Sunday, June 19, 2016

Oh the Places You Can Rule!

Now that the school year is over there are a couple of school assignments that I loved that I want to save.  This one is Jenna's end of year World Studies assignment to do a brochure about being a dictator based on the things she learned throughout the school year.  I think it's pretty remarkable!






Monday, June 13, 2016

Don't forget to look down, too.

Last week I spent some time talking with a friend.  I knew that she'd just had a long layover in a tropical location after a business trip.  When I asked if she had other travel plans, she said that she and her husband were taking a trip to South America in a couple of weeks, and then a Carribean trip later in the summer.  I love my friend and am totally happy for her happiness, but I must admit that the little green monster reared it's ugly head a little.  (After all, I've never even been out of the United States, other than a little hop across the border at Niagara Falls.)

Later in the week I saw on Facebook that someone I know is spending the summer (the whole summer) in Europe with her family. (Her whole family.) There was the green eyed monster again, a little more insistent this time.  (After all, I've never even been out of the United States, other than a little hop across the border at Niagara Falls.)

I chewed on this occasionally over the next few days, disgruntled at the disparity of my life compared to theirs.

Then I had the little thought.  The reminder of the niggle of guilt I felt when we spent two weeks (not one, but TWO!!) in Hawaii this winter!  Sure, we haven't been for a couple of years, but we have been lucky enough to have a week long beach vacation almost every year.   And then Hawaii!

As I started thinking about all of the ways that I have been blessed more than many people, my list grew.  Lovely children.  Loving husband.  Family support.  Personal time.  Lovely home.  Beautiful yard and ability to buy many flowers.  Regular beach vacation.  Occasional Hawaiian vacation. And on, and on, and on.  And on.

There are two truths at play here.  It is true that I don't have as much money or the same opportunities as some people that I know.  But it is even more true that compared to other people that I know, and compared to most of the people in the world, I have more.  I was comparing "up," but not remembering to compare "down."

So today I'm saying thank you to all of those who haven't yet had the chance to go to Hawaii but who were excited for me when I went.  Thank you for rejoicing with me, for adding to the joy of my trip.  Let me know when you're ready to go and I'll help you plan your trip.  And I'm also saying that I'm going to do a better job at remembering just how blessed I am so that I'm able to celebrate other people's opportunities, even when (especially when?) they're opportunities that I may never have.

[disclaimer: I have used the terms "up" and "down" only to mean having more money and the opportunities money can provide.  These terms are not meant in any other way.]

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Through a glass, darkly

My phone is a hand-me-down, it came from my nephew Jake who's on a mission now.  I've added a few apps to the phone in the year I've had it, but never done anything physically to the phone.  Which means that for a year it's had the case it came in, and the screen protector that came on it.

Lately it's been looking pretty scratched.  Let's be real.  For a long time it's been looking pretty scratched, and lately it's been looking terrible.  I *knew* that, but it was the kind of thing I never noticed in a moment where I could do anything about it and that never stayed in my memory for very long.

Finally there was the perfect conjunction; the stars aligned and I ordered a new screen protector.  I begged Jared (one of my tech guys) to put it on for me and I walked away.  Some time later he told me it was done and I came and got it.

All I can say is

WOW!!!!

I mean

WOW!!!!!!

It was so CLEAR!  It was so BRIGHT!  It was amazing and for the rest of the night and most of the next day I just stared at it in amazement every time I looked at it.



I can see clearly, now, I thought.  And I had no idea how un-clearly I *had* been seeing.

Then I started thinking...

---

For so many years in my life I was confused by part of a verse in the New Testament,

"For now we see through a glass, darkly..."

What on earth did it mean to see through a glass darkly?  It was really annoying to me, especially as the rest of the verse made a lot of sense to me and I really liked it.  The first time I heard an explanation for this idea was such a relief to me--that it might have to do with seeing something, (or through something), but not very well.

As I looked at my phone with it's spiffy and shiny new screen protector I understood on a new level.  Now that I was seeing my phone so well, I could see that for so long I hadn't been seeing it well at all.  I could see that then I saw through a screen protector, scratched up.  Which might be a lot like seeing through a glass darkly.

The most interesting thing to me, though, was the realization that while I knew I probably needed a new screen protector,  I had no idea how bad the situation really was *until* I had the new screen protector.

Which made my brain that loves analogies wonder--where in my life am I seeing through a glass darkly without knowing it?  Where do I think I have a little problem when there's actually a much bigger problem?  Where will be the biggest surprise when I no longer see through a glass darkly??


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

Wasn't.

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.  ;)