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Monday, May 12, 2014

A Mother by Any Other Name Would Be as Beautiful

I had a hard time titling this post.  But there are a few reasons I chose it.  For those who haven't seen this video. The man in it talks about Motherhood as a job position. He advertises this job position as "Director of Operations" and conducts the interview via video conference. He says at one part that the job requires a "degree in medicine, finance AND the culinary arts." I think he should have also added psychology, sociology, nutrition, andragogy, pedagogy and philosopy for starters. You see, a mother is a doctor, an accountant, a cook, a psychologist, a teacher/mentor, and wife among many other titles, and whether or not she is known as a mother by others or as any of these titles, the fact of the matter is, the value of a woman who fills the role of mother, with or without children, is still effulgent no matter what she's called.

Now, I know that my mom fit all of these roles very well growing up. And she still does.  BRILLIANTLY.   I can't possibly count the hours she spent helping me with my piano lessons, paying for them, wiping my tears, giving her logic defying magical hugs, taking care of situations involving school bullies and bad teachers with fabulous tact, cooking, teaching my brothers and sisters and I to not be picky eaters (I think she did especially well at that one), cleaning up our messes when she should have made us clean them up, helping me find dates (which meant a lot considering I was not exactly popular throughout my childhood), being a chauffeur, paying crazy money for me to go to EFY, sending me countless words of encouragement while I was serving a mission and I wondered whether or not I was a failure, accepting my wife into the family with complete love and without hesitation when we were married, despite that fact that the way I went about our courtship was very hard on my family emotionally.   And she did it all with class and a spiritual maturity I hope I can achieve one day.  I could obviously go on forever.

I love my mom to death and to life.

But this post is mainly to focus on who I now term to be the worlds best mom.  It was my mother, but I think she would even be okay with me saying that the woman who I see as the best mom in the world now is my wife.

I will only really be able to touch lightly on why that is, but at least allow me to attempt.

My wife had a measly two years of her life with a proper example of what a mother should be.  She was abused heavily as a child and taken from her birth mother.  She was then moved into two foster homes in a row.  The second one constituted the two years where she had a good family, where the foster parents taught her good values and much more.  When she was six she was adopted, her life of more extreme abuse began and it would continue in its most severe forms until she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints about 17 years later.

But this is one factor in why she is such a fantastic mother, regardless of our lack of children to this point.  Instead of taking the horrible treatment she got from her adoptive family and becoming bitter, angry, cynical and resentful about it, she took from it lessons of how NOT to be.  The effects of the abuse, as well as the conditions surrounding her birth, still have residual effects to this day, but she handles them LIKE A BOSS.  I can't count the number of times people have told her how wonderful she looks and how it's so great to always see her smiling and happy.  As her husband, I know what's really going on inside much of the time.  She is pretty much in constant physical pain in one form or another 24/7.  Yes I said that right, 24/7.  Almost every single second of every day, something hurts.  Yet she handles it like a pro.

I have seen so many cases of people missing choir practice, missing church, cancelling something or any number of other things like that because they had a headache, the sniffles, a cough, a stressful day, are sad or depressed, etc and I want to scream at them sometimes (I never do and never will probably).  I want to chew them out for whining about it because do you know how awesome my wife is?  Do you know what she has done many times when she has the sniffles, a headache, a cough, a stressful day, is sad/despressed and more, ALL AT THE SAME TIME?  She puts on a smiling face, acts happy and does what she has to do without complaint, and SHE ROCKS AT IT.

Oh and let me take it a step further.  You know what she does when I say I want to chew people out for having a hissy fit when they have just one little tiny thing wrong so they "can't make it to [something]"?  She loves them.  She STILL doesn't complain.  She STILL has a good attitude and tells me to take it easy on them!!!  I have never, in my entire life, personally known of any other human being, not even my own mother, be able to pull a stunt like that while living with the physical and emotional crap my wife has to go through on a daily basis.

Oh I'm going too far now, you say?

Let me take it ANOTHER step further.

I hate (and love, in a weird way) to admit this, but I'm also guilty of the kind of whining about the physical ailments I mentioned and when I am really not feeling well, I am completely out of commission.  I'm a huge weakling, I buckle like a toothpick under the weight of our apartment building.  I'm a wienie and put on a terrible show because of how little pain tolerance I have when I get a bad headache or get real nauseous or when I've had a super stressful day.  And just to put my wife over the top completely, if anyone would ever dare to hint that I haven't already, when I'm like this, you know what she does?

She takes care of me!

From her wheelchair, the best she can.

While she's in pain.

She does it without complaint.

Apologizes when she absolutely needs my help with some super tiny small thing.  Apologizes!!

Patiently waits for me to feel better before asking me to do much at all.

And all while she is in her normal (yes, normal) routine of daily pains and aches.

I DARE you to find one mom who would do that for her husband, put up with the piano students she helps mother or other guests being late, being rude, not practicing, making her allergies go haywire by bringing some unknown allergen into the apartment or possibly making her ill by coming here even slightly ill, but yet never complains to them about it, continues to value their friendship, love them, celebrate their successes, be way more patient with their weaknesses than I believe she ever should be, and sets a fabulously Christ-like example for all who come into our home.

I DARE YOU.  But I'm convinced you won't.

Anywhere.  Period.  If you do, I may just ask you for proof of some kind, recorded documented proof before I'll believe you.

She has taken the mostly horrible, devilish example she has seen from her younger years and had the faith in her Heavenly Father to turn it around become the exact opposite of that.  Am I saying she's perfect?  Honestly, I don't think she's far from it.  Way closer than anyone I've ever seen in my life before, especially spiritually.  And she's amazingly beautiful too ;)

The quote I've seen all over facebook from Elder Nelson that says something along the lines of 'Motherhood is the highest calling in all mankind' fits Lorraine perfectly.  She has been called to pass through, and yet handle like champ, more garbage than I have ever personally known anyone to go through.  I'm sure there are people out there who have been through worse, but I don't personally know any of them at all and those for whom I have at least heard stories about, I don't have any indication that they handle their situations as well as my wife handles hers, with the spiritual and emotional maturity that she does, putting her fears, sadness and pains on the back burner so as to not spread negativity to anyone else.

Does she have her days when she just needs to let it out, though, and feel what she needs to feel? Absolutely!  But those days are so few and far between that I don't see the need to consider their weight in relation to all the other days.  She would still pass any evaluation of how well she handles it all with flying colors.

Now to finish off.

I could go on for hours and hours, typing here.  Seriously I'm not kidding.  I could.  I've only scratched the surface here.

But I'll make this simple.  Like I said earlier, compared to her, I'm a wienie in all these areas.  I'm the rottweiler of bad customer service.  When I call a customer service line with a complaint, I get satisfactorily compensated.  Every. Single. Time.  (Well... almost every time)  My wife is gracious enough to let me do my thing when it comes to how I deal with stuff like that, but that's pretty much the only time she lets me do that.  She lets me act like a little two year old and throw a fit to them on the phone.

But when it comes to life experience, I'll be blunt about this.  I grew up in a little box compared to her.  I think she has the maturity, wisdom, patience, charity, virtue, kindness and about a billion things more, of an old lady who has survived a concentration camp in WWII and forgiven the killers who worked there.  I believe that with all my heart, because I see it every day.

If anyone deserved and deserves always a happy mothers day it's my wife, Lorraine Pulsipher.

Happy Mothers Day My Love!!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Our Relationship With God

I find that so many people these days of many religions, including many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, including myself sometimes, may not be truly understanding our relationship with God the way it really is, or at least, as it should and can be.  The more I have heard people's opinions and perspectives regarding our Father in Heaven and how they think of Him, the very concept of Father, in association with Him, is, I think, not given near enough importance. I don't say this to diminish the fact that He is, most assuredly, the most powerful Being in the universe and our God, but rather to focus on the indescribable beautiful truth that this all powerful, all perfect and all knowing God is, in absolute fact, also, quite literally, our Father!

 I love the way Jack R. Christianson (author of The Mortal Christ) put it. I don't have the direct quote here but in that book he mentioned how it shouldn't be any wonder to us that the one title God wants us to know Him by the most is "The Father". I echo him in asking, should it really be that surprising to us that God asks to be known as our Father? I don't think so. Now wait a minute. Do you know what that means? Our Father, our literal Father, is the greatest and most powerful being in the universe!

Take a second to let that sink in. Just say this once to yourself: "My Dad is the most powerful being in the universe". It's a mind blowing concept. I prefer, though, to think of it as the most wonderful and reassuring thing ever. Yes, most, if not all, Christian people out there have heard this many times, but bear with me here. In today's world, many would find it next to impossible to give a fitting perfect description of what the perfect father would be like because of the limitations of a mortal perspective. But I find it very hard to believe that a Father who loves us perfectly, totally, completely, without a trace of hesitation or reservation no matter what we do, would ever want us to think of Him in any other way.

If the veil were to be taken from us completely, even for a small moment, I think we would, as I read it from the work of a certain Latter Day Saint: "not remember sharing Father... with [our siblings, but] being individually and singularly loved and cherished..." I think we would "remember Father well, His power and majesty, His face, His hands, His form, His touch and tender care... playing with Him, running [our] fingers through the soft hair on His arm, laughing with Him, going to divine destinations, sampling future earthly delights, tasting new things, viewing divine events, watching galaxies and eternities flare into being under His hand."

Here is what I think a scene of that last quote might have been like

(image from christpictures.org) I believe 100% that I got private piano lessons from Him, may have played with the celestial equivalent of legos with Him, learned from Him about earthly technology and how to use it for good.

I think He took a paternal interest in each of our individual personalities and helped us develop and enjoy our different interests and abilities to the extent that we could without physical bodies. I see no flaw in this logic considering that He weeps when we weep, is overjoyed when we experience life's purest happiness and is sad when we stray from Him. Good heavens, He sent our Eldest Brother, Jesus Christ, to willingly, deliberately and lovingly suffer every last ounce of everything unpleasant we would ever experience and set the ultimate example for us so we wouldn't be lost out here in the world;

So we would have something to guide us;

Protect us;

Make a way for us to change and be like Them;

A way for us to never have to worry about the terrifying thought of being alone and purposeless forever; He loved and loves us with a FATHERLY - let me say that even louder, FATHERLY - love that is so untainted, so absolutely personal and intimate with each of us that such a thought is not something He was willing to tolerate.

And the most beautiful part of all of this (to me anyways)? He has shown us how to be like Him and thus how to have this indescribably perfect love with us every second of every day, through His Son, Jesus Christ. This road map, example or whatever else you want to call it, is there 24/7/365 (or 366 on leap years), not being guarded by anyone. Not being protected by a password. It's not padlocked, behind closed doors or even wrapped up in a bright shiny box. It's sitting there in plain sight, in broad daylight, right in the words of the prophets and all we have to do is take it and use it! Right now, all day, every day! It will never not be there!

One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Nephi 26:24-28. Part of this passage says "Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price...Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men..." I can't speak for anyone else, but I can't imagine a perfect Father figure doing things any other way.

Now I'm going to take this one step further. Think of everyone you have ever met. Actually I take that back, because our mortal memories, in most cases, aren't capable of that kind of thing. So how about this instead? Take a few seconds to think of as many people as you can towards whom you have ever had negative feelings.

Here comes the interesting part. Guess what? God, our FATHER, loves them just as much as He loves you. 

Personally.

Perfectly.

Singularly.

Intimately.

Profusely.

Flawlessly.

Without a trace of reservation or hesitation.
No matter what they've done to you or anyone else. He loves them the same.

Wow. That even hurt me to type that. I now feel just a little worse about every bad thought I've ever had about another member of our Father's family. But you know what else? And this helps me feel a lot better all of the sudden. He still loves me and you the exact same way. That hasn't changed, and it never will, whether you like it or not, whether you feel worthy of it or not, whether you think they are worthy of it or not. So I have a challenge for all of us.

The next time you or I feel like being angry, resentful, jealous or any other negative thing toward one of our brothers or sisters (meaning anyone, remember we're thinking on a basis of familial relationships here), lets remember that we have the same Father and it breaks His heart to see so much contention between us all even if it only resides in our minds and hearts, it tears Him apart inside, for lack of better words at the moment, to know that we feel such things about our own family. We all loved each other before this life the same way He still loves us. We have the same spirit in us that we did before this life. That perfect love is still a part of us, even in this life.

Lets find it and then use it.
Lets love ourselves and everyone else, like He does.