Thursday, August 28, 2014

Musings on Missions, Memories and Mortar

It's been a whirlwind week as we've been preparing for Michaela to leave on her mission. Michaela is our second child to choose to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Our oldest child, Benjamin, who is 21 years old, is currently serving a mission in Wisconsin. We spent these past few weeks packing in as many fun-filled, family memories as possible. It's during these times (when you know that you're about to send off a child into the world) that you really start pondering the importance and beauty of family. I was surprised that I wasn't more sad about Michaela leaving. It seems that when Ben left home, I felt much more panicky and upset about his departure. I saw it as an end of an end of our family's "golden years." I just knew that the best years of my life (being a mother with all my children living at home) were over and that now I was entering a new and depressing era of goodbyes and separations. I felt like my purpose and joy in life was coming to an end. I felt panicky about all the wonderful experiences ending and becoming mere memories...and only fleeting memories
at that.
Kiana and Dallin
But over the past year, I've started realizing that while these precious moments seem to be fleeting and gone forever, that they aren't gone at all. They are a part of us. In fact, our precious family moments are the most lasting, permanent things in the world. They are lasting because they are the building blocks of our family. Each wonderful memory is like a solid brick in our foundation. All of our family traditions, special routines, family prayers, fun trips, games, family projects around the house, each cushion fort built in the family room and each family home evening, each funny family story, each smile, each family rule, each act of service, and each hug make up the bricks that are building our family. And the mortar that holds these bricks in place and makes our family truly strong is the love that we feel for each other. 
Dallin and Grandma Krey
So, what are we building with all these bricks and mortar? We're building a strong family--our family castle or fortress--an enduring structure that will protect, nurture and be a place of refuge for its inhabitants.  Each beautiful moment is like a brick that is permanently mortared into place. These memories aren't fleeting, they are solid, lasting and real. They are what define us, they are our foundation, our walls...all of these precious moments we have created, and that we continue to create, make our family what it is...and the most wonderful and hopeful thought is that we're nowhere near done building this family castle. We get to continue to build and build and build. Just because my children are moving out, doesn't mean that my castle is finished and that it will now become an old ruin.  It is forever a work in progress...and it will continue even after I'm not even around (what an awesome thought!!). In fact, as I look below all of our precious bricks and mortar, I see that we have built our castle on the foundation that our parents built for us and their foundation is built upon their parents' foundation and it goes on and on. In some cases, we have made changes in the foundation and structure. Now and then a weak, crumbing, self-centered brick (or even an entire wall) gets placed in the structure and we have to go through the repair process of removing it and replacing it with solid bricks. This always takes a lot of extra loving mortar, but in the end, we are stronger when the repair is done right. The repairs are difficult and sometimes painful, but because we are unified in creating the most beautiful and lasting family fortress, we know that it's worth it to do it right.
Grandma & Grandpa Krey with their
1+twins (the 1 is my mom)
Simon and big brother, Ben
So, as I've been pondering this very real family structure that we're building, I've been filled with hope. This morning, as Michaela boarded her plane, my panicky, sad feelings were replaced with anticipation to see what kind of beautiful additions she will create as her growth and experiences strengthen and build our family structure. And it's not just my missionaries that get me excited. I am JUST as excited for my beautiful Kiana to leave for college with all of her hopes and dreams for the future. I see her strength and resolve and I get excited about how her amazing example continues to affect her siblings in such positive and nurturing ways. We will all miss her so much when she leaves, but, even while she is living away from home, her loving influence is creating strong building blocks that continue to beautify and strengthen our family--brick by brick. And that is something to be excited about.
Me and Karl with our 1+ twins
It brings me comfort to think of these beautiful family memories as permanent bricks that will last for eternity, rather than as fleeting moments that are here today, but gone tomorrow. I can see that each interaction, each routine, each tradition that we are experiencing today has been built upon the good solid building block memories of the past. And together, they create strong, protective walls that radiate warmth and joy.
Christmas morning tradition of gathering
in mom and dad's bed before going down
to see tree.
And as I bask in the warmth and joy of each of these precious bricks that make up our unique, yet beautiful family structure, I am filled with gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the master brick layer and architect of this fortress, which we call family. He is the only one who can remove the crumbling, unfit, self-centered bricks and replace them with solid, strong and healthy bricks. He is the one who infuses the mortar with the love and strength that holds everything permanently together. Without His guidance, His example, His correction, His forgiveness and His perfect love, our family castle would be a faulty, weak, and ugly shack which would be destroyed by the slightest breeze. It's His master touch that creates all beauty and makes the brick walls of our castle radiate with warmth, strength and love. He is the master builder and architect of our lives and all he asks of us for compensation is that we put our trust in Him and follow His example. So, today, rather than feeling sad, distraught and panicky about the changes happening in our family, I feel hope, excitement and peace because I trust the Master Builder and I know that His designs never end or fail and that He is constantly helping us to build a brighter and more glorious future...brick by brick.

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