Not Many Stranger Things Have Happened

Don't you wish I had something to say? Something funny? Something clever? Dare you hope, something worth reading?

Ya, me too.

I've figured out that Monday night is the perfect time to write, while I wait for my kids to finish practicing Mozart's 40th Symphony with their orchestra. I have a couple of hours to kill, with no one to interrupt or nagging laundry to protest.

Perfect.

Trouble is, my inspiration has not coincided with my calendar.

Pity, that.

What's left is a recitation of our strange-but-true weekend. (Sure to be less than brilliant. If you give up here, I'm not going to say you made the wrong decision.)

I had a mild-to-moderate breakdown on Thursday night. (David would definitely characterize it as more moderate, bordering on complete lunacy, but he's not telling this story.) Anyway, by the time Friday morning was upon us, I think he had given up all hope of a decent weekend.

(This is not the strange part.)

After I dropped the kids off to make their way through the final day of the quarter, I went to the gym. (Again, contrary to popular opinion, this is also not the strange part.) But instead of the treadmill or the Zumba class, I went to yoga, to try and get my brain or my hormones or my chakras in line. While I was in downward dog, I realized I needed my toes painted. (Look how focused I am in yoga! I am so good at so many things!) So, uncharacteristically, I went to get a pedicure. The girl at the salon said "Do you want a manicure too?"

"No."

"Are you sure?"

"Okay."

And while she was doing my manicure and we were sitting face-to-face, she said, "Do you want your eyebrows waxed?" I think if anyone asks you that question, it's just like if someone asks you if you want a mint. They're trying to tell you something. And yes, you want one.

So what else could I say? "Yes."

And while she was waxing my eyebrows, she said, "Do you want me to do your lip too."

You got it.

It was a strange morning.

But I did feel better.

Strangely so. Even David noticed the change and found something a little odd when he kissed me at the end of the day. "What happened?" he asked.

On Saturday between sessions of General Conference we ran to Old Navy to get fleece coats for our weekend in Utah. While we were there I tried on (gasp!) and bought (shock and awe!) a pair of skinny jeans. I know, downright eerie. Who knows what possessed me, as normally I don't like my clothes to actually touch me. But there you go.  It's fair to say that by the end of the weekend, I was practically unrecognizable.

And then, perhaps strangest of all, on Saturday night, after priesthood session, all the other kids were at friends' houses, so Caleb and David and I went for sushi. And over chef special rolls and wonton soup we talked about the new missionary age announced that morning. And what it would mean to us.

My sister Rachel had texted me that morning: How does it feel to have just lost a year?

Strange, indeed.

(And yes, to answer your question, that is an enormous amount of sushi for three people.  We strangely, notoriously, invariably overorder.  Saturday night was no exception.)

Across the River Now

Dear David,

Look at your children. Aren't they gorgeous?

I know I'm supposed to be in bed sleeping. There is a sixteen-hour drive ahead of us tomorrow, after all.

But I know if I don't write this down tonight, it will probably never happen. And sometimes there are days I never want to forget. Today was one of them.

I don't have time to retell everything. Let me just try to say the most important things.

I woke today, to the temple bells ringing, eight steady chimes.

I ironed Caleb's shirt and braided Olivia's hair. (It was so delicious I took my time and made it last.)

And then I took them to the house of the Lord.

They were shining when I picked them up.

We went to the brickyard and and the blacksmith and the print shop (my personal favorite). We ate ice cream and bought souvenirs.

In the evening, we sat under a cloudy dark sky and watched a cast of hundreds sing praises to our God and King. We all wept to be so blessed, and when they lit up the temple, Ethan looked at me knowingly and smiled. He knew it was coming all night.

Tomorrow we take our own trek west. Across the prairies, towards you, towards home. How I am dreaming of the reunion.

As I sat there tonight looking at that glorious temple on the hill, I thought about how that is the very word of all my beliefs and all my faith. Reunion. Reunion here and hereafter. Reunion with each other and with that God that gave us life. Reunion after all. Reunion at last.

We're coming home.

All You Need Is Love...and Pie

I wrote posts all week in my head.  (Rest assured, they were as funny and delightful as usual.  I am sincerely sorry you  missed them.)

Monday's post was about drowning my Monday and my Monday sorrows in peach pie.  As I write, that gorgeous pie is still on the counter...untouched.  We've been too busy to eat it.  And every time I offer it up, the kids just ask for peaches-and-cream instead.  Who needs crust?  Just go straight for the good stuff.

Tuesday's post was about how I spent all the grocery money on wigs, and how it was totally worth it.  Don't worry, I've got cupboards full of beans.  Who needs food when there is lip syncing to be done?  Or we could always eat that pie that's sitting on the counter.

Wednesday's post was about how I ignored all the boa feathers scattered around my house and in my bed (ooo la la) and went to lunch with two of my favorite people in the world and how nice it was to pick up the conversation exactly where we left off, nearly nine months earlier. 

Today's post is about how I am so low on my sleep quotient that I went out today to buy a wedding present for my very good friend's son. 

Last night I told David, "Tomorrow is the Wilkins' wedding reception.  And we're going.  It's non-negotiable."  (David hates wedding receptions.  But non-negotiable means that if he wants to stay married to me he is going with me.  I could see him weighing his options.) 

I read the invitation four times this morning, because something kept going off in my head.  As I was leaving Target today, gift in hand, I realized what it was. 

It says: OCTOBER 16th. 

And today it is only September, although I am so tired it feels about twelve years past that.   

I actually stood stock-still in the parking lot as my brain finally figured it out and said, "Ooooh."  After that, I got back in the car and went to the grocery store to buy nine tubs of cool-whip because I am going to have a nap and then drown myself in that pie no matter what.

Did I tell you we are putting on the ward talent show on Saturday night?  Below is our entry.  It is not the Black-Eyed Peas, but it has its merits, especially if having your own set of Beatles makes you completely gaga like me.  If you don't have ten minutes to waste (we really can't help ourselves), skip to minute 8 to see David making love to a blonde bombshell.  It is as delightful as pie.

The Parade of Homes Inside a Whale

For what it's worth, this post has been published and unpublished a number of times now.  I still think it never quite got "there," but maybe that's the point.  Mercy.  Even for the badly-crafted post.

I had that dream again.

But first...I got up.  I pretended to make breakfast.  I read about Alma with my children, and then slurred my way through an explanation of how he was related to the people who crossed the Red Sea on dry land.  I knelt in a circle and prayed.  I put the hair up (no doubt it will be hot again today).  I put a private message on every body's lunch sack.  I sat next to Savannah and listened as she recited rhymes about the piano bass clef.  I stood by the door.  I double checked lunches and water bottles.  I kissed and well-wished.

And then I went back to bed.

David had already made it, but he told me to lay down anyway and take a nap.  At least half an hour he said.

Yesterday was a long day.  It started very early and ended very late and plus I was the star of the show most of the day.  Yeah, you read that right.  THE STAR of the show, I'm telling you.  It was all adrenalin and nerves most of the day, and then afterward it was driving across the dark desert in the middle of an Alabama-worthy rainstorm, which is a highly-technical coordination of brights and wipers and keeping my eyes on the yellow line.  (It is very wearing to be THE STAR with no personal driver.)  

And so this morning, I had that dream again.

The one where we live in that huge house we have to renovate.  And every time I have the dream there are more rooms in it...more rooms with walls as tall as cathedrals, all with peeling, atrocious paint.  Today I dreamed I was sleeping in this absolute mess of a house--different flooring in every room, peeling mauve paint on all the walls, black-grouted tile, decorations of carousel ponies in three of the living rooms--when the parade-of-homes people came by to decorate my house.  They were stunned at the state of things and started telling me all these things I was going to have to do to make the place acceptable.  I walked into the dining room and thought, "Okay, I could scrape these walls down and repaint in here today," and then I walked around the corner and I saw another room, and beyond that another room, and beyond that another room, and beyond that a whole other floor that I didn't even know existed.  I sat down.  Worn out by the thought of it.

If we ever have the chance to buy this house in real life, I'm totally going to think twice.

I only have this dream when I'm so exhausted and simultaneously so aware of my own failings and inadequacies, that all my mess gets translated into walls and flooring and bad paint as high and as deep as a mountain. 

Last night, as we were drifting off in the dark and the day was swirling around me, David said, "You know you're amazing, right?"  I didn't answer because the truth was choking me.  "Have you seen this room?"  I wanted to say.  "Have you seen this one?  And that's nothing.  There are rooms beyond those, and rooms beyond those, and whole floors beyond those."  No amount of amazing is ever going to cover all that territory.

Yesterday we nearly drowned with Jonah in Sunday School.  We swam the depths with him.  I felt myself swallowed whole with him, weeds encompassed about my head, buried as deep as the bottoms of the mountains.  At the moment of great alarm he remembered the Lord.  Alma had the exact same experience this morning in our family room, when he was in the gall of bitterness.  Apparently there's a lot of that going around.

Today I noticed that the very same word appears in both stories.  Mercy.

Mercy.

The truth is, I'm a dead ringer for Jonah.  Drowning.  In need of a whale.  (Send help.)  Slow to remember.  Even slower to extend the same mercy I receive to others. 

I heard a story about Elder Hanks as I was preparing my lesson.  He was speaking about a verse in Micah that says, "what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"  And then Elder Hanks said, "My specialty is mercy."

I wish my specialty was mercy.

My specialty is closer to hard-hearted, stiff-necked.  Slightly less desirable, no?

After yesterday, I've decided to make my specialty mercy. 

Note to heaven:  I may need a little help with that.  You may have to send another whale. 

Or two.

What Meaneth These Stones?

"Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:  That the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord that it is mighty."

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Like a Fire is Burning

Last week we fall-breaked.  Which meant games and "scary" movies every evening (tis the season).  And late night runs to the store for supplies to make cheesecake and pumpkin pie just because they sounded good.  Caleb and I worked on merit badges while the girls had sleepovers with their cousins and their dolls, and we ate dinner on the patio every night.  David is nearly drowning at the hospital these days and arrived home late every night, but it didn't matter since bedtime had been suspended for the week.

On Friday we went camping and played games in the tent and cooked our meals on the campstove and s'mores over the fire.

It was a good week with my children.

Last night on our way to a meeting I told David, "I hate Sunday nights."  He laughed and admitted the same thing.  It's like being born again every Monday, ripped from heaven and thrown back into the lone and dreary world, blinking and blinded by reality and to-do lists.  A feeling made worse last night by the fact that I had had my children home all week and knowing it would be another nine weeks until they were all mine again.

The meeting we were headed to was the dedication of our new stake center, as our old one had burned down nearly two years ago.  I went to the meeting out of duty, aware only of my looming week and temporal worries.  I left the meeting transfigured.  I had no idea that it was going to be a gift from heaven.  I have rarely felt such an outpouring of the spirit, and I have never heard such a beautiful, powerful prayer.  As we rose at the end to sing "The Spirit of God" I was reminded of the rededication of the Manti temple that I attended as a child. 

I felt like I was standing in front of the burning bush.

And I was on fire too.

David put his arm around me to prop me up in front of all that heat and love.

I was overwhelmed by the love of heaven, by the palpable presence of God and his angels, the truthfulness of his work, but mostly by the mercy and kindness of my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

And that fire burned through all the choking anxieties and paralyzing demands of earth life, scorched my burdens and my fears, and left me joyful and stronger and brimming with faith.

I sobbed most of the way home, which wonderfully, did nothing to quench those flames.  The fire is still burning this morning, as David noted with a smile as he kissed me goodbye and I smiled up at him.  I don't think he's seen one of those on a Monday morning since school started. 

Transfigured, indeed.

Things That Are Worth Driving 20 Hours For

I call this, "Roadtripping with a Purpose."

On Friday morning, we set the alarm and instead of dressing for school we headed north in the early morning light.

We drove all day.  And tomorrow we will drive all day back home.

But there are things worth driving 20 hours for.  I present them below for your reference. 

 

1.  For this undivided view.  (This is reason enough, by the way, but there are more.)

2.  To see LaVell Edwards Stadium lit up at night.

3.  To watch the moon rise spectacularly over the Rocky Mountains.

4.  For the bird's eye view.

5.  For these smiles.  (Alma mater's sons and daughters.)

6.  To be this close to the action.

7.  To deliver a baby gift.  (It's better in person.)

8.  But mostly, for this series of pictures here...I post them all because of the story they tell.  Be still my beating heart.

I am nearly undone by the picture of "eternity" I captured, quite by accident, in the first picture, as my husband, and our boy get ready for Caleb's first priesthood session of General Conference.  They are going to the Conference Center where they will sit and listen in the very same room as the prophet of God. 

It was worth it. 

And then some.