I know our next guest blogger as my Mom's long-time best friend Sophia.
My mom once "ran away from home" and flew out to vacation with Sophia. Another time, I remember visiting Sophia at her home out west one summer and being amazed by all of the cross-stitching she had in her house. I borrowed a pattern and stitched in the car all the way back to Ohio. That was the beginning of a long love-affair for me with cross-stitching. So, thanks for that Sophia!
And thanks for sharing with us today!
Life brought our biggest surprise nine years ago when we suddenly “inherited” our three beautiful grandchildren.
After the end of a struggling, teenage marriage, our oldest daughter, in the depths of her own despair, went off to “find herself”, leaving my husband, Doug and I, with legal custody of her three children, ages four and under, all in diapers and with very few developed language skills.
When Doug and I married in the Idaho Falls Temple, (I was the ripe old age of 18), we expected and planned that, after raising the perfect exemplary family, we would be empty nesters in our early forties, still young enough to play and live out our life’s dreams to the fullest. We looked forward to our dreams of being grandparents, paying off our home early, serving as full-time missionaries in our fifties and many other goals.
We could have never guessed that on the same year that our independent youngest child, then 19, stepped out into the world on her own, we would be welcoming three high-maintenance children into our lives and starting over. Surprise! I quit my full-time job to be, once again, a stay-at-home-mom. My life went from lunch dates at Chili’s to playdates at McDonalds. Romantic getaways with my sweetheart and fun weekend scrapbooking retreats with girlfriends were quickly replaced with bedtime stories and Primary hymns, speech therapy, toddler art and piles of laundry.
Our lives changed immensely in every way possible. Financially, it was like starting over as young married parents…one income, diapers and doctor bills all over again. Socially, we suddenly felt displaced…not sure where we belonged ~ with parents of young children, who once had been friends of our own grown children or with our empty nested friends, who’d, long ago, traded in picnics at the park for cruises and remodeling their homes. Physically, though still healthy, being a middle-aged parent was much more exhausting and tedious than doing it in our twenties. Spiritually, we found ourselves on our knees more than ever. The thoughts of raising children in this world with even more danger than there was our first round as parents, twenty years ago, was humbling. However, the question never arose, “Can we do this? Should we do this?” Never. Not once! There was no question!
We’ve been taught through the scriptures and by the prophets of old and modern prophets today that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. We believed in that with all of our hearts!
From the Family Proclamation, we read, “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. The proclamation continues, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities…Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”
If parents have this sacred duty, shouldn’t it be expected of grandparents, as well? Especially under these circumstances. If ever there were “other circumstances that necessitate individual adaptation“, it was then, for our family. We were humbled by the opportunity and have been more than blessed for it! Having had infertility issues in my twenties, we’d never felt that our family was complete. Our prayers had been for more children and those children had never come. Yet, in Heavenly Father’s own time and fashion all things fell into place. Although, not how we’d planned it, our prayers had been answered.
Almost ten years and many miracles later, we were blessed with the privilege of legally adopting the children. Two days later, Doug and I were able to kneel at the altar of the Logan Temple, with the children, holding hands and looking into each others tear-filled eyes and realize the blessing that our family was truly complete after so many years. Words could never do justice to the happiness that we each felt that day. Our children, who were all old enough to remember the experience, relive the sacred occasion often and are anxious to return to the temple themselves with their chosen mates, when the time is right. On each anniversary, we look forward to walking the temple grounds as family, taking another family photo and revisiting the memory of that sacred experience.
Has it been all easy, perfect and wonderful? Hardly! From potty training to back to school nights, learning math facts to going through the entire scouting program a second time around, every day is a new adventure! But, it’s worth it. And when the going gets tough, we have that beautiful day to remember and cling to. Today, photos in every room of our home remind us of that momentary glimpse into eternity that we experienced that special day and that, regardless, of the ups and downs, we are “stuck together with eternal glue”!
Often, we encounter someone who, without realizing the impropriety, will offer condolences or sympathy, “I feel so sorry for you.” or ask “Do you ever regret it?” I do not take offense, but assure them that we’d do it all over again today in a heartbeat! We accepted this responsibility with open arms and even more, open hearts and our rewards have been immense, thus far. Hearing their nightly prayers of gratitude for being an eternal family are worth more than any other “toys” in life. Hearing them bear their testimony of our Savior or taking a stand for something that they’ve learned in Family Home Evening or Primary, those are the real rewards in life, joys that can not be measured. Children are the greatest blessing life has to offer.
This earth life is, but a moment, on the eternal calendar. We may be foregoing building the cabin at the lake, the cruises and other things of the world that often come as a reward to empty nesters. The babes are a blessing in our lives, not a burden. We love them. We cherish them. We appreciate the opportunity to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our sacrifices pale in comparison to that which was made by our elder brother, Jesus Christ, for each and every one of us. How grateful I am for my testimony of His Plan of Salvation and the blessing of the eternal family!