Thursday, September 27, 2012


Do you ever look back on something that you once saw as a difficulty, an impediment, only to realize that it was probably a stroke of mercy?

Yesterday, one of my visiting teachers came over.  Her companion wasn't able to make it, so she brought her 91-year-old mom with her, a slight woman with a bright smile and the most spectacularly blue eyes I've ever seen.  As I watched them make their way to the car, this sister pointing out the small step down directly out our front door, and then shadowing her mother closely across the sidewalk, much as a parent would with a newly-walking toddler, I thought of my grandma.  She would've been 96 if she were alive.

When she was near the end and failing rapidly, my mom and my aunt and my sister were each taking turns spending a day or two or week at her house, helping her to care for herself so that she could remain in her own home.  I was 1500 miles away, unable to be of any real assistance at all.  I felt helpless, and guilty that I was not there to care for this woman who gave so much loving, patient attention, so many years of it, to caring for me.  When my mom went to work, my brother and I weren't shuttled to day care;  we spent our days with Grandma.  We spent many of our nights with her, too: when we were very young, she'd have us both snuggle up with her in her little full-size bed and she would turn on her little bedroom TV.  Yes, we'd watch TV--in bed!!  I remember begging my mom to let us stay the night at her house--I don't remember ever feeling that there was any real threat of being denied that opportunity, but we really loved being there.  We loved being with her.  I felt awful that I was denied this opportunity to return a bit of the service she had always happily extended to me.

I was talking to my sister about it a few months ago, and she said that the experience changed her perspective on caring for aging loved ones at home.  She had been the last one to stay with Grandma, and had gone in optimistically--and still treasures having had that time--thinking, "Oh, this will be great, spending time with my Grandma and my baby" (her oldest was a very young infant at the time).  After a couple of days, she realized she couldn't do it, and told my mom as much.  She realized, in the midst of helping Grandma get dressed and fed and to and from the bathroom, she wasn't ready for the the role reversal.  Emotionally, she wasn't prepared to be the one being the primary caregiver for this woman who had, in our lifetimes, always been a pridefully independent woman and powerful matriarch.  Having just gotten married and had her first baby, my sister suddenly realized that while she was very much an adult, she didn't feel like one, or at least feel ready to be one.  She helped Grandma clean herself up, both of them trying to be good-natured about it and pretend it wasn't a big deal.  But it was a big deal--part of her was still unready for this transition in life, and the coming loss implicit in it.  Emotionally, the reaction of "No! You're supposed to take care of me!" was still there.  Not in a selfish, I-don't-want-to-help kind of way, simply in a life-got-too-real-too-fast kind of way.

I wasn't ready for that.  I've always known that, but I was finally able to fully admit it to myself without guilt.  I was suddenly very grateful that, though I would've loved to seen my Grandma one more time when she was still present enough for a real conversation, the circumstances in my life at the time kept me far away.  I was only 20 and, though I'd faced other losses, other deaths, this was the first time death had hit me so hard--this woman had been one of my primary caregivers for nearly all of my life at that point.  I was able to make it home to say good-bye, and she was able to respond enough that I knew that she knew I was there, that I had come home to her.  That was enough.  For all that came in those difficult months before those moments, I was not yet ready.  I trust that she knows and understands that, too.

And as I watched Sister Hogge help her elderly mother to the car yesterday, I realized that I'm still not ready.  I think I would be with my Grandma--if my uncle were not able to provide the kind of support he has, having my other Grandma live in his home this last year, I would be perfectly capable of providing plenty of emotional and physical support.  It would have its toll, but I could and would be happy to do it.  But not for my mom.  Not yet.  I am a long ways from that, and I was suddenly very grateful that, though I try not to take anything for granted, I am probably decades from having to worry about it.  My mom is only 60 and is in excellent health.  Because while I have been a mom for nearly a decade now and have four little people I am responsible for and am grateful to be an adult in charge of my own life, I still need my mom.  I still rely on her for so much, and I am so tremendously grateful that she is such a strong and reliable person.  Her personal discipline and tremendous love and generosity are such a boon to my little family.  So many people in life lack that, and I am grateful that I have that kind of mom, and while I try hard to be a good daughter and to serve her and be as generous as my means allow, I'm grateful that it will likely be a good long while before I need to worry about taking care of her the way she has cared for me.  My mother has never hampered my independence, in fact has always been marvelous about nurturing it.  But she has never hesitated to be "the mom" when a mom was what I needed, no matter my age.  Her mother did the same for her, so I'm confident that I'll get there and will be able to serve her the way that she served her mother.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


We've had a good morning around here.  Had some yummy breakfast, ran Doug's cell phone to work (I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes and heard Sons of the San Joaquin all of a sudden, and turned to find Keira holding Doug's iPhone and dancing), played Operation (Keira is annoyed by the tweezers, and her fingers are small enough that she's actually able to retrieve a few things with them), played Go Fish (Kylie is starting to get her numerals down pretty well),  and had a visit from my new visiting teachers.

Sister Hogge asked why I left Relief Society on Sunday, and, motioning to Keira, said, "Was she sick?"  I explained that there had been no Nursery leader there, so Keira had already gone to Sunday School with me and was getting wiggly and noisy, so I took her out.  Then I told her that since the nursery was empty, I took Keira up there and sat there with her myself.  We played with puppets (did you know that ducks growl and bark?!), drove some cars, and she made it clear when it was time for snack. She made sure I got a paper towel to put her snack on, and bossily showed me where to put her chair.  When I picked up the Nursery lesson manual, she saw it and sat down and folded her arms, ready for a lesson.

As I was telling this story, I remembered a thought that was shared at Enrichment several months back, that some of our best (and most important) parenting happens during life's interruptions.  I love having a toddler who loves to go to Nursery, so that I can enjoy Relief Society and Sunday School in peace.  If the nursery leader had been there, or if Keira had been quietly sitting still in Relief Society, I never would've spent that delightful hour in the nursery with her.

Because she's the youngest of four, I don't spent a lot of time with just Keira.  And a lot of my scheduling and organizing revolves around trying to meet the needs of my older children and their schedules.  So my plan was interrupted, and I had this hour to focus my attention entirely on my 18-month-old, on her funny, delightful self.  I had almost forgotten how very much fun it is to hang out with a small toddler.

Raising a house full of children in busy, challenging work, and I really feel that some good structure, scheduling and organizing is important, both to teach certain lessons and to keep everyone (especially mom) sane.  But often with lots of children and all the ups and downs of life, things don't go according to plan.  Life gets interrupted here and there, and when it does we can choose to be frustrated or flustered or overwhelmed, or we can embrace the opportunities that those interruptions so often present us with, whether our kids are 2 or 25.

My mom has, in my memory, always been quite good at embracing life's interruptions.  When I was about Kylie's age, my dad was trying to get some work done around the house (home-improvement type projects) and, like most dads, my dad had a hard time both focusing on the work and being patient with lots of very unhelpful little hands and feet.  So mom loaded us up and treated us to a night in an inexpensive hotel in Missoula.  I still remember how delighted Michael and I were about that little trip.  About 20 year later, I was in Utah for an in-law's wedding, and I really wanted to see my mom, but couldn't afford the gas money or the time to drive one more day north to visit.  She was chaperoning a youth conference in Kalispel, and had about two days at home before she had to drive to a professional conference in Helena.  She took those days, and drove 8 hours down to Bountiful to meet me at my aunt's house, and spent the evening and most of the next day with my kids and I, before taking off and driving 9 or 10 hours to her next conference.  I'm always delighted to have an opportunity to see my mom, but I'd had a very difficult and stressful week, and just her presence put me more at ease, and the sacrifice in both time and money she had made to make that very quick trip made me feel so very loved at a moment when I really needed it.

We can, and ought to, plan and schedule a lot of our lives--organize, budget, prioritize--but when your kids spills a cup of juice down the front of their shirt just before you get in the car, don't yell and curse about how you're going to be late.  Teach your kids that accidents happen but don't have to derail us, as you patiently help them change their clothes--you're going to be late either way, so what does the patience cost? When you've got a thousand things to do, but your two-year-old will just not put down that book and leave you alone, take the 5 minutes to read the book.  What have you really lost?  More importantly, in embracing the interruption, what have you gained?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Choosing Hope

Talk given in Sacrament Meeting in Anaconda 9/23/12

We weren’t assigned a particular topic when we were asked to speak, which usually frustrates me because it can feel like having to settle on a topic doubles the workload, but this time an idea came to me quickly, and after listening to the talk last week about being of good cheer in a world of troubles, and the Sunday School lesson on the difficulties faced by both the Nephites and Lamanites during the time of Gadianton and his gangs, and watching the course of world events the last few weeks, I felt that my topic had been confirmed.  That topic is choosing hope.

Even if we should know better, I think that too often, too many of us behave as though hope is some external force over which we have little control. Either its there or its not, but that has little to do with us.  In truth, being hopeful—much like being faithful or being charitable—is a choice that we make.  The world will go through periods or great wickedness, our individual lives will go through times of terrible trial and tribulation, but because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His Gospel, there is always hope.  We need only to seek it out.   Corrie tenBoom, a victim of WWII concentration camps, once said, “When a train goes into a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off.  You sit still and trust the engineer.”

With that thought in mind, I’d like to address three primary types of circumstances that can be an obstacle to choosing hope.  The first is personal trials and the wickedness and instability of the world around us.  The past few weeks, any time you open an internet browser or turn on a TV, it is nearly impossible to avoid images of US embassies under attack, and angry people rioting in the streets, as innocent people are injured and killed.  It is easy to find all around the world examples of wicked people oppressing their brothers and sisters for the sake of their own vanity or power—just as Lucifer did--and there is no shortage of those who revile against good and persecute those who strive to live and share truth.

It often seems like the world is getting worse, and in fact that may be the case. In the scriptures, we find that the prophets saw that in the last dispensation things get uglier and more evil pretty steadily until the end.  We read of wars and rumors of wars, which we see today everywhere.  We read of famines and pestilences, and we see photos of starving and diseased children.  We read of secret combinations and corruption in high places, and one need only spend about 10 minutes on the internet to find all sorts of rumors and theories about such wickedness all over the world.  It would be easy to see all this and conclude that there is no hope for the future. 

But in the Book of Mormon, we read about similar times.  There were secret combinations which committed murders openly, stirred the people up to war against each other; there were many who persecuted the righteous and would not hear the truth.  But there were also those who spoke up and declared the word of God with passion and conviction—those were they who had faith to hope.  They knew that all this worldly misery culminated, just as it will in our dispensation, with the coming of the Lord.  If we can look forward with hope, we remember that the world will be cleansed, that no good act and no testimony are ever wasted and we will see the Savior with our own eyes.  Satan will be bound, and all things that torment us will be washed away. 

In the meantime, we act on hope by being obedient to the prophet so that we are prepared—we get our food storage and our 72 hour kits ready so that we are not afraid of the things we can’t control, and we get out of and stay out of debt so that we have the means to prepare, and so that others, who may not have our best interest at heart, do not have control over our lives.  And most importantly, we build hope through charity, the pure love of Christ.  To be kind, to be thoughtful, to be generous and self-sacrificing, is to build hope for ourselves and for others.  We both demonstrate and increase hope by focusing not on the bad we cannot control, but on the good that we can do.  As we do good, we will also be more readily able to recognize good in those around us, thus increasing our hope.  For all its wickedness, the world is still full of good and decent people.  We cannot let them be lost in the tumult and chaos of worldly trouble because we lack the hope and faith to speak up for the truth.  One of the best evidences of hope is a missionary spirit.

Charity is also the best antidote to the despair that can sneak up on us in times of personal trial.  Whether its illness, financial trouble, the loss of a loved one and the grief that follows, physical challenges, or any of the hosts of other trials that find us in life, sometimes our burdens simply seem too heavy, and unending.  If we are focused on serving others, and helping to shoulder their load, somehow ours feels lighter.  That’s because when two hearts come together in genuine charity, the Savior is there in their midst, carrying the burdens of all.  Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  When the Savior went through the ultimate trial of the Atonement, bearing our burdens, suffering alone in Gesthamane when all of his closest friends had either betrayed him or fallen asleep,  Luke writes that “being in agony, he prayed more  earnestly . . .“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me”, he said.  The Savior knows better than anyone the weight of pain and sorrow, and what it feels like to want any other way out.  But he continued, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.”  He said this not in defeated resignation, but in hopeful obedience.  He said it with a trust in a loving Father that he knew was there, trusting that if he could press on through the pain with a love for his brethren, as his father had asked, that it would lead to brighter things ahead.  And its important for us to remember that his father, though requiring this sacrifice of his child, did not leave him comfortless: he sent an angel from heaven to strengthen him.  He has promised to do the same for us in our darkest hours of need.  And because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can always call upon one who has felt all things for comfort and guidance.  As he told his apostles, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.”  When troubles and trials weigh you down, follow Elder Holland’s counsel: “Don’t give up.  Don’t you quit.  You keep walking.  You keep trying.  There is help and happiness ahead. . .You keep your chin up.  It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”  In other words, be hopeful.

One of the most significant challenges to choosing hope in mortality are the “prodigal sons” in our lives—whether it is a wandering child, a wayward sibling, a faltering parent or some other loved one that has wandered far from the fold of God.  We see the darkened nature of their countenances, the lost look in their eyes, see their deafness to the Spirit and feel that there is little hope of reclaiming them.  But no matter how far beyond our reach they may seem, they are not beyond the reach of the Lord.  He has ways of touching the hardest of hearts that we can never guess at in advance.  Often he is conspiring for the good of these wandering children—His children—in ways that we cannot yet see.  We must show our faith by continuing to hope for them, and we do that by praying for them, fasting for them and serving them. 

We must strive to not allow ourselves to manifest our anxiety over their welfare as anger.  It is difficult for the most spiritually attuned among us to feel that someone loves us when they are angry—how much more important must it be then, to make sure our love is clearly manifest to the hard-hearted or spiritually weakened?  We are sometimes required to speak boldly, but anger and boldness are not the same thing.  As Paul told the Romans, “through patience and the comfort of the scriptures, [we] might have hope”.  We ought to go to the scriptures often to be reminded of the depth of Lord’s mercy—to read of the Plan of Salvation and remember how many opportunities the Lord extends to us for repentance, and how powerful and encompassing His Atonement is.  No matter how egregious the sins, no matter how deep the hole that that wandering soul has dug, unless the Lord himself declares them beyond reach, we have the duty to choose hope for them.  In the scriptures, we have the marvelous example of Nephi, who responded to his wayward, and often mendacious, brothers with patience, forgiveness, and service.  He shows us clearly how we ought to deal with the wayward souls in our lives, even if they are less than kind to us in return.

And lastly I’d like to address the biggest obstacle of all to hope: our own failings and sins, which separate us from the light and love of Christ.  It is all too easy to make bad choices.  Hope and joy are eternal and constant, they never go away, we simply lose sight of them.  Those mists of darkness start pressing down on us and we let first one hand and then the other slip off the iron rod.  Before we know it, and not entirely sure how it happened, we find ourselves wandering off in strange paths, groping desperately in the dark, unable to see the rod and starting to doubt its even there anymore--starting to think that perhaps the memories of ever grasping it are an illusion, becoming more and more certain that we can never find our way back, if there's even a "back" to find our way to.   And sometimes we can't do it on our own.  We've wandered too far away to reach the rod ourselves, too far out of sight to find it on our own.  So He sends us help, someone to be His arms.  Ones who love us, ones who may be terribly flawed themselves, perhaps sometimes impatient or inexperienced, or just not who or what we’d prefer, but  ones whose hands still firmly grasp the rod.  They stretch out a hand to take us and help guide us back, to witness to us that the rod, with all its hope and joy, is still there,  and to hold onto us until we are ready to grasp it again ourselves.  So we must take the hand that is offered to us, because a call to repentance is an act of love.  Men are that they might have joy.  We cannot have joy if we don’t have hope.  In times when you feel the road of repentance is too hard to walk, remember these words from Elder Holland:  “However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made, or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love.  It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite love of Christ’s Atonement shines.” 

Because of the Savior’s love for us, there is always hope for each of us and each of those that we love.  Moroni asked, “And what is it that ye shall hope for?  Behold, I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the Atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.  Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.”  Faith feeds hope and hope feeds faith.

One of my very favorite scripture in in the 6th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, where the Lord instructs: “Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”  No matter what we face in this world, we have the strength and protection of the King of Heaven and Earth.  We can have hope in all things, because we know, for all the chaos and evil in the world, which is the winning team.  As long as we strive to be faithful and obedient to the Lord and the covenants we have made with him, we will come off conquerors through Christ who loves us.  If we endure it well, he will exalt us on high.  What better reason for hope could there possibly be than that?

The Lord bore the weight of our sins and felt the pains of our bodies and spirits so that he could comfort us temporally and save and exalt us eternally.  In knowing that, we ought to be able, as Nephi said, to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men”.  Hope is born of divine love.  We don’t need to be among those whose hearts will fail them in the last days, because the Lord has told us, “Be of a good courage and I will strengthen your hearts, all ye that hope in the Lord.”

I bear you my testimony that the Lord’s love for us is deep and unconditional, and his Atonement and attendant mercy are of greater depth than we can understand.  I don’t know how the Lord did what he did, but I do know that because He did what he did, I can always look forward with hope, look forward to those little rays of light  from day to day growing brighter and brighter until that perfect day when everything is illuminated and I am able to look upon his face and hear his voice.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Ok, so we have a great old antique stove in our rental house here, and I've been falling in love with it (and after using an electric range for the last 10 months, after 8 years of having gas ranges, I'd love to never have electric again).  So I started looking at antique ranges.

And I decided that someday I really need this.  Seriously, check it out.  And then imagine the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals you could make with it.  I'm quite fond of cooking when I'm not surrounded by cranky short people, so maybe by the time I could afford a gem like this, I'd actually use all the different parts of it regularly.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Busy days. . .

Of the last five days, I've been sick three of them and Doug's had late meetings three nights, and the one night I wasn't sick I took all the kids to a birthday party.

But the kids had real dinners every night except for once, when sandwiches sufficed.  The house is clean, the dishes are done, my talk for Sacrament Meeting tomorrow is written, I got the grocery shopping done and last night we got our family night treat made and watched a movie together.  This morning Doug's off at a ward service project (I followed the stomach bug with a head cold, so with the chipped tooth I sort of come off like a slow, mouth-breathing hick;  that and the kids makes me sort of worthless at chopping and stacking wood and painting and repairing fencing).  So I'm calling the week a success, even though it didn't feel that way at times.

This coming week, we have an Activity Girls day for Keilana (during which one of Dylan's friends and one of Kylie's friends will be hanging out at our house), two late meetings plus one evening excursion for Doug, a trip to Hearst Library to get the kids and I library cards (we really need some fresh books around here!), getting our doggie spayed, and then probably heading to Deer Lodge on Saturday for Clark Fork River days, before I drop every one else at home and drive to Butte for the General Relief Society Broadcast.

Life is full.  Now if I could just get some furniture to fill up the house, I'd be all set.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wasting Time

I hate being sick.  Like most people, I hate being in pain.  But I also hate watching things go undone because the spirit is willing, but the flesh is literally too weak to do all the things that need being done.

I got sick Monday night, and got very little sleep and was miserable most of the day Tuesday.  By Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling better, and was actually able to eat dinner Tuesday night and felt fine all day yesterday.  Right until bed that is.  Then suddenly the stupid bug came back with a vengeance.  I got almost no sleep, laying on the bathroom floor all night because going back and forth to bed was too much work.  So I have a backyard that's about half as far as I wanted it to be by now (its really not a back yard yet), floors that need mopping, laundry that needs folding, and little girls who have been "plugged in" all day.  Seriously--we went to a birthday party last night, so everyone got to bed late, and Kylie has spent almost the whole day curled up in a chair with the iPad and Netflix.  Grrr.

But, being miserably sick always makes me appreciate the Atonement more.  Because as miserable as I've been, I've spent most of the last couple of days thinking of a very dear friend of mine who has spent the last couple years suffering with an as-yet-undiagnosed stomach ailment that means she is nauseous and miserable nearly any time she eats, but tired and shaky and weak if she doesn't eat.  She has five kids, including a high-demand special needs daughter, and a husband who often works 70-80 hours a week.  Trying to deal with just my two littlest girls most of the time for just two days of this sort of misery has helped me to better understand what she must go through, and increased my love and admiration for her.  As much as I love her, I wouldn't choose to feel this way just to understand her pain.  The Savior did.  And I'm increasingly grateful for that--somehow knowing that you're not truly alone in your misery, that there is someone who understands exactly how you feel, makes the misery just a little less miserable.

Friday, September 14, 2012

When Little Ones Hurt

The last two weeks, Keilana has made a lot of new friends, but has talked the most about one in particular.  They have the same birthday, as luck would have it, and have been calling each other "twin sissies", even convincing another girl that they really were sisters.

That little girl ended up leaving school early this morning after learning that her mom had died in a car accident last night.  I can only imagine how terribly broken her little heart must be.  If my mom had died when I was 8, I would've been nearly certain that the world had ended.  I want to do something for her, but what?

I thought of my Grandma's reaction, not long after her daughter was killed, to my sister-in-law, who had gone to Grandma's house and busied herself cleaning and ordering and cooking, and finally asking, "Can I do anything else?"  Grandma responded, "You can bring Laura back."  Acknowledging at once that nobody could do anything--it was unfixable--but that she loved you for wanting to.

Some things that happen in our lives cannot be fixed, we just have to do our best to find a new normal. Easier said than done. Especially when you're only 8.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


July 28, 2012

Ok, so this is a little late.  Between all the moving mayhem, and only having a computer on the weekends and then finally having the computer but not having internet, its taken a while to get to this.

Keilana got baptized this summer! She turned 8 in early June, but we waited until some of our California/Utah family could come up before we did the baptism.  So we gathered on the last weekend of July to watch our oldest take this first but oh-so-important step in her Gospel progression.  She was baptized by Doug (in case you couldn't tell from the photo there:) ), with Paul Tanner and my dad serving as the witnesses.  Chuck conducted the service, with Mom and Gwen saying the opening and closing prayers.  Rachel gave a talk on baptism, Katy gave a talk on the Spirit, and Jen and Keilana sang a duet of "Love One Another" in Spanish.  She was confirmed a member of the Church and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost by Doug, with Chuck, Paul and Dad standing in.

She was very excited about her baptism.  In the doctrine of our church, 8 years old is considered the "age of accountability", where children are old enough to, at a basic level at least, understand right and wrong and the consequences of their actions, and understand and agree to this covenant.  In that covenant, the individual being baptized promises that they will keep the commandments of the Lord, especially in caring for those around them as fellow children of God, and that they will take Christ's name upon them--promising to stand as His witness "at all times and in all things and in all places that [they] may be in", and in return the Lord promises to wash away all their sins and give them the gift of His spirit to be with them always.  A simple ordinance is performed wherein a worthy Priesthood holder, holding at least the office of a priest, baptizes her by that authority, burying her entirely in the water and then lifting her back out--symbolizing the death of the old self, and being made alive again in Christ, through his Atonement and Resurrection.  Then she is confirmed a member by a worthy Priesthood holder, holding at least the office of an elder, and is given the gift of the Holy Ghost to be her constant companion, for guidance, comfort and safety, so long as she lives worthy of that gift.

She was ready.  She understands what she promised the Savior, and she understands that in return, no mistake she ever makes need be permanent.  We have talked about the opportunity to repent everyday (who among us has ever had an entirely perfect day?), and to renew that covenant and be made entirely clean again each week by partaking of the Sacrament, those sacred symbols of the Savior's body and blood which were spent on our behalf. 

It has been a delight to watch our oldest grow and learn, as she nearly constantly overflows with excitement for life.  I put together a little video to watch with the family after her baptism, photos of our little Bug set to music, and one of the songs I used was Martina McBride's "She's A Butterfly".  Its one of Keilana's favorite songs and the chorus says, "And everywhere she goes/everybody knows/she's so glad to be alive", which captures our Keilana well.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "She's so happy and fun!" or "She always greets me with the biggest smile!" and many other things of that nature.  She's many things, but some of my favorite things about her are her happy energy and her desire for everyone to feel loved.  I've never known her to intentionally hurt anyone's feelings, except for maybe her little brother (and, let's be honest, its usually a teensy bit deserved when she does it to him).  She's a generous and attentive big sister most of the time, and an enthusiastic and adventurous friend.

She's a good helper to me in our home.  She very consistently reminds me to do our family scripture study, she offers sincere prayers at meals and before bed, she loves to talk about and share the things she learns in Primary and at school.  She loves to be around people, always, no matter the day, time or occasion.

In short, she loves to love and be loved, and she loves to learn, so I think she's going to be just fine in the long run.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go

I was born, by God's dear grace,
in an extra-ordinary place

I suppose most people feel that way about their home, wherever it may be in the world.  I happen to think its true about my place in the world not only because of how much I love it, but by how often "outsiders" are seduced by its beauty.  At this point, my family is pretty firmly rooted there.

Except me.  I moved more than 3000 miles away a few months after I turned 18.  I spent a couple of years on the island of Oahu, a couple of years on the beautiful coast of central California, and a little over five years in the wide, flat, fruitful San Joaquin Valley. Those are all pretty awesome places, to be sure.  But they're all a teensy bit less awesome than the Mission Valley, nestled in the mountains of western Montana.  In all those years, getting to know and falling in love with other places, letting them become "my place" to various degrees, the longing for the first place, the place that had such a huge role in shaping me into the person I am, never entirely went away.  The desire for my children to know it in even a small degree the way that I did never went away.

I was grateful that the trials of the past couple years allowed me the opportunity to be in that place again, and to share it with these little people I love so much.  We had to leave again.  But this time, not so far, to a place not altogether unfamiliar or dissimilar. I'm grateful for that, too.

I used to view people who "went wherever the wind blows" them as a bit flaky, unappreciative and selfish.   I like to explore--I love going new places and experiencing new things--but I always was keenly aware of the advantages of having a firm home base, a place one returns to and makes a life, connected to others in that place in meaningful ways--especially for children.  Taking pride in not being firmly rooted anywhere seems foolish to me.

At the same time, I have seen the danger in being so dedicated to a place, one is unwilling to leave it, even when one should.  Lot's wife would be the ultimate example, I suppose, but there are less dramatic  examples in abundance.  And maybe its not that one must leave a place because its a bad place, but simply because the Lord needs you somewhere else.

As we have hopped from Hawaii to San Luis to Lindsay to Mission to Anaconda, I have felt very much that we have been doing the right thing, that we have been where we are supposed to be, in the best possible places for us at that time in our lives, as much as I would love to have one place that we can just buy a house, near family, and stay put.  I am often resistant to change, and it hasn't always been easy for me to make the jumps.  The first night in Lindsay, we stopped at the store late at night and I stayed in the car with the sleeping kids and started to cry a little because I just kept thinking to myself "What am I doing here? I don't want to be here." (Admittedly, the crying probably had as much to do with the fact that I had a six-week-old baby and was tired and hormonal, but still).  The place was new to me (and at that point still looked pretty rough), I didn't know anyone, and I was a long, long ways from "my" place and "my" people.  But I adjusted my attitude, because I was confident that we were where the Lord wanted us, so I was determined to be happy about it.  Five and half years later, leaving that place and the people there was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

Had I not been willing to go where the Lord directed us, I never would've known the joy of being in that particular place at that particular time with that particular group of people, where I learned more in five years than I ever thought possible.  I was able to be part of something special and unique, to see all kinds of miracles large and small.  I will always be grateful to my Heavenly Father for leading us to that place.

And as I thought about that, it occurred to me that the only reason I was able to grow up firmly rooted in such a beautiful place was that I had ancestors who were willing to go when the Lord required it.  I have great-great grandparents who left their home countries and crossed oceans in order to follow the Lord's will.  I have great-great grandparents who crossed cold, uncivilized plains, build houses and settle down only to leave their at-long-last-established homes to settle once again in a new country.  When ultimately expelled from that country due to internal violence, they gradually made their way north, to settle in the beautiful Mission Valley with their families, building homes and ranches and business and a previously non-existant ward.

I have been so abundantly blessed by the cheerful willingness with which my forbears said to the Lord, "I'll go where you want me to go".  I can only hope that my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be half as blessed if I can say it with as much cheerfulness myself.  For now, I will be content to feel the peaceful confidence of confirmation that we are where we are supposed to be right now.