Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Edumacation

That's a joke. I know how to spell education. It's a comeback the Boss and I use as an inside joke when one of us makes a silly or less than intelligent comment.

Lately, I have felt a profound gratitude for my education. I feel like I'm being educated everyday really. Learning new things from friends, books I read, my children, church, life experience, and so on. But the education I'm referring to right now is my formal education.

In taking a few IQ tests, I can tell you I'm in the "above average" average sphere. Which pretty much means nothing special. So please don't mistake this post as me coming off as I think I'm smarter and better than everyone around me. I don't. I think I'm pretty... well... average.

I know a lot of people who are skeptical of formal higher education. You certainly don't have to have it in order to be successful or smart. However, I do feel it serves such an important purpose. Perhaps I only feel this way because it has served ME with such a purpose.

I was always studious in school growing up. I'm not naturally particularly intelligent... in other words, the Boss has to hear or read something once and he remembers it forever, while I have to hear or read it a few more times to really ingrain it. However, I have a perfectionist need for detail. I want any work I do to appear clean and concise, not sloppy and half done. I was always particularly good with Writing and English. I LOVED writing a good essay. When I was in 4th and 5th grade, I distinctively remember always trying to write the longest stories of anyone in the class. Of course there is the proper "ei" "ie" use (i before e except after c). The proper use of your and you're (one of my personal pet peeves) along with the proper use of there, their, and they're. However, my spelling is less than desired. Thank goodness for spell check :-) I was good enough to be in the advanced math classes, but opted out when it came to advancing to Calculus. I was impeccable at projects. Not only impeccable, but I down right enjoyed them. I graduated with a 3.89 in high school, putting a rather medium effort into class work. I did average on my Act's... nationally average, but below average for the University I attended. Looking back, I'm sure I could have done much better, taking more AP and Honors classes, had studies been my only priority. I'm grateful for the education I received in my extra curricular activities though. That was priceless. I learned to be a part of a team with 14-20 other high school girls and all our drama. I learned how to win and lose. I learned how to manage people and direct an activity. I learned how to speak in front of a crowd. I learned how to blend in a mix of voices holding back my natural instinct to stand out... because that's what a terrific choir does. I learned how to take rewards, and take disappointment. I learned how to make good friends and I felt the hurt of losing friends. These and many other things from growing up and high school started to shape me. Things pointed me in the right direction. A good direction.

This good direction gave me the opportunity to study at a 4-year University, BYU. Among LDS people, this school can have a negative connotation associated with it. You're uber smart. To which I'm not. You're stuck up and snobby. To which I will also argue I'm not. You're rich. Definitely not. You're "Molly Mormon". Which I may be now, but I wouldn't have categorize myself as that when I entered in. A bunch of cocky, arrogant "know it alls". While I certainly think I know a lot, I don't "know it all", and I prefer the word "confident", not cocky. Now as a graduate of this University I can tell you ALL those things are true of some people that attend there. I think there is something said for those who have pride in their school. I LOVE my school. Of course I have pride in it. If you go 4 years through a University that you hated, I feel nothing but sorry that you wasted your time. I would expect anyone that goes to ANY college, no matter how high or low on the tier have a sense of love and pride for the person you were when you entered, to the person you became when you left.

I went in as a pre MDT (Music Dance Theater) Major, but graduated as a Communication Major with a Minor in Music and Dance. That's what happens when you get married your Sophomore Year. Your plans change a bit. I argue mine changed for the better. I ended up right where I needed to be. I certainly learned a lot of academic things. I learned how to sit through a class of 1,000 people in the JSB bored out of my mind listening to Biology because it was a requirement. I learned how to take classes I hated. I learned how to drop a class because I started to realize my limitations- that it was going to be too much. I learned how to research. I learned how to live with other people. I learned how to be on my own. To Manage my own money. To rely on my Heavenly Father. To make new friends. I learned I'm not a morning person... which I already knew... and only took two 8:00am classes the whole 4-years I was there. I learned that I thought I was much smarter than I really was. You see, when you go to a school like BYU, your eyes are opened to such a larger pool of talent and intelligence. I was on the lower end. I knew it. And instead of letting it beat me down, which is easy to do at a school like BYU, it can be awfully intimidating, I was grateful for the chance to be challenged, humbled, and exposed. I learned that good things don't come for free. Hard work and sacrifice will always be involved. I took classes that opened my understanding to the Gospel, the world, our venues of communication, and mind, politics... so many things to a whole new level. A level high school just couldn't hold a candle to. I learned how to think critically and objectively. I learned how to appreciate those subjects I had no natural connection to. I learned that information and education are power. I learned that while I wasn't the best at everything, I was really really good at a lot of things. Things I didn't know I was good at. I could list for hours all the things I learned, academically and in life experience for those 4 years. But FOR ME, the most important thing I learned, when I walked across that stage and received that Diploma of Graduation, was a level of confidence. And with that level of confidence, an understanding, that  education goes on and on, as long as you keep your mind open and are willing to learn more.

Of course higher education now days usually includes an MBA, Doctorate, or anything further than the standard 4 year degree. For me, that's enough right now. Maybe someday I'll expand a little further. But today my education is at home. That's my calling. And being a Mother, especially one who stays home, can be quite the demeaning title in today's society. I feel confident and secure in my CHOICE to stay home and raise my children. I'm grateful that I even have the choice. I know too many moms who don't have a choice. And because of that, I try to remember how lucky I am that I GET to stay home and raise my children full time. I worked full time for 2 1/2 years after I graduated and before we got pregnant with baby #2. There are SO MANY things I miss about my job. I LOVED my job. I was good at my job. I had every sign of an advancing career path up that ladder. And there are days where I certainly reminisce all that. Accomplishments. Business. Looking nice. Interacting with other intelligent adults. Traveling. Meeting new people. Advancements. A pay check. But certainly nothing can replace walking in and picking up Queen Bee with such a big smile. Or rocking her tears away. Or helping Big Brother learn to count to 100. Or watching Mama's Boy build the biggest, longest, most creative and detailed train track you've ever seen. Patience. Understanding. Deep love. Sacrifice. All works in progress. But today, I have confidence, that should anything happen to my husband or his job, I have the tools, experience, and education to help support our family. That is peace of mind my friends. Those automatic student loan payments that are deducted from our account each month are a reminder to me that I have that peace of mind and confidence.

I don't know how students view their education anymore. Are they grateful for it? Is it just expected? What everybody does? Maybe for me it was different because I was challenged. I had to pay my own way through. Hmmm. Either way, I am so grateful for my education. I certainly continue on with it everyday, but what a head start I was given. And man do I love the peace it brings me. So thank you to my edumacation. You learned me right.

Monday, May 14, 2012

1, 2, 3, 4...

In case you haven't heard.
12 weeks. Baby to arrive November 19th.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Good 40 Days

Our Ward Relief Society has challenged us to read the Book of Mormon in 40 days. This could not have come at a better time for me. Personal scripture study at a lull... (I don't count the 5 minutes we read with the kids each night... that's more of a battle of the 'sit stills' than it is spiritual upliftment for me). What a great excuse my amazing RS leaders have given me to start anew and refresh my spirit. I have found, which we always do when we stop and then start up again, that when I thought I had no time to read even a chapter, I have now found time to read 5-10 chapters, getting all other reasonable duties done and plenty of time for relaxation in my day. Amazing how that happens, no?

In our study today, I came upon one of my absolute favorite scriptures and it caused me to ponder. 2Nephi Chapter 2 is one of my all time favorite chapters. But it holds this scripture:

2Nephi 2:27
"Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient to man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself."

I memorized this scripture my freshman year at BYU by assignment from my Book of Mormon Instructor. This Brother changed my life. Perhaps not in the dramatic sense that you may think, but my spiritual life. My testimony, while it may go through weak periods, has always been there, and my faith has never faltered, for which I am so grateful. But he introduced me to a deeper meaning of the scriptures, who I am, and my relationship with My Savior.

I"m sure this scripture means something slightly different to everyone, but to me its freedom. I have the CHOICE, to live eternally, or live a captive to the devil. And Satan is so very clever and sneaky. I think we live as his captive and don't even know that's what we're doing. And the Savior has made it so simple. Choosing to live through the great Mediator brings us liberty and eternal life. Choosing against that, makes us a captive to Satan.

While I'm quite sure my trials pale in comparison to many around me, my life thus far has not be without pain and trial. I have experienced suffering. In this past week or so my husband has been thinking a lot about his mom, whose 2 year anniversary of her death is approaching. I think most look at Aaron and think he handles it remarkably well, but what a painful experience it was 2 years ago, in the moment. And certainly, where death looms, I often reflect on my own experience of when my sister passed away. Memories of pain, tears, emptiness and loneliness flood my mind. I still hate the smell of flowers. 15 years later, I have so many new memories, new experiences, new things to be grateful for, I don't mourn her actual loss very often, its usually only in unexpected moments. She mostly appears as a happy memory, that we speak of as an angel watching over us. Someone we feel, together as a family when we are in the temple, or an otherwise sacred family experience. As an adult, I have a completely different view of it. My mourning comes as a heartache to my parents. As a parent myself now, I can easier relate to their feelings of loss. As a teenager, your understanding is of course limited. I admire my mother more now, for being strong. For still being a mother to me. Even when our house felt so empty and cold, with one less bubbly 8 year old loudly running around, she pressed forward with such undeniable faith. Never was there blame on God. Never was there a deteriorated faith. She was so absolutely certain that everything was going to be okay, and that we were an eternal family and would be together again, that I felt I had no other option but to feel the same. And I have. And two years ago, while it wasn't my own mother that passed away, I had to watch my husband, and his family experience this similar thing. Its awfully hard to watch and support a spouse go through something like this. I was SO grateful for my experience with my sister. I'm sure there were some things I could have done better, but I just knew... with everything in me, because I had experienced it, that everything really would be okay, if we CHOSE the great Mediator. If we CHOSE life eternal. Death and trials in general are not easy. That's why they are called trials. They test us. They refine us. They mold us into people I believe we would not have otherwise become.

Something Sister Clark (a dear woman in my ward) said on Sunday in her testimony really enlightened me. And I hope I'm not taking her words out of context, but this was how I remember her words. She talked about how as she was just starting her family, there is usually an expectation (from ourselves) of perfection. Perfect kids. Perfect marriage. Perfect house. And while perfection is something we strive for, Perfection was not the Savior's plan. It was someone elses... Satans. Every question answered. Every doubt physically debunked. Our plans laid out perfectly. There is no progression. There is no faith needed. 2Nephi 2:23 "And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin."

I don't know why my sister was chosen to pass away at 8 years old. I don't know why Aaron's mom was taken so quickly at 65. I don't know why it took 4 years to get pregnant with #1 kid, while all the others have come so easily. I have guesses. But really, for me, it doesn't matter. Because no matter what, I will always choose the great Mediator. It may take me awhile to get there in a particular experience. But I know God wants me to be free. I know he wants me to have eternal life. I want to be a family with my sister again. I miss her. And I'll be danged if I'm going to let someone as miserable as Satan bring me down with him lessening my chances of being with my family again.

I am ever so grateful for my testimony. Specifically my testimony of eternal families. I know my Savior loves me. I know he held me when I was afraid 15 years ago. When I was lonely in a dorm room thousands of miles away from family 11 years ago. When I was sobbing tears of thoughts I may never be a mother. And so many small moments in between and now. I know he forgives me for all my crazy long list of imperfections. I know he wants me to be more than what I am... I'm working on it. And I know that even when I have thought I know better, and have left Him in the back seat, he always opens His door for me when I come to my senses. I Choose Eternal Life.

And I think this will be a good... no a great... 40 days.