52 Blessings: Week 7

Week 7.

For a girl who's a big fan of love, I'm not crazy about Valentine's day.  It seems a little forced to me.  And my hard heart doesn't like to be forced into anything.  But, this week I went visiting teaching and the sister we visited lost her husband in a plane crash about eight years ago.  She talked about how important it is to tell the people we love just that.  Express your love, especially on Valentine's day, she said.  I was grateful for the counsel.  I thought of it often during the week.  Really, I think David should know how I feel.  Every day the evidence is hanging in his closet, steaming on his table, running around his house.  My life's work should be evidence enough.  And yet, her words kept coming back to me:  I still need to say it.  And so I did.  I tried to tell him how much I love him.  I tried to show him what his love means to me.  This turned out to be the greatest blessing of my week.  Life and love are fragile.  This week, I tried to remember that.  And tried to be more careful with both.  I was so very thankful this week for David, for his constant friendship, fidelity, and forgiveness, and especially for the reminders I had of this, the most precious blessing of my life. 

52 Blessings: Week 6

Week 6.

A dear friend of mine attended a meeting with Sister Julie Beck, and shared this insight:

"...Something that stuck with me (among many things) was that she spoke about a mother's many shifts--the night shift, morning, day, afternoon-evening or the "swing shift." A mother works all the shifts; however, the most important and impacting shift is the afternoon-evening "swing shift." This is when our kids get home from school, they are hungry physically, spiritually and emotionally. She said, "Don't become so busy during the day that you are wiped out during the most important shift of the day."

Reading this statement was the greatest blessing of my week.  And it's not too much to say that it has changed my life.  The "swing shift" has become the focus of my mothering.  This week as I took Olivia to viola lessons, I had the thought that even here, in the car, I needed to "feed" her, just like Sister Beck taught.  I reached over and took her hand and just smiled at her.  I told her I loved her and just held her hand as we drove.  The tears started to fall down Olivia's cheeks.  She confided some problems she was having with her friends.  I listened and advised (a little), but mostly just listened and told her how much I loved her.  It was like magic.  I had no idea that she was hurting or worrying.  But making a space to love and feed my daughter was all she needed to share her burdens.  I was so grateful for the inspiration of the spirit, for the teachings of a good and righteous woman that have already blessed my life in countless ways, and most especially, for this moment of mothering with my girl.  Heaven was not far away.       

52 Blessings: Week 5

Week 5.

It was a heavy week.  Sometimes, it seems like the hardest thing in the world is getting out of bed in the morning to face it all again.  On Wednesday, I told Ethan we needed to do something fun.  We went for ice cream.  The sun was shining and as I licked my cone with my youngest child, I remembered the blessings of my life:  his pink tongue, the sun on his hair, his eyes grinning back at me, his mint-chocolate-chip "I love you's.  This simple moment was the greatest blessing of my week.  Halfway through his cone Ethan looked up and asked,

"Mom, you know that song about Jesus?"

I said, "Uh-huh," even though I didn't.

Then he sighed and said wistfully, "I love His beautiful plan."

Me too, love.  Me too. 

52 Blessings: Week 4

Week 4.

I received a package in the mail on Thursday afternoon.  I opened it to find one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.  A bound book containing my 52 Blessings from last year.  I sobbed, of course.  As I read through my first publishing, I was overwhelmed with feelings of love and joy and gratitude for my blessings, for my life, and for two friends whose love and fidelity I truly do not deserve.  As I held Amy and Kelly's gift in my hands, and turned the pages one at a time, I was reminded of other kindnesses that I had received from their hands.  I moved to Arizona in the midst of my 10th-grade year.  I felt awkward and alone, eating lunch with my younger brother and his friends, since I had none of my own.  The arrival of Amy and Kelly and Tiffany in my life was nothing short of a miraculous tender mercy.  And as I was about to die of loneliness, it is not too much to say they saved me through their friendship.  And they have been giving to me ever since.  Years of giving.  Years of kindness.  The greatest blessing of my week was opening this book, and seeing this result of their love, wondering over their hours of creativity and carefulness on my behalf, and remembering a friendship that has sustained me and blessed my life in every way.  I was so grateful for this gesture of love, for this token of their constant friendship, and for the bonds that have tied us together.  I am certain it was arranged by heaven.  And I could not be more grateful. 

52 Blessings: Week 3

Week 3.

[This picture of pondering was taken in the Sacred Grove, in upstate New York, last summer.]

I am convinced about the power in little things, the power of little things to make a big difference.  My blessing came early this week, and by Monday night I had already experienced one of the greatest blessings of my entire year.  Last week we finished reading the Book of Mormon together.  At its conclusion, we talked about Moroni's counsel to pray about what we had read and find out for ourselves if it was true.  We encouraged the children to take Moroni up on his word.  On Monday night, after our simple lesson, David asked the children to share their experiences the previous week in regards to Moroni's promise.  The room filled with the spirit.  Olivia and Caleb, both with tears streaming and smiles beaming, told about how they had each received a witness that the Book of Mormon is true.  In the tenderest testimonies I have ever heard, they spoke of the warmest feelings they had ever felt.  I was more grateful than I can say for the witness of the spirit in our family room that night.  I was more grateful than I can say for the love of a Heavenly Father who cares for his children perfectly, and answers my children's humble prayers.  I was grateful to be a witness to their witness, to be a mother in this moment was a piece of heaven.  And I was also deeply grateful for the power in little things.  For the testimonies that are built, drop by drop, verse by verse, morning after morning, as we gather in a circle and read the word of God.  I'll admit, until this week, I didn't fully realize the miracle of that simple practice.  The greatest blessing of my week was this most sacred moment in the most sacred place on earth, inside the walls of my own home.

52 Blessings: Week 2

Week 2.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it is not easy to be my husband.  Even on a good week.  And this week was definitely not a "good week."  But in an attempt to lift my spirits and lighten my burdens, David took me out on Saturday night.  We went and watched Craig Ferguson's comedy show at the Arts Center, because David knows that I think he is hilarious.  And he thought I needed to laugh.  When we found our seats David looked around and said, "I don't see anyone here that I know."  I grinned at him.  It was his way of saying how much he loves me.  (Do you know anyone else who would be here with you?  No, I do not.  Thank you, love.)  After a week of misunderstandings and distances, the greatest blessing of my week came as David walked with me, my hand in his, down the dark streets towards the Arts Center.  He insisted we go out and do something he knew that I would love, that he knew I needed.  I felt forgiven and cherished and known.  But especially forgiven.  When it was over we sat on our couch and ate french fries and a strawberry-cheesecake concrete together.  And I felt so grateful for a husband who orders strawberry-cheesecake because he knows I will like it best, and does it, without a thought, when I deserve it the least.    

52 Blessings: Week 1

Week 1.

This picture was taken on one of those rare, perfect days.  We were together.  Out of school and off work and together.  We laced up our skates and tentatively tip-toed out onto the ice.  But eventually, found our ice legs and joyfully made our way around the ice.  I was so grateful for these hours of freedom and abandon, with nowhere to go but around and around.  And around again.  Finding my balance as I fought for balance on my blades, and revelling in the red cheeks and bright eyes of my children.  There are too few of these kind of days in my life, with no lists and no clocks and no rushing and no outside world at all until the zamboni nudged us off the ice.  The greatest blessing of my week was being a child again while holding the mittened hands of my beautiful children, as our skates cut tracks in the frozen ice. 

I wish I had a river I could skate away on with these five. 

I would teach my feet to fly.