Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

December 4, 2017

Dear Family and Friends, 

I’m sitting at my computer with Christmas music playing softly as I write.  My Christmas playlist has been playing all evening.  It was playing just now as I had a screaming match with Danin and then dragged her to her room, literally.   I’m 39 years old now, but still not mature enough to use more discipline than a child…. :(

I was out of control.  I immediately felt regret and disappointment and went to the freezer for some peppermint ice cream to self-medicate, and then I came into the office to clean.  (Man this office is a mess.)  As I was cleaning up the Christmas books scattered across the floor, I opened one called “O Christmas Three” and read the words of Leo Tolstoy, “Where love is, there God is also.”    So true, Leo.  So true.  Sigh….

Last year I described how every year, I go wondering through December looking for Christmas, as they say.  And man, I tell ya—it can be hard to find.  I’m always searching for the magic that is Christmas—and trying my best to create it—but man, it can be hard.   I feel like I’ve spent the last year thinking about it and have finally come to some conclusions.   The magic of Christmas, for me, comes when there is love…and my home and in my family.  As I’ve thought about it, all of the magical moments of my life can be characterized by the presence of love and peace—moments when everyone is laughing and smiling and having fun.  They are moments of forgiveness and tolerance—when relationships are strong and steady and we are all enjoying being together.  You know? So you add to one of those moments a spattering of chiming bells, sparkling lights, and holiday fragrances, and you’ve got yourself some Christmas magic—a simple recipe, but still so difficult to cook up sometimes.  

So anyway…

Other than our daily failures (but continued efforts!) to create and preserve peace in our home, we continue to be blessed with the normal struggles of a normal family: learning to put on CLEAN underwear after a shower; learning to  PUT ON underwear in the first place (insert eye-rolling emoji here); learning not to tease; learning not to react to teasing; learning to keep our mouths shut—you know, all the basics.  We’ve got kids who are playing sports, wearing mascara (say wha??), singing, dancing and reading books.  We’ve got kids who are healthy and fun.  We’ve got all we could really want.

I really am so grateful for all I have.  I’m especially grateful for the opportunity I continue to have to be loved and to feel intense love.    It’s an incredible blessing to love someone so much you feel like your heart really could beat right out of your chest.  I love that line from Les Mis that says “to love another person is to see the face of God.”  Victor Hugo and Leo Tolstoy, man…smart guys..

Merry Christmas, everyone.  May we all find it this year.


Monday, November 6, 2017

What I Pray

Way back when my wedding day was approaching, I began to be a little concerned by the fact that I wasn't all that excited to have sex.  To me, hugging and kissing and cuddling and all that stuff was plenty fun, and I didn't really care to do any more than that.  Just the prospect of sleeping in a bed with Brian was exciting enough for me.  Weird?  Well anyway, as our wedding day grew nearer, I started panicking a little that I wouldn't be ready to have sex--that I wouldn't want it and thus I would ruin the whole thing.  You know?  And I figured it was mostly God's fault since it was he who had invented sex and sex drive in the first place.  So anyway, I felt totally comfortable adding "and pleeeeaaaassseee help me to want to have sex" to my prayers every day.  I prayed that everyday for like the last week or so of my engagement.  And you know what?  It worked.  On my wedding day, I was ready to go.  :)

Why am I thinking about this?  Because this is the first November of my entire life where I have not been super excited to start decorating/planning/shopping for Christmas.  I love Christmas more than anyone I know.  For real.  I am crazy about it.   But this year?  I'm not feeling it.   Breaking out all my Christmas bins seems overwhelming, I haven't decided if I want to throw my Favorite Things Party (and it's normally the only day of the year I am fun!), and last weekend I spent two whole days shopping with some of my girlfriends and I didn't buy one single Christmas item.  Not one.  I think something bad is happening to me.

It's really devastating for me.  So I'm going to pray about it.  I'm going to start asking Heavenly Father to help me want Christmas...  You might be thinking that it would be better for me to forgo all that materialistic stuff anyway, because that's not what Christmas is all about; and I get that.  But it's just that for me-- its that same excitement and energy that makes me decorate and shop that makes me serve and seek the true Christmas spirit as well.  You know what I mean?  It's all the same thing for me.

I'm wondering if the reason I'm not particularly excited for the Christmas season is that I am lacking love in general.  I have let my heart turn a bit cold, if you will.  I haven't exercised my love enough, and now it is weak and bearing little fruit.  

So I will try and draw nearer to the Lord, I will ask to be filled with His love--and I will hope that by doing so, I will start to get excited for Christmas.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Zero Population

The other day, I was thinking about weddings.   Specifically, I was thinking about how I would style a reception if I were getting married tomorrow.    Because I love to design and decorate my home, people are always surprised that I don't necessarily have an interest in or a knack for decorating for events.  But anyway, I was thinking about what I would really, really want for my wedding/reception if I were just about to be married, and you know what I decided?  I decided that just like when I DID get married, I wouldn't really have a lot of strong opinions.  I would want there to be good food, and I would want to look beautiful.  I would just LOVE to have a special event where I felt beautiful.  You know?  There are very few times in my life when I have felt beautiful and I know that being beautiful isn't important anyway, but I would still like the chance to feel that way.  I've been trying to remember if I felt beautiful on my wedding day.  I can't remember, but probably not.  I remember that I had a huge unhideable (made-up word?) zit on my chin--as I always do for special occasions--and I wasn't having a particularly good hair day.  I think I felt comfortable that Brian loved me and was happy with the way I looked, so that was enough.

When you read books or watch movies and there is a beautiful girl and a plain girl, which girl do you identify with?  I ALWAYS identify with the plain girl, of course.  

Over the last month or so, I have been watching Poldark and loving it--until last night.  Last night, I watched the episode where Ross is unfaithful to Demelza, and now the whole love story is basically ruined for me.  I was DEVASTATED.  Why does this always have to happen?  For whatever reason, experiencing affairs in books/movies, etc.  affects me in real life.  It's like I went to bed with less hope.  You know?  I think I've mentioned this before, but it's like with each affair I read about/watch/find out about, I feel my chances of experiencing an affair in my own life are that much greater.  It's like the statistician in me just thinks about the laws of probability and i just get all worked up.  Anyway....hopefully the love story that has been ruined for me for now, will become a love story that teaches me about forgiveness and redemption and a deeper, truer love that results.  Can that really happen?  I hope so.

The other day, I was outside doing yard work and watching Skip do tricks on his skateboard.  One of our neighbors (who has heretofore been somewhat standoffish and not particularly friendly) was outside pullings weeds, so I had the thought to visit with her.  I said hello and asked her how she was doing.  She nodded toward the weeds she was pulling and expressed frustration with the HOA for not following through with their responsibilities to keep our easements and common areas maintained.  She mentioned the sand that had gotten blown around by our building our house and by the building that is going on currently.  Dang.  She is one of those neighbors.  Sighhhh...  Regardless, I was determined to be friendly--to kill her with kindness, or at least wound her with it.  :)  I offered to help her pull weeds and went inside to quickly grab my gloves.  When I returned and started pulling weeds,  I attempted to start a friendly conversation with her by asking if she and her husband have any kids.
"Oh, no, " she replied.  "We are part of that "zero population" generation.   My husband and I are both scientists."
She continued to express her feelings about the Earth's eminent demise and her determination not to contribute to the world's overpopulation, which is to blame.   I commented that while I respect her opinion, I do not agree with it.  She said that she feels bad for people like me who have kids who will experience the earth's...destruction?  demise?....  I can't remember the words she used.  I mostly listened but did comment that not all scientists feel the same as her with regards to not having kids.  She responded that those scientists need to check their facts.   She said that numbers don't lie.

I felt so disappointed and defeated.  We sure do see things through different lenses.  With my heart in my chest, we finished weeding and I commented about what a good job she and her husband do with their yard.  She returned the compliment.

I will keep trying.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Sportsman's Prayer

Have you heard this poem before?  As Brian and I and the kids were driving back to Florence from Vegas after a week there for Spring Break, we were listening to General Conference.  I fell asleep several times, but caught some of the words to this poem and loved them.  I immediately grabbed my phone and sent myself a text with the words I could remember, so that I could reference them later.   Today was my day to teach in Relief Society, and as I was preparing,  I searched for the talk that contained this poem.  Interestingly,  after a million searches on and Google,  I could not find it.  I went talk by talk looking for the words of this poem that I had jotted down, but did not find them.  Weird, huh?  So weird.  Maybe the rest of the talk was awful so they wiped away the record of it?  Maybe I was dreaming when I heard the words?  Maybe I needed to hear these words, so they were sent by an angel though Brian's phone (on which we were listening to Conference) straight to only me?  I'm not sure.  What I know is that I did hear these words that day, and I did find the full poem online--so it does exist.   I just don't know how nobody else seems to remember having heard it and I can't find any record of it having been quoted at conference.  Anyway, I love it:

Prayer of a Sportsman

Dear Lord, in the battle that goes on through life
I ask but a field that is fair,
A chance that is equal with all in the strife,
A courage to strive and to dare;
And if I should win, let it be by the code
With my faith and my honor held high;
And if I should lose, let me stand by the road,
And cheer as the winners go by.
And Lord, may my shouts be ungrudging and clear,
A tribute that comes from the heart,
And let me not cherish a snarl or a sneer
Or play any sniveling part;
Let me say, "There they ride, on whom laurel's bestowed
Since they played the game better than I."
Let me stand with a smile by the side of the road,
And cheer as the winners go by.
So grant me to conquer, if conquer I can,
By proving my worth in the fray,
But teach me to lose like a regular man,
And not like a craven, I pray;
Let me take off my hat to the warriors who strode
To victory splendid and high,
Yea, teach me to stand by the side of the road
And cheer as the winners go by.

-Berton Braley

Maybe it's the fact that I love sports and just attended Camp's final track meet for the season; maybe it's having watched my kids play soccer for the last 6 weeks' worth of Saturdays.  Maybe it's just that I love me a good show of sportsmanship.  Maybe it's because I struggle with jealousy and being happy for the successes and fortune of others.  Whatever it is, I'm definitely a sucker for a good sentimental poem and I loved this one.  I'm going to always try to cheer as the winners go by.

Lately I've been making my way through Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling again, and it's hit me how incredibly important the records recorded in journals are to our understanding of history.  

I can't imagine that my blog will be of any import to history in general, but it will certainly be important as a record of my history, right?  And maybe someday it will be important for someone to understand my history.  I don't know.  

For my birthday, Jayne Edman gave me a binder in which to record my spiritual experiences and insights.  So thoughtful, right?  It has made me regret not having recorded so many of these things before and created a desire in me to be better about it from now on.    And doing this is important to me because I want to remember the times the Lord has whispered things to me through his Spirit.   At this point, I feel like it is so difficult to know what is true.  All I really have to lean on is what I feel God has communicated to me.  My truths.  You know?   I want my kids to know what I feel the Lord has tried to teach me.  Here is some of that:

God loves me.  He gives me a million chances and he never gives up on me. 

If I want Brian to be my biggest fan, all I have to do is be his biggest fan.

A lot of weakness and strength can exist in the same person.  A lot of strength and weakness exist within me. 

Not only am I free to love and appreciate the strengths and good qualities of others despite whatever their weaknesses are, but that is God's commandment to me. 

I need to learn to shut. my. mouth.  

I am selfish and I need to learn to think of others before myself. 


Recently,  I had been praying that Heavenly Father would help me to recognize ways to show Brian my love in a way he would recognize and feel.  I had also been praying that the Spirit would speak to me LOUDLY so that I could hear it.  (Why does the Spirit always have to whisper??)  The other night, Brian was upstairs working on finishing the bathroom up there.  Several times, I had the impression to go ask him if he needed my help.  I did not want to help him.  I was tired and anxious to go to bed.  I felt like it was reasonable for any person to want to go to bed at 9 o'clock at night instead of working on a bathroom.  Even so, I kept having the feeling that I should offer my help.  I didn't.    The next morning, Brian and I got into an argument on the phone and during our conversation, Brian yelled, "Of all the time I have spent working upstairs, you have only helped me ONE time!"  I realized then that the impression I had received the night before had indeed come from the Spirit.  Sure it was reasonable for me to have wanted to go to bed.  Sure it was true that Brian had never asked for my help.  Sure it was true that Brian had rarely offered to help with all the work I had had to do.  Nevertheless, I had asked Heavenly Father to show me ways to show Brian my love and he had answered me.  I just didn't want to hear the answer.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Skip's Night

It used to be that every night, all four of my kids would call to me after having gotten in bed, "Mom, will you come lay with me?"  (Yeah, it should be lie with me, but who cares?) And this became a real problem because lying with all four of them for a period of time every night meant that I got no time to myself, which I desperately needed and wanted at the end of each day.  So at some point, I came up with a solution that was probably inspired by a tradition Sarah has with her kids.  I assigned each kid one night of the week.  Now, on his/her night, each kid gets to have me lie with them and do whatever it is they want to do while we lie together in bed.

At the beginning, Danin always wanted me to sing to her.  During my time with her on "her nights"  I sang to and taught her that old country song called Johnny's Daddy (Is that what it's called?)  She loved it and learned it quickly.  Then she and I started watching videos from Les Mis (the movie and the play) on YouTube and she started learning the songs from watching them so many times.  That was how I introduced her to Les Mis.  Usually, now, she just likes to read to me or have me read to her.

Most of the time on her night, Janey reads to me, too.  She's a great reader, that girl.  And now, she has me rub her back with her little purple back-rubbing tool while she reads.  It's fun to get little snippets of the books she's reading.

Camp ALWAYS takes advantage of his night by asking me to rub his back.  He knows I cannot say no when it is his night.  And he is picky.  He tells me exactly where to put my hands and where and how to push and apply pressure.  He looooovvvveeess to have his back rubbed, popped and stood on. Sometimes I wonder if something did happen to his back that day when he fell out of our second story 12th street window.  Hmm.  And he talks, too.  He's a talker like me and I love it.  During our time together on his nights, I have often asked him if he likes a girl yet and if he has any more hair in his armpits.  :)

And Skip.  My baby.  On his nights, we snuggle up close and give each other butterfly kisses.  I read to him a lot.  Many times I ask him if he wants me to sing to him and he usually says no.  He asks a lot of questions about what things mean and what is real.  (Isn't it interesting how kids always go through a phase of trying to figure out what is "real"?)  Tonight he asked me why Jesus is in Heaven and how he died and why the guys killed him.  He told me that he never hears God talk and I told him that Heavenly Father and Jesus speak to us through the Holy Ghost.  I told him that when I yell at the kids and am mean, Heavenly Father tells the Holy Ghost to whisper to me, Stop yelling.  He asked what the Holy Ghost is and I told him the Holy Ghost is a spirit--a person without a body.   Tonight I also reminded Skip that on Saturday he will get to go to Noah's birthday party.  I asked him if he plays with Noah at school and he said he does.  I then reminded him that every time I have previously asked him who he plays with at school, he has told me, nobody.  He laughed and told me he likes to tell lies.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nothing To Say and Pictures of the House

I'm sure you can guess which pictures were taken by my talented photographer sister, Laura Hendricks (havhouse on Instagram) and which ones I took with my outdated phone.  I am also realizing that I didn't take any photos of the laundry room or powder bath (and of course, none of the upstairs space).  But those spaces have all changed quite a bit, so I'll post updated pictures of them soon.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What I Think

What's up with all the weirdos posting a bunch of--well, just seven-- spam comments on my last post?  How do I delete them?  I'm much happier with my normal zero comments than with a bunch of nonsense comments.

I've realized something.  I've always said how much I love writing on my blog.  I love my blog.  It's my place to communicate, and communication is so, so important to me.  I can say whatever I want and go on forever, and I always have some pretended active listener.  It's my journal, my record of all the things I think and feel--a record that I hope will be important to my children someday.  And YET, I never write on it...  Why is that?  I know now.   Many years back, I thought I loved to cook.  I would cook (what I thought were) yummy meals and invite other people to come over and enjoy them with us.  And then at some point, I realized that cooking wasn't the part of the experience that I enjoyed at all.  It was the eating and socializing part that I loved...not the cooking.   Last night as I was thinking about writing on my blog, I came to the same type of realization:  it's not writing on my blog that I love, it's having writing on my blog that I love.  See?  Unfortunately for me, there's only one way to get that writing here.  I heard somewhere recently that that guy who started Facebook (what's his name again?.... Ian??) is working on developing technology that will allow us to communicate directly to others without ever having to type anything.  Our devices will be able to just pick up on our thoughts and sentiments and send them directly to others.  It would be (will be?) so cool to just be able to send my thoughts and my feelings directly to my blog someday.  But anyway.

I'm vey judgmental.  It's so awful.  But at least I recognize this about myself, right?  Isn't that the first step?

I feel judgment and resentment toward women who get boob jobs.  Weird, huh?  Yeah.  And WRONG.  Totally un-Christlike.  Because I know many women who have boob jobs and they are kind and good and fun etc., etc...  I know my judgement comes from my own fears  and insecurities.  It's like I feel that with every woman who gets a boob job, my own boobs--and body, by extension--become less desirable by comparison.  It's like when so many women are getting boob jobs, the REAL way a women's body looks after child-bearing gets forgotten so that a new manufactured body is the new standard.  You know what I mean?  How is my flat-chested body supposed to remain desirable to my husband when there are fake boobs running around everywhere?  Sigh.  I don't know.  Like I said.  I know this issue is just a manifestation of my own pride and lack of charity.  So I'll work on it and pray that Heavenly Father increases my ability to be content with myself and confident that Brian will love me and think I'm beautiful no matter what.

That reminds me.  I have a girlfriend who is going through a really tough time in her marriage right now.  I feel so heartbroken for her.  Brian and I are going through a really good time right now (and I am SO GRATEFUL) but talking with my friend reminded me of how incredibly hard marriage is and how desperate and sorrowful I (and Brian, too, no doubt) have felt so many times in the past.   I have wondered at times whether Brian and I will ever be able to really understand one another.  Sometimes I think that as part of our reward in Heaven, we will be given the opportunity to really be able to UNDERSTAND one another and see the world through each other's eyes for the first time--so that we can see and really feel one another's pains accurately.  You know?  I imagine that truly becoming like Christ IS what allows us that ability.  And then again, sometimes I feel like if and when I become way more like Christ, I will no longer care about being validated and understood because at that point I will have been finally able to forgive and put the past behind me and be grateful for the progress we have made.   Maybe it will be a combination of both those things.  But anyway...

Like I said, right now Brian and I are in a really good place and I am so happy.  And oh, man.  I hope Brian is happy, too.  That's one of the things that is so hard for my friend.  She thought she and her husband were really happy.  She WAS really happy.  It totally blindsided her to find out her husband wasn't feeling the same way..  So hard, right?  SO hard.

Wow.   This is totally not what I was thinking this blog post was going to be.  I was going to write about the house and the holidays and all my kids' birthdays...But wait.  One more thing.  I finally realized--just last year--that the reason Brian and I are always fighting around the time of Valentine's Day and our anniversary in February is because it is right smack in the middle of what always turns our to be the slowest time for our business!  Why did I never recognize this before??  This year, however, I am armed with this acknowledgement and I am determined to not let this slower season get me stressed.  It will pass.  It always passes.  So there's no point getting my panties in an bundle over it.  It is January 18th today and we are happy, so we may just be able to make our way through February without freaking out!  Yay!!

So yeah.  We finished the house.  Thank dang goodness.  The year and a half that we spent planning and building the house constituted the second-hardest period of our marriage.  It was so, so....hard.  When I think about what made it so hard,  I'm not really sure.  It was just so much stress on Brian that he became more unhappy and unpleasant than he has EVER been before.  And that, of course, meant that I was also stressed and unhappy and unpleasant.  And I don't mean to say that it was Brian's fault that that period of time was so horrible.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I caused most of the stress Brian was feeling during that time.  So it was more MY fault.  But anyway... so glad to have the door shut to that period of time forever.

Fortunately, we all looovee the house.  We have had some really difficult and sad situations with some of our neighborhood members (which I don't feel like writing about) but this house has been such a place of peace and fun for these last 4 months.  We are truly loving it.  What a blessing.