Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Argument for Kindness, Compassion, & Consideration

I stood at the register at Monkey Joe’s, a kids play place in northern Raleigh.  The seven children with me had already been wristbanded and had run off to bounce on the toys, play tag, and hide-n-seek.  I was ready to sit down on the comfy parent chairs and relax.

Or so I thought.

Right up until the girl at the register said, “We have a problem.  Your groupons are for the Cary location and not this one.” 

I was incredulous.  “What do you mean?” I asked.  “I specifically bought groupons for Monkey Joes in RALEIGH.”  I’d been trying to figure out something fun to do on Leap Day, some way to celebrate the day that comes only once every 4 years.  When I’d seen the Monkey Joes groupon it had seemed an easy answer—take the kids to a place where they could do a lot of leaping around.  And so I clicked and bought.

I opened my computer and showed the employee that indeed,  my groupon had said “Monkey Joes—Raleigh” at the top.  She agreed that that was frustrating, but was firm that they could not accept them at the Raleigh location, and that I could either pay for entry or take the kids to the Cary location. 

I appreciated this woman’s courtesy in a difficult moment.

She could not have known the stress I am under.
She could never know how hard I’ve been working every day, how late I’ve been staying up every night, or how early I’ve been waking to start working again.
She had no idea that I’d already driven an hour just to get to her location in northern Raleigh.
She had no way of knowing that I am living most moments on the verge of tears.


A couple of months ago I needed to get some blood drawn.  When I called a local lab to see if they could draw it and ask a couple of questions the technician was curt, unhelpful, and by the end of the phone call downright rude.  She may not have said the words ‘You are stupid,’ but she certainly communicated that feeling as she asked me impatiently at the end of the phone call “why on earth I had called her.”  I got off the phone in tears, feeling humiliated.

The next week I had a very different experience at another local lab.  I arrived with an appointment already made to have the blood drawn.  For some reason they had lost all of the paperwork, and there were a couple of reasons that they didn’t think they were going to be able to draw my blood.  Their new computer systems weren’t letting them access any information very quickly, and for 45 minutes I stood there and waited while they tried to figure things out.  In the end they decided that they really couldn’t draw my blood, and once again I went away disappointed.  But in every other way the experience was different.  The man and women I spoke with in that lab that day were kind and courteous.  They were frustrated that they couldn’t figure things out quickly, but they never expressed any of that frustration towards me.  In the end they apologized genuinely for my inconvenience and I left feeling fine, despite my lack of success.


I’ve thought about those different experiences in the months since they happened, and they came into my mind again today as I drove away from Monkey Joes in Raleigh hoping that I could find the one in Cary.  (Which I did, thanks to my wonderful husband and a service that he provides that we call ‘Blonde-Star.’) I thought about how one rude or annoyed or even patronizing word from the Monkey Joe’s employee would certainly have been the straw that broke the Leap Year camel’s back.

I am grateful for her patience and sensitivity.


I’ve always liked the saying


(also often attributed to Marjorie Hinckley)

but never more than today.  Today, when I was dressed neatly, with my hair fixed and makeup on.  Today when a normal exterior camaflauged a volcano of tears hidden just underneath. Today when I for a moment doubted my ability to survive my hard battle.

Today I was the recipient of kindness in a stressful moment, and I hope that I never forget what it felt like…

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Turns out even when the painter is here, the mice are still playing…

Anonymously this time, though…



Stuff that needs a new home

Note to regular blog readers—please ignore me as I try to decrease the amount of stuff laying around here!


First, without a picture—a flower press.

2 cages that hold suet cakes for birds—particularly woodpeckers.


Snow cone maker.


1/2 gallon glaze


platform to use on ladder


Bigger pots for transplants.


Folding table and chairs—kid sized.  There was a recall on these after we bought them but we never took them back because there was no replacement.  Our kids have never had a problem with the chairs pinching their fingers, but if your kids are likely to stick their fingers into the folding parts then perhaps these aren’t right for you…  Winking smile


Monday, February 27, 2012

While the painter’s away, the mice will play…




Moments Like This

Are what keep me going right now. 


The hectic cleaning/packing/organizing makes me feel like I will go crazy.  Part of the problem is that in cleaning up the mess here


I just end up with stuff that needs to be redistributed elsewhere in the house, with the potential to increase other messes or mess up places I’ve already cleaned. 


I know that for some the answer is just to throw everything away, and I have thrown away tons and tons of stuff.  But—we need some of this.  And we want some of it.  And so some goes into boxes to go out to the garage and to the storage space, and some goes into closets and drawers throughout the house.  And ALL of it makes me a little bit crazier.  (Not that that was going to be a long trip anyway…)


So when I come into the girls room and see Jenna & Jared on the bed together skyping with Russ before he starts his work day in Oregon, it makes my heart happy and a little lighter.  Today I just needed to stop for a minute to celebrate that. 

And the fact that it turns out after all that 11 year olds really are old enough to clean tubs. 


And while I’m posting sweet pics of my kids, here’s one from yesterday.  These poor kids have been run ragged for the last week, on top of spending the weekend partying while I was in Oregon.  They are tired!



Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Bipolar Blog Life

I know someone who’s really worried about the government finding out too much about her. She’s recently decided that in light of Google’s changing privacy policies, she’s going to delete her blog, her facebook account, and any other information about herself on the internet.

I’m not exactly sure what she’s afraid will happen. If the government happened across my blog, I’m sure the worst thing that would happen would be that they would recommend I get into therapy immediately. Or maybe that would be the best thing that would happen…not sure, really.

I do feel like my blog is a bit bipolar recently.

Cool vacation with Russ!
I’m crying all the time…
I love Charleston!
I can trust Heavenly Father…
Silly groundhog!
Crying more…
Losing money on our house!
House hunting is scary…

And so it goes. Bipolarly along.

But really, that’s what it feels like inside my brain and heart right now too. One minute I’m crying in Costco because I ran into Nancy and she asked me how I'm doing (not too good, I guess!) and the next I’m at book club laughing like crazy with all of those women that I love so much. One moment I’m feeling so overwhelmed with the amount of work that still needs to be done here and the next I’m playing games with my wonderful friends who came over and laughing until my face hurts. One minute I am crying again because I’m so sad about leaving and the next I’m overwhelmed with how much the Lord has blessed and guided us through this time.

And on and on.

I’m not necessarily a really even-keeled person, though I think I’m normally much steadier than this. And because my blog is at least an attempt at recording my life, I’m guessing the bipolar trend is going to continue for at least the next little while.

Please send therapists…

A Confidence Booster


Rachel asked about the date on my t-shirt.  I explained that it was a from a conference Russ went to a couple of years ago to learn about a computer system. 

Then Jared said, “But now he doesn’t need to go…cause now he knows everything!”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Divine Accounting

Russ landed an interview with the company in Arizona just a week or two after he got laid off. The phone interview was long.  I mean really long—90 minutes.  And it seemed to go very well.

We talked about moving to Arizona.  I looked at houses on the internet and tried to resign myself to living in a desert.  But there was something that kept me from really believing that the Arizona job would happen, and that was the amount of money sitting in our bank account.  We had money from his severance and money from the stock options that we’d been able to sell.  And at that point, less than a month into unemployment, most of it was still sitting there.

I remember telling him that I just couldn’t see that he was going to lose his job, get another job right away, and us be left with all of this money.  It just didn’t seem to be the way Heavenly Father usually works.

As you know, Russ did not get the job in Arizona, and it wasn’t for another 6 weeks that he was offered the job with Intel.  Eventually unemployment benefits kicked in and that helped with expenses, and our bank balance still seemed relatively healthy.

Once we decided when Russ would start work (Feb 21st) and when we would put our house on the market (beginning of March) it became obvious that we had a problem.  Normally we are relatively successful DIY-ers . We have replaced kitchen cabinets, installed new countertops, installed and tiled around a new bathtub, tiled a bathroom floor.  As we neared Russ’s departure date and the stress level ratcheted up we were forced to come to the realization that we simply could not DIY all that was left to be done. 

And so we started hiring people.  We hired a handyman.  (I’d never realized just how handy Russ is until I faced paying someone to do everything he couldn’t do.)  We hired someone to clean up the yard and make it look nicer.  We hired someone to paint and paint and paint. 

As I started realizing how much it was going to cost to pay someone to do all of these things I started to panic.  Sure, there was still money in the bank.  But it was going to cost a LOT do to all of these things.  One afternoon I decided that maybe I could paint the trim in the downstairs to save some money.  Ann & I spent 4 hours (4 hours!) prepping and painting and in the end only got the trim in the kitchen painted.  I was exhausted and humbled.  There was just no way that I could do it.

I finally decided that the only way to stop the panic was to write down what the expenses were going to be, and to make a list of what everything was going to cost.  And guess what—it looks like there should be enough money.  Just enough money to do everything that needs to be done to sell the house.

I’ve decided that I need to trust the Divine Accountant a little better.  I need to trust that what He gives us will be sufficient, that it will last as long as it needs to. As much as I hate it I can feel that His plan all along was not to fund another Hawaiian vacation, but to provide us with the resources (both time and money) to be able get from point A (this life) to point B (our new life in Oregon.) 

I think He is showing me in yet another way that His grace is truly sufficient…

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The first day of the rest of our lives…


Dear Russ,

Twenty-two years ago on New Year’s day we headed north from Provo to Pocatello, ready to start the next part of our life together—“the job years.”  I didn’t really know what to expect.  There were times during your last semester at BYU, when you were flying all over for job interviews and trying to study for all of your classes too, when you thought that maybe you had chosen the wrong major.  But then you finished the semester with several job offers in hand and a better GPA than expected as well.  And off we went, so poor that you wore your suit pants to work for two weeks until you got paid and could afford some new pants. 

It’s been many years and quite a few jobs since that first paycheck.  I know that each one of your jobs has been a blessing from Heavenly Father, but they’ve also happened because whatever it is that you do (and I have only the vaguest of idea what that is), you do it very well indeed.  One of the tender mercies of your being laid off was that we both received quite a bit of feedback from people you were working with and had worked with about your abilities as a CAD engineer.  One of the people left at your old company lamented that he didn’t know how they would all get their work done without you to support them.  Your first boss here told you,

“You are the best front-end CAD Engineer I know…”

And one of your friends wrote a recommendation for you on LinkedIn that I think I will treasure forever.  It gave me a peek into your working world and made me so proud of you and both the man and the engineer you’ve become.  He said,

“Over the years that I knew and worked with Russ at Mitsubishi and later at Renesas, Russ developed the well-earned reputation as the quiet guru and miracle worker of logic synthesis and chip layout. Russ has all the qualities that you'd want in a CAD engineer: he's calm and unflappable, hypercompetent yet unassuming, highly methodical yet imaginative and creative. He gets the job done and he works well with anyone. In any high-tech industry, egotism, arrogance, and the tensions between type-A personalities can run pretty high, but everyone liked and respected Russ. He was friend to all and mentor to many. Russ is kind of a cross between Buddha and the character "Seraph" from The Matrix Trilogy. He is a talented problem solver and someone who brings tremendous experience and insight to any project. He is also a calming presence. For reasons that nobody could really explain, just having Russ on the team made everything, even tasks that Russ wasn't involved in, run more smoothly. I even had a phrase for it: "X + Russ = 3X". I'm a patent attorney now instead of a chip designer, but if I was starting my own design company, Russ would be employee #2, if I was lucky enough to get him.”


I know that new beginnings are awkward and that it will take you a while to hit your stride at Intel.  But I have total confidence in you.  I am so proud of you, so glad that you are mine, and I CAN’T WAIT until we are together again,

All my love,


Sunday, February 19, 2012

What’s Oregon Like?

In a word,

(pronounced mah-say)


Everywhere.  On everything.  That little bit of moss growing in my yard in North Carolina?  That’s nothing compared to what we’re going to grow in Oregon!



Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Danger of Making Plans

A few years ago I looked around, noticed that we had been in Durham for the unbelievably long time of almost 15 years, and decided (with comfort and satisfaction) that we would stay forever…

My daughter, always excited about going to college and getting a degree, had to stop taking classes so that she could spend more time taking care of her health…

One of my young friends just had to defer a semester of college to have surgery; an operation that no young person ever expects to have to deal with…

The daughter of a friend just had a surgical procedure and experienced a serious complication—one that will take a long time to recover from and keep her out of college for the next year…


The natural man obviously thinks he/she has some measure of control in this life.  And for long stretches of time, at least for most of us, things go along in such as way as to support this belief.  We make plans and are able to complete them.  We decide our children will have lives that look like this and that and they do. 

And then one day something happens and our plan is derailed.  Isn’t that a great image?  Because sometimes when our plan is derailed it is as messy as if a real train had derailed.  Contents spilled over the surrounding area, engine still hissing, and wheels continuing to turn as if at any moment the train will manage to right itself, hop back onto the track, and continue on it’s pre-planned way.

Sometimes it does happen that way, it is true.  Sometimes whatever has happened is merely a small interruption of the plan.  But other times, not so much.  Other times what has happened is at least a change of direction, and often a complete change of course.


It is so easy in these moments (in the moment I’ve been in for the last seven weeks) to resist.  To resist giving up our own (really excellent) plan, to resist realizing that we never were actually in control to begin with.  The temptation to resist is so strong. I feel it in my own heart and I see it around me. Why? It’s not like my resistance has the power to change anything except for perhaps how bad my headache is.

But I am seeing the truth in bits & pieces in my own life.  And one thing I am seeing is that as I willingly lay aside my plan, looking forward with the assumption that the Lord’s plan—unexpected and uncomfortable as it may be—is  actually the right plan for me, then those are the moments that I feel peace.


Tonight I am feeling an increased need to remind myself that there never was a “one size fits all” plan.  That we were never meant to be able to plot the courses of our lives or or children’s lives—no matter how fantastic or reasonable those ideas seemed.

And that it really is our Heavenly Father’s plan that is perfect for each one of us, complete with individualized challenges and experiences and tests. 

This is the challenge for me.  To keep making plans, because part of living life is making plans.  But to not become so attached to my plans that I am unable to change course when the Spirit (or the job market) directs.  And to always trust that God’s plan is the best plan for me.  Always.


Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things,
both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom,
and all power, both in heaven and in earth;
believe that man doth not comprehend all the things
which the Lord can comprehend.
Mosiah 4:9

Friday, February 17, 2012

Welcome to Portlandia

We’ve been entertaining ourselves for weeks watching short skits online called “Portlandia.”  If you haven’t seen these before and want a good laugh, they’re pretty funny.

We have reassured ourselves that these skits aren’t for real.  But then Russ started looking for temporary housing on Craigslist…and I’m not so sure anymore.

Here’s our favorite housing ad:


The Aerie, a collective house upstairs from the Red and Black Cafe in SE Portland, has one room available for a sublet March 1. The sublet would be for 4 months with the potential to move in permanently. Some more about our household:

THE PHYSICAL SPACE: Our house has five bedrooms, a small living room and kitchen, and one bathroom. We are on the second story of a 130+ year old former hotel, with 7 foot tall windows and 14 foot ceilings in all rooms. The room we're subletting has a loft built into it with the bed on top to take advantage of all that space. There is a basement that we use for storage. Laundry facilities are also in the basement. We keep a VEGAN kitchen. We recycle, compost, and have a greywater system (collecting water in buckets to flush the toilet).

THE HOUSE MEMBERS: We currently have five people, one dog, two cats, and a rabbit living with us. We are open to more dogs but we'll want to meet them as well as you. Unfortunately we can't have more cats in our house at this time. None of us are "party people" but with varying schedules and a small space, our house is fairly high-traffic and can be noisy. We have a huge collection of board/card games and a well-stocked kitchen for culinary projects. All of us are vegan and most of us identify as anarchists or otherwise politically radical. We are all respectful social drinkers.

THE COLLECTIVE: We have house meetings on a monthly basis to make decisions that affect all of us. These are run using consensus process, where we discuss the issue in order to find a solution everyone is happy with. We don't have scheduled community meals or activities, but very often find ourselves eating dinner together, playing games, or just hanging out and talking. We are queer/trans friendly and all family structures are welcome.

Rent is $351 per month, with an additional charge of $25 per month for more than one adult occupying a room (this charge goes into a vacancy fund in case of move-outs). We each pay a House Fund of $70 per person per month. This covers all utilities, including internet, and the purchase of bulk food and household supplies (laundry soap, TP, etc.) that are available to everyone.

If you're interested, please respond to this ad with as much information about yourself as possible. The more you can tell us about why specifically our house appeals to you, the better!

um….maybe not!  But we did get a good laugh out of it.


When I landed at the Portland airport and used their restrooms I had to laugh.  These signs were everywhere.


At least I didn’t have to bring my own greywater!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

House Hunting Nightmares

Russ and I have spent almost 15 hours in the last two days looking at houses in and around Hillsboro, the town where Intel is located.  We have seen some homes we could probably afford, and we have seen some homes we could live in.  And sometimes, we’ve even seen a home that fits both of those categories.

Which is a relief.  Because there have been some homes we could afford that we NEVER could live in.  And I’m going to write about them, so that in the years to come if I feel any unhappiness with wherever we end up living, I can remember all of the places we could have lived.

[I considered titling this post “Now I’m the Picky One.”  Many many years ago my in-laws were moving back to Utah.  We were visiting from Idaho, where we lived in a humble ranch house that we’d bought for $40,000.  I knew that my in-laws were looking at houses that cost many times that much, and I just couldn’t understand why my mother in law was so picky.  One house had counters she didn’t like.  Another had a yard that just wasn’t what she wanted.  On, and on, and on, and I didn’t get it.  Why was she so picky?  So here I am,  many years later, and guess what—I’m a lot pickier than I used to be.  And grateful that I can be, as you will soon understand…]

I wish I had any pictures of what I’m about to describe.  I should have gone right out to the car and gotten the purse cam the first time I saw something crazy.  But I didn’t, and I will regret it forever.  Or be glad forever that I don’t have pictures to prolong the mental torture…


We learned the first day that we simply can’t afford to look in a town a little closer to Portland.  And that if we could afford to look at a house there, we weren’t willing to live in it.

The first house was really cool looking.  It was built in the 70’s, and the pictures online showed lots of big windows.  I really, really, really wanted to love it.  We walked in the door and I immediately had my doubts.  The staircase looked like something out of the Brady Bunch.  That wasn’t necessarily a problem—I can be ok with a Brady Bunch staircase, but not this one.  We weren’t sure why, but all along the edge of the floor that we could see through the stair railings, something was wrong.  We could see subfloor, a big gap, and then raw wood.  I know that’s not a good description—sorry!  We later (in another nightmare house) realized that originally the floor had been carpeted and the carpeting was wrapped around the edge of the floor onto the very top of the stair wall.  As we went up the stairs we could see that the carpet had been removed and replaced with laminate flooring, leaving the unfinished edges exposed.  The laminate was also crazy…different kinds of laminate flooring.  Different colors of wood.  Most of it not finished…with big gaps of subfloor showing all around the edges.  Someone had also tried to tile the kitchen counters with black granite tiles, which were uneven and also unfinished.  It was crazy.

The next house was also in the area we couldn’t afford.  Also built in the 70’s, it had miniscule kitchen, even a tinier master bath, and a metal spiral staircase in the middle of the living room.  I’m sure the kids would have loved it…but we passed.

Today we saw a few more.  Another one with the Brady Bunch stair railings, complete with really hammered crimson carpet wrapped around the edges.  The crimson carpeting went up the stairs, up and down the hall, and into the master bedroom.  It was a sight to behold.  Downstairs the homeowner had put down laminate.  (It’s been a really bad week for laminate!)  The color was fine, and this laminate went all the way to the edges.  But for some reason it was bubbled up everywhere.  There were little hills of laminate flooring all over the family room and kitchen, the biggest probably 6 feet long, 2 feet wide, and at least 6 inches high.  Stepping on these areas was a little like walking on a mattress...very mushy.

I’ve saved the best for last.  The house had a LOT of square feet and a decent sized yard, something that you don’t see a lot in our price range in Hillsboro.  And, AND, AND, it was “indoor pool ready.”

What on earth does “indoor pool ready” actually mean???

Well now I can tell you.

This house was born a basic seventies split level.  (Are you sensing a 70’s theme here?  It is unfortunate, and I don’t mean to slander all houses built in this decade.  But still…)  At some point someone built a BIG addition onto the house, turning the basic rectangle into more of an L shaped house.  We walked through a hallway in the back of the house and saw two added bedrooms.  Then past the bedrooms was a really really big family room—probably 25’x25’ at least.  Then we went downstairs looking for the rest of the addition.  We passed the garage, went down a hallway, and there it was.  I have never seen anything so bizarre in my life. We walked into a huge cavernous area.  The area we were standing on was carpeted in blue & green shag carpeting.  Then there was a wood ladder going down about 8 feet to a concrete floor.  In the middle of the floor there was a pool table, and the walls were also covered in the same blue & green shag carpeting.  It was so strange it was creepy.  It was a little like the Biltmore house indoor pool, just the budget version with shag carpet.

Now you may think this was all as much oddness as any one house could hold.  Well…you would be wrong.  The carpet that met our eyes when we walked in the front door (and went throughout the house) was a black & grey leopard print.  I am totally serious.  And the hallway walls were sponge painted a kind of animal combination of colors.  Walking down the hallway was a seriously psychedelic experience!

We also passed on a chance to buy a house built in the 50’s that (along with a nicely remodeled kitchen) included a sun porch with a very nice hot tub inside it…


I hope you’ve enjoyed your scenic tour of some of the stranger homes available in the Hillsboro area.  Here’s hoping that Saturday’s houses are more normal.  And that if they’re not, I have the purse cam with me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Escape: Luscious Tidbits

Just a few bits & pieces to wrap up our trip…

I forgot to mention one of the big advertising points of our horse drawn carriage ride in Charleston was:


Donkey free?  Are some horses tainted with bits of donkey??  Apparently, though, donkeys are very flatulent animals so it’s important to be sure you have a pure horse to ride behind…


In Charleston we went into a quirky little gift shop.  We bought a refrigerator magnet with a picture of Rainbow Row on it, but the thing I was the most interested in were the decorations hanging from the ceiling.  They were snowflakes made from white pipe cleaners, and we are totally going to do this next year for Christmas.



Winter appears not to be prime shopping time in Charleston. 



Did I mention that there is a jail in Charleston that executed something like 14,000 people over 150 years?  It’s one of the places that gives haunted Charleston tours.  We didn’t want to take a haunted tour, but we did walk by it in the eerie heavy mist.  I was intrigued by the sign out front.


Really?  The National Parks Service?  I can’t think of anything farther from a park!


Before we went to Savannah I’d heard about the Pirate’s House, but couldn’t figure out what it was all about. I was really surprised when we finally went there to find out that Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” is supposed to have been inspired by the sailor’s tavern that was originally on the site. There is a rumor that there was a tunnel from the tavern that came out on the river, and that sailors who got too drunk would wake up the next morning and find that they had been stolen into slavery to work on a ship.

[I’m not sure why I always thought Treasure Island was a European adventure—maybe I should have actually read the whole book?]


Russ & I ate our last meal in Savannah at the Pirate’s House. I had their southern buffet, reputed to be even better than the one at Paula Dean’s restaurant. I can’t compare it, but I can tell you that it was totally delicious. All sorts of downhome southern food—chicken, pot pie, mac & cheese, delicious green beans and garlic mashed potatoes… I even ate one piece of deep friend okra, just so I could say I’d done it. Still loathed the texture. But the rest of it was great!


One last miscellaneous tidbit about Savannah. We were walking back to our lovely motel the first night and I noticed that there was a crosswalk with a button to push. I love pushing crosswalk buttons, so I quickly ran over and pushed it. Much to my surprise it talked to me! (I know, I don’t get out much…) In an agitated computer voice it said…

Wait! Wait! Wait!!!


I was so entertained that I had to push every crosswalk button we passed from that point on, hoping to get one to talk to us again. And from time to time we said it to each other…trying to perfect our impersonations…


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

God’s Economy/He Knew


As I wrote about my experience singing in sacrament meeting on Sunday, I was puzzled.  I wrote about how much I know spiritually that this move is the right thing for us, and yet how hard it is for me to accept.  I wondered as I typed why I couldn’t be more faithful to what I know, and trust more that as we follow Heavenly Father’s plan we will be happy.

I find, as I think about it a little more, that this situation fits in with my “God’s economy” theory. This theory is that Heavenly Father never gives more inspiration/help/guidance than is necessary. Situations that are easy or that we are naturally drawn to typically need less help,  guidance, or inspiration. With situations that are difficult or that we might not choose on our own , I think Heavenly Father provides more inspiration to direct us and/or to give us reassurance that we are making the right decision.


I used to be perplexed that when I prayed about whether or not to marry Russ, I felt comfortable about my decision.  But when we came to look at this house after our other house sold, I knew clearly and specifically that this was the place we were supposed to live.  I wondered why I would get only a general peaceful feeling about marrying Russ, but such a specific answer about living in this house.  At some point Cindy Lynn suggested that it was because Heavenly Father knew that I was going to NEED to know that we were supposed to be living in here.

It was true.  The first year we lived here was so hard for me.  Have you ever moved with three 1 year olds?  It was not pretty.  The house was ugly, the walls were atrocious, and I could never unpack a box.  If it wasn’t for Nancy we would have been living out of boxes forever, but she came in and unpacked the whole kitchen so that we could function.  But as hard as it was and as much as I didn’t love the house at first, I knew it was the right place. 

When Cindy Lynn started seminary and it was so far away, I reminded myself that Heavenly Father already knew this.  When Russ’s commute got longer and longer, and I worried about how much time he was spending in the car and how much less time we had with him I reassured myself that Heavenly Father already knew this too.  When gas went up to $4/gallon and I was afraid to calculate the cost of seminay and Russ’s commute, once again I trusted that if Heavenly Father had put us in that house, it was going to be ok.  And it was.  I have been grateful that I was given that witness all those years ago to help me in each of those situations.


Last Thursday the relocation specialist called.  We had been waiting for them to give us the price point that determines how much we can list the house for.  The price that she told me was lower than we had expected.  But then she went on to say that the relocation company recommendation was that we list for $5,000 less than that, and that their prediction was that we would sell for $10,000 less for that.

I was stunned.

If their prediction is right, we will loose $35,000.  All along I have comforted myself that at least we bought our house 10 years ago—before the “big boom” years, so we wouldn’t have to sell for a lot less than we paid.  In that moment I saw over half of our down payment evaporating into thin air. 

I did not handle it well.

I cried, and cried, and cried.  For the whole afternoon, to everyone who talked to me. 

Then, at some waterlogged point, I had a realization.  He knew this too.  He knew that in 2012 our house wouldn’t be worth what we paid for it in 2001.  I had to think about this for a while—it wasn’t a mental or emotional leap I could make immediately.  It took me a couple of days to get to the point that I am starting to feel a little better about it.  I don’t know what it means.  I don’t know how it’s all going to work out.  It’s probably not going to be as comfortable as I had hoped it would be.  But—He already knew this.

And I really did need to know that.


[After talking with several realtors we are hopeful that, while we will most certainly sell at a loss, it will not be a $35,000 loss.  At least we’re praying not.  Really, really hard.]

Monday, February 13, 2012

Just in case there’s not enough on my plate right now…

here is the transcription (a bit rough in places) of a message that was left on my phone today.



Sure…in my spare time…

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Be Still, My Soul


I remember once a dear friend telling me her story.  She said that one night her husband had dreamed a dream telling him that they should do something specific in their life.  When he woke after the dream, he knew that it was a message from the Lord so he woke her to tell her that he had had this dream/inspiration.  Then my friend said, “This has been so hard for me.  I had assumed that if we had a revelation from the Lord to do something, I would be able to have a good attitude about it.  But this thing has just been so hard for me.”

I find myself in the same place right now.  I know that this move & job is the right thing for our family—I truly do.  I trust that God knows the beginning from the end and knows what we need.  I have faith in His plan for us, and in His love for us as well.  But oh, this is just SO hard.  So much harder than I could have ever imagined it being.

Thursday I cried all afternoon.  (More about that in a later post, I’m sure.)  The (only) nice side effect of that was that I was pretty tear-free both Friday and Saturday—I think because I was actually out of tears.  But today I found myself weepy again, anxious about being able to find a home in Oregon that we can both afford and love, overwhelmed at how much I still need to do here, and sad sad sad sad sad at the thought of leaving people I love.

When the intermediate hymn started in church, I started singing without thinking too much about it. 

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

“Well,” I thought, “I surely have plenty of grief and pain to bear patiently right now.”  And then I continued singing the next lines.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.

What a perfect message for me in this very moment.  Let God order and provide, because in every change He will be faithful.  He will order, provide, and be faithful.  By that point my not-very-under-the-surface tears had started again, so I stopped singing and read the rest of the verse. 

Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

These words could have been written for me in this moment.  I continued reading the next verse, still unable to sing.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.


By the end of the hymn I was feeling calmer than when we’d started singing—I was even able to sing the last few lines.  And I was thinking “Oh thank you Lindsay for picking that song, because it was certainly a tender mercy to me in that moment when I needed to be reminded,

Be still, my soul…

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Escape: In Which We were Taken for a Ride


A friend recommended that we take a horse-drawn carriage ride while in Charleston.  I couldn’t see myself doing that—it just seemed like it would be too expensive.  But then I let a fast talking salesperson talk to me, and after that it seemed to be a great idea!  (And it wasn’t as expensive as I had feared.) 

Here is our horse, Kevin.  We were happy to meet him.


And he was VERY happy to meet me.  I had hoped to get a picture with Kevin looking in my general direction.  I didn’t expect him to get so completely close and personal!)


Fortunately he was better behaved when Russ came to get his picture taken.


Kevin has a pretty sweet life for a horse.  He works 6 days a week for 5 or 6 weeks, and then he gets a three week vacation on an island nearby.  If you’ll look back at the first picture you’ll see that he wears a stylish poop-catching bag that allows him to relieve himself whenever the urge strikes.  What more could you ask?

There were about 4 or 5 rubber balls on the floor of the carriage near my feet.  6045900693110_ORIG

I asked our driver (I’ve forgotten his name, but I can remember the horse’s!) what they were and he explained that they were urine markers.  When the horse urinates, the driver drops a little ball with a flag on it.  Then the street cleaners go and wash that part of the street down. 


And now I will stop talking about horses bodily functions.  I’m sure you are relieved.

The nameless driver also explained the routing system.  Because there are so many carriages driving around Charleston at any one time, they have to be assigned routes.  After considering several systems the city decided that the best way to decide this was a simple lottery.  And so at the beginning of every tour, the driver and horse stop at this little shed and a woman comes out and picks out a bingo ball.  The label (ours was something like I-16) then tells the driver the route.


We thoroughly enjoyed our tour.  We were lucky to get to see the parts of Charleston that I was really interested to see.  Several churches (incredible), Rainbow Row (so-so in real life) and the mansions along the Battery (unbelievable).  The (nameless) driver was personable and so informative.  He was clearly passionate about the topics of slavery & the civil war and I felt like we learned a lot.  All that and a nuzzle from Kevin too—what more could I ask?!?


Our transportation experience in Savannah was somewhat less successful.  We had bought tickets for a trolley ride around historic Savannah.  The selling point on this trolley company was that not only would the drivers tell about what we were driving past, but we could get off and back on at different stops.


I actually found the trolley ride very frustrating.  The information was good, but I felt like every time the driver pointed to something I couldn’t see past the 1st story because of the size of the trolley window.  It must have been worse for Russ because I was the one by the window.

We got a much better look at things when we got out of the trolley and walked around.  We also got a good look at things when we went on a segway tour.  We’ve decided those are a great way to see a city.  Sorry, no pictures of the segways though!

I do have a picture from our segway tour.  This is Jones St.


It was apparently a very posh part of Savannah to live in, and our guide told us that some people think that the expression “keeping up with the Joneses” originated here, and meant to keep up with the people in this particular neighborhood rather than keeping up with a specific family.  It was definitely lovely.


In conclusion:

If there’s a way, segway.
To enhance your marriage, take a carriage.
But taking the trolley is surely folley!

Some People


For quite a while I have had some complaining going on in my head…


Some people don’t get laid off.

Some people get to choose to live where they want to live.

Some people don’t have to sell their houses that they love.


Over and over, these thoughts went through my mind.


One day, right in the middle of them, I remembered my sister’s response when she found out that Russ had a job offer.  “But he’s hardly been laid off at all!” she said.  “I thought it was going to go on forever and you would run out of money and it would be so hard.”

Right then and there the thoughts in my head morphed a little.


Some people have plenty of severance when they get laid off.

Some people get a new job pretty quickly.

Some people get offered a new job with a great company in a beautiful place.

Some people have just enough time being unemployed to get their house ready to sell.

Some people get moved by their new company.

Some people have friends that are so dear that it breaks the heart to leave them.

Some people get to come back and go to the beach at the end of the summer.


It is true; we are not getting what we wanted.  But I cannot let that fact keep me from seeing the enormity of what Heavenly Father is providing for us…

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Escape: RIP, just don’t expect to be able to read the inscription…

I’m supposed to be doing more packing and organizing and really most of all going-to-bedding.  But I am trying despite the insanity around me to get the rest of our wonderful trip blogged, so here goes…

One of the fun moments on our trip was walking around a really old cemetary at the Circular Congregational Church in Charleston.


At first we were just walking around noticing that some of the headstones were so old they were pieces.  (Historic pieces.)   (I suppose the singular of that would be “an historic piece…)  (You can see some historic pieces in the bottom of the picture.)


But then we got interested in what the gravestones actually said.


Just in case you can’t read this well enough (or don’t care to try) let me transcribe some of it for you:

Here rests in peace
the mortal part of
Mary, late wife of Josiah Smith
One of the deacons of this church.
Who after happily exemplifying the
Conjugal and Maternal virtues
for upwards of 37 Years
Was suddenly arrested by the hand of Death
to the no small grief of her numerous
Relations and Friends…


I am certainly hoping that, should I pass from this life before Russ, he remembers my Conjugal and Maternal virtues on my gravestone!

Some monuments seemed more like resumes more than anything else.


The flatter stones seemed not to have fared as well—the inscriptions were quite weathered.



Here’s something else Russ had better put on my tombstone.  Even though I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean, unless it’s talking about my muscles.  (Which would be a lie, but after I’ve been dead for a while who would know???)


Here’s one last stone—the whole entire thing was covered in writing.  Kind of strange, if you read it.  It makes me wondered how this was considered when it was done.  Was it beautifully nostalgic?  Or still a little creepy and excessive even back then??