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.

Go, Bring Them In

My anxiety has come in surges throughout my life.

Thanks to therapy,  12-step work and a greater understanding of God’s will and ways… I can at least see that my anxiety is ANXIETY and not truth.

I’m picking at my skin unconsciously.  My dreams are restless and filled with various versions of my worst fears: getting in a car accident and then going unseen by everyone and wondering IF I’M ALLOWED TO NEED MEDICAL ATTENTION.  I try to take a nap and my mind fills with worries… what if the baby goes outside? What if she gets into the cow trough?  She will die.  Where is the baby?  Is the baby dead?  What was that noise?  Did someone cough?  IS IT EBOLA?!?!

I focus on my dailies.

Pray, scriptures, self-care, healthy breakfast, lemon water

My anxiety goes through the roof if I lose focus which tends to happen.

Yesterday, I didn’t take care of myself at all.  I think I did one daily.  My day was really busy and full, and sometimes that happens.  I decided to make today a “make up” day.  I made sure to ALL of my dailies in the morning.  I spent time on my body today: bath, face scrub… I went for a picnic with my kids, bathed my baby.  I ate healthy food (and some not so healthy).

This morning on my walk, I listened to President Monson’s last conference talk -Ponder the Path of Thy Feet.

As I listened to him talk about the Savior’s example, I wondered at the phrasing used in the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

So often as members, we are called on to “Rescue.”

Rescue.

The Savior didn’t call on us to SAVE but to rescue, to find.

I listened to the last half of his talk twice and wondered some more.

What IS the difference between rescuing and saving?  I know there are very important differences, but I felt some urgency to define exactly what they are for me right now.

I thought of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, and I thought of Brigham Young’s urgent call to rescue the saints crossing the snowy plains.

I asked friends and family.

I came across this quote on the LDS Church’s Facebook Page:

“I think that being courageous for someone else would be standing up for
others who can’t stand up for themselves, protecting those who can’t
protect themselves, and truly putting it into heart and mind and action
of loving your neighbor. And I think doing that is as courageous as you
can get when you’re doing it for others.” —Kurt

As I thought about it, I realized that what Kurt was saying went in line with what I was pondering… rescuing someone else is doing for them what they can’t do for themselves.  Others agreed with this line of thinking, and it is true.  It is.

But it still felt murky.

I realized after some reading an old Ensign article that the difference between rescuing and saving has NOTHING to do with the external circumstances and EVERYTHING to do with internal motivation.

In short, to rescue someone is a charitable act on the Savior’s part while saving someone is a frantic, fear-based act on our own part.

I found this truth for myself -not because someone told me or I watched it play out in history or anything smart like that. I learned it Alicia Style, which is, as always, THE HARD WAY.
Being married to someone with an addiction has really unveiled my weaknesses in a harsh way. One of my greatest weaknesses was recognizing Christ but taking his role on myself.
I honestly believed I had the capabilities required to save someone else.

Saving:

When I tried to save Danny, I truly thought I was being charitable, but if I were ever questioned about WHY I was doing what I was doing (making suggestions, leaving articles out, snooping, FOREVER TRYING TO GET HIM TO SEE the truth), I guarantee the FIRST words out of my mouth would have been, “Because I’m afraid ____________________”

He’ll lose his soul.
Our marriage covenant will be for naught.
He’ll cheat.
He’ll mess up our children.
He’ll hurt me.
We will get divorced.

And so I tried to save Danny, save myself, save my kids, save the world!

This did NOTHING for my anxiety, by the way. When I try to save, I am -in very fact -attempting to do for others what they are capable of doing for themselves.

My Saving Prayers were so specific.  I asked God for SPECIFICS of what I WANTED.

“Please help Danny SEE what he’s doing.  Please help him to feel the Spirit.  Please make sure Danny comes with me to church because IT’S SO HARD GOING ALONE.”

When I save, we do things MY way.

Rescuing:

When I try to engage in the act of rescuing, I find myself wearing anti-porn garb.  I share educational articles WHEN PROMPTED and not when I’m in a panic over the fact that most church members are unaware of the devastating severity of pornography, the far-reaching effects of lust.  Rescuing is raising awareness, it’s speaking out.  Rescuing is taking meals to sick people, donating clothing where it’s needed.  Rescuing is done most effectively when I’ve taken care of myself properly… when I’m fed right and my mind is calm and my thoughts are clear.  Rescuing is having a mind clear enough to hear God whisper the name of a sister in my ear.  It’s being able to hear God prompt me in my Next Right Thing.  Sometimes the Next Right Thing is standing up for my child.  Sometimes The Next Right Thing is resting up.  Sometimes the next right thing is sending out a loving text.  Sometimes it’s opening my door in the middle of the night to someone who needs a sitter on their way to the ER.  Sometimes it’s flowers.  Sometimes -oftentimes -it’s an earnest, heartfelt prayer.

Rescuing is “first observe, then serve.”

Rescuing is the verb form of charity. Rescuing is doing for others what they cannot do for themselves -therefore God calls on those who CAN DO… TO DO.

Tears come to my eyes as I think of the bloody, cold pioneers trapped on the plains… what they must have felt when they saw their rescuers rushing toward them!  So often I’ve seen a figurative version of that scene play out in my own mind:

My family crumpled together, alone and shivering and ready to give up.

The prayers of our friends and loved ones mounted up on angel’s wings come billowing toward us and I’ll be dammed if our marriage isn’t saved on those prayers alone.

 
(bedard fine art)

So yes -rescuing is praying, “Take care of my loved one, Lord.  Help me accept Thy Will for Them, for Me.  Help me accept Their Free Will.”

When I rescue, I do things GOD’S WAY, and in so doing work as a tool in guiding His children back to Him -The Savior.

I do believe the work being done to combat lust and sex addiction on every hand is a pioneering work.  With every outstretched hand, a victim is given hope.

“Perhaps their suffering seems less dramatic because the handcart
pioneers bore it meekly, praising God, instead of fighting for life with
the ferocity of animals,” wrote historian Wallace Stegner of the
handcart pioneers and their rescue. “But if courage and endurance make a
story, if human kindness and helpfulness and brotherly love in the
midst of raw horror are worth recording, this half-forgotten episode of
Mormon migration is one of the great tales of the West and of America.

 

The road to God -to Zion -is smoother for some.  It’s sunnier and there’s more flowers.  Their trial is not the road.

But mine is.  Would that I had more humility that it might not be so, but my face is Zionward, and I will press on.

I will rescue as I am called on by God to do, and I relinquish to God my own ego-driven, fear-ridden, shame-soaked urgency to save any soul, including my own.

Revisiting Old Friends

A couple of years ago, I convinced my kids that very tiny people lived in trees without leaves… or, as Lacy had taken to calling them, “naked trees.”
I fabricated a story about these tiny -CLOTHED -people who live in the bare trees. Since then, we’ll call out to them during the winter season. We’ll drive by naked trees and call out, “Hi, naked tree people!”
March -the month of blossoms -marks the END of naked tree people season.

This year, my kids begged for another Naked Tree People Picnic, so yesterday we packed the big basket with a blanket and some snacks. Frosting and graham crackers are a must in Farewell to Tree People Ceremonies. 0319151325b
We walked down my Dad’s farm toward the place we’ve claimed as our clubhouse (for our Scientific Artist Club), spread out the blanket and began snacking.
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We examined the tree and found that it was beginning to get pretty green leaves, and we thanked our lucky stars we’d thought to come bid the Naked-Tree People farewell JUST IN TIME.

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(Lacy was seriously concerned.)
The kids looked, just like they do every year, so hard to catch a fleeting glimpse of a Naked-Tree Person, but no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn’t.
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It reminded me of them two years ago, searching, searching…
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“I just want to see ONE, Mom,” Lacy said.
“Then they will lose their magic,” I say, defaulting to the answer I give about Santa, the Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy.
“WHAT Magic?” Trenton asked.
Crap.
I hadn’t given the tree people any magic when I made them up… luckily kids don’t mind vague answers and get distracted easily.

“Time for the ceremony!” I told them.
We circled the trees and chanted gibberish, then gently broke a stick from the Naked Tree and blessed the tree people with protection.
Because they hibernate in the bark during the spring and summer seasons.
Naturally.

We ended our ceremony by leaving some of our food with them.

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Alice didn’t understand what the big deal was, so she kept busy charging up and down the farm road, looking for Grandpa’s cow -the one she’s named, “Honey,” because that’s what she calls cows when they run away from her.
“Honey! Honey! Come BACK!”
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I enjoyed the afternoon warmth and snapped pictures of Trent’s freckles:
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I also listened to Lacy talk about her plans for the Tree People… for about 5 minutes until Alice threw dirt in our eyes.
Saboteur!
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“We need to go home and bring back some fabric.”
“No, Lace. They already HAVE everything they need,” I said, smiling as Trent propped his Captain America shield up so the people could use it as a slide, “They SCAVENGE for what they need and gather it.”
“Wellllll they can GATHER the fabric I leave for them!”
“Lacy, no. We’re not doing that.”
“We did it LAST TIME.”
“Yeah, I know. Because you argued so much about it.”
“Well, I’ll argue again!” She said.

I finally convinced her to let the idea go. We were pretty far from the house and I wasn’t up for another trip.

As we walked home, Alice snuggled into my shoulder (nap time) and Lacy carried the cumbersome basket back home. I noticed her stopping along the way.
“What are you doing?” I asked, thinking she was picking weed-flowers.
“For them to gather,” she explained and showed me the crumbled up caramel rice cakes.
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I followed her home and noticed her quietly crumpling rice cakes in her hands and letting them fall behind her as she walked.
That girl.
She’s going to be the next Clara Barton.

And so goes another year, another Tree People Picnic.
As I walked slowly home, my back aching from inflammation and the toddler against my shoulder, I wondered how much longer I’d have their pure, childlike imaginations for… how much longer they’d beg for tree people picnics and how much longer Trent (who is now TRENT, by the way, because he’s decided it should be so. But I still call him Trenton) will walk a few yards ahead of his mom and sisters to fight the invisible ninjas I’ve convinced him only HE can see.
How many more sincere notes will I get to the Tooth Fairy (“Be careful. It’s a scary world out there. Love, Lacy.”)
How many?

What will I do with older kids?
Am I qualified to parent people who realize how crazy I am?

All I can do it soak up the moments, write them down, and remember to cover my tracks so they’ll keep believing my crap.
If I don’t get rid of those rice cakes before school gets out, THEY’LL KNOW…
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Trenton, after cutting down every last invisible ninja, said to me, “What about rock people? and leaf people?…” he began scheming about them, how they lived and fought and which team he was one (the tree people, of course. He’s a loyal purist).
I see hope in that one and his freckles and his insistence on his name shortening. He’ll do great things with his imagination.
He’s going to be the next, well… the next… Actually, I think he’s going to be the FIRST Trent Deets -and I can’t wait to see how it all pans out.
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Characters and Costumes

I’ve always loved getting dressed up in costumes and pretending to be someone else. I sometimes wonder if I should be concerned that I derive so much pleasure out of escaping from my own present and reality… but then I get distracted by tulle and funny shoes.
Check out this DOUBLE KNIT AMAZINGNESS.
Thrift stores are my very best friends.

Someday when I own a house, I’m going to reserve some space for
1) BOOKS and
2) DRESS UPS

I was asked to take part in our tri-ward Relief Society party by dressing up as Zina Diantha Huntington Young -her name just SOUNDS like a corset tightening. She lived during “The Gay 90’s” so I worked really hard to be authentic and true to that, and I think I REALLY came up with a pretty genius base costume.
0317151831~2So giddy and gay, my wrists almost popped out of their cuffs!

I just HAVE ALL THIS CRAP ON HAND, and I’m starting to believe that my meager closet filled with thrift shop cast-offs is actually a secret Gold Mine of Amazing… like a treasure map hidden in plain sight. I turned a black petticoat inside out, wore my pioneer blouse from the treks I went on as a teenager, tied tulle in the middle to hide the elastic band and added some ribbon with a cool little profile pendant.
And then I sabotaged my daughter’s headband, covering it with all kinds of lace.

But seriously.
I look like
1) Jane Eyre
2) Miss Minchin from “A Little Princess.”
3) Zina Diantha Huntington Young

The next day, I swapped out the inside-out petticoat for a plain green, full skirt… also leftover from my teenage pioneer trek years. I was

4) A pioneer.
I went into the Kindergarten class dressed thus and told the kids I was REALLY a pioneer and that I washed my clothes in the river. I taught them how to make butter in a jar, and they were so impressed with themselves. This morning, I had a text from the mother of one of the Kindergarten boys, “My son really believed you were a pioneer. He wants to make butter now.”
HE BELIEVES. That’s the BEST part about kids. They believe The Things I Tell Them.

“Coltran, here’s your butter. Don’t you feel AWESOME inside?!”
“How did you know my name?”
“I’m a pioneer. I know everything.”
The little girl next to him gasped, “Just like my dad…”

I realize I can also add some zombie make-up and be

5) Dead Jane Eyre
6) Dead Miss Minchin
7) A Dead Polygamist Wife (my brother’s suggestion)

Take away the skirts and add pants?

8) Calamity Jane
9) Annie Oakley

Add zombie make up to THAT?!?

10) Dead Calamity Jane

I think you get the idea. Which is:
my closet is an awesome place to be.

Yesterday, along with playing authentic pioneer and teaching butter making skills to gullible kids, I also went to parent teacher conferences and made meals for my family AND did MOST of the dishes. I was booked.
I didn’t take care of myself at all because apparently eating 2.5 Hershey bars while running around town doesn’t count as BRUNCH. Today I decided to get back on the Taking Care track.
I woke up and drank some Apple Cider Vinegar, diluted. It’s so nasty, but it carries with it a sort of WARRIOR STRONG TASTE. I throw it back in one shot and then pump my fist in the air.
It’s my way of telling the day that I HAVE ARRIVED.
I listened to soul food on my walk (did you see that?! TWO AWESOME THINGS AT ONCE) and then I came home and ate oatmeal with blueberries with oranges on the side.
I am TEARING UP this whole “Taking Care” thing.

Danny asked me, upon seeing the Apple Cider Vinegar on the counter, WHY I drink that NASTY stuff. I told him between deliberate morning-walk-induced huffs about it’s healing, miraculous powers, and he said he wanted a shot.
I went to shake it up because -like a true hard core Apple Cider Vinegaroholic -I buy the ORGANIC STUFF WITH THE DREADED MOTHER.

But in my hard coreness, I forgot that I am the living embodiment of an Anne Shirley/Amelia Bedilia Cocktail and hadn’t replaced the lid.
And in one graceless motion, my entire sink area was covered in stank.

It’s been weeks since Danny laughed that hard.
I went back into my room to change and get ready for work. For my walk, I wore the shirt I announced my pregnancy with Alice with.
Reminder:
babycollage

Before taking the shirt off, I joked with Danny about scribbling the word “weight” under the words. But the joke was on me because as I tried to take the shirt off, it got caught on my glasses.
(so. hot.)
I threw my hands up in surrender.
“I love you,” Danny said.

And he really meant it.
I guess he likes his cocktails a little on the chaotic and nerdy side. I also take this to mean he doesn’t mind a closet half full of The Thrift Shop version of Misfit Toys.

Something Painted

I have a sister, and the longer I have her the more convinced I become that every girl ought to have one sister. Two is too many (*cymbal crash* in honor of “two” v. “too”). One sister is the right amount of sister.

My sister is a lot of things right now. She’s a gorgeous red head with blue eyes.
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She’s a returned missionary with an associate degree, working toward her bachelor degree in education. On scholarship. She’s amazing like that.
She works in the food-ish area at work (like the cafeteria, but better?) and it was there she met another red head with blue eyes.
And now my sister is engaged.
Of ALL the things she is, she’s most excited about this one, I think…
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My brother and his wife (Brushfire Photography) took their pictures.

Julianne is here this week with her fiance. She’s been wedding planning like crazy, and our family has been kind of kicked to life over the whole thing. We are painting and pinning and planning.
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On Tuesday, we decided to get up early and go to the BIG city on Wednesday to wedding dress shop. I arranged a last-minute sitter and off we went just after 6 am!

Mom, Julianne and I spent 14 hours together yesterday. We spent a chunk of time in a very special bridal section at Goodwill and laughed A LOT.
“What’s with all the BOWS?” Julianne kept asking.
“1994” we said.

We met up with our sister in law, Brittany (Brushfire Brittany), and it was awesome. Aside from being a really great person all around, she’s a wedding CHAMP. She had insights and input and questions that we would never have thought of.
We watched Julianne come out in a few beautiful gowns, and then we watched Julianne come out in THE gown. I’m pretty sure my sister is the prettiest bride in the history of brides.
She told us she didn’t really want a veil, but she didn’t tell the dress shop owner, so the dress shop owner put one on her head and that’s when WE ALL LOST IT.

In my mind, Julianne is still 5 or 10 or 15. Seeing a veil draped softly over her pretty peach skin, covering the pretty red hair we all love so much… IT JUST GOT REAL.

Julianne is getting married.

My one sister is getting married for time and eternity.
It’s a good life.

Princess Lessons

I am a rough-edged woman without grace. I stumble over my long legs, oftentimes falling mouth-first upon my foot.

In college, I took a literature class that I adored. The teacher explained formula fiction like this: the books you read in the airport.
Westerns, romances, mysteries.
Formula fiction romances consist of a flawed heroine -her flaws endear her to readers because they relate to flawed human, being one themselves. There’s a one-flawed man who is a romantic combination of gentle and brawny: a violin-playing firefighter, a cowboy with an affinity for culinary arts, a sleek business man with a soft spot for underprivileged children. The heroine is usually formulated to be the perfect cure for the hero’s one flaw. Enter Nicholas Sparks and a troubled piano-playing soldier who bonds with neglected children.

There’s often a villian in the form of another woman, and this other woman is often buxom, sexy, and powerful. She is not perceived as weak…

As I listened to my teacher, I realized in one life-altering moment that in accordance with formula fiction -which I could easily reason is REAL LIFE (*sarcasm sign*) -I WAS A HEROINE.
My perpetual gracelessness is my signature MARK.

My favorite sub-genre in formula fiction is Fairy Tales. I’m such a sucker for imaginary worlds where goodness, with all it’s nobility of heart and glitter of dress, always trumps evil.
I believe, religiously, that I AM ROYALTY. As God is The Great I AM and I am His literal daughter, this makes me Noble. I believe it with all of my heart, and while it brings me immeasurable peace it also unnerves me because

I trip a lot.

I’m not saying that to use my heroine-ness to manipulate you (here’s lookin’ at you, Bella). I seriously trip A LOT. I am Jesus’ SISTER and I TRIP. I say stupid stuff. I burn bacon every time.

I long for a tutor with a feather in his cap to rap his knuckles on my front door and say, “It’s time for princess lessons.” And then we’d spend hours learning important things like manners and posture and how to stop tripping.

On Saturday, I went into the city with a friend and she turned me on to the app “Audiobooks.” I downloaded it, and Sunday afternoon I tucked my earbuds in and decided to take a chance on James Allen.
“The Heavenly Life.”
I walked toward the sunset and listened to his words -every sentence left like a sermon. He told me that I had answers within myself… ALL of the answers. Five minutes into my walk, I realized my posture was pretty darn-near perfect. I was walking taller and I listened to him talk of simplicity of God, my Father, and of love.
I fell quickly in love, realizing how formula fictionish it was that the student should be blushy-cheeked about her teacher. I watched a flock of black birds make their way over the nearby fields and my heart swelled as I listened to James Allen, Tutor, talk about The Open Road.
He told me no one can hurt me without my consent.
He told me what was in my heart.
I spent 30 minutes being instructed, inspired, chided and enraptured.

I came in my house, kicked my shoes up and exhaled.

I didn’t set out on my walk KNOWING I was walking into A Princess Lesson, but I came home feeling just like I had.

As the weariness of Monday begins to set in, I can hear James Allen telling me that I Have Answers Within, that This Life is Not a Beginning and an End but A Small Piece of a Greater Journey.

James Allen also reminded me that as I am, so are you… and I just wanted to log on and invite you to your own Lesson in Nobility.
Google James Allen today and you’ll find a few lessons.
You might also find out that he’s already married and that he died 100 years ago. It will come as a HUGE shock, but you’ll be able to tap into your true center and overcome the grief.
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