Friday, April 24, 2015

And Thus it Ever Was

On one of our trips to Utah last year we left really early in the morning.  My plan to keep myself awake was also my plan to expose my kids to an amazing book I'd read called Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  As we rolled out of the driveway I popped it into the cd player and immediately the groans started.

"Mom, I don't WANT to listen to your book."

"Mom, I was going to watch a movie."

"Mom, I just want to listen to my music."

"Mmmmoooooommmmm!!!"

Well, I told them, you don't have to listen all day.  You only have to listen until we get to Pendleton, and then you can watch/listen to whatever you want.

Four hours later as we rolled through Pendleton I popped the cd out of the player and grabbed my Dick Francis book on cd.  But then I heard from the back,

"Moooommmmmm!"

"Mom, what are you doing?!?"

"Mom, put it back in!!!"

And so I did, and we listened to Wonder until it was done and we all (even Jared) were sniffling.  And I was happy as we talked about all of the things that were hard about this book and all of the things that were beautiful about this book.

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This afternoon Russ picked the girls up from school early (while I was napping) and then brought them home to me so that we (not including Russ) could start our drive to Utah.  It's going to be a quick trip for a wedding on Saturday and the girls's wisdom teeth out on Monday.*

Once again I had my nefarious book on cd plan.  This time I'd planned that we'd listen to Shannon Hale's "Book of a Thousand Days," which I loved when it came out.

As we rolled out of the driveway I popped it into the cd player and immediately the groans started.

"Mom, I don't WANT to listen to your book."

"Mom, I was going to watch a movie."

"Mom, I just want to listen to my music."

"Mmmmoooooommmmm!!!"

Well, I told them, you don't have to listen all day.  You only have to listen for a little while and then you can do your own thing.  I reminded them that they've both been reading Shannon Hale's newest book this week and that they've really loved it, and they grudgingly agreed to listen.

Sometime later the phone rang--Russ giving me suggestions on how to avoid the worst of the Portland traffic which had gotten bad earlier than expected.  As soon as I hung up the phone the girls were after me, insistent that I turn the book right back on.  And so it went through the evening--every time I turned it off, they wanted it immediately back on.

Of course I loved that.

We finished disc 5 (of 6) as we pulled into our friends' neighborhood in Nampa where we were going to spend the night.  One story crisis had just resolved but a bigger one remained.  One of the girls insisted that we NEEDED to FINISH RIGHT NOW!!  I laughed and said that we would finish when we resumed our drive in the morning.

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I don't know why it is that kids always assume that whatever their parents have planned is probably going to be dumb or lame.  I'm sure I was the same way.  I am glad that I've managed to expose my kids to some wonderful things, in spite of their resistance...



*We are being medical tourists this weekend, though I must say that when I first read about medical tourism I assumed it would include exotic travel destinations and not just a trip to Utah.  But in Oregon it would cost $3000 out of pocket to get the girls' wisdom teeth out, and in Utah it will only cost $600.  I have no idea why it's so different, but we can pay for gas and food to get there, get to go to my nephew's wedding, and pay to get the wisdom teeth out all for less than 1/3 of the Oregon cost.  Wish us luck!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Semantics

euphemism: a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt...

My mom died almost 20 years ago.  When I tell people about this part of my life I tell it exactly like that.  My mom died when I was 31.  My mom died ____ years ago.

I'd hear other people talking about their loved ones passing away, or passing, or some other comforting euphemism and I'd think--I just can't say that.  To me a euphemism would soften what happened, perhaps making the listener more comfortable with my story but robbing me of the truth.  My mom didn't "pass."  Or "pass away."  It may have been God's plan for her, but it felt like she was torn from our family, ripped away in the prime of her life.  She was taken from us before most of us were adults and before any of us were ready to live without her.  She *died.*

***

Can you imagine my surprise when I started telling people last fall that Russ's mom had died, and found that every time I opened my mouth I couldn't actually get the word "died" out?  I'd resolve that that was what I was going to say, that I was going to use language in the same way I had for my own mother, but I never could do it.

And one day I figured it out.  

If there is a passing away, it surely is what Marie did.  After living with leukemia for more than a decade and being more and more of an invalid, she had a stroke and then, for the next few weeks, slowly passed out of life.  She really did pass away.  There was grief for the loss of a mother and companion, but none of the trauma that my family had experienced two decades ago.  I stopped trying to make myself use the word *die* to describe what had happened, and told people that my mother-in-law had passed away in as gentle and peaceful a way as possible.

***

I have long known that words are powerful but still it surprised me to realize again that some synonyms are actually not, after all, interchangeable.



[PS--I still have never said to anyone that my mom passed away.]

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Come tiptoe through my tulips

It's been such fun watching my tulips come up this year.  I couldn't really remember what I had planted where, so it has been really entertaining to watch everything happen.




Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It wasn't really about the flowers

During her spring break my friend Susan and her family traveled to Oregon to spend the week with her mother.  As we did last year, Susan and I arranged to meet up during the week.  Last year we met at Red Robin for lunch and to talk for hours.  This year we met at the tulip festival in between Portland and Salem.

The forecast was for sun, but when we arrived it was very overcast and even a little foggy.  Fortunately the beauty of the flowers shone brightly even in the grey conditions.

 

 I had brought rainboots for both of us, but we couldn't decide whether or not we actually needed them.  Finally we decided that we were ok in our old shoes, and throughout the day we laughed about and occasionally regretted that decision.  

We walked, looked at the flowers (marveling at their beauty), and talked.  And talked, and talked, and talked.  

When we got to the end, we started again.  We walked on the far side of the field so that all we saw was flowers and trees and odd little plants.

We watched a man fly a drone above the fields of flowers. What must that view have been like?

And then, slowly slowly, the sun came out.  Flowers that had been more closed now opened in the bright sun.

The best thing about the sun coming out and the sky clearing was that we could see Mt. Hood in the distance.  Always lovely, but especially with snow on it!

We contemplated eating there at the farm but when we saw the long lines we decided we would eat after we left...so we went and walked around another time!  All of the time talking, talking, talking.

It was a beautiful day, and I am lucky to have a friend like Susan.  

 

 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

She's BAACCCCKKKKK!


On February 19th I put Cindy Lynn, Mahon, and Kate the Great on a plane to Salt Lake.  We'd had a great time together and I was sad to see them go.



The next morning Cindy Lynn texted me, "call me as soon as you can."



When I finally got the message and called, she gave me completely unexpected news.  Mahon had gone into work that first morning back only to be told that he had been laid off the day before.  


They had wanted to move nearer to us for some time but Mahon hadn't started looking for a job yet.  In what seemed like no time he had put his resume on a technical website and received almost more calls than he had time for.



And just like that, they were back here 5 weeks later, except this time with all of their belongings and a new job with Nike.

Back in time to go to the girls' Friends & Family show at the high school last week.


Kate was a total fan--she loved all of the clapping!  I'm sure the girls will have her waving a flag and tossing a rifle before very long!


It's been a tough couple of years.  We've experienced miracles, but they've been the kind of miracles that just helped us survive through the trauma.  But this--this was just a straight out, unexpected, un-looked for miracle.  Bam.  There it was.


And we are grateful.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Hymns

Last Sunday during testimony meeting I went through the hymn book and listed out all of my favorite hymns.  Later I put my list on Facebook and several people told me their favorites.  It ended up being a lovely day of really thinking about hymns and how they sound and I had several running through my mind for the next few days.  Here's my list (based on position in the hymn book, not in order of preference.)

2.  The Spirit of God
6. Redeemer of Israel
29.  A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
62.  All Creatures of Our God and King
72.  Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
81.  Press Forward Saints
82.  For All the Saints
165. Abide With Me
193.  I Stand All Amazed
203.  Angels We have Heard on High
219.  Because I Have Been Given Much
220.  Lord I Would Follow Thee
277.  As I Search the Holy Scriptures
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Here's my vote for best new arrangement of a previously mediocre hymn:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

This Will I Do...

The other night in a post on our Scripture & Prayer Facebook page (a wonderful group that has provided such inspiration to me already this year) my friend Amy mentioned that her brother had been in an accident and that prayers would be appreciated.  In the comments that followed she said something that has stayed with me,
"Of course there have been lots of tender mercies and miracles along the way, as with most horrible things."
I loved that observation because I have seen the truth of it in my life--when Russ was laid off we did see tender mercies and miracles.  I held onto them tightly, trusting that they must mean that God was aware of us and had a plan.  And when we have watched our friends and families experience trials we have seen these mercies and miracles as well.


Yesterday morning I was listening to President Eyring's talk from the women's broadcast for my personal study.  He told a poignant story of meeting with a family who's young son had died in an accident, and then he compared the experiences that they were having to those we read about in the Book of Mormon.
"You remember in the Book of Mormon when His people were nearly crushed by the burdens placed upon their backs by fierce taskmasters.

The people pleaded for relief, as many of those we love and serve do. Here is the record, which I know is true:

“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.""

As I listened to him read that verse, it went into my mind and heart differently.  Usually I hear the first part of the verse--the promise that He would ease the burdens that these righteous people bore.  But yesterday it was the second part of the verse that burned into my mind as I made the connection between his story and this scripture and Amy's comment.

"...this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, 
that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."

I've wondered about these little miracles, these tender mercies.  I've noticed them and I've appreciated them and I've been touched by them and my faith has been strengthened by them.  But I think that until this moment I've missed out on this great truth --
that God eases the burdens that have been put on our shoulders because He wants us to know that he is with us in our afflictions. 
He wants us to know he is here.
I love that.

PS--just read this on another blog and thought it was perfect: When you see God's blessings in your life, you have to write it down. You have to. Because sometimes you forget how aware He is. Sometimes you feel forgotten, like things will never work out. But when you return to stories like this, you remember. A knowing washes over you. An understanding that He sees your life and is a part of it.