the world is changing

the world is changing

The world is a different place than it was before.

I don’t know how I feel about that. Do I feel it so keenly because I am getting old? Maybe, I guess. But I feel it.

I feel like time is less relevant, because it stops and starts and speed up and slows down recklessly, and it’s kind of scary, like when you don’t realize there is a step and you think there is one and there isn’t and you are momentarily falling and disoriented and your heart starts to race because it feels like there is nowhere to land.

And I feel like it makes everyone feel a little nervous, even though they may not know why. I watch everyone snapping photographs, ignoring life that is going on around them in a vain attempt to capture time and control it. And we can’t.

The world changes and I hold my breath and try to step back and see it from a distance because I don’t want to be afraid.

And, you know, it’s good. In spite of the capriciousness of time, if you step back until it is quiet, it is so clear how good life really is.

There are still great unknowns and things out there we have yet to discover, and we are so lucky to be here, right now. I tell my children that every day.

You are so lucky.

(And they know if they don’t agree, I will remind them that they do NOT have to live with pants eating plants, so they really are very lucky.)

There is so much good we need to do, and so much good to find–so many things to discover and so many things on the horizon.

It’s hard not to lose your way, simply because the possibilities are endless. It’s exciting and terrifying and wonderful.

The world is changing, and we are changing it.

We make the difference, we spread the good.

Everything we choose to become ripples across the earth, because we are all linked together, you and I, and our enemies and our friends.

We are all part of the human family, out here, alone in a vast solar system, on the edge of an even more enormous galaxy in an endless, timeless universe.

Here we all are. In this together.

Every choice we make echoes across time and reverberates through every other human being on this earth.

We are powerful.

It is our day to day, humdrum, little recognized kindness and goodness that truly powers the beauty and energy that fills the earth and moves people to try harder to be a little better.

I wonder if we even comprehend how our actions and thoughts of good and the choice to face another day with grace and courage truly effect the entire world.

If you feel like you are not making much of a difference, please know that you are. You are important to this world. You in all your flawed glory. And when it gets hard, because it does, remember it.

Life, after all, is made up of little things. Our life, our being, physically, is made up of little heart beats. Let that little heart stop beating, and life in this world ceases. The great sun is a mighty force in the universe, but we receive the blessings of his rays because they come to us as little beams, which, taken in the aggregate, fill the whole world with sunlight. The dark night is made pleasant by the glimmer of what seem to be little stars; and so the true Christian life is made up of little Christ-like acts performed this hour, this minute—…wherever our life and acts may be cast. –David O. McKay

After all, a waterfall begins with only one drop of water, and look what comes from that.*

*From the film, The Power of One

 

five christmas traditions that you won’t believe I’m giving up

five christmas traditions that you won’t believe I’m giving up

Looking for ways to simplify this Christmas season? Here are some of the Christmas traditions we are giving up this year in order to try and not get overly hustley and bustley.

Financial Hardship/Job Loss/Major Illness

What could be more fun than finding out you are going to lose your job or take a financial hit in December? Or what about a few days in ICU? How about the church delivering a frozen Christmas turkey in front of your non-member in-laws who have no idea you are struggling?  I am here to tell you, there is nothing like it!

This year we are substituting this tradition with Gratitude For A Great Job/Financial Solvency/Recovery. It’s going to be bittersweet to say goodbye to this longstanding tradition, but we will try not to cry too hard about it.

The thing that I will miss the most about that tradition is visiting with the hospital nurses. They are some of my best friends and it won’t be the same this year without them.

Making Gingerbread Houses

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After seeing what my friend’s family did, I thought, “We can do that….How hard can it be?” We have actually destroyed all photographic evidence of our attempt. It was horrific.

After a brief period of delusion, I have also retired this fun filled event. Nothing says Christmas like mom saying Mormon swear words because she can’t get the graham crackers to stand up in a square.

The Colors Are Vibrant Going Down AND Coming Up!

The Colors Are Vibrant Going Down AND Coming Up!

And it’s just not the holiday season if your four year old didn’t eat four boxes of Dots (which were really meant to decorate the gingerbread houses), and vomits up in technicolor. That is celebrating, let me tell you!

Making The Holidays Healthy

If Only You Could Smell That Through The Computer!!! Mmmmm...

If Only You Could Smell That Through The Computer!!! Mmmmm…

What an awesome tradition! What better way to celebrate than with a Celebration Loaf and a Curried Quinoa salad? Who wants a decadent dessert when you can have raw brownies made out of date paste? It tastes soooooo much like the original that you can’t even tell the difference!!!!!

And who needs greasy chips when you can have your fill of deliciously dehydrated kale chips?!!!?!?!? And nothing says comfort food like Grilled Chikun (not to be confused with actual chicken) covered in a delicous cashew Cheeze Sauce with a side of mashed cauliflower!

Don’t forget to wash it down with some of that delicious non-GMO, organic, free range, gluten free, dairy free, paleo, low carb, Beach body approved water!!! Or maybe some Eggnog Shakeology!!!! Or even a Christmas Green Drink!!!!

THAT'S NOT EGG NOG!!!!!

THAT’S NOT EGG NOG!!!!! For a better taste experience, DRINK REAL EGG NOG.

While we will never go back to a really processed diet, and we really don’t eat a ton of meat or anything, there is no substitute for a delicious Christmas roast and comfort food.

Annual Holiday Fight

Oh, how we will miss the Annual Holiday Fight between mom and dad or mom and teen or dad and young adult, or between mom and dad and everyone. It’s always so enjoyable to watch everyone get pulled in to the drama and hear all the children crying at once!!

What holiday wouldn’t be complete without two or seven of your family members getting into the ring to duke it out over whether or not the fifteen year old has a crush on someone, or trying to find out why your husband decide to buy you snow tires as an “early” Christmas/birthday present, or why the younger kids are more loved than the older, or whether or not they should run away, or any number of life altering, major questions that need to be battled out, to the point of drawing blood, slamming doors, or making holes in the wall, if necessary.

Visiting Friends and Family and Going to Parties With Anyone Who Cannot Go To The Bathroom Completely By Themselves

Ah, the joy of visiting strange relatives you haven’t seen anywhere but on Facebook!! How enchanting to spend an evening in the home of dear family members who have more breakables and stairs than Buckingham Palace!!

What fun to see the fifteen month old nearly knock a tooth out falling down the stairs, or your ten year old break the neighbor’s Star Wars action figure!! How lovely to try and carry on an adult conversation with fifteen toddlers screaming and running around you in circles.

How I will miss those evenings that could rival the decibel level of the space shuttle launch!

We are replacing this tradition with Adults Only Parties and Visiting Friends and Relatives With The Kids In Five To Ten. Years.

Here are some traditions we plan on keeping forever, though. We just couldn’t give THESE up:

Annual Family Christmas Play/Program

We love to perform for ourselves and laugh at our own apparent wit and ingenuity. Put us in front of a camera at home, and we are content to ham it up with reckless abandon! We love a good reboot of such classics as “A Christmas Carol,” or “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” (We changed beheading to Chauvlin wanting to cut off people’s hair. Aren’t we clever?)

Eating

We like to eat at Christmas. This tradition will happily continue. We will eat almost anything. If you have food, there is someone in our family who will probably try it. Last year, after Christmas, my son went from house to house around dinner time offering his services to “take care of” pesky Christmas leftovers.

We will not, however, allow any of our children to eat Dots. Multicolored vomit is “out” this year.

Christmas Music

We will always and forever play Christmas music at Christmas time.

We listen, we sing, we hum, we dance. It is wonderful to be joyful with song. We have a wide and varying collection of favorites including “Feliz Navidad” by the Three Tenors, “Jingle Bells,” by Michael Buble (the kids love to repeat when the girls say, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Buble” over and over and over and over again. Because his name is funny? I don’t know why.), the hilariously grating and migraine inducing “12 Days of Christmas” by the Mormon Youth Chorus. And, there is of course, Joseph’s favorite “Cluck of the Bells,” as sung by chickens.

Please don’t even get me started on the song stylings of “Disney Princess Christmas.” You haven’t lived until you’ve heard fake Snow White singing about Christmas Eve Dinner. It’s truly unforgettable. I will leave you with another favorite…the classic croonings of Justin Bieber in “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”

These are just a few of the mind blowing traditions that we have decided to keep for the coming years. And even though we will miss the old ones, we feel that truly, we are making room for more!

beginning again

beginning again

It’s Christmastime. And I have decided it’s a perfect time to begin again.

So much has happened to me over the last six months.

For one, I had my very last baby. It was beautiful and bittersweet and I realized I would have never stopped having babies if there was any way that I could have. I love babies and I love children and I love the people they turn into when they grow up. I will miss that part of my life, and it was hard to come to the end of that chapter.

Peter, named after Pan. I never want him to grow up!

And why does no one really let you know how difficult marriage can be? John and I are complete opposites. Like from different ends of the universe. And we are both passionate and we are both full of fire. And I know that the fire we share is going to make us diamonds, but sometimes it just feels like it’s incinerating us.

We always get through and we love each other fiercely.

We have been through hell. Again, and again and again. He is my one and only and my One True Love. I am his. And it is fine, and I am not saying there is anything wrong with our marriage, because I don’t know that there is. I think we are just in the fire. And I think we are ebbing into the part where the fire is warm and crackling and comforting and we are sipping hot chocolate and it’s wonderful and toasty, but before it was…not that.

Hot-Chocolate-1

I love that even though we have those epic firestorms, we can come together again and sort it out. I love that no matter what, we are in this and we aren’t going to give up. I really love that.

So, now we are here again, in the fire and Christmas is upon us, and we can’t help but think of Joy, and there are some December days when I wonder if I will be able to get through it and there are other days when my heart soars and I feel so close to Heaven that it doesn’t hurt the same way.

And who knows what the 25th will be like? It’s scary, this part. The holidays. Not knowing how it will be. Hoping it will be wonderful. Fearing that it will, and that you will feel guilty for not having a bad day. But we will go forward with faith and know that it will all be alright.

Joy's Last Christmas

Joy’s Last Christmas

I love Christmas. I love that it’s helping me begin again. Even in the midst of my pain, I can’t help but feel that wonderfulness that Jesus was born a baby and there is something so beautiful about that.

Christmas!

Isn’t it wonderful that because He lived a perfect life, I will see Joy again?

That we can try again if this Christmas doesn’t turn out wonderfully? That there is always hope? That we never have to give up? That there is forgiveness?

And that His healing light and love can make it so the burning fire doesn’t incinerate but purifies us til we are pure? Isn’t it all so amazing?

So in my grief, I still rejoice.

On Feeling Awkward…

On Feeling Awkward…

Mostly, I feel…awkward.

You know, like I look at myself in the mirror and I think, “Okay, so now what?”

I feel like I have decided to move on. Go forward. Sail the ocean of possibilities. But, I expected something else.

I guess I thought I would suddenly feel more wise, more like I had the answers, more centered…but I don’t really feel very different.

I wanted to feel like I was more…and I feel like I am less.

When I was in between worlds, I felt even more…less. There was nothing between who I really am and Heaven. I was not hiding anything. I was completely and utterly myself.

There were no excuses or reasons why. There was no hiding behind walls. There was nothing but the reality of who I am…all of me, even the parts that aren’t so lovely.

And when I came back, those layers and walls and hiding didn’t come back with me. When I woke up again, I was still me, but without all of that extra stuff.

Kind of like when Eustace Scrubb was un-dragoned by Aslan, only it was terrifying because I hadn’t minded being covered with armor and scales and dragon-ness.

I liked hiding behind it.

There were lots of things I didn’t like about myself, and Heaven told me that I needed to embrace those things.

Heaven wanted me to accept the things about me that were kind of weird and maybe a little dysfunctional, because they were innately what made me, me.

Heaven explained that the sooner I began accepting that, the deeper I would become–and as I became deeper and lighter I would love more deeply and better….and that is what life is all about–loving.

I did finally give up the idea of being a marine biologist and swimming in oceans, seeing as how I can’t even make it three feet into the water without being completely convinced that sharks are swarming me. Or poisonous jellyfish. Or giant squid. It’s terrifying.

I also gave up the idea of being a famous actress.

But, there is so much of me that’s swirling around–so many different textures and colors and pieces of me that are all so different. And I’ve learned to live with them now. And I’ve learned to accept them.

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I guess it’s scary to me to even attempt to manage the beautiful chaos that seems to be my soul.

Even with the help of angels.

I used to think that the whole point of my existence here on planet earth was to be good and go back to Heaven.

But, honestly, I don’t think I really understood how that was supposed to work.

And I thought I kind of had a grasp on what I was doing.

I thought I was On My Way.

It has taken me a long time to process what I felt and saw and learned while I was in between worlds, but I am finally starting to grasp it.

And in the meantime, I have felt kind of adrift, neither here no there, and not really understanding either place.

a-single-event-can-awaken-within-us-a-stranger-totally-unknown-to-us-to-live-is-to-be-slowly-born

My near death was messy and painful and the amazing, beautiful, miraculous parts were hard for me to understand.

But, I guess I needed time to really look at things with my heart.

And, so, I sit here thinking about how I thought I was doing okay, and maybe I was, but I can’t do what I did before and have it be okay now.

Now, I realize that the way I become more like God is to embrace myself, shamelessly and without reserve. No walls, no filter.

No, just me.

I am also exposing myself to the world. Anyone who meets me gets to see me in all my glory.

No filter.

Scary.

But in accepting myself this way, I am able to help in doing God’s work: taking chaos, taking something that is really kind of messy, and creating something…beautiful.

Amazing.

Immortal.

Antoine-de-Saint-Exupéry---A-Cathedral

It took me awhile to realize that I am not here to gain my worth, I was born with it. I came here to take part in perfecting the creation that is my soul.

I didn’t really realize that all the stuff I was supposed to do, all the good things and commandments and everything–I don’t think I really “got it.” I don’t think I understood that it was just a way to try and help me feel more at home with myself.

Because me, I am made of stardust and glory and Heaven.

And that’s Home.

The other parts of me that I feel awkward about or sometimes even ashamed of….my propensity for opening my mouth when it should be shut, my ineffectual attempts at washboard abs (I don’t know where my abs are, to be honest. I don’t even know if I have any left…), my inability to focus, my ineptitude at crafting….my extreme dislike of raccoons…

The list could go on and on, but in the end, all of those things I can, with God’s help, transform into something good and wonderful.

Somehow, God has a way of converting it all into something that still contains the me-ness without the bad.

Opening my mouth when it should be shut? There are actually times when everyone would say “Be quiet,” but someone SHOULD say something. And that someone could theoretically always be me.

The trick is doing those “good” things so I am wise enough and listening close enough to Heaven to know when the time is right to open my mouth.

And if I didn’t have my fiery impetuousness I might not be brave enough to say something when it truly needs to be said.

My unreasonable fear of raccoons? Not sure yet how it can be transformed, but I will get there.

My inability to make crafts may very well be a blessing because if I were good at it I would be too easily distracted becoming wealthy from my amazing craftiness that I would not pay attention to the Bigger Picture.

And being easily distracted is also related to being highly creative.

And that is something I can definitely do.

I can create.

Not artwork or furniture or songs or recipes or anything like that, but I can create human beings.

And I can create feelings.

And I can create a home.

And I can become at Home with myself.

And that’s what I am here to do.

I just think I looked at all the parts of myself that seem so…eccentric and mismatched…and I became overwhelmed.

Because there is always that little part of me that doubts.

What if it’s impossible to create anything remotely beautiful out of all of this? What if it is just a pile of rocks and will never be a cathedral?

Sometimes I almost feel as if my soul were made of spare parts that got thrown together.

But, that’s not true.

Every part is essential, I just need to uncover the beauty of it and let go of any of the ugliness.

I was made this way on purpose because God knows I can be glorious.

Eternal.

Heavenly.

Stunning.

And I guess it’s good just to write about it. To get it out there. To let you know that after all I’ve been through I realize that I will be the greatest masterpiece I ever work on.

And it’s really terrifying.

And I bet there are more people out there who feel sometimes…eccentric. Odd. Awkward. Weird. Different. Inferior. A mess…

Maybe we all even feel like that sometimes.

And, I am a lot like Eustace Scrubb. Mr. Lewis described me so accurately when he wrote:

It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that “from that time forth Eustace was a different boy”. To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.

I have relapses from when I first realized I could be stripped of almost everything and be okay with it. Sometimes I wish I could put my walls back up, but it is no use. The unfiltered, real me is what I am now. And I am sometimes embarrassed by myself. But, I will keep trying. The cure has begun, and eventually, I hope I can truly be divine.

As one of my favorite philosophers once said:

… perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away … –Antoine De Saint Exupery

glorious.

glorious.

I am going on a date tonight.

A movie date.

And I am pretty excited because the movie we’re going to see is about me.

No, it’s not about me, personally. I mean who could be gorgeous enough to portray me in a film?

But it’s about people like me.

As a Christian, I have chosen to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most people refer to us as “Mormons.”

And tonight, I am going to “Meet the Mormons.”

And I know I will see a little of myself.

It’s not about anything specifically controversial or of “critical acclaim.”

What is it that people post on Facebook all the time?

Artwork by Andrea Bra

Artwork by Andrea Bra

I like to think that “Meet the Mormons” is a plea to hear our stories and to see our battles. Perhaps, in doing that, we are hoping to find an understanding and perhaps even some friends in others who are not of our faith. You know, because we all have a story.

And my story is echoed in bits and pieces of theirs, because when it comes down to it, it’s about Christ.

When my daughter died, I lost my breath. It was like being kicked in the stomach.

Yes. Gut punched every single day for about three years.

And when I was trying to catch my breath, I couldn’t.

And when I almost died, I was surprised by the amount of pain a person can endure and I was discouraged and depressed and it was dark.

And I tried to catch my breath again, and I couldn’t.

But, Christ gave me breath and light. He was my Friend. My Constant Companion.

He loves me.

Even if I am a Mormon. 🙂

And He loves all of us and I guess I feel like the way I found Him was in the covenants I made to Him, before Joy died, before I had to use a walker, before life got really, really hard.

Where I Promised Him...

Where I Promised…

The promises I made to Him as part of my faith–to always remember Him–even in the darkest, loneliest, most forsaken nights–to keep His commandments–even when I was exhausted and sick and scared and lost–to love my family, to believe in sacrifice–even if it meant letting go of my precious daughter and letting her go back to God–to give everything to Christ– even to the point that I try to be more and better and deeper so I have more to give Him.

Even when it felt as if He had taken everything away from me–those promises are what gave me hope.

Because He promised me things, too.

He promised me that He would always be with me.

He promised that This Is Not The End.

That light and love more brilliant than I can imagine are just around the corner.

That every time I share my melody in the symphony that are the songs of every aching and grateful and kind and sorrowing heart that blinding love of Heaven comes into our souls and lights up this earth.

Lighting Up The Earth

Lighting Up The Earth

One by one, story by story. Even if the stories aren’t about something earth shattering or controversial.

Even if they are just plain, regular people who are simply trying to get through life through Christ and share His love and His good.

I think that’s what we are all trying to do, and I would love for it to bind us together, in spite of our different-ness.

There are times when you might feel aimless
You can’t see the places where you belong
But you will find that there is a purpose
It’s been there within you all along and when you’re near it
You can almost hear it.

It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious.

You will know how to let it ring out as you discover who you are
Others around you will start to wake up
To the sounds that are in their hearts
It’s so amazing, what we’re all creating.

It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious.

And as you feel the notes build
You will see

It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious!

hello, september.

hello, september.

Hello, September.

It’s the 17th and I feel like I am just now realizing you have arrived.

I don’t know what I would do without you.

I hate to say it, but the past few years you have just been a reminder that it’s almost October.

Almost Joy’s birthday. Another year passing by without her here.  And I didn’t really like you very much. You made me feel old.

But things have changed.

I feel a lot like you this year.

Hanging on to summer...

Hanging on to summer…

Especially now, when you are holding on to the last breath of summer and you aren’t quite decided on whether or not you are comfortable with yourself.

I know in a week, you will have decided to be who you are. Crisp, orange and red and golden and fire.

And like you, sometimes I can’t decide.

I want to hang on to being more like summer, because everyone loves summer. And she is so hot. And blonde and gorgeous.

But, I need to be who I am meant to be.

I think I finally realized that the times I feel most like a failure are the times I am trying to be something I’m not.

Like the time I tried to use a soft, sweet voice like my friend Mary. I am loud and bombastic and also since I can’t hear out of one ear all the time now, it’s even worse.

Or the time I tried to take the Orange Rhino Challenge: No yelling for 365 days straight.

I was miserable.

I felt so much better when I decided to be more myself and do the Purple Eggplant Challenge: No yelling for 365 seconds straight.

I succeeded.

And also I have decided to raise the stakes and do no yelling for 365 minutes. Not there yet.

Or the time I spent about 20 minutes feeling guilty that I wasn’t going to go to a Relief Society activity to can chicken.

No desire to do this. Not even a little.

No desire to do this. Not even a little.

I didn’t lie to myself and say I didn’t have time, or we had something else going on, or I would forget.

No, I just admitted to myself I didn’t want to go.

I had no desire to can chicken. None. Not one molecule in my entire soul wanted to can chicken.

And for that 20 minutes I thought some mean things about myself.

Like when the end times come, and everything is apocalyptic, my family will starve because I didn’t can chicken and everyone will say,

“Well, you should have been more prepared like us, instead of going to the park while we were canning chicken.”

And then we will be a post-apocalyptic chickenless family.

I felt so much better after I accepted that tragic reality.

Or when I tried for two years to bake the perfect loaf of bread. I even bungled bread machine bread. I felt so much better when I realized it wasn’t going to happen.

And I felt better when I realized there were many more things I could work on improving about myself that had nothing to do with bread or chicken or sounding sweet.

I realized I also get annoyed when you are unsure of yourself, September. And I realized that everyone loves you for who you are, not for when you try to imitate August.

Glorious September.

Glorious September.

So, thank you, September.

Thank you, September.

Thank you, September.

 

Thank you for reminding me to be fiery and full of wind-whipped divine discontent…to embrace that the winds bring the beautiful burning and shake off all the things I need to let go of, so I can look forward to a glorious rebirth in the spring.

Shaking It Off...

Shaking It Off…

 

thanks, bishop and sister s.

thanks, bishop and sister s.

My bishop’s wife, Sister S., is a spunky, sassy, amazing, liberated, powerful woman.

She runs probably like 100 miles per day. Pushing a stroller. Smiling.

She went on a handcart trek when she was 8 months pregnant. And loved it.

Like I said, she is a powerful woman. And more powerful because she builds other women up, too.

One Powerful Woman! Sister S. is in the middle.

One Powerful Woman! Sister S. is in the middle.

She’s always doing nice things for people. One time when I was pregnant and had borderline gestational diabetes, she told me about recipes and even brought me over some amazing delicious ingredients to make yummy low carb meals.

And she gave me this recipe for amazing soup which I can’t remember but now realize I need to get from her because it was so yummy.

Then, she made me laugh because she told me how when she had gestational diabetes, her husband tried to help her by bringing home a huge log of salami. You know, because it’s protein and low carbs.

It's protein and low carb. Perfect, right?

It’s protein and low carb. Perfect, right?

 

I mean, what woman wouldn’t want to eat a log of salami when in the last stages of pregnancy? Ha.

I was so grateful for the laughter–more than the recipes and the food. It made my day.

Bishop and Sister S.

Bishop and Sister S.

She and her husband have an awesome relationship.

Her husband supports her as she runs and bikes and gives and loves others and hikes and goes spelunking or whatever adventure she is going to try, and he loves her.

And if she falls, he’s there to catch her, and she loves that he will catch her, even if she could do it all by herself.

And, I think he knows she would be fine, but the thing is, she is his soul mate, his ever-fixed mark…his heaven–and he wants to catch her, to protect her…but in a way that allows her to fly.

Bishop and Sister S. on a much deserved vacation.

Bishop and Sister S. on a much deserved vacation.

He became the bishop and now he sits on the stand in our Sunday meeting, observing the congregation and presiding over it. She sits in the congregation with their children.

Well, all but one.

Their youngest loves her daddy. And she wants to be with him. When she is with him, she is quiet and content. And Sister S. worried at first–what would people think if the bishop, the leader of the congregation, was up on the stand with a little girl on his lap. It wouldn’t be very professional or dignified, or something.

Her husband, my wonderful, wonderful, bishop said something to her that was in effect, along the lines of this doctrine of our church that, sadly, many people forget:

Of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Diety, He has asked us to address Him as Father.

Of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Diety, He has asked us to address Him as Father.

Basically, he told her that he was a father first before anything else.

This bishop of mine understands what equality means according to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He respects and values his wife, and he loves being a father, and he never had to say that he does.

Everyone who knows him can easily see it.

Thanks, Bishop and Sister S. for being a living example of equality in the church–the kind of equality the protects and cherishes and works together to show the world that equal does not mean the same.

Because of the way you live your lives, more dads at church walk the halls with their little ones, more husbands laugh with their wives, and more families are happier.

A glimpse of the divine.

Fatherhood.

Thank you for giving us a glimpse of the divine.

what happened when i prayed

what happened when i prayed

I recently wrote about how I was going to pray like I never have before for the Christians in Iraq.

And I want to tell you what has happened to me since I began praying.

The first thing I noticed was a feeling of absolute peace. I was driving on my way to meet my beautiful friend, Trudy, whom I have not seen in nearly a decade.

And I remembered the other thing I was supposed to do.

I was going to pray to make the world more good and more light, in whatever way I could in my little corner of it.

And I was hoping that I would be able to not make a fool of myself when I saw her again, but more than that, I was hoping it would be good.

Light.

She had just come from dropping off her radiant, full-of-love daughter to the Missionary Training Center. And I was feeling nervous. I mean, I was going to be able to sit with a mother who just gave her daughter away to serve the Lord for a year and a half.  I felt honored and anxious at the same time.

Mother and daughter. Beautiful light-filled women.

And this isn’t just any mother. She is one of those lights in the world that keeps the darkness away.

I love her.

So, I was on my way to see her and I was praying and my heart was just filled with peace. And I felt this overwhelming feeling that God was glad that I was doing this.

The praying.

The wishing and hoping and acting on faith to try and be good and kind.

And when I saw her, she was just as bright and beautiful as I remembered. And we talked and laughed and cried and shared over chicken tacos and a burrito bowl.

Who Knew Miracles Could Happen Here?

Who Knew Miracles Could Happen Here?

It was Good. It was Light. And I drove home so incredibly…grateful. I was grateful to have been able to feel her light and to be brighter as I left her.

Since I started praying for the people on the other side of the world, I noticed that I don’t have to try to be grateful.

I don’t need something amazing to happen to feel “blessed.”

I just feel grateful and blessed no matter what.

I don’t have to look for it.

It is miraculous, this change of heart.

Joy once whispered to me from heaven that it is harder to move people than to move mountains. And I have been moved. To me, it truly is a miracle.

Easier to move than people.

Easier to move than people.

And then, something else happened. When we knelt for family prayer the other day, my 17 year old son prayed:

Please bless the Christians in Iraq. And…and–and, well, bless all the people there.

And after the prayer he said he felt that he needed to pray for “the enemy” too.

And we cried.

Because he was right.

And I am being reminded again of how sincere, deep prayer is more than just words.

It is true power.

More powerful than armies and money and corruption.

I am not just saying that. I know it.

We are fasting on August 23rd for the people on the other side of the world.

Global Day of Fast and Prayer. Join Us!

Global Day of Fast and Prayer. Join Us!

Not just the Christians.

We are fasting for all of the people there.

I never anticipated that my prayers for the Christians in Iraq would lead me to pray for charity to those who, in my eyes, are evil incarnate.

But, it has.

And I am filled with peace that the world is in the hands of the Almighty God, and no power is greater than He, and His power is rooted in love.

Jehovah Creates The Earth, Walter Rane

Jehovah Creates The Earth, Walter Rane

I am writing because it has been a long time since I stepped outside of my own little family and prayed for those whom I do not know with the same fervency and zeal that I pray for my own precious children.

But, here I am, praying not only for the Christians in Iraq, but for those who are commiting unspeakable atrocities against them.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust…

I, Moroni. Walter Rane.

I, Moroni. Walter Rane.

There was a great man who lived long ago, who saw the same kinds of evil as we are witnessing in the Middle East, and his words have echoed in my mind as I have prepared to fast:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

roar.

roar.

I just need to write about everything that’s been on my mind lately.

Very sad things are happening around the world.

I think that’s been happening ever since people had the ability to choose evil over good.

In my faith, it is our belief that the children of God were given their agency so they could choose good over evil, not between good and evil.

Too bad so many people don’t.

And now we get to read about evil every hour, or see it on television or cable or YouTube or across the street.

It’s hard to live in a time when the world and its problems are constantly a part of our awareness.

And, if I didn’t know that there was an overarching plan, it would be terrifying.

Paralyzing.

Sometimes, even when I do realize there is a plan and a God who is intimately aware of everything that is happening, it can still be scary.

Suffering....

Suffering….

People are suffering everywhere; in our neighborhoods and all over the world, and we are now aware of it every moment of every day.

The Christians suffering in Iraq.

It made me cry. Sob, actually.

I am grateful I don’t have television and wish there weren’t so many videos and photographs of what is happening. I sometimes worry that our culture is so desensitized to virtual violence that when real violent images are shown, we don’t even process it as “real.” It’s just another “scene.”

And it’s not.

It’s real. And those are real children and real mothers and real families, and sometimes I think it is disrespectful and even offensive to publish these images. I am not only worried about those suffering, but worried about what the constant barrage of images mixed with “virtual” violence might do to some of us.

Robin Williams committed suicide and it made me cry that so many people were so affected by it.

I feel like it is because far too many of us can relate. Too many people I know are happy on the outside and dying on the inside. Starving for understanding, compassion and real love.

Not Facebook love. Not Pinterest followers. Real life love.

I think too many people are struggling with feeling horrible and awful when they are faced with quiet. Too many people fill their lives with noise to drown out the sobbings of their hearts. And I want that to stop.

There are riots and lootings and people who are angry and it’s just one long string of sad events.

Me.

Me.

And I am just a mom. A mom who didn’t get a shower until 1:48 this afternoon. A mom who made lunch in her pajamas.

A mom who has lots of children and doesn’t really leave the house. Not really.

What can this mom do? How can I stand up for something and roar:

“ENOUGH?”

Because I have had it.

I have had it with broken lives and betrayal and addiction and murderous hearts and corruption and I want to scream.

Is it just me?

Or am I right to believe there are other women like me who want to stand up for good and right and defend our families and our lives and our love for freedom from the tyranny of sin and corruption?

Are there other women like me who are tired of the evil that never sleeps?

Of course there are. And we can do something.

I will tell you what we are going to do.

joan-of-arc.jpg!Blog

We Are Going To Pray

We are going to pray.

I am going to pray like I’ve never prayed before.

I am going to pour out my soul to God and plead with all the power of my mother heart for Him to intervene and help.

We are going to fast.

I am going to fast with conviction and devotion and I am going to have faith that it will be more powerful than prayers alone.

We are going to ask God what we can do in our own little sphere of influence to increase light and good in the world. And then we are actually going to act on it.

We are going to give up on washboard abs and magazine worthy living rooms and use that time to listen to the brokenhearted and be with those who are dying on the inside.

And they will live.

We are not just going to think compassionately. We are going to be compassion.

We are going to the edge of the darkness and we are going to grasp the hands of those who are drowning in it.

Mother and Child

Mother and Child

And we are going to love our children.

I mean really love them.

We are going to teach them that the greatest power on earth is Love.

Love.

Love.

That our power lies in our ability to listen to Heaven and follow the celestial spark inside of us.

We are going to unite as women and mothers and blind the darkness with brilliant light.

We.

We.

We are going to be and embrace all that is good on this earth.

We are going to teach our children to live for a better world–a heavenly one.

And we won’t give up.

We won’t quit.

And that is how we will beat the bad guys. That is how we will win.

Let’s roar.