52 Blessings: Week 32

Week 32.

This week we prepped for life back in school.  We traipsed through the heat to buy clothes and shoes and backpacks and notebooks and highlighters and flash drives and violins.  We met teachers and tried new ballet classes.  We labeled water bottles and sorted through drawers.  Caleb attended a class on the 7 Habits of Highly Successful Students and reported back that the most useful parts were about managing stress.  My heart broke a little at that.  And I could be nothing but absolutely grateful for the magical summer we had together.  For a July calendar still completely, blessedly blank on my wall, for the wonderful *something* that comes from days of *nothing.*  I'm counting on these summer days to get me through the ragged days I know are coming.  I am so grateful for a full tank.  Let the rationing begin. 

52 Blessings: Week 31

Week 31.

We arrived home from our vacation to find one of our air conditioners making a loud noise and the other completely iced over and blowing warm air.  It doesn't take long to appreciate the blessing of air conditioning when it's 108* outside and just slightly cooler than that inside.  The repairman came out and looked at the units and after making a few adjustments to the filter he declared them fixed and said, "These are getting pretty old.  They're twenty or twenty-one years old, but they seem to be doing fine." 

I said, "How long do air conditioners usually last?" 

He said, "Oh, ten or twelve years." 

I could have wrapped my arms around this beautiful old machine and kissed it.  I am so grateful this week for my air conditioner and for its miraculous, extended lifespan and for the gloriously cool air it blows out around the clock.  It is among the handful of blessings making my return back here to the desert bearable.

52 Blessings:Week 30

Week 30.

We arrived home from our cross-country trip early Monday morning this week and the girls and I loaded into the car on Thursday morning for another roadtrip up to St. George for "Kids Quilt Retreat."  Admittedly, the last thing I wanted to do was get back in the car for 15 hours, but remembering Mr. Drucker's quote, I packed our bags and filled our car with yet more four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline and headed north.  The girls were deliriously happy picking out their fabric and ric rac and dressing their dolls for the trip.  It was such a good reminder for me of how important and sweet one-on-one time (or one-on-two, in this case) is for my relationships with my children.  The greatest blessing of my week came on Friday as I was helping the girls each make a quilt.  When they got stuck or started sewing wildly crooked, I stood behind them, leaned over their shoulders, and placed my hands on top of theirs as they guided their fabric through the sewing machine.  I could smell their hair.  I could hear their breathing.  I could see the tip of Olivia's tongue and the crease in Savannah's brow.  I could see their chipped fingernail polish and their ragged little hangnails, and still feel a bit of their baby roundness in their wrists.  I kept thinking, "Remember this.  Remember this."  And I was so grateful to be standing there.  With my hands atop theirs.  So grateful for this tradition, for needle and thread, and especially for the links between me and my daughters.

52 Blessings: Week 29

Week 29.

This week we traveled through Canada to upstate New York and visited Palmyra, where our church was first organized.  We walked through the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.  We climbed Hill Cumorah, and walked through Joseph's bedroom and I stood in front of Lucy's kitchen sink.  But the most powerful moment for me came unexpectedly as we stood in the E.B. Grandin printing shop.  I felt the spirit so strongly and was so grateful for another confirmation that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth and that the Book of Mormon is true.  As we stood in the front of the shop, the missionary who was guiding us told us that the floor was original and that these were the very boards that Joseph had walked on.  As I looked down, I was overwhelmed by the spirit and filled with gratitude...for the words in the book printed in this very shop nearly 200 years ago, the words that have changed my life and bound my sweet husband and our children to me forever.  I am so grateful this week for small beginnings, for the man who walked these floors, and especially for the words themselves.

52 Blessings: Week 28

Week 28.


Do you remember Tolstoy's line in Anna Karenina? 

"...the children themselves were even now repaying her in small joys for her sufferings.  Those joys were so small that they passed unnoticed, like gold in sand, and at bad moments she could see nothing but the pain, nothing but sand;  but there were good moments too when she saw nothing but joy, nothing but gold."   (page 245)

I thought of it so many times this week as my children played in the sands of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.  This week I am so grateful for all the gold and all the sand, and the moments of pure joy I enjoyed with my children on the shores of the Great Lakes.  I love being at the beach with them.   Hours of abandon slip by as they play in the water, build in the sand, lay on their towels.  I love rubbing their round bodies with sunscreen, wrapping their cold, wet limbs into their towels, watching their lips chap and their cheeks turn red. 

The greatest blessing of my week came as the sun was setting on Lake Michigan on Saturday night and my children heedlessly pelted through the waves.  Their bodies and the waves were the same golden color, reflecting the sun and my joy.  I could see nothing but gold.  As the sun sunk below the horizon, I held Ethan on my lap and called my other three to come in.  I wrapped them in towels and felt their chests heaving and their hearts pounding madly, as I rubbed my hands up and down their arms to warm them.  We ran for the car together.  Me and my four children.  Up the sand drifts, through the shoreline grasses.  They stripped off their suits, the sand clinging to their goose-pimpled bodies, and grinned at me as I handed them pajamas from the back of the car.  As I turned on the heater and pulled onto the darkening highway, I was overwhelmed by the magic of my life, by the blessings of this one day that we spent in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I could see nothing but gold.

52 Blessings: Week 27

Week 27.  Predictably late.


One of the greatest blessings of my week was the few hours David and I spent with Sara and Gary on Wednesday night.  We went to dinner and "got caught up" and again found ourselves in the middle of a friendship that is always current.  David and Gary were boyhood friends.  David can't remember a time when they weren't.  I feel so blessed to have been loved by these two people who loved David first, and readily welcomed me into their lives when David and I started dating.  Sometimes I forget that I wasn't there at the beginning because it just feels so incredibly comfortable and eternal.  It is such a blessing to be loved just as I am, to even laugh with them about my foibles and regrets.  These very good friends help me to remember to not take myself so seriously (including my "sorrows and sufferings"), and what a true blessing that is.

52 Blessings: Week 26

Week 26.  A few vacation-days late.


Every moment of this week was a blessing.  We spent it at Mackinac Island and it was, once again, absolutely magical.  In my mind and in my heart, I repeated this prayer over and over again: thank you, thank you, thank you.  I thought I would bust from joy, and so it is especially hard this week to choose just one blessing:  the blustery kite-flying on the grass near Mission Point, the dandelion blowing near Fort Mackinac, the flashes of sunshine and shadow across my children's bare legs as they rode gleefully downhill toward British landing, the sunburn David got on his cheeks and forehead as we sat on the banks of Lake Huron sharing a lemonade, blow drying my girls' freshly-washed hair in the camp bathroom as they stood in their nightgowns with their eyes closed and their lips chapped, the mosquito bites that itch deliciously and remind me of cooking pancakes on the camp stove and playing Bohnanza in the tent as the rain pattered.  And a million others. 

But especially this one.  I was so grateful for this moment in the tent late on Thursday night.  The kids have recently discovered the joy of Calvin and Hobbes (which they pronounce "Hobbeez") and I found them circled around a book (The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes), holding their flashlights, Caleb reading, everyone laughing.  The world was quiet except for Caleb's voice and the girls' giggles and the gentle rustle and swish of the sleeping bags.  David and I lay in the dark, listening to our children, feeling completely happy and overwhelmingly blessed.

52 Blessings: Week 25

Week 25.


Anyone who knows me well has heard me complain about my car.  So this is a bit of repentance, as I count my blessings.  This week I was so grateful for our car, that can carry us from Arizona to Michigan without any trouble at all, and quite comfortably on top of that.  It is nothing short of amazing to me that we can end up on the other side of America in just one day in the car.  We slept the first night in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I asked David, "Can you believe that last night we were sleeping in Arizona?"  It's a wonder, and a blessing.  I married a boy who loves to take roadtrips.  He grew up driving all over the country and has taught us (after he dug out my heels) to do the same.  I am so grateful for his roadtripping spirit and for the blessing it has been to see the Black Hills, the Tetons, the boundary waters in Minnesota, Yellowstone, the Arch in St. Louis, the rolling green plains of Texas and Oklahoma, the profusion of  green in Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois; and of course, to see Michigan, with its lakes and beaches and tree canopies, and family.  What a blessing it is to be married to a man who thinks nothing of a good 30-hour roadtrip.  And he's just getting started.  On the way home he wants to stop at Niagara Falls.  I pointed out that upper New York isn't actually on the way home...he said, "It is if you go the long way."     

52 Blessings: Week 24

Week 24.


(I know this picture is already making David nervous.)

On Friday morning, I was reading when David woke up.  He rolled over, pushed his nose into my neck, and asked me how my book was.  I read a few passages to him, reveling in the magic way the words and sentences and paragraphs unfolded in front of me.  We lay there in the quiet, with the sun streaming in the windows, I reading, he asking questions.  The conversation wound around and drew out and he told me about work and his new boss, dialoguing his recent days at the hospital.  And we talked there for almost two hours, before he decided he better go make a living and I thought I ought to make the bed.   This simple, intimate dialogue was the greatest blessing of my week.  A moment of connectedness amid a life of sprawl.  Like Lindbergh's double sunrise.   I was stunned by the sudden pleasure of having a conversation alone with the man I fell in love with.  I am so grateful this week for "the little room," "a world unto itself," created between us as we stole a couple hours from real life and just talked. 

(Okay, there was a bit of kissing as well.)

52 Blessings: Week 23

Week 23.


I spent much of this week up in the mountains at Girls' Camp.  And while I was there, I was most grateful for answers to prayers which came surely and softly and made my load lighter.  The first night I called David with a heavy heart and said, "Please pray for me."  I know my Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers and I am so grateful for the very real and tender care I felt from heaven.  As I was walking back to our cabin in the dark one night (I had lent my flashlight to one of my girls), I remembered a part of this quote, and again gave humble thanks for the chance I had to feel the hand of the Lord in my life. 

“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way.’”

52 Blessings: Week 22

Week 22.  A week late.  Forgive me, my love.  I just couldn't find the right words.


The birth of this man, almost two years before I even arrived on earth, has been the single, greatest blessing of my life.   There isn't a word for everything.  There are no words for how much I need him, how his life and love sustain me, for the way he quiets me, knows me, and changes me.  "A woman would run through fire and water for such a kind heart."  I am a "merry wife" indeed.  I am so deliriously glad that he was born, and unbelievably grateful that he is mine. 

52 Blessings: Week 21

Week 21.


This picture says it all for me.  I can't look at it without a lump in my throat.  The deluge of blessings I felt in this moment was overwhelming and soul deep.  The rain, the incredible spring-like temperatures, the last day of school, my last pick-up at the bus stop until August, the joy in my boy's heart to be free and clear for 80 glorious days, all settled around me in one joyful, blissful moment.  And I felt it:  reprieve, relief, the downhill after an uphill slog I didn't think I could do.   I felt the mercy of my Heavenly Father as clearly as I felt the rain on my cheeks.  A downpour of blessings...the rain (a true blessing on any day) and my kids home again, all of us free to "just be" together again.  I was so grateful this week to have made it to the top of a long hill and enjoy this first, joyous moment of descent.

52 Blessings: Week 20

Week 20.


Last night (Sunday), David and I had a fireside to go to and then in the middle of that I had to leave to attend the final stake Girls' Camp meeting.  It was supposed to be a meeting with all the leaders who are going to camp, but I was the only one who showed up from my ward.  I felt very lonely sitting on that row by myself, and just coming off youth conference where I only had the grudging support of one other young women's leader, I felt overwhelmed and quite alone.  I left the meeting feeling very discouraged and cried most of the way home.  When David and I arrived home we found the kids had picked up the house, done the dishes, and even vacuumed and dusted their rooms.  All without asking.  All on their own.  (The picture is of the leftovers they ziploc-ed...yes we had grilled cheese for Sunday dinner...things are in a sad state of affairs at our house.)  Even though the jobs were far from perfect, it was their way to help and uplift.  And it made me feel like I wasn't alone.  That these dear children, that this dear man, were rooting for me, were hoping for my happiness was the greatest blessing of my week.  I am so grateful for this terribly sweet act of kindness, for the thoughts behind it, and for the miraculous way it buoyed me up.

52 Blessings: Week 19

Week 19.


The privilege of motherhood should not have been mine.  Because of the cancer (and subsequent treatments) I had as a child, the doctors told my parents that there was a very great likelihood that I would never be able to have children.  And yet, I have.  David often refers to our children as "our four miracles."  And even for a loving Heavenly Father this seems a bit indulgent.  Four miracles.  Overwhelming generosity on His part.  Even so, their coming to earth was difficult to say the least.  It took everything I had, and much of what I didn't.  And in many ways the job itself is like that for me...it takes everything I have and much of what I don't, but the miracle is that my Savior makes up the rest.  I love being a mother.  I am so grateful for the chance.  I am so grateful to have held my babies close to my heart while they were still warm and wet from my belly.  As hard as it was.  As hard as it still is.  It is the best job in the world and I am so grateful for the privilege.

52 Blessings: Week 18

Week 18.



This week was really just one big blessing.  But if I had to find just one moment that touched my  heart the most, it would be this one:  Early on Saturday morning (about 5:27 a.m.) I was on my bike headed to the church.  As I neared the church, I looked up the street and saw two more bikers in bright, lime green shirts headed towards me.  I cannot adequately describe how my heart filled to overflowing to see those faithful, obedient youth on their way to our youth conference.  I told David that I felt like Brigham Young must have felt  as he watched the first wagons roll down Parley Street out of Nauvoo.  I was so grateful for my young women who follow me without question.  They just go.  They just do.  Even if it's hard, they just climb on their bikes and ride.  I am so grateful for their tender show of obedience and trust.  I think they are marvelous and my heart just burst wide open at the sight of them coming down the road on this early May morning.

52 Blessings: Week 17

Week 17.


"Find joy in your children.  Don't overschedule them or yourself.  You may not be able to take them on exotic vacations.   It doesn't matter.  When the day dawns bright and sunny, take an excursion to the canyon or the park.  When it's cloudy and wet, read a book together or make something good to eat.  Give them time to explore and learn about the feel of grass and the wiggliness of worms."  --Marjorie Hinckley

This past Thursday, we pitched our tent at Patrick's Pond for a couple of days and had a very cold, but utterly delightful time together.  I am so grateful this week for the simple magic that happens when we go camping.  The freedom and joy of my children, the easing of my burdens and worries, the lack of concern about dirt and time and safety, are all a balm to my 21st-century, world-weary soul.  I love that we can nap, and play, and eat simply, play Canasta, swing, hike, sit around a campfire, and ooh and aah over the number of stars.  These moments are true highlights of my life, and I love being a mother in them.

52 Blessings: Week 16

Week 16.


On Wednesday morning this past week, I went running on our treadmill, as has become part of my morning routine recently.  Our treadmill is in our storage room on the back of the house, which has its own separate entrance and lock.  After I was done I locked up the room on my way out, brilliantly leaving my keys behind.  I was so grateful to be able to call David and ask him to bring his keys and rescue me--interrupting his day, but not his calm.  This is completely due to his kind, compassionate, and unbelievably patient nature.  There was no huff, no objurgating, no annoyance, no irritation, no trouble, not even a sigh.  I apologized profusely of course, but David just said, "Hey, I love you."  As if that covered everything.  I am so grateful this week for this selfless act of kindness.  I don't think "Kind" was on my list of desirable qualities in a husband.  I ignorantly thought that "being kind" came with the territory.  I  am unbelievably grateful to know that with David, it did. 

52 Blessings: Week 15

Week 15.  Late.


David and I spent a much-needed night and day away together at the Sanctuary Resort in Paradise Valley this week.  On Friday night we took this picture as we were leaving for a late dinner at Olive & Ivy.  Yes, I had the bruschetta.  (I have dreams about that stuff.)  There is nothing better in the world for me than being with this man.  He is the blessing of my life and these 28 hours alone together, were the greatest blessings of my week.  I was reminded recently of the wonderful quote from John Milton, in Paradise Lost.  In it, Adam so accurately describes the way David husbands me: “Those thousand decencies that daily flow from all [his] words and actions, mixt with Love.” 

52 Blessings: Week 14

Week 14.


I turned 34 this week.  As I lay in the early morning light on my birthday I gave thanks for the gift my life has been almost since the start, for the chance I've had to experience earth life, to know my husband and love my children.   My life has been saved so many times by the matchless power of my Heavenly Father and I am so thankful for his protection and grace.   I was particularly touched this weekend as Elder Wickman spoke at General Conference about the fragile nature of life, that only one heartbeat, one single breath separates this life and the next.  My miracles are many.  I am a childhood cancer survivor.  Between my third and fourth babies I had an ectopic pregnancy.  When the doctor talked to me about it later he just shook his head and remarked that I had only a few hours left before it burst and certainly wouldn't have made it back to the hospital "in time."  And then again when I delivered Ethan into the world, there was very little separating me from the world beyond.  My doctor later remarked that he hadn't been able to sleep for two days afterwards, that in his thirty years of practice he had never seen someone come so close to disaster.  I am humbly grateful for the gift of life, the many times it has been extended, and for a God who preserves me from day to day, lends me breath, and supports me from one moment to another.

52 Blessings: Week 13

Week 13.


This is the good stuff.  A simple, ordinary moment in my Tuesday evening that sustained me the entire week.  I was making dinner when I heard heady, joyful, unrestrained giggling in the family room.  My youngest three were playing a card game their grandparents sent them for Easter called "Crazy Bunnies," and for just a few minutes the world disappeared.  The economy, the price of gas, the length of my to-do list, the growing wickedness of the world I send my children into every day, the ways I fail, my anxieties about the present, the future, and my abilities to endure it well, all faded into nothing and quietly left my mind...walked right out of my house, closing the door softly behind them.  We were immune and safe and together and, most importantly, joyful.    My spirits lifted, my burden lightened, and I couldn't help grinning as I listened to my children laugh.  Full-bellied, all-out.  I don't think there is a better sound, and I am so grateful to have heard it.