A New Beginning

Bonnie 2010Today’s guest post comes from Bonnie, a working mom of five kids who just celebrated her 15th anniversary with her soul mate.  You will always find a book nearby and at least two on her night stand.  She loves discussing all life has to offer with her book club friends, and staying up to all hours in the morning playing games with as many of her seven brothers as possible.  Her current goal is to achieve balance spiritually and temporally.

I love new beginnings.  To the point, that I create them even when not necessary.  It drives my husband mad!  But there is one new beginning that I share often because it was so powerful and so……defining.

The one that stands out to me is after the birth of our fifth child, a girl.  We had a hard time accepting that we were pregnant, yet again.  The timing was all wrong and we were just starting to get our feet under us.  Our job situation was bleak – working opposite shifts and four boys under age six to keep us busy.  We never saw each other.  Our marriage was on the rocks, our activity in the church was almost nil, and our home was ripped up because we thought we could remodel during this time.  Then to find out we were bringing another child into this chaotic life.

During this pregnancy, after several nights of crying, and lots of thoughts of “how in the world are we going to do this”, I had a quiet moment of peace.  And the Spirit whispered to me, “When this child comes, she will touch your lives and they will change for the better.”  Such a sweet peace came over me and allowed me to continue my pregnancy without fear and worry about the effect a fifth child will have on our lives. 

What this peace offered was the ability to listen to the Spirit, instead of chasing it away with my own fears.  It also allowed us to talk….really talk.  About how our lives were and what things needed to change.  Her birth was quick and perfect.  And our lives settled back into our routine – whatever ‘routine’ you can have with five young kids.

But our discussions continued until we prayed for something different.  For the previous seven years, we had been praying that my husband could support us on his income and I could stay at home.  Those prayers never materialized into anything.  And we had gotten stuck.  As we talked, we thought (which I’m sure was the Spirit whispering), “That desire isn’t happening, maybe, we should pray for something else.”  After much discussion, we came to the conclusion that our marriage needed to be put first.  We needed to see each other and our kids needed to see us together….happy, together.

So, we prayed.  We prayed that would be able to work the same shift, have enough money to hire a nanny to help with the kids, live closer to work, and have the evenings and weekends with the family.  And we asked that we could accomplish that in three years.  We felt so good about this and the Spirit washed over us as we closed our prayer.  We knew that we should have changed our prayers long ago, but we didn’t have the clarity or the desire to do so.

Then the stars started aligning……First, our kids were accepted into a charter school near where we worked.  Second, within a few weeks, my husband was laid off.  But it didn’t send us into a frenzy.  We just knew that this was the first step into our journey of changing our lives.  And we had turned our lives over to the Lord – He knew our hearts, our desires, and we had given him a plan.  Third, within a few weeks he was offered a job that was basically created for exactly what he had been doing.  Not only that, but he would start making significantly more money that he had been making.  The only downfall was that it was located two counties away from where we were living.

Fourth, I decided that working for this company might not be the best plan.  So, I started looking just to see what was out there.  I also found a job making significantly more but it was located even further than my husband’s job.

So, we jumped……we found a home to rent near the kids school, we interviewed nannies, and we accepted both jobs.  Within three Months, not years as we had planned, but months, we had everything that we had asked for.

I cannot put into words what that did for our family.  Our relationship grew stronger because we knew that we had come together as a husband and wife, knelt before God, gave him our burdens and a solution.  Then He blessed us faster than we could comprehend.  Our faith changed, we went back to church and have not lapsed since.  And our family has been blessed beyond measure.  To the point that we have recently jumped again …..but that’s a new beginning for a different time.

12 thoughts on “A New Beginning

  1. Bonnie: Thank you for taking the time to write up this experience. I have found that praying works better when I try to open myself up to divine will rather than asking for what I want from my limited perspective. That’s not to say that I don’t still sometimes beg, but that’s a very different kind of prayer than, “OK, I’m stuck. What should I do to get unstuck? And I’m gonna let you lead me by the nose because I am really getting frustrated trying to do this by my own power.” It took me a while to realize that I can ask first what to even be praying for, praying about.

    Segullah Readers: In what ways have you transformed prayer over the years?

  2. What a wonderful example! Thank you! I love how your example is that of great blessings while praying for what your individual family needs… not the standard answer, or the specifically “the doctrinally correct” one, but the one that God obviously wants for your family. I know there have been many times in my (ahem) slightly perfectionist life (*cough*slightly, HA!) that I’ve begged and begged for the thing that I’m “supposed” to get, and only when I was willing to pray for the thing that we actually needed and would be best for us was I ready to accept it… and man, did it show up quickly! I wish that there were more people’s examples out there like that… the standard answer tends to read “I prayed that I’d be able to stay home with my kids, and thus I was able to stay home with my kids.” But that’s only because that’s the answer that gets published/blogged/talked about. There are so many thousands of other sound, intelligent, and very, very Godly answers which have come through fervent prayer and the desire to do His will, even when it’s not necessarily the thing we want at the time, which doesn’t get discussed as much. We need to talk more about ALL of the answers. I figured out years ago that, with our family’s chronic illness, I had a choice. I cold believe that “if I had enough faith,” then I would be healed, or I could see the blessings in the trial and figure out a way to follow God, even without the use of the bits of me that kept physically protesting. It took a long time to realize that perhaps the goals I had set for myself, even the worthy goals, even the goals I had been trained to set down since childhood, might not be the standard goals that He had in mind for every step… or if they were the steps for me, that they wouldn’t be given in the usual way or the easiest way. But by doing things sideways and backwards, I’ve learned that maybe I couldn’t get to my ultimate goal in any other way… and I’d much rather be in pain and have a messy house and children I couldn’t take to playdates (and who are also badly sick) and still have my marriage and kids who like to play with each other (not having anyone else they can not sneeze on) than to have everything my way and the alternatives to the above….which is what I know I would have ended up with, due to my own sheer stubbornness. Now, if I can only convince my sweetheart of the same things… he’s a “This is the way, there is no other way, there is no right way but The Way,” kinda guy, which is WONDERFUL in 99% of instances, and very difficult if The Way and the way we do things in order to survive don’t align all the time…. (Thanks for sharing your story so much :-> I love hearing about different paths to the same good goals… they keep me going…)

  3. Thanks, Bonnie, for this thoughtful post. It rings of such truth. I have been surprised at times to find God actually stopping me mid-prayer and telling me “you’re asking the wrong question. What you should be asking is…”This is powerful stuff and your well told experience is evidence of a real (not a canned) God.

  4. While I was in the process of getting divorced I kept praying for God to soften my ex-husband’s heart and to step in and save our marriage. But, He didn’t. And after a while God told me that what I was praying for just wasn’t going to happen. So I started praying for comfort and guidance instead, and that was a very profound shift for me that made that time in my life much easier to bear. Thank you for sharing such a powerful experience.

  5. Thank you all for sharing your comments. I love hearing others stories…..it reaffirms my own promptings and blessings. Heather, your story is similar in many ways (messy house) and my husband is very similar. I find the I have to ‘plant seeds’ and foster them over time (sometimes years) until we grow closer to the same line of thinking. Just tonight my husband told me we should something that I’ve wanted him to do for years with me. The nurturing pays off! :) Jessie – I could not agree with you more on shifting your focus.

  6. Bonnie, Thank you so much for posting this experience. I so appreciate the perspective that being a stay at home mom is not the answer for every family. For years I felt I was unworthy to pray becaue I was a working mother. When my mother, a stay at home mother to me, identified that I wasn’t praying out of guilt because I fell short of the cultural ideal she encouraged me to pray. I did pray that night regarding my job and my fears about my job. Within days my life changed dramatically including the opportunity to pursue additional education and eventually end up with better employment. Thank you for affirming that sometimes the Lord has a different plan but not a less worthy plan for us working moms.

    Posts such as yours help bridge the vast expanse of times in between when I listen to lessons or commentary about a cultural ideal, of stay at home mommyhood, that I admore but I will never fit.

  7. This post meant so much to me, thank you for sharing your experience. I think this is an area where the line between culture and doctrine can be pretty blurry. So grateful that Heavenly Father gives us personal guidance, revelation,and perspective in our unique situations and families.

  8. I have five teenage grandsons. They have been more or less rebellious. We determined to go to the Temple weekly to ask for help. We were not perfect in doing this, but todayi saw a miracle. A grandson who had declared he did not want to be ordained a Priest gave a talk in Sacrament meeting AFTER he acted in the office of a Priest in administering the Sacrament. In his talk he more or less bore his testimony. These five young men are in a contest to see who can grow their hair the longest. Who cares! I am just grateful for answered prayers.

  9. As I wrote this it never occurred to me that one of the things that would stand out is the fact that our answer was for me to keep working. I know that is a sticky point for many as they listen in Relief Society to lessons that talk about the mom in the home versus working. This is something that I had to come to terms with long ago and it’s something I really enjoy doing. I’ve tried not working and my family doesn’t like it as much because I’m not as effective in balancing life. I become less of who I am and then am not full enough to reach out to others. I hope that makes sense. I’m grateful that aspect of this story has helped others to realize that there is no one answer for everyone….just the right one for them.

  10. Wonderful post!

    Thank you for sharing your experience of learning what to pray for – and knowing when to take a leap into the unknown. My own husband and I are trying to make some big decisions about what is right for US. This gives me some happy food for thought.

  11. Bonnie: I have the same issue (needing to have commitments beyond supporting my husband and kids). I didn’t have my first child until age 36, so I had a firm identity built outside of homemaking. I support women who do that. I admire them, sometimes to the point of coveting them. But does that mean we women have to have an identical lives to prove we support each othere and see others’ choices as valid?

    I do enjoy my two kids, and I do spend more time focused on at-home tasks than before I married and had kids, but when I quit my job 3 years ago (because my job didn’t give me enough flexibility with my kids’ changing needs), I was very unhappy. And as my husband is fond of saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Now I am engaged in three communities that can fit around my kids’ needs as I prepare with education and volunteer work to return to working for pay in order to support them financially when they launch with mission / college / marriage.

    I would never presume to tell another woman how to spend her time. That’s between her, her family, and God. But I work really hard to be mindful, intentional, and purposeful for how I spend my time. (OK, maybe I watch too much reality TV at times.) I’m trying to use my talents in venues that serve people around me (homemaking, church, grad school, Segullah, blogging about aging, Medicare counseling, nursing home volunteer work).

    In June, actually got an anonymous hate letter from a woman in my ward, calling me selfish for getting a master’s in aging studies (gerontology, helping older adults with age-related life challenges) and telling me that I’m neglecting my two kids (who are at school when I do my online classes). She told me that I should quit school and parent full time. But I felt inspired to pursue this new vocation, and it’s not her place to chastise me.

    I admire you for cultivating prayer as a line of communication to divine will. It’s scary to be vulnerable in asking “what to do?”, but so liberating when you get the direction. Feeling directed by God grounds me so that I can ignore critics. I would have never imagined working with older adults after 30 years teaching college English, but I love it, and I feel God’s hand in it. Keep walking your path, Bonnie. Love and light to your family.

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