Sunday, September 4, 2016

The two year check up

Just a couple of weeks after we landed here it was time for my temple recommend to be renewed.  I had my interview with a member of the bishopric and then Russ told me that I could just come to the church on Thursday night and have my stake interview then.

On Thursday afternoon Jenna and I were out picking berries, and I was still new enough to the area that I couldn't figure out how to get from the berry farm to the church.  Which seems funny now--I can't imagine *not* knowing where to go.  But that afternoon as time was running short and I was not managing to find the church I was very frustrated.

I got to the church a little late and one member of the stake presidency, President Page, offered to stay and do my interview.  Now when Russ has a temple recommend interview it takes him about 5 minutes to answer the 10 questions.  With me it's almost never, well actually really never that way.  And it wasn't this time either.  Even though he had never seen or met me before President Page took the time to talk to me, to ask me how I was, and to listen to what I was saying.  I was an emotional mess (and a physical mess too, covered in berry juice!) and that was fine with him.  We talked about trials and how hard they are and it made me feel so reassured when he said that it was so hard for him to have a good attitude while in the middle of one.  That night I got my recommend signed, but perhaps more importantly I felt seen and heard and cared for.  I loved President Page.

----

Two summers later it was time for my recommend interview again.  This time I got to the church without getting lost.  This time I wasn't traumatized about moving anymore.  But this time I had a new concern, a new issue I was working through.  And once again President Page listened and talked with me about what I was going through.  I felt seen and heard and cared for.  I loved President Page.

----

A couple of weeks ago I got an email reminder that it was time to schedule a temple recommend interview again.  In so many ways it seems like the last two years have gone by in the blink of an eye.  The email made me think of that first Oregon interview 4 summers ago, and then of the second one two years ago.   I'm feeling at home here in Oregon now--so very happy to be able to go to North Carolina occasionally to visit, but I feel comfortable and at home here.  The issue that was bothering me two years ago isn't a problem anymore and I feel peace in my heart about it.  It feels sort of like an every two year check up, and I'm happy to say that this year I feel like I'm in a peaceful place.  Who knows--maybe I'll even have a 5 minute interview!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

This is one of those moments.

There are moments you remember all your life,
There are moments you wait for and dream of all your life,
This is one of those moments.

In one part of my brain having babies in the nicu seems like a dream, long ago and far away and fuzzy when I try to remember it. 

Another part of my brain remembers is like yesterday: going from isolette to isolette, holding each tiny baby, marveling over their tiny size.

I remember Jared wearing "real" clothes for the first time, clothes that today look like doll clothes but then were enormous on him.

And today that baby, my baby, blessed the sacrament for the first time.

Spiffy in his new white shirt and favorite turquoise bow tie, voice surprisingly calm, he did a great job and I had tears in my eyes.

Landmark moments always stand out, but there is something about hitting these landmarks with my babies.  A huge whoosh of "I can't believe we're here/how on earth did this happen" wells up inside of me every time. A combination of "how did we get here" and "I can't believe we've survived this long" and "I think this might be going too fast."

Today felt like that as I sat there and watched him and listened to him and wiped away the tears and took a mental picture.

This is one of those moments...

Monday, August 1, 2016

They're 16!!!!

There have been a handful of experiences in my life that have been so difficult that I truly didn't trust that I would survive them.  Having triplets was definitely like that.

It wasn't that the *having* of them was so difficult.  Sure, the bedrest wasn't great (except for watching Walker, Texas Ranger every night!),  eating so much food wasn't nearly as much fun as you'd think it would be, and by the end I was uncomfortable.  After they were born they were in the hospital for 6-8 weeks and while that was inconvenient in real ways, it wasn't something that couldn't be survived.

But having them all at home?  That's when the hard part really started, and there were many moments over the next 3.5 years that I wasn't at all sure I was going to make it.  Sleep deprivation moments, breast pump moments, postpartum depression moments, blowout and throw up moments, chicken pox moments, tantrum moments, etc.  It was overwhelming on a regular basis.  Early on another triplet mom had told me that it would get better when they were 3.5, and I wasn't sure I would make it that long...much less until they were 16.

But I did survive until they were 3.5 and she was right, things got much better.  In fact having triplets turned into a fun thing instead of a terrible thing, and since then it has just gotten better and better.  And now I sit in a darkened bedroom at the beach with Russ sleeping on the bed next to me and think that I can't believe it's actually been 16 years, that those tiny babies are now high-schoolers who are learning to drive and who keep our home filled with happiness.  In the doctor's office the day we found out we were having triplets I wondered why on earth this had happened, but for the last 13 years I've just been so glad that it did.  I've gone from "why me" to "lucky me," and although I worry about how much it will cost to get them all through college, I kind of feel sad for everyone who won't get to experience the cuteness and fun that these kids have brought into our lives.

Happy birthday to my wonderful kids!


PS--if you're curious to know more about their unusual entrance into the world, you can read about it here:  http://crayzdaze.blogspot.com/2009/06/summer-storms.html

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Answered Prayer

I am a praying person, but I have never felt like I am a good pray-er. I pray because I should and because I trust that it probably does make a difference, but usually that is more faith than certainty. From time to time, however, a specific prayer is answered in such an unmistakeable way that there is no doubt in my mind that God does, in fact, hear me.

One of those moments happened yesterday. On the way to Emerald Isle I was so troubled by a situation in my life. As I thought through one possible solution I realized that my heart was racing, leaving me almost breathless. I wasn't sure if this was fear or some kind if ego-driven excitement. Whichever it was, I wasn't sure I could go through with this plan to deal with the difficult situation. In my mind I said a little prayer, "Heavenly Father, if this is supposed to happen, *you* will have to make it happen, because I no longer trust myself to know that this is the right thing to do." And then I tried not to think about it.

Several hours later we arrived at Big Bertha and we unexpectedly greeted by a houseful of smoky air. This situation set in motion changes that forced me to act on my plan. I took a big breath, started praying, and made a request, all the while feeling anxious and a big sick to my stomach.

But the plan (suggested by my wise brother Jeff) dealt with the problematic situation perfectly. I felt calm and loving. I was able to present my issue and feel compassion at the same time. And in the end I felt the resolution was (and this is a strong word, but accurate) perfect and provided a far better start to our beach week than we would have otherwise had.

Jeff laughed at me, at the thought that God provided a smoky house to force me to action. I don't know how to look at that and don't really care. What I know is that I prayed for Him to make it happen if it was important, and that it absolutely and immediately happened that way.

Moments like these keep me praying. They give me confidence that even though I rarely *feel* something amazing when I pray (and I certainly didn't yesterday in that short unspoken prayer) and rarely feel like I see results when I pray, something is happening. And that is enough.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Peering into the future--my own experience

I can't remember how old I was when I received my own patriarchal blessing, probably 15-16.  When I was interested in having it, my dad suggested that I wait until we were going to be in South Carolina so that his great uncle, a patriarch in the Florence stake, could give it to me.

I didn't remember having met Uncle RB before, so the family connection didn't make much difference to me.  But my blessing did, because both in that moment and in the future decade it showed me with perfect clarity that even though Uncle RB didn't know me, my Heavenly Father did.

In many ways I wasn't a particularly happy teenager.  As I prayed throughout my early teenage years, I almost always asked for help in knowing something using specific words that were a line in a song that I loved.  As Uncle RB was giving the blessing, he said something, stopped, and then said something like "Know This: ______" and then proceeded to say the exact words from that song.  That was amazing.

Before my blessing Uncle RB and I had chatted.  I was in the process of applying to colleges and it was exciting.  In the blessing he said several things about this.  He said that I would receive a scholarship to the college of my choice, and that happened within the next year.  But he said something else that eventually proved to be even more interesting, that I would graduate from this college with honors.

In the summer before I started going to BYU when it was time to register I had to make a choice--to enter the honors program or not.  I think my academic record made me a good candidate for the honors program, but I decided (and this is the honest and slightly embarrassing truth) that I didn't want to have to hang out all of the time with nerds, and so I didn't register for honors classes.  At the time I thought to myself, "well I know that my patriarchal blessing said that I will graduate with honors, but how could Heavenly Father know that I would choose not to go into the honors program?"

Then my freshman year I "fell in love" with a guy who was getting ready to go on a mission.  We decided that I would go back to BYU for my sophomore year, and then work for a year to earn money so that we could get married just as soon as he got home.  Again I thought about that line in my patriarchal blessing about graduating with honors and thought, "Well how could Heavenly Father have known that I would fall in love and get married and not graduate from college?"

It's really embarrassing to remember that time period of my life and I'm so so so so very glad that after the guy went into the MTC I started to come to my senses and realize he wasn't what I wanted for my life.  I went back to BYU for my sophomore year and met and started dating Russ in January.  By April or May we had decided we were getting married and after an interminable engagement were married, right after my junior year at BYU.  I graduated from BYU the week before Cindy Lynn was born.

Some time in the month after graduation the diploma arrived in the mail.  I opened it and looked at it, just curious to see what it looked like.  And this is what it said--that Cynthia Watson Ray had been awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree...cum laude.

I looked at that and slowly realized what it meant.  Cum Laude.  With Honors.  And then I thought.  He knew.  All along.  When I was 16 and hadn't even been accepted to any college.  When I was registering for college and decided not to enter the honors program.  When I was in love and deciding to drop out of college to work.  He knew that actually, the thing that was going to happen was that I would graduate from college with honors.

There are some that I don't really understand in my patriarchal blessing.  There's something promised in there that doesn't seem to be working out very well right now.  There's something that I'm told I will do that I just don't seem to have time for in my life so far.  But I trust it, I trust it all.  Because it is (and has been from the moment it was given) very clear to me that Heavenly Father loves me and does in fact know both me and my life.

~~~~~~~~~~

PS--My patriarchal blessing also blesses me that I will have many, many children.  There was a lot of time as I was dealing with secondary infertility that that phrase was a bit painful.  Between the fact that we were playing genetic roulette even trying to have more children and the fact that it took so long for me to get pregnant, I thought that that phrase had probably been a mistake.  Except, you know, it turned out that I had many, many children.  It was actually a pretty accurate description.
;)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Peering into the future

Four weeks ago Jenna received her patriarchal blessing and tonight we took Rachel to receive hers.  Both times it was a striking experience--different than I remember from going with Jason and Josh when they received theirs.  With both girls I felt like I went with my "little girls" to the patriarch's house.  We sat and chatted with the patriarch and his wife for a little while.  (After 3 blessings in 12 months we have gotten to know a bit about them!)  Then we went back into their office where the blessing was given.

In both cases I sat and listened as the blessing began, interested and curious.  And in both cases after a few minutes I listened differently.  I still listened with curiosity, but also with amazement.  And I can say tonight that it is clear that Rachel and Jenna are not "just" my little girls.  They are women of astonishing spirit and potential and I feel a little dazed by the experience.  Wow.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Rainbow Thoughts & Tales

It's been a rainbow year for me.  Everywhere I go I'm seeing them and I love it.  A couple of weeks ago Russ and I went to the grocery store.  It was a dark and gloomy day with a sunbreak in the west,  and on the way home, there it was--an enormous intensely colored rainbow.  In an unusual twist of fate I didn't have *any* camera with me.  Not my purse with the purse cam, and not my phone with it's camera.  So I just looked at it.  Zoomed my eyes out to take in the whole picture, then focused in on the brightest parts.  When we got home I grabbed a camera and drove quickly over to the church where I thought I might still be able to see it, but of course the light had shifted and the brilliance had faded.  I still sat and watched for a few minutes until the sun had set and the rainbow faded away completely.  As I watched though I had a couple of interesting thoughts about rainbows, and once again I thought how true for me the scripture verse is that says that all things bear record of Christ.  


The first thought was about how truly big rainbows are.  I've had a number of cameras, but I've never had one that can take a picture of a whole rainbow.  I always have to take 2 pictures and sometimes even three.  That day in the car with Russ it seemed like the rainbow was over all of Hillsboro.  I thought how appropriate that was--the rainbow signifies God's promise to the world, and it is so large that it is over the world rather than contained in a small place.


[One day a couple of years ago I had to make an emergency trip to the dentist because of a cracked tooth.  The day was so gray--an unusual kind of flat gray.  I stopped at costco, all numbed and disgruntled about having to had to go out on this nasty afternoon, and as I pulled into parking lot I saw the beginning of a rainbow.  As it formed it was so bright that people just got out of their cars and stood and looked at it.  I took 3 pictures and stitched them together to get the picture above. Not sure why my old camera phone made them look more blue than gray though.]









[One evening this spring we went to Jared's lacrosse game.  It was gloomy and rainy and I was so grateful that the bleachers were covered!  The bleachers were facing east and the almost setting sun was behind us.  Off and on throughout the game rainbows formed and dissolved as the sun came out from behind the clouds.  It was truly amazing.]

Another thought I had was the realization that almost always, the rainbows come when it is dark.  Every now and then you see a bit of a sunny rainbow, but it's usually grey and cloudy and gloomy.  

Isn't that just like life?  When things are good and sunny we usually don't need more beauty or help.  We might not even see or notice it.  It takes darkness to be able to see and appreciate the luminescent beauty of the rainbow.  And isn't it that way with God's promises and help?  When things are good we might not notice or need God's help.  But when things are dark, oh how we see then.  Just like the rainbows, God's help and gifts stand out to us and we see their true beauty.




[When we were in Hawaii in February we saw some awesome rainbows.  This one was unusual because we were on the road to Hana, with the ocean down the mountain.  Instead of being like a half circle, this rainbow was closer to a 3/4 circle.  It went from the side of the mountain above us, all the way down to the water down the mountain.]



The last thought I had was that it's rare that a camera can truly capture the splendor of a rainbow.  We see it and grab the camera and later look at the picture and think about how much brighter, more vivid, simply splendid it had been.  Now this makes me think about how amazing our eyes are.  But it also makes me think about how amazing the things of God are, and how we can rarely represent them to someone else in their full glory.