Monday, May 10, 2010

To Know Her is to Love Her

This is not Karen- it's Heather, daughter #2. I didn't get the chance to REALLY tell my mother how much I love her, how much I admire her, and how much I hope to be like her. And I don't want Mother's Day to come and go without her knowing. So, surprise mom. Happy Mothers Day.

I'm writing tonight to tell you about one of the greatest mothers on the planet. Yes, that would be my mother. I know, I know, you also have an amazing mother too. But I have to brag about my wonderful mom. She is incredible. She is worth emulating. I am going to post this on both my blog and here, so that LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE CAN READ IT! Because all the world should know that Karen Esplin is LOVED and CHERISHED. Well, the world probably already knows it, because to know her is to love her, but I want to make sure SHE KNOWS IT!!!
Here's my beautiful mother, and her beautiful mother. I know she is missing her today too. So this is partly for her as well, since that beautiful mother raised MY beautiful mother! Have I confused you yet? Let's get started.
20 reasons why my mom is the most amazing mom in the world:
1. She is full of charity. I have grown up watching her give service for my entire life. She cared for my great-grandma, fully stricken with Alzheimers, in our home, for years. Here's the best part. Sometimes my great-grandma would stay with other members of the family, but when she stayed with my mom, she thrived. My mom would not only feed her, change her diapers, bathe her, and wipe her bottom, but she would paint her nails, dress her up nice, and put her hair in rollers, like they do at the salon. She made her beautiful. She would sing hymns with her late at night. My grandma couldn't even remember our names anymore, but she remembered her hymns, and my mom would sing them with her. We were very impatient with Grandma Great sometimes (us kids)-- she would ask us 852 times per day, "What's your name? What am I supposed to be doing today." (It breaks my hurt just to remember it, and how many times I would just simply ignore her, because I was tired of answering.) But my mom, she loved that lady so much, and showed us, by her example, the way we should treat others, especially the elderly. It wasn't even her blood relative, yet she loved her and served her with a pure, Christlike love That's just the kind of person my mom is.

You know what else is a good example of her charity? When all 6 of us were finally in school, and she finally had time to relax at home alone, she started seeking out young mothers with lots of small children, and then she would tell these mothers that she was going to take all of their kids, for several hours, every single week, just so they could have time to themselves. I admired it then, but now, being one of those young mothers (who would kill for a few hours a week all to myself) I just love her so much more, for being that kind of example to me- of how to serve others.

2. She is diligent. She is so dedicated to what she knows is right. For as long as I can remember, she would get up at 5:30 a.m. EVERY WEDNESDAY so that she could go to an early morning session at the temple. Dad helped do our hair on those mornings, and got us off to school. My mom still goes to the temple more than anyone I know besides the 12 Apostles (who also go weekly). In fact, a few years ago, she started doing "back to back" endowment sessions-- one session to clear her mind, and then a second session to really focus and learn. Come on! How amazing is that!!
3. She is a convert- she got baptized at age 14 (before her parents even) and after an awesome BYU experience, she became one of the most faithful Latter Day Saint women I have ever seen.
4. She is a super-cleaner! She is happiest when her house is clean, and she knows all kinds of tricks to make things spic and span. She cleaned other people's vacation rentals and condos for a few years, and the word-of-mouth business got her so busy that she eventually quit it all- she didn't want to sacrifice her time with her family (and she didn't want to have to pay self-employed taxes for heavens sake!)
5. She is supportive of me and what I go through- I am a lot like her. Probably the most like her of any of her children. And it sure is nice to be able to call her up and get her perspective on things. She was once right in my shoes- young and married, with two little girls 14 months apart. Struggling to make it work, to accept that perfection wasn't possible, and trying to be a good mother. She has kept such detailed accounts of her life (through her 18 (? exact amount, not sure) journals, and I have learned so many great things by reading some of the things she's shared with me.
6. She has always chosen to be a stay at home mom. Our family never had money for fancy cars or big vacations. But I had a mom who was always home, and it has meant the world to me. I will never forget one day as a freshman that I was surprised with a visit from my Aunt Flow. I called my mom and she rushed to the high school and brought me a change of clothes in a brown paper bag. My baby sis, Kimmy, asked what they were taking me, and my mom just said, "Her lunch!" I'm sure there were many times I forgot my lunch, or my homework, and she'd bring me those too. Having a mom at home has blessed my life in ways I can't even put words into. Thank you mom, for staying home.
7. She has more faith than anyone I know. When Kalia's nerve was severed, and I called my mom, bawling, to tell her the horrible news, there was a 2 second pause, and then my mom said, "The Savior can heal that." She continued for the next few days to pour out her testimony and faith to us- and it helped us have the faith we need to have. And as you know, that is exactly what happened. Kalia has never suffered the tiniest side effect of a severed nerve. There's no medical explanation how that could be- but my mom's faith during all of that was unmoving, like a rock, and it has blessed my life countless times. And now it has blessed my daughter's life too.
8. As most of you know, she is a breast-cancer survivor. You may know not how awesome that is unless you've watched someone go through it. It's sort of like going through hell and back. But not only did she go through it, she went through it with the attitude of, "What am I supposed to learn from this, and what can I do to be closer to the Savior and my Heavenly Father?" Here she is during one of her chemo treatments.
9. She came out of that better and stronger than ever. My goodness, I'm worried that lady is going to be translated any day now!! Just go read her blog (or maybe you're reading this now on her blog, look at her last post, and YOU'LL SEE EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! She's amazing!)
10. She doesn't watch Rated R movies. Or PG-13 movies. Or PG movies. Maybe...if it's a Disney movie. (She did see the Hannah Montana movie, and she loved it!).
11. She is the best grandma. She will even take her grandkids on rides on the "Wiggle Cars" around the island in her kitchen. She will let them stay up as late as they want, and let them eat as much candy as they want. They adore her.
12. She is the best question-asker of all time. She can get anything out of anybody. You can't keep it from her! She thinks of questions no one else can even think of. (This was especially handy when I would talk to the doctors each day, in the hospital with Kalia. They would always ask, "Do you have any questions for me?" And I'd say, "No, but here's a list from my mom." :)
13. She talks fast and I LOVE IT! I'm never bored when I talk to her, and I don't have to prod her along.
14. She was our #1 fan in all my extracurricular activities. She came to all my choir concerts, track meets, volleyball and basketball games. And one season, she made special Pink Frosted sugar cookies for the whole basketball team. She had to do it for every single game, because we went on a winning streak after that; we were convinced it was our good luck charm, so she wasn't allowed to jinx us by not making them. (That's a lot of sugar cookies to roll out and frost every week!!)
15. All of our friends love her. I can name at least a dozen who still go by the house now to see her, even though we don't live there anymore. (Most of these friends are guys, now that I think about it.)
16. She is a champion baker, and has famous cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls. Consider yourself LUCKY if you've ever tasted them!
17. She decorates the house for every holiday, and I mean, she really makes the house come alive with the holiday spirit (even the 4th of July, Halloween, Father's Day, etc). Even more importantly, she has decorated every room and hallway with pictures of the Savior, temples, the First Vision, etc. Everyone who enters our house knows where our family stands when it comes to the Gospel.
18. She taught us responsibility from early on- she taught us to do our own laundry, starting around age 10. She taught us to work hard, and we had to earn our own money for most everything we wanted or needed (besides socks, underwear, toothpaste, you know, stuff like that.) And we had chores to do every day, especially on Saturdays, before we could play; she would make us fun little charts to help Saturday cleaning be more fun. I still remember the laminated clown poster. He was holding a bunch of strings (to balloons) but the balloons had different chores on them- we'd draw them out of a hat, and when they were done, we got to tape them up on the strings. I think I'll make one of those for my kids someday.
19. She was voted Most Friendly when she went to Dixie College, because she was so nice to everyone, including the people that were considered "slow" or "handicapped." Many of those people are still in St. George and still love her and remember her today. That influenced me all throughout high school, as I realized that everyone needs a friend. Everyone deserves kindness. I tried to say hi or smile at every single person I saw in the hall in between classes. That was her influence bringing that out of me.
20. She laminates thoughts and scriptures and has them up on the walls of her shower, where she can see them every day. It's such a great idea. Whenever I am home visiting, I love to shower in her bathroom, so I can have a daily mini-devotional.Lately she has been taking an institute class on the Old Testament. I LOVE talking to her on the phone about all the amazing things she is learning in that class. We could talk for hours about the neat things we are learning in the Gospel. And she applies it to life so well. Just tonight we talked for almost two hours, about how returning to THE BASICS in the Gospel can help pull us through any trial. I think it was just what I need to hear. I love how she shares her testimony without even trying.

I'd also like to wish a Happy Mothers Day to my two wonderful grandmas- one still living (Grandma Ruth Esplin in St. George)
and one busy working in the Spirit World, Grandma Loy, (who I think might just be making little visits to my daughters, but more on that another time.) I miss you and hope you get to read blogs from the Spirit World.

Happy Mothers Day to all the wonderful women who have influenced me and my family, especially to my own mother who has spent her entire life in self-sacrifice for me and my siblings. I hope I can become a woman like you someday. I will forever be grateful to have been sent to our family, to be your daughter. See, here we are, your 4 daughters, and you, jumping for joy that we are together forever, with all the posterity to come. You have taught us well, mom. Thank you.I love you!

Monday, May 3, 2010

I am IMMERSING myself in order to stay AFLOAT

Immersing To Stay Afloat

Does that sound like an oxymoron?
I think it does
but it is helping me to visualize it

The world around me sometimes scares me
I see unhappiness
I see struggles and wonder
could they have been avoided?

I know myself
I have a desire to control
everyTHING around me
and everyONE around me

I have a temper
I have determination
I have energy that can be used
for good or for bad

Lately I have seen others
sinking in despair
Sometimes I feel like I am "sinking"

I want to use my energy to

I was in the audience once when I heard Jeffrey Holland say,
"When you are in a storm, DON'T BAIL OUT, STAY IN THE BOAT,
it will get calm"

I have thought a lot about this
It has been a constant concern of mine,
ever since my CANCER diagnosis
What does that mean, "Don't bail out, stay in the boat" ?

What do you think it means?
I think I am going to stay with
The SAVIOR during my storms

I've thought about what I've
been doing with my life
since my "recovery" process
has begun (about 18 mos ago)

  • First I listed my priorities.
  • Second, I asked how much time I was spending on these "priorities".
  • Third, I made a specific plan to "immerse" myself.
  • Fourth, I kept (and keep) working on it.
  • Fifth, I envision myself "immersing, then STAYING AFLOAT"

My priorities: I listed what was most important to my well being. I figured I needed
  1. To take care of myself Spiritually
  2. To take care of myself Physically
  3. To take care of myself Emotionallly
  4. To take care of my family and home, Dale first, kids 2nd, house last.

If I take care of my spiritual life first, I will feel better and other things will fall into place. This comes from such a strong belief in God the Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ. THEY will take care of me, if I take care of myself Spiritually, I feel confident of this.
This would include the following:
Temple worship
Family Home Evening
Institute class
Church meetings
Uplifting Music

Physical Care would have:
Proper food
Dr s visits

Emotional Care would need:
Walks outside in good weather
Social Outlets

I knew that if I could take care of myself, I would feel good.
When I feel good, I treat others better around me.
I feel the Spirit, which allows me innumerable choices.
I can make whatever time I have left worthwhile to myself and those around me.

I wrote up a literal schedule of daily hours in a week and filled in the blanks of WHAT I was
going to do each hour that was congruent with my PRIORITIES.

Spiritually, if I IMMERSE myself, I am seeing more assurances. I feel like I can stay AFLOAT of so much DESPAIR that surrounds us.

I feel the temptations weakening and lessening as I STRENGTHEN myself.

I am no longer doing a lot of things that I DON"T WANT TO DO,
I WANT to do the things that build my STRENGTH,
  • Spiritually
  • Physically
  • Emotionally
  • with my Eternal Family
I am far from perfect, but I keep reminding myself how far this cancer journey has brought me. I acknowledge to myself that OVERALL, I am doing better than I have in the past.
I keep picking myself up, at least once a week, and then I try again the next day.

I see myself in a LARGE, WARM tub of water. I immerse myself up to my face. I want to surround myself with good uplifting things as much as I can. I try to let the upsetting things around me GO.....if at all possible. If it is NOT happening directly to me, I let compassion replace judgement, but I remind myself that it is not happening to me, and feel GRATITUDE.

Gratitude helps keep me AFLOAT.

Immersing myself in What I NEED is keeping me Afloat from the "sinking" despair of the World