn’t intend to take away our love just to free us of pain or fear ….

While for now it may seem daunting, painful, and often frightening, for me and my house: we choose love.

mother and daughter together

05.01.17

HOPE FOR THE ONE… Rescuing

Throwing Life Preservers to The Drowning

Parenting is never easy. My daughter was in Jr. High when I began noticing the red flags of an eating disorder. I had seen others go down this road and knew all too well the dangers and struggles involved. We’ve all had those mommy moments where you have the thought, ‘where is the instruction manual on how to parent?’ When situations arise, that I have no clue how to handle, I oft times say out load, “Who said I could be the mother? I don’t know how to fix this or save my child…”

After the initial panic and fears, I knelt in prayer and asked for guidance and the words to say. I then went down to her bedroom, and from deep in my heart, we talked. I’m not sure all that was said that day, but we both remember it as the day rescuing began. I promised her that our family would not let her drown, and that I was going to start throwing out life preservers…and that’s what we did.

The pains and heartbreak of parenting can be debilitating if we let it swallow us. I was at a 12-step support group when I stated that I was there to learn what to do to save my child, and was told, “Your child already has a Savior, you be their mother.” So, what do you do when your child is drowning with anxiety, an eating disorder, depression, pornography, self-harm, addictions, or rebellion? I promise all of us will face something like this at one time or another, and all parents will feel guilt! With help from the spirit, we found resources, people, programs, books and answers to what became a long journey into recovery. Now looking back we can see the growth and strength we all gained, the greatest being witnesses to the hand of God.

So, what would I tell a person grasped in the panic and fear of how to help a loved one that is drowning? Start throwing life preservers!

(I have a list of ideas that can be “Life Preserves” at the end of this post)

Running the Rapids

6 people running the river in rapids

This is a trip where my children- now adults- all got in the raft and floated the snake river, while Erik and I watched the grandchildren. There are preparations and precautions you take before rafting a river. First the life jacket must be securely on, and the raft properly rigged. Then we learn clear instructions on what to do if tossed from the raft. Running rapids is exciting and a wild ride, but the river can also be unpredictable, cold and dangerous.

In rescuing, there are also precautions and preparations taken, just as running the river.

I call it the 3P’s: THE PEOPLE, THE POWER AND THE PROGRAM.

Time and time again this answer came after seeking answers in prayer, “We have the people, the power and the program”

THE PEOPLE:

Gather a support team of trusted family, friends and the Lord. This is vital, because you can’t always be the one doing the lifting, sometimes you need to be lifted. Trying to do this yourself is like a lone soldier running into the battle alone; not valiant just stupid. Also on our team were church leaders and friends who had gone through an eating disorder and recovered successfully.

“Our Father in heaven knows His children’s needs better than anyone else. It is His work and glory to help us at every turn, giving marvelous temporal and spiritual resources to help us on our path to return to Him” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

THE POWER:

This, for us, was spiritual support. I believe God is all knowing, all powerful and has pure love for each of us- what more can I say. We called upon the power of priesthood blessings in the big rapids. Also the energy from exercise, sleep, good nutrition and getting out in nature will sustain you. A walk in nature together was our medicine and is now one of our fondest memories.

THE PROGRAMS:

Seek out a councilor that is a good mix with your child. We really studied this out together and were divinely guided. There are also so many good support groups out there. Getting involved in acts of service is also healing because you get out of your head and self pity and help others. You may also find that service releases endorphins.

man falling from airplane

What about the one who isn’t drowning but has deliberately jumped from the raft and is rebelling against the “Life Preserves” we are throwing and is determined to face the rapids their own way? This is what I’ve discovered as a mom:

Encourage:

Speak words that are positive and uplifting. Let them know you believe in their dreams- even if it’s not what you want for them. I had to learn this the hard way with my son’s goal to be a Navy Seal. Be their greatest fan!

Accept Them as They Are:

I believe we all need love and acceptance, just like we need air and water. I had an experience where actually telling a child, “I love and accept you as you are!” opened the door for healing and forgiveness to take place.

Understand:

We all have weaknesses and fears of failing. Our children need us to be there for them. I wasn’t even aware that my child felt misunderstood and like a disappointment. Think about how good you feel when someone takes the time to understand and listen to what you’re going through. Put down your phones and turn off the noise and sincerely listen to them without judgement. I promise it can soften hearts.

Show Love Unfeigned:

Try to see them through God’s eyes as the child of great worth that they are. This can be hard when a child is acting unlovable and hurtful. In my experience, this is when they need the most love, and I must swallow my pride and anger. Kindness is powerful! Every time I talked to my child as a lecture, or with criticizing words, feelings were hurt and walls went up. But when I sincerely loved by serving, and showed kindness, those walls came down. I also believe in hugging and apologizing. It’s good for our children to know we are not perfect and make mistakes too.

(Unfeigned: genuine; sincere)

THEN LET GO AND LET GOD TAKE OVER.

I also have found it helpful to be honest with my children, let them know sometimes (most of the time) parents make mistakes, and that I’m doing the best I can. No one is perfect. Of course I want them to try to be their best, but I don’t expect perfection from either one of us …cause that’s crazy thinking! So, I ask for the same love and acceptance from them. Most of the time my actions are out of love and concern for their welfare and safety on the river of life.

After all is said, I really do try to be joyful! Who wants to be around a sour pickle sucker all the time? I had to apply the same rules to loving myself, and letting go of guilt. I have a new favorite saying, “I can’t change what I wore yesterday any easier then I can change the past.” Repentance is simply making a course change, and then looking downstream! Enjoy the ride!

 

XOXO

Judy

lady holding up rock

“When my children remember their childhood, I want only for them to remember that their mother gave it her all. She worried too much, she failed at times and she did not always get it right… but she tried her hardest to teach them about kindness, love, compassion and honesty. Even if she had to learn it from her own mistakes she loved them enough to keep going, even when things seemed hopeless, even when life knocked her down. I want them to remember me as the woman who always got back up.”

Some Life Preservers we found helpful:

LDS Addiction recovery program

Life Changing Services– “Eternal Warriors” course or “Mothers Who Know” support group

66 Positive Things You Should Be Saying to Your Child;

Larry Barkdull “Rescuing Wayward Children

The Center for Change: Outpatient Therapy