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.
We should all want to be
just like him.
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?
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,
seeking the right,
a remarkable force for good.
Our favorite people are
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.
just like Dad,
maybe Superman is busy,
To do His job.
it’s up to
His formative children,
to fill his shoes.
When one child suffers,
his brothers and sisters bury their heads
instead of praying for the strength necessary.
To be just like their dad.
*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.
Wow, I’m fired from my weekly writing duties. I don’t even want to apologize because it seems so trite. I know you don’t expect an apology anyhow. You, of anyone, have an understating of my time constraints.
I know I already told you this on the phone, but I just think it means something more to read a sentiment in words. I hope you know how much you are the highlight of my life. My conversations with you have become one of my Top 5 life joys. I’m so glad we battled our wills and differences out to get to this point. It is such a powerful place to be in a relationship where there is full honesty, yet no enmity. I hope and pray I can reach this same place of pure acceptance and love in all my relationships. I wish it didn’t have to be such a struggle.
Joy is the word of the month. I already posted on instagram and told you over the phone about my Christmas decorating epiphany, but I want to write it here as well. Please humor me again. For the record. I know you, like me, are a fan of the record. It’s probably ingrained in us to write things because of our lack of memory.
As I was decorating for Christmas, the word joy kept repeating. Over and over again. I started to suspect the universe was trying to send me a message. I then chuckled thinking of dad controlling the universe in his new elevated state. Immediately, I was dumbfounded. If dad was controlling the universe and its messages to me, why in the world was he exaggerating the idea of joy? That seemed so awful. Surely, he couldn’t expect me to be joyful this Christmas. Not when he isn’t around. He couldn’t be joyful either, could he ? Yet, it kept coming. In tree ornaments and on the new wall vinyl. Joy. Joy. Joy. It was shouting at me. I shouted back from the grieving recesses of my heart. NO JOY. NO JOY. Go away. I have no need for you this Christmas. I just want my dad back.
I had already decided that I wasn’t going to unpack my precious Willow Tree Nativity because I was sure Max would destroy it one crushed figurine at a time. But, something kept biting at me. Mom and dad wouldn’t care if it was broke. They don’t care about materialistic things. They wanted that unpacked. They wanted it to be enjoyed. So, I started unpacking. One box at a time. Abigail helped. We marveled again and again at each and every piece, and there was a palpable feeling of reverence as we placed each piece on my beautiful turquoise buffet. The buffet that is also a gift from you and dad. (It’s hard to remember that we all worked on it together just six months ago. Dad wrestled with the shoddy hardware and told me what to do in the future in case he wasn’t around. I thought he would always be around.) I especially love how Mary is cradling Jesus in this set. I pondered in my heart about the baby Jesus and how grateful I was for him and what he grew to do.
I got to the last box and immediately noticed one significant difference from the rest. Each box had my name written on it in black sharpie. With your signature angled cursive, you had labeled my boxes to be differentiated from the 6 identical ones meant for my siblings. But, the last box had my name, yet it wasn’t in your deliberate and feminine scroll, it was written in dad’s boxy and rushed block letters. It was as if he was in the room with me. My eyes welled with tears. “Oh dad, I wish you were here. I don’t want this box with the last remnants of your handwriting. I want your hands. I want your voice. I want you!” I hugged the box to my chest, and the name of the contents on the top of the box slowly focused upward through my tears. One tear dropped on the spacing of the letters. S-O-N-G O-F J-O-Y A-N-G- E-L. The universe whispered. “Hey it’s your dad here. I’m right here. I’m an angel now. And angels only declare one thing. JOY. Glad tidings of great joy.”
I placed the angel among the other figures in her place of honor. Looking down on mortality. I quietly thought about her singing with dad – the glad tidings of great joy. What exactly were those tidings? Why should I be joyful when my dad and I were separated? The answer came powerfully. The joy is that because of Jesus, you will see your dad again. Jesus paved the way. Jesus opened the way. Jesus made it all possible. I alarmed Abigail as a loud weeping escaped my mouth. I sat on the couch. She stared, not knowing what to do. I told her I was okay. I was just thinking about my dad. She’s gotten used to the sudden outbursts. I showed her his handwriting on the box. I told her how he used to write me letters from Alaska and how he always included a smiley face and an X and an O. Max climbed up on the couch beside me. He pointed to our family picture. He was listening to the message from the universe. His chubby finger announced, “Families are forever. Because of Jesus.”
Thank you for teaching me, mom. Thank you, dad, for indulging mom’s wishes to get all of her kids a nice nativity. It was your last Christmas gift to us. And it is everything. Literally everything. You are both so wise. You always had your priorities straight. You weren’t perfect. No one is, but you had perfect perspective. You still do.
I love you, mom. Merry Christmas. I hope you will feel the joy that dad is shouting from the heavens. It rings crystal clear.
I know you can’t watch the video I am including here. It shows dad as he talks to all of us at Erick’s house in 2014. (I’ll show it to you next time I see you.) It was the very last time we were all together. You and dad had just handed out all of our Christmas nativities.
I quote dad: “Most of all, I want to thank you all for staying close to the gospel, and bringing it to a setting like this today. You cannot imagine what it means to grandparents to know that all of our children are close to the gospel. And are being taken care of by Him. I don’t have anything else to say except I love you.” I love you too, dad.
It seems every time we have talked on the phone lately , I’ve put you in the position of giving me a pep talk, and I should be the one giving you the pep talks! I guess that means we are both mothers. Ha. Oh, how I love you, mom. Thanks for keeping me going, even when you may not want to keep going. You are such a strength to me at this time in my life. Thank you. Now, the tears are forming again. It’s a good thing we aren’t on the phone.
I’ve been an emotional wreck lately. It’s not just that I am tired. And, oh, how I am tired. It’s because I’ve got so many emotionally draining issues going on simultaneously. I know I don’t have to rehash that here because you already know all of them. It’s amazing how much it helps to hear, “Oh Alice, try to stop worrying, I promise it will all work out. I wasted too much of my life worrying.” Because even when I am reminded that everything has a way of working itself out at every turn, I still have a hard time believing it. Plus, I want it to work out the way I want it to. And it never does. Even when it works out better than I thought it would, it’s like I am still mad that I didn’t get my way.
I went to the internet to look for the “It will all work out” picture above, and when I saved it noticed it was titled, “yielding our hearts.” Yeah, I really need to get better at that.
You know, it’s funny how life gives you perspective that can lead to greater faith, if you let it. For so many years, we all worried about Adam and Renee, and they are doing so good now. It really did work out for them. If you ask them, they would probably say it hasn’t worked out completely, but a lot has worked out. I have to remind myself that a lot of my own life has worked out, too. I hate being a perfectionist and an idealist. I just need everything to be worked out. And NOW. I have to learn to be happy in the moment and in the storm. There is always so much that still needs to be worked out, and I let it drag me down. Maybe by the time I am your age, I will have it figured out.
So, I want to write briefly about our conversation of your hopes that dad will visit. I loved your story about your friend’s deceased husband who didn’t visit for five years. Then the moment she started lamenting, he disappeared. It didn’t surprise me one bit when you said your newest goal is to not be in mourning because you want dad to be able to visit. I chuckled because the thought of you not mourning is comical. Not only because it’s an impossibility, but because you’re totally convinced that it’s the only way to see dad again and you want it ASAP. So, you are determined to make it happen. I’m sure you will succeed.
I haven’t lost a lot of loved ones, but from the people I have lost, I have learned through experience that we will do just about ANYTHING to see them or feel them close. In a dream. In a coincidence. In a voice. We just need to know they are still living. The thought of just being dead is horrible. I don’t know how anyone survives life with that kind of outlook for their finality.
So, really quick, I want to tell you about three cool experiences I’ve had in the past few weeks that are my own little tender mercies in knowing dad is alive and well.
First, this construction site right down the street. One day I was stopped in front of this house-build waiting at the stop sign. I looked ever and was watching the workers and my mind took me straight back to dad’s hospital room when we all looked out the window. You may not be able to see it, but they had those framing boards that dad explained were super expensive. Remember, they were slathering them with oil, and dad told us that they use them over and over again? Anyhow, I started talking to dad and telling him how much I wish he was still here. And, I am not kidding, mom, just then, a white dove flew straight toward my driver-side window, and just 1/100th of a second before hitting my window, it shot straight up. I’m pretty sure dad wanted me to know he is still close, and watching over me. It was a really hard day and that dove did more for me than 12 hours of sleep ever could.
The next story is just silly, but it still meant a lot to me. Another day, another hard day. I checked my e-mail, and the only e-mail waiting to be opened was this random invite from dad to connect on his Linkedin. I know it is just a glitch from the website, but even if dad appeared himself at that stoplight, where I was trying to find the energy to keep moving forward, it wouldn’t have been more helpful.
You will love this last story. I won’t mention any names here publicly, although I don’t think she would mind, but this happened with an old Carlsbad friend. She has left the church and lives in Hawaii. Two days ago she shared an article on Facebook and suggested that if members of the church would read it, it would help them have more empathy for those that have left the church. Well, that baited me in. Because, of course, I try to have true compassion, understanding, and empathy for other people.
Anyhow, I only read a few paragraphs of the article because when it started talking really disrespectfully about Joseph Smith, I couldn’t swallow anymore. I told the friend so, and told her I tried to read it, but couldn’t do it. “I still love, you, and respect your right to feel how you feel,” I said. She was nice about it. Some of her friends got onto me a bit, but I didn’t let it bother me, as they know nothing about me, and were just acting like a bunch of trolls. Anyhow, the friends didn’t bother me, but the little content that I did read kept pestering me. I questioned, “Am I wrong to believe in a latter-day prophet?” “Do I really belong to a cult?” “According to the articles standards, don’t all Christians belong to a cult for worshiping Jesus Christ?” You know my mind. It was just tumbling and turning with all kinds of facts, figures, and questions. I just wanted them to go away as I already had a million others things running around up there, and my brainwaves were feeling like Toys-R-Us on Black Friday. I was seeking the quickest checkout line and fastest route back home to my comfortable bed.
No one had any way of knowing my torment. But, dad did. And just like he always used to do when he was here, he eliminated it with one swift punch. Oh, mom, he has always been my hero. How lucky I have been to have a man that has always understood me in my pride, stubborn, obsessive, foolish ways. In a lot of ways LG is different than dad, but in the way of loving me, I married probably the only person capable of loving me like dad did. And LG is all the better because he doesn’t even think like Dad and I do, and he’s so patient in trying to understand.
Sorry, I got sidetracked from my story. Anyhow, in less than 24 hours after the initial reading of this article that had me shaken up, the same friend, who lives in Hawaii now, shared this photo on Erick’s Facebook wall. Of all the people for her to see, she ran into Connor at Costco. Yes, our Connor. Elder Wills. Serving a mission, in Hawaii, to teach people about Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith.
Dad knew. I don’t know the circumstances of Connor being at Costco or my friend being there at the very same time, but I do know it was a really dynamic way for dad to stop my brain from running me off a cliff. Or maybe it wasn’t dad. Maybe it was actually my other dad. My Heavenly one. Either way, I like to think that the two of them work together for my benefit now.
So, there you have it. Maybe dad hasn’t come to visit us personally yet, but he is repeatedly showing me that he isn’t far away. He’s still my hero. Probably always will be.
Hey, mom, for some reason, this just popped into my mind. Remember how you guys used to always play the movie “I’ll Build You A Rainbow” at our baptisms? It seemed so morbid to me to watch a movie at a baptism about a mom that died. I remember feeling really traumatized from that show. I was also always really confused what in the world it had to do with baptism. Well, I just felt a little nudge from my eight-year-old self saying, “Hey Alice, this is the moment your mom and dad were preparing you for all those years ago.” Baptism has everything to do with your eternal family.
He’s building us a rainbow, mom.
“If I can’t see you, how will I know you are there?”
Families are forever. And there is only one place on earth I know that doctrine to even be claimed. That’s why Connor is in Hawaii. And that’s why dad didn’t let my harmful obsessive thinking last longer than 24 hours. He’s visiting us every day, mom. We may just not be able to see him. But, we will see him. Yes, we will.
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.
Here are three other reminders I loved on the internet today.
Sometimes I wonder why I am a churchgoer. Well not just sometimes, all of the time. I probably think about this more than is considered sane. I would like to lay this consistent self-dialogue to rest. I find writing about troubling topics helps me to set it down and walk away.
Let’s face it, organized religion + imperfect people is a recipe for disaster. Sensitive people like myself are especially vulnerable.
There are so many reasons to NOT go to church. For an obnoxious person like me, there is a new reason about every minute. Embarrassing, but true.
They either don’t trust me to do anything,
or they ask me to do way too much. (I do realize this is a defeating paradox. And sometimes I actually feel both of these at the same time.)
I don’t have any real friends there.
I am not valued.
They don’t like me.
That guy just taught a bunch of crap over the pulpit.
I don’t agree with his viewpoint, or hers, or his, or hers, or his, or hers….this can keep going.
I’m too liberal.
That Bishop just pounded his fists on his desk and yelled at me to “repent”. (Yes, that did happen. And my husband was in the Bishopric. – It’s all patched up now. He was 80% right.)
That group of people I thought were my friends just outed me from the musical number.
That similar group of people outed my hubby from the college intramural basketball team.
That kleptomaniac stole my roast right out of the church kitchen.
They’re so full of themselves.
They play favorites.
No one understands me.
No one loves me.
I’m not a breastfeeding advocate.
I don’t do hypnobirthing. (ha. that’s not even a real word in wordpress)
The same ten people do everything, and my family members aren’t invited to the cool club.
I don’t 100% subscribe to essential oils.
I don’t want to be invited to your Mary Kay party.
They really don’t like me.
They never let me teach anyone older than 8 because they think I might corrupt them.
Those people I have to serve with dump everything on me.
The kids are way too out of control. Everywhere I go. No, not mine…the other ones.
You get the picture. I honestly could go on for at least another few web pages worth.
Why do I go? I go because no matter how dysfunctional they are (and, even more than them, no matter how dysfunctional I am) it’s home. It’s not my home. It’s my God’s home. And I need Him. I need Him more than the air I breathe. Sure, I probably do need Him more because of all of them, but I think that is part of the plan.
I don’t judge people who have left the church. I get it. Every explanation they give, I understand. If I don’t, I try to, with all my heart. I do not see myself as better as anyone because I stay and they don’t. But I do consider myself more blessed. Why? Because through all the crap, I go, I open my mind, and I let God love me…From His perfect house, full of imperfect people, HE ALWAYS LOVES ME. Even when they don’t. Especially when they don’t.
I am very much like Simon Peter. Let me take some liberty with the verses John 6:67-69…the italics are mine.
Then said Jesus unto the Alice, Will ye also go away?
Then Alice answered him, Lord, to whom shall I go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
And I believe and am sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Today, on a “thousandth something” of Sundays in a row, I made myself forget all the reasons to run away as fast as I could, and I went home to my Jesus. He sent a very loving message my way to remind me that He is the reason I do anything I do. Thank you, Jesus. I know you get it. Even when the lady in Sunday school today said that we can’t understand the verse about you asking God WHY he forsook you, I know you know about all the times I have asked the same question.
I know I will never experience the pain and suffering you did. I don’t even have the words to thank you for your infinite atonement, but I guess she was right to a degree: even when I feel like you and Father forsake me at times, I know you never have. I know it’s all just in my head. I also know you never will, no matter how much I want that untruth to explain my offenses. Please, please give me the strength to never ever forsake you either. Especially when I’m so quick to have hurt feelings. Especially when they are so quick to judge and misunderstand me.
Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
I had the most sacred experience yesterday, and this morning I just want to record it somewhere so I will never forget. I’ve gotten out of the habit of keeping a journal. I kick myself over that all of the time. I wish I would have kept a journal every day of my life, but I didn’t. I guess the suitcase of journals I did keep in my younger years along with this here blog will have to do.
Yesterday Abigail received her patriarchal blessing. It was one of the most beautiful profound experiences of my life. We all laughed afterward when I lamented that I didn’t have any tissues. (Abigail was or was not grossed out by the fact that I was wiping my cry-snot on my dress.) I’m a ball baby. Especially when it comes to spiritual experiences. Live and learn. I woke up this morning still kind of weepy. My box of tissues is now in reach just so I can write this without wiping cry-snot all over the keyboard.
Anyhow, I can’t really go into the details of her private and sacred blessing but, I just wanted to record my feelings over it. I feel constrained to write about it. Rightly so. I will just share that it was a beautiful precious blessing to hear my daughter blessed with everything I could ever hope for her to have, in this life and the next. What a tender mercy for me. I often worry that I won’t be alive for my kids forever. Whether that is premonition or anxiety I don’t know…only time will tell…ha. But, yesterday the veil was lifted and I was given the surety that no matter where I am (here or beyond) I will be with my kids in mind and spirit, and that no matter what, we will be together where it matters most…in the next life, which is eternal.
It doesn’t get better than that folks. It just doesn’t.
When searching for a picture to go with this post, the one above caught my attention. I took it years ago, in Tennessee, after picking up the kids from school. This man had a huge tree with low hanging branches that canopied his whole front yard. He would hang dozens of nylon bird-feeders. I liked to pull over and watch hundreds of gold finches feast.
This morning I thought of the comparison between those goldfinches and me and my little “Gold” finches. I know God has a tree where we He lays out our banquet. We just have to know where to find it and choose it. My body is filled to the brim this morning as I ponder how blessed I am to know the gospel of Jesus Christ, where there is endless bird feed and life eternal. God is so good to me. I love Him with all my heart. I’m so grateful that He has blessed me with faith. I cannot imagine trying to navigate my way through this tumultuous world without the sure knowledge that He is at the helm, I am His daughter, and that He has a plan. His plan includes, but is not limited to, me and all of my loved ones being saved through the atonement of Christ. I know that my faith will bless my family. As theirs will mine. Forever.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, God. You are so good to me.
I couldn’t help but sing aloud, “On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again,” as I drove up the street towards my beloved Murdock Canal Trail. You see, about 10 months ago I found myself really struggling with my running regimen. I felt like my bladder was just going to drop right out of my body. Shortly before I started struggling I found out that I was expecting baby Max and shortly after giving up during that first (and last) gruesome mile and turning back around to limp my sad self home, I ended up in the E.R. I had a prolapsed uterus and my doctor forbade me from running. Even walking long distances would not allowed for the duration of my pregnancy.
As many of you know, my trail-time is one of my most favorite things. I love being out in nature. I love the sunshine. I love the rain. I even love the snow. As I watch closely for all the little details in the world around me, I simultaneously dump all my cares out of my overloaded brain. One by one they are left on the gravel as I trample them under my feet headed for a lighter future. My trail-time not only makes me feel great physically, but without it I start to fall apart a little mentally.
So, earlier this week, when I was finally able to get back on the trail I was beyond ecstatic. Even with taking Max along in the stroller I was finally able to get the therapeutic benefit that I have been missing tremendously. [If you don’t understand what I am talking about, I double-dog dare you to find a quiet trail near you and spend time walking on it every day – make sure you let me know how it changes you because I promise it will.]
Okay, okay, on with the story as part of my series “lessons from the trail”. I feel like Henry David Thoreau in Walden when I write these stories. Nature is a powerful philosopher. So, on Monday, there I was, back on the trail again. I was multi-tasking at its finest, pushing Max in the stroller, supervising the dog on and off of the leash, listening to my tunes, and observing the world around me.
Why do I put the dog on AND off the leash you ask? I’m so glad you did ask, that’s what my story is all about. You see, our dog, Olive, is naughty. I have her partially trained, but she refuses to be fully broken. She reminds me of….well….me. Olive will run after whatever catches her attention and completely ignore my incessant calls. She especially loves birds and cats…probably much like all the other dogs. Another thing about Olive is that she only gets along with about 50% of other dogs that we encounter. If she doesn’t like the other dogs, she will go after them until she has their full submission to her dominance.
This doesn’t work out so well when the other dogs have the same personality. So, given her disobedience (not to mention the leash laws) I should really never let her off the leash, but, you see, she, like me, loves to roam free in the mountains. So, when no one is around I let her run and explore as long as she doesn’t go too far off the trail. As soon as I spot someone off in the distance (and before Olive has a chance to attack their dogs) I hurry and put her back on the leash until the others are safely past us. I also put her on the leash when small children are approaching or if I notice anything else that will cause her to run off like a doggy lunatic.
And there it was…something that would make Olive crazy…about 100 feet ahead of us, a cat was sunning right in the middle of the path. I hurried and grabbed Olive (who does well to get on the leash if she doesn’t detect anything of extra interest – lucky for me, my eyes seem to be better than hers) and walked on. I held her at a close distance and we marched right on by that cat without incident. Olive noticed the cat but didn’t yank my arm off to go after her. She just barked a few times and focused ahead.
And there was my lesson for the day. If I place myself on the end of that leash, I think that sometimes I also pass the test, as did Olive. I think if I am aware of the big picture and know that just shortly up the path there may be something else of better interest to me I don’t get all crazy. If I behave I will be let off the leash to get a close-up of what is best for me, which is probably not what I think is best for me. Because of the leash I allow myself to be tethered to (which for me is my faith and beliefs) I am freed from so many unnecessary distractions. The key though is that I have to be willing to be leashed so that I don’t run off before I have a chance to think things through. I also have to trust my maker and know that He will unleash me when I am ready and/or safe. It was a profound observation for me as I resist being controlled in any manner.
Then, just as I finished processing all of the leash metaphors in my own life, I noticed another cat. I hurried and put Olive on the leash again, hoping for the same success to support my observation. This time, however, I was disappointed. I braced myself as Olive took off, as usual, only to be thwarted by the yank of her collar on the leash. I never understand why dogs don’t learn!
I’ll leave you walking along with me on the trail trying to make sense of the second cat encounter. You can surely come up with your own comparisons, as did I, but I will give you this: I was instantly filled with gratitude for my maker who always stands with the leash, waiting for me to heed his calls instead of taking off after who knows what. He has a grand journey prepared for me and no matter how many times I allow myself to be distracted with my own ridiculous notions, He never lets go. And someday, in the very distant future, I am sure that I will be strong enough to not need a leash, until then, though, I will gladly tether myself to it.
Here is some great spiritual enlightenment for your day.
The older I get the more I appreciate my kids’ imaginations.
A while back while I ran in to pay for gas after my card didn’t work at the pump, Bella captured Caroline lip-syncing. It’s so cute how Caroline always keeps up with her older sisters on pop culture. Days later as I came across this surprise video on my phone it brought tears to my eyes, partially because the words to the song were so fitting and partially because of the tenderness of one sister being able to see the value in the moment of her little sister just being little and care-free. Watching in after the fact was super overwhelming to this emotional proud mom. I also got a little chuckle about the fact that my kids can’t just sit in their seat-belts for 30 seconds unsupervised but always have to misbehave and jump around in the car.
As a busy mother of 5, I really love the one-on-one time I get with Caroline right after kindergarten gets out at noon. While Max naps, she tells me all about her day. Yesterday in P.E. they got to play with a parachute. She thought that was totally awesome and I smiled thinking back to a time when I was young and innocent and experienced the large parachute at school for the first time. I thought it was awesome too.
A few weeks back, while talking to Caroline about everything and nothing at all, she declared:
“Mom, when I grow up, I am going to create a green planet with rings around it.”
I immediately got out the watercolors and had her paint me a prototype.
I hope she will get the privilege of making her own planets someday, (which is totally possible according to Mormon doctrine) but for now I am so glad that her whole big universe with infinite imagination can fit on my fridge. What a beautiful beautiful privilege it is to be a mom.
[Oh, and on a cool sidenote: I love it when science catches up with God’s truths about the galaxy. I believe God definitely has his children helping him out with planet creations. I know if it’s up to me someday I am totally putting Caroline in charge of all the green planets.]
Abigail is giving a talk in church today. I am at home with Maximus feeling a little sad that I am missing it. Mothers should be able to be in more than one place at a time, gosh dangit! I will be there in spirit. [Even though I have taken Max everywhere it seems….I vowed to take one month off church when he was born and I aim to keep it.] Abigail asked me to look over her talk just a few minutes ago and we hurried and made a few minor changes as she walked out the door. I am so proud of her and the woman she is becoming. I am so happy that she has a testimony in the gospel that LeGrand and I have tried to teach. I thought you all might enjoy reading her talk.
After preparing this talk, I realized that this is a talk on repentance, Repentance is usually something you don’t think about when you hear “what are some blessings you have received from living the gospel” – which was my assigned topic. But after thinking about it, I realized that repentance is one of the greatest blessings we have as members of the church. This past summer, i gained a testimony about the blessing of repentance.
I was given a challenge for soccer that would help me to make the team. It was focused around three things: mind, character, and body. We were given things that we had to accomplish in order to complete the challenge. We had to exercise the given workouts every day, eat absolutely no sugar, candy, or soda, and do an act of service everyday. We were also given bigger tasks, like doing 200 ball push ups in one day or do something physically hard for us. We were to do the challenge for 35 days. At first, I started out great, I did every workout, made my own healthy treats, helped more around the house. I felt fantastic.
But, about 2 weeks into the challenge, i started having pains in my hip. At first they weren’t that bad and I thought it would go away, but like most things where you think that, it didn’t. It got to the point where I couldn’t run without pain and I had to go to a physical therapist to work out the injury. I had slipped up. Being injured, I then obviously couldn’t do the workouts, but that didn’t mean i couldn’t do the rest of it. However, i didn’t think that but I allowed my discouragement to justify further slip up.. For the two or three weeks that I was out of the workouts because of my injury, I occasionally had the can of soda, and ate the piece of candy that was in front of me. But that was no big deal, right? Wrong. I still did the big challenges. I did my 200 push ups and at the end when my injury was mostly healed, I ran up to the Y, but, I didn’t fully complete the challenge because I struggled with doing 100% of the small things every day. I did the best I could, kinda. When tryouts came, I felt unsure. I’m pretty sure if I had fully completed the challenge, i would have been confident of making the team.
This story can apply to the gospel because like in the T-Wolf challenge, we are given a list of requirements to get to the Celestial kingdom. We have to read our scriptures every day, say prayers, and keep the word of wisdom. We also have those big requirements like baptism and temple marriage. If we are unable to do one of those things, like for instance read the scriptures, we can still pray and keep the word of wisdom, but we won’t be fully confident when the time comes that we are ready for celestial glory. As a youth, it is hard to keep ALL the commandments. The big ones like no killing and stealing aren’t that hard. But the small ones we have to complete everyday are pretty difficult, like obeying my parents and daily personal prayer. In the T-Wolf challenge, I wasn’t really worthy to make the team, however with God’s help, I did. Just like in living the gospel, through the Atonement, we can still make the team.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “There are some who believe that because they have made mistakes, they can no longer fully partake of the blessings of the gospel. How little they understand the purposes of the Lord. One of the great blessings of living the gospel is that it refines us and helps us learn from our mistakes. We “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” yet the Atonement of Jesus Christ has the power to make us whole when we repent.”
I was supposed to talk about blessings you recieve from living the gospel, but it dawned on me. We have a lot of blessings from living it fully, duh. But most of the time, we don’t live it fully. We aren’t perfect. We physically can’t live the gospel perfectly. But because of the blessing of the Atonement we can achieve the ultimate goal of celestial glory and that is the greatest blessing of all.
D&C 76: 40-42
And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us—That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved.
Introducing our SON Maximus LeGrand Gold Born at 1:17 pm. 7 lb. 9 oz. 20″
At the ripe age of forty, I gave birth to my crowning jewel last Monday. After four wonderful beautiful daughters, God saw it fit to bless us with a son. I don’t deserve him. I don’t deserve any of them, yet, they are here and they are mine. Bear with me as I indulge myself a post to reflect on motherhood and what it means to me.
I believe I could just type “All I’ve got is tears,” and that may be my best explanation, but let me try and put those tears into words, no matter how pathetic it may turn out.
We struggled with naming Max. LeGrand got to pick the name and was really set on Nathaniel, but our 15-year-old, Abigail, hated the name. I liked it, especially since it is the name of one of LG’s really cool great great grandfathers, but I didn’t want it to be shortened to Nathan or Nate. And you know that they (meaning everyone) always shorten everything (coming from the mom of an Abigail who is Abbie, an Isabella who is Bella, and a Sophia who is NOT Sophie out of her sure determination in correcting everyone.) Sophia loves Greek and Roman tradition and so we went back to the drawing board (the internet) and looked up Latin names. When I read aloud Maximus, the name instantly sang to the whole family. As everyone gave their approvals individually it became official as we went around the room and each one-at-a-time declared a collective fondness for Maximus. It just clicked with all of us. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The meaning of the name was just a perfectly fit bonus:
Not only did “The Greatest” go good with the already chosen middle name of LeGrand, which means the “The Big”, but it was a ringing of what was in all of our hearts…we were all finally getting another man in our family and that was pretty much the greatest thing that could ever happen. And we have not been disappointed. He is the greatest. Honestly.
I don’t know what it is, but there is something special about this baby. I don’t know if it’s because I am so much older or if it’s because he’s a boy, or maybe it’s just that I am reflecting an obvious adoration from our whole family, but this kid is the greatest. I have never been so proud. I feel like a peacock strutting around with my feathers. He is total perfection…..and God granted me the privilege of creating him, growing him, and birthing him. How does God find me worthy for that? I don’t know, but He does. It’s completely astounding.Totally overwhelmed is how I feel at the honor of the privilege and responsibility.
Last night as we were going to bed, LG and I talked about each of our kids individually (as we often do) and submerged into the swamp of life as we reflected on emotional, physical, and spiritual needs that always seem greater than what we feel we have to give. If you think about it, it really is a miracle that parents show up every day, knowing they are going to fail no matter how hard they try….and that they do that day after day, year after year. The hardest part about kids growing up is not that they become sassy teenagers (that’s actually pretty entertaining): it’s that they become your reflection.
I’ve been made to stare at myself four times over with my girls: at times all of my glory shines through them…all of God’s glory shines through them. Often, though, all I can see is my many vulnerable raw flaws in them….ones that I don’t want to have, much less bestow upon my most beloved children. Yet, I’ve given it all to them: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Looking through my own trash is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. Knowing that I’ve embedded even the tiniest sliver of it into them is suffocating: like a deadly respiratory virus with no doctor. I know that I’ve screwed them up. I can’t deny it. No matter how hard I have tried to keep my trash to myself, it somehow got to them and tarnished them. Oh, how that fact hurts.
But, guess what? When I allow Him, God sorts through their trash -my trash- for me and He throws it all out and allows me to see only the shining jewel that I started with. The shining jewel that was His, that he loaned me, because He loves me and believes in me and wants to give me His joy. All five (it sounds so awesome to say FIVE) of my children are shining jewels. Walking miracles. Beloved son and daughters of God. It is God that gives me the greatest miracle – the miracle of the atonement – the miracle that sometimes shines brightest for me today in my kids: imagine it: only shining jewels to be found where for years I have involuntarily deposited my trash.
It’s just that when I look at Maximus (and oh how I could stare at him all day), there isn’t any trash to sort through just yet. The only deposit I have made so far is not trash but my greatest gift to offer: childbirth. God in his infinite wisdom and mercy knew exactly what He was doing when He called upon me to be that “older” mom. He wasn’t giving me a burden, He gifted me a rare jewel. Max is the greatest because it is he who has helped me see the jewel in all of them. Maximus is the perfect name because he came with the greatest message, “They are mine Alice. They are all mine. They are the rarest jewels, and yeah, you will dirty them up, but you are still good enough to be their mother. I will clean up your mistakes: all of them. You are my jewel and I have not a single flaw.” God is so good at reminders.