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Life is always worthwhile when you cry or smile.

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When I die the most important thing I would want to say to my family is “I love you and I’ll see you on the other side.” If I was allowed more than one sentence I would probably elaborate on my wishes for them to live good authentic lives.

I would tell them how I hope for their happiness, and I would tell them I would regret not being able to be there for them physically in their times of sadness. I would want them to know that if I can negotiate something with God, I will and I will always be right by their sides watching over them until we are reunited.

The song “Smile” from Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 movie Modern Times is one of my favorite songs. (Did you know the lyrics were added later based from themes and scenes from the original film?) This song brings back a lot of good memories for me. LG gave me some Happy by Clinique perfume for one of our first Christmases together. It came with a CD full of happy songs. We used to lay in bed together listening to the CD. When “Smile” came on it always seemed so appropriate. Those were really happy times, some of my favorite from my entire life.

However while re-listening to this song recently I discovered how the message of smiling when you are in pain is just kind of screwed up. I thought about Michael Jackson and Judy Garland (both have beautiful renditions of this song – go ahead – hit their links) and how their lives came to tragic ends way too soon. I thought about how they both may have lacked the emotional intelligence and/or support they needed. Maybe nobody ever told them it was o.k. to cry? I wish I could have helped them somehow and see them die in happiness, not out of their desperate attempts to escape.

Crying is an important part of life. Without times of sadness we wouldn’t know how much to treasure the times of happiness. We don’t have to run away from sadness. In fact I’ve found trying to run from it makes things much worse. Sometimes we just need to take time to process our emotions. We need permission to cry in our pain. Everyone should have someone in their lives that will just hold them while they cry.

I’m thinking about the pains I’ve experienced in life. They have been my very best tutors. Not all my days have been spent smiling while laying in my bed with my husband. In fact, I would say that I’ve probably had a close equal amount of time laying in my bed alone crying over life’s sadness. (If you read my blog regularly, you know this. I often use this as a place to process a lot of my emotions.)

So, in short, what I am trying to say is. It’s o.k. to cry. In fact it’s as necessary as smiling is for your emotional health. So do both. When you are in the middle of either happy or sad, most of all, know that your life is worthwhile.

I changed the words of the song to reflect the healthier message.
I am not voice-trained so feel free to skip the video, I made it for my family. I love you guys.

 

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Mom’s new year seems so old.

Two things are pressing on my mind today.

1- I need to make my new year resolutions.
2- How am I going to stay sane this year?

Maybe they can be related? Yesterday in church there were a bunch of new ladies. We were to go around the room and tell a few things about ourselves. Our name. Where we live. Our favorite treat. Our job. Our hobby.

I was all prepped to give me answers. I’m Alice Gold. I live within walking distance from the rest of you. In a two bedroom condo. With 5 kids. And a dog. I’m still blessed beyond measure. My favorite treat is whenever I don’t have to cook. (Who said treats have to be sugary anyway?) My jobs are to stay sane and to be kind, both which are greatly challenging and fulfilling. My hobbies are all in trouble this year because I have a newborn.

And then I had to leave the room to change the baby’s stinkiest diaper of all time. I decided I would change my hobby to figuring out if it is possible to change a boy diaper in under 10 baby wipes. By the time I got back to the room, they had changed the game to just telling everyone your name. (They were running out of time.) psh.

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I don’t even think I made resolutions last year. I was pregnant. Totally off the hook. My goal last year was to grow a baby. I did it. I’m amazing.

My other goal was to give birth all-natural. I failed. I tried and tried. I labored for what seemed like forever and I thought I would die. I wanted to push the baby out. The doctor said I was only at a 7 and wasn’t allowed to push, yet. I felt destroyed and figured I experienced enough all-natural and that the actors in movies really don’t exaggerate. I was not being kind or staying sane. I begged my husband for the epidural and cussed out the anesthesiologist enough when he got there that he gave me the spinal dose. (You mean you didn’t give me the spinal dose on my other 4 kids? What the heck?) One contraction later…literally…the doctor examined me and said the baby was crowning. I’m blaming the lack of all-natural delivery on him, but we all know it is really my inability to relax without almost lethal doses of drugs.

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve pondered how much easier life would be to live on a constant dose of lethal drugs, or laughing gas…or marijuana. Lucky for me, I’ve never crossed that ponder to action or else I would be a drug addict, in rehab, or dead. Life was meant to hurt. Drugs rob us of the very essence of mortality…except in labor…those drugs are legit. (This paragraph is a total sidenote that I can’t bring myself to omit.)

So, this morning the high of having a newborn wore off. I almost made it 4 months. That’s pretty good if you ask me. When everyone else in the family took off to work and school, I enjoyed the silence for 5 minutes until the baby started crying out of hunger. I looked down at him and felt a little resentment. I’m 41 and still waiting for “my turn”. What I really want is to pursue my own goals, yet for the past 15 years it feels like all I’ve done is take care of babies…I stared at baby Max in the eyes and committed to continued sacrifice. I’ll get my turn eventually.

[I don’t want to turn this in to a stay-home mom vs. working mom debate as I think the choice is personal. I did however laugh a while back when I asked one of my working mom friends which would be better to take a trip to Hawaii with or without children (if you could only go once in a lifetime). She answered, “With kids. We would never go without the kids, we would just miss them too much.” I was like, “yea right, I might get that if I hadn’t committed every waking hour to my kids for 15 years. I would miss my kids after about 5 days and then I would get over it for a few more.” It’s a lot harder to miss your kids when you are always with them.]

Anyhow, the older I have gotten, the more I realize that I can be a mom and pursue my goals. I just can’t pursue them in an all-out fashion like I would prefer. I have to balance my time for me with my time for them. I tend to give them a lot more than I give me, and I hope someday I will look back on that decision with no regrets. Let’s face it, I’m not taking any career with me to the next life, but I do think God will sit me down and one of his first questions will be, “How are your kids? How is your relationship with your kids?”

So this very long post has helped me to process my two things “to do” today. Thanks for riding along. I’m going to stay sane one day at a time and not expect too much out of myself or even for myself. I’ve done it 15 years. What is five more? And, really, is it the end of the world that I’ve been writing this all day instead of doing Caroline’s homework, working on the budget, or cleaning out the stove? Nah.

My answer #2.
Here are some simple goals.

1. Don’t have another baby. Ever. Check. This should be easy. See last post entitled “I’ve been fixed.” But gosh dangit as soon as I heal up from surgery LG and I plan to die trying. 12 weeks of celibacy in a 4 month period of time is rough.
2. Write. When I can and/or feel like it. Maybe join a writing group or class?
3. Take care of myself. This will hopefully include getting back to my running upon doctor’s approval, biking some, eating healthier, and getting back down to pre-baby weight before Maximus’s first birthday. (the occasional pedicure too)
4. Take pictures. When I can and/or feel like it. Read my camera manual if I get around to it.
5. Camp and hike.
6. Love. My husband and kids, mostly.
7. Self-improve. Focusing on being kind and gracious, letting go of control, living in the moment, and being happy.
8. Self-discipline. Focusing on not wasting as much time on FB and being a better morning person, which really means getting to bed earlier.
9. Give more to God. Having daily quiet time. Look for ways to serve my fellowman.
10. Read. (I’m not making a reading goal ever again as per the advice of my therapist.)
11. Save at least $10,000 towards purchasing a home. Sacrifice.
12. Overcome my fear of physics. Watch some smart youtube videos.
13. Remember!!! My family is my greatest blessing. Ever. Make sure they know that I know.

What’s not to love?

Just the way you are, you matter to him.

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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.
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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.]

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After post; check this out;
We Lived with God: http://youtu.be/JR8qIrJcJh4

This scientist says my thoughts way better than me.

7 things I learned in marriage counseling.

Eighteen years we’ve been married. Time has dragged on forever on a lot of days, but just as many have flown by as fast as the family-pack is devoured by our hungry children on Taco Tuesdays. It’s been the best of times. It’s been the worst of times. As a wife, I gave myself an A+ for over a decade….I was oblivious to my own short-comings and blamed my man for most all things wrong in our family. When things started getting more complicated we started marriage counseling and my perfect oblivion was brought to a screeching stop. Those darn psychologists always have a magical way of making people see the truth. And my magical mirror is harsh!! It took the best of professionals (and multiple ones, at that) to help me see the many ways that I had failed and continue to fail in my marriage, but I’m the better for it.

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I read a poignant article  the other day entitled “What Your Husband Really Wants” and it had my mind racing in and out of the many ways I’ve learned to give my husband what he wants. And just like kindergarten, everything I need to know I learned in marriage counseling.

Number 1 – He wants to be your hero. My husband wasn’t able to be my hero because my fierce independence and “I can do it myself” attitude never allowed him to be. Much of the time I would be running around the house like a tornado on its way to Oz all upset that once again he was sitting on the couch while I so desperately needed a break. How could he be so oblivious? Unbeknownst to me he was sitting on the couch because after many years of trial and error the genius of a man knew it was the safest place. He thought he was being my hero by getting out of my way when I really needed a hero to switch me places and take some of the responsibility off my spiraling shoulders. Well, in marriage counseling I’ve learned the hard way that if the queen wants a knight in shining armor, she has to let him be the king. If every time he tried to help, I bit his face off for something then he figured I would be happier if he was out of the way.

2 – He wants to be your lover. I feel like this is the area where I probably struggle the most. I don’t want to get into too much detail as I have to remember that this very post may be accessed by future employers and/or my mother-in-law. Let’s just say that it takes two to tango. I have learned that I am equally as bad at receiving as I am at giving undivided attention. Sure I can go through the motions and I have A LOT (ha!), but if my heart isn’t there then it is just as damaging to my husband as leaving him exiled on the couch. At one point our therapist gave us a “touching” exercise. We were to take 30 minutes each where the other would just touch us all over. We weren’t allowed to talk; we had to be naked. It totally wigged me out. It took this exercise for me to get in touch with a lot of real hang-ups I have….seventeen years later. My poor poor lover was constantly being rejected. This area is a real battle for me. I have learned that sex isn’t meant to be just physical but is best and healthiest when it’s emotional. It takes vulnerability to create true intimacy.

3- He wants to be your best friend. This is an area that has been our marriage’s saving grace. Since the very beginning my husband has been my best friend: I love being with him, I tell him everything, and he is the first person I call when I have good or bad news.  I also know that he considers me to be his best friend, but as is true with all of my friendships, I have a lot of room for improvement. I am a horrible listener which makes connection very one-sided. My impatience is not helpful to either side of the friendship and my quickness to problem-solve and rescue instead of just supporting is hugely problematic. Here, it boils down to trust…I can be a much better friend when I trust myself to be a good friend and I trust my best friend to take care of himself.

4 – He wants to understand you. For a lot of women this is a problem because they aren’t willing to share their deep desires. Like me, they also aren’t forthright with what they need. I, in my great need to be understood, over-share everything with a hidden agenda of control. I’ve been let-down (by my own hypersensitivity and others negligence) in my life so much that I feel like I have to now control everyone around me so they won’t hurt me. “I love daisies, but they can’t be orange. For my birthday, here is my list…make sure #2 is just the right size. No, we can’t go there to eat, you know I hate Indian food.” Trust me, we could do this all day. I guess what I have learned the most here is that being truly understood trumps any manipulated derivative that he could offer. I’ve had to let go of control and accept what others have to offer. What is more important: that he gets me the right kind of flowers or that he knows I’m having a crappy day? That I get what I want for my birthday or that he loves me enough to buy me a present? That we go where I want for dinner or that he wants to be with me on a date?

5 – He wants to protect you. It would be interesting to hear my husband’s opinion on this one, but I think he would probably correlate this to what I’ve already said about letting him being my hero. If I am all suited up in body armor of my own making and I think I can wield a sword better than he can then what is there for him to protect? I don’t need to be weak to be protected, but I do need to be humble enough to let him stand next to me on the enemy line. At the very least I need to not stand across from him with my gun pointed in his direction. That’s figurative not literal, in case you are wondering about how necessary marriage counseling is for us. A healthy relationship requires an “it’s me and you against the world” mentality.

6 – He wants to make you happy. There are two things I’ve learned about happiness. 1- No one else can make me happy. 2 – I can’t make anyone else happy. People can however work together with others for mutual happiness. The fact that my man goes to marriage counseling with me is the best way that he has shown me how important my happiness is to him. I have learned how to be happy without him. He has learned how to be happy without me. Therefore WE have learned how to be happy with each other.  My happiness increases as his happiness does and visa-versa. This makes me very happy.

7 – He wants to be himself. This is perhaps the trickiest of the seven. What should we do as human beings with inherent flaws especially when we are in a marriage? Is it really fair for my husband to be himself if being himself hurts me in some way? Is it fair for me to be overly critical (which I am) because that is just the way that I am?  Yes, we want to be ourselves, but, yes, we should also try to improve – especially for our spouse. I remember well the day we met with my psychiatrist who was discussing the behaviors associated with my bipolar disease and the management of such behaviors. LG asked, “How do I know the difference between Alice being bipolar and Alice just being Alice? I married her because I love some of these things about her – even if they are bipolar.” That, my friends was the most romantic thing I had ever heard. I think back on it often. He loves me for me, even if me is kind of screwed up. I try to give him the same benefit of the doubt although I think he is better at this than I am. I have found that I am always the best at letting him be himself when I put his needs above my own and he has learned that I am better at overlooking his weaknesses when he lets me know his awareness of them and how he is working at fixing them.

So, there you have it: my cliff’s note version of three years of marriage counseling. Yes, it has taken me three years to work my way up from a big fat F to a pretty solid C, if I do say so myself. I can honestly say that my marriage is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. It’s the worst because that mirror it forces me to look in is so very harsh! It’s the best because when I look in the mirror and start to cry at all the flaws that I see in myself, my man has always been there to love me through it. It’s my honor and privilege (when I succeed at it) to do the same for him.

Why? Because the amazing man that is my husband LeGrand makes me happy. He is my protector. He gets me. He is my best friend. He’s my lover. He’s my hero.

I feel a song coming on:

I belong with you. You belong with me. You’re my sweetheart. I love you LG.

A Mother’s Standing Ovation

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I’m a sucker for standing ovations. I often embarrass my unexcitable husband by being the first to my feet at the end of a concert or during the final bows of a play. It’s not that I’m easily amused and overly generous with my applause, it’s just that if something is really really good, my body will not allow me to stay in my seat. It just has to show that its pleased – clapping isn’t enough.

So, when I see stories like this one below about a kid on stage who started out weak but nailed it on his second try, even if I’m watching from my computer at home, my feet always silently join the deserved ovation. My tears usually join in the ovation also by overflowing onto my cheeks. Like I said, I’m a sucker. I’m also a cry-er. (that’s not a word – in case, like me you are tempted to look it up) Exultation should be a whole body experience, right?

I think the reason that people are really happy for others in their standing ovations is because every soul longs for one of their own. I admit it; I can never get enough applause for myself. Now, I know that I will never receive an ovation for my talents onstage; my singing is mediocre, my dancing is painfully uncoordinated, and I am not sure if I could ever come up with any idea this unique, but standing ovations aren’t limited for the artists. They are also available for the athletes, the veterans, the graduates…all kinds of accomplished individuals. I often think to myself, “Surely, there is some area where I can be uber-accomplished.”

As one who gives more of herself to mothering than anything else, I often wonder what the equivalent of a standing ovation is for us.That’s because they never seem to happen! When I get all the laundry put away for the first time in a week, there is never anyone there clapping for me. In fact, I accomplished this just yesterday (which was a huge feat for a mom of 5 kids, one being a newborn) and I was only met with the hubby remembering at 10:30 p.m. that he needed one of his work shirts ironed! Don’t judge – I gave up ironing years ago. Darnit! My self-satisfaction didn’t even last an hour.

Like you, my kids never even thank me for dinner much less clap or whistle? And as much as I’ve visualized such, I’ve never once heard anyone holler “bravo” after I dragged my weary body to the side of the 5-year-old’s bed for story-time once again. So much work goes into motherhood, and I believe the job is grossly suffering from the lack of standing ovations. We should seriously change this. Next time you have a moment of masterful motherhood, I want you to know that I will totally jump to my feet. Hopefully visualizing a greater pretend audience reveling in your talents will put a smile on your face when you’re reality is only met with the screams of your toddler or the whining of your teenager. (Or if you are like me and are a mom who spread her kids way out – both at the same time.)

So, as I use my blog to brag about myself in a second, I hope you know that the following story is prefaced with a million years moments where no one was cheering. The other day, I got a standing ovation. At the arrival of it from my 15-year-old daughter I realized that a mother’s standing ovation is so very hard to hear because it is only found in the heart of her children.

My standing ovation came in the form of a facebook message from my Abigail. It was a sweeter than sweet message combined with a movie (that you must watch) about the typical ovation-less life of a mom. I had seen the movie and enjoyed it before, but it took on a whole new meaning for me when shared along with this meaningful message from one of my own:

Mom, this made me think of you. Even though you don’t always get done what you want, thank you for helping me and everyone else all the time. You are not a failure. I love you:)

The hearts of children are the greatest place for ovations to be kept because on the very rare occasion when the mom-ovations are shared, they’re more raucous than the Derek Jeter fans at Yankee Stadium.

Now, my 5-year-old just screamed from the bathroom, “Mom, come wipe my butt!” That so doesn’t sound like a standing ovation. I’ll finish off this post while visualizing the day in the near future that she poops at school and discovers that she really can wipe her own butt. How did all you clapping moms get in her school bathroom for my mom-ovation?

I bow to you all and thank you for your exuberance in my mom success. “Thank you.Thank you very much.” Blowing you kisses.

Always Finish Fast

A few months back I briefly mentioned the stress I was feeling about my oldest’s desire to play high-school soccer. I stressed all summer for no reason as she made the team. Watching her play at the high-school level has been one of my greater privileges as a parent. Not only is she ecstatic to play as part of a great team which makes her so happy, she is also a great competitor that makes her mom and dad very proud.

Watching Abigail play has also been frustrating at times. Abigail is speedy fast – Speedy Gonzalez fast. She gets it from her dad or from her ADHD (so, her dad either way.) In the ten years she has been playing soccer there have only been a handful of girls that could beat her on the field. Her coaches have best used her speed at the forward position for the last two years and it’s been a hard transition for her from playing midfield. Being a forward means she is responsible for shooting the ball – more precisely, she is responsible for making the goals. The problem has been that her speed can’t make up for her lack of confidence. Even though she can beat almost everyone to the ball, she usually gets all worked up in her head and chokes on the shot. Her last coach said it best, “She has such raw talent, she has just been under-coached.” [Disclaimer: She’s had some great coaches, it’s just that they can only do so much in rec. leagues.] If we had put in all the extra time and money for a club team, it is more than likely that she would have been rid of butterflies a long time ago…I am so grateful that her high school coaches have had tremendous patience.

So, as a mother watching this all go down, this year, I made a conscious effort to not “coach” her but to tell her repeatedly that she can do it. Because nothing is more frustrating than knowing your kid can do something but seeing them screw up their own success with a negative self-dialogue. Well, after weeks of the “you-can-do-it” pep talks, she finally shot and scored!

Here’s the shot.

15300044831_f5c2eaf9f0_oThis guy gets it. It’s all in the attitude.

I thought you would all like to see what it looked like when she finally succeeded: definitely worth all the moments of defeat and frustration. This photo brought tears to her mother’s eyes. (I missed the real thing because I was at Sophia’s parent/teacher conferences) Just believe. You can do it. Or like he said – Always, always finish fast – even if you start out slow – especially when you start out slow.
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God loves broken things.

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So, I haven’t been blogging like I should.
Did I mention that I am 40 and pregnant?
And a broken vessel just trying to cope with life?

Trust me, coping is hard to do when you are pregnant with what could be your own grandchild. I like to tease that I have always been a do-it-yourself kind of gal so I took the matter of having grandchildren into my own hands.

Oh, the really great news that you have all read on facebook by now is that after having four wonderful beautiful daughters, we are finally having a boy!!  I still can’t believe it. As you remember from this post I referred to the then un-sonogram-ed kid as a he. From the experience I had in the temple I knew that he would be a boy, but I didn’t want to admit it publicly until I knew for sure. (I have another special story about this boy to tell you some day.It started with a dream about 9 years ago.)

God has a great way of taking broken people and making them whole. In my case, one really astonishing way He has made me feel whole is by sending me a son. I’ve always felt like something was wrong with me so that he wouldn’t trust me with a boy. Until I recently read something about the same gender parent having the greatest influence on their kids, and then I realized that it was actually LG who finally must have passed some kind of test. I’m glad LG fixed the broken part of himself that was keeping God from giving us a boy. (This is sarcasm for those of you who don’t know me and think I am the world’s worst wife. I’m really just glad that God finally decided that if we could screw up all these girls, why not throw a boy into the mix?)  I am really excited for this adventure. I can hardly wait to see my beloved husband hold the son that I have always wanted to give him in his arms. Watching him with his infant girls has always been special, but I am excited for a new kind of special.

This morning I got a really sweet message from a friend who told me he read my broken post weeks ago and was touched. On his way to work this morning he heard this song on the radio and wanted to share it with me. One of my favorite things of all time is having a friend reach out at random times and with special messages telling me that they thought of me. This share was especially beautiful. I cried. I loved it. I had to share it with you all along with the most intense feeling that I had with the lyrics, “Could it be that God loves broken things?” I know he does and I know if He were to search the whole earth over, I am one of those most special broken ones, just as you are.

I am thinking of certain people this morning:

  • The friend who is in her forties and has so many kids that I lost count (is it 8 or 9?) and is exhausted and terrified that there still may be one more.
  • The divorced dad who still can’t find a job after months of searching, but doesn’t quit.
  • The thrice divorced mom who is just trying to love her kids and herself.
  • The mom of a very special boy in and out of hospitals.
  • The mom who deals with chronic illness and a slew of medical bills and no acceptable answers.
  • The friend who is trying to learn to walk again after a very scary life-altering surgery.
  • The widower raising his son without his beloved by his side.
  • You who has two completely unacceptable grades because you once again procrastinated turning your homework in, even though you know better. But change is so hard!!
  • The dads out there who bust their tails and still never feel like they can provide enough.
  • The addict who just can’t lay off the sauce.
  • The lonely person who has everything that they could possibly want financially but nothing that they need.

So many more of you are suffering in ways I don’t have time to relay in this post.

I just want to tell you that I know you’re broken and with all my broken I still love you.

But more importantly, God knows your brokenness, and in all his perfection He loves you. And better than loving you, He will fix you! I should say He will fix us! Because I need the most fixing. God not only can make us whole, He will, in His own time, in His own way. From experience I know that His way will only make us suffer as long as is absolutely necessary for our own growth.

Home on the Range

My third grade teacher died at 91-years-old a few months back. His name was Mr. Panman, a WWII Nazi camp survivor from Holland, and one of the best teachers I ever had. I’ll never forget the emotions I felt the day he told us about running from the Nazis and tearing to shreds his back by crawling under a barbed wired fence. I cried in class while I heard his living history. I loved him so much. He always played the piano in class and he often sang us the song Home on the Range.  The class quickly learned the lyrics and always sang along while thoroughly enjoying the musical break to our daily studies. Oh the good old days. I swear if I am ever a teacher, I would employ this simple form of educational entertainment.

Oh give me  home, where the buffalo roam,
where the deer and the antelope play.
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day.
Home, home on the range.

I’m sure Mr. Panman is roaming free on a very vast range that includes a piano. Love you Mr. Panman. I can’t go to a place with buffalo and not think of Mr. Panman.

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On Saturday, while at Antelope Island, I had to break the law and get out of the car to take the photo above (of the buffalo – and the family, actually) The law-abiding family was in the rental van freaking out. I just laughed while I shot away. I was pretty sure I could outrun the buffalo just 20 feet away. The kids were begging LG to make me get back in the car saying I was going to get arrested. He assured them, “I’m staying in here with you, so one adult doesn’t get arrested.” Bella put two and two together really quick. (We were in the rental van that only I am allowed/insured to drive.) “But Dad, if mom gets arrested, who is going to drive us home?”

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On the way home we met up with Amy and Tyler and went to our favorite family restaurant. It was such an enjoyable dining experience with the cozy atmosphere, big fire, good food, and kids all getting along.

We love you Cracker Barrel. Our waiter, Kyler, was the best waiter I’ve ever had in my entire life.
I just got off the phone with the store manager to let him know to keep that kid around. I wish I would have got his photo. I guess we’ll just have to go back.

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Have a great Monday wherever you roam the range.

Feel free to sing along with your munchkins. Mr. Panman would very much approve.

When I Leave the Room

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If you are an American, you’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard about Grammy-nominated gospel singer Natalie Grant walking out of the Grammys. The story is all over the place.

On her facebook the night of the Grammy’s she wrote:

We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many thoughts about the show tonight, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this: I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.

She got so many people slinging mud at her that she had to follow up with this:

I’ve tried to read all of the comments on my previous post but I can’t respond to them all. Most of you have always been so supportive and encouraging to me & I’m grateful. It does sadden me when people argue, judge and hurl insults at each other from both sides of the fence. I’m not going to engage in arguments, but just have a few things I’d like to say:
I NEVER said I left during any particular performance. I only said I left early.
I never pointed out any one particular performance, I only said I had many thoughts about the entire show, which were best left inside my head and that is where they will stay. So those who say I condemned one performance but then condoned others clearly did not read the post.
What I DID say is this: I am honored to be a part of the Christian music community. I’ve had many people throughout my career ask why I never tried to go in to mainstream music and last night was a beautiful reminder that I love singing about Jesus and FOR Jesus.
I’ve judged no one. I hate no one. And I believe that every person has been created in the image of God. I will never stand on a street corner and wave a sign, I won’t use my platform to engage in political arguments that will only divide and not unite. I will continue to pray that my life will be my message. I do have my own personal convictions that I live by, and I will continue to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord. (Philippians 2:12)
I was honored to be nominated for 2 Grammy awards last night. I’m so grateful that NARAS and The Grammys continue to recognize the contribution that gospel and Christian music make to the world. And I’m so thrilled for those who won in my categories. And I can say that with all sincerity.
My last thought:
“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus for it is the power of God who brings salvation to ALL who believe.”
Romans 1:16

~ Natalie

I had never even heard of Natalie Grant before this incident was reported, but I was deeply touched by this song of hers that a friend just shared with me. I thought maybe she had written it in response to the backfire, but after listening I was no longer even thinking about the Grammy’s.  Listen, and tell me what you are thinking about when she gets through.

When the song was over, I was thinking about my loved ones and what it is like to leave them, and how much I pray for their safety, protection, and happiness. I was also thinking about my Jesus and how holy and peaceful it feels to trust in Him and know without a doubt that one day I will look at Him in the eyes unashamed and tell Him that I did my best to live up to His name that I took upon me at baptism.

When I leave the room, I want people to know that I fully expect to meet my Jesus on the other side and that I will continue to trust Him to watch over whoever is left standing on the other side of the door. Whether they be Hollywood, gay, the Pope, the President of the United States, a cult member,  my child, my friend, an alcoholic, a murderer, my favorite librarian…whatever and whoever they are…I know Jesus is watching over them and will make all things right according to whether or not they will accept Him in his terms. I do not stand in judgement, but I do stand for Him to the best of my ability and I do hope that someday we can all stand with Him together on the other side of the door. But guess what? The only way to get there is to leave the room. I kind of hope more people will start taking that part of the plan a little bit more serious. This life isn’t about seeking our own carnal desires, it’s about proving ourselves to God that we will choose Him no matter what comes our way.

I applaud you Natalie Grant.

Feeling naked at church.

My friend Jenna shared this great post this morning where a fellow Christian voiced his frustration with a big problem in the Christian realm. I like to call the problem, “let’s all talk about how awesome we are.” It can be rather annoying when the majority of people at church don’t admit out loud that they have weakness. Perhaps it’s actually more damaging than annoying. Check out this article about shame. And, yes, we are creating a society of shame if we aren’t willing to talk about weakness.

I hate to admit it but I belong to a church body that flourishes at shame –  they don’t mean harm, they just don’t know any better. I don’t solely blame my church. Like so evident in The Scarlett Letter I think that religion and shame just naturally go together. It’s not that anyone is purposefully teaching everyone to shame each other or that the people are bad or hateful or judgmental. It’s just that they don’t know how to be vulnerable.  It’s a lot easier to look down on other people for their problems then admitting our own.

I’ve been through hard trials in my life where I have just wished that I could find better support from my church body. That support is so hard to get when “perfect” people were all I had to choose from. I can’t tell you how many times I have said to myself, “What does that person possibly know about this… I can’t talk to them about it, they’ll avoid me like the plague.” Let’s face it, if we can’t get support at church, doesn’t that make church kind of pointless?

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So, wouldn’t God want us to help each other? Wouldn’t he want everyone to feel like church is the best most loving place? That leaves only one question: how do we change a culture of shame?

We change it one vulnerable person at a time. I was that person this past Sunday. I had to speak in church. I believe what I said was inspired, but it was also extremely vulnerable. I told the people at church (whom I hardly know since I just moved here) about how I was going to write the prophet a letter and tell him to take my mission call to Utah and shove it. I told them about my struggle with weight. And *gasp* I told them about how I almost got divorced.  I also told them how God helped me through all of those scenarios and more.

I wish more then anything that other people could do the same. I wish that those with same-gender attraction, alcoholism, porn addiction, and victims of sex abuse could use church as a safe place too, but honestly the things I talked about seemed shocking enough for now. That saddens me. There is so much suffering of which we are all unaware. How can we support each other?

Do you know what happened after I stripped down at the pulpit? Besides the fact that I wanted to throw up when I got done. Instead of running out of there and curling up in a ball in bed at home and hoping that I could somehow find the courage to go back some day, I pushed myself on to Sunday School.  Guess what happened on my way? No less then twenty people came to me and told me what a beautiful job I did and that we need a lot more talks like that at church.

When we got home, my husband said the same thing happened to him. In fact, these were his exact words, “Alice, I had triple the amount of people tell me that you gave a wonderful talk, then I did when I spoke two weeks ago. It’s funny. The whole time you were talking I was just so worried about how you might embarrass me, what you might reveal….I couldn’t even feel the spirit of what you were saying….and then when all these people told me how they were touched and how they could relate, I realized something about myself. I am way too guarded.” (O.k. he didn’t use a run-on sentence) I gave him a kiss, told him I loved his talk, thanked him, and replied, “Don’t feel bad, it’s just the power of vulnerability.”

We all need vulnerability. Especially at church. How else will we understand that we aren’t the only ones who feel like we suck half the time? How else will we find the courage to keep trying? Yes, we could find those things solely with God, but it makes the journey a lot less lonely and a lot more hopeful when we can share the ups and downs with other mortal beings.

Less shame. More vulnerability. You can even keep your clothes on.