Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Women supporting women.

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We live in a busy world.  It's fast paced and changing ever so quickly. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming trying to keep up with it.  And with that, our homes and families are often caught between a rock and hard place when we try to maintain a healthy balance. Being a wife and mother brings its own set of unique challenges. Our days can be filled with worries such as am I balancing my responsibilities of being a mother with that of being a good and attentive wife?  Am I teaching my children all the things I need to in order to prepare them for the world they will one day enter as adults?  How best do I plan and squeeze in all the items on my daily "TO DO" list and still find time to recharge my own batteries?  The list of worries and concerns that we mothers face can be endless.  We are often times way too hard on ourselves.  And yes, many of us  are too quick to presume that if we are not perfect we are somehow failing our families.  For some interesting research on the challenges of motherhood today, this is a must read.

It's refreshing for me to be around other women who are in the "trenches" just like myself or those who are now on the other side of the rainbow and have raised their children, yet have so much wisdom to share with young mothers.  I especially love being around those women who support one another, build each other up, are not caught up in trying to "out do" one another and are quick to look past each other's flaws and shortcomings. 

I am fortunate to associate with a group of ladies from church that I get together with each Sunday for a spiritual lesson and scripture study.  We also meet together at least once or twice regularly over the course of each month for such activities as sewing, book study, playgroups, going to the food bank to volunteer, progressive dinners in each other's homes and all other sorts of fun stuff. We are all members of this organization. Our little cadre is just a small sampling of the many members. There are close to 6 million women involved with this wonderful and inspired group around the world.

I can tell you that associating with these women has blessed my life on more than one occasion. There have been many a day that I have felt overwhelmed as a wife and mother.  Yet, I feel great peace and comfort knowing I have caring and attentive friends like these women to turn to during those frustrating times.

Sadly, I gotta tell ya--I didn't always appreciate Relief Society in my younger years. I honestly didn't see how it would benefit me, my life or that of my family.   However, I've learned as I have grown and matured that I was sorely wrong in my perception and had been missing out on getting to know and learn from some amazing women.

Let me share an experience with you.  In 2007, we moved our little family to Virginia. Jody made a huge career change which took us out of the state of Texas--our home state.  It was scary uprooting and moving to a new place (so far from home) where we didn't know a soul.  It was also scary for my husband to make such a drastic career change, but we felt it was what the Lord wanted for us at that time in our life.  My husband went to work pretty quickly once we got settled into our new home and from then on out he was busy.  Anyone who knows my husband can attest to the fact that he is a busy-body and social butterfly of sorts.  He quickly made friends and settled in rather nicely into our new life in Virginia.   I, on the other hand, struggled in the beginning.  I was not working at the time and therefore spent most of my days home with Noah, who at the time was just 13 months old.  I  am not as outgoing as my dear husband--so the transition was a little harder for me.  I remember feeling so immensely alone at that time of my life. It was hard being so far away from my extended family and closest friends back in Texas. And then one day, I had some visitors stop by. We had only been in our new home for a few weeks. I still remember that day vividly--there was a knock on my door. I remember thinking to myself as I walked over to the front door, "Oh great...is the post man wanting to chit-chat or something. I'm really not in the mood to talk with some stranger today." When I opened the door, instead, I found two sweet women standing at my doorstep with the most heartwarming smiles. They explained that they were from our church and were members of the Relief Society organization for our ward. I happily welcomed them into our home and we sat and visited for well over an hour. They gave me a folder filled with all kinds of brochures and other great information about the area such as the local museums, restaurants, hospital, pediatrician information, schools to choose from, a map and all other sorts of helpful information about the community in which we had moved into. They also had a Relief Society directory with each of the women's names, pictures and contact information listed. They encouraged me to look through the Directory and explained how they hoped it would help me get to know the other women in our new church family. And then they invited me to come to the upcoming Enrichment meeting where I would have a chance to meet some new people.

I remember feeling very humbled by the kindness these two women {mere strangers} showed me. I also remember feeling a bit ashamed at how I had taken this divine organization for granted.  I was now on the receiving end of the mission and purpose of it.  A tender mercy from the Lord to me, indeed, and also a gentle reminder of how women have the ability to help and support one another so lovingly in their time of need. Often times more than the men in our lives are capable of doing.  All of which is a testament to the divine mission of this wonderful women's organization. These two dear Sisters came to my home to visit me at a time when I needed them the most and I will always be grateful for that {inspired} visit. I met many dear friends within the circles of these dear women during our time in Virginia and will always cherish my time with them and their friendships.

After that experience, I gained a greater appreciation for how women can truly bless each other's lives. Nowadays, I actually look forward to getting together with the women in my Relief Society group and learning from them. Whenever I have a question about making homemade bread, canning vegetables, how to work my sewing machine, parenting  tips, gardening tips, family home evening ideas--I know where I can turn for some wonderful guidance.

Recently, we gathered together for an evening of mini-workshops on how to make homemade yogurt, the benefits of container gardening and to make homemade bread (artisan style). All things that I found to be very interesting.

We met at our church for this activity where we heard from three different presenters on the above-mentioned topics. The first presenter demonstrated how she makes quick and easy homemade bread in her home. She is such a sweetie-pie and is an amazing wife and mom.  I don't know how she does it--she home schools all her children and does it with grace, style and patience.  We are all so sad, we recently learned that her husband has a new job opportunity in Idaho, so she will be heading out soon to move there.  Such a bummer...we will miss her.

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During her workshop, she praised this book and recommended that we all get a copy.
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She shared samples with the group...it was wonderful.  I LOVE bread, so I could have eaten the whole loaf myself.  ;-)

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We then had a second presenter share with us the benefits of container gardening and how to get started with it.  She  had all kinds of wonderful tips and information to share with us.  It was so insightful for me and answered many of my questions about gardening.
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She even shared with us different types of containers that could be used for container gardening.  I was suprrised to learn that some people even use heavy duty trash bags for container gardening...that was news to me.  We learned more about where we could purchase all the materials we would need and where to find the cheapest deals in our area for supplies such as the garden soil, containers, bulbs, seeds etc.  All so very helpful to this novice gardener.
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Lastly, we were taught {by a dear friend of mine who I admire so much} on how to make the best homemade yogurt.  This gal is amazing...she has five children and makes the whole mothering gig look so breathlessly easy.  She's also super funny...so we always enjoy it when she has the opportunity to share some of her awesome homemaking skills with us.

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We all had a great time at our get together the other night.  The mini-workshops were filled with useful information and tips.  My affiliation with an organization such as this --one that is designed just for women, has helped me develop a deeper love for the Savior, an even greater appreciation for His Gospel and a sincere desire to bless other women in my life and their families through service. 

"The world has enough women of the world.  The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.  There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.  There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.  We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.  We have enough greed; we need more goodness.  We have enough vanity; we need more virtue.  We have enough popularity; we need more purity."

- Margaret D. Nadauld, "The Joy of Womanhood"

Jennifer
P.S....

If you'd like a copy of the bread recipe that was shared at our activity, click here.
And then, to learn how to make some oh-so-tasty homemade yogurt, click here.

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