Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mom Trophy

Motherhood isn't always a thankless job. Sometimes the validation comes in strange ways, but I'll take what I can get. :)

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. :)