Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Many of you have captured Pokemon today. Many of you have captured free Slurpees from 7 Eleven. I have not captured anything today. For me, it has been a day of quiet remembrance of the woman who gave me life.

While growing up, July 4 started a week of celebrations...fireworks for America, a birthday cake for me on July 7, and then 4 days of sneaking around until my mother's birthday on July 11. My dad would shuffle us off shopping or out of the house to share his birthday plots with us. It usually involved something blue, being wrapped in blue and tied up with blue, as blue was my mother's favorite color. 

We'd always ask her what she wanted for her birthday, but she always said, "I don't need anything." Isn't that just like a mom? We kids could have been nicer to her, done our chores, stopped fighting and picked up after ourselves. Somehow we never thought of that, though. I seem to recall getting her things like perfume, blue soaps and blue nightgowns. She was always pleased with what we got her and never complained.

So today some of you may share her birthday, and while I remember her, on what would be her 85th year on earth, I am happy that I can remember you at the same time. It makes me smile, and although that does not assuage the guilt I have of being an unruly, ungrateful child, I know she would smile, as well, knowing that you share that special day with her when you came to earth.

Happy Birthday, Mom! It's been 40 years since I've seen you, but every time I see a blue soap or nightgown I think of you and how much I miss you. I love that I had you in my life for 16 years and that you were my biggest fan. My poems, my songs, my stories...all of them I wrote with the idea that you would be proud of me. I love you.

Penny Lee Soutar copyright July 11, 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Moving On...

"Moving On..."

On a recent visit with a dear friend whose spouse passed away, my friend commented that a family member kept urging, "move on." My response was, "how do you move on?"

I remember asking my bishop that a few years ago. How do I move on from my divorce? How does anyone move on from tragedy, pain, sorrow, loss of loved one, violence, illness or any unexpected, unpleasant event? How do I move on? His answer, "That's the question, isn't it?" I remember discussing that I wasn't ready to date again, that I liked being single and was not going to jump back into something that I was not quite sure I wanted again. In a nutshell, I HAD ISSUES... the most prominent being FEAR. How do I get past the FEAR?

The Atonement came up, of course; that Jesus understood whatever it was I was going through and offered healing balm to my soul. Did I want to be healed? YES. Did I want to forget the pain? YES. Did I doubt myself? ABSOLUTELY. Was I afraid? YOU BETCHA.

After discussing this with my friend, I returned to my hotel room, where I randomly opened the ever present Gideon's Bible to the following passage: Ecclesiastes chapter 3.

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

I thought about this passage for several days...and asked, "What time is it for me?" It is a question befitting my recent year of indecision. There are times and seasons to all things, even indecision. When the Lord confirmed to me that it would be a good thing to sell my house, he did not confirm to me when or where I should move. In times like this....my indecision is a decision -- to wait on the Lord for a more specific answer. What else could the Lord be telling me at this time?

I believe I have heard Him saying this - "you have had a time to rend, break down, weep, mourn, lose, cast away stones, refrain from embracing and pluck up that which was planted. Now it is time for you to be born, build up, laugh, dance, embrace, get, keep, sew, plant, speak, love, heal and have peace."

It was then I realized that "MOVING ON " doesn't exist...but "MOVING FORWARD" does. We don't forget the experiences and feelings of our lives...times of  joy, sorrow, kindness, violence, birth, death, pain, healing, illness, health...they make us who we are. As the Lord said to Joseph Smith in the Liberty Jail, "know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." (Doctrine and Covenants, 122:7). And what is the good? MOVING FORWARD.

Not only are these experiences for our own good, but for the comfort and strengthening of others. As Prophet Alma said as he baptized in the Waters of Mormon, are we "willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort?" (Mosiah, 18:9-question mark added.)

So do I "move on?" I'd say no. I'd say I "move forward," carrying my experiences with me, in one way or another. How do I move forward? I use the knowledge, empathy and compassion I have gained that makes me who I am today, and move forward by redefining my situations, relationships and experiences through my human lens of pure Gospel living and daily progression.

Penny L Soutar copyright 1 May 2016