Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Message Meant For Me

Dad - the tall, handsome one in the back row - with his family.

Grief is a funny thing. It has a tendency to blindside you when you least expect it. I really thought I'd be doing better by now. It's been over 2 months since my dad's death and I feel like I'm doing worse now than I was in the first weeks after he died. At the time, I was overcome by so many tender mercies that I felt so blessed! But now all I can think of is how much I miss him and how it's SO UNFAIR that he was taken from us. I have spent way too much time feeling sorry for myself.

Just the other day, something completely ironic and funny happened and I just knew my dad would get a kick out of it. But I couldn't tell him. That left me feeling empty and sad for the rest of the day.

My dad lost his mom when he was 21 and his dad at 32. I don't remember him ever crying over his losses or wondering what to do with himself. He was ever the optimist. He spoke matter-of-factly about losing his parents and I grew up understanding that death was just a normal part of life. I had my dad way longer than he had either of his parents, but I still feel like I've been cheated.

Fortunately, there are still tender mercies that confirm to me that Heavenly Father is aware of me and what I'm going through. For example, today's message on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's weekly broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word felt like it was just for me. Maybe my case isn't as hopeless as it seems.

The Absence of Someone We Love
From Music and the Spoken Word

One of life’s universal and unavoidable experiences is to lose someone we love. All who have lived and loved will lose cherished family and friends to death. Whether early or late, suddenly or gradually, dramatically or peacefully, death comes for everyone. And when it comes for a loved one, our whole world can change in an instant, and we may wonder how we can ever go on.

Death can be so difficult to cope with and so difficult to understand. Moving forward can seem almost impossible at first. But the only way to avoid such heartbreak would be to remove from life all loving relationships—so we do move forward, and little by little, as we attend to life’s daily demands, as we eat and work and sleep again, we begin to gain some understanding, even peace. We begin to gain strength.

And yet we never quite get back to normal; things won’t ever be just as they were—nor should they be. “Nothing can make up for the absence of someone whom we love,” wrote the great theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “and it would be wrong to try to find a substitute; we must simply hold out and see it through. That sounds very hard at first,” he acknowledged, “but at the same time it is a great consolation, for the gap, as long as it remains unfilled, preserves the bonds between us . . . and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of pain.”1

It’s this delicate balance between holding on and letting go that gives life some of its bitter sweetness. Because we know heartache and pain, we also know love and joy. And it just so happens that often the more our hearts are broken with pain, the more open they tend to be, and thus more able to receive and give love. Such love never dies. It goes on and on until the perfect day.2

1. Letter to Renate and Eberhard Bethge, Dec. 24, 1943, in Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge (1971), np.
2. See Doctrine and Covenants 50:24.

Friday, January 20, 2017


These are the top grateful words from since they started last year.

Need more gratitude in your life? (Don't we all?) is the solution.

I get a text from them every evening asking, "What are you grateful for today?" I simply text back my reply. Each Sunday I get an e-mail telling me what I was grateful for that week. Not only that, but I can access my gratitude journal on the website at any time and read through everything I've been grateful for.

I started logging my gratitude on June 2 last year and now have hundreds of little things recorded that I wouldn't have otherwise thought about, like Sadie getting so excited about shaving her legs for the first time or chocolate cinnamon bears from the BYU Bookstore. :)

It's a great way to focus on the little things and to always search for something to be grateful for, even on days when it's hard. I've had a lot of those hard days over the past few months so has been a blessing.

And that's something to be grateful for! :)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Cabin Fever

Yes, we're all going a little stir crazy around here. We've been cooped up all weekend with the flu. We've run the gamut of chills, fevers, aches, coughs, and sore throats. This is the first time I've had the flu since 1993 and it's every bit as bad as I remember. And it spreads fast! It's gone from Sterling to Soren to me to Jeff (despite his flu shot) all in a few days and it just hangs on. Spencer seems to have gotten by with a very mild case and Sadie, lucky thing, hasn't had it at all. She's been our little nurse. On Saturday, I woke up to her disinfecting the house with Clorox wipes. :)

The good news is that it's a long weekend and we're over the worst of it. Sterling and Soren missed 2 days of school last week, but I'm hopeful that we'll all be well enough tomorrow to face whatever comes.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Snowy Nativity

Isn't this pretty? With the snow sprinkled mountains, sparse clouds, and the Provo temple as a beautiful backdrop to the Holy Family, it is the picture of calm. Thanks, Sam, for sharing a glimpse of your world.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Gushing Gratitude

My favorite blue-eyed Zoobies
Sam and Savannah left on Tuesday morning for BYU. Savannah was accepted to the Nursing Program (WOOHOO Savannah!! Way to realize your dream!!), and a reliable mode of transportation was strongly recommended. So they packed up our cute little 2002 Honda Civic and started the trek west.

Driving 1500 miles across the country in January is always a risk. The weather is so unpredictable. Jeff kept a close eye on the forecast for all the major freeways between here and there and it looked like a Tuesday morning departure with a stay-over near Denver at Uncle Jeremy's house would get them safely to Utah by Wednesday evening.

The funny thing about the weather is that it's so changeable. By the time Sam and Savannah arrived in Colorado, a fast-moving storm from the west made it clear that driving the last leg of their journey the next morning wasn't going to work. Their options were: 1) keep driving through the night and hopefully get to their destination ahead of the storm or 2) stay at Jeremy's until the weather cleared which could take two days or more.

Sam wasn't really in a hurry, but Savannah had several things to take care of before school started and was anxious to just be there already so they decided to drive through the night. I prayed that Heavenly Father would slow the progression of the storm on their behalf and then Jeff and I went to bed feeling calm about their decision.

That calm lasted until midnight when Sam called. With no cell reception, he was using a free phone inside a rest area in Wyoming. It was snowing so hard that he couldn't see the road. They were going to wait it out before continuing on. Within 90 minutes, the snow was tapering off and Savannah was ready to take a turn at the wheel. Sam called us once more to let us know they were heading out.

Because there is no signal through most of Wyoming, my anxiety kicked in and I started playing the "what if" game with myself. "What if they end up in a snowbank and no one knows they are there?" "What if the car rolls and one of them is hurt and the other can't get out or contact anyone?" These are pretty mild examples of the wild scenarios that went through my head.

Eventually I managed to drift off and sleep until a little after 5:00 a.m. When I woke, I immediately grabbed my cell phone hoping for some message letting me know they were okay. (We had instructed them when they started their trip to text or call each time they filled up with gas or switched drivers just so we knew where and how they were.) Nothing. No message and no reply to my texts. The "what if" game started up again - after all, I reasoned, we are not immune to trials - and by the end I was planning their funeral. I was a mess.

At 7:00 a.m. the phone rang. It was Sam. I was overcome with the most intense feeling of relief and gratitude that I immediately started crying. Bawling. Completely unable to talk. All my gratitude just poured out my eyeballs. I couldn't help it. The roads in Wyoming had been pretty bad, like white-knuckle driving most of the way, but it was mild compared to the conditions in the hours and days following. They were still on the road for another hour or so, but at least they had signal and were almost through the worst of it. Fortunately, the storm in Utah had been delayed by several hours. I'm pretty sure that was a result of my pleadings.

Sam and Savannah spent a good chunk of the day at my sister's house eating, showering and sleeping before heading to Provo. By now, they're all settled in and ready to tackle a new semester. We're all feeling pretty blessed! I think they've recovered from their all-night ordeal.

I think I almost have as well. :)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

One More Sleep

We just finished up one of our favorite Christmas Eve traditions -- watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. It just wouldn't be Christmas without it! We have to wait until Christmas Eve to watch it because, after all, there's only one more sleep 'til Christmas!

My favorite song is Bless Us All, sung by Tiny Tim.
Bless us all who gather here,
The loving family I hold dear.
No place on earth compares with home
And every path will bring me back from where I roam.
Bless us all that as we live,
We always comfort and forgive.
We have so much that we can share
With those in need we see around us everywhere. ...

Sweet Dreams! Tomorrow is going to be great. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Beethoven's Sonata No. 4, Op. 23

There's a little bit of a backstory to Sterling's winter recital piece. He was invited to play with his friend, Sadie, in a Piano Accompaniment competition which took place on Sterling's birthday in November. Sadie was entering the contest and needed someone to accompany. They both worked hard with their respective teachers on their individual parts and had several rehearsals together. I missed the competition because I was in Utah that weekend, but they nailed it! Sadie won first place. :) (Sterling was also asked to play with another friend, Addie, who won second. Yay!)

Because they'd already prepared and polished the Beethoven for the competition, they played it for Sterling's winter recital last week as well. That is the video you see here - the recital performance. You can't tell in the video, but when Sterling turned the page during the performance, he accidentally turned two. There wasn't time to turn back so he played from memory until he had a moment to fix it. You'd never know he was panicked. He was the picture of calm from start to beautiful finish. Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Heritage of Faith

You may remember back in July when I wrote about my great great grandmother, Sarah Moulton. Well, I was happy to see the following video show up in my inbox this morning. It is Elder Ronald A. Rasband, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, sharing the story of Sarah Moulton who happens to be his great grandmother. (That means Elder Rasband and I are 2nd cousins once removed.) Elder Rasband asked, "What moved the pioneers on? What pushed them forward? It was a sure testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. I did not pull a handcart across the plains. But as the great-grandson of pioneers, what they felt, I feel. And what they knew, I know: that Jesus is the living Christ, the Son of God. I love Him. This is His Church.” 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pasta Angels

I attended a writing group last night for the first time in several years. It was a blast! To start off, we were given twenty minutes to write on the prompt "Projects." We could interpret that however we wanted, from class projects to Christmas projects to the lack of projects, etc. Everyone was then invited to share what they wrote. Some were serious; most were funny. Here is what I wrote. It's a story worth remembering.

They were just the cutest little ornaments. The delicate angels looked like porcelain, but they were made almost entirely out of pasta. Bowtie pasta made the wings and dress, elbow macaroni formed the arms, and the little wooden bead head was covered in Acini de Pepe or what I call "frog-eye" pasta to look like curly hair. A few coats of white spray paint and a dash of translucent glitter was finished off with a little ribbon rose nestled in each angel's arms with a beaded halo on top.
I learned to make them at a church craft fair and decided I must make them for everyone I knew. How hard could it be? I started off just fine, but then the demands of the season started creeping in.
I was making them assembly-line style, one step at a time when I had a few minutes here and there. But then it came time to put the hair on my tray full of angels. For some reason this crippled me. It was the most tedious step and suddenly I felt overwhelmed. I put it off for days. One night I came home from a meeting and complained to my husband about all the demands on my time. I finished off with, "And I've still got to put hair on all of those angels!" At that, my husband of only six months said, "Come look at your hairless little angels." 
I walked over to the tray to find that my very masculine Jeff had laid aside his studies to spend the entire evening calmly and methodically spreading glue on my angels' little bald heads and then sticking them in the tiny pasta balls to cover every single angel head with hair.
That was 21 years ago, but I will never forget that selfless act of love.