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Stand

My art gives me an opportunity to meet many people, sometimes those people come from different countries. I enjoy talking to these people, just to get a better idea of their lives, culture, and what they think and believe in. My goal is not to judge those people, but to learn about them and their countries. I had that chance a couple of years ago at a Christmas bazaar I was working at. The booth next to me was selling massage items, one for your eyes, and one fairly portable one, but not hand held, that worked for you shoulders and back. There were 2 men working in this booth, and as the day progressed we talked quite a bit as it was not a super busy bazaar. I found out one was from Israel and one from Ireland. I enjoyed working next to them, they were nice people.

As we talked, we started to talk about freedoms and what it meant for regular people like us. We talked about the bazaar that we were at that very day, and several like it that they had participated in, and that I had participated in. Their comments were very interesting to me, and I have thought a lot about them since. The one from Israel made most of the comments and had the most questions. He asked me what my thoughts were on the capitalist system, and I told him I thought it was the best system for the general population, as it gives everyone the right to earn in a way that they desire, if they are motivated enough to work hard, and to keep the majority of what they earned. When I asked them their thoughts, he share his experiences with me.

In Israel at the time, he would never have been allowed to sell anything that wasn’t government sanctioned. There would be no vendors like me, selling art or products that I made, without me jumping through a bunch of regulatory hoops. He said, even if I made it through those hoops, then the government would take the profits and give me back what they felt like I needed or had earned. He said it wasn’t much. These men worked for a larger company, but they were well paid, they enjoyed meeting people, and they enjoyed the freedom to move around and do as they wished. I am grateful to have met these men, to see from their eyes what it was like for them, where they came from, and for the appreciation it gave me for the freedoms that I enjoy.

So, what does the word “Stand” have to do with any of that? We need to stand up for our freedoms. Whether it be in our blogs, or in our social media, or wherever, stand up and be counted. I think there is a huge amount of people out there, working hard, and “keeping their heads down” so to speak, hoping everything will level out sooner or later. But I don’t see that happening. So, today I will tell you, and I hope you can pass my experience along to other that you know, and that you will share your experiences with me, and with the world.

I stand for the Constitution of the United States. I know it’s not perfect, but it’s more perfect than any other government document that has been written in history. I have studied it. The founding father’s weren’t perfect men, but they knew that. The Constitution is written as a living document. But the basics, the bones of the Constitution should not be messed with. I stand for the Bill of Rights. I have read and studied them. I believe that if we all had read and studied them, we wouldn’t have nearly so many disagreements in our country. I do not believe that the rights set forth in the Bill of Rights should be infringed upon.

I stand for the Human family, and believe that every human being should be treated with the same respect as any other. That’s not to say there aren’t bad people in this world, but I think that most people are good. Most people are just trying to make it through this life, just like I am. Most people, when given an opportunity, will help rather than hinder a fellow human being. There are so many examples of this if you’re willing to look, and your skin color, your ethnicity, your yearly income, doesn’t matter. It’s what’s in your heart, and most people have a good heart. That doesn’t make any of us perfect, but I think there’s a lot of people trying.

I stand for God. I believe in God, I believe that He is our Heavenly Father, and that He truly loves us. I believe He has given us guidance and instruction to assist us in becoming better than we could be by ourselves, and that if we strive to follow that guidance and instruction, we can improve every day. I also believe that we need to allow each other to improve. Sometimes people make huge improvements, and the people around them won’t let go of the person they were, and it makes it hard to stay the new, better person. Allow people opportunity to change and become better.

I stand for the family unit. There are some saying that it’s not important to have a family unit anymore. That the government, or agencies could raise our children better. There are others who think parents aren’t important, one or both. I believe that every child has the right to a family, with parents who are working hard to help that child succeed in life. It’s a commitment of time and energy, a lot of both, but it’s a commitment that no one else can do as well as that parent, for that child. No parent is perfect. We are learning as we go, just as the kids are learning as they go. But working together as a family changes lives in ways no agency or government could ever accomplish. The love and concern that a parent has can never be duplicated.

I stand for personal responsibility. I don’t think it’s the government’s job to tell us what to do, when to do it, or what to think about it. We need to do our own research. We need to examine both sides. We have a responsibility to be well informed in anything we stand for. But, as stated earlier, I stand for the human family. No matter my opinion, or your opinion, we need to be respectful to one another and find ways to work together for the greater good of our society as a whole. Something to remember when working together for the common good though, is that just because you or I believe something, doesn’t mean that our way is the best way, or the only way. It’s when we can see each other, when we can open our minds to new possibilities and solutions, different than either side has previously thought of, that we will come to the best solutions to the problems facing the human family. I know there are solutions out there for every problem that will benefit both sides of any situation, but when we get entrenched in our side and aren’t willing to look at anything else, that’s when solution aren’t forth coming.

Whether you agree or disagree with me on any point, is not really the point here. We each need to determine where we stand, because if we don’t, we will fall for anything that comes along. We need to be firm in what we believe so that the shifting tides of every new idea don’t keep shifting us around. And we need to be willing to look for those alternative ideas that benefit everyone. There is a lot happening in the world today that wants us to be constantly stirred up about every little thing going on. We can choose to be stirred, or we can choose to stand. I would love to hear your ideas on any of these subjects, or hear what you stand for as well.

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Kids

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I love my kids. I don’t like all kids necessarily, but I love my kids. I shouldn’t say that. Kids are super fun, most of the time, and if they’re not mine I guess I can just give them back. But no matter what is going on in our busy lives, I love my kids. I have 4 kids, 2 are over 18, one is serving a mission for my Church and won’t be home for about 16 more months. The next oldest just graduated this spring, and really didn’t have a direction in life yet. There were a lot of things she didn’t want to do, but she wasn’t sure what she did want to do.

A job opportunity came up in late June and she was gone, just over 24 hours after the offer was made, to a remote, fly-in only, hunting lodge in the Talkeetna mountains. It was a whirlwind of excitement and nervousness as she prepared to go. But I was surprisingly calm. It was weird, because normally I would be thinking of everything that could and probably would go wrong, and how do I get there when it did. But this time it wasn’t that way. It was peace and calm. I knew she was going where she needed to be. I also know several pilots who could get me out there if need be!

Well, she has been gone for 2 months now, almost to the day, and she was able to fly home for a few days to spend some time with family, as well as to go to the Alaska State Fair. I don’t know if it was the Fair, or the family that was more driving in her desire to come home, but I like to think it was family. She let us know she would be coming home on Tuesday morning, but she didn’t know where she would be landing. This created a lot of nervous excitement in me, much more than I experienced when she left, and I spent the day asking her if she was leaving yet.

As the evening approached and the sky started to get dusky, I was beginning to wonder if she would make it out that night at all. But finally the message, she was heading out to the plane, and even better news, the pilot was more than happy to drop her at the Willow airport, less than 1 mile from home, instead of making us drive the 50 miles to the Palmer airport to pick her up. We watched as the plane landed and she got off with some of her gear. What a blessed sight that was. She has had, and will continue to have a grand adventure the rest of this summer. She has many stories to tell, and I’ve enjoyed listening as she does so. She works with great people out there, and she has had a lot of fun. She is only home for about 6-7 days, but I will soak up as much of her as I can while she is here.

This brings me back to all my kids. No matter where they go in life, I hope they know they can always come home. No matter where they land, I will be there to pick them up. No matter how long they get to stay, I will soak up as much of them as I can, and I hope that they will soak up as much love as their hearts need before they set off on their next adventure.

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Skills

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This Saturday, as well as several previous, intermittent days, we have been cutting wood. Our only heat source is wood, so we need to have it taken care of before winter comes, and we have to do it every year. As our boys, my husband, and I were working, I had time to think about the many years we have been collecting wood, and how our children have helped at different ages. When they were little, it was usually carrying the wood from one location to the other, whether from the splitter to the wood stack, or the wood stack to the wheelbarrow to take it in to burn. They were, and still are, required to do what they are capable of doing. But their skill set has increased over the years.

When they were little it was just the hauling. As they grew, they learned how to stack a woodpile so that it didn’t tip on anyone during the winter, how to make it safe. As they continued to grow, they learned how to load the log splitter while I split the wood, and then, they learned to run the splitter. At first with a whole lot of supervision, but now, we trust them more than a lot of adults we know, to be safe, run it properly, and take good care of it. As they have gotten older they have each learned to run the chainsaws (girls and boys), when they felt comfortable, and when we felt like they could do so safely. My husband uses a large chainsaw, but we have 2 small chainsaws that we have taught them how to use properly and how to stay safe while doing so. Usually my husband cuts down the trees, but on the smaller trees he takes time to instruct the kids on how to cut, and how to make the trees fall where they want them to. It is amazing how much their help has sped up the wood cutting and hauling process, and especially amazing at how much more aware they are of what’s going on around them, even when they aren’t the ones cutting.

As I pondered upon the tree cutting, I also started to think about the ways we have taught our kids through the years. From simple chores like picking up toys, to bigger projects, like how to repair damage they have caused to vehicles when they were learning how to drive. It is interesting to me, to note how much more they appreciate the things they have to work on, haul, fix, clean, etc. Sometimes, I have forgotten the things my kids needed to learn though. As my oldest left home, she would ask for help filling out paperwork at the doctor, help with bank statements, help understanding bills, etc. Things that I had just always, automatically done, just because I was always there. One of my sons had to go to the doctor recently to get a Tdap booster shot. The nurse who checked us in gave him the paperwork. He started to hand it to me and I told him to fill it out. I was grateful the nurse handed it to him initially, as a reminder to myself to help him learn.

Over the years I have watched youth and young adults. I have learned that the kids who have been taught at home are more settled and better able to hand life when they get out on their own. When they have learned how to care for themselves, when they have learned how to care for their surroundings, then they can focus on other things in life, like their schooling, their jobs, their families. No parent is perfect, and no parent will think of everything their child should learn ahead of time. But it’s important to involve them in as much of daily life as possible. Teach them to cook, clean, use money wisely, save money, and most especially, just teach them how to work. No matter the person, someone who is a good worker is an asset to any company they work for, regardless of the work being performed. The ability to start, persevere through, and finish a job, is a skill that should be developed from childhood. How you go about doing that will depend on your circumstances. Not everyone hauls wood, works on a farm, or has their own business the kids can help at. But there are things around the home and community that can help kids learn how to work and develop life skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. I am grateful for the things my kids have learned, and that they will ask when they don’t know. I am grateful that I can keep helping them, and learning myself. What have you done in your family to develop life skills in your children?

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First’s

Today is the first day of school for my last 2 children. I have been reminiscing about how long it’s been since all of my kids were gone on the first day of school together. This is the first year in 7 years that I am not homeschooling at least one of my children. My girls are not currently in school, my oldest is gone on her mission for my Church, and my second is at a remote hunting lodge working until the end of September. This is only the third “first day of school” that I have been home by myself, as my kids were only in school at the same time for 2 years while in Elementary school. It’s crazy to me how fast time flies.

The first day of school is always exciting, a little bit scary, maybe some stress depending on how smoothly it goes. There are a lot of firsts in life that are the same way. In fact, I think most firsts are like the first day of school. I remember when I had my first baby. We were so excited! We had been trying for almost 5 years when I got pregnant, we had almost given up and had started to talk about looking in to adoption. But, when I went in to labor, things got real. And when I had to take that little tiny baby home, just me and my husband, I was terrified. Fortunately she turned out alright, even though we had no idea what we were doing. That first time though made the next 3 after that a lot easier, and a whole lot less scary.

First’s are like that. A bit scary, but once you pass the first, you become better at it, and it’s not scary any more. It’s no longer a first. Eventually, if we do it long enough it becomes an old hat, and we are more comfortable with moving ahead. Life has a lot of first’s, but fortunately, there are a lot of seconds and thirds, and so on. First’s are fun because of the excitement, even because of the little bit of stress and apprehension. But when you have done it more than once, like the first day of school, the first baby, or whatever it is, the second time around you have more confidence in your own abilities. That’s why seconds are great. But, if you remember and look back at all the first’s you have accomplished or pressed through, you can have confidence even when you are approaching a new first. You have done hard things, you know you can persevere through, and you can move forward with more of that excitement, and hopefully less apprehension or fear. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities helps you become a more resilient person. You learn you can adapt and change in hard circumstances, you learn that you can grow and learn, that you can have confidence in who you are and what you are capable of.

I am so grateful for the many first’s I have had in my life, and how they have shaped me into a more confident, resilient person. I am grateful for the opportunity to do hard things in my life, and for the ability to overcome and progress. Life is challenging, but we can each choose to be up for the challenge. What are some first’s you have experienced lately?

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Unity

This week I have been thinking about Unity. Actually I started thinking about division, and how our country, and the world, seem to be divided more and more. It doesn’t seem to matter the issue, but there is always one, and it doesn’t seem to matter the opinion, there’s always someone willing to fight about it and contradict it. But none of that fighting and anger leads anywhere except to division. So today I thought I would talk instead, about Unity.

We are all unique individuals. We have our own thoughts, formed from our own experiences, with our own perspectives on things. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t be united on things, even if it is on a basic level. I think most people can agree that they feel like they are important enough to be treated with respect. If we all can agree on that, we should all then be able to agree on the fact that each other person we come in contact with should also be treated with respect. We are all human beings, no one person is better than the other in the whole grand scheme of things.

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This week I was looking at, and discussing with several people, how things like masks, vaccinations, religion, natural disaster, politics, race, and wages have divided our country. We can all have differing opinions on each one of these subjects, that’s ok. What’s not ok is when we start judging, belittling, or humiliating people based upon these disagreements. It is my opinion, that most of these things are superficial, at best, anyway. When we start to look at those around us as real people, we start to see needs, places we can help, ways we can strengthen, then we start to see people. And when we start to understand and really listen to someone else, and why they think the way they do, we can really see what they see and who they really are. That doesn’t mean that we will agree with everything they think, we don’t have to change our opinions just because we see why someone thinks the way they do, but we can respect people when we know where they’re coming from.

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I am grateful for the many people I get to meet through my Church, my business, and my community. There is diversity in all places. That diversity is beautiful. Each person comes from a different background, each person has had wonderful, hard, heartbreaking, exciting, unique experiences that have influenced the way they view the world. So if everyone is so different, how do we become united? We have a purpose, a shared reason to be united. Again, a basic reason is that every person is a human being. That is a point of unity. We see people unite in the face of adversity. A natural disaster, a catastrophic event in an area, or simply in an individual’s life all bring people together. Happy things can bring people together, a common goal or interest will bring many diverse people together united in a common purpose. Freedom has, in the past unified our nation. Love of country and it’s potential can unite us if we all look to the same goal. We don’t have to be the same to desire the same thing, and often, the answer to how to achieve the goal will not come from one side or the other, often the best solutions come when both sides work together, and when that happens, usually the answer is neither sides opinion, but rather a third option that works better than either, but would never have been possible without a willingness to set aside our differences and work together toward that common goal.

So this week, I would encourage you to get to know someone else. Talk to them about their life and really try to understand. Look for an opportunity to help or serve someone in some way. It doesn’t have to be big, but it can be if need arises. Share what you have with someone else, let a car out in front of you when they are trying to get into traffic, instead of instantly getting defensive, ask questions to understand, without judgement. I will be striving to do this as well this week. I would love to hear what you learn!