Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blessings from Following the Prophet's Counsel

I know our prophet is a seer. In the Book of Mormon, the missionary Ammon explains this beautifully to King Limhi  "A seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed ... and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them." (Mosiah 8:17)  We cannot foresee things to come but our prophets can.

The prophet’s admonition for mothers to stay home where circumstances would allow was a counsel my husband, Chuck, and I had decided to follow long before we were ever married. But now that we would soon be having a baby it didn’t seem like such a good idea. We had just purchased a new home which I wanted to pay off as quickly as possible, so staying home just wouldn't work. Conflicted in how to proceed, we prayed for guidance. The answer came clear to both of us, “Follow the prophet's counsel. Stay home.” I questioned, how would we make ends meet? How would it all work out? Not knowing the answers to these questions was unsettling, but we didn't hesitate to follow the counsel we had received.

I quit my job which cut our income in half. My husband got a second job to make ends meet. I remember living off what little food storage we had and what seemed like many, many, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodle nights. We welcomed our first baby boy, Bradley, into the world shortly after and things did not get any easier. With only one car, I would drive my husband to and from work with newborn baby in tow. He worked from 6:00 am - 4:30 pm and then from 5:00 pm - 10:30 pm. I wondered how in the world the prophet’s counsel for me to stay home was truly blessing my life at this time, when all it was doing was making it miserable for both of us. I felt guilty staying at home as I watched my husband work two jobs. I was spending all this time at home enjoying my baby while my husband sacrificed time, energy and sleep. This could all easily be resolved if I went back to work; after all, our baby was so little, he would never remember if I was home with him or not. I prayed again and the answer was the same.  “Listen to the prophet, stay home”.

We obeyed, but still things did not improve. In time, we ended up having to sell the home we thought we would grow old in. We moved into an extremely humble apartment not too far from my husband’s work. Defeated and discouraged, we clung on to the promise that we would be blessed for following the counsel of our prophet.

Everything would come to light just a few weeks after moving into that apartment. My baby was now 22 months old and during a doctor’s visit, for what we thought was a knee sprain, we were told that our son had terminal stage 4 neuroblastoma. In an instant our world was turned upside down. For the next 15 months our dear son would endure aggressive treatments and surgeries that made him extremely ill and frail. Now I knew why I needed to stay home. Because of the changes we had made, I was able to stay at the hospital with our son and care for him as long as it was necessary. As time continued, no amount of praying, fasting, or pleading would save our son. Three weeks before his 3rd birthday, while I held him in my arms and expressed our deepest love for him, he returned back to our Father in Heaven. Our hearts shattered into a thousand pieces that day.

During one of many difficult nights that would follow after our son's passing, I was impressed to read from the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi Chapter 17.

As I read through the account of Jesus Christ’s visit to the Nephites, I was impressed by how much he loved them, and blessed them and their little children. I felt that same love from our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ at that very moment. It was such a personal witness to me that our Savior knew of our circumstance, loved us and loved our son deeply. The Spirit bore witness that our son was happy, free from sorrow, sickness and pain, and that he was not alone but surrounded by angels just like the Nephite children were so many centuries ago.  I was brought to remember that our temple marriage made us a forever family and we would see him again. I was brought to remember the blessings that came from listening to the prophet’s counsel for me to stay home. I had truly been given a gift I could never replace: time with our precious son! I was able to enjoy every minute of every day of what would be our son’s very short 3 years here on earth. I could see all of the pieces come together at that very moment and I was truly grateful for listening to the prophet’s counsel.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Straight Out of The Rez - New School, New Friends, New Life

When I was 9 years old, my mom and I moved to Utah to live with Grandma Ellen. She was the mother of my mom’s foster mom when she was in the LDS Indian Student Placement program.

The day before I started 5th grade at my new school I remember asking my mom and Grandma Ellen what clothes would be appropriate to wear on the first day of school. I wasn’t sure if the dress code would be different from the schools I attended on the Reservation (Rez).

Grandma Ellen suggested that I wear something a little dressier than jeans. I didn’t have any clothing that was “dressy” so Grandma Ellen found a pantsuit that she thought would be perfect.

The first day of school arrived. I put on the light blue, polyester pantsuit with yellow flowers on the side. I walked to school since it was just one block down the street.
As I approached the school I saw other children arriving who were ALL WEARING JEANS! The closer I got to the school the more anxious, embarrassed, and mortified I became. I just wanted to run home and hide. Just as I had thoughts to turn around my friend Mindi saw me and ran towards me. (A few days after moving in to my new home, my neighbor Mindi came over to introduce herself. We developed a quick friendship). That morning she said nothing of my attire or how different I looked. She only invited me to join her friends who were playing a game in the school playground. Mindi introduced me to her group of friends and told them how cool I was because I was a real American Indian who had lived on the Indian reservation. Throughout the entire day none of the school children made fun of my clothes, strange accent, or just how different I looked from everyone else.

Shortly after starting school my mom and I started receiving discussions about the gospel of Jesus Christ from the LDS (Mormon) missionaries. I enjoyed learning about the plan of happiness. But there were times I wanted to be playing outside with my new friends from school rather than sit in an hour long discussion with adults. One day I decided to ditch my gospel discussion and stay after school to play with my friends. One of them asked me why I wasn’t at my appointment with the missionaries. I told them I didn’t want to go. This group of friends told me that it was very important to attend these appointments with the missionaries. They then walked with me back to my house to listen to the missionaries’ lesson. To this day I don’t remember what gospel lesson I received that day. All I remember is how these friends made me feel LOVED.

After receiving all of the gospel lessons, I felt what I was taught was true doctrine and I decided to get baptized and join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My mother made the same decision too. Our baptismal date was January 2nd. In attendance were my mom, Grandma Ellen and her family, church members, the missionaries, and my friends; the same friends who had extended a hand of friendship on the first day of school.

That afternoon after my baptism, I remember playing outside in the snow with my friend Mindi. At one point she said to me, “Today you made one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life”.  It’s been over 30 years since that day and my memories of those friends, who made such a huge impact in my life, are an eternal  treasure. I am deeply grateful for their kindness, their love, and their friendship. What I thought would be one of the worst days of my life wearing a light blue, polyester pantsuit with yellow flowers on the side turned out to be one of the best days of my life. So many other “best” days have followed, all because some 9 year-olds chose to fellowship instead of shun, to lift instead of belittle, to encourage instead of bully, to love instead of hate. They were simply doing what Jesus would do - love one another. Their gift of friendship played an important supportive role in my accepting the precious gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that God is our eternal Heavenly Father. I know that God sent his only Begotten Son because He loves us. I know that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins. He is my Savior and Redeemer. He loves me. He rescues me. He heals me. He can do the same for you.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Creating a Simplified Life

This blog post is a little overwhelming. I am a private person these days and the only reason I am ever online is to help with a research paper or search up a great recipe for something. But since I was asked, and I really feel so strongly about what I am writing I am willing to share.

Hi. My name is Tami Meacham. I am a mother of four awesome kids (1 daughter and 3 sons ages 6-16) and I am married to the love of my life and local high school PE Teacher/Varsity Basketball Coach. I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints my whole life and I have a strong belief & testimony about so many things. Tithing, the power of prayer, President Monson our latter day prophet & church leaders, families, Joseph Smith, the Scriptures, Temples, the Atonement and the list goes on and on. Today I wanted to tell you about one of the things that took me years to figure out but I finally did, and I am ever so grateful.

Several years ago I was having a deep life conversation with a friend of mine in the middle of my dance studio. At the time I had three of my children and I had been running a dance studio out of my house for 10 years. At this point in time the studio was large (for a home run place) and I had over 300 dance students. My friend was going on and on about how amazing it was that I was able to run a place like this, all while having a coach as a spouse (any wife of a coach knows exactly what I mean by that ;) ), raising my babies with all the busy activities they were a part of, all the motherly duties that were expected of me and keeping on track with my church callings. I remember looking her in the eye and telling her…but there is more. I knew there was more I needed to do with every fiber of my being. After telling me that I was nuts, I then got a lecture from her about enjoying the journey, and stop and smell the roses, and just to be happy with what I had accomplished and where I was at in my life. I knew it was not enough. So here is what I did.

To save any reader of this post the lengthy stories of the next several years of my life I will just do my best to condense some of the main things that took place. 

I had another baby.

We bought a second home, we moved into it. Then 6 months later we moved out all while we had TWO renters in our “dance studio” home, and yes I was still running the dance studio there…what was I thinking?!

We put renters in our second home.

I sold my dance studio.

I became a Certified Crossfit trainer, created and opened a successful Crossfit gym.
… and then I did it again (with my hubby this time) and created Crossfit Gym #2.

We moved Gym #1 into a commercial facility (it was in our home barn at the time).

We sold gym #2.

We hired a contractor and subdivided our home into a home and a lot.

 We had our entire home remodeled.

 We sold our lot.

 We sold our home.

 We had our small rental home renovated (remember that we had previously lived in for 6 months and then moved out?!) We then moved back into it...BIG CHANGE FOR ALL OF US!

We merged Gym #1 into another existing gym and I quit attending & training. My hubby is still there 3 days each week.

I turned 40.

That was a big one for me. Turning 40 has made me reflect on everything I have been through in my life at this point. I realized I had tried pretty much everything I could think of to you know, be somebody, contribute, be productive, fill in the blank when I say “Hi, My name is Tami I am a _________.” I was exhausted but now I had LAZOR BEAM focus! You see, what I came to realize through all my years of trying to be somebody, building business, creating, selling, and change is that I was missing out and had become so distracted from what I knew was my life’s calling. Don’t get me wrong, all the things I have been distracted with in my life have been good things, really. My testimony remained solid. But now I know that for me, there are “better” things. I will explain.

For the first time in my life I was able to make a conscious effort on how and where I spend my time. What an amazing gift! I realized, through all the productive chaos that was my life, that the main reason my Heavenly Father sent me here to this earth is to do one thing only, be a mother. That’s it. Just that. I have no other title to my name (although I will never ever get rid of the “former ballerina” title I am certain). I cannot think of another thing in this world that is more sacred, and fulfilling. Our Heavenly Father is putting His faith & trust in me with four of His children. He knows that they will teach me everything I need to know about becoming more like Him, if I will just stop, listen, learn and change. There is no greater calling in this world for me. This is my “but there’s more” that I had told my friend about years ago.

Here are a few of the “distractions” that I have eliminated from my life that I was talking about earlier. Remember I am now the master of my time and I will NEVER take that for granted again. I now spend the majority of my day inside my home. Oh how grateful I am to be able to do that! I cook..and cook some more, clean, fold laundry, do dishes, pay bills, and organize everything in sight. I wake my kids up; we have scripture study and family prayer each day. I make a hot breakfast and pack lunches for school. When kids come home I help with homework and sit in my car for hours on end running from one game or practice to another. I love every second of it. There was a time in my life where I had to hire “drivers” to take my kids to their activities. I had a hired cleaning lady because seriously when was I going to fit that in. I had hired tutors and readers for my kids, because again I was too busy. I have missed games, projects, test scores, school parties, etc. for so long…but not anymore! NOT ANYMORE! I now do it all. 

The funny thing is I am still extremely busy, but for me what I am doing now is way better! I am completely off all social media. I have been now for some time. That is really the biggest gift I have given myself. It’s not a bad thing, but for me having nothing to do with any of it is better. I am now very selective when I get invited to lunch, showers, parties or gatherings of any kind, because for me unless the topic of conversation is worthwhile or uplifting, I am simply not interested. I am way too cheap and practical to be a shopper so unless there is a specific need I do not venture out. I love listening to old conference talks, crossfitting in my garage, running, biking, and I stay informed with the news. I rarely watch TV during the day but I like a good show now and then before bed. I or my hubby tucks our kids into their beds each night. And I do it all again day after day. I will never take for granted the time I have to spend as a mother, and when the time comes my new calling will be grandmother, hopefully!

I have always known this is what my Heavenly Fathers plan was for me…it took me a while to pin it down but I have now. I have been a “mother” to so many throughout my life.  All the dance girls that came through my studio I loved each and every one of them. All the Young Women, Sunday School & Primary children I have associated with in my life, I love each of them! My CrossFit kids (and adults). Each one of my nieces and nephews, my children’s friends, the neighbor kids or all my hubby’s basketball boys through the years, I have loved them all and feel so grateful to have been influenced & taught by each of them.

I truly believe that you don’t have to have birthed children to be a mother. I have three sisters in my family that have never had children of their own (although one has now adopted two angels, and another has a step child) and they are FABULOUS people and mothers to my children and so many others. What a beautiful way to live your life. I cannot think of anything better. Rearing Gods children day after day to be valiant, strong, loyal, trustworthy, righteous, kind, loving, forgiving, generous, service oriented, and so much more all while they teach you how to soften your edges and become more like Him. I’m in! Laser Focused! SO grateful! Happy! I KNEW there was “more” I just needed to simplify to find it!

Tami Meacham