Faith

Thee World

“Thee world” is a term I just accidentally formed while writing a post over on facebook. I typoed an extra “e” on “the,” and then when I went back to delete it, I realized how much that extra “e” actually worked with what I was saying. You see, “thee” is a scriptural word reserved for when we want to reverently address deity in our prayers. I thought it a fun little play on words when describing the church-world problem of self-preservation that ofttimes shows its ugly face as self-righteousness. Here, you be the judge if it works:

I really wanted to include this in a blog post I am working on this morning, but it’s stuck in the FB interface, so here it is. I will direct my blog post this way. I believe strongly in this message. We all have stuff, and the people who talk about it, make “thee world” a better place by offering hope. The problem is that a lot of people won’t be brave because they are afraid of the backlash. If there is anyone out there who really needs to talk about any hard stuff in a safe place, I am here with judgement-free open arms. I believe that to be the pure gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here is Dan Workman’s original post (as my facebook is private), in case you’d like to watch the video I reference. If you don’t want to take the time right now, your loss. The essentials are that Dan Workman is a recovered heroine addict. He talks about this “perfection syndrome” that we’ve let grow out-of-control within the LDS church. He pleads with Utah to open up and be real because the “white picket fence syndrome” is “killing our kids.”

I would argue that “white picket fence syndrome” is not just happening with us in the LDS church, but that it’s a problem in every social construction out there. Anyhow, Dan’s a little brash (which I personally love about him), but I can see that he might turn off a lot of my “church friends.” I may get backlash from sharing his message here, but I must share it because I think it is so vitally important for everyone to hear. The change has to come from the inside and the only way we can make change happen is to first create awareness. I applaud you, Dan Workman. I hope you know that there are many of us, still inside the church, who are trying to fight the good fight with you. We don’t judge you for leaving, but we do wish you would come back and fight along side of us.

Many times, I fight the fight knowing the result will be my personal social ostracization, yet I still fight because I believe so strongly in the truth of what I speak. I love this meme below by Dwight. It explains me to the core. It takes special people to get past my brashness, but I keep at it because I know that the one person I have to answer to is not any mortal being but my Savior Jesus Christ. He loves people, and if we want to truly love people like he did, we need to first offer a safe space. A safe space cannot exist in a world where everyone can’t allow one weed to grow in their yard! And I can hear the argument now, it’s not like I am out to grow weeds on purpose, people, but weeds happen. People are not perfect. They will never be perfect, so how about we talk about that?

hard to handle

Right now, there is a culture within the church that is “killing our kids,” and “our kids” are really all of us. As Dan made mention to, Utah is #4 in the nation in drug overdoses. I think we need to honestly ask ourselves why so many people are falling into that terrible trap. What are they trying to escape? And why can’t they get help to escape once they realize they are in big trouble?  On the uptake, why do so many people love Jeffrey R. Holland? I personally believe the reason that Jeffrey R. Holland is so powerful is because he “gets it.” He talks about his own struggles. He sets an example for the rest of us. However, we need to recognize that it’s a lot easier for Holland to talk about his struggle with depression (which is now generally socially acceptable) than it is for others to talk about their addictions, their marital issues, their apostate children, suicide, eating disorders, etc.

Whenever I am given the chance to speak in church, I always try to include a personal story of triumph over my own issues. It’s so funny because inevitably I get a handful of people that thank me profusely for my honesty, but in general most people seem awkward after I reveal something personal. They don’t know what to do with it. Why? Because it NEVER happens. When I was in the MTC, I was taught to “never reveal past transgressions.” I understand the reasoning behind this, but I wholeheartedly and adamantly disagree with what we’ve created using this harmful socially-constructed rule for decades. The Book of Mormon is replete with PROPHET after PROPHET who have repented. They are the true victors. They are the ones who applied the atonement and moved forward. When we don’t tell our own stories of triumph, we are creating a church for saints, not a church for sinners. Then we wonder why so many people leave the church. Why are so many sinners leaving the church? Because they feel like the only ones who belong there are the saints. How pathetically true this has become.

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If only all of us could really be more like Jesus!

John 8:2-11

2  And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

3  And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

4  They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

5  Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

6  This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7  So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

8  And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

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Just Like Their Dad

At the center of the universe.
There is family on the left that
equals the family on the right.
They go before.
They come behind.

Together, they get the job done.
And make their father proud.
Telling His story is their task.

It’s not the attendees,
but their father,
who was listening,
still very much alive,
that should give pause
at the enormity of task.

Be honest.
Be kind.
Be faithful.
Be brave.
Be super-human.
We should all want to be
just like him.
No pressure.
Whatsoever.

The nights might be slumber-less.
What story to tell?
The scaling of buildings?
The flying through skies?
The magic better than duct tape?
The smile of his eyes?

Our Father,
is a man full
of great power
and even greater love.

He will tell us what to say.
Brother one is a leader: faithful and wise.
Brother two: generous and kind.
Sister one: loyal and capable.
Sister two: organized and creative.
Brother three: handy and humble.
Sister three: enduring and strong.

All of them are
JUST LIKE MY DAD.
All, flawed by earth,
yet still,
perfect inside
seeking the right,
and
a remarkable force for good.
Our favorite people are
family.

Jolting our hearts
and paralyzing our tongues
is often one pathetic truth
that we dare not say.
No matter how remarkable we are,
It takes all of us
to make one of him.

Dad is a superhero.
A mortal and a God.

When people question Him.
Why doesn’t he alleviate
all the war?
all the suffering?
all the pain?

I think of Superman.
Who always did.
But, sometimes,
just like Dad,
maybe Superman is busy,
not dead.
He’s waiting.
On us.
To do His job.

Perhaps
it’s up to
His formative children,
to fill his shoes.

When one child suffers,
maybe
his brothers and sisters bury their heads
instead of praying for the strength necessary.
To be just like their dad.

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*Dedicated to my dad and my Father: the best Superman who ever lived. And, to the God of the Universe who also calls me His daughter.

Dear Mom [Week 8]

Hi mom,

I can’t believe it has been a whole week again already. Time flies whether or not you  are having any fun. I haven’t been having much fun lately, as you know from both of our conversations that ended in my tears. I really need to get it all together. Ha. I guess it’s a good thing that I am still young and can look forward to a lifetime of perfecting. I need so much!

The 25th marked 2 months that we have all somehow managed to  keep  living in a world without dad. I meant to do something in memory of dad on that day, but really the only thing I seemed to have time for was thinking of him both times we went over the date in my ESL classes. It was Tuesday and when my classes repeated with me, “Today is Tuesday, October 25th,” I silently reflected on my love for dad. How I wish he was here! Every dad seems like an eternity without him. I weep now just thinking about living without him. Without his quirky sense of humor that sometimes made him seem like a creepy old flirt. LOL I miss knowing that when I get really down with life’s hurdles, I can call and hear him tell me to just keep on keeping on. I miss his expertise when I need any kind of homeowners or automobile owner advice. I miss his laugh and his twinkle in his eye. I miss his big old rough strong hands. I miss him giving me a hard time because I would never give him a kiss. I miss him reassuring me that if all goes to hell at any given time I could come home and he would take care of me and my kids. I miss him telling me what it’s like for LG and how I can be a better wife. I miss his whistle. I miss his special potatoes. I miss his homemade tacos. I miss him telling me how lucky my kids are to have me. Every day there is always something that I miss. I cry knowing that I will never know those things again in this life. I will never experience them unless in memory. I don’t like that. Not at all.

I found some pictures tonight. I was so glad when they resurfaced as I had looked for them without any luck. I was so worried I didn’t have any picture of the kids with both you and dad. Even though we got a separate one with Abigail I am overwhelmingly relieved that I found these. And look at dad. He looked sick. I always noticed him declining for so many years now, but his health looks even more alarming to me now that I know what would be about a year later.

mom and dad and kids.jpgabigail-with-mom-and-dad

I want my dad back so bad!!! I think I am in the angry stage right now. Unfortunately, that anger is kind of not helping me function at home. I wish people could see into my mind and heart and just know that I’m grateful to just function, no matter how limited I am compared to normal. I wish that we had some kind of ancient weeping rite that allowed mourners to check out of life for a bit. It’s as if we are supposed to be full-throttle upon return from the funeral and burial. I know, for me, LG and the girls were pretty tender with me for the first couple of weeks, but now it’s back to the usual grind. I don’t want to be in the usual grind. I want to be in the mountains listening to birds whistle like dad. I want to be at the beach digging for sand-crabs. I want to be in the Eucalyptus Forest with some zip-ties and some wheat to feed the ducks. I want dad snapping his fingers at us while we misbehave and drive you crazy on the front row of church. I want to be at your house watching dad fall asleep in his chair. I want to be telling dad to stop working so hard. I want to be back in my basement with its ugly bright blue carpet with just you and dad. I would  gladly take the horrendous carpet back if dad came with it. I was so content for that 30 minutes just laughing about the past and reflecting on the work of the present. I bragged that it may have been the first time in my entire life that I had you two to myself. I want to be eating gourmet hamburgers that cost you a fortune and neither of you liked. I had recommended the place, and both of you would have been happier with Burger King. Ha!

maclarenquote_landscape

This quote is often attributed to Plato, but researchers believe it’s origin is actually 1897 Maclaren in The British Weekly.

Oh mom, I don’t even know if this letter will be anything for you to look forward to. My intention of writing once a week was to give you something to look forward to and to keep dad’s memory alive. Right now, it all just feels to painful. I want to go to the temple and sit in the Celestial Room until dad comes and gives me a hug. I need to hear him tell me everything is going to be okay. I’m supposed to be writing a paper right now, and now I am exhausted from crying. How I wish I was a better daughter. It’s funny because last April’s Conference I was  reflecting on the question, “How can I be a better daughter?” And I didn’t take enough time to listen or do. I hope you know how much I love you. I need to come visit soon. I’d like to get away, but I have so much writing to do for school in the next month it may not happen ’til Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Well, I have to go, mom. It’s 11:30 pm and we have early church tomorrow. Wish me luck on getting to church on time. Ha.

I wanted to tell you one more quick thing. I called you on the way to our cabin and explained how dad was with us on our trip. We had traded our four days of campsite fees that we weren’t able to use when dad got sick for one night in a cabin. Then I was sad to not go camping with my family, and now how I would have loved to go back to the hospital with you and dad instead! It’s funny how perspective changes everything. Anyhow, we had a good time, but I wanted to tell you how dad was with us.

Look at this. Right as I took out my camera to capture LG with the kids at the reservoir, I had a series of flashbacks of dad. In Alaska. Then dad at the Carlsbad lagoon. Dad at the beach. Dad at the lake we went to on Abigail’s first birthday. Dad at Sandy Hallow. Dad always loved to be near the water, and in this moment I had pure joy. I shared it with dad.

resevoir

Look at these three-tall bunkbeds in our cabin. I told all the kids how this was just like Alaska, except our bunks were tighter fit and a lot smaller. In Alaska, there was just enough space under the bottom bunk for our suitcases that held our clothes and suitcase full of barbie dolls and clothes. I still have that DAV pink satin-lined suitcase. It now holds all of my childhood journals. I wondered if Dad intentionally designed our bunks with space for our luggage or if it was just a provident coincidence in our tiny living quarters. I thought how dad made a tiny house thirty years before anyone else. I wanted to call and tell him how cool he was and ask him about the bunkbed design, but I had to settle for eating cereal from a box. Tradition!  Tradition! These little boxes of cereal are a tradition on LG’s side, too. I tried to read a story out loud to my family because I needed to get some homework done. No one was interested in listening, and they all told me to stop ruining their vacation. I laughed and told them how dad did the exact same thing to me in the hospital. When I tried to read, he turned the TV up really loud. Ha ha.

cabin cereal

How I miss dad. While driving home from the cabin I remembered my drive to and from dad’s hospital room. On the way down it was storming pretty good. There was a lot of lightening shooting across the sky. The stars got swallowed by the storm clouds, but as they swept away with the storm the bright moon peered from behind. I can’t explain what really happened, but somehow I kept correlating all the different kinds of light to dad. His influence had been felt as small stars, and a large moon, and at times like a powerful and shocking electrical impulse. I was so worried that dad wasn’t going to make it ’til I got there, and I kept feeling him say goodbye in the form of light. This may not make any sense. When I got to the hospital he was still there, and I thought I must have just been overthinking things. But, then again on my way home four days later, just as soon as I hit the highway the sky was once again engulfed in storm clouds. There was a large group of clouds way to the west and I could see the electrical lightening pulses contained within the cloud. Once in a while one bolt would shoot down to the earth, but they mostly just stayed in the clouds. I thought of dad weak in bed and how he felt trapped..as if he was stuck inside a storm cloud. Then, on this camping trip, when we got out of the minivan at the very rural spot of Palisade State Park, we all exited the car and stood in place gazing upward. The unending stars were brilliant, but the most majestic and breathtaking was The Milky Way. It shot from horizon to horizon. I thought again of dad’s light, and how it was no longer limited. It was now going farther than we could see and longer than we could know. I can’t wait to see that up close and personal someday.

Love you mom! We’ve survived eight weeks. I’m so proud of us. I know dad is really proud of you. I’m sure he’s watching you like a hawk.

 

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.”

 

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.

Your Field Day

Field Day = life
Matt = you
Matt’s determination = your faith
The track = your life
Cerebal palsy = your personal battles
The spectators = also you

Sometimes we are the runner.
Sometimes we are the spectators.
Every field day should look like this.
Keep trying.
Keep encouraging.
Stop competing.
Everyone gets to finish.
It’s not about who wins.
It’s about who shows up,
and who loves each other.

Rainbow Theory

So, in my college literary theory class I am studying feminism and queer theory. It’s been a bit painful  for a  believer like  me. A bit painful is an understatement.  There are actually “theories” that say the future should be forgotten, and we should live for the present. How is that a theory? How does this theorist get recognition? My only guess is because much of academia has gone crazy for liberal hogwash.

Anyhow, liberalism has been swirling around in my brain like a fly larva excreting mad cow disease. I have sat through class after class trying to be open-minded and expand my thinking, but l have felt like the very fiber holding an actual being of existence is under attack. And the liberal theorists who stemmed from deconstruction will assure me that changing reality is exactly what should be happening with literary theory.

I completely disagree. And, if I get angry enough I might actually brave grad school, so that I can prove otherwise.

I like my reality. Thank you very much. I like my favored binaries.  I like my faith. I like the answers which my faith give me. They are concrete.  I don’t like abstracts. They are ridiculous. If I like abstracts I’d be a math major. Give me concretes. Like the idea of a God. He is real. He is an exalted being that was once a human just like me. I like that. It makes Him accessible. I don’t like wondering how in the world a big bang created man and then another  big bang created woman. And somehow that man and woman found each other in some cave existence and decided to perpetuate all of mankind. (After they figured out their genders. Psh) I believe in a big bang, but I also believe I don’t  need to understand it because someday God will teach me about it using telepathy.  After I’ve been resurrected, and my brain can grapple with it all  a little bit easier. I like my genders.  The gender roles are a little touchy, but please don’t tell me we should actually strive for a genderless society. That’s honestly a joke to me.

Oh man, I can see a guy from high-school with the initials of JP finding this post and going ape-crap cra-cra. Whatever. Leave my reality alone. I like it. It makes me feel safe. It gives my life purpose.  It gives my literature meaning. Like teaching me something. Not something like a black hole that deconstructionists want to sit in all day, but something like human beings are flawed and we can navigate through those flaws.

God will help us with flaws.  At least in my reality I think so.

I’ve been struggling with another person in my life lately. No matter how hard I try to communicate effectively, it never works out.

After months of being really crappy at seeking out God in my life, something happened. Give me a break, I was drowning in liberalism. I prayed. I read scripture.  A still small voice spoke to me. It didn’t say what I wanted to hear. “You are right.” It never says that. Dangit. It said, “Text her right now, and ask her to tell you how you need to improve.” Whu whu what???

I did it. She gave me good advice. I was happy. My reality was once again grounded. I got up from the kitchen table with restored faith and drove my husband to work.

On the way home, I saw Him. He was in a very very very faint rainbow, but I think He was smiling. He said, I got this. Don’t you forget it.

And then three hours later, I forgot.

It’s a good thing He has promised more rainbows. I need all the reminders I can get. I’ve got 60 more credits of liberalism to muster.

 

bow

Here are three other reminders I loved on the internet today.

Love weeps by Brene Brown.

Forgiveness by the Amish.

Young and old brought to you  by the daycare in the nursing home.

God is good. He’s real good.

He Gets Us Money

I was at Caroline’s school the other day and noticed this hanging outside  her classroom. If you can’t read it from the  photo it says,

My hero is my dad because he gets us money.

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I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance between the hubster and Wreck-It-Ralph in the picture. He’ll be so flattered. (Another embarrasing sidenote is that  when I read this, I automatically inserted new lyrics into the Golddigger song. Sing along:  “He gets us money, when we’re in need.”

It was a fun mom moment. It’s not every day you get to see inside of your six-year-old’s head. I should have taken more  time to  see what the rest of the class wrote. I’m not sure if they all have an understanding of the neecessity of their dad’s paycheck quite like Caroline.

I’ve been chuckling in my head for days over this art. I am grateful that across the hall was another art project that read

I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my home. I am thankful for Jesus.

jesus

It looks like we’ve gotten past just plain old materialism. Phew.

So, with all of this circling around in my mind, our family had tithing settlement last week. I just had to come and write about what has happened since.

[ Read more here. Essentially, every member of our family pays ten percent of our income to our church. At the end of every year, we have an opportunity to go in and talk with the Bishop about what we’ve paid and tell him we’ve given a full tithe as well as get our tax statements.]

Most of the time paying tithing is easy. It’s just the first check we write every payday. Other times (like Christmas around the corner for five kids) it’s a little bit harder. But, we always do it. My entire married life (18 years and counting) we’ve given back to God 10% of what He has given us.  We have repeatedly tested His promise in Malachi 3:10 . He never fails us.

Now, we haven’t been given a mansion. In fact, we probably have a lot less than a lot of our fellow American tithe-payers, but we have been blessed over and over again. Since paying tithing last week we have gotten an unexpected rebate check in the mail, my mom and dad sent us some money, and today I got a one-time exception 40% discount at  Target for Christmas stuff I bought four days ago that happened to be on sale today only. Abigail got a job. My kitchen mixer keeps working despite its weird noises. A lady from church gave our girls some clothes. An old friend of mine brought us some clothes for Max. Another generous friend insisted on paying for my breakfast yesterday and when we ran to Costco for a few things before I dropped her off, she also insisted on paying half of my Costco bill.  A lost phone has been found TWICE.

Tithing isn’t just for material blessings, it’s for blessings of faith. Every time something has come down the pipe, I can’t help but exclaim, “Yes, God, I know you are there. You are always watching over us.”

I’ve heard a lot of crap from non-believing friends about tithing and the financial status of my church. People have told me how bad it is that my church spends so much on temples. (What do they think a house dedicated to God should look like?) I think temples are worth every penny. Look at this one just finished in Tijuana, Mexico. Tell me if you can find anything else as lovely in all of Tijuana. Temples bring heaven to earth.

Tijuana_Mexico_Temple

Other people have asked me if  my money couldn’t be used for better purposes? Again, I wonder. What is better than this?

Whenever I hear of suffering around the world. Anywhere. I know that my tithing will be utilized to alleviate it. Hurricane Andrew. Hurricane Katrina. Check and Check. Hurricane Sandy. Check. Chronic Homelessness. Check. Tsunami in Japan. Check.  Devestation on the Polynesian islands. Check. Phillipines typhoon. Check. Clean water and immunization worldwide. Check. The Ebola outbreak. Check. I could go on and on and on. Here is a great read.

I’m  not sharing this to brag. I also didn’t use any of my church’s newsroom links, but cited a variety of news sources above. I just want to show what tithing is capable of doing. It’s a trillion times more efficient than government because God directs its utilization.

It’s funny. I always dreamed of joining the Peace Corps. I never got to, but my money has been sent to the far corners of the earth. And I usually don’t take time to even think about it. I just consistenly give my 10% and every day my mite blesses people around the world in real need.

Anyhow, like my six-year-old, my hero is my dad. My heavenly one. He gets us money. Then we try to give Him some back, but He takes it and gives it back to us and a million other  people in need.  The system is flawless. Also like my Caroline, I’m so thankful for my family, my home, and my Jesus. I’d give everything I own for any one of them, but Jesus says my 10 percent is plenty. And I believe it is.

 

My universe

The_life_of_Sun-like_stars

Thank you Wikipedia for this striking image. Find it here.

In all the vasts of nothingness
she cannot perceive a thing
though she strains her eyes.

It seems dark is sovereignty.
Blackness rules mighty.

Positive she’s a lone piece of refuse
discarded among the night,
She strains for strength
unaware of adorations from afar.

A drop of water fosters.
A breeze bolsters.
Anamnesis drives her forward.
Toward north.

A glow appears
trailing behind
creating a well-lit footprint
as she crawls, then walks.

Another clasps her hand.
Instinctually binary,
they learn to run and dance.

The two will bond a galaxy
of their very own.

And they will be a sun.

They’ll send stars
into the night.

Forever
she’ll christen them with tears.
And he’ll whisper in the wind.

The Bomb

I just read another mommy blog post that although long-winded had a great little tidbit of wisdom.  From all the places in the world for it to come from, I never expected it from Stephen Colbert. After digging for a bit, I found the GQ article where the wisdom orginially surfaced. It’s a gem. Go over and read if you have time. It might bring tears to your eyes.

If you don’t have the time, here is the Cliff Notes’ version. While at Northwestern University, Colbert was introduced to improv. Here are his words:

“I went, ‘I don’t know what this is, but I have to do it. I have to get up onstage and perform extemporaneously with other people.”

“Our first night professionally onstage, [our director said:] “You have to learn to love the bomb.”

Colbert spoke of how not just living with discomfort but embracing discomfort – really loving it – is essential to joy and success. He’s a deep dude:

“It took me a long time to really understand what that meant,” Colbert said. “It wasn’t ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get it next time.’ It wasn’t ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you’re failing.… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.”

He shared how his mother helped him to live with courage after they lost his father and two of his brothers in a plan crash.

“I was left alone a lot after Dad and the boys died…. And it was just me and Mom for a long time,” he said. “And by her example I am not bitter. By her example. She was not. Broken, yes. Bitter, no.” Maybe, he said, she had to be that for him. He has said this before—that even in those days of unremitting grief, she drew on her faith that the only way to not be swallowed by sorrow, to in fact recognize that our sorrow is inseparable from our joy, is to always understand our suffering, ourselves, in the light of eternity. What is this in the light of eternity? Imagine being a parent so filled with your own pain, and yet still being able to pass that on to your son.

“It was a very healthy reciprocal acceptance of suffering,” he said. “Which does not mean being defeated by suffering. Acceptance is not defeat. Acceptance is just awareness.” He smiled in anticipation of the callback: “ ‘You gotta learn to love the bomb,’ ” he said. “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was 10. That was quite an explosion. And I learned to love it. So that’s why. Maybe, I don’t know. That might be why you don’t see me as someone angry and working out my demons onstage. It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”

He went on to quote Tolkein. {Wow, he really knows how to get through to everyone: even the nerdiest, especially the nerdiest.}

” ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head…. It’s not the same thing as wanting it to have happened, but you can’t change everything about the world. You certainly can’t change things that have already happened.”

escape

I was in awe of how much Colbert’s message correlated with the post I started in my head yesterday based on the this sermon. Here are my favorite parts of it:

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” that we experience on a daily basis.

What will  it matter in the end if what we have suffered here are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation.

So maybe you are wondering how the two correlate. Let me see if I can make sense of this. I just learned that some people who I love and adore just received the awful devestating BOMB that the last of their IVF transfers was unsuccessful. Of course after a year of full commitment and a $20k investment, they are devestated. They are paralyzed with grief founded in lost dreams. More than anything they just want to be parents. I cry with them today. I don’t understand the intricacies of their trial, but I do understand their pain. I have known BOMBS in my own life. Bombs leave devestation and paralyzing questions and fear. But, like Colbert says, we have to learn to love the bombs. Maybe not today, but eventually. So, after we process, we get up and walk in the direction of acceptance and understanding. The escape is in the light at the end of the tunnel.

We let our faith guide us and comfort us. We walk with God and we let him turn it into beauty. Like Tolkein versed, we turn the punishment into a gift. Or, like Linda Reeves said, “A vision of our Father’s incredible promised blessings must be the central focus before our eyes every day.” He’s going to give us everything he has. It may not be right now, and it may seem like he’s withholding, but he is always blessing us. Always.

So, when all crapola hits the fan in the form of your greatest fear manifested. Just listen. God’s voice is on the other side of the bomb. It’s quiet, but it is saying, “I’m here.” When you are forty-two and live in a two bedroom condo and just wonder why when you work so hard God doesn’t give you as much as everyone else. Just be glad you don’t really live in a warzone. When you have to put an elderly parent in a home because you don’t have the capablity to care for him and you’re heartbroken. Embrace the explosion. When you are suffocating under the weight of depression that most others don’t understand. Know that the black ball of TNT was meant just for you. On the other side of the sphere, opposite the TNT, it had your name on it. In a nice pretty mongram with an escape clause in small letters the words were etched, “I understand. I’ll get you through this.”