All posts by Michelle L.

About Michelle L.

(Blog Team) never folds laundry and her car is a mess. She runs through the streets of Salt Lake City, UT, takes lots of photos, plays Uno with her five fabulous boys and buys way too many dresses for the little princess. Her husband is the most romantic man in the world because he does all the Costco shopping AND hauls it into the house (sorry to make you jealous girls). She writes at Scenes from the Wild.

my inner voice: Mother’s Day edition

 photo GetAttachment-1.jpg

“Be careful how you speak to your children. One day it will become their inner voice” –Peggy O’Mara.

This is not a story about perfect mothers raising perfect children. Rather, it features flawed mothers and grandmothers, broken relationships and the power of God’s grace to heal our hearts.

******

My mother was hard on me. As a child, and as I grew into an adult, she criticized and chastised, compared me to my siblings and to the smart/beautiful/talented girl down the street. I weighed too much, my clothes looked dowdy, my kitchen was messy. My mother’s mother spoke the same way to her and perhaps my mother’s mother’s mother did the same. Continue reading

for missionary moms and sisters and aunts and friends

 photo IMG_7044copy.jpg

Have I covered everyone? Because these days, I think we all know someone going on a mission this Spring or Summer. Families in my neighborhood who didn’t think they’d send out any missionaries are sending three at once and I’ve tearfully, joyfully watched many of my Young Women open mission calls.

Tomorrow, TOMORROW!!!! my oldest son will arrive home from Milan, Italy after a 737 day absence. As you can imagine, I’m so excited I can hardly think straight. But I thought today would be a good time to share mom/friend/aunt/brother/father etc. of missionary tips. I only have a few, so I hope the Segullah community will all contribute to the list. As with all advice: take what you like, discard what you don’t and do what is best for you.

1. Begin with a habit of every sibling writing every week. We did this because I didn’t consider any other way, but I learned it’s unusual for siblings to write their missionary brother or sister weekly. This habit kept my children close and created a good journal for each one of them. Because they all wrote from my email account, I was able to read their thoughts (with permission) and learn more about their hearts.

2. Email is awesome, but use snailmail too. Not every missionary has time to read email from multiple people, and even if they do, we all know the beauty of receiving real letters by post. Each time my son was transferred, I printed up several envelopes with his new address and placed a stamp on them. My children wrote quick little notes, drew sketches and often included recent photos. My second son will be leaving for Russia next month and since mail can only go to his mission office, I’ll just print up 100 envelopes at the beginning of his mission.

3. Photos and letters are better than gifts. Most missionaries either a. can find everything they need in their mission or b. will have their package stolen before it ever arrives.

4. Tell your missionary you miss them. Not in a ‘I’m going to die if you don’t come home right away” but my son appreciated hearing he was missed at home– that we felt his absence.

5. Pray for them at every meal, every family prayer. Perhaps this sounds obvious, and it’s probably intuitive for most, but those prayers lend missionaries strength and mentioning a loved one is likely to make all our prayers more sincere.

6. Create a missionary blog. I was iffy about this one, but a blog can be set up quite simply and you may be amazed at the traffic it receives. One blog reader (whom we have yet to meet) is getting baptized in April; her first real introduction to our faith was from Ben’s mission blog. You will of course, need to edit out details that would hurt or embarrass anyone.

OK, now it’s your turn. What are your missionary tips? What are your tips for helping missionaries acclimate after coming home?

And just indulge me, here are a few paragraph’s from Ben’s last missionary letter yesterday morning

Hello family-

I’m almost done being a missionary, but not quite. Tonight I’m going to teach the grandma of one of the sister missionaries at temple square. She was planning on getting baptized when her granddaughter got home in September, but in church on Sunday she came up to me and said, “You’re the first person I’m telling but I want to get baptized on my birthday- May 19.” Tonight will be the last lesson I teach as a missionary and then tomorrow I’ll go to Milano and have dinner with the Wolfgramm’s and then the next day I’ll be home.

… (editing out all the personal stuff you won’t find interesting)

Well this is it- the end. I have a solid feeling of peace. I feel satisfied. I feel like I’m in a holy place. I don’t just say it because I’m a missionary but I feel like I’ve done something of worth, something significant that not even I completely understand yet. I’m glad I came on a mission and I’m glad I stayed being a missionary despite all the times it would have been easier not to. I love you guys and I love the Lord.

Love, Ben

I’m pretty weak

As a Mormon who has sat through many a Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School lesson I’ve heard over and over, “Trials make us stronger.” “Suffering refines your character.” I’ve always believed these words and took on challenges the way you’d approach a weight-lifting routine. Maybe I even got a bit cocky about my own spiritual muscles,

until life slammed me to the ground and revealed how weak I really am.

I never knew I could hurt so much. I never knew I could hate so much. I never knew I could swear and yell and cry and feel absolutely sure my aching heart would simply break.

And then I learned the true strength of my Savior and His Atonement. Continue reading

Turn off your phone/iPad/game and Listen!

Settling into the back row for our third musical concert in as many days, my little daughter, bathed and dressed in pajamas whined, “I’m bored.” Without hesitation, I handed her my iPhone and she happily sliced through bananas and oranges in a game of Fruit Ninja. A few seats down the row, a man read the New York times on his phone, while just in front of us a toddler finger painted on an iPad. Sighting my son’s conductor approaching us, I smiled and waved hello, but she didn’t have a smile for us.

“I hope you’re enjoying your devices,” she said, sweeping her arm in a circle including the back three rows, “because I’m going to make you turn them off in just a minute. There is no hope, no hope for the future if we can’t teach our children to listen. Orchestras will die, live theater will perish and intellectual thought will disappear if we spend our lives in front of these screens. And frankly, you parents are setting a terrible example.”

Like a choir boy caught swearing in front of a priest, I wanted to defend myself, “I’m a conscientious parent. My kids study and practice. We scarcely even watch TV.” Instead, I simply palmed my phone from my daughter and pressed the off button.

I watched as the conductor canvased the room, delivering a similar message to like offenders. Minutes later she stood in front of the hall, “Welcome to our Winter Concert. Turn off your iPad, your smart phone, your games; no more texting, no more Facebook, no more Words with Friends. Every parent here has invested a small fortune in your child’s musical education and every teenager in my orchestra has worked incredibly hard on the music we will be playing tonight. Your teenagers deserve your full attention, and your younger children need your good example. Listen. Just listen.”

As the music swelled, I felt a rush of shame. The orchestra was incredible, each student playing with the enthusiasm and passion fostered by an excellent conductor. Maybe I would have turned off my phone without her rebuke, but I also might have borrowed it from my daughter to check my email or Instagram.

What have I become? Continue reading

The time hasn’t flown by for me

Photobucket

With the many changes the new mission ages bring to Mormon culture, I pray we can eliminate this phrase from our vernacular, “The time has just flown by!” usually accompanied by, “I can’t believe your son/daughter has been gone that long.”

Ask me how he’s doing. Ask me what city he’s serving in. Or don’t ask me at all. But please, please don’t say the time has flown by, because all I hear is, “I haven’t missed him one bit.”

I know, serving a mission is a privilege, just as bearing a child is a privilege and I know there are mothers who desperately wish their child was on a mission. During my pregnancies I threw up several times a day, suffered through varicose veins, false labor and all kinds of fun infections and complications. Because I was surrounded by friends suffering from infertility, I was careful not to complain but I still didn’t appreciate people saying, “Wow. You just pop out those babies like it’s nothing.” Continue reading