Granny Jars

My sister is getting married next week, and we’ve been collecting Mason Jars from basements family-wide. Yesterday we drove out to the country to visit Granny and her jars.
Did you hear that? I DROVE OUT TO THE COUNTRY. That is to say: it gets MORE country than my little town of 1,500 peoples. It gets more country that my town with no stop lights. Granny lives in a town with about 200 peoples. It’s a beautiful, surprisingly green little community where cows eat the lawns and the chicken population rivals the human population.
There’s no cell service, and most every door is a revolving door for friends and neighbors. You just don’t FIND places like this anymore.
It’s glorious. Stay as long as you like. Your husband won’t be able to reach you anyway… unless he has Granny’s home phone number. (Which he doesn’t.)

Granny’s house is very warm and comforting. It’s filled with trinkets and treasures and wisdom.
I love Granny’s wisdom:
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You can find it all over her house:
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Granny married a man who can grow anything anywhere. My sister and I smiled at the snapdragons peaking out in the cracks on Granny’s back porch steps. There’s mint covering on the ground, starter plants growing in Grandpa Max’s homemade starter planters (made from newspaper).
Their home is truly the epitome of country comfort. I’m pretty sure spending an hour around their place cures 90% of What Ails You.

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The jars we pulled out of Granny’s Basement were so perfect. Some were vintage and blue, some had round bottoms (and of such I beheld with green jealousy. I want a round bottom…), some were tiny, some held priceless stories about sows.
Granny offered up some of her pretty copper canisters and a few crystal items.
“Everyone should have a Granny,” I sighed.

Julianne and I rode back into the Big Joe City clinking jars and counting our Granny Blessings.
And she is a great blessing unto us.
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(Odds of getting Alice looking at the camera and Granny’s eyes open? Slim to none. But we get what we get and we don’t throw a fit.)

Harry Potterized Iron Man

I back up my photos on Google Plus, and apparently every Google Plus account comes equipped with it’s own little Photo Gremlin that enhances, edits, and sometimes even animates my pictures.
I DO NOTHING.
THIS JUST HAPPENS.

It’s like my own little Harry Pottified Daily Prophet.
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I love my Gremlin.
I think I’ll name it Braithwaite after the original Daily Prophet’s witchy reporter.

Carry on, Braithwaite. You’re doing a smash bang-up job.

Little Girls

Alice has been watching a lot of “Annie” these days, and there’s nothing more awesome than hearing her sing, “Little Girls.”
Because she IS ONE. And incidentally, everywhere I turn, I can see her.
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Or evidence of little girls. Same diff.

Lacy isn’t so little anymore, and it’s bumming me out BIG TIME. She’s growing so fast, asking grown up questions and caring what others think of her. Such a stark difference from the little girl who wore whatever she wanted whenever she wanted and had ALL of her own answers, thankyouverymuch.
She’s now guiding her little sister patiently through early childhood and all the rites entailed therein:
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Licking the bowl IN princess clothes.
Alice is a lucky girl to have such a great big sister. We are all lucky to have each other.

Danny calls Alice, “Alicia reincarate.”
Alice follows me everywhere. Every breath I take, every move I make. She’s my little barnacle, my buddy.
This means I haven’t slept well since 2011, before I became pregnant with her. She’s bursting with energy, curiosity and curious energy. I sometimes wonder why we even bought her a bed. She never uses it because I have a bed, and if I have a bed it is Alice’s by default.
That’s how PARENTING works, apparently.
After one particularly exhausting day in the which Lacy had a back rash and Alice had dumped half of my Sam’s Club cinnamon on the kitchen and living room floor, I got the older two to bed and collapsed on the couch.

Alice was still going strong, and the next thing I knew she was decked out in an apron, socks and binoculars…
“I da DOCTOR!”
And my feet were examined thoroughly.

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I don’t want her to grow up.
It seems like just a few days ago Lacy was staying up past midnight and emptying all of the drawers. Now she stays up past midnight reading. This month, she passed her goal of getting over 200 AR reading points, and she was rewarded by the school with…
A BOOK LIGHT.
Bring on that midnight oil, folks.
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And I’m over here like Napoleon in Uncle Rico’s time machine:
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Mother’s Day Weekend ’15

Routine truly makes me feel crazy.  After a few solid months of solid routine, I start to feel dead inside.  When I found out school was cancelled on Friday, a spark lit inside of me.
No school? On a ROUTINE school day?
Incidentally, my husband didn’t have to work, so I called in and we decided we’d drive into the city and hike a mountain! or something.

But then the wind blew and the May hail came, so we settled on some leisurely shopping and eating out at one of my favorite spots, Pita Jungle.
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Outside the weather was cloudy and rainy, and it made us feel cozy and warm to be inside with each other.
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Eating, coloring, fighting… you know, regular family fun!
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We bought up close to 2,000 pounds of groceries and bulkified our cupboards for the next maybe three days… you know what I mean. If you have little kids, you know what I mean.

While in town, Danny called his mom and found out she’d be in the area and invited her to stay the night so we could sneak in a little mother’s day festivities with her. I haven’t been feeling well -my body without a gall bladder truly hates it when I do stupid things like eat food. My mother-in-law is one of those treasures of beings who doesn’t care if my house looks like I’ve been under the weather all week.
We made her some eggplant parm and ate it by candlelight. The kids love eating anything by candlelight.
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She stopped by Saturday afternoon after we’d spent the morning at a fundraiser for first responders. The kids were in heaven with all of their “Jr. Firefighter” stickers. They even got to sit in a medic helicopter!
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Riding in the car with them, I turned the radio down to listen to them visit.
“Trent, when I get home I’m going to clean before Grammy gets to our house and then work on my bucket list,” Lacy said.
“What’s THAT?”
“It’s a list of things to do before you die… you know, and then you kick it over after you die.”
“What?” He wasn’t convinced.
“It’s a LIST of THINGS,” she spaced out and emphasized her words for the slow of understanding, “that you DO before you DIE. And when you DIE, you KICK IT OVER because you’re dead and can’t DO THE THINGS anymore.”
“How can you kick it if you’re dead?” he asked.
“It’s a cool thing that happens,” she shrugged.
“But you’re DEAD.”
“Well, it’s this cool thing that happens,” she repeated, “You die and it just… falls over.”
At this point, Lacy sighed in frustration and finished the conversation with, “Mom can explain it to you later.”

Ha!
I stopped on the way home from the fundraiser to wish MY Granny a Happy Mother’s Day. I love Granny.
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My kids were happy to see their Grammy when we got home -the kids won’t clean for me, but if they’re cleaning for GRAMMY… they were all over it! They wanted to surprise her with a fancy candle lit dinner, and it turned out really cute.

We went to bed late, Alice still refuses to sleep. Her motto is something like, “Mom can sleep when her bucket falls over.”
I woke up in the middle of the night in the recliner. I didn’t even remember falling asleep. Alice was draped across my stomach. I picked us up and took us to my bed and was woken a few hours later by the sound of Lacy puking in the bathroom.
Poor kiddo. I took care of her, gave her a bath, pulled her hair back… all the things moms do when their kid is sick.
“I wanted to make you breakfast,” she said, sadly. Leave it to Lacy to still be thinking about other people when she’s pushing dehydration.

Danny made breakfast for me and his mom, asking for minimal amounts of help, and Trenton and I went to church.

My brother, JC, taught the Relief Society lesson. The youth took over teaching classes so all of the women could attend Relief Society. It was really nice to sit and listen and take notes without pulling the baby off of the curtains or pulling the older two apart.
JC’s curiosity has always been insatiable. He has a vast database of truth stored up in his head, and he draws from it frequently. As a kid, he was called on to catch animals, kill snakes and any other unsavory task our aunt and grandmothers weren’t in the mood to face.
He’s trapped porcupines, crows and every kind of lizard that Northern Arizona has to offer. If ever I have a question, I call him up and he has something of an answer. He’s always got his hands on something.
His lesson covered honey bees (which he owns and continually gains new info about), It’s a Wonderful Life, and President Lincoln.
He talked about what he likes to call, “The George Bailey Experiment.”
He asked what life would look like if President Lincoln’s mother had never been born, and at that minute I realized I once saved my mom’s life when she choked on some food… and therefore we are EVEN.
You give me life, and I’ll save yours -that’s my motto.

He said a Queen Bee makes a hive. If she has a calm nature, the hive is calm. If there is no Queen Bee, it’s obvious because the entire hive is lazy.
He talked about the little amount a bee gives in their lifetime but the HUGE difference it makes to the world.
I’d felt prompted to look up info on bees myself a year ago and was touched by the exact amounts of honey ONE bee makes in their lifetime -it’s really something to study. They fly so little and make hardly anything at all, you’d think they’d just give up at the thought. But IF THEY DID, the entire course of life would be altered.
Case in point: what would our nation look like if Lincoln’s mother had never been?

I came home feeling a little less stifled by routine -partially because I’d had a nice reprieve from it and partially because I was touched by the reminder of how life-giving my simple acts are.
I baked up two more Eggplant Parms and headed to Grandma’s to feed her and my Mom… and I felt supremely lucky to have surrounded myself in ONE weekend with both grandmothers, my mom AND my mother-in-law. I recognize that not everyone is able to do that, and I feel the blessedness of it deeply.

I went for a walk with my son -just my son. We talked about important things like Iron Man. We went to our secret spot at the end of Dad’s farm and said two prayers together. He leaned his head against me and we threw rocks in a small puddle.
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“When you throw a pebble in a puddle, what happens?” I asked.
“Circle things go out and out…” he motioned with his hands.
“That’s how lies work,” I said.
“WHAT?”
I think Trent is suspicious that his mother and sister are CRAZY.
“When you tell a lie, it feels small but it isn’t. It goes out and out and you can’t take it back.” Then I told a fake story about a fake kid named Leroy who broke a store window and lied about it.
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I MIGHT have told that story because he’d just lied to me about his hair suddenly being drenched.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Sweat,” he locked eyes with me, trying to see if I’d see through him.
“Seriously, what happened?”
“I got wet,” vagueness is the primary tool for The Pants on Fire Purveyor.
“HOW?”
“I don’t reNEMBER.”
“SON…”
“From a bowl that I filled up from the sink.”
Okay, this is STILL VAGUE.

But on our walk home after we’d had a talk about ripples, he finally let it out.
“I filled up a bowl and threw my lucky charm in so I could make a wish.”
“Makes sense,” I said… “But how did your HAIR end up wet?”
“Oh. Cuz I dunked it.”
Of course ya did.

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We walked home with our dog and picked up a bunch of nature-y things to entertain our sick sister with: thorns, alfalfa, weed buds, fox tails…
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Once at home, I played some chess with Iron Man.
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We delivered our nature finds to Lacy.
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And then before Trent could beat in me in chess again, Alice threw everything overboard and insisted on painting my nails.
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We streamed Anne of Green Gables on youtube to finish out the night. Trent hated it. Lacy loved it. Alice ate two bowls of cold cereal.

And in the end, routine became doable again.
Happy Mother’s Day to every woman who ever played a part in the creation of a human being: teachers, neighbors, aunts, cousins, mothers, grandmothers and everyone inbetween.

My favorite gift was a pillow I snagged at World Market. I wrote about it on my Story Lady Blog facebook page, but I’ll repost it here for posterity.
A few weeks ago, my kids were discussing astronomy.
Trent: How far away is the moon?
Me: Oh, it’s very far away.
Trent: Is from here to the moon the farthest you can get away from here?
Me: What do you think?
Trent: I think so because it’s really, really far.
Lacy: I think so. And since it is the farthest, that means I love you from here all the way to the moon.”
When I saw this pillow at ‪#‎worldmarket‬ on Saturday, it became mine immediately. 0510151942a

God Callings

In the LDS church, members are given “callings” -volunteer positions to keep the church functioning in an organized manner.
It’s a great system that doesn’t always work perfectly -just like life -and it gives members the opportunity to serve in a variety of ways. The callings I’ve held in the church have always challenged me… they don’t exactly always tailor your calling to your natural inclinations. Sometimes you’re put substantially outside of your comfort zone, which we all know is usually a healthy opportunity for growth.
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I’ve served as a teacher, a leader, a pianist… I’ve given talks, treats, time, projects! I’ve only ever hated ONE calling. I was called as the “compassionate service leader” and it made me physically ill to call and ask people to help other people. I agonized over who to bother LESS with casserole-making.
“Hi, um, this is Alicia… Sister So-and-So just had a baby and I’m wondering if you’d be able to make dinner for her on Thursday?”
Sometimes (most times) I would just make the meals myself because asking people to help was so sickeningly difficult for me.

It still is. I almost cried with happiness when they released me.

We are asked to magnify the callings we receive… to prayerfully work at our task and endeavor to hold and perform the calling in the same way Christ himself might… whatever that looks like for us.

“Magnify your calling” is a phrase I’m familiar with, and sometimes it brings a lot of shame unto me. Because I suffer from an ailment I like to call “spiritual perfectionism” which means if I don’t feel like I’m earning my own salvation THE BEST I ABSOLUTELY CAN, I am worthless. A failure.
Yes, I REALLY struggle with pride.

I also recognize now that it’s a faulty way of living -that God never EVER wanted me to earn my salvation because He gave His Son so for my salvation. And He only needs ONE Jesus. He doesn’t need a million SAVIORS, but I felt I truly was my own Savior. I didn’t SEE it quite like that, but look back on it… yeah. That’s exactly what I was doing.

Letting go of that line has been a progressive thing for me. As I let go of that belief, a new FREE world opened up to me. As I let go of performance-based living, it opened up more time. It opened more space in my soul for compassion. I found peace and serenity coming in.

And then, one day, the phrase, “Magnify your Calling” hit me in a completely different way.

I believe -so strongly, so so deeply -that God has inherently called each of us to God Callings.

Each Child of God is sent to earth endowed with gifts to help them magnify their God Calling: teacher, athlete, scientist, musician, healer, preacher!

So many callings!
Working recovery has helped me to find and define what my own personal callings are. When I quit trying to perform up to my own impossible ideals of what I feel is required of me, God is able to more full unveil His ideals of who I am. God wants me to use my voice: teach, write, laugh, share! God wants me to tell stories, to find metaphors in BASICALLY EVERYTHING. He wants me to reach out and share my life with others in order to bring light and connection where there once was darkness and loneliness.
God wants me to be a free spirit -He wants me to keep my feet off the ground, my wild hair around my face… He does NOT want me to be controlled by fear or another person (or fear of another person). God trusts me with children -my own and those scuttling around my ankles in the supermarket.
God wants me to give of what I have, no matter how meager it may seem in my eyes… for my eyes are not God’s eyes.

Right now, I am magnifying my callings by FINDING THEM OUT through recovery, and God is giving me strength to simply carry on with my church callings.

I complete them well enough for now, and when the time is right and in God’s timing, I will find that my NEXT RIGHT THING is working harder to magnify them.

But that’s not what He wants right now.

I can magnify my God Callings today by doing what I’m doing right now: writing, and magnifying my God calling is more important, more vital, more life-giving than anything else.

I am filled with gratitude at God’s perfect plan -the way he seamlessly sews us all together in a puzzle of community perfection. Where there is a healer needed, a healer is found. Where there is a nurturer, a nurturer is found. There’s a mechanic and an organizer. There’s someone who is completely fulfilled by bringing beauty to bodies, spaces and faces. There’s someone who knows their way around mechanics and chainsaws… someone who makes desk living look attractive. There’s someone with a lush garden and someone with homemade breads and pies.

When we dive deep into our divine center and give ourselves the respect we’d give any other person we know to have GOD within them, WE FIND OUR CALLING.

A family or any kind of community knit together in mutual love, appreciation and respect for individuality and God Callings is HEAVEN ON EARTH.

Danny’s addiction twisted this truth -wrenched it out of control.

I felt I knew what was best for Danny.
In many ways, Danny felt he knew what was best for me.

As we take a step back and try to find ourselves, we stand in awe of each other… we begin to respect the God Callings in each other instead of trying to morph them into our own ideals of what we think each other SHOULD BE.

Danny is a leader -he has a passion for justice that is brought out magnificently in his job. Danny loves music -it speaks to him, and he uses his own musical voice to speak to others.
So often I’ve tried to force a love of literature on him. So often, I’ve tried to get him to STOP GETTING WORKED UP over justice issues beyond his control.

But I’m coming around to just watching Danny dive inside of himself.
I’m an observer on his individual journey to God -not an active participant. In the end, it’s ONLY about Danny and God.
The same is true for myself.

It’s bumpy, but the rewards of uncovering and magnifying my God Callings? WORTH IT.

The best part? I love my callings. God generously attaches passion to each of his God Callings, so that what He calls His children to do is fulfilling and pleasing unto them!

The same isn’t QUITE as true for church-given callings.
There are women who are called by God to be compassionate service leaders, and I’m not one of them. But in doing that calling, I gained a GIGANTIC appreciation for women who are naturals.

God,
Thank you for them.
Thank you for the engineers, the athletes, the painters. Thank you for the beautiful voices, the crafters, the brainy business ones.
Your children are brilliantly magnificent.
You must be so proud.

~Alicia

PS: Thank you for sending me a few. They are brilliantly magnificent.
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Screen Shot Junkie

I do allotta shots. My phone is riddled with screen shots, as I sifted through them I realized how much they say about me, and I kinda had this urge to sift through EVERYONE’S screen shots to learn about how they are, why they are, and when, what, where?

My screen shots generally fall into four categories: food, inspiring stuff, funny stuff, and stuff for other people.
Okay, so maybe it’s much less FOOD and more like TREATS:
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That popcorn was AMAZING. My kids INHALED it while I watched a chick flick.
And I love that pretty kitchen! Oh, those colors!

I didn’t realize how many quotes I snapped pictures of. I think it’s because I like words so much?
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I actually have sub-groups in my wordy pictures. There’s inspirational quotes from inspirational people, like Victor Frankl and Maya Angelou:
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And then there’s scriptures:
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And then there’s literature-related treasures!
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I also tend to snap inspirational stuff without words -definitely not as often, but I do. Stuff like art:
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And music:
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Why IS that? Am I inspiration-starved? Am I wisdom-sapped? I don’t want to think about it too long…
I need a break before my brain explodes, and my favorite break is a smile break:
funny1I’m dying to put sticky eyes all over everything now.
And then there’s the dovetail screenshots… some inspiration on the tail of the funny:
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And the ones I screen shot to text out to other people that have funny on their tail. Hey, Dad! How ’bout those pregnant cows?
‘course this whole procedure would be easier if Dad could text…
Screenshot_2015-02-26-15-28-19PS: where is this device for humans?  “Are you ready to be a grandma?”  “Are you ready to be an aunt?”  “GET TO THE HOSPITAL, your patient is about to BIRTH!”
Sometimes I screenshot bad news to break to Dad… like his favorite cartoon character’s ultimate demise:
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Here’s one I sent to my brother -I found the old board game we played for hours as kids!
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I sometimes get too worked up to “SAVE” things to my gallery and just screen shot n’ share. My sister-in-law had this sweet baby last week very early (33 weeks-ish) and I’m dying to hold her!
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And there’s a few WISHLIST shots -STAINLESS STEEL goodness right here! Oh, the possibilities!
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I think I need a better filing system.

Like an Egyptian

I’ve been thinking about Moses’ mass… you know the crowd he miraculously led out of slavery and captivity? The ones who complained about it?
I wonder if I am one of those guys.

In order to make a solid decision about the whole thing, I cracked open The Old Testament and began reading the story of Moses which really begins with the story of Joseph. I read about the death of Joseph’s father -Jacob -not fully focusing on the words because the story was only meant to be a prelude to The Meat -The Story of Moses and His Complaining Masses.
But Joseph’s story stopped me in my tracks.

I read about his father’s death, and I could FEEL Joseph’s pain. He had spent so many years in Egypt -so many years away from his father. To have him and have him taken away again? Mortality is no respecter of persons.
Soon after Jacob passed away, Joseph’s brothers huddled up and wrote a letter they hoped would keep Joseph from unleashing his vengeful wrath upon their unholy souls. Why? Because years ago, they had SOLD Joseph.
He had trusted them fully, and they SOLD him into Egypt.
The brothers feared Joseph’s wrath now that their father had passed away. They crafted up a letter “from Jacob” instructing Joseph to forgive his brothers.

Upon reading the letter, Joseph wept. He asked his brothers -paraphrasing, “Do you suppose me to be God?” Meaning -I am not God, seek forgiveness elsewhere. I am not all powerful.  Seek not to serve me, but God only.
And then he said -not paraphrasing, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”

Those words stopped me in my reading tracks.
“…but God meant it unto good…”

I looked up from my phone and let the truth sink deeply into my soul before I went about the rest of my day.
Yesterday I listened to Brene Brown’s TED talk, “Listening to Shame” in which she says, ” …some research by Mahalik at Boston College. He asked, what do women need to do to conform to female norms? The top answers in this country: nice, thin, modest and use all available resources for appearance.”

When I heard those words, I felt ill. I shook my head and wanted to scream and cry.
“Is that all we’re capable of?” I asked the television, hoping America could hear me… my question being rhetorical, of course. I know the answer. The answer is NO.

But that belief? That was my Egypt.  That was a large part of my captivity.

When I absorbed myself in my husband’s addiction -when I allowed myself to be taken, I lost myself. I lost myself to those false beliefs, to a lifestyle where I remained controlled, where my voice -once strong, loud and sure -was timid, scared, and halting.  I was in Egypt.

My freedom was gone.  Unlike Joseph, I always had the power to take my freedom back, but I didn’t realize that just as I had allowed my choices to be taken from me, I also had it within me to take them back.

During the last ten years of my life, there have been days where I have felt in prison, days where I have felt absolutely betrayed. There are days when God has blessed me with miracles. There are days where I’ve been wise, days where I’ve faltered.

And just as Joseph’s brother’s tried to illicit forgiveness from him, so did my own husband ask me to read a book in hopes that I’d come to forgive him.
But I am not God.
Just as Joseph did not want his brothers to serve him, so do I feel. I want Danny to serve -above all -God.

Because of my own captivity, I now recognize freedom. I now know myself -and I’ve learned above all that I can spend my entire life getting to know myself and I’ll never know an OUNCE of what there is to learn.
I understand more fully God’s grace.
I understand my worth.
I understand my place in God’s plan and my place in God’s heart.

I feel, as Joseph so perfectly said, “ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

God MEANT it unto GOOD.

My captive belief that beauty was something that made people say, “She’s really outdone herself,” was shattered and replaced by TRUTH.

The truth is that true beauty comes when I look at someone or some place or something and say, “Wow, God’s really outdone himself.”

There is beauty in newborns and the smell of brand new tomato plants, in giggles and ripples in a quiet lake. There is beauty in laugh lines, scars, and the sunset.

My captive definition of beauty had an insatiable appetite for MORE -more money, more time… some beach, somewhere -an unattainable tan, fit, thin body.

My new definition of beauty makes lunch beautiful.  It makes what I have, what’s in front of me now -my present -fulfilling and beautiful.  It has a appetite that is filled at every turn: every sunset, every quiet moment, even my tiny house filled with proof of little people traipsing around.

I look to the Japanese, “wabi sabi” which holds to three principles, “Nothing Last. Nothing is finished. Nothing is perfect.”
When it comes to THINGS -to youth, tight stomachs, movies, toys, computers… nothing lasts.  True beauty and peace is found in simplicity, in nature and nature’s natural ways.

Loving someone with an addiction is the HARDEST thing I’ve ever done.
Is it about the substance itself? No. It’s about the behaviors that come from not understanding how to manage emotions, how to connect and how to express in a healthy, productive way.

For the one who loves the one with an addiction, it is captivity.

Again, I turn to the wise Japanese and their art of “Kintsugi.”
They take The Broken and mend it -usually with gold -thereby bringing out beauty in the breaking.

Repairing broken ceramics!

It reminds me of Cohen.
“There is a crack… a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

For me, the light came in when I broke.
And that’s when God poured in the healing Gold.
It is good -I am good.

My life is a life of freedom, and I write my truth in blindingly honest vulnerability hoping -as Joseph -that God might save a soul or two.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll read up on Moses’ Ungrateful Mass and judge myself accordingly, but for today I’m going to thank God for freedom and for the ride there. I’m going to thank Him for being. I’m going to thank Him for my body, perfect for me as it stands this very minute. I will thank Him for the reminder of captivity, for it strengthens my resolve to never return.

Above all, I will thank Him for the return.
During my years of captivity, I was all but lost to my Father in Heaven and my parents on earth. The child they had known had been missing… missing for too long.
And so I emerge free, reunited with self and family.

God meant it unto good.

And maybe, just maybe, this experience answers my question… am I ungrateful to be set free?  I can only answer one day at a time, and today that answer is NO.

 

 

Easter Festivities

We like Easter, so we stretched Easter out for a long, long time. There’s Cadburry eggs and Resurrection. There’s flowers and eggs and an emphasis on rebirth that gives us all an equal dose of hope and sugar comas.
What’s not to love?

We went to the big city to spend time with family and watch The Easter Pageant. I hadn’t been to the pageant since 2006… I had come home from the pageant and miscarried my first pregnancy. As I stretched out on a blanket on the lawn by the Mesa Temple, I looked around me at the three kids all clamoring for attention, a spot on the blanket. They were all awash with the special kind of amazement country kids show when they’re in the thick of a city.
Planes!
Lights!
People!
FOOD!

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Hope and gratitude filled my heart and soul, so appropriate for Easter.

The next day, Grammy Deets pulled off her annual Easter Egg Hunt. All 10 of her grandchildren were there!
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The weather was perfect, and Grammy’s luncheon was delicious as always! Her egg hunt is something the kids look forward to every year.
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That evening, I took my Lacy Lou to the LDS Women’s Conference. She’s 8 and official now -although I will say that age didn’t stop me from taking her in October.
She had been looking forward to the Conference for a while, and I enjoyed having her with me.
Last year, I attended the first Women’s Conference IN the Conference Center with my sister and some friends… and it was awesome, but there was a big LACY hole. There was a mother hole, too!
This year, I was able to fill at least my Lacy hole. She sat next to me and giggled and wiggled. After it was over she said, “Sometimes I get bored of their stories about when they were younger -and they just go on and on… so I listen to a song in my head and I feel warm inside. Hey, MOM! You should TRY THAT.”
Oh, kiddo.
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In the middle of a talk, she swore she NEEDED a bathroom. I told her to wait for the song to start -it was more polite to leave during a song.
“Are you sure you’ll be able to find your way back to me?” I asked, we were in a new chapel -one she’d never seen before.
“Oh sure, I’ll be fine.”
She didn’t come back for a long time.
When she finally did, I asked her if she got lost.
“A little, but Mom… I was walking around trying to find a bathroom and I heard the song playing in a different room (the Relief Society Room was broadcasting the conference on a small television), and I felt warm. I felt like the song was so important. I stood and listened to it AND THEN went to the bathroom.”

That girl. Was I half as sweet as an 8 year old?

Once at home, we spent some time dying eggs. And by “spent some time” I mean 9 pm on Easter Eve.
#howiroll
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Danny and I then stayed up until WAY past midnight, making sure all of the kids were fast asleep -this is really hard to do with Alice who prefers to sleep only after the day changes over.
Her sleep patterns are slowly unraveling my sanity.
We used Netflix to keep us awake, and then we filled baskets and ate the boiled egg Trenton had decorated with the words, “For You Easter Bunny.”
We left the shell out for him to see with a thank you note scribbled on an egg-shaped note pad.
When he saw it, his eyes LIT UP. I wouldn’t lie to them about things like the Easter Bunny if the payoff weren’t so darn satisfying.
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But oh! The payoff.
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We spent the weekend listening to General Conference. I braided Lacy’s hair for practice because I really need braiding practice. Or braiding lessons.
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Between sessions, we walked to a family luncheon -stopping on the way to talk Family History with Uncle Doyle (who sealed Danny and I in the Snowflake Temple 10.5 years ago).
The kids fought on the walk, so we employed the old BRING LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS trick:
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We feasted on Navajo Tacos and my Mom’s famous Mandarin Orange Salad before returning home to finish out the rest of Conference.
Lacy took some flowers to our neighbors and stayed to do puzzles with them -just one of her many adopted Grandparents… while the rest of us got ready for great-grandma’s annual Easter Egg Hunt.

Grandma has been hosting this hunt for as long as I can remember -it was always a highlight of my Easter Day growing up, and it really gets me so excited that my own kids have a chance to make the same memories.

Alice was accompanied by her favorite “Aunt Roof.” We’re so grateful to have Aunt Ruth in our lives.
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She’s so cool her great-nieces request play dates with her.

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As Easter came to a close, I felt the effects of the sugar I’d indulged it (Cadburry tastes SO RIGHT)… and Trenton delighted in beating me in a rousing game of chess.
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Mom sent me home with some of her Easter “critters.” She makes them every Easter, and I planned on making a gluten free version, but FORGOT because I was too busy trying to make THE TODDLER SLEEP.
They require overnight sitting, but they are WORTH IT!
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Similar recipe found HERE.

Ex-nay

Someone taught my 8 year-old Pig Latin. Suddenly I want to call my mom and apologize for speaking fluent Pig Latin because adulthood has taught me something important:
Pig Latin is irritating, friends.
Lacy keeps asking for words, “Give me any word, Mom.”
And I’m tempted to finish, “And I show you how the root of that word is Greek.”

I’m wrapping up the second week of a challenge I took with a friend. She challenged us to go without sugary snacks during the weekdays.
I don’t know EXACTLY why she choose this specific challenge, but I will tell you that I’ve been emailing her everything I’ve been eating because I wanted someone to be accountable to. And I will also tell you that for one week straight I ate exclusively sugar with the occasional side of protein.
“Chocolate and marshmallows for breakfast,” I’d say.
“Fruity Pebbles for lunch, hot chocolate for a snack.”

Yes, it’s true.
The past two years of my life have been dedicated to simply making through EACH day, and now that I’ve found a solid degree of mental, emotional, and spiritual healing, it’s prime time to add physical healing to that list.
I thought being accountable to my friend would help, and I was right.

Writing out what I was eating was pretty horrific -mostly because I LOVE MYSELF so why in the holy heck am I feeding myself crap? Coated in chocolate?!

I will tell you why:
STRESS.

Cutting out sugary snacks seemed painful, but I thought, ‘I’ll take it one day at a time, just like The Serenity Prayer says I should… Living without marshmallows one day at a time…”

By last Wednesday my withdrawal symptoms were making me question my existence.
“A Wednesday without gluten free chocolate sandwich cookies is no Wednesday at all…”

It was no joke. But I woke up Thursday morning feeling REALLY good. I felt like someone had taken a pin to my abdomen in the night. I hadn’t realized how bloated I’ve been! Did the bloating come back on Saturday morning when I ate a bowl of Vanilla Chex? YES.

So now I have two reasons for cutting seriously back on sugar:
1) Health
2) Vanity

Vanity will motivate me more than Health, I am sorry to say.
To spur on my motivation, I suggested to my friend that we take pictures of our food and send it to each other.
I’m posting it here to continue my motivation because today I’m hankering for more chocolate.
I’m also hoping you’ll chime in with tips, recipes or motivational memes.

I’ve been working on doing health-related things every day: scriptures, prayer, some kind of cleansing (oil pulling, apple cider vinegar shots, lemon water…), meditation, walking.
Breakfast is usually oatmeal (my favorite) topped with blueberries, almonds, brown sugar and milk. Yesterday I popped a big batch of Amaranth. I add a little sugar, cinnamon, craisins and almonds. It’s filling and so good!
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Lunch and dinner at our house sometimes look the same, so I’m just grouping them together:
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My friend tipped me off on a sweet but healthy snack idea that I’ve used a few times. It’s like a sugar patch for sugar addicts. It’s still full of sugar, but it isn’t a chocolate bar.
So YAY for progress!
Vanilla Greek Yogurt with frozen fruit. Last week, I paired it with “Into the Woods.” It got me through that awful Wednesday -The Hump Day of Spring Break when the kids were at each other’s throats and my wallet was nearly empty from the bribes I’d had to make good on.
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Movie rentals were just one of those bribes.
Friday morning, I caught Alice running through the house wearing nothing but a beanie, singing, “Inna da woods! Inna da woods!”

Now I’ve got her singing Kundalini Yoga songs, and it’s pretty much the most adorable thing I’ve seen since she ran around in nothing but her tiny pink boots.
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Kundalini Yoga is going to the next thing I try to add to my physical healing.
Alice has been running about the house with her pointed fingers bouncing, “I am happy! I am happy!”

Appy-hay.
Eriously-say.

In Honor Of Spring Break

My kids hate each other.
They really, really do.

I wonder why hospitals don’t give out referee shirts to every New Mother of a Second Child.
“Congrats, Mama -here’s your complimentary ref shirt. Don’t lose it for the next 40 years.”

It’s Spring Break and my kids are at each other’s throats. It is ONLY WEDNESDAY.
“Mom, Lacy is taking the stickers and not sharing. SHE IS BEING HITLER!”
“I’ve been cleaning my butt off while Trent is SITTING ON HIS.”
And the baby? She’s just out to get us all. No mercy.

These times -these desperate times -call for funny distractions. The day after I miscarried my first pregnancy, my husband had double hernia surgery. As we lied in bed next to each other in our tiny studio apartment, we were overwhelmed with pain.
Danny had drugs.
I had oreos.

As necessary as the pain felt, we also felt like we needed a distraction for a few minutes to help put a little time between the hospital visits and the now. And that’s how we came to rent “Fun With Dick & Jane.”
We laughed so hard we had to shut it off. Something about Danny’s stitches…

After Trenton was born, and I was in a hospital bed with a painful infection and no new baby to comfort me (no babies allowed in infectious hospital wings, apparently) Danny and I watched “The Big Bang Theory.”

Sometimes I just need a distraction laugh. I think it produces some kind of anti-depressant chemical in my brain. That’s scientifically proven somewhere, right?
So I bring you a few things making me laugh right now -because I’ve been looking them up ALL MORNING:

That’s my best friend Tia and her daughter, Illa. Alice asks for this video at least once a day, and I’m happy to watch it again and again because it helps me less alone in the world.
I feel crawled on a lot.
Probably because I am.

I watched this a few times:

Boys…

Speaking of Boys:

May your day be Hitler-less.
May I make it through Spring Break without a straight jacket.