I'm thrilled to be introducing you today to one of my favorite inspirations -- Jenifer Moss and I have been friends for only about 8 months, but I feel like I've learned so much from her writings and her faith. She has a great gift for writing and has included links to some of her blog posts below. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
Let's start by talking about your family right now. What are the ages and genders of your children? Do you think your family is complete?
I have seven children, two boys and then five girls. My oldest is 13 and my youngest just turned 18 months. I believe that children are a blessing from the Lord. Usually during my pregnancy or right after the birth of a child, I have been given a special knowledge that this is not the end. I know that someone else was waiting to come to our family. I felt this so strongly at the ultrasound for our last baby. I believe there will come a day when I hold my last child in my arms and feel the confirming peace that I am finished. But, until then, I marvel at the gifts God has given me. As I rock my seventh child to sleep I can’t help but think, if I didn’t have seven, I wouldn’t have HER. I love being a mother.
From what you've said, I understand you didn't have a childhood filled with sunshine and lollipops. In fact, I think it's safe to say you had a pretty rough start to life. How have those early experiences prepared you to be a mother of many? What do you do differently in your mothering because of what you've experienced?
Great question! We each have our own path to walk in life. I had a beautiful childhood although it was not ideal. For much of my life I was raised by a single mother with one sister, my mother eventually remarried and had more children with my stepfather. My mother joined the church when I was young and, although I was baptized at age eight, it wasn’t until I was in high school that we were ever really active. I remember laying on my bed as a young child singing to myself the song, “I am a child of God.” I remember crying and asking God why He didn’t bless me with parents kind and dear. I was enveloped in a great, warm hug and my Heavenly Father whispered in my ear that He was my Father. That I would never want because He would compensate.
Knowing that we are all children of a Heavenly Father who loves us, has given me peace as a mother. It drives me CRAZY when good parents beat themselves up about their small imperfections. I know that children from horrendous circumstances of abuse and neglect CAN succeed in life and find joy—because they are loved, taught and watched over by Heavenly Parents. I also believe that God’s grace and mercy can apply to our own children. We do not need to be perfect—because HE is. This overarching faith in God is the foundation for all I do as a mother. I picked a great Earthly father for my children. If I do nothing else right in life, I have still given them one of the greatest gifts.
Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone- You Choose http://toddnjenifermoss.
You stay home with seven children. Are there parts of the routine of having lots of children that are getting old? What chores would you gladly do away with? And on the reverse, what parts of raising children do you cherish?
Consistency is my hardest thing. I don’t mind chores, I just mind that they are so constant. What I wouldn’t give for a month off!! For me, the mental is harder than the physical. Oh that I were naturally happy and cheerful all the time!! I would give anything (perhaps I already am) for a soul full of love all the time. Especially as I navigate early morning crankiness or late night tiredness. I also think the hardest part about staying at home is feeling like I am really doing A GREAT WORK. How I resonate with the leper Naaman in the Bible who is told he must wash in the murky river Jordan (the same river where Christ himself was later baptized to fulfill all righteousness) seven times to be cleansed. Although the RESULT of washing, and washing, and washing, and washing, and washing, and washing, and washing would be a MIRACULOUS transformation... he was reluctant. I LOVE the scripture where he young servant asks, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:13). Like Naaman, I am made clean as I wash and serve.
What parts do I cherish today? Fingerprints on my windows, open-mouthed baby kisses, little girl dress-up clothes, tiny toes, older siblings teaching younger siblings with more love and kindness than I have at the time, responsible and organized teenagers, picture books, creative ‘do-it-yourself’ hairstyles, shoes on the wrong feet, singing in the car, Christmas morning, the third time a toddler sneaks out of bed at night just to give me another hug (don’t tell them I love that please), crayon drawings, naked babies, helpers in the kitchen, deacon humor, 3rd grade drama, listening to laughter, always having a hand to hold when I walk. My life is FULL of goodness and joy. I have a sign in my kitchen that says, “God grant me the patience to deal with my blessings!”
Saturday Morning http://toddnjenifermoss.
You and your husband have a wonderful, strong relationship. What are the daily, weekly and other regular habits that you've developed with him that keep your marriage strong?
Having a strong marriage is a lot of WORK. Is that ok to admit? When we were just home from our honeymoon, my husband and I had our first argument about whose job it was to empty the trash (his, of course). He sat down on his bed, put his head in his hands and explained, “Oh Man, What have I gotten myself into?” Ha! Poor fella... That was only the beginning!!
I did not grow up in a strong home, I still struggle to know what a good marriage looks like. God commands us to BE ONE. Emotional and physical closeness is essential for a strong marriage. We try to have our kids to bed fairly early so that we have time to spend together each night. Frequent time together strengthens our marriage. I believe that marital intimacy is a SACRAMENT. This sacred, physical act actually cleanses and empowers you. Our marriage has not been easy—we have both learned to forgive and love an imperfect person. Satan works to destroy our bond, but through the atonement of Christ we are given the ENABLING power. Charity, the pure love of Christ, is God’s greatest gift! We talk, we date and socialize with friends, we go to the temple, we pray together, we apologize, we laugh, we focus on our intimate life and enjoy our time together. Marital bliss is not a state we have arrived at—it is a fruit that we have to CHOOSE to partake of often.
Often, the hardest thing for me is letting my husband love ME when I know I am imperfect (physically and spiritually). In this day and age of pornography, high fashion, excessive exercise, plastic surgery, and Barbie, we have a mental image of what our naked body should look like in order to make our husband happy. I was talking to a friend the other day, she has had many physical challenges that has left her body scarred and many children who have left her body sagging. She told me that her husband still looks at her and loves her. “In a way, my body is OUR body.” She said, “We have travelled this journey together.” I love that.
I don’t believe true happiness in marriage comes from finding a perfect husband or from being the perfect spouse. True marital unity comes from cleaving unto each other in our imperfect, mortal, “naked” state and calling down the blessings of GRACE to help us on our journey. I am grateful to have been given a good, humble, imperfect man to learn to love. I am grateful that he sees me at my best and worst and chooses to love me still. Marriage is an incredible marathon and I’m yoked to a good ox!
Like Beans and Cornbread
The Act of Marriage
On Forgiveness in Marriage
What do you do to maintain an appropriate balance in your family's life? What do you say no to and what do you say yes to? What are your favorite things to do when you're not raising children or keeping house and how do you find time to do them?
Balance—blah!! I have this idea that there is a beautiful field I will someday arrive at—in the meantime I am the Billy Goat Gruff that is stuck on the bridge trying to convince the troll to let me pass. My life is not balanced—it is a continual waxing and waning, faster and slower, stricter and kinder, structured and creative. My home cycles and has seasons. There are times when I pull back and focus more on my home and my family, and times when I am serving more in my community. My children have seasons where they are more involved and less involved. Our life is busy— with older kids and younger kids, this is a busy season of life. Although I have often wished for a living prophet to walk me through my day telling me what I should do and what I shouldn’t, I am content to walk daily with a still small voice that whispers “slow down” or “get up and work”, “turn that off” or “listen to her”. I am grateful for the voice that reminds me to reach out and keeps my feet planted firmly at home. I have no advice on balance—I’m not sure it is achievable in this teeter-totter time of life. Perhaps there is someone else out there that has achieved it and can give me some pointers!!
I do not often seek out or volunteer for opportunities. I try to focus on loving and serving in my home, in my extended family, doing my family history, serving at church, knowing and loving my neighbors, and being a friend to those I visit teach. That keeps me pretty busy. I do try to say YES, however, when someone asks me for something. I often think of Christ saying, “Give to them that asketh.” And, I have found that I have enough to share with most people who come to me asking for something they need or want. I LOVE the scripture in D&C 61:3 that says, “It is not needful for . . . mine [mothers] to be moving swiftly... whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief.” I have found that I can do much good if I just slow down and serve as I am moving through my day.
I am ALWAYS raising children and keeping house and everything I do is part of that! When I look for ways to escape my calling in life, I find an unquenchable thirst. “Me time” just leads to more “poor me time” at home. Instead, I am happiest when I find JOY in the doing!! The great JOY of being at home with my children is that I can plan my day! I am the queen of my castle and I can make my castle just what I want it to be!! My favorite things? I love to be outside and see the beauty of the earth. We take our children ‘sightseeing’ often, I love road trips! I love a clean, organized home. I love to eat healthy, colorful food. I love to read good books! I love to make things. I love to sing and to talk about ideas. I love produce and gardening and animals (most of the time). I love holidays and having lots of people over to my house. Pretty much all of my favorite things I can do as I mother and homemaker! I LOVE my job!
The Mundane Tasks of Life
What advice do you have for moms who want more but don't know if they can handle it?
What advice do you have for moms who want more but don't know if they can handle it?
Pray about it. Talk to your husband. Have faith. You are given the strength that you need in MOMENTS, line upon line as you grow. You do not have children because you can handle it. You have children and you BECOME what you need to be as you learn to love and serve. This life is not meant to be an easy, vacation. Having children takes work and effort—but it is a divine, holy, sanctifying, GOOD work. Life will be hard with or without children, that is part of the plan. Don’t waste your TRIP imagining it was supposed to be a VACATION. Men and women will be SAVED and SANCTIFIED as we toil together in FAMILIES through this mortal journey. It is a good plan!!
As Ma said, in Little Town on the Prairie, “This earthly life is a battle. If it isn’t one thing to contend with, it’s another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and the more thankful for your pleasures.” She was a wise woman!
You have a wonderful poetic talent that I envy. Can you share a few of your favorite posts on your blog with us?
I added links to some posts on the bottom of my answers...
Summer Ideas- Chore Charts and Non-Consistency (this is by far my most read blog post)