It is all about the journey….

Posts tagged ‘Family’

What If?

As I spent time alone this morning, I found myself thinking about my amazing children. As a Mom I have the tendency to want their lives to be free of tribulations and hard times. As a Mom who is trying her best to look at life through the eyes of Heavenly Father, I see that their tribulations and hard times shape them.WhatIf?

My son has been working through some pretty tough things in his heart lately. He is a leader. He is different. He is strong. He has vision. All qualities that do not always lead him down the easiest of paths in Junior High. I know this time of his life is full of wanting to fit in, have friends, be noticed by the ‘cute’ girls in the hall. However, it is hard to be a sheep when you were born to be a warrior.

My husband and I have such a huge responsibility to our children. As parents, we have been blessed to see who these amazing spirits are meant to be, we know truly how strong and important they are. Unfortunately, someone else does too. I have felt the challenge in my heart to become the mother they need to battle this other influence and have spent many hours in prayer for the ability and strength to be the protector, teacher, example and safety they need.

A question came into my heart as a response to these prayers….What if?

What if all that I have passed through in my life was tailored not only for my growth, but theirs too? What if all of the times I have been pushed to the end of my faith and strength were meant to teach my heart what they need to know? What if every time I was driven to my knees because I didn’t have strength to stand under all of the pressures I felt were times that brought me closer to Heaven so that I could see His face and KNOW? What if all of those things that I sacrificed were gifts that they needed to stand strong? What if every tear that has fallen has been counted for moments when they truly need a shoulder, heart and an understanding ear? What if every moment of joy and laughter were times that they could see heaven too?

What if?

I would do it all again in an instant for them so that they would KNOW. I would do it so that they can have strength to be the warriors they truly are meant to be…not the sheep that follow the crowd.

They are my What if….

They are my Gift from Heaven….

They are my Why….

Different and Strong

Our little family had a unique opportunity last night….one that required us to step waaaay out of our comfort zones.

When we first moved into our current home, we met a sweet Chinese man. He is very endearing and has a wonderful disposition. He took an interest in the fact that we are all involved in martial arts. Each time he has been in our home, he has encouraged us and brought such a sweet spirit with him.

Different and StrongA couple of weeks ago he called asking if we would be willing to perform at a Chinese Autumn festival. Performing is not something we do a lot of, because it involves stepping out of our comfort zones. We love to train and get better on our home turf, however stepping outside of this requires a lot of courage, or a sweet and persistent friend. We, reluctantly said we would.

To be completely honest, we actually tried to get out of it. However, everything we brought up (wrong country…we study a Japanese style martial art, not enough time to prepare, etc) he shot down (all martial arts came from China so what does it matter? and you are black belts so you are prepared, etc). We were committed and that was it.

It took a long time to come up with the music. Less time to come up with the demo performance.

Motivation was lacking, especially in the kids…which was a reflection of our initial emotions.

A decision had to be made.

It came down to who we truly are and how we wanted to represent ourselves, family and our karate family. Deciding to train strong and perform strong made a huge difference in our hearts. Team Smullin was going to represent!

So the evening of the performance came….

We walked into the venue and saw that we were totally different from everyone else in the room. Not only were we the only martial arts performance lined up, we were the only Americans who would be stepping on stage.

As the crowd filled in, we felt how different we were…American, English speaking, tall, dressed in gi’s and carrying weapons.

The Chinese culture is so kind. They are truly incredible people.

As the program went forward, we realized that they are not the type to yell and get all hyped up. It was a totally different environment than what we have performed in the past. After each performance they would clap and that was it. Hmmmm….I really hoped it would go well for us.

There came a point that we simply had to not care about what was going to happen, we just needed to be us…Team Smullin…and do what we do best.

Martial arts has trained us to do many things with our minds and bodies. One of the best things I have learned is confidence in what I know and the amount of time I have spent training. Walking on to the stage, we all went to that place and let our bodies do what they have been trained to do.

Did we mess up? Yep. Did I smack the overhead screen with my sword? Yep. Did I almost fall off of the stage? Yep. Was our ending a little skewed? Yep.

Did we startle the crowd with our blood-curdling yells? Yep (It was pretty fun to see some of the looks on their faces). Did the boys amaze them with their chuck skills? Yep (they are pretty filthy chuckers). Did the girls impress with their swords? Yep. Did the crowd clap throughout the performance? Why yes they did. Honestly, if there was a best in show award…we would have taken it…;)

The entire event was a reflection on who we are and where we have found strength in our family and lives.

Not one thing about us fit…Americans at a Chinese festival, Japanese martial arts at a Chinese festival, English speakers at a Chinese festival, and rocking music at a Chinese festival. However, we fit, because we were there together. We fit, because we understand that being different is nothing to shy away from, it is something that gives us strength. We fit, because we know who we are and what we can do.

It is a powerful lesson we have learned over the past few years. I am grateful that we were able to step out of our comfort zones, into a beautiful culture, to see.

 

Arrival

ArrivalToday begins the end of an incredible journey.

Five years ago I stepped onto a karate map, changing the course of my life forever. It was then I joined my family in our journey to earn our black belts. I can remember the feelings of trepidation that coursed through my heart, yet my soul felt electrified.

As I have reflected upon the path we have walked down, I have found myself feeling overwhelmed by the fact that we have done what we set out to do….as a family.

Individually each one of us has become so much more, grown in ways that we could never describe and learned very deeply that we are strong. As a family we have become cemented in the team that we are. There is a lot of peace knowing that each one of us would take or give a hit to save each other.

There have been moments of victory, defeat, learning, excitement, and contemplations of quitting…all things that create a path of worth.

We have been blessed through this journey by a loving Heavenly Father. I cannot look back and not see His hand guiding, helping and encouraging us on our way. I see how things that are important to us are important to Him. I see how He has changed the world for us.

The mat we stepped onto for the first time is not that mat we will arrive on, however we were given the basic love and knowledge of karate from those who trained with us on our first mat. We were shown the direction we needed to travel. A guide at the beginning of a journey is priceless. Thank you Leah for giving us a strong start.

As with any wonderful journey, ours took an unexpected, but marvelous turn. We left our beginnings and found ourselves welcomed into a karate family that means more to us than words can describe. Our Kona family is beautiful.

Along our path we found ourselves in one of the most difficult trials we had ever experienced. Karate became our safe-haven, our home, a refuge and somewhere we could express ourselves. As we would walk through the doors, the weights we were carrying were lifted and for a few moments we were free. Truly another gift from God. Karate has saved our lives on many levels.

As we enter the testing period tonight, I know that we have many around us who are pulling for us. I am humbled by their love and support for our little team. I cannot begin to express how this will lift us and give us strength beyond what we feel we have. I love that we can be that for our karate family too…it is all about lifting each other.

Thank you Te, Jade, Victor and Tyler for lifting us, inspiring us, believing in us and showing us the way.

We have arrived at the end of one journey….only to begin another.

 

Closer at the End…

DSCN1337Today marks the end of summer vacation in our home. It is eerily quiet in the house. In years past I have looked forward to this day with great anticipation…not today. I already miss them and it has only been 45 minutes.

My kids are amazing. I love these two incredible spirits! They are as different as fire and ice, yet they both have brought so much life and love into our lives.

As I walked home from dropping them off at school, I thought about the summer and what we experienced that made it different from every other summer. We didn’t go on any elaborate family vacations, we actually didn’t do more than a couple of extras this year. Yet, we had a blast. It speaks a lot about the giants I am raising (not just stature) when they did not complain that we were not on vacation or out doing things other people were doing.

This summer we became closer as a family than we have ever been. I am so thankful for each day we spent together. When I say ‘we’, I mean the entire family. It is a blessing in our lives that my husband is with us every day, all day. I know not every family could do this, so I am thankful ours can.

I learned that it is not in the grand things that we draw closer to each other. It is in the simple moments of going on a hike, building Legos, playing a video game or two together, reading, coloring, chatting, eating together, practicing karate and so much more that we have the moments to truly bind our hearts together.

We were blessed with the opportunity to spend time helping my parents build a wall in their backyard (something we all lovingly refer to as prison work) and landscape. I was able to capture moments in my heart watching my children draw closer to their grandparents. These are priceless times that no camera could fully capture, but my soul has them.

There have been many a Friday evening when my husband’s mom would come up to eat and play games with us. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with her. She and the kids had this fun and sweet banter they would share. They have been able to share moments with her that will bring joy into their hearts when they recall them down the road.

The blessings we have received this summer are overwhelming; the greatest of which is the closeness we have gained. I love who my kids are. I love that we get to see them become the amazing people they are.

As much as I am sad that the summer has ended, I am excited for the journey they have started today. I look forward to sharing the adventure of a new school year with them, because it brings with it even more opportunities to become closer.

Because I Can

It is good for us to re-examine our ‘whys’ from time to time. Last week I took a recovery week. This is not something I would naturally do, however my body told me otherwise.072013165225

We have been training in karate for the belt we just received. It required of us to do 75 squats, 25 push-ups, 25 v-ups and 25 shoulder-bridge-reaches along with all of the katas, self-defense techniques, weapons forms, sparring, power karate and explosive kicks. It was 2 of the most intense hours I have spent. It was purely amazing! (more…)

Daddy’s Girl

DSCN1063There is something very special about being the only girl in my family. I have one of the best relationships with my Daddy. Even though I am close to forty years old, I still call him Daddy, because I am still his little girl.

Today I just wanted to share a little about the man I have been blessed to live with, learn from, be protected by and loved by. We have been able to spend some fantastic time this summer doing what I like to call ‘prison work’ in his backyard. We are basically moving dirt and rocks from one area to another and back again. He is re-landscaping his yard. As we have worked together we have had the time to quietly chat, just he and I. These are moments I treasure.

This is how it has been throughout my life. He was very gifted at working on our cars whenever they would break. I remember sitting at his side as he would tear apart our 1972 orange GMC truck. He would explain why things worked the way they did and let me see how he put it all back together when he had fixed the problem. We would quietly chat about things that were safe for a teenage girl to talk to her father about.

Looking back at these times in my life, I see that he was teaching me how to solve problems. He was showing me how to break things down and find what was not working right. He taught me how to live in a way that I could take care of myself, as long as I had him to watch over me. He blessed me with a deep understanding that there are times when you need to walk away, think and come back with a solution that was given to you from the Spirit.

I have watched this giant of a man take care of my mom each and every time she has had surgery (there have been over 30). I watched him give up his work in order to be there for his aged mother as she prepared to leave this life. He and my mom would take time each and every night to go to where she was staying, dress her, tuck her in and pray with her. I have watch him drop everything he was doing to be there for me and my brothers any time we would call (and sometimes when he just felt like we needed him). I have seen him sacrifice anything and everything so that those around him could have what they needed.

The tools he has given me have blessed my life every day. From him I have learned to care for those I love, make life for those around me a little better and strength that goes beyond anything physical.

I will never forget the day I was married. As I was sealed to my husband, I looked over at him. The man who had raised, protected and loved me for over 20 years. I noticed the tears streaming down his face. I knew right then that it would all be different, but I would forever be my Daddy’s little girl.

He is my hero. He is one of the greatest blessings I have in my life.

 

Sweetest Treasure

file0001918983115Last night I found the sweetest treasure waiting for me on my pillow. It was a small folded paper, about 1 inch by 1 inch. ‘To Mom’ was written in tiny little letters. I opened up this little note to find a big heart with the message, “I love you Mom!”

It is difficult to find the words to describe the warmth that enveloped my heart as I held a piece of her heart in my hands. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I marveled at her pure love for me. Every time she gives something away, she gives so much of her little soul with it. I tucked my sweet treasure into my scriptures, where it would be safe and I would see it often. (more…)

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