Cousins

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I took this picture of my sons with their cousins at my parent’s house on New Year’s Eve, the day after my mother-in-law’s funeral in December of 2009. They live in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area while we live in Texas.

Cousins in PA

When my brother (on the right) and I were growing up in Queens, New York, we saw our cousins every other weekend. They lived in Long Island, New York, about sixty miles east of Manhattan, and we took turns meeting at either our house or theirs. I wish that my sons could see their cousins often like they did when we still lived in Pennsylvania. It makes me sad to think that they haven’t seen each other in four years, so I’m working on finding a way for us to visit them soon, because time goes by so fast.

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My Brother Is Awesome

Our Temple Trip

I love my brother, Billy. He is one of the kindest people I know. Always willing to help me with anything I need, any hour of the day.

We went to the Houston LDS temple on Wednesday, and had a great day together. While I prepared myself to leave, I thought about how awesome he is and how fortunate I am to have him as my brother and my friend.

I’m grateful for all of my blessings, and my family is one of the greatest of them all.

Motivation

Mother's Day Dinner

Though I am used to life’s ups and downs, I was surprised once again. Last week my doctor diagnosed me with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which my family and I had already suspected. Last summer when I met my new doctor, she ordered blood work which did NOT show whatever they look for in your blood that “proves” you have it.

Ten years ago my doctor in Pennsylvania diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia (which I call Fibro) after I reported almost all of the symptoms you could possibly have with this dreaded ailment. I’m not sure if I still have Fibro now, and haven’t decided if I want to know the answer.

My doctor prescribed Prednisone as an experiment. It is a steroid that is used to treat arthritis among other things. If I felt better, than although it doesn’t show up in my blood work, it means that I have RA. At first I didn’t notice a difference and thought that the answer was a firm no, but I forgot to take it Friday afternoon, and woke up in terrible pain. My fingers and toes throbbed and were so stiff it hurt to bend them. I also forgot that I’m supposed to take it with food. Oops! About two hours after taking my pill, my pain lessened significantly.

At first I was upset and couldn’t sleep, imagining all sorts of terrible things. I even remembered that my great-grandmother had arthritis for years and years, and RA often runs in the family. So I pictured my fingers eventually falling off, or my toes, etc. Then I remembered that life presents us challenges that I CAN control how I cope with: do I research everything I can to help with my pain, or do I give up and spend my life in bed.

There’s no doubt it will be tough, but I plan to eat much better than I have been and exercise a lot more. It’s time for me to treat my body like the miracle I know it to be. Because my family needs me and wants me around, and pray for my body to heal so that I can get out of the house more.

Wish me luck!

Struggles

When I first set my goal of editing my NanoWrimo WIP, I had a high hope of finishing by yesterday. Since nothing in my life goes as I think it will, when problems arose, it was one of the first things I stopped working on.

April turned out to be a month of how can I help my twelve-year-old deal with his frustration and anger more effectively. He has a bit of a temper when performing an unpreferred activity such as going to school or getting off electronics.

As his mother, my first priority is to help him. He is what the experts call a high functioning autistic boy, which pretty much means that he sometimes behaves like an average twelve year old, while other times behaving like a three year old boy having a terrible temper tantrum.

With a lot of prayer and patience, I figured out what was the best course of action at this time to best help him. Often it comes at the expense of me working on my manuscripts, and I am okay with that! My family comes first, for one day I will wake up and my children will be living on their own and will be out of my sphere of influence, and I don’t want to wonder if I did all that I could to help them navigate these turbulent years.

And I’m happy that as I wrote my notes on what I should/could do to help bring the different versions of my manuscript together I figured out how to do it, so that’s a win to me!

Faith

Six months ago my faith and resilience was challenged in a VERY unexpected way. My son revealed a hidden pain and struggle, along with some terrible decisions that have led me to self-doubt and guilt.

Because, seriously, how could I NOT have known this whole other side of him? I knew he had the typical teenage angst that comes with finding his way in this world, but this was a whole other level.

I’m grateful for the gift of the Atonement. I KNOW that my Savior, Jesus Christ, knows me, loves me, and atoned for my sins. He also felt my feelings of despair, confusion, pain, as well as my happiness! He knows how to help me help my family overcome our unique challenges, and for that, I’m full of faith, and grateful for Him.

I’m a Mormon, and if you’re interested, click on this picture to read about my faith.   temple-i-believe-blue-silhouette

Missing My Son

Life is tough at the moment. My fourteen-year-old son has been at a residential ranch since April. He had a traumatic early childhood, and some of these memories have come back to haunt him.

Seth with his long curls.

My husband, Jim, and I talk to him every Sunday (except on the weekends we get to visit him). He suffers from a mood disorder that causes dangerous, scary behavior, where we end up calling 911 so he can be evaluated. My heart is sad at his absence, but the alternative is even more frightening.

I’m grateful for my faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, who will heal our minds, bodies, and hearts when we pray for His help. I’ve prayed for patience throughout this trial, to avoid pulling Seth from the ranch healing program. They progress through five levels of both reading and work before their graduation. I love knowing that they have year round school to help his reading fluency.

Seth after I cut off his beautiful curls.
Seth after I cut off his beautiful curls.

So while it’s difficult not knowing when he will be able to return home, I’m glad to know he’s in a safe place where he can work through his suppressed anger and sadness. I look forward to the day when he is healthy and happy!

Memoir

I have experienced numerous changes in the last ten years. Changes such as infertility, adoption, and unemployment to name a few.

Now I am ready to begin making deals in my new real estate investment business. In my mind it seemed I’d be a bit older when I began writing my life story. However, with my memory problems, and the fact that I haven’t recorded my life events in my journal, now is the best time to begin.

I want to publish my memoir someday because I’ve experienced immense joy and have overcome many obstacles that I want my children and grandchildren to read someday.

The Book of Mormon

Distruptions in Life

Life seems to throw numerous disruptions and distractions almost every day. I spent last night at the children’s hospital with my ten year old for a sleep study unexpectedly. I hoped to spend some of the time with my edits until the paper told me that lights had to be off throughout the study, and I could not leave the room.

Thinking I’d take a nap and then edit this afternoon, the Direct TV people came over to change our boxes, and my son fell asleep. After they left, my brother-in-law called to report my father-in-law’s deteriorating health. He has Parkinson’s and can’t swallow anymore, so his saliva is going to his lungs.

It seems he doesn’t have much time, so we may be planning an unexpected trip to Pittsburgh. Life seems to drag me in dozens of directions at once, and I’ve gotten used to it.

What do you do when disruptions seep in?

Balancing My Family and Writing Life

Today I returned from my trip to Pittsburgh where I spent my time visiting my various relatives. My parents picked my husband’s father and I from the airport and drove him to the cemetery where  his wife is buried, took him to his house, and then dropped him off at his assisted living facility. I love and regard him as a father figure, so I wanted to make him happy.

My parents also wanted to spend time with me since I was only in town for five days, so I spent a great deal of time driving my mother around the town shopping. And that was Okay. My novels revolve around close family relationships, and the issues I deal with help me write tender scenes that I’d miss out on without these experiences.

Now that I’m home, writing will become my priority again as I ponder various family relationships in my novels. Spending precious time with my seven and ten year old sons as their summer vacation begins in one week will have to be weaved into my writing/editing time.

How do you strike a balance between writing and family/work obligations? Do you have any secrets that may help me?

LDS Writer Blogfest: Establishing a Christ-Centered Home

Every April and October members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) gather around the world (usually in front of their computers/TVs) to listen to the inspired words given in General Conference. Some LDS writers and I are sharing our favorite talk (think sermon). For more information, click here.

I chose to write about Establishing a Christ-Centered Home by Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy as a result of recent problems with my ten year old.

Elder Maynes teaches us that: “Parents are responsible to teach their children in love and righteousness. Parents will be held accountable before the Lord in how they perform their sacred responsibilities.” I felt the Spirit when he said that and knew I was sometimes lacking in the ‘love and righteous’ parts of my teachings when it comes to my ten-year-old’s behavior. He goes on with “Parents teach their children with words and through example,” and realized I needed to parent with more love when conflict arises in my home.

When he told us how he and Sister Maynes held weekly family home evenings, I cringed. My husband Jim and I are both converts, and did not grow up with weekly family home evening lessons, so we often struggle to remember to hold them now that our children are older. When they were toddlers, we lived in a quiet neighborhood with almost two acres of land. We did not have the distractions of constant ringing of our doorbell that we  have in our wonderful but busy neighborhood today, so bringing up family home evenings on Mondays are met with gnashing of the teeth (sometimes literally).

One of my favorites quotes from Elder Maynes is: “Our eternal happiness is not one of Satan’s objectives. He knows that an essential key to making men and women miserable like himself is to deprive them of family relationships which have eternal potential. Because Satan understands that true happiness in this life and in the eternities is found in the form of family, he does everything in his power to destroy it.”

Elder Maynes states: “We understand and believe in the eternal nature of the family. This understanding and belief should inspire us to do everything in our power to establish a Christ-centered home…..there is great power and protection for us and our youth in establishing celestial traditions in the home.” I feel inspired to hold family home evenings every Monday night and read scriptures as a family every day, and I know the Lord will bless our family and protect us from the distractions of the world.

Please read the talks from the participating LDS bloggers:

Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jessie Oliveros: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become as a Little Child”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”