Dear Mom [Weeks 4&5]

Hey mom,

I’m glad to think about you off having fun with your friends this weekend because I entirely missed writing to you last weekend. To make myself feel better I remind myself that I did get to spend good time with you on Saturday night. I’m sorry again for being late to get you at the airport. I was so panicked when I realized that I was at the wrong terminal.

All weekend long I kept telling myself I would get to it later. And, then I told myself the same exact thing all week as well. Boy, has my life been hectic. It has always been hectic, but the past several weeks have been especially hectic. I hope it makes you feel better to know my lack of writing wasn’t because anything is actually more important than you, but because all of my free time went to my kids. I know you would not want me neglect them. Although I’m pretty sure I am doing a little of that, too. I just can’t keep up. I did lesson plans, homework, or cleaned house all day yesterday. My only breaks were when I went to coach volleyball and when we broke from routine to feed the missionaries dinner. We had a wedding reception we wanted to go to and we didn’t even make it. Bummer.

I am sending you a story I wrote awhile back. I just published it on my blog, and I know you will love it. I hope it makes up for my missed letter-writing week.

Anyhow, I don’t want this letter to turn in to my complaining. I truly am grateful to have my job, to be able to go to college, and to have a busy family. We took Abigail to her first session of therapy last week. After the therapist talked to her, he called me back in. He said, I want you to hear your daughter’s 5-year-plan. Abigail explained that she planned to, “graduate from high-school, go on a mission, go to college, and get married.” The therapist said that she was a remarkable seventeen year old with a good head on her shoulders and that LG and I should lighten up and let her figure out her  own relationship stuff. That was not what I was expecting. I started to cry because I’ve  been so worried  that we’ve totally let her down in our parenting. I needed that validation so much. I didn’t even know that I needed it.

I’m sorry that we didn’t give you parenting validation enough when you were in the thick of things, mom. I hope you know how much your kids appreciate all that you have done for us. You are one of the most remarkable mothers. I’m so lucky to have you. I can’t even pinpoint everything that makes you so great, but I know one part of you that I try to emulate is selflessness. I think a lot of moms today get really caught up in meeting their own needs first and that can be really detrimental to their kids. I think some moms only take care of their kids needs and not their own. If I want to be remarkable, I think I have to find a balance between the two. But, I remind myself every day that I am in the middle of the war-zone. Our family is in its neediest stage right now. Some days I just have to hunker down and pray to make it out alive. How many years you did the exact same! Thanks for showing me that it is possible to get to the end.

I’ve  thought about dad so much. LG brought me a surprise of Almond Roca home from his Costco trip yesterday. It was all I could do not to burst out in tears. It’s my favorite candy because it was dad’s favorite candy. Of course LG didn’t know that. He only knew it was my favorite void of the connection to dad. I felt like it was a little message from the universe that I will always have dad with me. Speaking of which, I am going to get some of that candy out of my closet (my connection to you – hiding stuff in my closet) to get me through my homework marathon today. Thanks for giving me a break from a deep-dive into ontology. I hate thinking about “what is real” and “what is not real.” It’s really hard to daily wrestle with intellectuals who want to devalue spirituality. I just read something that said it’s better to ask, “Is God real?” than “Does god exist.” It gave me a little encouragement in stating that God is very real to me.

How many times I’ve  laughed this week thinking about you handing that boy working at Panda Express $10 and Abigail’s phone number. How many more times I will  laugh. It will  go down as one of my best memories ever.  You are hilarious, mom. I think it is the cutest thing that you are always looking out for your kids and grandkids, even if you are totally crazy at times. I will also always remember how much you were impressed by that kid because he was working so hard like your Ricky. Hard work is such a big value in our family. I guess dad is looking down on me proud because I’m not getting much downtime lately. Just like his whole life. I have to convince myself to rest and relax more. I’m sure there is a part of dad regretting having gone too soon because he worked himself to death. I’m sure he has so much pride in all that he accomplished, but he is looking down on you wondering why he is gone and you are still here when you both worked equally hard.

I have to go. I have piles of homework. This letter sucks this week. I can feel the raw emotion of losing dad already weakening. I don’t like it. I want to sit and cry all day every day as a way of keeping his memory alive.  However, I’m sure he’d have me move forward like I am instead of wallow in sorrow.

I  love you  mom. I hope I will l be less distracted by philosophy and literary theory next week. Have a wonderful week. Because who cares “what is.” You are what is. Dad is what is. I am what is. LG and our kids are what is. Being a family forever is what is. No one will convince me otherwise. I  even said so in my class  last Monday. I made a comment about the story “Return of a Private.” I basically argued the the American classic realist story was actually a version of the spiritual journey we might take straight back to our families after we die. That doesn’t go  over well in academia. After I made the comment, I said,  “Look, I know this view doesn’t match with realism, but my dad just died, and I need to believe this right now, so please don’t refute it.” My professor was empathetic and quickly responded before anyone else could, “I’m not  going to argue with you.” It was a moment of true compassion. Someday I will thank him.

And even though there are a lot of intellectuals out there that believe that  when we die we just die, I know  my spirit will fly straight to each and every one of my family members, just like dad did for me. Oh, how I’ll always be grateful that Olive knew “what really was” in that moment. Her bark and perfectly behaved sit will always remind me of my dad’s love for me, and his remarkable ability with people and animals. I can’t get that dog to sit for the life of me.

A Simply Marvelous Life

caroline-harpWhile going through old class notes for my current paper, I found this story I wrote last spring. I remember how it made the student that presented after me cry. I felt so bad as she approached the podium upset. She explained that my story was especially tender to her because her dad had passed away recently. How was I to know that within months I’d be in the same “dad gone” boat?

I remember telling my dad of our plan to take a gift to the orphan boys and how he loved it. He wholeheartedly sanctioned it to my kids and he shared an inspiring story of his own. He cried. What a tender memory. He believed in the art of compassion. He lived the art. How grateful I am for him and his  example. He inherently knew that the true joy of life was within our relationships with others.

I am grateful to have come across this story today. I’ve been in a school slump, not feeling up to the writing task. Today’s discovery reminded me of the importance of storytelling. Even if I am not the most eloquent storyteller.

A Simply Marvelous Life

“Those poor, poor boys,” Mother said loud enough for the room to hear as she read the newspaper. I asked her, “What boys?” She explained. Twenty years before she used to work with this guy. They were nothing more than acquaintances. “But still, it’s just so tragic.” He was dead now among the remains of his personal jet. It crashed on take-off in Colorado. The crash also killed his wife, and two of his five children.

Mother seemed obsessed over the three children left. It was hard to understand how complete strangers to her sabotaged her heart for months. She talked about them to everyone. Her friends. Her kids. Sometimes she would even talk to random strangers about how grateful she was to be alive. “Shopping with a toddler is hard, but it makes it easier when I think about how blessed I am to be alive.” When the family knelt in the family room every night, mother would sometimes pray out loud for the family. “Bless those boys.”  When I complained about chores or homework or getting my phone taken away, she would remind me to be grateful. “You have both your parents, and all of your siblings. Remember, life is marvelous.” When Christmas neared mother told us that in the quiet of one morning she heard a voice in her mind. It was a woman begging, “They must have a gift from us under the tree.” Asking our forgiveness mother said she hoped we’d understand her stealing from us. She had withdrawn from her Christmas account, upsetting her carefully budgeted plan, to buy something for the orphans. She apologized and explained that we might have a little less this year. “But, I just feel it my duty to provide a gift for them from their dead mother. I can hear her voice as clear as day. I can’t ignore it.”

As Father drove us to the next town over, Mother watched her five elves stretch and giggle among the large sack of gifts in the back. The wrapped gifts would be left anonymously. “Because that is the best kind of giving,” mother said. The boys’ names, the ones their mother gave them, were monogrammed on their blankets. A note was included reminding them of their mother’s love, all the way from heaven. “She had found a way to hug them, through the mind of a stranger.”

Mother had done some serious sleuthing to get the names and address of the boys, but could hardly believe her eyes as they pulled up. When they verified the house number to the information on the paper in mother’s hand, everyone voiced their utter shock. A chorus of “no way” echoed the yelps of surprise as the vehicle reached the top of the mountain. The boys lived in a literal mansion. Mother laughed. “What in the world?” We all told her we should take the gifts back home, but she directed her elves to drop the gifts on the doorstep. “Be quiet. Don’t let anyone see you. Hurry up before someone calls the police.” As we sprinted our way back to the modest minivan that cowered under the massive gate, my little sister spared a glance for a golden harp glowing through the windowed fortress. We jumped in. The tires peeled. My baby sister described the harp’s shine to her amused mother. How badly Caroline wanted a harp. She had even written to Santa for one. She didn’t know what I knew.  Santa had already bought her a harpsichord. It was the last Christmas purchase she had made right after the wrapping for the boys’ blankets.

We never knew it, but in those first few moments driving home, mother deeply questioned the meaning of helping where help didn’t seem to be needed. Those boys had more than she or hers ever would. The answer came quick, at the traffic light on the way home. Flashing behind her eyes, red and green, it spelled one word. C-o-m-p-a-s-s-i-o-n. Mother turned to dad and said, “I guess tonight we got to help meet an emotional need, not a physical one.”  Yes, compassion knows no class structure. Or biases. Only pure love. And that night both mothers had managed, from separate realms, to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.

The next day mother listened as her baby girl, surrounded by her parents and four siblings, transformed our family’s condo into a two-bedroom castle with music from her harpsichord. As Mother closed her eyes to enjoy the marvelous moment, a familiar angel voice spoke to her mind one last time, “It sounds just like my harp.”

 

Dear Mom [Week 3]

Hi Mom,

I am beginning to dread writing these letters more and more because I know it will just make me cry. Somewhere inside of me there is still a five-year-old little girl who just wants to be at home safe with her mom and dad. I never really realized that I have some form of anxiety until very recently. As a girl, I thought it was normal to obsess over bad people coming into our house at night to rob us or hurt us. I used to lay in my bed and repeatedly remind myself of your words that dad would never let anything happen to any of his babies. I logically and emotionally knew perfectly that what you said was true, but when the anxiety overtook me and I got really desperate, I would think about dad’s gun up in his closet. I knew dad could “take” almost anyone alive, but just in case a mob were to come, there was always the gun. It seems so silly now, but not really. I often talk to LG about whether or not he would actually fight for me or the kids. He’s such a gentle giant, I’m always worried I would have to do the fighting. Dad was a gentle giant too, and I know that he would fight, so I guess I should rest assured.

This photo came up on my facebook feed today. There is a way that facebook reminds you of your past posts. I took this exactly one year ago. Don’t you worry, the fact that dad is holding mine and Renee’s babies together is not lost on me.  I can’t remember where we were when I took this. I want to say it was someone’s baptism.  Eli’s? Isn’t it just so perfect?! Dad always had time for the children! What a wonderful dad. What a lucky bunch of kids. I can’t  believe he looked this good just one year ago. He withered fast, didn’t he? It really is as if as soon as he knew Renee was taken care of, a part of him just moved on. Dangit. I wish we had him for just one more year. Heck, I’d take one more day, one more hour, one more minute. I wonder if I could spit out the words, “I love you,” in just a second? If I could add anything, it would be, “thank you.” He would know all of the thank you’s in my heart.

dad.jpg

Thank you, dad, for giving me life. For loving my mother. For feeding me. For carrying me to the car when I cut off my toe, and for not being mad when I cut it off from being disobedient to your orders. For carrying me into the house every time when you knew I was just faking sleep. Thank you for the buckets at the beach.  Thank you for baptizing me. Thank you for teaching me to love hard work. Thank you for disciplining me.  Thank you for loving animals. Thank you for not beating me, even though you were beat. Thank you for working all of the time, so I could have clothes and a car to drive. Thank you for teaching me to drive stick shift, and for laughing at me when I stalled on the hills. Thank you for the many many adventures. Thank you for killing all the rattlesnakes. Thank you for the pep talk when Matt Jewell broke up with me and I cried for days on end. You told me it was his loss, and I believed you. Thank you for remodeling  my bathroom in Tennessee while you were on vacation. Thank you for giving me a priesthood blessing before my mission that helped me realize much much later that LG was the man I was meant to marry. Thank you for loving my husband. Thank you for all the ways you’ve watched over my little family. Thank you for the KFC months ago and the TV that arrived at my house days after you died. Thank you for LG’s drill. Thank you for my electrical outlet in my garage. Thank you for another remodeled bathroom. Thank you for giving me the gumption to duct-tape stuff and keep driving, and the assurance that it would be okay. “What’s the worst that can happen?”  I heard you say, as I pulled tentatively onto the freeway for a four-hour drive home.  I wanted to call you to be certain, but I just left you sick in your hospital bed. The only way you could make me go back home to my family was to lie to me and tell me everything would be okay. Thank you for the last little talk we had in the hospital when I got uncomfortable. You made sure I listened. It was less than a month ago and I can’t even remember  your exact words. You always understood how hard it was for me to listen, but whatever you said, because of its intensity, I knew you loved me and I knew you were proud of me, and I knew you believed in me and wanted me to be happy. I made sure you knew that I felt the same. How much you must have known I would need that for the rest of my life.

Mom, I’ll never forget that nurse’s baby boy that came to visit us at the hospital. It didn’t matter that dad was tired or in pain, he took that baby right up in his bed with him and loved on him.  I was almost kind of jealous that it wasn’t Max, and as if dad read my mind, he proceeded to tell that nurse all about Max and how amazing he thought he was, how he could make a basket from any part of the room.  I can’t even begin to describe how much it hurts to think that Max will never know his grandpa. I don’t think a second would be long enough, but I would give it to you anyway, mom. I would give it all to you. How you must be so lost without him.

I usually try to write these letters on Sundays when everyone is napping or occupied, so that I can cry and have time to myself. However, yesterday got away from me and I am writing in between subjects while I study in a little private study room at UVU. My eyes and brain were tired, so I decided I coul write as a break from reading and kill two birds with one stone. Bad idea. The study room has glass walls, and I am so glad I am up on the fifth floor where no one is around this late at night. It’s 9 pm. No one but crazy mothers study this late at night on campus. It’s a good thing because the tears are rolling freely down my face. I had to move my laptop farther from my eyes so that the puddle on the table wouldn’t ruin it.

I must get back to studying now, mom, but I don’t ever want to stop once I get started. It’s like you are right here with me. Like dad is right here, too. I wanted to tell you one thing right quick. I’m struggling with the working mom guilt. It’s so hard to let Max be cared for by someone else. He’s my baby!!! But, like dad taught me, I do what I have to do. So, to help with my guilt, I made homemade rolls this morning. It’s my first batch of rolls in the new Bosch mixer my mother-in-law got me for Christmas. Nine months without rolls  tells you how insane my life has been. Anyhow, as I was taking the dough from the mixer to knead and cut, I had a flashback. It was after school. I was 7 or 8. Your mixer looked a lot like mine, but your dough was wheat. It smelled of yeast. My mouth was watering. I knew you loved me. I hope my kids knew of my love when they ate those rolls tonight. I wasn’t even home for dinner because I was here at school. I have learned that pursuing my own dreams is also something important to teach my children, but it sure is hard to spread myself so thin.

One last sidenote: LG gave everyone back-to-school blessings last night. We were late this year with all the craziness of the funeral and Abigail’s pep-talks taking a lot of our time, and my new job and stuff.  So last night it was. I wish you could have been there, mom. In my blessing, LG talked a lot about my new job and how I should pray for my students because they are my fields. The scriptures say we should pray over our fields. And then, he got emotional. He stopped for a long time. Then whimpered. The spirit testified to me that whatever he would say next was something vital and true. He said, “Alice, your father is watching over you.” His voiced cracked as he cried. “Your earthly father.” “He will do everything in his power to help you, and he will always be there when you need him.” I think my immediate sobs kind of scared my kids, but maybe it will help them to have a greater appreciation for their dad who is alive, and for the priesthood. Such a beautiful moment, and I hate to write it here because I always publish these letters on my blog. That was truly sacred.

Well, I must go. It’s 9:03, and I have 150 more pages to read before class on Wednesday. Between work and other stuff I won’t have time to do it tomorrow. I love you, mom. Thank you for so many things. So, so, many things. I sit in my living room and smile. I look ever every thing that you carefully chose, just because you wanted me to have a nice room that was presentable. You didn’t want me to have to be embarrassed ever again. You gave me nicer things then you have ever given yourself. And when I get overwhelmed, I just sit on one of my two leather sofas and I look at my buffet table, and my rug, my pillows, my coffee table, and my colorful artwork above my mantle. I smile, not because it is all so lovely, but because I can feel you there loving me and cheering me on. I smiled yesterday thinking about how one of dad’s last gifts to you was bringing you up two weekends in a row, and letting you go crazy. He never said a word of reprimand. Then I got up, and keep at my life. Just like right now.

I’ll write you again next week. I wonder if I will ever be able to write one of these letters without crying. I hope so. I hope not. Our crying is what connects us. Big boob babies.

Dear Mom [Week 2]

Hi mom,

You probably haven’t even read my first letter yet, as you’ve been on the road. I’ll send this one to you up the street, and then you’ll get the first one when you get back home. I smiled so big when you told me how sad you would be to miss my letter on mail day because my only goal in writing is to give you something to look forward to.

And how many things you’ve given me to look forward to throughout my life. Christmas was always such a joy. I’ll never forget the early years when dad would always pull out his loud video camera and his ultra-bright light. I’m trying to remember the exact sound of the camera, but memory fails. Darnit. I will have to ask Adam the next time I see him. Mom, one of the things I really loved doing with you was going to get the special treatment for school dances. You really knew how to make a girl feel special. You never made me worry about money and you always told me that a girl had to splurge once in awhile. Getting my hair done was always traumatic, but oh how I loved going to the make-up counter. I remember my senior year when we bought a read MAC lipstick. I can still taste the color on my lips. That was a fancy lipstick and even though I may have looked like a prostitute sporting that color, I felt like a princess. Thanks mom for those dances, Christmases, and so many other things.

My intention in writing these letters is to keep dad’s memory alive. I know when Kristen Dillon died it helped me a lot just to get together with other friends and talk about the  crazy stuff we did. You and I just saw each other last night where we all talked about dad and his temper.  Renee got uncomfortable and said she only wanted to remember the good stuff about dad. Annette commented that it is good to remember the whole person.  I especially agree. Dad had very little wrong with him. In fact, his temper might be the only thing I can even think of, and as I mentioned in my last letter, dad kicked all of his anger and aggression to the curb years ago. I hope I can learn to do the same, but earlier in life.

When we went to lunch on Saturday, you just kept on with the tradition of giving me something to look forward to. I LOVED shopping with you, even though you wouldn’t let me pay! I  will get you back for that. You must learn to accept love instead of giving it all of the time. God will not let you go and be with dad until you do, so you better learn it quick. I know you don’t want to burden your kids with taking care of you. We will do whatever you need, just as you have done for us, but we would rather that you let us pay for some stuff than God giving you really bad health until you HAVE to take from us. Anyhow, it was so much fun just to be with you. You made shopping for the kids much more tolerable,  especially when you insisted that I buy some shoes for myself. I love you mom. I loved just sitting with you at Carls Jr. and looking out the window and talking about how we both thought dad would be coming back somehow. One thing I love about you is that I know you  enjoyed our silly fast-food lunch as much as you did your Melting Pot dinner with Adam and Renee. I wish I was one of your rich kids, so I could spoil you rotten, but I take peace of mind in knowing that you find the joy in every little thing. You’ve taught me well that way. I love to just stop and look at the mountains with you, or smile over the fact that Caroline came running up to make sure you didn’t need help up the walkway at the park. Life really is beautiful.

Well, I already told you about my dinner date with LG on Friday night. I got so upset that we had to skip the concert we’ve been looking forward to all summer. LG asked, “Why are you crying?” I am sure I embarrassed him by crying at our table like I did, probably more so than if he was just wearing underwear. I bet everyone at the restaurant thought we were fighting. I had stepped outside for like ten minutes because I had a really bad pain in my shoulder. Well, I think that they can all just kiss their nosy selves all the way to the kitchen, but LG struggles more with delivering on those expected appropriate and formal behaviors. I answered LG, “I just want my dad back.” And, oh how I do. My chimichunga was so lonely too, and must have  been terribly discouraged when it was put into a to-go box and stuck in our  fridge later. Only two bites were missing.  It sure didn’t taste half as good as it did fresh when it came out of the Styrofoam box for “after church, we aren’t cooking anything” left-overs.

I think four things brought on my emotional outburst. First, my pain. I think it was just gas. I get the pains in the same place on the front of my shoulder from time to time. But, after dad’s death, I was so scared the pain was my heart. I was also really hurting. I tried to stretch it out, but it wouldn’t go  away. It made me feel sad for all the severe pain dad tried to champion through for the last years of his life. Second, while I was stretching my shoulder outside the restaurant, our waiter came out and sat next to me. I believe he was done with work for the night. He is a cute 18-year-old kid from the Ukraine. He recognized us from Wendy’s where he used to work. Yes, we do love feeding our whole family for $8 now and again. Anyhow, he’s moved up to work at the Mexican joint. He got off his bike and asked if he could sit with me. We talked about him and his sister being adopted three years ago from an orphanage in the Ukraine. He is such a positive kid. He talked about how he loved the orphanage because his caretaker was such a sweet caring lady. We discussed his pending career choices and his educational aspirations. I sat thinking about you and dad: how you conditioned me to make friends in the most unlikely of places. Guess what? His name was John! Anyhow, ten minutes later LG came out and asked if I wanted to go home. OOPS. When I got back inside, he had eaten his whole meal. As I apologized, and continued rubbing out my pain in my arm, I looked at the avocado on my plate and started tearing up.  Reason #3 Then I got sad because my shoulder hurt so bad, I had only drank 1/8th of my $4 soda. Then I looked at the drink menu, and tried to pick out dad’s favorite. I knew he used to love rootbeer, but I couldn’t think of what he would drink now if he were still alive. I think he would ask for coke in the hospital. Well, if they didn’t have v-8. My tears turned into a burst dam at reason #4. That’s when it got real awkward. Poor LG. He is such a saint.  How I love him, just like you love dad.

Remember how dad used to always ask waitresses to bring him a pitcher of water. They always thought he was joking, but he never was. I laughed when we were down at Brennon’s wedding. We had been outside the temple for about an hour in the heat of the sun, and when we got to the restaurant, we were all parched.  I asked for a pitcher of water, and the waiter thought I was joking. I wasn’t joking. He brought us all  two glasses instead of a pitcher. He still had to refill mine twice.

Oh mom, I wish you lived closer, and I wish I had more time on my hands. I just love you. I want to spend every waking moment with you before you are gone too. How I wish I would have spent more time with dad in the last five years since we moved back to Utah.

So, I must go to do homework now. I still have a whole book to read and two papers to write. I’ve been trying to get to it all day. It’s a holiday, and after cooking breakfast,  cleaning house,  calendaring out the upcoming crazy week (with three people working and two cars), paying school fees ($500!!), doing some laundry, and making  final preparations for my first ESL class tomorrow (I’m a teacher!!! Can you believe it?), I am just now sitting down to do homework. Of course, I just used the last half hour warming up my writing-skills with this letter. Oh, and that sentence before the last was such a run-on. The best thing about English is that you can break the rules. I think that is why I love it so much. I’m a rule-breaker, just like my dad. WHY CAN’T THEY JUST BRING A PITCHER OF WATER?!?! I’m breaking a true cardinal rule by publishing this without even checking for errors.

Anyhow, I’ll leave you for the week with the memory I don’t want to forget at the DI on Saturday. I’m looking through the shoes, and the piano music hits my ear from the other side of the store. It’s an old-timey piano version of a hymn. I can’t remember which. My body walks toward it. The piano player was a beautiful elderly Polynesian woman. I watched her in awe. How grateful I was for the moment of serenity. She reminded my of Sister Cabacungan. Her dress was a white polynesian style with large-print blue orchid flowers. I thought that dad must be getting a very similar concert on the other side. And as I peeled myself away, she ended her first song. You’ll never guess what the second one that she played was. HOW GREAT THOU ART. It was like a sign from dad telling me that my idea was true. I thought of the lyrics, and one tear ran down my cheek. I will never hear that song again without thinking of dad, especially at the part: “and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.”  How I wish we recorded dad whistling like the birds!

A few minutes later, that teenage kid took over. You went to thank him for playing such uplifting songs. Then you and I went back to the shoe racks. And, then he played one of my most favorite songs. I looked it up on my phone so you  could hear the words. We both had a good bawl right there in the aisle. It felt really good to cry with you.

I’ll include the words here for you to read. They are just so perfect! I wish you could get on your computer and hit the link that I am including in my blog post, so you could listen again any time you need to cry. I’m watching it now, having myself a good cleanse before getting back to homework. The celtic sound is so heavenly. I love you mom. I love you so much.

In the quiet misty morning
When the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing
And the sky is clear and red,
When the summer’s ceased its gleaming
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure’s lost its meaning –
I’ll be homeward bound in time

Bind me not to the pasture
Chain me not to the plow
Set me free to find my calling
And I’ll return to you somehow

If you find it’s me you’re missing
If you’re hoping I’ll return,
To your thoughts I’ll soon be listening,
And in the road I’ll stop and turn

Then the wind will set me racing
As my journey nears its end
And the path I’ll be retracing
When I’m homeward bound again

Bind me not to the pasture
Chain me not to the plow
Set me free to find my calling
And I’ll return to you somehow
(softly)
In the quiet misty morning
When the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing
I’ll be homeward bound again.

Dear Mom

Because we are friends on different social media platforms, a lot of you already know that my dad passed away unexpectedly last week. He had been sick, but none of us saw his death as happening so soon. He had an illness that they could never figure out, a broken back, and eventually went septic, and died of cardiac arrest.

Those of you who know me, know how much I loved and adored my dad. I try to be just like him because he is truly a superhero to me. Even better than Superman because Superman can’t jimmy-rig stuff or listen to you and give you sound advice.

Here, you can find the obituary I wrote for my dad. I’m pasting it in here, in case the link at Pine View Mortuary ever fails.

Richard Carroll Wills of St. George, Utah, was born on August 10, 1943 in Oakland, California to Nellie Irene Moody and Ray Orlin Munkers. His adoptive father was Wesley Nelson Wills. He was the second of three children to Nellie. Although every facet of his childhood was difficult, the resilience it required created a man with highest character and near superhuman strength.

While growing up on a dairy farm in Elk Grove, California, Rick’s oldest brother, Bill, was always praised for his intellect, so Rick decided he would be the hardest working. His momentum never stopped until his heart finally had nothing left to give. He died of cardiac arrest at 2:50 a.m. on August 25, 2016. Rick’s broken back was the last shred of physical evidence that he truly gave everything he could in service of his fellowman. God has called him home to get some rest, but one of Rick’s first questions upon arrival will most likely be, “Where can I start building a home?” He’ll work on it piece by piece, in between whatever else is needed, just as he did while serving as a Mormon Bishop in Carlsbad, California, where he and his wife raised their children.

Rick met his wife of 52 years, Sharon Elaine Hutcheson, in grade school and she became his high-school sweetheart and greatest love. No man ever possessed greater respect and honor for the mother of his children. They were wed in St. John’s Lutheran church in Sacramento, California, on November 18, 1963 and were later sealed for time and all eternity in the Oakland, California LDS temple.

Rick and Sharon knew from their start together that there were only two secrets of a happy life. First: love. They both have a tremendous knowledge of the love of God. Second: family. Their greatest newlywed desire was to have a large family, and it grew into their fullness of joy. They were never happier together than when they were surrounded by their 7 children, 38 grandchildren, and thousands of adopted children, for they loved all children like their own.

Rick started his adult life as a football player at Sacramento City College, but duty-bound, he joined the Marine Corps to serve in Vietnam as a crypto-typist. Later Rick worked as a California Highway Patrolman, a carpenter/foreman/general contractor, and ended his career in facilities management.  Rick normally held two or three jobs to provide for his large family.

There wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix with a stick of bubble gum and some duct tape. Known affectionately to his children as “McGyver,” Rick was a jack-of-all-trades, and master of most.

Rick is survived by his wife Sharon and their children: Erick Wills (Cami), Adam Wills (Annette), Shannon Nelson (Brett), Alice Gold (LeGrand), Sarah Bartlett (Josh), David Wills (Brooke), and Renee Sorenson (Erik), 38 grandchildren, as well as his brother Bill Wills (Jonnie), his sister Marilyn Kirkelie, Sharon’s brother Danny Hutcheson, sister Shirley Clukey (Dale) and many nieces and nephews.  We expect he will be greeted on the other side by his grandson Braxton Wills, his parents, and his in-laws, John and Dorothy Hutcheson.

Services will be held Monday, August 29, 2016 at 11 a.m. at the Cotton Acres LDS chapel 2583 East 350 North, St. George, Utah 84790. Viewing at 9:30 a.m. prior to services.

In lieu of flowers, please consider passing on Dad’s legacy. Hug your neighbor. Love on some gang-members. Stop and help someone with their broken-down car. Look past people’s flaws. Listen and validate someone who is angry or sad. Give a stranger the shirt off your back. Compliment a co-worker on a job well done. Serve in your church. Mentor a child. Save a life. Always keep gum in your briefcase for your kids, and keep a camera handy to capture treasured moments. Adore your wife. Giving money is good, but more noble is giving of oneself.

Honoring his Creator by the way he lived was Rick’s greatest legacy.

Well, I want to say more about my dad here, and I’ve been searching for the right picture to share, but I can’t take much more time right now. Here is the last picture I took of my parents together when I helped out with hospital duty a few weeks ago. Even though dad was really sick, he still had that twinkle in his eye. It’s like a cross between Santa Claus and what I imagine is the light in the eyes of Jesus Christ.

IMG_20160801_234521563

I was really inconvenienced with this hospital stay as I had to cancel our only planned family vacation this summer. It turned out to be the  BEST blessing of my entire life. And, I believe my dad is happy with the way it turned out, as his whole life was one inconvenient service  after another resulting in wonderful relationships and a lot of joy.

Anyhow, I could talk a lot more about my dad, but I will save that for later. Right now, I am mostly worried for my mom. My parents were married for 52 years, and my mom will be lost without my dad. My mom isn’t so good at technology.  In fact, my dad used to print off my blog posts and take them home for her to read. So, in the last 12 hours I decided that it’s my turn to take over that torch. My plan is to try and write my mom letters and mail them as often as possible. Here is my first letter.

Dear Mom,

Oh how I HATED to leave you yesterday. I cried the whole way home. My whole body was shaking with longing for you and dad. I had to pull it together for the last 40 minutes of the drive because LG just could not drive one more second.

As I cried and convulsed in the front seat of the van clutching a pillow, LG would reach over and rub my shoulder or hold my hand. I found myself squeezing his fingers like they were the only lifeline out of the drowning going on in my heart.  And then I would cry harder thinking about you not having dad’s hand to hold anymore. I had to stop the thought from repeating over and over.

I forced my mind into a happier region. You on Sunday night, telling me and Shannon, Sarah, Renee, and Adam that it wouldn’t be the sex you would ever miss. It would be the touch of dad’s hand on your knee when he knew you were scared. The kiss on your forehead just to tell you he loved you. Him holding your hand. And I thought about how right you were. How much just a touch of a hand means. I closed my eyes, and tried to calm my breathe. I thought of all the times dad held your hand, and all the times he will do it again. I thought about him holding my hand and helping me through the mud in Alaska.

At one point, my hand felt small like I was eight years old again, and LG’s hand felt like the exact same size as dad’s, except LG’s was soft compared to dad’s always rough. I reminisced that our family was sitting on the front pew  at church.  Dad always played a game to calm my boredom. He would let me bite down on his hand as hard as I could muster. No matter how much muscle I could amass from my jaw, he would never even flinch. His skin always tasted like a mixture of engine oil and Old Spice.

Oh, mom. How lucky we were to have dad! He was the best man who ever lived. He just was. I know you were what created him into the gentle kind soul he was. His work ethic was always his own, but as we all know, dad had to learn to temper his aggression. Just like he taught me to do with biting his hand. The last time I ever saw dad get upset was at Brett in 2008. I’d say that argument may have been one of dad’s greatest regrets. I know he loved Brett, but of course he loved Shannon more. I never saw dad ever get angry after that. I think it is safe to say that he conquered his last flaw way before he died.

How we are going to miss dad. How we are all going to miss him, but of course, you will miss him most. I hope you can close your eyes and feel him holding your hand and reenact his kiss on your forehead because if I know anything it is that dad will never leave you comfortless. He was such a wonderful husband. What a lucky lady you have been. I know that your last breath on this earth will be the one you take while reaching for dad’s hand to pull you over to the other side with him. As much as I don’t want that to happen, I will be so happy to think of you two together again. Right now, you better keep thinking happy thoughts because selfishly I want to keep you around for awhile.

I love you, mom. I have to get to my homework right now, and the million other household duties that you know all too well. I’m going to try and write you at least once a week, and call you more often than that. I’m so glad our relationship is as good as it is. You’ve always had my best interest at heart, but like dad did, I am still learning how to let go of my stubborn ways.

My kids loved the stories about dad that were told at the funeral. They especially loved the bus and the hole in the backyard. I’m so glad they know dad as well as they do. On the way to the cemetery yesterday we passed by the Dixie football stadium. Abigail remembered  you and dad coming to see her at her track meet. She was laughing about the pink hat dad had  found at Wal-mart and how he passed out water bottles to her whole team. What I would give to have a memory like that with Grandpa John.

Hang in there, mom.

2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Revelation Two 2015(2)

For an explanation of this series, go to the first post, here.

My second question going into  General Conference in October 2015 was

How can I be happier?

Pull up your socks, and tie your shoelaces tight because this question was answered in an overabundance. I believe this is a testament that we are living under God’s plan of happiness. He wants us to be happy!

Revelation  Two 2015(2)

How can I be happier?

  1. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Don’t give up. … Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. … It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”10 Wixom
  2. [Boyd  K Packer taught],”Our happiness in mortal life, our joy and exaltation are dependent upon how we respond to these persistent, compelling physical desires… The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars…There are so many of us who are thrashing around … with feelings of guilt, not knowing quite how to escape. You escape by accepting the Atonement of Christ, and all that was heartache can turn to beauty and love and eternity…It is not the time to receive all of our blessings. And they all lived happily ever after’ is never written into the second act. That line belongs in the third act, when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right.”9 However, a vision of our Father’s incredible promised blessings must be the central focus before our eyes every day—as well as an awareness “of the multitude of his tender mercies”10 that we experience on a daily basis.”What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior? Reeves
  3. “Aunt Rose, why are you so happy?” Eva was silent, so Great-Aunt Rose continued: “There is enough that doesn’t go right in life, so anyone can work themselves into a puddle of pessimism and a mess of melancholy. But I know people who, even when things don’t work out, focus on the wonders and miracles of life. These folks are the happiest people I know. “But,” Eva said, “you can’t just flip a switch and go from sad to happy.” “No, perhaps not,” Aunt Rose smiled gently, “but God didn’t design us to be sad. He created us to have joy!3 So if we trust Him, He will help us to notice the good, bright, hopeful things of life. And sure enough, the world will become brighter. No, it doesn’t happen instantly, but honestly, how many good things do? Seems to me that the best things, like homemade bread or orange marmalade, take patience and work…“There were so many things I wished for in my life.” As she spoke, a sadness entered her voice that Eva had never heard before. “Most of them never happened. It was one heartbreak after another. One day I realized that it would never be the way I had hoped for. That was a depressing day. I was ready to give up and be miserable.” “So what did you do?” “Nothing for a time. I was just angry. I was an absolute monster to be around.” “‘It’s not fair’ was the song I sang over and over in my head. But eventually I discovered something that turned my whole life around.”

    “What was it?” “Faith,” Aunt Rose smiled. “I discovered faith. And faith led to hope. And faith and hope gave me confidence that one day everything would make sense, that because of the Savior, all the wrongs would be made right. After that, I saw that the path before me wasn’t as dreary and dusty as I had thought. I began to notice the bright blues, the verdant greens, and the fiery reds, and I decided I had a choice—I could hang my head and drag my feet on the dusty road of self-pity, or I could have a little faith, put on a bright dress, slip on my dancing shoes, and skip down the path of life, singing as I went….“It is love—the pure love of Christ,” Rose said. “You see, everything else in the gospel—all the shoulds and the musts and the thou shalts —lead to love. When we love God, we want to serve Him. We want to be like Him. When we love our neighbors, we stop thinking so much about our own problems and help others to solve theirs.”7 “And that is what makes us happy?” Eva asked. Great-Aunt Rose nodded and smiled, her eyes filling with tears. “Yes, my dear. That is what makes us happy.” Uchtdorf

  4. And all of us, as members of the Church, we need to make a conscientious effort to devote our energy and time to the things that truly matter, while uplifting our fellowmen and building the kingdom of God…My dear brothers and sisters, if we look at ourselves only through our mortal eyes, we may not see ourselves as good enough. But our Heavenly Father sees us as who we truly are and who we can become. He sees us as His sons and daughters, as beings of eternal light with everlasting potential and with a divine destiny Uchtdorf
  5. Now, as we ponder just these few truths that exist within the Old Ship Zion, let us stay on board and remember that, by definition, a ship is a vehicle, and the purpose of a vehicle is to take us to a destination. [My note: We have not arrived.] Ballard
  6. The joy we experience in this life will be in direct proportion to how well our lives are centered on the teachings, example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ….“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”Matthew 13:44..What follows is a reflection from Sister Maynes on her experience:

    “As a young adult in my early 20s, I was at a point in my life when I knew I needed to change something in order to be a happier person. I felt like I was adrift with no real purpose and direction, and I didn’t know where to go to find it. I had always known that Heavenly Father existed and occasionally throughout my life had said prayers, feeling that He listened. As I began my search, I attended several different churches but would always fall back into the same feelings and discouragement. I feel very blessed because my prayer for direction and purpose in life was ultimately answered, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was brought into my life. For the first time I felt like I had a purpose, and the plan of happiness brought real joy into my life.”…At this point in time, some 30 years after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, Nephi makes a well-documented and somewhat surprising statement, especially after recording in the scriptures the many afflictions and tribulations they had faced for so long. These are his words: “And it came to pass that we [did live] after the manner of happiness.”5 Despite their hardships, they were able to live after the manner of happiness because they were centered in Christ and His gospel. Mayneskingdom of heaven

  7. Our family motto doesn’t say, “It will all work out now.” It speaks of our hope in the eternal outcome—not necessarily of present results. Scripture says, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.”5 This doesn’t mean all things are good, but for the meek and faithful, things—both positive and negative—work together for good, and the timing is the Lord’s. We wait on Him, sometimes like Job in his suffering, knowing that God “maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.”6 A meek heart accepts the trial and the waiting for that time of healing and wholeness to come. Marriottjob
  8. Through our experience in life, we learn that joy in this world is not full, but in Jesus Christ our joy is full (see D&C 101:36). He will give us strength so we will not have to suffer any manner of afflictions save they are swallowed up in His joy (see Alma 31:38). President Marion G. Romney taught: “The suffering and distress endured by people of this earth is the result of unrepented and unremitted sin. … Just as suffering and sorrow attend sin, so happiness and joy attend forgiveness of sins”..With the influence of the Holy Ghost, we will not be offended, nor will we offend others; we will feel happier, and our minds will be cleaner. Vinas
  9. The adversary has been successful in planting a great myth in the minds of many people. He and his emissaries declare that the real choice we have is between happiness and pleasure now in this life and happiness in a life to come (which the adversary asserts may not exist). This myth is a false choice, but it is very seductive.2 The ultimate noble purpose of God’s plan of happiness is for righteous disciples and covenant families to be united in love, harmony, and peace in this life3 and attain celestial glory in the eternities with God the Father, our Creator; and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior…and from Ezekiel, that the Sabbath “shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.”24 For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness.  Cook

  10. Recently, a young filmmaker said he felt he was part of a “generation of prodigals”—a generation “looking for hope and joy and fulfillment, but looking in all the wrong places and in the wrong ways.18 Hales
  11. A few days after this trip, I visited this stake and asked the president if I could talk with some of the members who were unable to attend the temple that day. One of the brothers I visited told me: “Elder, do not worry. I was at the house of the Lord. I sat on a bench in the garden and pondered in my mind the ordinances. Then I was given the opportunity to enter, but instead I allowed another brother, who had come to the temple for the first time to be sealed to his wife, to take my place. They then had the opportunity to attend two sessions that day. The Lord knows me, and He has blessed me, and we are fine.”…Smile. This small action can help those who are overwhelmed or burdened.  Montoya
  12. Our Heavenly Father loves us enough to say: Thou shalt not lie; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; and so on.2We know the commandments. He understands that when we keep the commandments, our lives will be happier, more fulfilling, and less complicated. Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear, and we will receive His promised blessings. But while He gives us laws and commandments, He also allows us to choose whether to accept them or to reject them. Our decisions in this regard will determine our destiny.  Monson
  13. The path of happiness is through the basic family unit as originally organized and revealed by our Heavenly Father. This is the familiar melody of the message that many can recognize because they have heard it from their premortal life. It is time for us, as Latter-day Saints, to stand up and testify. It is time for the notes of the melody of the gospel to rise above the noise of the world. I add my testimony to the message of the Savior and Redeemer of this world. He lives! His gospel is restored, and the blessings of happiness and peace can be secured in this life by living His commandments and walking in His path. Schwitzer

  14. While a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, George Q. Cannon urged that we make a constant quest for the Spirit to be with us. He promised, and I promise it as well, that if we pursue that course, we “will never lack for knowledge” of the truth, “never be in doubt or in darkness,” and our “faith will be strong, [our] joy … full.2 Eyring
  15. provide an uplifting place for your thoughts to go—a place that keeps you close to the Spirit of the Lord. Durant
  16. As we submit ourselves to His will, we increase in peace and happiness. King Benjamin taught that those who keep the commands of God are “blessed and happy … in all things, both temporal and spiritual.”6 God wants us to have joy. He wants us to have peace. He wants us to succeed. He wants us to be safe and to be protected from the worldly influences all around us. Keetch
  17. I testify that as we trust God, our Eternal Father; trust His Son, Jesus Christ, and exercise faith in His Atonement; trust the whisperings of the Spirit; and trust the counsel of living prophets, we will find our way off the edge of the road and continue safely—not just enduring but finding joy in our journey home. Stephens

So, to summarize:

Keep trying, there is happiness ahead. They lived happily ever after is reserved for the third act. As Aunt Rose taught, happiness is a decision. A decision to love.   We are beings of eternal light. The church is a vehicle that will get us to our  final destination. “The joy we experience in this life will be in direct proportion to how well our lives are centered on the teachings, example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”  Believe that the good and bad will work together for our good. We will  be more happy as we are forgiven for our sins. Satan plants the lie that we have to choose  between happiness now or happiness later – we have a generation of prodigals looking for joy and fulfillment in all the wrong places. “The Lord  knows me, He  has blessed me, and we are fine.” When we keep the commandments our lives will be happier, more fulfilling, and less complicated. The path of happiness is through the basic family unit. If we make a constant quest for the spirit to be with us, our joy will be full. Provide an uplifting place for our thoughts to go. (That is opposite of what I’ve wished. My mind provides the place, not the words changing my mind.) Submitting  myself to His will will increase my happiness.  We can get off the side of the road and find joy in our journey home. (Remember this life is just a journey home –  as long as I am headed home, I’m okay.)

Note:

This series will be an undertaking of love. This post has taken over an hour to compile. I know it is too lengthy for a blog post, and I am pretty sure no one  will ever read this, but this morning, happiness, my desire for it, and how to get there have been solidified in my mind again.  And, isn’t that the main point of writing this all down?

For the heavy-hitting moms

I sat behind a friend’s family at church two weeks ago. She has A LOT of kids….just how many you will see in the poem I wrote below. Their family got to church before ours, and her kids were super well-behaved through the hour-long service. I was in awe. I wrote a poem.

For all you moms out there, especially you heavy-hitting ones with a bunch of kids, this is also for you. When you gather up all your kiddos and take them to church, so they can give their Heavenly Father proper respect, you are doing something that God can’t do himself. I’m pretty sure He is super happy with you, and He knows the struggle. It’s oh so real.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Some Sundays are not as ideal as others. I’m sure my friend Anjella has known many that didn’t go so smooth. Like  probably every single Sunday when at least one of her kids can’t find the right shoe. Or when they didn’t make it on time because someone puked at the last minute. That maybe happened six weeks in a row. Or when the kids aren’t well-behaved, for an entire two years straight. But, I firmly believe that when we do our best, God takes care of the rest, and helps in every way He can. We are revered. We are partners with God in raising His children. He must be so grateful when we remember Him, and even more grateful when we teach our children to do the same.  We are all poem-worthy.

Disclaimer: the dad in the poem had a name-tag on his binder
under his chair that said, “Hello, my name is crazy.”

Revered

9 little heads of hair:
5 crew cuts, and
1 cascades to the chair.
Two bows,
and a fishtail braid

9 feet.
Each has a match
encased in the finest.
A closet-full of oxfords,
cowboy boots, and sandals.

9 bodies
outfitted pristinely.
4 dresses,
5 white shirts with vertical ties
and one horizontal striped.

9 pairs of hands
tiny to preteen,
turning the hymns,
clutched in contemplation,
and combing mama’s hair.

9 sets of eyes
look to mom,
glance at dad,
proliferate the chapel,
missing nothing.

9 hearts in need.
9 mouths to feed
9 sets of skin
to wake, wash, and love
over and over again.

9 children
with just one mother
and a dad named “crazy”.
They meet each need
before their own.

9 is monumental
more than possible
for just two sets of hands.
Oh wait!
There’s 2 more.

The 2 oldest
joined the rest
after serving
the Lord’s supper.
1 more week of power.

Revelation One 2015(2)

This is my first installment. I hope to keep it up.

I plan to start a series here called Revelation. You don’t have to read it. It’s more for myself than anyone, but I love having one place to put all my stuff. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. This is my blog, and I will do what I want with it. Oh, the power. I think this little blog is the only thing I actually have control over.

As many of you know, I am a believer. Specific to this series is the fact that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of you will now automatically think you should stop reading because I belong to a cult. Some of you will think you should stop reading because I am not Christian. Some of you might stop reading because you’ve already “been there, done that”, and you don’t believe anymore. That’s fine. Once again, this is for myself.

As a member of my religion, I believe strongly in personal revelation. In fact, I shape my life and all of my decisions around it. Personal revelation is when you believe God talks to you. I think God talks to all of his children. I also think we have to believe He talks to us to hear his voice, and we have to listen to what He says or He will stop talking.

He communicates with us, as described here:

So, I seek revelation through prayer, scripture study, meditation, communing with nature, going to church, and attending the temple. One way I find the most success in receiving revelation in my own life is through something called General Conference. In the gospel of Jesus Christ we believe in a living prophet (like Moses) and twelve living apostles (like Peter, James,and John.) These mouthpieces for God speak to the world twice a year in an eight hour breakout meeting. It’s my favorite two weekends of the year. The spirit I feel during these meetings fills me with fire, gives me perspective, and brings me peace like I cannot feel anywhere else.

I started a pattern in my life many years back. Before conference weekend I write down questions for which I need answers. My techniques in capturing answers have evolved, and for the last several sessions I have dedicated a whole composition book to taking notes, cross-referencing, re-reading, and digging deeper. I index the question numbers at the front of the book, and annotate in reference to each numbered question as I go. It sounds complicated, but it is actually simple, and it provides amazing results. The results are what I plan to share here in this series.

So, sorry for the long explanation. In this post I will address question number one that I had before the October 2015 session. As referenced in the post title. Revelation One (referring to question 1) 2015 (correlating to the year of conference) and then (2) meaning the second session of October as opposed to (1) which I will use for April session.

Right now, my front page looks  like this:

IMG_20160428_104721

Thus, the reason for transferring it all to this here blog. I want to take all the indexed page numbered answers to each question and write them all in one place.

This may seem silly and even a little OCD, but I can’t wait to have one place to mull over the collective revelations I received for one topic. It is quite astounding what kind of very specific messages one can receive from God by listening to general talks from complete strangers. If you are still reading, and continue to do so, you might be really surprised as well.

So, with no further ado.

Revelation One 2015(2)

English Education or English major?

  1. Rose had been a schoolteacher, and it wasn’t uncommon for former students—now grown up with children of their own—to stop and chat. They thanked her for being a good influence in their lives…’I went to school. I got an education. That led me to a career that I loved.’ Ucthdorf
  2. Ask yourself, ‘If I make this choice, what is the worst thing that could happen?’ Your righteous choices will keep you from getting off course… Education prepares you for better employment opportunities. It puts you in a better position to serve and to bless those around you. It will set you on a path of lifelong learning. It will strengthen you to fight against ignorance and error. As Joseph Smith taught: ‘Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is. … In knowledge there is power.’9 ‘To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.’…’I didn’t raise my children on money; I raised them on faith.’ There is a great truth to that. Begin exercising your faith in every area of your life…Prayerfully select mentors who have your spiritual well-being at heart. Be careful about taking advice from your peers. If you want more than you now have, reach up,not across!…Ask yourself: “What areas of my life do I want to strengthen so that I can strengthen others?Where do I want to be a year from now? two years from now? What choices do I need to make to get there?…As you follow Him, He will strengthen and uphold you. He will bring you up to your highest home. Hales
  3. I can’t think of a better example of helping someone gain understanding than the story of Helen Keller. She was blind and deaf and lived in a world that was dark and quiet. A teacher named Anne Sullivan came to help her. How would you teach a child who can’t even see or hear you?… Helen Keller went on to earn a college degree and helped change the world for people who couldn’t see or hear.9 It was a miracle, and her teacher was the miracle worker, just like you will be Foster
  4. I cheerfully accepted, feeling at the same time my great weakness and lack of experience…You can pray to know His will, and with the honest desire to do whatever He asks you to do, you will receive an answer Eyring
  5. When firmly planted, our testimonies of the gospel, of the Savior, and of our Heavenly Father will influence all that we do. Monson
  6. As I agonized over my inadequacies this week, I received a distinct impression which both chastened and comforted me: to focus not on what I can’t do but rather on what I can do. I can testify of the plain and precious truths of the gospel. Stevenson
  7. Many of the personal rewards I have received in life have come as a result of someone inviting me to do a difficult task. Durranttrue disciples
  8. True disciples desire to inspire the hearts of men, not just impress them. Schwitzer
  9. Whatever level of spirituality or faith or obedience we now have, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. We need greater spiritual light and power. We need eyes to see more clearly the Savior working in our lives and ears to hear His voice more deeply in our hearts.  Clark
  10. Show faith to reconcile your wishes with the will of God. Eyring

These last two are from studying The Book of Mormon along with Conference Talks:

  1. 2 Nephi 29:11  For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
  2. 2  Nephi 26: 30-31 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.31 But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.

So, to summarize:

Going to school to “lead to a career that you love,” is a good thing. Education is awesome, will give me greater opportunity to serve, and will ultimately bring me to my “highest home.” I  shouldn’t raise my kids or my writing or my teaching on money but “on faith.” I don’t need advice from my peers, and I should carefully select mentors. (This is really important when you are studying the liberal arts at a liberal institution.) Because of Helen Keller’s teacher she went on to be a teacher and help many people. It boils down to what “He wants me to do,” and I should seek his “influence.” “Focus not on what I can’t do, but what I can,” especially when plagued with my own inadequacies. Succeeding at a difficult task will lead to personal reward. “True disciples desire to inspire the hearts of men, not just impress them”: this can be achieved through writing and teaching or in just teaching or in just writing. I need greater faith for whatever lies ahead, either choice. I need to reconcile my wishes to God. I need to write the books of the world, and if I labor for money I will perish.

Pretty amazing, eh? I still haven’t decided if English Education is a “have to” in my life. I can teach with just a plain English degree with additional  licencing work after I graduate. I will write either way. I would LOVE to teach. I would LOVE it. I will be good at it. It will give  me an awesome opportunity to inspire the next generation. It will also fulfill a lifelong  dream that I would enjoy achieving immensely. But, it may not be God’s ultimate goal for me. Either way  I just need to seek Him out and He will direct me. For now, I am certain of two things. I will graduate, and I will write and teach. In what capacity may be answered in a following conference.

He Shuts Her Out

He shuts her out.
Again and again.
For years on end.
Every time it’s harder.
Every time it’s hell.

He shuts her down.
Time after time.
She listens
but does not understand
the silence.

He shuts her door
and walks out cold.
He’s as mad as red,
but won’t admit
the honest cause.

He shuts her heart
and deems it untrue.
Her intentions are
misconstrued.
She wants nothing but him.

He shuts her mouth.
She can’t say a thing
that will make
him understand
his rejection’s blow.

Because his is always
more
larger
complicated
and unknown.

He shuts her out.
She can’t get in.
She sits alone
and wonders
if he will ever

Let her in.
To see a place
that has been
transformed
just for her.

He shuts her out.
She’ll never know.
He won’t clean house.
It scares him so
much more than she does.

The moment we dread. And after.

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My oldest daughter will be a senior in high-school next year. Look at her. Isn’t she just every mother’s joy!? I find myself in the middle of the day just rummaging through her things, trying to learn more about her. (I hope she doesn’t read this or that might kind of freak her out.) When she is zoned in on her phone, I sneak in more peeks just because I can. I think of her, and mentally check to see if I have her memorized. I think about the cans of Spaghetti O’s she forages. I mentally replay her body in motion racing around a track. I trace every line of her hairdos. At homecoming. That choir concert. That morning when she just got out of bed.

Favorite candy=hot tamales. Check. Most proud moment=hmmm. I’m not sure. I better ask her. Favorite color=green. Check. Biggest fear=birds. Bigger fear=being judged as less than. Talents=soccer, design, hair, fashion, math, anaylzing, singing. There are too many. I think about her voice and how it sounds when she sings next to me at church. I smile. I think about her voice when she was 10, 5, 2. Then I have to stop because it hurts too much.It makes me cry, knowing that she will never sound like a two-year-old ever again. She will never give me sloppy kisses again. She will never come crying because she just scraped a knee and she believes my kisses will make it all better. She will never navigate a new high-school or be at the wheel for a first time or learn to walk.

I don’t want her to leave. I don’t ever want her to go because part of me will go with her, and I am not sure how I will manage having part of me wherever she ends up. I know from observing others that I will figure it out. I just don’t want to. Not at all. I want to keep her all for myself. But, there is a world that needs her. A world I’ve prepared her for. A world that she needs. There are things she can’t learn from me. It has to be someone else to teach her physics and quantum life. I don’t know that stuff. There are jobs just for her. There are people waiting to know her and love her. There are people she is meant to love. There are little monkies of her own that she gets to recycle this  life experience with. All I can hope for is that she lets me visit once in awhile. Maybe she will even come home when she can,  and give me a hug. I will like that.

But honestly, every time we part ways, I will feel a little like Jane Goodall. Appreciated. Happy. Proud. And in excrutiating torment to see her go. She will take a part of my heart with her. And the day I die, after giving her one small piece at a time for decades, I will leave the last piece of it with her, so she will have more heart to give to her own monkies.  And I will wait in heaven to hug her on the other side when she comes stumbling through the veil with her own empty heart. And when we hug, in the touch, somehow, our hearts will miraculously ressurect. And the torment will be no longer. All that will remain will be the Pride. And the Joy.