FIRST of all, goodness gracious, I felt so spoiled to be surrounded by so much kindness on my birthday. First and foremost from Dave who not only gathered all those thoughts but was determined enough to figure out how to blog it all. Including pictures! Wow! A little embarrassing on my part, yes, but how sweet is that? That is a labor of love I tell you. I love him. And those kids who only highlighted the good and not all the door-slamming and “mean mom” jazz. I was overwhelmed with so much love for my family and friends who took (and are still taking) such good care of me, and also for the beauty of the earth since I got to do a hard hike in the middle of all the desert grandeur on the big day. I feel like the luckiest lady ever. Thank you so much for all the sweetness added in the comments of the blog post too. So grateful.

SECOND, there was the best talk in church yesterday. It was given by a sister missionary in our congregation. It was good enough that Lucy reached up to whisper in my ear when it was over: “that was the best talk I’ve ever heard.” And I have to say, that is saying something because that girl listens to every talk. And even takes notes most of the time. There were actually three amazing talks, but for today I just wanted to talk about this one because it sure made me think and led to some good discussions after church.

This sister missionary read a couple of her journal entries. The first was from one of her first days as a missionary (for those unaware of how this works, sister missionaries are called to serve all over the world and they leave everything at home to give service and teach others about Jesus Christ for a period of 18 months). In that first journal entry she was discouraged. She wrote about how this was not what she had expected, or all it was cracked up to be, it was definitely not fun, she was terribly homesick, she “didn’t actually like people as much as she had thought she did,” (ha!), and she just didn’t think there was any way she could make it for 18 months. Basically, ‘what in heaven’s name am I doing out here???”

Then she read another journal entry from one year later. This time what she wrote was positively glowing. She was the happiest she had ever been in her life. She was carried away with how much she loved getting lost in service. In this entry she declared she just never wanted her mission to end.

She went on to relate some cool experiences and lessons learned, and it was just so beautifully put together that I was in tears and Claire leaned over and told me she had chills. Isn’t that what so much of life is about? We hit some pretty hard spots. We are sometimes overcome with such darkness we don’t know how to find light again. We don’t know if “this” is really all it was cracked up to be.

And my question is, what is it that makes that change? How do you go from thinking there is no possibility that you can do something to thinking you never, ever want it to end? Is it a soft heart? Is it humility? Is it sheer determination? Lu and I had a really good talk about this on the way to the airport after church (we are in Wisconsin right now), and I’ll have to share some of the analogies we came up with at some point, (because there are a lot in both our lives right now we discovered), but for now I just wanted to throw that thought out there. Because I think it’s a pretty beautiful thing to ponder. And I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on this, dear blog reader, if you care to share.

And THIRD, ok and this isn’t really a thought as much as some love to share for the “golden years” of mothering. Because I know there are so many mothers out there smack-dab in the middle of it: the cajoling fussy babies on your hips, the carpool rigamarole, the sleepless nights with toddlers crawling and bawling, the messes made, the jobs undone, but OH! believe me, one day you will look back and all that craziness will be woven with golden threads in your memory: the long eyelashes finally at rest on plump baby cheeks:

All of your delighted children lined up together in one spot, not strewn out all across creation:

Those mischievous little faces you adore will be echoing with such beauty in your memory:

Yep, whether you know it or not, all that chaos is going to some day become golden.

I’m not telling you you should enjoy every moment, because every moment is certainly not enjoyable for crying out loud! But I’m here to give you hope that even the messiness of it all will fade and turn to gold. And you will be so glad you were THERE. In the midst of it all. Even if it means you are there only to be a “durable object” through the temper tantrums and the fighting and disrespect.

You were the mother of it all.

And the crown of motherhood is a beautiful thing.

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  1. Well said. I like your thought of the Golden Years of mothering. Our sons we say all live on I-10 . . . 1500 miles apart! From New Orleans to Phoenix. Although not near physically, we are grateful for the lives they are building. Thank you for the smile today, Shawni!

  2. I felt the EXACT same way as this sister Missionary. After a month of being in Spain, away from my family and have quite a big headache from trying to understand what the people were saying I was ready to go home! I remember kneeling down in prayer and telling it all to my Father in Heaven- I think that is KEY- and then I got up and got to work. It got a bit easier and I still had some rough spots but I never felt that way again. I look back on my missionary service with such great fondness. To be a Missionary is a glorious thing!

  3. I remember my first night out of the MTC and crying myself to sleep. I wanted to go home but I also knew I needed to do this.. 18 months later on my last night I sobbed my heart out because I didn’t want to leave. 💕

  4. Oh my, yes. There are a lot of hard things I’ve had to face through the years after my mission. But I remember well in my first area of Switzerland becoming very discouraged. Spending all day, every day, trying to understand Swiss-German (not even the German we learned in the MTC), wanting to share my heart about my faith and not being able to say more than a couple words, the indifferent people, the not-so-nice people, the sleep deprivation, the loneliness even with a companion, I was ready to pack my bags – this was not for me! I went into the bathroom of our little studio apartment (the only private space) on the top floor of a 700 year old house, and poured out my heart to God to help me figure out what the heck I was doing. After a long while, I came out wiping my tears when the phone rang. It was the zone leader, a missionary from Austria, and he wanted to ask me if I was okay (had my companion tipped him off I’d been the bathroom too long???). I got a bit of courage to tell him how discouraged I was, and I’ll never forget what he said to me in English with his German accent, “Sister Bellamy, you don’t have to serve your mission all in one day. You just have to take it one day at a time. Soon you’ll find yourself almost near the end. It’s just one day at a time.” Sure enough, fast forward a year and I was getting permission to extend and stay 20 months instead of 18 I loved it so much. What was it? Such a good question to ask and think about. Don’t we move a mountain a spoonful at a time? Do we take ourselves too seriously at the beginning of something big and expect to be perfect from day one? In a world of instant everything, do we have the patience to let progress happen slowly and a bit messy, especially with ourselves? There were definitely people put along the path to pull me out of my slumps too. And bursts of joy that showed me the end result would be worth the slog. Thanks for asking! I love your blog. I don’t even know you personally but you are so relatable, I always think of you as one of my people. Oh, and the chance to hear from your husband and kids was priceless. All these years, your blog always has its focus somewhere other than you, so it was like having the camera lens turned around and seeing the photographer for the first time. Super fun.

  5. Thank you for the reminder about parenting. My husband is out of town and my kids are arguing and the baby isn’t sleeping and I’m ready to pull out my hair. I sat down for two minutes to myself before I rallied for the bedtime hustle and saw your post. Thank you. I needed that sweet reminder.

    1. Natalie, we literally live the same life! 😂 My husband is out of town, my baby wakes up every two hours, and my toddlers have tried to murder each other all day long. It’s only Monday! I loved Shawni’s perspective! I know I’ll miss these days (not today but other days). As far as the question posed, sometimes I think we are able to make that change by sticking to the task and gaining confidence in ourselves and our abilities.

  6. Thank you for the words “jobs undone”. It always is a relief to me when I learn I’m not the only one not “having everything together”.

    As for your question: I think one aspect is perspective. When I was pregnant, I was on bedrest (including 10 days in the hospital). Of course I was worried. Also annoyed, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to shop the baby’s furniture and clothes. And I was SO BORED (I felt so well and had to be inactive). But (!), from my hospital window I could see the little children who were sick with cancer. What is a bit of bedrest?

    And the other word would be “time”. Time makes a lot of things easier. There is a time for everything (which includes time for whining, because you’re on bedrest and bored). And like Liz Wheeler said: “You have time, you don’t have to do everything in one day.”

  7. So beautifully said. My children are now teens and one entered young adulthood. Thank you for sharing your calm steady wisdom …especially important for young moms to hear.🙏🏻

  8. I often think back on difficult times in my life and there is so much that goes into getting through. But for me I think the general formula looks something like this: allowing myself to feel all the feelings, but not to wallow in them + grit + gratitude + asking for help when needed (in prayer and in person) + serving others when capable + patience + taking care of myself physically to the best of my ability . I’m not perfect at it. I think some days one of those takes precedence over the others. But overall, that is what has seemed to help me get through.

  9. I have had some trials in life that people around me have asked how I did it? In Church Sunday, we had an amazing lesson on Joy. We came to the conclusion that Joy is not possible without gratitude. So my Joy in life at this moment is that my children are all great kids and adults. They may not have things figured out but are figuring it out. Love for a gospel that has given me hope, peace, love and a community of love. I am also living the Golden years, as much as I do miss some of the messes and chocolatey faces, I love watching and helping my kids make the hard decisions and growing in those decisions. So I guess my answer to my first question is that I kept moving forward in everything I do. Find happiness in those chocolatey faces and not in the clean up of it. Enjoy every minute that they want you in their lives. Find the Joy even if it is the worst day. I am sure anything can be found when we look hard enough, including the wonderful world God gave us.

  10. I think it’s FAITH. You move forward one shaky footstep at a time and slowly you gain a confidence- and your steps get stronger and more sure, because you learn that He will always be with you, every step of the way.

  11. Thinking about your question , the word “resilience” came to my mind..(, being resilient in making one step after the other, hope, strength, love, faith, courage and power from heaven will come to our help if we keep moving . Also the need to “speak the unspeakable” to God and family and friends will lift us up and change our hearts, minds and capabilities.
    Greetings from Austria

  12. Love those pics of your children lined up together….my husband and I are totally astonished on how we have grown from our “always family of 4” to now a family of 8 with the addition of a son in law, a son in law to be, and 2 grand children! What a blessing that we can’t all fit in one car, we need a bigger table when we dine out, we have more opinions to consider when we plan vacations, etc….and somehow, we never saw this coming when we saw our girls lined up together as tiny tots! or lined up with their cousins in the pool on family vacation…now our total number has grown from the original family of 5 (gmom, gdad and three sons) to a party of 22!! So keep that in mind if you are a tiny family of four…the best is yet to come!

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