Musings

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.

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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 breaths. 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.

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.

Reverenced

Red hair, black shirt.
Sitting at a short table.
Food in front.
Ocean spray juice in a plastic bottle
with a blue lid.
I can smell the pasta
from my circular booth.
Marinara.
It shouts at my nostrils.
I’m cheap. I’m microwaved.
I’m in a flimsy black bowl.
It all sits still, untouched.
Laid out neatly
as if waiting for a queen.
Drink on left.
Pasta in the middle.
Napkin and plastic fork on the right.
Her head bows.
Reverencing her meal
in contrast to her hair.
Her bright pink hair.
It’s not red.
It’s pink.
Bright pink
like a darker-dyed flamingo.
And it fades and ombres into
Cindy Lauper.
All the way down her back.
She is bowing.
Bowing.
It’s been a minute.
At least a minute.
She is still.
She is grateful.
She is reverent.
She is praying.
With her pink hair.
Her flaming hair.
The hair that screams
rebel.
I’m a rebel.
I’m a rebel queen.
And I have a Father.
A Father God.
And she stands.
Her belly is bulging.
A princess is waiting.
Her hair may be pink.
Just like her mother.
Her rebel mother.
The Queen
with a Father.

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.

What is motherhood?

Motherhood is…

when your wake up call is at 2:45, 4:37, 5, and 6 a.m.

when you get your sick 6-year-old daughter situated on the couch with a movie and you set the baby up in his pack-n-play to catch just a few more minutes of shut-eye just to be awoken by frantic screaming, “MOM, MOM, MOM.” You jump up, and ask with consternation, “What do you need?” “Um…I want to wear a red and white striped dress for Dr. Seuss day tomorrow!”

when you go to find the power cord to your laptop, one half is buried under a pile of blankets. You find it 45 minutes later.

when you have 5 loads of laundry in your room waiting to be folded because you just couldn’t make yourself do it yesterday or the day before that.

when the baby has diarrhea. And a crazy rash. And has had three ear infections, a concussion, and a dilocated elbow in the past four weeks. You hope child services comes and takes him just for one day, so you can catch a break.

when you put the baby gate up to try and keep your little Houdini out of the kitchen while you do dishes. He throws every single toy he owns over the gate for the entire time he’s locked out, making several really good passes all the way to the trashcan you moved to the other side of the kitchen.

when you have class at 4p.m. but you have to pick up one child from school at 3:30 and get another to daycare and a third to art lessons in between. You actually make it to class before 4:00 50% of the time. The other 50% you arrive within five minutes of start time. You think you are a freaking miracle worker. Everyone else thinks you are a hot mess. You don’t care.

when you laugh hysterically when someone tells you how nice you look at school trying to contain their complete surprise (but failing miserably) because you know they are thinking, “She cleans up nice.” They have no idea.”You think, JUST WAIT!!! You’re lucky I even wear clothes.”

before you can go to bed you have to walk the dog, take out the trash, deal with the pile of papers multiplying on your kitchen counter, respond to five e-mails and ten text messages, find your phone, charge your laptop the kids left dead, clean out the dog water full of soggy dog food (because your Houdini must have  figured out how to get over the baby wall), and at least 40 other things that are different every single day, while yelling at your kids to get back in bed more than 10 times.

when you cook dinner EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. The process of cooking, feeding, cleaning always takes at least 2 hours. Even if you somehow justify tacos on taco Tuesday.

and when you finally sit down on the couch for two minutes before your eyelids refuse to stay open, you are stuck in the bum by a barbie foot sticking out betweeen the couch cushions.

Then you wake up an hour later and go to bed. Your husband rolls over. You give him a quick kiss, and roll over the opposite direction before he gets any ideas. You can’t sleep. Because your teenage daughter and her boyfriend are worrying you out of your mind.

You finally fall asleep at 1 a.m. The baby cries at 1:11 a.m.

16 years later. You sit down to write a blog post. You laugh. But you really just want to cry. And you really need a vacation. But tonight you are going to fork over $300 for your daughter’s soccer tournament. And you have a pile of doctor bills for another $600. And you have school all summer, and your Spring Break doesn’t coincide with your kids’ spring break.  And. and. and.

I’ll get back to you in another 18 years. Hopefully I will tell you it was all worth it.

But at this very moment, you are certain that you’ll never make it. Unless you can somehow secure one week in a nice quiet hospital bed that will serve you postpartum punch. And then you remember you had a hysterectomy last year. You laugh. Then cry. Because you really need a baby nursery and some postpartum punch.

Oh, and do you have any idea how hard it is to study feminism as a literary theory when a Barbie movie is playing in the background? Near impossible.

Why Trump?

trump.jpg

Dear Washington,

I’m just an average Republican. I’m religious. I’m middle class. I’m conservative. While growing up in California during the Reagan administration, I believed in America. I believed it was the greatest country in the world, and I still do. However, all you slimeballs are ruining it for the rest of us patriots. How we see it, you sit around the White House and the Capitol, and pretend you are working for the people while really just employing strategies to keep yourself on the American governmental dole. A lot of the time, you are just out playing golf and taking your family on luxurious vacations on my tax dollar. Some of you are sleeping with prostitutes. You drink your Starbucks coffee brought to you by all your unpaid interns and 37 assistants. You assign yourselves exemptions from ObamaCare and pay raises. You crap on the Constitution with your executive orders and Supreme Court legislation. You wine and dine the big money and make secret deals for your campaign funds. You smooze with Hollywood and throw ridiculous parties. You fly first-class. You go to church for the cameras. You pretend you want race and poverty issues resolved yet continue to oppress people. You think everyone should do what you say instead of doing what the majority of us wish.

You do all the things that I don’t do — that I will never do. I don’t fly, much less first class. I can’t afford Starbucks coffee, if I did drink coffee. I don’t have the luxury of ever sitting on my butt.  I don’t have ideal healthcare coverage paid for by people with less than I do. I didn’t even go to the doctor when I broke a rib last year because the last thing I needed was another doctor bill. I don’t have a retirement fund that was given to me by people I ignore.  I don’t have a single assistant although I could really use some help at home while I am in my college courses. You see, even though I believe in the mother’s role in nurturing her kids at home, I need to gain my large family a second income so that we can pay our mortgage.  I rarely go on vacation, and if I do, I camp somewhere close by so that I don’t have to spend too much on gas that was drilled in the Middle East.

But, enough about me. Let’s talk about Donald Trump. I’m not in the Trump camp, but I can see why so many are. Half of my party is grumbling on facebook about the other half who support Trump. You see, in case you didn’t know, Trump supporters must be idiots.The other quarter of Republicans are divided between Cruz and Rubio, and the liberal media is already innundating us with their typical propoganda about how all three of them are in Washington’s pocket. Surely, we can trust Hillary or Bernie more than any Republican. Psh. I believe I am in the last quarter of my party. I am in the quarter who gave up on Washington somewhere between a Bush and the first African-American president. It may have been when Clinton was lying about Lewinsky. It may have been when my health insurance became a bad joke. It may have been when I lost my home in 2011 because the state of TN couldn’t pay their court-appointed attorneys on time, even though that attorney’s clients always got their welfare checks on the clock. Maybe it was when I realized that America would jump at the chance to elect a fradulent woman, but not a cleancut patriotic Mormon. I don’t know, but I am definitely Washington-averse. I don’t like you people. Any of you! And you don’t like me, so the feeling is mutual. Let’s just make that clear, so I don’t feel bad for admitting my unChristianlike feelings. Let’s not even get started on religion.

So, why Trump? I believe it’s because a lot of America is saying, why not? Can it get any worse than the circus it is now? If we have a bunch of selfish crooks in Washington, why not let a reality TV star join them? At least he will bring a little of his own money that he made without the IRS involved. Why not get a guy who can give his own speech without a staff telling him what needs to be said to secure the most votes? Why not get a guy who recognizes that the average American is sick and tired of paying for things illegals get for free? For delivering the babies for the people who don’t pay taxes? Why not elect the guy who doesn’t want drug addicts buying steaks when I can’t afford hamburger? Why not? Anything has got to be better than what we have now? Anything. Trump is anything. He is the only viable candidate that we have that has not made a career out of pretending he cares about me.

Trump is popular because Trump is seen as the outsider. Period.  If we could go back to Ross Perot, we would, but we all know how that turned out. America is screwed. We have no choices in government anymore, so why should we care? It’s all going to hell in a handbasket.

Forget you people. We are over it.

Sincerely,

Just an average Republican who wishes she could start a revolution. Instead she might just vote for Trump because it doesn’t require her to buy guns illegally in a month from now when her beloved Republic becomes a socialistic dictatorship.