Sunday, August 30, 2015

Life in Virginia!

It's been a long time since I have created a blog post, but I know there are many of our family and friends who are wondering how we are doing here in Virginia since our move at the beginning of this month, so I thought I would give a mass update to all those who might be interested :)

We have settled in to our new home, and love how green everything is around here (even though people keep saying this is their dry season). We haven't seen anyone with sprinklers around here, since it rains quite a bit, or the morning dew is able to water everything enough. It makes for some fun wildflowers growing all around us, and it's wonderful seeing the beauty of the earth. However, settling in has taken a while, so we haven't been able to take advantage of some of the hikes that we would like to take around us. We'll have to post pictures of our adventures as we take them. We are hoping to make it to the beach in the next couple of weeks (since it's only 4 hours away), and there are some hikes with waterfalls nearby, so we have a lot that we want to do.

We love our new home, and want to give you all a sort of "tour" through pictures here:
View from the front of our house.

View of living room, including our new couches which we love. Oh, and the one on the left is a sleeper sofa (Queen Size) so we would love to have you come visit! :)

View of front entryway, bottom of stairs, and closet.

View of kitchen from the living room.

Dining room, and door to balcony

Laundry room and stairs to basement.

Basement storage.

Basement "office" area where I work on homework.

Stairs to the upstairs.

Upstairs hall.

Master bedroom view from hall.

Master Bedroom

Master Bath.

Master bedroom.

Abby and Christian's Bathroom

Abby's room

Abby's Room again.

And Abby's room again :)

That gives you a general idea of the house. It's nice and big for our little family, and we are enjoying it a lot. The Christiansburg Ward is very friendly, and we are working hard to make some great friends. Jenny and Abby have been having play dates with other mothers and children in the ward, and Abby is beginning to make friends. We are also getting to know the sister missionaries fairly well, as we have them over for dinner once a week. It's been a lot of fun getting more involved with the missionaries in the area, and Jenny has even had the opportunity to go out with the Sisters.

Now to some individual updates: I have just finished my first week of school, and the classes should be OK, though homework will probably take me a while, since Mathematics homework at the Graduate level seems to solely consist of proofs. I have some friends in the Math department, as well as the school of education, who all are Mathematics Education nerds like myself. It's been fun getting to know them, and having classes together. I have also started working on Megan Wawro's Linear Algebra and Quantum Mechanics research project, which should be really interesting, as I get to learn about a subject I have never studied before (Quantum Mechanics). It's going to be a busy semester, but I am going to learn a lot, and should have some fun as well.

As I mentioned above, Abby and Jenny have been organizing play dates and babysitting with mothers and children from the ward, and are beginning to make friends. We are hoping to invite some couples and families over for dinner in the coming weeks to get to know them better. Jenny has started making some great headway on her Children's Book idea, and is really excited about it! So far (in my not so humble opinion) Jenny's sketches of the book look awesome :) Jenny will also be babysitting a little bit for people in the ward, but she is hoping to possibly do a trade-off on certain days, so she can get in some solid "working-on-art" time.

Abby is enjoying Nursery, and will actually be starting a once-a-week preschool in the next couple of weeks, put together by a sister in the ward. She is getting smarter by the day, and loves to learn, play, and explore. Abby has also started to draw people, and it's fun to see her development ;)

Christian has started to crawl in the last couple of weeks, and is starting to get into EVERYTHING. He is so curious about the world around him, and loves to dive into everything head first. He makes us laugh and smile every day, and it is such a blessing having him in our family.

We love you and miss you all so much! Hopefully this blog will help keep you updated on our lives. Good luck with all your endeavors, and we hope to hear from/see/be with you soon!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Why Have a Family?

Many in our day and age may wonder what the benefits of getting married and having children are. Some are choosing to never get married, preferring the non-commitment and freedom of the single life. Others choose to get married, but willingly decide not to have children. I would like to give five reasons and benefits of being married and having children that I have learned through my own experiences.

1. God's plan is all about families.
I mentioned in an earlier post that the Family is Ordained of God. It is no wonder that the second message missionaries are asked to share with the message of the Restoration is all about families:
The Gospel Blesses Families
The restored gospel blesses and helps husbands and wives, parents and children as they strive to develop stronger relationships and spiritual strength in their families. These blessings are available now and in eternity. The gospel of Jesus Christ provides help with current concerns and challenges.
Because families are ordained of God, they are the most important social unit in time and in eternity. God has established families to bring happiness to His children, allow them to learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and prepare them for eternal life. The home is the best place to teach, learn, and apply principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A home established on gospel principles will be a place of refuge and safety. It will be a place where the Spirit of the Lord can abide, blessing family members with peace, joy, and happiness. Through prophets in every age, including our own, God has revealed His plan of happiness for individuals and families. (Preach My Gospel)
God intended us to be in families. He wants us to grow up in a home with a mother and father who love and support each other, and who will love and teach their children. He wants us to grow up and eventually meet someone of the opposite gender to join together in marriage, and start our own family. In fact, since we are all children of God, His whole plan is for His family to grow and progress, so that we can one day enjoy all of the blessings He enjoys. Families are not just something we experience here in mortality; families are eternal. Families are a part of our pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal lives. If I could sum up the purpose of life, and God's plan for us, His children, in one word, it would be "FAMILY."

2. We are not meant to be alone.
There is a reason why we are drawn to other people. We want to be a part of something. It was never intended that we be alone. There is a reason that we do not just "pop" out of nowhere into this mortal life. When we come to earth, it is through the miracle of birth, into a family (and sometimes through adoption). This family is meant to help us learn and grow. Then, when we are older, we continue to learn and grow in our own marriage and family. Our innate desire to be loved and to give love leads us to bond and unite together with family. Again, one of the biggest purposes of life is to be a part of one big, united family.

3. Seeing the world through your child's eyes.
Some may wonder what the benefits of having children are. They are very difficult to teach at times, they require thousands of hours of attention, they cost millions of dollars to raise, and they can make other endeavors in life (career, travel, ambitions) rather difficult. I understand why many couples choose not to have children. But there are things that those couples will never experience. One of which is seeing the world anew through the eyes of your children. Children look at the world with such pure hearts and wonder-filled eyes. Everything they see and experience is new, and exciting. Their curiosity and love of learning is contagious, and causes you, their parent, to look at the world afresh. You begin to see the beauty of the world around you, the majesty of the flight of a butterfly, and the awe-inspiring change of the seasons in ways that you have forgotten as you have grown up and become concerned with other aspects of your life. A child's excitement and exuberance for life fills you again with your own excitement and exuberance. It is no wonder that the following moment in the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is recorded in the scriptures:
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. (Matthew 18:2-5)
Having children is one way to remind ourselves how to become like little children, to see all that our Heavenly Father has done for us, and the wonder and beauty of the world around us. Having children helps us remember how to be humble and teachable.

4. Learning Christlike attributes.
As we become humble, we begin to see the things we can learn from our marriage and from our children. One extremely important lesson we learn is how to gain and develop Christlike attributes. As we learn to serve our spouse and our children, we forget about ourselves and our selfishness, and begin to be selfless. As we run into issues and problems, we rely on our Faith in Jesus Christ, and turn to Him for help and strength to work through them. We pray to our Father in Heaven for help, and through our faith, we are able to find solutions and become stronger as a family. We are filled with hope as we look to the future, excited for the blessings of an eternal marriage and an eternal family. We are filled with charity, Christlike love, as we work together to create a home filled with the Spirit of God. We strive for virtue as we endeavor to keep the commitments and covenants we make with our spouses and children. We gain knowledge about God, our Eternal Father, and the purpose of life, as we take a small step in His shoes by trying to love and teach our children, just as He would have us do. Most of all, we learn patience and diligence, with ourselves, our spouse, and our children, as we seek to forgive each other for the mistakes we make, and as we strive to become better.

5. The Joy of Families.
On top of the incredible learning curve that comes with marriage and children, there is no joy that can quite measure up to the joy that comes from being eternally united with your spouse, and the joy that you experience with your children. The joy that comes from the love shared between husband and wife. The joy that comes from spending time with your family playing, learning, growing, sharing, and experiencing the world. The joy that comes from helping your children become the best that they can be. The joy that comes from seeing the smile on your spouse's face as you surprise them with a gift. The joy that comes from hearing the pure, heartfelt laughter of your child. The joy that comes from comforting your little ones when they are hurt or scared, and knowing that you mean the world to them. NOTHING can compare with the joy of families.

So, for those of you out there trying to decide if having a family is worth it, I wholeheartedly declare that it is! It is a LOT of hard work, a huge time commitment, and many tears will be shed. But striving to have the best family that you can is the way to feel the most accomplished and fulfilled in this life.

Feel free to share the blessings you have received from your families in the comments below!