Being Highly Favored in Suffering

As a parent, would you ever purposefully and knowingly inflict pain upon your child?  For those of you who answered no, let me ask another question.  Would you take your child to get an immunization?  Would you hold a 12-month old daughter down for 4 hours for a medical procedure such as a nurse trying to insert an I.V.? (Yes, my husband really did this in spite of his objections to a proud nurse who refused to call the doctor.  We were young parents and were not quite as assertive as we should have been.) Of course you would, because you have an understanding of the benefits of such actions, but, does your child understand why you would do such a thing?  Have you ever thought about what might be going through a two-year-old’s mind at these times; something like, “Why is my mommy doing this to me?” or “Why won’t daddy let me go instead of letting this strange woman keep sticking a  needle into every vein she possibly can find in my body?  Do they not love me?”   I doubt that it would do any good to explain to the child why you are allowing or even causing pain to be inflicted upon them.  After all, what does a child know about polio, pertussis, or tuberculosis?  How can they relate to the dangers of dehydration?  And, even if they could understand these things, would they be willing to submit to the pain here and now to prevent a condition that might be far into the future and whose reality seems uncertain?

As parents, we allow these unappreciated acts into our children’s lives because we know better than they do.  We understand the value and benefit of a small degree of pain now in comparison to a more heart-wrenching outcome in the future.  But, trying to explain this to a young child would be on par with trying to explain advanced calculus to one who hasn’t even learned basic arithmetic.  Through our experiences, we have learned to count, to do basic arithmetic, moved on to algebra, and arrived eventually at advanced calculus.  Often it is through struggle, sacrifice, and even at times a desire to give up before we arrive at the point of having complete understanding (sorry, it’s in my genes to use mathematical metaphors). We understand now what they will only understand in time, through experience, and perhaps even through failure and heartache.

Yet, we also see our children go through pain and suffering for which we have had no active role.  Sometimes their pain comes via the consequences of their choices, sometimes it is the result of the choices of others, and at times, suffering comes simply because of this state of mortality in which we live.  Regardless of the cause of the challenges that come into their life, I think most parents will agree that when our children suffer, we suffer at least as much if not more than they and most of us would gladly take their pain upon us to spare them the agony that is theirs.  There are perhaps times when as parents we do need to step in and do what we are able to lighten or eliminate their load, but if we do not allow them to face some of the challenges of their choices or even some of the challenges that come from other sources, we may be cheating them out of potentially their greatest blessings.

I have wonderful children, with wonderful qualities; perhaps they inherited those from their father, but like all people they have faced their challenges and at times I have ached tremendously for them.  Oh how I would have protected them if I could.  Although they inherited some attributes from their father, they unfortunately have some of their mother in them too.  Recently, I have become aware that one of my children appear to share with me some of the same qualities that have caused me such suffering and heartache.  I recall when I first started noticing this and I immediately felt fear and a compelling need to drop to my knees to ask the Lord to spare this child from what I had experienced, but before my knees even hit the ground, the simple thought came to my mind, “Did you not become a better person for having experienced such a trial?  Are you stronger, more compassionate, more filled with love for your fellowmen?  If so, why would you cheat your child from these same blessings?”

My heart began to pound. My throat tightened, and I was forced to ask the question, “Jeannie, as you look back on the trials and afflictions in your life, would you choose to live them again?”  If I were still at the learning to count portion of my life the answer would be a definite “No!”.  But, now I know calculus, or at least advanced algebra or trigonometry (metaphorically speaking of course).  I know that I don’t enjoy pain or suffering and I hope to avoid it for the rest of my life, although I seriously doubt the odds of that happening.  Yet, knowing what I know now, I would not even consider changing any of it.  Yes, knowing what I know now, I would choose to do it all again.  I can with certainty echo the words of an ancient prophet, “…having seen many afflictions in the course of my day, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days…”  Perhaps at times we could look at this quote and think that the words of “being highly favored of the Lord” are those times when our lives are absent of affliction, but maybe it is in the midst of affliction that we are most highly favored of Him.

I don’t know if my child will face some of the same trials and afflictions I have faced in my life, but there is no doubt that each of my children will continue to face their own trials and afflictions as they have already faced some.  I will always be there for them to help strengthen and guide them, but I know that I will not always be able to protect them, nor should I.  But, I can encourage them to hang on.  I can testify to them that they can make it through whatever they are called upon to bear and that there is someone who knows something far beyond calculus that knows this is for their good.

Through pondering this topic it caused me to reflect back on a talk from a special man who had faced many trials of his own, and one who I know was far beyond Calculus in his understanding of such matters.  I quote in part from that talk:

“The daily newspaper screamed the headlines: “Plane Crash Kills 43. No Survivors of Mountain Tragedy,” and thousands of voices joined in a chorus: “Why did the Lord let this terrible thing happen?” Two automobiles crashed when one went through a red light, and six people were killed. Why would God not prevent this? Why should the young mother die of cancer and leave her eight children motherless? Why did not the Lord heal her? A little child was drowned; another was run over. Why? A man died one day suddenly of a coronary occlusion as he climbed a stairway. His body was found slumped on the floor. His wife cried out in agony, “Why? Why would the Lord do this to me? Could he not have considered my three little children who still need a father?”. . .I wish I could answer these questions with authority, but I cannot. I am sure that sometime we’ll understand and be reconciled. But for the present we must seek understanding as best we can in the gospel principles.  Was it the Lord who directed the plane into the mountain to snuff out the lives of its occupants, or were there mechanical faults or human errors? Did our Father in heaven cause the collision of the cars that took six people into eternity, or was it the error of the driver who ignored safety rules? Did God take the life of the young mother or prompt the child to toddle into the canal or guide the other child into the path of the oncoming car?  Did the Lord cause the man to suffer a heart attack?. . . Answer, if you can. I cannot, for though I know God has a major role in our lives, I do not know how much he causes to happen and how much he merely permits. Whatever the answer to this question, there is another I feel sure about.  Could the Lord have prevented these tragedies? The answer is, Yes. The Lord is omnipotent, with all power to control our lives, save us pain, prevent all accidents, drive all planes and cars, feed us, protect us, save us from labor, effort, sickness, even from death, if he will. But he will not. We should be able to understand this, because we can realize how unwise it would be for us to shield our children from all effort, from disappointments, temptations, sorrows, and suffering.”  (Faith Precedes the Miracle, Spencer W. Kimball, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1972, p. 95).

When one considers how difficult it is to allow a child to suffer, we might can recognize what a great act of love it is to endure their sorrows with them.  Truly, the act of God allowing His children to suffer at times is an act of love and I am certain that His heart aches along with ours, but He understands what we yet do not.  We are the two-year-olds receiving our immunizations having not yet learned to count.  But someday we will understand far beyond our present comprehension and will kneel at the feet of Jesus not bathing them with just tears of gratitude for what He did for us, but with tears of gratitude for our Father who loved us enough to let His son suffer on our behalf.  At that point we will know that “. . .if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son (or daughter), that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”

But, until then, let me leave you with a poem that has special meaning to me, but whose author is unknown:

Pain stayed so long I said to him today,
“I will not have you with me any more.”
I stamped my foot and said, “Be on your way,”
And paused there, startled at the look he wore.
“I, who have been your friend,” he said to me,
“I, who have been your teacher—all you know
Of understanding love, of sympathy,
And patience, I have taught you. Shall I go?”
He spoke the truth, this strange unwelcome guest;
I watched him leave, and knew that he was wise.
He left a heart grown tender in my breast,
He left a far, clear vision in my eyes.
I dried my tears, and lifted up a song —
Even for one who’d tortured me so long.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

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A Need to Suffer

One horrifying night when I was 7 months pregnant with my fourth child, I had my first anxiety attack.  To explain the horror of that unexpected and to that point unknown condition to someone who has never had the “pleasure” of having such an experience would be impossible.  I had no idea what had hit me and it was terrifying.  I struggled through the night and with the relief of the rising sun, I immediately called my doctor.  He explained to me that this condition was actually quite common for women who were 32 weeks pregnant.  According to my due date, I happened to be exactly 32 weeks to the day.

I was relieved to have a hope that this condition was pregnancy related and would pass after the delivery of my baby, but in the back of my mind I was afraid it would be a life-long condition.  For the next 8 weeks I suffered every day with multiple attacks.  You can only imagine how relieved I was when the baby was finally born and the anxiety attacks stopped, or so I thought.

Three years later, on a Friday night while attending my older sons little league baseball game, a good friend of mine was sitting on nearby bleachers with my five-year-old daughter, JaNae.  I was enjoying the fresh spring air while watching my son play when my friend came running to me with a horrified look on her face.  She beckoned me to come quickly.  Immediately I knew that something was terribly wrong, but I was very unprepared for what I would find.  There on the concrete ground my daughter lay lifeless, her empty eyes wide open, her head in a very unnatural and awkward position.  She had released her bodily fluids, her heart was not beating, and she was not breathing.

The agony I felt at that moment is beyond description.  I fell to the ground screaming in despair.  My daughter was dead and I felt the worst darkness and emptiness that I had ever felt before or have felt since.  I panicked.  All I wanted to do was run–run away, escape, cease to exist.  Luckily, there were those who did not panic, but rather commenced to perform necessary chest compressions and prepared to give her mouth-to-mouth.  I remember my friend holding me, giving her best effort to calm my anguish when JaNae began to cry.  It took time for it to register, my friend had to bring it to my attention several times, but JaNae’s cry was a cry of life.  It was a beautiful sound.

After what seemed to be an eternity, emergency workers arrived, she was transported to the hospital and had all necessary tests performed.  She had fallen off of the bleachers when a little boy who had been tugging on her let go without warning.  We assume that it was the impact of the fall that caused her heart to stop, but she had no serious injuries.  She had been spared; I had been spared.

I spent the weekend with my family in an hyper-elated state.  I’m certain I was running on adrenaline, but Monday morning when my husband went back to work and my children returned to school, I crashed.  Dark despair set in and anxiety attacks began again as quickly as my family walked out the door.  For the first time in my life, I came to the realization that I was not in control–I wasn’t in control of life and death, and right now I wasn’t in control of my mental well being.  Could life really change that quickly?  Was life and death just a heartbeat away?  Could mental wellness be so fleeting?  These, of course, were things that I always knew with my head, but now they reached into the depths of my soul and I wasn’t prepared for their effects.  In addition, I felt guilt; after all, I should be rejoicing and be filled with gratitude for the miracle that I had witnessed, not feeling despair and anguish.  I was grateful, but my mind could not let go of the image of my lifeless daughter lying on the ground.

It was then that my life-long journey with depression and anxiety attacks began.  There was much to learn about the condition itself.  For instance, I learned to recognize when I was heading into an anxiety attack and if I could catch it soon enough there were certain steps I could take to perhaps thwart the full onset.  I could attempt to get control of my thought process (something that is very difficult to do when entering an anxiety attack).  I could get up and start doing jumping jacks or run up and down my stairs, anything to start burning the extra adrenaline, a fight or flee mechanism, that my body produced at these times.  Although these attempts often were successful, there were still many times that they were not.  There came a time when I had no choice but to receive the assistance of a doctor.

I regret the struggles that my family went through during those dark days.  I still wonder what lasting effects my children might carry with them.  But, there are some things that I don’t regret, in fact, there are those lessons for which I am most grateful.  What I learned and gained from this experience is for me as a very precious jewel and certainly I cannot list here the great value of that experience. But, I can share that I am who I am because of these experiences and I personally think that I am a better person.  I can share with you that nothing, and I mean nothing, fills me with humility and brings me to my knees faster than when I am experiencing an anxiety attack.  Never do I feel closer to my creator, to my Savior.  He manifested himself to me in a way for which there are no words to convey.  He was with me in my darkest hours.  But, one thing He did not do, He did not take away my suffering.  Why?  And, why doesn’t he take away the suffering of so many upon this earth?

Perhaps it is a concept, a question, that in our human state we cannot fully comprehend, but next time, and I promise it will be next time, I will share with you, for what it is worth, some of my thoughts regarding the answer to this question.

Until then, remember 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                          [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

The Jokes on . . .you!

God is a practical joker.  Now some of you may disagree, but I have no doubt.  Let me tell you why I have come to this conclusion.  Just think of the number of  little girls who get baby dolls along with all the accessories for Christmas.  They are so adorable as they care for and tend this little life-like baby.  They change her diaper, give her a pacifier, feed her a bottle, and on occasions, some of these babies have the grand experience of being breast fed by their 3-year-old mommy.  We all know that most little girls have an innate longing to become a real mom. I am sure this desire has been implanted within them for good reason–the continuation of the human race.  So, they grow up, eventually meet Mr. Right, and in time, cannot resist bringing one of those cute little cherubim into their home, and oh, what joy they feel.  There are so many proud mothers and fathers walking around with their cute little bundle of joy.

So, where is the joke?  Notice that at Christmas time the little girl did not get a teenage doll– you know the life-like kind that talks back and can make some of her own choices, one who stays out past her curfew, wrecks the car, brings home a bad report card, and on and on and on.  Can you imagine taking your new teenager to his “baby” shower and everybody gathering around telling you how cute he is?  No!  So, God planned it so these new little people come down so cute, sweet, and innocent, that when we think of becoming parents we get caught–hook, line, and sinker.  The good news is that when we first see them, our hearts melt and we instantly love them (something we might not do if we started out with a 16-year-old).

Now don’t get me wrong, I love teenagers and work quite closely with this age group in a church setting as well as having raised four of my own.  My children are wonderful–Meghan 25, Trevor 22, JaNae 20, and Dallin will be 18 in another two weeks.  Notice, however, that I said wonderful, not perfect.  I’ve told my children at various times that I don’t expect them to be perfect.  I remind them that they only have one perfect parent, and therefore, I will cut them some slack (I leave it up to them to determine which parent is perfect, but I slip them an extra $100 after I have one of these discussion with them).  As good as they have been, there still have been difficult times, and the difficult times don’t stop after they leave their teenage years.

So, what is the main difference between these cute little babies and these growing teens?  Well, the obvious is that teenagers are not nearly as cute.  In fact, we all know they go through that awkward gangling stage along with the dreaded pimple break out and personality change that is evidence of their going through puberty.  But, there is something more.  Teenagers have more agency (the ability to make choices) than a baby and the discovery of that agency empowers them.  True, they haven’t reached the point of having complete agency, at least they shouldn’t if they have caring parents, but even when they have involved parents some simply choose to rebel.

My heart truly goes out to those parents whose child and/or children have seriously rebelled.  I know that even good teenagers are difficult to raise as they discover their agency and go through the process of learning how to use it appropriately.  Nevertheless, I believe in parenting.  I believe that parents have a great deal of influence for good and bad in their children’s lives.  I believe we can and must make a positive difference in teaching them responsibility for their choices and to do this it will be imperative that we, at times, allow them to fail.  We also must realize that although we are a great influence in their lives, we are not the only influence in their lives.  There are other influences that they face daily that are, most certainly, competing with the values we are trying to instill within them.  Therefore, when we have done our best and our children still do not embrace a value system that we feel is in societies and their best interest, we must refuse to accept the guilt that will try to plague our minds.

I have a professor, Dr. Shiue, a brilliant mathematician with a sense of humor that keeps the class interesting.  Of course, I admit that his sense of humor might be appreciated most by fellow mathematicians.  There are many mathematical terms and symbols that he considers his babies–he gives them names.  Well, he calls teenagers the √2.  Why?  For those of you who understand the concept of rational and irrational numbers, you will recognize √2 as irrational.  Yet, I think there are reasons that teenagers must go through this irrational stage.  First, for their benefit, it is essential in their process to become completely independent of their parents. And secondly, for our benefit, it is essential in order for us to let them move on.  As much as I hate seeing my kids leave the nest, their teenage years make it easier for them and especially for me to let them go.  It still isn’t easy, but I believe it is much easier than letting go of that cute little four-year-old who greeted me with hugs and kisses every time I walked in the door and still thought that I was the greatest person alive.  Yes, I loved each of my teenagers and I am grateful for the journey we took together, but when my youngest leaves for college in just a few months, I will know that he is prepared to go even if for a moment I reflect back and remember him as the four-year-old he was just yesterday.

I know that I didn’t keep within the subject I said my next blog would be about, but consider this a step in that direction.

Until next time, remember 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

The Widsom And Lack Thereof of Parenting

When I was a young parent, which seems like just yesterday, my 3-year-old Meghan had a play date with one of her friends.  The plan was for the mother of her friend to pick her up after they had ran some errands.  Meghan had toys to pick up and I told her that if she didn’t pick them up by the time her friend arrived, she would not be allowed to go with them.  I reminded her a few times, but to no avail.  The friend arrived and I had to tell her that Meghan could not go as previously planned.

Meghan was devastated.  Somehow she didn’t feel that I would follow through with my “threat”.  When the realization finally hit her, she yelled out, “You should have forced me!”  This gave me the opportunity to sit down with Meghan and explain to her how each individual  has the opportunity to make choices in her own life, but with that ability one must also be willing to accept the responsibility for those choices.  I shared with her some of our religious beliefs that God values agency (the right for individual choice), while Satan desires to take our agency away.  Meghan was a very smart child and very intent on my words as I shared these principles with her.  A few days later, I took my parental prerogative and did, in fact, make her do something.  Her response, “You’re following Satan’s plan!”

Well, that invited the next teaching moment.  Yes, Meghan, God does give us agency, but he doesn’t give it to us all at once.  When a new life comes into this world, they have no agency–they don’t have the ability to make choices.  Their parents make all of their choices for them.  That’s why children are not just placed on this earth.  Rather, they are given parents to teach them so that they, line upon line, receive more agency as they are ready.  One doesn’t have one-hundred percent agency until they are out on their own, completely able to support themselves independently of their parents.

As for us parents, the tricky part is to know when our children should have the right to choose for themselves, and when we have the responsibility to choose for them.  If we don’t allow them to use their agency at appropriate times, we are cheating them from learning that choices have consequences, but when we let them make choices that they are not ready for, we put them in grave danger.  Would you let a two-year-old cross a busy street just because she wanted to and she felt she was ready?  Unfortunately, we see parents at both extremes–those who want to make all of their children’s choices and those who want their child to be able to express themselves as an individual and therefore be free to choose for themselves.  Yet, in all fairness, I have to admit that as a parent, finding the balance is one of the hardest things we do and to make it even harder that balance is usually different for each child/parent relationship even within the same family.  Furthermore, sometimes when we make choices for our children we are truly making them for their best interest, but sometimes I think we have our own best interest at heart.  For instance, will my child’s choices bring me embarrassment?  Will my child’s choice cause me to have to let them suffer consequences that may also be inconvenient for me?

I know that being a parent is not one of the hardest things we do in life, it IS the hardest thing we do in life.  Luckily, there are rewards along the way, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there is also heartache and pain along the way.  That is the subject of my next blog.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What’s with that Watson Guy. . .

For those of you who watched Jeopardy this week, you may have been amazed to see the center contestant be a little boy who looked like a computer.  Now I know they tried to pass him off as a computer,  but I have inside information so that I KNOW there was really a little guy in that box.  Why they would think it was more amazing that a computer could perform so well rather than the little three-year-old inside, I don’t know.  I would have been much more impressed with that little toddler beating the heck out of those Jeopardy Hall of Famer’s than a computer named Watson!

Of course, I was disappointed that he didn’t pull off Final Jeopardy on Tuesday night.  But how many three-year-olds do you know that know Toronto is not a U.S. city?  This is how I see it.  You can program this little toddler to know all kinds of facts and information–to decipher a question and search who knows how many databases packed inside of his mind, but this is what the three-year-old can’t do.  He can’t reason.  So when they gave him basic questions wherein he could just regurgitate information, he was fine.  But, when they gave him the kind of questions where there may be more than one possible answer with some pun or other hint to help determine which of the possible answers (or questions in this case) was the right one, he had a much more difficult time.  Tuesday night was his night of nights.  The questions were of the easier type that he could handle well, but Wednesday, awe, that was another story.

Besides that, everybody knows that three-year-olds overdose on sugar.  They are hyper.  So he was stuck in that box with nothing to do but push that button and he was very quick at it.  His reflexes were right on.  There was no way the two men standing on either side of him could have even come close to his reaction time.  They should have made the boy drink a few beers before the game to slightly adjust for reaction time.  O.K. you say, but he really did kick their butts!  True, and that was quite impressive, but put him up against a four-year-old and then see what happens.  My guess, they will need a bigger box!

Charlie, if you happen to read this post, let me know what you think.  Could you have been as successful against Watson as you were David Duchovny and Chris Matthews.  I’m sorry, I hate to even say David’s name considering what he did with your little Gracie.  I’ll be shocked if I hear from you, they might even have to pick me up off of the floor.

Now remember 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4 (I wonder if Watson knows this.)                  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011]

28 years of Wedded Bliss (o.k. not always blissful, but that’s my fault not his) and the top 28 Reasons why I love my Valentine

I was recently talking with my newlywed daughter about marriage and the challenges that go along with it.  We often hear that marriage is hard, takes work, effort, and sacrifice.  If that is true, which I certainly think anyone who has ever been married would agree, is it worth it?  It is projected that 50% of all marriages will at some point end in divorce.  Of course, there are determining factors such as at what age a couple gets married, do they have children, etc.   I shared with my daughter a little secret.  Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but I’m going to share it with you too.  I don’t know if I really loved my husband when I married him, and further more, I don’t know if anyone really loves that man or woman with whom they make vows.  Now, alright, I admit that I don’t really know; I can only speak from my own experience, and I guess it would be dependent upon one’s definition of love.  As I see young people get married, I tend to think they are more infatuated and sexually attracted to one another than they are in love.  I’m sure there is some degree of love between them, but as I told my daughter, it is not that deep love that one has after being married for many years–years filled with ups and downs, smiles and tears, joy and heartache, accomplishments and failures.  When the trials of life come into a marriage, as they most certainly will,  the easiest thing to do is run–at least that is what is easiest in the short term.  But, the sad thing about all of the running is that you never get to the point where the real love begins.  In fact, instead of reaching a point where the two of you experience that greater and deeper love together, rather you might say we have fallen out of love.  Notice that in this context love is a noun.  Yet, in marriage, one should treat love as a verb.  When a husband and wife don’t love each other anymore, perhaps it is because they have quit showing that love.  If you want to fall in love again, “love” your spouse; treat it as a verb.  Treat them and serve them as one who is loved.  I think when we do this, a miraculous thing happens.

I remember listening to Charles Shaughnessy on a telephone interview for OutTakes.  A caller asked him to what he felt the longevity of his marriage could be attributed.  His answer was that the member of the clergy who performed their wedding gave them premarital advice.  He asked the couple how much they felt they should give to the marriage.  For instance is it a 50-50 deal.  He counseled Charles and his future wife that if one desires to have a lasting marriage they need to, at times, be willing to give 100% without expecting anything in return from their spouse.  Obviously, a whole marriage can’t be based on this principle; if it were there would be no need for the giver to be married.  But, I agree that there are times in a marriage when this is certainly true.  Sometimes one spouse has nothing to give.  It doesn’t mean they don’t love their mate, they just may be at times empty with no energy or even will to give back.  I’ve been very blessed, because my husband has embraced this principle whole-heart-idly.  Truly, my greatest regret in life is that I have called upon him way too many times to give that 100% and I know deep inside that he has never called upon me once to do the same.

Why I have such a wonderful husband, I don’t know.  I certainly don’t feel that I did anything special to deserve him.  I look around and see so many wonderful women, women much better than myself, who have found themselves in such awful circumstances.  Although, there are times that couples run too quickly from their problems, I know that there are also those circumstances wherein one should not just walk away, but run as fast as they can.  My heart goes out to them, especially when they are in such dire straits with no one to support them financially and/or emotionally.  (By the way, another reason I respect Charles Shaughnessy–when he played on Celebrity Jeopardy I believe his charity was a safe house for battered women).  I’m one of the lucky ones!  I don’t think I deserve my husband, but I certainly needed him.  Now almost 28 years later, we celebrated our 28th Valentine’s Day as husband and wife and here are the top 28 reasons I love him.

28. He laughs at my jokes, even if it is obligatory (although he doesn’t laugh as hard as I do at myself).

27. He doesn’t complain about what is for dinner or if there is nothing at all for dinner.

26. He helps with chores around the house.

25. He is a good provider.

24. He is a hard worker.

23. He is patient with me when I get obsessed with projects (which is often).

22. He is patient with me when I get overwhelmed with life (which is often).

21. He is financially wise and saves us a lot of money through researching large purchases.

20. He doesn’t get mad when I spend too much money (which is not often).

19. He listens to me talk about exciting mathematical and physic concepts even when he doesn’t understand them (although I do have to admit that his eyes glaze over at these times).

18. He likes to shop, which means during the school year he goes grocery shopping often because I don’t have time.

17. He cares about me enough to have sufficiently large life insurance to take care of me if something happens to him.

16. He takes good care of his mom and dad, which means he’ll take good care of me in my old age (if he can).

15. He is kind and loving to others.

14. He respects my political beliefs even if he doesn’t always agree with me.

13. He doesn’t get embarrassed by some very stupid things I’ve done in my life including in public and even at church.

12. He let’s me watch “The Nanny” in bed at night when he’s trying to sleep (I have to admit that I kind of wanted to put this as the number one reason).

11. He sacrifices time with me so I can get an education.

10. He serves me and others.

9. He is very unselfish.

8. He is a caring father.

7. He sets a good example for our children.

6. He is a righteous man.

5. He forgives me of my weaknesses and mistakes.

4. He shows his love to me by giving me 100% at those needed times.

3. He treats me with kindness publicly and privately.

2. He makes me glow (That’s for you Nancy).

And the number 1 reason that I love him:

1. Well, that’s between him and me.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

Why the Title of This Blog?

I’m a mathematician, or at least a mathematician in training.  I’m currently in my last two classes and will graduate this May.  Over the past years, I’ve learned a lot about math, physics, people, and especially myself.  The things that are most important in my life are my religion, family, people, “The Nanny”, education–especially in mathematics and sciences, and politics.  They may not be listed in order of importance, but then again, maybe they are.

What I’ve learned most about people over the past years, is that we all come with our unique experiences, perceptions, trials, and blessings in this life.  What adds up for one of us, might add up quite differently for another.  For example, I once did an object lesson wherein I listed on the board 1) 2+2=10,  2) 2+2=11, 3) 2+2=4,  4) 2+2= 1, and 5) 2+2=0.  I asked which of these answers is correct.  Of course, the obvious is 3) 2+2=4.  Yet, in reality, all of these answers are accurate.  (You will either have to take my word for this or take enough math classes  to understand it in its entirety.  I recommend you take my word, unless, of course, you’re up for the challenge).  So why do most of us not see beyond only 3) being correct?  Well, most of our experience is in working in base 10 (an elementary school concept), but there are other bases we can work with and we can also use something called mod addition.  So here is how they all add up: 1) Base 4 addition, 2) Base 3 addition, 3) Base 10 addition, 4) mod 3 addition, and 5) mod 4 addition.

We are often so blinded by our own experiences that we often fail to even see other possibilities, little lone to acknowledge that those possibilities may be valid.  My vision is to open my mind to all possibilities; to listen to other voices and ideas; to gain insight from the experiences of others.  By listening and opening my mind, I hope to become a better person.  I may not always be persuaded to another point of view, but then at times I might.  I know I will not ever be persuaded to abandon my core values, but I do understand that there may be valid reasons why another person doesn’t embrace those same ideas.  Perhaps, though, if they are willing to open their minds to other possibilities, they too will see through the eyes, minds, and experiences of others–perhaps even my own.

My blog may not be followed by many, perhaps not anyone.  It may end up being just a personal therapeutic outlet for me.  I’m not going to even bring it to my families attention in the beginning.    I’ll give myself time to develop my thoughts and ideas.  I know one thing, my entries will have a lot of variety–from the silly, to the serious, perhaps spiritual, definitely at times political, and I know I won’t be able at times to resist quoting from “The Nanny”.  After all, it is what has helped me to laugh during difficult times.

If I do get any followers, I definitely welcome their comments, especially those who disagree with me as long as they are respectful.  It is in this way, that I can learn about those possibilities that I haven’t yet considered.  I look forward to this and thus the title of this blog.  I have a lot of things on my mind about which to post, but I also have many obligations that take up my time.  So, I’ll post as often as I get the opportunity.

In the meantime, remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4.