Our Number-Two-Grandson was born this week: Number One to Number-Three (our son) and Number-Three-Plus-One (our daughter-in-law). I dug through my journal to find something I could share tonight as gift to them. I finally found this entry. My husband calls it "prophecy" because it was written on:
Friday, June 16, 2000
"My own children have asked me: how did you and Dad turn out such good kids as us? (smile) I've never had a really good answer, but as I've pondered lately, the spirit has led me to recognize one point in particular.
. It is: Planning Ahead.
I don't mean just planning ahead to tomorrow, or next week, or even next year. I mean - REALLY planning ahead: like a lifetime ahead.
Even as a teen I was concerned about my future family. I worried over how I would EVER know how to handle each child and every circumstance? Even at 13, 15, or 17, I realized that life was a parade of endless scenarios and unique personalities. There couldn't be enough how-to books in the world to cover every possibility. And I worried about that. No amount of preparation could possibly be sufficient.
I was relieved when the answer gradually dawned on me: cultivate the gifts of the Spirit. Learn to recognize and utilize promptings. The Spirit will customize revelation to fit any circumstance you might face as a parent.
Of course! So that is what I did. I learned to listen to and trust this constant companion.
Then I met my Honey. As the reality of parenthood loomed before me, I worried again: surely the Lord expected me to gain practical knowledge. So, I looked for opportunities to work and play with children. While socializing, I observed and actually studied the parents and kids. Everything I saw, questioned, or reasoned, I would bounce off my new husband. He enjoyed it as much as I did. I took family life classes at college and read many books on the practical side of parenting. I learned about child development, effective communication, natural consequences and discipline. I learned about keeping a clean and organized home. I learned and learned and learned and learned! It seemed wrong to me that the world invested so much of time and energy into preparing for a profession outside of the home, and yet ANYONE could "make people" with practically NO training!
Dale and I talked and talked and planned and planned.
The irony, or blessing of it all, is that our firstborn was severely disabled and our self-imposed education came to a new crossroads. We set out on a whole new avenue of exploration as we passed through an intensive formal course in the treatment of brain injury and the raising a very special human being.
Nevertheless, in one of the photos of Ashley and me in our very first days together on this earth (and before we knew of her challenges), one element now leaps out. I am cradling my six pound daughter in my hands, holding her tiny face up to my lips. We are in her "nursery", which gave me so much joy to design. Behind us is a bulletin board with carefully arranged pictures representing basic gospel principles like scripture study, families, church going, tithing, the Savior, and even the temple --in a nursery!
And that’s the key: I had already planned for my infant going to the temple. I was already treating her like the old, intelligent spirit that she really was, capable from the first moment of life to absorb truth. I believed that she was very, very GOOD.
As three more children joined our family, I was forever thinking ahead. One foot was always in the present and the other in the future. My visualizations knew no bounds. Some were of everyday choices and routines. Others were on a grander scale. The realization of some were only a few years away, others decades away. I was seeing my children's future when I still had only myself to converse with during the days.
And through it all, there has been plenty of room for their own dreams. I never went so far as to "plan" their careers, interests, talents, or friendships. I have relished in the passing years, a sense of wonder and surprise at their choices and creations, all within the context of goodness. Their independence from me and their father is my "ultimate" plan.
Now, a note about "wishes" verses "desire" should be inserted here: these were not just pretty pictures I painted in my daydreams, nor were they set forth on a piece of paper that might someday be lost or obsolete. These were LIVING goals, burned into my heart, my very being! The images were so real, that if there were some way to navigate time, I could have reached out and touched them. It felt (and feels) like they already DO exist, just in some other dimension that I will eventually and inevitably catch up with. I didn't just "want" these things to come to pass, like "it would be nice if...". My desire was very keen. I had absolute faith that they would happen. The Lord speaks of "desire" as in "desiring the things of righteousness." It is very clear that he did not mean fantasizing to be sufficient. True faith and desire motivates to action and a reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what I had.
In consideration of the principle of "action," I believe I can say without exaggeration that in my adult life, every single choice, whether very tiny or very great, has been based on a single criterion: how will this bless or harm my children? Will this support or detract from the vision? As an example, I am, in fact, writing even these thoughts primarily for my children as parents. I see myself making a gift of this little book of counsel and experience to my daughter or daughter-in-law, as preparations are made for her new baby.
Living within this paradigm is not to say that I have no life, or ambitions, or talents of my own. As I grow old, I will be able to rejoice in a rich assortment of happy personal accomplishments that are dear to me, but none were realized at a price to my children. Any assignment or pursuit was only undertaken when I was satisfied through personal revelation that it would actually enrich my family. And the Lord has never disappointed me. Each of my own experiences has truly, truly blessed my children in some way. And in return has blessed me! I have never felt "sacrificed" in any way. The resulting sense of "fulfillment" and gratitude and joy and personal growth is beyond expression as any "professional" mother will tell you. These precious feelings of the heart and mind are far, far, away, and superior to the glitter of worldly attainment.
I know that someday, such a keen awareness of my every move will not be of necessity, omnipresent in my thoughts. My children will have lives and families of their own: good lives, I might add. I know, because I have seen them! In that same vision, I see myself as a grandmother, matriarch of a marvelous extended family who enjoy and support one another and celebrate life together! Yet even as the children will no longer be under my direct care, and my husband and I will be "free" to devote ourselves to other forms of service in the Lord's kingdom on earth and in heaven, I see clearly that my "motherhood" will never end.
I believe in family for all eternity, and already -- I am planning ahead."
Muse with me: What kind of "plans" (or dreams) do you have for your family? Which of your dreams have come to pass?