Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Monday, March 21, 2011

Women's Month

I noticed that March is designated as Womens Month. It seems appropriate, since that is also the month of the founding of the Relief Society, the women's organization in the Church that focuses on serving others. It made me think about the women who have been influential in my life: friends, coworkers, leaders, teachers, aunts, cousins, sisters, sisters-in-law, my mothers-in-law and grandmothers-in-law. All have enriched and blessed my life. I am thankful for them.

So much could (and probably should) be written about them, but lately I've been thinking of the women in my family who came before me. I am fortunate to have a number of their stories and journals, and have learned much from them; not only about their lives, but also about how to manage the challenges that come from living. I also learn more about who I am from reading about their experiences.

Kitty lived on the plains of Canada during the Great Depression and kept a daily log of what she was doing. When I was going through my divorce and dealing with being a single mother, my dad gave me a copy of his paternal grandmother's daily log. I loved reading about her day-to-day life in a time and place that is so different from my own. I also found great comfort in realizing that seasons come and seasons go, even during times of great difficulty. One of my favorite entries is her description of going to her daughter-in-law's funeral in 1935. She writes: "Montana and North Dakota, these are the landmarks I saw: fire brakes, gravel pits, wind mills, russian thistles, small buildings, sick-looking trees, alkali ponds. Poor fields and late grain--many hardships I am sure. Many barbwire fences, very poor feed for many miles. Barren and drifting soil, wide open spaces. Lilac time--3 shades white, pink & lavender (lovely). Rode all night of the 6th of June, and all day the 7th."

Clara grew up in the Boston area, raised by her aunt after her mother died in childbirth. She came west to join her older sister when she was a young lady, and eventually married and raised her family. I don't have any of her written words, but from my dad I know she attended Washington State University as one of the first female students and firmly believed in being actively involved in community life.

Clara's daughter, Margery, was my paternal grandmother. Sadly, she died when my father was still a young boy. I do, however, have a diary she kept for several months that gives me a glimpse into her life and reveals her personality. I love this description of a walk: "April 15, 1932: Made a hurry-up trip to town, went to Burtenshaw's and, after school, for a walk to the park and back, picking flowers."
Margery's 1932 diary
I recently found the obituary of Hester, one of my great-great-grandmothers, and was excited to learn more about her. She was from Indiana, and with her husband and children gradually moved west, settling in the Wallowa area of Oregon when it was in its pioneer period.

All of these women suffered from loss, and disappointment, and hard times, but they also believed in hard work and perseverance. Kitty, Clara, Margery, and Hester came through their challenges with flying colors and it gives me the courage to keep trying.

On the family front: My oldest brother, Mike, and his wife are living and teaching in Tokyo, Japan. They came through the earthquake all right. But, like the rest of the world, our hearts are saddened by the tragedy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cub Scout Adventures

At the beginning of the year I was asked to help with the cub scout program in my ward. We live in an older neighborhood, and right now we only have 2 boys in the program. They are delightful, and I am enjoying this assignment. We started out with a pinewood derby, and since we have so few boys, there wasn't a lot of competition, but they and their younger siblings and dads had fun racing their cars.
Pinewood Derby
At the fire station
Then, a few weeks ago, we visited a local fire station. Fireman Gary showed us around the station,  taught us the difference between fire trucks and engines (engines have water tanks), showed us his gear, let the boys try them on, and talked about fire prevention. Just as he finished putting his gear away, they received an emergency call and had to leave. The boys watched with wide eyes as the firefighters sprang into action, and left the station with sirens blaring. It was a good reminder about how important it is to be prepared for emergencies.
Fireman Gary also talked at some length about working together with other firefighters and fire stations to put out fires. As he put it, "we can't put out a fire alone. We work as a team to control fires and to help those who need help." And so it is with mental health issues. We have learned how important it is to work with each other and the doctors to control David's illness. It's important to have a mental health team to maintain mental health.

Update on the family: We've been happy that David hasn't had a serious psychotic episode this winter, but he has had his share of ups and downs. Right now he is working through a mixed episode, likely triggered by worrying about money and my health (I've been fighting a nasty sinus infection for the last several weeks).
His doctor prescribed Perphenazine toward the end of January. An anti-psychotic drug, it seems to be doing its job. David says his dreams and moods aren't as dark since he's been using it, and he's sleeping better. However, as with most medicines, it also has possible side effects, which is why it is so important that he keep seeing his dr. and having his blood checked.
Soldier Brian and his family welcomed their new baby, Henry this week. We also had grandchildren Brad and Gabby spend a weekend with us, and had fun taking them on a walk along the river, and having some neighbor children over. Our house felt alive again with the noise of children laughing and running around. I find that we are more patient with the grandchildren than we were with their parents. I suppose because we don't have the day-to-day responsibility for them, but also because we're aware of how fast children grow up, and this time with them is precious.