Saturday, January 31, 2015

Apples and Trees

I am always so surprised when the little birds in my home...and now out of my home...remember the things we've tried to teach them.  In my last post, I mentioned that we had a rough week emotionally around here (and in Utah.)  It's an especially difficult thing, to know that your child is sad and to not be close enough to talk them through it.  It's a difficult thing when your husband is sad, too, and far away.  Craig had some disappointments while he was traveling, and once again, I was pretty helpless from 1000 miles away.  There's only so much uplifting you can do via text.  

But I have come to realize that those challenges we face when we're alone are the ones where we learn the most.  Craig and Savannah probably needed to find their own personal solace more than they needed to hear from me.

There are places I go when I need to find solace in my life.  Prayer, scriptures, and conference talks all help a lot, but the place that I find the greatest comfort when I'm really struggling with something is in the temple.  Any temple.  At home.  On vacation.  It doesn't matter.  There is something about the sacrifice in getting there, the regular routine of it, and the time it takes before the running dialog in my mind is finally quieted, that brings the greatest relief and comfort for me.  This week I fled to the temple when the weight felt to heavy for me to manage alone.  And it was the perfect place to be.  

And then I noticed that Savannah posted this on IG this week...

How grateful I am that a few things stick with my kids even across the miles and that my little apples have not fallen very far from the tree that they've left.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

High Five for Friday

Oh, what an exhausting week.  We've all recovered from our various heartaches and disappointments.  Thanks to those of you who are always so sweet to write your notes and texts of concern.  I totally appreciate it and feel uplifted by all that love.  

There were some great things that happened this week, too, though, that really shouldn't be neglected.

1.  Efficiency
Whoever thought of this was brilliant!  Two sizes of little baggies in ONE box.  It's the small things that make such a big difference in life, don't you think?

2.  Sunny Weather
There is nothing that brightens up mid-January more than an unexpectedly warm week!  It was almost 70 degrees this week, and the sun was up early and bright every day.  I had to abandon the boots and socks I usually wear with these leggings and look for springier shoes...which I found in Savannah's closet.  Oh, the blessings of having a daughter who leaves stuff behind.

3.  Treats
This is actually leftover from last weekend, but I found the picture on my phone and realized it needed a space in my blog history.  Craig and McKay went on an ice cream run and because they know I'm not a huge fan of ice cream, they usually don't get me anything.  But I am a fan of non-dairy frozen when they passed this sorbet section they texted and asked which one I wanted.  Hooray for unexpected treats!

4.  Surprises in the Mail
Hooray for BYU mail from my girl this week!  Savannah wanted me to get a BYU Mom shirt when we were in Provo in January, but I just couldn't find one that didn't look like it belonged on a BYU Grandma.  Apparently she's been looking this whole time, and finally found one that was she bought it and mailed it to me!  It totally made my whole week!! 

5.  Inventive Kids
The dog on the left is the dog of my dreams.  Really any of those moppy looking things are the dog of my dreams.  I would LOVE to have one, I think.  But Craig is hesitant because there's work involved with a pet.  And I'm hesitant because I'm not great with living things.  Plants can't even survive in this house.  And a couple of us are very allergic to pets.  Therefore a moppy dog probably isn't in my near future.  The kids felt sorry for me because I keep longing for this little dog, though, so Emma bought a mop head from the store.  And then McKay fixed it to one of his stuffed animal puppies.  And poof!  Instant, hassle-free, fur-free, maintenance-free, moppy dog!  We're getting pretty attached to him.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Particularized Challenges

It has been a great and terrible week.  Terrible because there has been waiting and restlessness followed by disappointment and heartache.  And great because there have been so many answers to so many prayers. 

The thing that I've noticed, though, is that heartache and sadness and discouragement may look different on the outside for different people, but on the inside it all feels the same. Each person in my family and a few close friends have struggled with some major emotional catastrophe this week, and although difficult to manage with a few of us sprinkled across the country, it has been moderately comforting to know that there is some level of compassion binding all of us together.  Somehow knowing that you're not the only one climbing an endless mountain seems to make the mountain a little less foreboding.  

Neal A. Maxwell gave an amazing devotional at BYU called But For a Small Moment that was such a huge help this week.

"I'm not sure we can always understand the implications of God's love, because his love will call us at times to do things we may wonder about, and we may be confronted with circumstances we would rather not face. I believe with all my heart that because God loves us there are some particularized challenges that he will deliver to each of us. He will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know. He will set before us in life what we need, not always what we like. And this will require us to accept with all our hearts the truth that there is divine design in each of our lives and that we have rendezvous to keep, individually and collectively."

In the temple this morning, those words "particularized challenges" seemed more comforting than they did earlier in the week when I first read them.  What a huge blessing to know that we have a Heavenly Father who has designed even our challenges to bring about the best possible potential in us, and to draw us nearer to our Savior.  Because ultimately, that's the whole reason we're here.  

There are very few hard things that I enjoy doing.  And this week has been filled with way too many of them.  But I think Heavenly Father knows that nothing compels me to move like love and loyalty.  There are a handful of people in my life that I love enough to attempt to climb an occasional mountain for.  

I can't even tell you all the things I've learned this week about my personal challenges and about being elevated to a new level.  I think there is much in our lives that we can do with just our own strength, will, and determination.  But eventually there will be something that requires us to acknowledge our complete weakness and inability to climb on our own, and we will be brought to our knees to ask for help from someone much stronger, much more willing, and more determined than we could ever hope to be.  

In the presence of God, . . . all things . . . are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord” (D&C 130:7). The future “you” is before him now. He knows what it is he wishes to bring to pass in your life. He knows the kind of remodeling in your life and in mine that he wishes to achieve."

Although I'm not at all comfortable with the "remodeling" process, I am grateful for the most amazing Designer who is constantly at work in my life and in all of our lives, turning us into things we could never be on our own.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I really enjoy seeing.  I love it so much that I am compelled to take pictures of nearly everything I see so that I can remember it when I get home and sometimes share it with the whole world.  But lately, my eyesight hasn't been great.  I noticed last Sunday when I was playing the organ that the lines on the music had mysteriously disappeared.  I attributed my many, many mistakes during Sacrament meeting partially to lack of practice and partially to being overly emotional because it was our first Sunday at church without Savannah.  But the real reason was because I couldn't tell the difference between the space notes and the line notes.  And that makes it difficult to play the right ones.  Those little lines are immensely important!

I have been asked to play the piano this Sunday for a missionary farewell.  It's not a difficult song.  It's only two pages.  But every time I've run through it, I make a million mistakes.  And since I don't love to make mistakes, and I don't love things that are difficult, I have procrastinated learning that music.  Which leads to dread and guilt and this giant thing looming over my head.  

I have to KNOW this by tomorrow morning at 11:30 in order to be able to practice it with the violinist.  

So today, I decided to try it again..this time in prime seeing the middle of the afternoon, with all the blinds open in the piano room, and a spotlight on the music. lines.  And more frustration.  Within minutes, I considered calling another pianist to fill in for me.  I planned my resignation from my self-appointed substitute organist calling.  And I prepared for a dismal future of darkness as my sight dwindled from "not great" to "legally blind" over the next few years. 

And then...I had an idea.  

I own a pair of glasses, you know.  They have lived in my bathroom drawer for almost three years because I don't like them, they don't really work, and glasses in general just give my a huge headache.  

But, you know, desperate times...and all that...

In complete desperation, I dusted off those glasses and made one final attempt at playing through that music.  

And miracle of miracles...they worked!  Things were magnified.  All those invisible staff lines reappeared.  And I played right through that whole song without any difficulty.  Oh, how much easier would my life be if I would just use the tools that are right here within reach?

I've been wearing these things around the house all night and it turns out they work on just about everything.  The font on my iPhone is larger.  My IG pictures aren't at all blurry like I thought they were.  I can read books...the printed kind with words on pages...and I don't have to wait for the sun to be up.  I can see the cooking instructions on the box of mac and cheese...yes, that's what we had for dinner tonight.  

It looks like that one little idea may have just improved my life a whole lot!  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Empty Bedrooms

I went into Savannah's room today for the first time since we've been home from Utah.  

Holy cow...  

People told me I would feel the full range of human emotions with this event, but I had no idea.  I immediately started crying at the thought of her presence being so noticeably absent from the room, but still so much a part of it.  All the chalkboard notes are still there, all the pictures are still on her bulletin board, even the familiar and ever-full trash can still had trash spilling out of it.  But her pink Christmas tree has been packed away.  Her shoes and socks aren't sprinkled on the floor.  And her bed is made.   

I have prayed in her room since we moved into this house.  I love the warm light that comes in through her pink curtains and the sun that seems to shine brighter in there.  I love the quiet in her corner of the house.  And typically her room is the cleanest and most enjoyable place to just linger and have a conversation with Heavenly Father.  

My first instinct after I walked in there was to get the heck out and never go back.  But I made myself stay.  Even though I could barely breathe.  And I made myself feel every single one of those emotions.  And holy cow, was it hard.  

But after a really good cry, I was completely flooded with gratitude.  To have loved that little bird so dang much that the thought of her being far away rips my heart out.  To have had such a great relationship and friendship with her that I ache to think of how long it will be before I get to have a real conversation with her again.  To have had so many, many memories in her room that it hurts to go in there without her.  

And I also thought a really important thing that sort of swept away all the floods of tears for a minute.  I don't have a single regret with her.  Not one.  I don't wish I had said, "I love you" more.  I don't wish I had snuggled her more, or listened more, or spent more time with her.  I know in the deepest part of my heart that I did all of those things.  I was where I needed to be when I needed to be there.  I acted when I felt inspired to uplift or edify or scold.  I apologized when I needed to.  And because of that, I know that she now has what she needs for her new adventures and all the upcoming experiences that are waiting for her.  I could not have filled her with more knowledge or love or life lessons.  I gave her absolutely everything I knew how to give.  And it will be enough.  

And now it's time to make sure the three remaining little birds in this nest have all that stuff, too.  

Thank goodness we only lose one baby bird at a time, because this is so much harder than I ever thought it would be.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I love this quote.  It lives in the back of my head all the time and pushes me to do the things I would normally talk myself out of.  

Yesterday, I got a text from Savannah that she and her roommate were making cookies for some friends.  And then late last night she sent this picture...
Apparently she was inspired to make a pie for her friend from home who is also a new arrival at BYU and who just made the rugby team!  (Yay Koa!)

With Savannah's example and that quote running through my head, I decided to throw myself into acting on some generous thoughts today.  I was nervous about a few of 50 or so...but at the end of the day, I realized that Sister Kimball was totally right.  How can a generous thought be a bad thing?  Who doesn't appreciate a thank you note or a compliment or baked goods?  

It was a nice way to spend a not-so-random January 7.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Oh man it's been such a long time since I've written anything here.  I was shocked today to see that the date of my last post was ONE MONTH ago!  December has been long and eventful and there's no way I could possibly recapture every single moment that I've missed blogging about.  

But...I decided this morning to just start where I am.  Which is really all we can ever do, right?  

Today is January 6th.  Things are noticeably different nearly everywhere since one month ago, from the weather to our family to the prospects for the upcoming year.  For a few days, I moped around about all those changes, and the loss, and the draining of all color from my home now that we've taken down the Christmas decorations.  But today, as the kids start a new semester of school, and as we start a new chapter of our lives, I heard that familiar voice in my head reminding me that changes aren't necessarily bad; they're just different.  And different is sometimes good.  Maybe even better.  

I'm excited to be back at home and back here on this little blog that has become such a huge blessing in my life.  I'm grateful for all of the changes that have come and will continue to come in 2015.  And I'm grateful especially for the things that have stayed the same...For the sun that rises everyday and looks the same in the bright blue sky whether it's 30 degrees or 110 degrees.  For an amazing family that is eternally bonded no matter how many miles separate us.  For friends that stay and listen.  For hope and joy as we watch Heavenly Father's hand in absolutely every detail of our lives.