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I remember as a young girl seeing a big, shell of a house looming among knee-high grass just on the outskirts of my hometown. My mom explained to me that a family we knew was building that home. I thought it looked like an old, abandoned property! It would be their dream home, she told me, but they were paying for it as they went. And slowly building it all by themselves.

That home had been sitting in various states of incompletions for many years. I was sort of fascinated by that notion. When they saved up enough money, they would inch forward on the work, waiting and waiting to someday live in their dream home. I remember wondering if they’d even like the house once it was finished!

I’d never known anyone to build a house that way.  And I actually don’t know what the end result was for that family.  I believe I heard that they finally did move into their dream home.  For some reason, that family and that house popped into my mind today.  I was surprised to remember something that I hadn’t thought of for maybe twenty-five years.  It came into my mind as I was thinking about my experiences as a mother to these six beautiful children.  I absolutely LOVE being a mother.  My heart has been stretched and expanded in ways I never thought possible.  Most of the time I just sit back and thank my Father in Heaven for these precious souls in my care, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for it all.  But sometimes I am also just plain overwhelmed.

Raising children is a bit like that huge, old, half-constructed house out in the field.  It’s such a slow, drawn-out process sometimes.  Some days are hard and tiresome.  And most days it appears that nothing is changing or working.  But it takes time to build a masterpiece.  And finally, one day you wake up and look out and there in front of you is this person, this beautiful child nearly all grown up.  In that moment, it seems like it happened overnight.

And then my mother heart starts to remember. I remember the newborn smells and the nighttime nursings. I remember the first little lessons in obedience and the chubby little hands on my cheeks. I remember the hours standing next to the slide at the park, and the hours holding hands as I stood next to the potty in the bathroom. I remember the first days of school, and the ice cream cones, and the backyard swing set. I remember the sleepless nights, the sick days, and the times I cried in frustration.

I remember the swimming pools and the long walks, and the bike riding lessons. I remember the sports teams and piano recitals and family vacations. I remember the birthday parties with a house full of friends, and the Christmas Eves when we acted out the Nativity. I remember the long talks, the prayers I’ve prayed, and all the ups and downs. I remember the little increments of life that stand as milestones of growing up—babysitting, ear piercings, late nights, and cell phones. I remember the summer camps and driving lessons and high school sports.  I can remember it all.

Somehow, someway, what started as a dream so long ago has turned into my reality.  Standing right in front of me. Paid for as I went. Nurtured by my own hands. A beautiful masterpiece.

I now feel confident that the family from my hometown loved their new home with all of their hearts and souls.  I imagine as their hands slid down the banister or ran gently along the smooth countertops in the kitchen that an immense amount of pride and satisfaction filled them up.

I, too, am building something.  And the smoothness of freshly-bathed skin, or the softness of little lips ready for a kiss, or the way my arms can wrap around a little body and make it all better fills me with an immense amount of pride and satisfaction.  I’m a mother who loves my little ones with all of my heart and soul.

One thing that amazed me about that house was the patience and perseverance it must have taken to finish the task by hand.  I wondered how anyone could ever have enough of those qualities to work every day on something that wouldn’t be done for a decade or more.

And now I know.

I am not building alone.

When I kneel down to pray each night, I thank my Father in Heaven for sending these beautiful children my way.  I pray for patience and perseverance to nurture these sweet, little, heaven-sent masterpieces.  And I commit to mother and love them all…for as long as I have breath in my lungs.  He hears my prayers and sends me lots of help.  I just know it.