Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Child of God

Sister Rosemary Wixom is the president of the worldwide children's organization of our church, the Primary. She got a special chance to speak to the parents a few months ago. Her words are inspired, and I am drawn to this talk over and over again. God speaks to me through her, and each time I pull out something else I can specifically do.
At the very end of this talk, she gives the suggestion to often whisper to your child, "You are a child of God."

I have tried to do that. How powerful this truth is. Living this truth has made such an impact on my adult life, in the way that I dress, my priorities, how I see myself, how I view the world. I know that this truth, if taught to every human being, would change the world.

Lately after I whisper Cheyenne this little fact, I will tell her what it means to be a child of God.

-Because she is a child of God, Heavenly Father loves her. I am an imperfect parent, and she may not always be able to feel my love. But I want her to know that she can always turn to her Father in Heaven in time of need. For encouragement, to see her worth, for love.

-Because she is a child of God, she is innately beautiful. I don't mean "inner beauty" I mean beautiful: she is patterned after a god, our Heavenly Mother, down to her ten little toes and her eyes that are windows to her soul. Can you imagine what a difference it would make, if, from a young age, you understood that beauty was not defined by the size of your thighs or the shape of your nose?

-Because she is a child of God, she, and everyone around her, is inherently good. Give people the benefit of the doubt, see the good. In reality, faults are not part of our true nature.

-Because she is a child of God, she can do great things. Her capacity to learn is unlimited. She has no potential, per se, because she already is great. Greatness is inside of her, waiting to burst free. She just has to release it.


Lots of times, after I tell her these things, I feel the truth burn inside of me. I know what she is.  And lots of times the reminder is more for me than it is for her. What an impact it can make on me, as her parent, to remember these truths about her. What an awesome power God has given me to guide this little soul.



Sunday, July 28, 2013

Longing for Home








Don't get me wrong, I love this little space we have here in the city. But I know that a part of me is not here. It's out there, rolling along the hills, twisted in the barbed wire, or stuck in the sagebrush. We took a Sunday drive into the country and I felt whole. My heart beat a little faster, and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. That's when I know that I am home.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Today



Bev is my visiting teacher. In our church, each sister is assigned a few other sisters to watch over and care for. Bev has been that and more for me. My kids absolutely love her. The world would be a different place if we all took the time to care for each other like she does for me. Despite being a busy school teacher and just getting back from a trip to Bosnia, she brought us a gift and checked in with us as soon as she got home. We love her!



I got a braid in. It was fun for the two seconds it lasted.

Sometimes you get in the same old granny smith apple routine, you know? My kids loved these kiwis. I don't know if they are in season in the tropics, but these were especially juicy and delicious.

Putting up a wall to add an extra room to the upstairs. Love my handy man. Exciting things are happening here!



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Come After Us

In Utah, the 24th of July is a state holiday, Pioneer Day. It celebrates the day the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley and began this great state.

We Mormons have a turbulent early history. To escape religious intolerance, our ancestors traveled from New York, to Ohio, to Illinois, and finally Utah and the West. In Nauvoo, Illinois they had built a beautiful temple to our God before persecution finally pushed them out. Knowing the building would no longer be used after they left, they wrote in gold letters on the wall: "The Lord has seen our sacrifice. Come after us" as if speaking to us, the future generations, from the dust.



My own personal ancestors made this trek, from Nauvoo to Salt Lake, suffering hunger, thirst, and fatigue, and losing many loved ones. Agnes Haley Love Flake ended up the San Bernadino Valley of California, after suffering the loss of her husband and several children. She was weak and frail from sickness, impoverished and living in an earthen shack with a dirt floor. When the wind would blow, dust would come in through the crude door and cover the meager furnishings. She sat in her chair most of the time, too frail to move.

Her brother discovered her whereabouts when he was in California pursuing gold. They had grown up together in a life of privilege: plantation living in Mississippi. When he witnessed her poor health and desolate conditions, he begged her to come home with him. All he asked in return was that she denounce this Mormon religion that, as he saw it, had caused her so much pain.

"You don't think you are asking much, do you?" Agnes responded.
"No, very little," her brother replied.
Despite her weakened condition, she straightened in her chair and looked directly into his eyes. "It’s more than my life’s blood. I would rather wear my nails off over the wash tub to support my children, than to take them away from the Church, for I know it is true.”

Somewhat taken aback, her brother retracted. He told her to send a letter if she ever changed her mind. That letter, she promised, he would never get. 

She never saw nor heard from her family again. She died in poverty, surrounded by nothing but her children. Her oldest son William was forever marked by her sacrifice, and he too devoted his life to service as a result, and instilled it in his children and in all the generations since. 

"Come after us," Agnes says to me.

I remember you, I say to her, I am always remembering you.

We tell these stories not to promote your faith, to help you do hard things. We tell these stories because this is who you are. This is your spiritual heritage. This is what God looks like inside of you. It is the past, the present, and the future.

For how can I forget, I say, when you are written on my heart?

"Come after us," they are saying.

I am coming.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Smorgasbord


Derek's birthday back in May. You get to hear us sing the birthday song again. Derek come back to us!!

Seeing my favorite teacher, Mr. Chesnut, at my little sister's high school graduation. He taught the last 4 of us Flakes history and government.


Outside is their favorite place to be





This year the old homes tour featured some of my favorite iconic houses in our town. Our favorite part of the tour this year was the original hexagonal tiles found in so many of the bathrooms. If only we had been so lucky!

Father's Day ice cream cake. Turned out awesome. Twix on top, a layer of crushed oreos inside, and brownies instead of cake. Do it.

My Father's Day princess. I can't get enough of that bald head.

A major, major event in our life. Much more on this later.

Love these two


I wanted to remember the night I fell in love with Ben a little more. Escapades in potty training Cheyenne lead to a whole roll of toilet paper down the toilet. Ben had to finally take the toilet off to fix the problem. Nothing says love to me more than being covered in toilet water.


Bobblehead

Two bobbleheads


Bobbleheads in our new (to us) bike trailer.







Monday, July 22, 2013

25

It's my 25th birthday today.

This year, for some reason, I've been reflecting not on the last 25 years necessary, but on the number itself.

25 seems like a very respectable age. I've often been told I am mature beyond my age, but I don't know, maybe I've finally caught up with myself.

I remember when I first got married, many of my newlywed peers that I respected and admired were 25. People I wanted to be like. Grounded. Sure of themselves. Driven.

I know I have grown a lot in this area over the past few years. As a 20-year-old, I felt inadequate in many ways. I would tell myself, "I'm so young, that's why I can't get this right." "I'm too young to understand." "I don't have enough experience."

I caught myself internally giving this excuse the other day. And I thought, no, that's not going to work anymore.

I am responsible for this person I have created. We are pushing full steam ahead, no looking back. May my weaknesses be ready to buckle at the knees, for I have decided I'm ready to be who I was always meant to be.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thank you Cheyenne

I loved this video and its premise: At the birth of each child, is the birth of a mother. How true that is! It caused me to pause, and I wanted to celebrate my oldest daughter, who made me a mother.


My dear little Cheyenne is not like most other kids. She is what some people call "difficult" or other people call "a free spirit." She's the one where people will watch her and then give her back and say, "you have your hands full." I'm not proud to admit having her as a child has been hard for me to come to grips with. Before I had her, I was sure I would have well-behaved kids, or at least, know how to train them. I myself had been a very obedient child, so I expected nothing less. Then I went to play group, and I realized that Cheyenne was the most aggressive. The meanest, the most out-of-control. Sometimes I would come home from social functions and cry.

Many times I have been at a loss. My sister Sarah has been a boon to me in this stage. She too has a "difficult child," except hers is now 8. I remember Sarah as a young mom. I was pretty sure I had her pegged. She was a bad mom and she let her kids run wild. She didn't know how to parent (I cringe now thinking how judgmental and wrong I was. And sigh a little knowing I probably generate those same thoughts in other people). Sarah tells me we are going through Parenting 501 while many of our friends and family are going through Parenting 202. I believe her. Sarah tells me these are the kids that have strong personalities, they don't blend in with the crowd. They can go on to do great things because they aren't used to sitting on the sidelines. Cheyenne is one of these.

And how grateful I am for Cheyenne! Just like another part of my life where I had to quickly learn to adapt, things stare me in the face that I HAVE to figure out. If I had a mild mannered kid, I don't know that I would notice as much or even care. If my child did conform to what "most people's kids do" I would not have learned the countless invaluable lessons that have already changed my life forever.


I have learned how much Heavenly Father loves his children. How kind, loving and patient he is. He never loses his temper. How grateful I am for a Father like him. Cheyenne shows me what godly love towards another person is supposed to look like, and that it is not dependent on how that person acts.

I have learned how incredibly unique each of our situations are, and how God really is the only one who can understand and judge us. I cannot judge one's efforts, for God has a great work for each of us to do, and I do not know the burdens they have been given. Parenting needs love and encouragement. 

I have learned that godly parenting is not for the faint of heart. It takes hours of concentration and discussion. Hours in prayer as a couple and alone, it humbly brings you to your knees because you are at a total loss as to what to do, how to help. And God does care, for you and for your child, and gives direct instructions or great resources that are answers to prayers.
          Speaking of great resources... these two articles (here and here) have been a great help to me recently with this "spirited child" of mine.

I am not perfect. We have a lot of bad days, you and me, Cheyenne. There are lots of tears on your side and on mine. Sometimes the hours of this "concentration-heavy" parenting get to me and it breaks down. I'll get distracted and you'll destroy something. You'll push your sister over because I haven't spent time with you that day. I apologize to you a lot, you are my guinea pig. But the pure spirit of Christ that was born in you is so forgiving, and we begin again.So thank you Cheyenne for the lessons you have already taught me. And as I am your mother and you my oldest child, I hope to learn from you for many, many more years.

Love,

Your Mother


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Meaningful Life: Loving History

As a history teacher, it is customary at the beginning of any class to give a "Why Study History" lecture. While I am not teaching a class, I would like my children to know the reasons behind this obsession  Let me tell you why I love history and why I want to incorporate it into our family life, the pictures on the wall, the stories we tell, the way we live.








-The #1 thing I love about history, American history in particular, is the freedom it gives you. I love old things, like this old house we live in. Why? What's so great about 1930's America? In our modern day and age, I think a lot of people feel trapped. Trapped by the commercialism, the technology, the conveniences even. Trapped by what we have become, lazy and spineless in some ways, our dependence on things and shying away from helping each other in real, concrete ways. This is the escape I find in history. I don't have to subscribe to our modern way of thinking. It makes me realize that what we have shapes how we think, and so I can instead choose to live otherwise. This thought is really empowering to me. So old things draw me to this other world. A world where craftsmanship meant something and didn't come at a premium, it was standard. A world where a family sat around the fire, and not around the t.v. Where you talked to people face-to-face, and helped your neighbors because you had this real relationship. So this is something I want to teach my children. That just because you live in the 21st century doesn't mean you have to subscribe to the 21st century mindset. And history can show you a different way.



-The next kind of history I love is family history. When I was about 13 I read my grandmother's life history. I especially loved the recounting of her girlhood years and what she accomplished there. It showed me what I could do, who I could be. The great thing about family history is, you read their stories and say, "This person is related to me. I have their blood running through my veins. If they can do it, I can do it." And in many ways, because they didn't have this 21st century mindset, or the number of distractions that we have, they were probably did it even a little better than you. And as one of my favorite authors states, anything that teaches you how to be better is worth reading and learning about.



-My last reason is my own personal preference, but I just like the ways things looked, ascetically, before 1950. A little bit more detail, a little bit more charm, more to catch the eye and study. I don't have the vocabulary for this since I am definitely not an architectural historian, so I don't know how to describe it other than I like it better than the modern, run-of-the-mill way things look in our world today. Blame it on mass manufacturing, I'm not sure, but the older stuff is just more appealing to me and causes me to pause. It screams "different" in just the ways I like: here is a person who is holding on to their roots.




Why keep old things around? I feel so passionate about preserving history, and not just because I like the way it looks. Keeping an old house, or an old phone, or an old coin collection turns things from myth to fact. You don't have to wonder if it really happened, you have living proof that it did. Stories are no longer stories, they are real. And immediately you are connected to something bigger than yourself.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Delaney's 1st Birthday

Delaney turned 1 yesterday!





We sure are happy we added this girl to our family


And here's a real life video, complete with Cheyenne crying because it's not her birthday.


And although my family is convinced she's another Ben Dilsaver, you can't deny those teeth. Every baby picture of me had that bald head, dark eyes, and those two teeth sticking out. So in my eyes I finally got a girl who looks like me.



It has been such a joy to watch her grow. How blessed we are as parents to witness this miracle




Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Travels

We've had a whirlwind last couple of weeks.

We started out with a fun visit from my sister's family and her kids. It was the first (and only) time we've ever fit 6 visitors here in our hobbit hole! Our girls are the same ages, so fun!

Cheyenne and cousin Eliza

Delaney & Katie


Then we were off to Idaho for the Joel Flake Family Reunion (all of my siblings).

My parents opened their mission call to Panama City, Panama.
Starting in January, they will be gone for 18 months teaching the word of God and helping people.

They have been excitedly anticipating this mission for a long time.
My mother made a daring choice to marry my dad, a mere three weeks before she was to begin her own mission (when young, only single men and women can serve, because families are our paramount responsibility). Instead she sent 8 missionaries out, my siblings, and reasoned she could go out when they were all grown. We are so happy and grateful that has now come to pass.


Other family reunion activities included riding horses

Make-up parties
Cheyenne and cousin Alice

And a crazy-hard hike
among many other activities.


We said goodbye to Idaho and two weeks later left for Ohio.
Yes, Cheyenne is confused and now calls them both "O-hida-ho."


We got to check out the new dairy and Jaylin's show cows, beautiful Jerseys.


Ben and Cheyenne went on lots of rides together around the dairy.


And Delaney got in lots of quality time with some girls who couldn't get enough of her.

Such cute girls. We love our cousins.



And we got in some quality time with Mom & Dad when we went to visit some church history sites.
The Kirtland Temple

And the Newel K. Whitney Store
(the ground is sloped)

The School of the Prophets, located in the back of the store. Sacred things happened here.


Ohio sure was beautiful, lush and green this time of year. 


We think it's so important to visit family, even if it's only once year. Grateful we had the opportunity to see so many of you this year!