Monday, December 26, 2016
Last week I finished a book called "Friendship for Grownups." It didn't say anything I didn't already know, but was a good reminder of the importance of friendships in a woman's life. When I finished the book I started thinking about friendship in my life right now. I feel like I'm in a strange place, caught in between the demands of my life, the needs of my family, and the amount of energy I have available. Friendship looks different to me right now than it did before we moved to Oregon.
I decided that I would pray for guidance to know if there's more I should be doing now in the area of friendship.
I was at work on Wednesday and two patients were waiting by my reception desk. I had been chatting with one of them and she made a comment about not liking to backtrack when she was out running errands. That made me laugh, because I HATE backtracking! I've recently been fussing at myself for being so neurotic about it, and have tried to tell myself that if I have to drive in the direction that I just came from all will not be lost. When I told her that I hated backtracking too, the other woman started laughing and said that she was the same way! We talked for a few minutes about how crazy this thing makes us and how our husbands (mostly) don't understand, and we laughed and laughed.
Wednesday after work I was at the dentist getting my teeth cleaned. The hygienist was super chatty which was fun except that it's hard to have a two-way conversation when you're having your teeth cleaned! At some point she was telling me that she has a problem with sounds, and she started describing some kinds of sounds that bother her. (The bathroom fan, her always-drumming-on-something husband.) When she next had her fingers out of my mouth I said, "I'm just the same way! I hate repetitive sounds, and almost all sounds when I'm tired." Then I told her that I had learned about a syndrome called misophonia, sometimes thought of as a hatred of sound. We talked about the sounds that make us crazy and how frustrating this is our lives.
When I got home and was thinking back over my day, still feeling some of the emotions of the day, I had a memory. In the first year or so that we lived here I read a book called Love 2.0. The author (a professor at UNC) redefines love not just as a something that we're depending on our significant others to provide for us, but also as micro-moments of connection between people—even strangers.
When that came to mind I had an ah-ha moment. I hadn't thought of the Love 2.0 micro-moments in a long time, but I realized as this came to my mind that I'd had two significant Love 2.0 moments that day, moments that had been fun, joyous, in the one case filled with laughter (it's too hard to laugh much when someone's hand and a sharp object are in your mouth) and in both cases really satisfying.
I think this was an answer to my prayer--not just having these two experiences in the same day, but also having such a clear recollection of them instead of them just being rolled into the detritus of the day, and then having the memory of the Love 2.0 book. I think this answer was showing or reminding me that there are different kinds of connection that can be emotionally satisfying in my life. It's definitely something I need to keep praying about, but I love seeing this answer.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
You can't make it happen, I've tried before. That's how I know that when it does happen it's magic.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
where x=what i need
and y=what you can give.
i have learned
it does no good
trying to change
it might be better
to set that
Thursday, November 3, 2016
I forgot to take my water bottle into the gym.
I got a headache from exercising.
I bought Greek yogurt at Fred Meyer to get rid of the headache but then spilled some of it on my exercise pants.
When I got back to the car after buying Rachel's marker at Michael's the car wouldn't start.
Russ didn't answer his phone...
When I went to Les Schwab to get a new battery there was a long line and the tire smell in the store was so strong it made my head hurt more.
Russ didn't answer his phone...
I stayed up too late and am tired today.
The house is a mess and I'm too tired to clean so I'm going to take a nap instead.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
We were startled to see the news a few days ago that Jon Schmidt's daughter was missing in the Columbia River Gorge. We've loved Jon and the rest of the Piano Guys for years now and this was so sad for all of us. For a couple of days there was a big search and rescue operation with planes and drones and dogs, but nothing was found. Two days ago her mother announced that they thought she must be dead. (She had been missing a week at that point, a week with lots of rain and cold night temperatures.) The official search was called off but now an unofficial search is looking for her body.
Yesterday I happened to get an email from someone who knew someone who was collecting food donations to take to the search location. I often wish I could help when there is a tragedy, esp when it touches someone I know or admire. This seemed like a great opportunity and we had just a few hours available to do something for family night last night.
First I forwarded the email to the women in my ward to see if anyone else would want to contribute. Then Russ, Rachel, and I started cooking while Jenna and Jared did homework. Russ made a batch of homemade wheat bread. Rachel made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and a batch of my recent favorite, chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I made a triple recipe of chili to cook overnight in the crock pot. We worked for several hours while women in our ward also came and dropped things off.
In the end no one will ever know what we did. But what matters to me is that we know. We know that there was a real need--their need to have supplies and our need to show love. I feel great about having taken time out to do something for them.
[I've had this glass gallon jar sitting around the house for a long time. I used to use it for sugar but we sized up to bigger containers (so many cookies being made!!) and didn't need it. I couldn't just get rid of it because my parents used to use this jar to get milk when they got milk from a local dairy. (Back when my dad used to say that they drank skim milk because they skimmed the cream of the top!) The chili was still really hot when it was time to take it and so my idea for transport wouldn't work. Then I thought of mom's gallon glass jar and it seemed the perfect use. 💙]
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Friday, October 7, 2016
For the last couple of weeks my spare moment game has been Free Cell. You know, the solitaire game that you played on your computer back in the early days of Windows? That one. I used to play a word boggle game and tell myself that I was keeping my brain sharp by playing it. (Brains that have experienced mild traumatic brain injury might need to be exercised more.) This year, though, I grew tired of that game and started playing this one once or twice a day.
At first I could always solve the game and send the cards automatically to their decks on top. But then I hit one that I couldn't solve. I could have gone on to a new deal, but instead I told the game to replay the deal and I tried it again. And that time I figured it out. Every now and then I have to replay a game now, and a couple of times I've had to replay one 5 or 6 times. Eventually I've gotten it, started on a different side and worked a different way and then it finally works.
It strikes me that this is like life. Some things don't have to be totally specific, they can go however you want them. But some things have to be more precise, and so you have to try again and again until you get them right. Sometimes things don't work out right and you just need the replay button, a step back to examine another way to handle a difficult problem. When I'm playing Free Cell I don't get upset when I have to hit the replay button, I actually become more interested in the game, curious to see if I can see a new way to do it the next time.
I think I'm going to try to see if I can think of my life a little more as if it were a free cell game--less stress when I don't manage to do something the way I wanted to, more curiosity about the opportunity to try it again. Who knows--the game could be good for my brain and my life as well.
Friday, September 23, 2016
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Sunday, September 4, 2016
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
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
Sunday, July 31, 2016
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
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
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
[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.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Monday, June 13, 2016
[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
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
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
But this tree will always speak to a part of me, a reminder of pain and time and healing.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
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.