Friday, April 27, 2012

Eager to Agree

2012-February-19

In our church during our sacrament meeting services, we in the congregation are not often called on for active participation. We say "Amen," to the prayers and sing the songs, but otherwise mostly sit and listen. One exception to this is during the "business" portion in the beginning of the meeting where we are informed of people who have been called to or released from positions in the church. As these are done, we are asked to raise our hands if we agree with the changes and to show our support. When there are changes at the level just higher than our local congregation--the stake, a member of the High Council visits to present them. Usually when they do, the High Councelor also gives a talk later in the meeting.

Today, a High Councelor came to present some stake business during which time I repeatedly prompted my 4 year old to raise her hand at the appropriate time. Later on in the meeting, the High Councelor came to the pulpit again, this time to give a talk.  As my daughter saw him, her eyes brightened and she watched him intently, enthusiastically waving her hand high in the air at about every other sentence. It took me a moment to realize what she was doing, and I had to stifle my laughter as I whispered that he wasn't asking us to raise our hands anymore.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Moment of Presence

2012-February-19

I think that I spend most of my life disconnected. This is largely an innate self preservation instinct--if I am too aware of the world around me, there is too much sensory stimulation, it is exhausting, and I couldn't stand it for long. However, sometimes the Lord gives me what seem to be small glimpses of absolute and comprehensive reality: my heart being opened to feel, for a moment, pure charity for the man who is my husband; looking at my infant daughter and seeing her fully mature spiritual self smiling back at me, trusting and compassionate toward the imperfect sister she has chosen as her mother. Times like these remind me of what is really real--the gospel of Jesus Christ; the love and relationships we can have in families; and the simple and pure joy of being exactly where you are supposed to be, doing what you should be doing, fully engaged in this moment of eternity.

But most of the time is not like that--usually I just go through the motions of life--my body and part of my mind must be there, but I can hardly even remember what I was just doing when I am done with it. The real, deep part of me isn't there. I wish I could say that it was somewhere else deeply meaningful, but I don't think it is. I think it is just somewhere drifting in a stupor, waiting for the next moment of spiritual poignancy to wake it up, and pull it in to the present.

Today, I had a moment. I the most remarkable thing about it is how unremarkable each part of it was. I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting as I do every week, getting ready to sing one of the songs.  I opened the hymnal and started to sing.  My children were wiggling around me and I looked up toward the chorister.  Suddenly, it was as if I had been looking through fuzzy glasses that were suddenly removed, earmuffs fell away from my ears, and my senses opened up directly into my heart.   It wasn't just the power of the music, but I felt that, as well as the power of a congregation of faithful Saints gathered to express their faith unified in song.  I felt the power, not only of the song, but of the organization that pulls from the lay members of the congregation to fill roles like organist, chorister, music director, bishop, deacon, clerk.  I saw all of the normal, mundane aspects of the routine of worship I engage in every week, for just a moment, with a clarity that elevated it to the divine.  And I was there.  All of me was there, experiencing, absorbing, participating.  Every ounce of me was singing with full voice, and at the same time, hyper-attuned to the activity going on around me.  I felt like everything around me, whether I was physically looking at it or not, was open to my observation. I saw, I heard, I felt everything.  And I saw the role that these routines play in cultivating our very real and eternal spirits.  

At the time, the day this happened, I started writing it, but only got as far as "I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting" and was pulled away.  The rest I wrote just now, trying to remember the event.  And I can't do it justice, because the moment has passed and I know a large part of me is somewhere else, drifting again.  I'm going through the motions and trying to do all of the important things, but I'm rarely all here.  But I wish that I could share what I do remember of how unique the experience was--I have previously glimpsed the divine as my heart and understanding were opened to see how the people I am interacting with in the moment are connected to me in an eternal way--feelings of pure charity for others, seeing another's eternal presence--but this time, it wasn't about any other person, not even really about myself.  It was about life.  Every moment and all the mundane motions that we go through to get through.  At the time, going to church felt like a motion--something I was doing because it was supposed to help me, it was where I was supposed to be, and it did help me in general--by the occasional inspiration thought that penetrated my stupor and my children's attention grabbing rowdiness, and by helping me qualify for divine assistance by doing my best.  So, I was as there as I could be, and I was content to be there, and I generally felt good about where I was and what I was doing, at least with the part of me that was there to feel anything.

That's when my heart and mind were opened, and all of me came rushing back to experience it.  I was wholly, completely there, and along with this emotional and spiritual presence came an awareness of the pertinence of the activity I was engaged in.  I always knew that worshiping together was good and important, but in that moment I felt it.  The difference between belief and testimony, the difference between thinking it's a nice idea and knowing it's true.  I felt my whole soul present and participating.  I can't even remember the song we were singing, but the words and melody burst from my heart.  I felt the presence of not just other bodies in the room, but other spirits.  Other souls, a whole chapel full of souls, jointly seeking communion with God, and that was powerful.  It didn't even last the whole meeting, just for a little while, but it was enough.

I am so grateful for these moments peppered throughout my life--personal, private reminders of the greater whole outside this life, and within my self.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rabid Frog


That's what we get for feeding him cottage cheese without a bib.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mandarin Elephant

Our favorite way to peel clementines:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Meaningless Dreams?

2011-November-5

I dreamt two nights ago that we got the children we have been desiring to foster. The person we've been working with to become licensed came to the door unexpectedly with all three children and told us, "You got them! Here they are!" I took the baby in my arms and I couldn't keep myself from crying. My already children and my new children started playing while I held the baby and cried, trying to listen to the rest of what the social worker was telling me.

I have had some crazy dreams at times. I have had dreams that we're undeniably messages, visions, if you will. I have had dreams from which I learned something or experienced something I could never have done in real life. And then I have had dreams that are very comforting and I wish I were dreaming truely, but I just cannot say that they are, because I don't know.

I have had meaningless dreams before. I have had dreams I really hope are meaningless (no, I don't actually want to be Spiderman punching hybrid supervillians in the face). And then there are dreams like this one. I hope and I want so badly for it to be true. But is it meaningless? Does it really have no reflection in reality? If nothing else, I recognize the peace and comfort that came through it as the peace of faith and trust in the Lord. Whatever is or is not in store for the future of our family, I know that He is in charge of it, and in the end all will be right , whole, and perfect. (If it isn't, it isn't the end yet!)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why I'm not asleep right now.

2012-03-11

I don't like it when my kids wet their beds. I don't like it, but I deal with it. What really gets me is when my kids wet MY bed. Then we have big trouble.
My son crawled in bed with us this morning and then overflowed his diaper. I discovered it by the spreading warmth and damp where he was snuggled against my stomach. Yuck! So our bed got stripped and put into the laundry this morning. I didn't remember to put it into the dryer until after we got home from the fireside tonight. Luckily we had friends over to keep me awake until the dryer was done and I don't have to sit around sad and tired waiting for the dryer to beep, or sleep on the couch, which is actually quite comfortable, but harder to share with my husband. Instead, I heard the dryer beep while I was brushing my teeth and brought the clean sheets down to the bedroom wih me in the first place instead of forgetting until I discovered in dismay that my bed was not ready to fall into and having to go back up to the laundry room after already mentally preparing for sleep.
So I was in my room with my laundry basket of newly cleaned linens and I sat by it on the edge of my
bed and realized that I did not want to get up. It seemed like too much work. So I pulled out my iPod to read blogs instead. And I kept cycling in my mind through the thoughts, "I want to lay down and pull covers over me. But you can't. You have to make the bed first. The sheets are right there. Get them. Yes. But that is effort. So I will just sit here a little longer. OK. . . Sitting is so much effort. I just want to lay down and pull covers over me. But I can't. The bed's not made. The sheets are right there. Get them. Yes. But that is even more effort. Sigh. Just sit here and read a little longer.
Know what finally roused me our of my funk? I heard footsteps upstairs and thought how embarrassed I would be if my husband came down and found me sitting with the sheets next to me on an unmade bed, reading blogs instead of sleeping after I made such a big deal out if goingto bed early. So I heard footsteps and guiltily set down my iPod and started making the bed. I got up to the flat sheet being halfway on when it suddenly seemed like too much effort again (That, and I haven't heard any more footsteps), and here I am blogging to you about it instead of making actual progress again.
Although I am getting to the point where continuing to stand by the side of my bed feels like more effort than finishing making the bed. Good thing the timing coincides with being done with everything I had to say.
Good night.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fashion a la Rhys

Rhys has taken to hats, and currently, just one isn't enough.  Here he is with 3.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Escape!

 I didn't notice that one of the kids had opened the door, but this boy did.
I didn't even know he was outside until I saw him through the window, happily grubbing in the old leaves.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bribery

My sisters and I had a retreat the days leading up to St. Patrick's day.  As a special bribe to help my kids love it when I leave, I picked up gifts for them while I was away.  
I think they were a hit.
 Especially seeing as Rhys hardly ever lets his go (this is going to bed--yes, he sleeps with it).

Friday, April 6, 2012

Justice and Vengence

2011-05-31 (This was actually a complete post.  I don't know why I never published it.)

Late Sunday night, Kevin was online and mentioned that suddenly he was reading everywhere that Osama bin Laden was dead. If I thought that would be all I would hear of it, I was sadly mistaken. The next morning all that anyone talked about on the radio as I was waking up, driving to the YMCA, and driving home was this development. Along with the report of it were reports of the spontaneous celebration that broke out in gatherings where the news was heard.
At first I was a little confused in my feelings. And now I am a little disturbed and decidedly disappointed by the reports I have heard.
First of all, I want to be very clear--I believe that those of the military who went to capture bin Laden and ended up killing him acted honorably. I believe the search for him and the efforts to bring him to justice over all of these years has been valuable and important. What bothers me is not the events, but the reactions and language that have been just as much in the media as news of the event itself.
I cannot rejoice in death, even though I may think it justified. It, perhaps, may be good that he is dead, but it is not wonderful. It is not cause for jubilation. Perhaps if a death marked a release from oppression or bondage, or the end of a war, perhaps that could be cause to celebrate, but the celebration would be about the newfound freedom, not the death. As it is, the death of Osama bin Laden does little to change world. The "war on terror" is not over. Jihadists still want to destroy us. The world is not safer. The only significance in his death is that he is no longer alive. And I can't rejoice in that. I can be glad that he is no longer able to hurt anyone, but I can't celebrate.
The second thing that bothers me is the language being used to describe the events. Even the President declared, "Justice has been done!" But I can't agree. Justice would have been if they had captured him and he was brought to be judged. If at that judgement he was condemned and executed, that could be called justice. As it is, he had not trial, no judgement except in the hearts of those who had decided to hate him. And that judgement is not justice. Again let me state--I do not believe that those who killed him did anything wrong. They acted correctly in the situation. They were trying to bring him into custody. He resisted and fired on them. They returned fire and he was killed. That happens. But it is not justice. He was not "brought to justice." He just died. He avoided justice by choosing death.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Texas--the Bibb House

Some interesting modern ruins we explored with the cousins--I don't know how old this house is or how long it has been abandoned, but it has been well vandalized.  But it's all cement, so it's still there.  It's on a cliff.  
This is looking up from the very small ledge of land on the edge of the cliff under the house:
And this is looking out at the land dropping away in the other direction, toward the Rio Grande and Mexico:
It was very interesting trying to figure out what the layout of the house had been like--what the different rooms had been used for.  I think we determined that this was probably a bathroom:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sometimes . . .

W (as I'm helping her put on her tights): Mom, I love you.
C: I love you, too.  I'm sure glad you're my daughter.
W: Me, too.  Sometimes you're a little mean, but sometimes you're just right.

Further Proof

2012-01-01

See!  We really were there!  


This is actually the "Welcome to Texas from Mexico" sign.  We didn't actually go into Mexico, but we did go to the border to see the fence, and on the way back we got on the road that heads toward this sign, some 100 yards or so after you actually cross in.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

When the Crepes are Gone

2012-01-01

We traditionally have crepes on January 1st.  We just ran out before Willow was done eating the good stuff. 
Yes, that is broccoli and whipped cream.  Yum!

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Years Fireworks

2012-01-01

While planning for the trip, we mulled over the question of whether to book it back home after the wedding, or to spend Christmas with someone else.  Since we would already be in Utah, and since I had a gift that I had been wanting to give my brother in Texas for Christmas that was too big to want to mail, we decided we might as well drive the rest of the way and spend Christmas on the border.  We thought we would be going to Texas, but we ended up in little Mexico.  Eagle Pass, the border city where my brother lives, has so much Mexican influence, it is hard to see the Texas in it.  It was a quite a cultural experience.

As far as I could tell, there were no fireworks restrictions in Texas.  We stayed until New Years, and boy, was that night a show.  Because their house is on a little bit of a rise, you can see the sky all over town.  Standing outside at midnight was like being inside of a fireworks show.  The sky was exploding in all directions.  It was the first time that I was awestruck by amateur fireworks.

Earlier in the evening, we enjoyed a bonfire and some fireworks of our own with the kids:  (yes, that's my kids out in shirtsleeves after dark on December 31st.  It was warm there that week.)



And to finish it off, I can't tell you how much I want a big dirt field in Texas every year, just so I can watch my kids do this:



Now that is what childhood should be like.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I Married a Winner!

Our ward had a non-scout pinewood derby.  It started out as an Elders Quorum activity, but too many others wanted in on it, so they opened it to the whole ward.  They had an "unlimited" class, which meant that the limitation were different than the traditional--12 oz maximum, must start with gravity, no CO2 or combustibles, no damaging the track, and it had to fit in the starting area.  Also, Kevin clarified, the entire car did not have to cross the finish line, only a part of it.

He won.



It's rubber band powered.  It was inspired by Condorman.  Next he wants to make one that has 2 stages--slingshooting the bottom half out, then catapulting a driver across the finish line.  I love my man's brain.