Monday, May 30, 2016

The tree and me

4 years and 2 days ago, in the evening, the triplets and I drove into Hillsboro.  How it went, how I felt, how I handled it--all that is well recorded history.  Tonight I am celebrating being on this side, having made it through some really difficult times to get to this place.


On the main street outside our neighborhood there is a big beautiful tree.  (Not being good at identifying trees I'm not sure what kind it is, maybe some kind of oak.) This tree has had the misfortune in it's life of growing straight up into the power lines, and over the years the tree has been pruned to accommodate the lines.  

The first winter we were here was long, dreary, and difficult.  The summer had not been so bad--there was lovely weather, fruit to pick, a family reunion, and a long trip back to the beach.  There was a house to buy and moving to do, all of which kept us busy.  But the winter, that was hard.

One day I noticed the tree.

And I thought, that tree has had it's heart ripped out, just like I have.

For a long, long time, every time I drove by the tree I silently commiserated with it.  I know how that feels, I thought.  I feel that pain.  


It took a long time; several years, really, before I was able to move beyond those thoughts.  But eventually I was able to celebrate that even with it's middle all chopped out, the tree kept on.  Every spring it leafed out again into a beautiful stately tree.

It kept on living.  Thriving, even.

One day I had the thought that my heart was just like this tree--that if you could see it, there is a chunk out of my heart that is just the shape of the state of North Carolina.  

Thankfully I am leafing out and thriving again.  Thankfully (oh so thankfully!) we're still connected to our dear friends from North Carolina; some that are still there and some now in other places.  Thankfully I feel like I have real friends here in Oregon, now, as well.

But this tree will always speak to a part of me, a reminder of pain and time and healing.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Maybe not for naught

My memorizer is broke.

I suspected this for many years, and in the last 5 am certain. 

I've gone from being a prolific and easy memorizer of anything and everything (music, poetry, scripture) to bring a frustrated never memorizer, not even of one measure of music. 

All I can assume is that the triplets broke me.  😉

(Regardless of the cause, the situation exists.)

Several years ago I decided I wanted to memorize scriptures, and that I wanted to start with Paul's verses on charity.  They are beautiful to me, and since I struggle to have charity in my daily life, I thought it a good place to start.

I printed out a full sheet of paper with these verses on it.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind;
charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself,
is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly,
seeketh not her own,
is not easily provoked,
thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity,
but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things,
believeth all things,
hopeth all things,
endureth all things.
Charity never faileth.

Every day for a year I read and reread these verses as I stood in front if the bathroom mirror.  It sounds pathetic, but at the end of the year I couldn't recite the whole thing--only small bits and pieces, and not in any good order.  I pronounced my experiment a failure.


Today's topic in sacrament meeting was charity.  The first adult speaker was going along with her talk, and then she said that she wanted to"read words from Paul."

Immediately (far quicker than my conscious mind could have responded) there was an upwelling of joy from my heart.  She was going to read my beautiful verses!  Verses that my heart loves!!

As she read each line I felt my heart grow warm and warmer until I felt filled with joy.


Can you imagine how surprised I felt?

All I can say is--perhaps my failed project


And perhaps it's time for a new scripture on the mirror.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Old Plate, New Plate

Many years ago Russ and I were at Walmart and saw some darling plates.  It seems like we had been using corelle plates up until this point.  Their big selling point was that they wouldn't break, but of course we learned as everyone does that usually they don't break but occasionally they completely SHATTER.  So we saw these plates that were truly unbreakable and they also spoke to our hearts...of course we were going to buy some.  Now the problem was that there were two great patterns and we couldn't decide.  

So in the end we got some of each.  And since only one had matching salad plates and bowls, we just got those. 

We have oh-so-happily used these plates for many, many years.  I don't even know how long ago, but I'm pretty sure we were using them on Stephens Lane before the triplets were born, so that's at least 15.5 years.  Long enough that (especially because we didn't know they weren't microwave safe until relatively recently) some of them are starting to show their age.  

I've realized for the last several years that we were going to need new plates at some point and I've started watching.  Looking at melamine plates everywhere I went.  They were all TOO EXPENSIVE, and I DIDN'T love any of them.  So I haven't bought anything.

Recently I saw a darling melamine platter in a store, but there weren't any plates that matched it.  It made me curious again and so I came home and googled melamine plates just to see what was out there.  Eventually I saw that online at another store I could order a set of plates/bowls/cups that matched the platter.  They weren't cheap, which I didn't like.  But they were darling, and after a week or two of contemplation I decided to bite the bullet and go for it, before our old plates flaked apart entirely.

They arrived in the mail today and I'm very excited to present our new plates.

The salad plates have waves on them, and the bowls are white on the outside, aqua on the inside, and have a fish on the bottom.

Of course I got the platter that had started my whole hunt.

And now we can drink from plastic glasses with little fish on them too.

When Rachel saw that I was taking the old plates out of the cabinet she was so unhappy.  "Those are the dishes of my childhood," she said.  And it's true--they were.  I don't know if most people become as attached to their plates as we have been to these.  They have continually brought me joy to use, because they have been an expression of what we love.  

But no one likes dishes that start to flake off bits of plastic into their food, and that's where we were headed.  So we will bid a fond farewell to the old ones, grateful to them for their years of service and happiness.  And then, unlike the book "Old Hat, New Hat," we will say:

New plates.  New plates.  New plates.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rebel that I am

Gretchen Rubin, one of my favorite non-fiction authors, came up with a new way to evaluate people.  She divides them into four groups based in how they respond to expectations. One group responds readily to both outer and inner expectations.  One group responds to external expectations but not inner.  One group questions everything, then if they decide in favor of the expectation they meet it.  The last group rebels against all expectations, both outer and inner.

When I first heard her talk about her "framework," as she calls it, I assumed I was a questioner.  After all I ask a lot of questions.  About everything.  But when I talked to someone else who was a questioner I could see that I was really quite different than her.  

And then one day on Gretchen's podcast she had people send in mottos they had made up for their tendency.  She read a bunch, and then read off this one:

I'm a rebel: you can't make me, and neither can I.

I can't tell you what a light bulb moment that was, and how confusing at the same time.  After all, I don't LOOK like a rebel.  I look like a normal middle aged Mormon woman.  But from the moment I heard that motto I started seeing the signs in myself.  Want to shut me down? Tell me I *must* do something.  Want to get me to actually do something?  Tell me it probably can't be done!  And on, and on.

This makes so much sense with the rest of my life, especially when you combine this rebel tendency with the fact that I don't transition from one activity to another very well.  (Something I realized about my kids when they were young and I've known about myself for years now.)  Even things that I want to do are difficult to actually get myself to do.  Remember, "neither can I."  I've found that I have to be strategic to get things done that I want to do--either by sliding into them sideways or by putting myself in the correct place first instead of expecting that I'll be able to transition from one activity to another.  It's still a work in progress, but at least I feel like I have a grasp of what the issue is for the first time ever.

One last funny bit.  I realized after the first couple of days at work that I was feeling very uncomfortable ending phone calls.  As I thought about it I realized that this was the problem--I would end the phone call by saying "Have a great day," but then I felt like I was "bossing" the person around!  Because they might not like to be told what to do!  Not sure how that will end up, but at least I know that it's ridiculous.  Mostly.  ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

My job (I guess I have a job!)

For several years now I've worried about how we're going to pay for the triplets' college.  Even if they're able to get partial scholarships and jobs too, they're still going to need help from us.  And help x3 is a frightening scenario.  The only thing that I could think of to work and earn money was to substitute teach, but I knew that I don't want to do that now because I'd have to leave before my kids go to school.

When this worry started coming up over and over again I made a decision.  Since it was so far in the future, and since I really didn't know what the future was even going to look like, I decided that when the worry surfaced I'd turn it over to the Lord, and ask him to guide me in the ways He knew I'd need to go.

I can't tell you how many times I've done this in the last few years, but it's been a lot.


While I was in Utah for Elise's wedding my phone rang.  It was my walking friend Lorraine.  Lorraine is a marriage and family therapist, and in her office suite she also has a naturopath and a diet clinic.  She was calling to say that her front desk guy, John, was going out of town, and she wondered if I would be willing to fill in for him for 4 days the next week.

This all came as such a surprise to me.  I'd never expected someone to just ask me to work for them.  Especially someone with such good hours-- 9-3.  I told her that I thought I could do it and then promptly forgot about it and got on with the wedding festivities.


The next week I got up even earlier than I usually do for family scriptures, and instead of going to the gym after I dropped the kids off I went to work.  It felt so strange, but within a short time (faster than Lorraine expected) I started getting the hang of things.

What was surprising to me was that I really enjoyed it.  I enjoyed interacting with the patients, I was surprisingly ok answering the phone (although I still have to stop and think about what I'm going to say because it's a mouthful), and I enjoyed the little projects that Lorraine and Dr. Sandell wanted me to work on for them.  I'd been worried that I would sit there and be bored but that didn't really happen.


At some point Lorraine told me that John was wanting to take a day off and would she wondered if I'd be interested in working Wednesdays going forward.  I thought that sounded good.  Then she decided that they were going to move to a new building, and the upshot of that was that I could work more if I wanted to.  I decided that during the school year I think I want to work 2 days/week, and during the summer just one.  She asked if I'd be willing to do 1/2 day of work at home every week on her projects and I think that will be great.


It still all feels so strange to me--like it appeared fully formed from no where.  But I'm willing to believe that maybe this is Heavenly Father guiding me and directing me to the place where we'll be able to afford having three kids in college at once.  I'm delighted with the school-kid friendly hours and the flexibility.  And surprised at how much I enjoy it.  Now if I could just get the hang of going to bed earlier...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Facebook Soulmates

Today I was sorting screenshots that were saved on my computer and I came across this series.  I usually ignore quizzes on Facebook but I had to pay attention to this one, and was so entertained by it!

The clock

True story:  long ago and far away (so very long ago!) we bought our first home.  It was a rundown brick ranch with an unfinished basement and just one bathroom.  The first year we lived there we rented the house, and then we bought it.  The bathroom had an old pink formica counter, and I was really excited when I found some wallpaper that I liked that went OK with the formica.  We put the wallpaper halfway up the walls and then had a floral border.  I made some kind of coordinating shower curtain.  And I bought this clock.  I can still remember seeing it in an Avon catalog--the water resistant clock with an optional ring to hold something like a hand towel.   It seemed perfect to me and well worth the $19 or so I paid for it. 

The clock has been off of my radar for years now--some child claimed it for the kid's bathroom, I assume to help them get to seminary on time. 

Times have changed and now no one goes to early morning seminary and everyone carries a clock in their pocket.  I'm told that the battery in this clock had been dead for more than a year and no one needs it anymore. 

I came into the kitchen one day recently and it was sitting on the island... Oh how it brought back memories of that time and place, of the little pink bathroom and my satisfaction with our first little remodel job, of the cool white clock. 
Good memories...