7. My favorite Valentine tradition: the annual heart attack! I thought we might be getting too old for this, but we did this again last night and nope, never too old for this activity. Cut out heart, write someone nice for each person in the family, and then read them out loud. By the end, EVERYONE is smiling: Grandpa, Uncle, Dad, teenagers, and pre-teens. Even the dog got a valentine! Hang them on the wall and you’ve got a reminder that you like one another.
Today marks a momentous day: the 45th anniversary of my parent’s marriage. The texts, chocolate, and flowers sent don’t do justice to the gift my parents have given our family.
My mother was age 19 when she married. By age 20 she had twins (surprise!). By age 21 she had a third. She was tired.
What did I know of hardship? Life was fun!
I always thought my mother described her decision to marry as rather unromantic. It wasn’t so much of being “madly in love,” but rather, “I felt it was the right thing to do.”
Frowning, I vowed too have both 🙂
She was a nursing major, but had to drop out of the program she was so sick. She lost weight during her pregnancies and had to move back home for awhile so her mother could take care of the twins (me and my brother) while she tried to hold down food and complete homework. And yet, by sheer grit (and family babysitting) she did get that 4-year-degree in Family Science! (which proved to be one of the best decisions she ever made. We were great parenting guinea pigs.)
Me and my two chums (Peter and Andrea; we were more like triplets) lived in a little blue trailer at the base of Mount Timpanogus in Provo, Utah, while both parents finished school, worked, and raised three messy babies who liked to run away (mostly Peter!)
The Three Little Pigs
When Peter and I were age 2, we moved to Omaha, Nebraska – far far away from family to the unknown midwest. Two more babies, Eric and Patrick, were born. I ADORED playing house with them, wrapping them up and hauling them around. It was a very stressful period of time for my parents: no money, starting a business, trying to make payroll, five children under the age of seven, long long work hours for my dad, home all day with kids for my mom. I know my mom contemplated what leaving would look like.
Always one who was keenly interested in people and relationships, I was both blithely unaware of marital challenges and observant of their behavior toward one another.
I would say this: they loved one another. They had a great respect for one another. They didn’t yell. They never demeaned one another (though my mother is widely known for her witty, slightly sarcastic tongue 🙂 )They had a united front. They had great faith that “sticking it out” would have eternal and lasting consequences. They taught us what commitment looks like.
My parents with their five children. I’m the oldest and the shortest – but I can still take my brothers in a push-up contest…maybe.
There’s nothing my parents love more than their family – even the crying babies.
Yesterday, on the eve of their 45th anniversary, my dad sent his five children the love story of Fyodor Dostoyevsky (the brilliant author of Crime and Punishment) and Anna Dostoyevskaya (also brilliant; his editor and researcher.) Read the whole story HERE – it’s so good.
Of their love story, Anna wrote:
Throughout my life it has always seemed a kind of mystery to me that my good husband not only loved and respected me as many husbands love and respect their wives, but almost worshipped me, as though I were some special being created just for him. And this was true not only at the beginning of our marriage but through all the remaining years of it, up to his very death. Whereas in reality I was not distinguished for my good looks, nor did I possess talent nor any special intellectual cultivation, and I had no more than a secondary education. And yet, despite all that, I earned the profound respect, almost the adoration of a man so creative and brilliant.
This enigma was cleared up for me somewhat when I read V.V. Rozanov’s note to a letter of Strakhov dated January 5, 1890, in his book Literary Exiles. Let me quote:
“No one, not even a ‘friend,’ can make us better. But it is a great happiness in life to meet a person of quite different construction, different bent, completely dissimilar views who, while always remaining himself and in no wise echoing us nor currying favor with us (as sometimes happens) and not trying to insinuate his soul (and an insincere soul at that!) into our psyche, into our muddle, into our tangle, would stand as a firm wall, as a check to our follies and our irrationalities, which every human being has. Friendship lies in contradiction and not in agreement! Verily, God granted me Strakhov as a teacher and my friendship with him, my feelings for him were ever a kind of firm wall on which I felt I could always lean, or rather rest. And it won’t let you fall, and it gives warmth.”
In truth, my husband and I were persons of “quite different construction, different bent, completely dissimilar views.” But we always remained ourselves, in no way echoing nor currying favor with one another, neither of us trying to meddle with the other’s soul, neither I with his psyche nor he with mine. And in this way my good husband and I, both of us, felt ourselves free in spirit.
Fyodor Mikhailovich, who reflected so much in so much solitude on the deepest problems of the human heart, doubtless prized my non-interference in his spiritual and intellectual life. And therefore he would sometimes say to me, “You are the only woman who ever understood me!” (That was what he valued above all.) He looked on me as a rock on which he felt he could lean, or rather rest. “And it won’t let you fall, and it gives warmth.”
It is this, I believe, which explains the astonishing trust my husband had in me and in all my acts, although nothing I ever did transcended the limits of the ordinary. It was these mutual attitudes which enabled both of us to live in the fourteen years of our married life in the greatest happiness possible for human beings on earth.
Trouble and struggle certainly found my parents. Their personalities are very different, as they will be the first to tell you, but I believe my father sent his children the above note as a reminder that despite the mystery we are to one another, love is a kind of firm wall on which we feel we can always lean, or rather rest. And it won’t let you fall, and it gives warmth.
This is certainly what they have done for one another, and return, have given their children and our children a place to lean that is immovable. Their love lets us rest when we have struggles of our own. It doesn’t let us fall. It gives warmth.
Day to day, great love stories are often quite mundane and ordinary, but over time, become quite extraordinary.
I love you, Mom and Dad. Thank you. Happy Anniversary.
19 years ago, for our honeymoon, The Professor and I drove a couple thousand miles from Salt Lake City and put down roots at a boarding school in a teeny tiny town in New Hampshire.
“We’ll stay 2-3 years and than fly away to a new adventure.”
Turns out boarding school life in rural New Hampshire was adventure enough. It’s become my home and the best place I could dream of to raise a family next door to hay fields, show donkeys, and holsteins. moo.
It’s also true that I left part of my heart out west. This year our family reunion was in Idaho and Utah, a blessing given the circumstances with Eric, Cassie and Scout. I took almost a 1000 photos and boy howdy, what a hard task it was to choose my favorites.
If you’ve never been out west, may these images inspire you to explore this beautiful world, especially with the ones you love.Flying over the midwest
The Professor is somehow always in the mix of flying and leaping children. He starts it.
Bear Lake, Idaho. Home of my childhood summers.
Vast amounts of food was served to small, and often screaming, children. Love them 🙂
Family photos taken
My sister, Andrea. The darling.
My fab four
Cope and Savannah. Bestie cousins, born 1 month, 1 week, and 1 day apart.
Bear Lake is not complete without a cemetery tour given by my father. Here we are told the stories of our ancestors. Some kiddies find it more riveting than others 🙂
The farm where my father grew up and where I roamed as a kid.
The milking parlor that used to be our clubhouse
This cow wasn’t interested in my photo shoot
The Professor in his element. We ate. A lot.
The three beauty queen cousins born within months of each other. All going into their senior year.
My dad. The Grandpa.
Brynne and The Professor went flying.
The cool kids
Grandma brought a treasure chest filled with magic and goodies. The teens made a treasure map for the wee ones to follow. Fun times.
Sweet Scout likes peas
The teens left us in Bear Lake for a day while they traveled to BYU-Idaho in Rexburg for a college admission tour. See Nate, of East Idaho News, driving? He assures me they didn’t really travel like this! RIGHT?
The rest of us hiked in Tony Grove, Idaho. There was snow!
And beautiful flowers And the surly Professor who wasn’t actually surly except for the camera 🙂
And my TWIN brother! Do you like his hair? I too could be a silver fox. But I’m not so brave. Oh, the issues we women have.
Back to flowers
And meadows and reflections of life Beautiful Bear Lake close to sunset After Bear Lake, it was back to Utah where the teens left me standing in the street as they drove off into the sunset. It’s a whole new world, isn’t it?
There are so many LDS churches in Utah you can walk to church with your hand in your dad’s. I like that.
There’s also A LOT of ice-cream! Iceberg was a huge win!
My boy, Nellie Mak, has decided he wants to be a barber. His first willing victim: a cousin!
I have FAR TOO MANY selfies on my phone!
Another college tour: BYU in Provo, Utah. This is Cope’s first choice school and an extremely competitive one. The average GPA: 3.8. The average ACT: 28. Application process: this fall.
My college apartment, in front of the window that The Professor once broke with a snowball. It was true love from the start 🙂
A trip to Salt Lake City, isn’t complete without a tour of temple square. I love The Christus.
The conference center where the prophet and twelve apostles speak twice a year for General Conference. Also home to theater, musical events, and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. These organ pipes are the largest in the world. It is a tremendous building.
The Salt Lake City temple where we were married – for free! Swoon.
Atop a mountain in Draper, Utah, where my brother, Patrick, and wife, Natalie, recently moved.
Siblings. My sister, brother, and me.
My boy and his Uncle Patrick
Beautiful Utah skies
And back to Idaho
And more beautiful western skies
Be still my heart.It was very difficult to think we could have a “fun” reunion, with the loss of Cassie. But it was also comforting to feel that with every hike and lake swim, she was with us. I imagine she always will be. We tried to stay “up” and provide an unforgettable experience for our children, as they gathered, laughed, and sometimes cried, with their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. What a blessing it was to be together, surrounded by the great beauty of the earth, and to remember the creator of it all.
First, thank you for all of the emails, Facebook messages, Gofundme donations, texts, calls, and prayers this month. We have felt so loved and are so appreciative.
This month we unexpectedly lost my mother-in-law, Heather, and sister-in-law, Cassie. The loss of Cass was exceptionally hard because it was SO unexpected. She was young and healthy. And man, we had plans! She leaves behind a loving family, including her husband and my brother, Eric, and their little girl, Scout, age 3.
I feel like I’m just coming out of a fog. I realize from listening to the news that I’m not the only one suffering these days. Shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, Dallas, another terrorist attack in Paris – this life is sometimes so hard.
Questions of life and death swirl in my brain. Like, where is Heather? Where is Cassie? What comes next? How can we go on with two empty chairs? It has left me feeling very vulnerable; stuff happens. There have also been silver linings. Even as we feel broken, our family is tighter and stronger. We know we love each other. We know time is short. This is our one chance to make this life mean something – everything. I have felt peace and comfort as I pray – it’s there and it’s real.
The first law of thermodynamics popped into my head this morning: energy cannot be created or destroyed. It made me think about our physical body versus our spirit. There is comfort for even for the most scientifically minded.
I always go to two coping skills: writing and running. But this time it was hard to muster. I was just so tired. Thankfully my husband and running buddies have pulled me outside to run. Writing? Would I ever blog again? I didn’t want to write. I just wanted to skip over Cassie’s death. It was too hard to capture. Too much.
But. This is what happened. Write it down.
My brother, Patrick, started a gofundme page for our brother, Eric, and his daughter, Scout. Rather than write it out here, you can read the full story there. In 20 days, over $27,000 was raised for the funeral and medical expenses. We are so overwhelmed by your generosity. So grateful. Thank you, thank you.
Burying Cassie wasn’t exactly the yearly family reunion we were expecting or wanting, but it was pretty miraculous that we were already gathering when her accident occurred in Boise. It was incredible that I was able to be with my brother and sit in the hospital for days with him. It was terrible and sad and emotional. But it was also bonding, spiritual; we had moments that will forever connect us.
I will never forget watching my brother lose the love of his life. I’ll never be so proud of him as I watched him pull himself together to make heartbreaking decisions and put a smile on his face for his little girl, Scout. The love was palpable.
How blessed we were to have Cassie. Here is her beloved Idaho.
Cassie grew up in teeny tiny, Emmett Idaho. Because of her grace, beauty, kindness, she was jokingly teased as “the rose of Emmett.”
Everything she touched was better. She was kind, graceful, and elegant. In March, when we were on our “sister’s cruise,” Cass was reading Brene Brown’s, “The Gifts of Imperfection.” She said she was trying to let go of her need and angst for perfection. Ironically, her perfectionistic tendencies were great strengths and part of what I admired most about her. I always wanted to be more like her, to be a little more classy, to not be so sloppy. I suppose I can still try 🙂
Cassie was always helping me get better at design, creativity, and photography. She designed this blog and put up with my endless tech questions about pull-down menus, subscribe and share buttons. I feel a bit adrift without her at the helm. She did countless mock-ups of book covers as we discussed book ideas and concepts. We talked at length about photography and editing. Cass had recently launched her own photography business, Linen and Lace Photography. Isn’t she incredible?
We shared an affinity for hair products and woefully recounted how to best tame naturally curly hair. When I saw the bottles of shampoo and conditioner lined up on her bathtub I felt like laughing and bursting into tears. Obviously, she had mastered the tame: 🙂
Grief is the price we pay for loving her so much.
This picture is so sweet. It also makes me laugh – Scout found those two paper clips and refused to take them off her fingers.
Eric and Scout have some hard times ahead of them, but I have every faith in him as a father.
And I believe the words he said in his eulogy for Cass: “Our hearts are broken as we say goodbye, but we are thankful we had Cassie for 35 incredible, adventurous, and beautiful years. We hold out hope that our journeys in life will sail us back to her.” Amen.
I think it’s so cool when people take their vacation and sick days to travel to Greece and hand out water and food. I often wish I could helicopter in and distribute coats. I wish I could hold and feed babies.
I admit feeling helpless when I hear about the 60 million displaced refugees around the world.
And it’s also easy for me to turn off the news, compartmentalize suffering, and head off to soccer practice.
This past weekend was General Conference, eight hours of talks by leaders of the our church. Funny how much I LOVE it now (really, eight HOURS???.) Instead of getting in the car on Sunday to go to church we get to watch from home (both Saturday AND Sunday!) It’s this awesomely spiritual down day.
With the help of cinnamon rolls, notebooks, and new sharpies 🙂 Cope saw these and said…”oh, I smell love.”
So we listened to talks by men and women who spend all the minutes of their day volunteering their time and energy to loving and serving others. Very inspiring.
The Relief Society is the women’s organization of the church and it is the largest women’s organization in the world. It’s purpose is just as it sounds: to provide relief to those in need. Once again there was a call to action – to help our brothers and sister refugees.
Citing information from the United Nations, Sister Burton (the Relief Society general president) said there are more than 60 million refugees worldwide and half of those are children.
The program doesn’t ask for us to fly to Greece or organize a huge relief drive (though those are awesome endeavors). “This is an opportunity to serve one-on-one, in families, and by organization to offer friendship, mentoring, and other Christlike service and is one of many ways sisters can serve.”
It reminded me of a friend who said to me, “You know, there are a lot of people who will fly across the world to help but won’t walk across the street to help their neighbor.”
I haven’t stopped thinking about that. It’s pretty simple, really. As we prayerfully seek guidance, I think we’ll be guided to just the right opportunity.
All the talks we heard were fantastic. You can watch HERE if you’re interested or just curious about what we Mormons sit around watching 🙂
My heart is with those in Brussels. This morning I learned that one of our students was in the airport when the terrorist attacks went off. Four missionaries were seriously hurt. Thirteen people were killed.
I can’t fathom what ISIS thinks they are accomplishing? If it’s hate, then let us fight with love and light right here in our own homes and communities. Love is a grassroots movement. The hand that rocks the cradle rocks the whole world.
“Religion offers no shield for wickedness, for evil, for those kinds of things. The God in whom I believe does not foster this kind of action. He is a God of mercy. He is a God of love. He is a God of peace and reassurance, and I look to Him in times such as this as a comfort and a source of strength.” –Gordon B. Hinckley
This cake is brought to you just in time for Valentine’s. It’s special for three reasons:
It’s my Aunt Margie’s recipe, who is now gone, but I have her cake and think of her whenever I make it.
It has a very special ingredient that makes me laugh.
It represents so many things I love about my husband.
Sometimes we don’t want to share our favorite recipes because then they won’t be special, but boy am I glad Aunt Margie didn’t keep this one all to herself – life is so much better with this cake in it.
If you want only the recipe, skip to the end. If you’d like the love story, keep reading…
Aunt Margie and Uncle Warren raised my father after both his parents passed away when he was young. He grew up on a dairy farm in my most favorite place ever: Bear Lake, Idaho. When we visited in the summer Aunt Margie cooked, and boy was she a good cook!
Aunt Margie was a farmer’s wife and made everything from scratch which is why this cake’s very special ingredient makes me laugh. Are you ready for it…the very special ingredient is…a…cake mix! When I showed surprise she whispered, “you can make the cake by scratch if you want, but it’s just as good with the mix.” I had a new admiration for a busy woman who knew a good thing when she saw it. I have the original cake recipe, but Aunt Margie was right – the cake mix is just as good and so much easier!
As for my husband? Well, way back when I was going through a sad time in my romantic life. I wanted to make a very special cake for a boy who had kind of broken up with me. But he kept coming around. To show him what a catch I was, I figured all he needed was a bite of this very special cake that I had made from scratch (hey, I was young.)
I biked to the grocery store on my green Trek bike and discovered that I hadn’t brought the recipe with me. Did the frosting call for evaporated milk or condensed? Oh well! What’s the difference (said the clueless bakerella)? I bought the condensed milk.
I baked the cake mix (even I could do that) and began the frosting. Stirring it on the stove, I could not get it to thicken. Doubt began to fester. I stirred and stirred until I figured it was good enough – and dumped the frosting onto the cake. It vaguely occurred to me that maybe there was a difference between condensed and evaporated milk.
It was a soupy mess. But I optimistically hoped it would miraculously thicken and be as delicious as Aunt Margie’s cake.
Then I went and did my hair.
The boy was late, not showing up until 10 o’clock. I had grumpily gone to bed (party animal way back then, too). My roommates followed me as I ever-so-glamourously carried out my very special cake and presented it to the boy. (um, this is beginning to sound like an embarrassing 50’s story but I assure you I was a feminist in other ways 🙂
The boy took a look at my cake, put his hand on his stomach and said, “Oh, I’m so stuffed. I really couldn’t.”
Before I threw my cake AT the boy my roommates ushered me into the kitchen where they assured me it wasn’t me or my semi-disturbing-looking cake, it was him.
This moment, I sadly realized, was THE END of that boy.
The next day I was quite ill. I had a cold and a broken heart was miserably missing Anatomy class to go lay down thinking I was going to fail out of school for missing class, a baking failure and no one would ever marry me (not dramatic at all, not me.)
As I passed a condo out popped The Professor who I had just met. Rather than walk toward campus he surprised me by walking me home. There are many funny details to this story, but I’ll cut to the most important part: he walked into my apartment and saw my cake on the table.
The Professor you see, has always been a man who appreciates good food. “Mmmm,” he said, eyeing my cake.
“You can have some,” I said, feeling very sorry for myself. “No one else wants any” (boo hoo…)
“Thanks.” And then he did an audacious thing: he didn’t politely wait for me to open the utensil drawer and hand him a fork. He opened every drawer in the kitchen until he found a fork and then rather than wait for a plate, he stuck his fork in the middle of the cake and took a huge bite. Oh my. This professorial boy who used very big words, was excessively polite, and infuriatingly sparse with his compliments was eating my cake.
It was rather horrifying.
And then he said the only words I needed to hear: “Mmmm, tasty!” And proceeded to take another large bite.
Oh, I could have cried. Which I did. After he left.
And maybe it was then that I knew I had finally found the right boy.
It’s the small things, isn’t it?
And so, on the eve of this Valentine’s, I’d like to give you my very special, most favorite cake recipe. Passed down from my dear Aunt Margie who knew when to substitute, and has been made with love every since, all these years later.
I had to take the picture with my iPhone due to computer problems. My photography, as with my baking skills, is always a work in progress.
German Chocolate Cake by Aunt Margie
For the cake:
1 German Chocolate Cake Mix (devils food works fine, too).
Bake and cool
1 stick butter
3 egg yolk, whisked
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup white sugar
1-2 cups unsweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Mix and cook butter, eggs yolks, evaporated milk, and sugar on low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and coconut and walnuts. Spread on warm cake between layers or on top.
May you bake it with love, eat it with love, and enjoy it through the years, just as we have.
The most important part of Thanksgiving dinner has always been the people seated around the table. Though pie is surely a close second.
On the eve of this Thanksgiving, I’m feeling thankful for those around my table.
Two months ago our Cope sailed away on schooner Roseway. That was weird. Interesting how the whole family dynamic shifted.
My friend, Lindsey, who sailed the ocean blue many many years ago, nodded her head at the strangeness. “Yeah, and she’s the oldest of your kids. She’s your captain. Your captain is missing.”
Yeah, that was right. Our captain was missing!
The mates missed their captain.
In the end, it wasn’t all bad. 1st mate, Nellie Mak, had to start high school without her. I was sad about this fact, but many others thought it terrific; the boy would have to navigate high school on his own. And he did just fine.
The best part of having someone gone is realizing how much you like having them around.
Brynne was particularly excited about taking over the captain’s sleeping quarters. She got busy right away, cleaning and organizing all the captain’s drawers, throwing out what she deemed “nonessential junk.” (isn’t that thoughtful? ha :). She made the bed, fluffed the pillows…and then slept in her sister’s room exactly once. It just wasn’t the same.
In the meantime, Cope and her crew mates were having a most amazing adventure (and thank you to all the ocean picture takers; none of these are my photos!) GoPro included!
And the girl was happy. She saw the world in a way she has never seen it before. Lucky! She learned many a sailing skill. For instance, how and where to barf over the side of a boat is an art form: “Not on the high side and definitely not into the wind!” She sailed in stormy seas and calm waters. She had spiritual experiences and felt close to the divine. She witnessed almost magical creatures. Best of all? She missed us, too.
She wrote home often (we were lucky!) while being tossed and turned by the waves. She understood what a big deal it was, for a hand to stretch forth and say, “Peace. Be Still.” And her soul was stilled, too. The crew stopped at many an island And had a 14-day journey from Florida to Puerto Rico with no land in sight (“that was about the coolest and hardest thing I’ve ever done.”)
She stood at the helm, learning how to sail Roseway, (“much harder than it looks,”). She had a watch group that was on every 8 hours, 24 hours a day. “If you’re off just one degree you’re in big trouble! Now I know what all those conference talks are really about…”
At night, they were required to be locked into a harness when on deck. Because, as their instructor told them, “If you go overboard in the middle of the night, we’ll never find you.”Cheerio!
This was an adventure, but it was also SCHOOL with no electronic devices for two months (makes a mama happy!) They studied Maritime Literature, Maritime Science, Maritime History, Nautical Mathematics, and Seamanship. The closer to the Caribbean they sailed, the warmer it became.
As ocean water was the only way to get clean, baths were super fun! It was truly a life-changing adventure she will never forget.
And she got a wicked-good tan.
The anticipation of greeting our girl and her mates felt more exciting than Christmas!
It’s been a tough fall for our community. We’ve lost friends in a variety of ways. We’ve all been contemplating how exactly we are supposed to navigate loss. Some people come home. Some people don’t. Some still wander.
With Cope gone, this feeling felt especially heightened. I had the morbid mother thoughts, what if she never came home? How would we go on without our captain?
It was also heartening to see the way our community rallied around each other. As one friend put it, “If I’m getting sick, I’m getting sick here.”
When things were beginning to calm again, our beloved doggie, Lord Tennyson, was hit by a car (our van!) when he decided to test the whole New Hampshire Live Free or Die motto, by making a run through the electric fence and into the road. He did live free (but nearly died) .
It was terribly traumatic, with three kids in the car, going to school. I held him in my arms as he bled from his mouth, nose, and left eye and I could not stop crying. I realized that we could not lose our best beloved!
When the kids were in school (worried sick) The Professor and I drove to the vet. The Professor was sure it was the end. I could not handle this assessment and forced him to think more positively, darn it!
Tenny was away for three days. Every time I came home I missed him. He wasn’t there to greet me. He wasn’t there when I left the house. He wasn’t following me around the kitchen. I hadn’t realized how much I talk to my small and furry friend 🙂 His muddy, annoying paw prints all over the kitchen floor were suddenly endearing.
So it is with children, isn’t it?
The vet was “pleasantly surprised” that he recovered so well. His left eye was sutured shut for a week so that he looked like a pirate, (so fitting for our captain’s arrival.) He may or may not see out of his eye again, but he lived to bark another day.
It’s gut-wrenching to have your people (and beloved pets) leave you. Sometimes it’s needful. It’s good. But before Cope left, I kind of thought that other kids left home, not mine. Aren’t we still that young couple with babies in diapers? What a terrible realization…they will leave. Every last one.
Good thing I like The Professor so much. Even when he’s cranky (kisses, honey! 🙂
A friend wrote to me, after I posted about Cope leaving on her ocean trip:
“Hi. I hope I did not sound patronizing in my note to you. If anything, your post touched a nerve and I am in a rough place over this “growing up and growing a way” stage. My deepest fear has been overwhelming me lately and I am at a loss about how to cope with it. *** is being what I hope is typical of 21…she is pulled away and doing her own thing. Sometimes that shows as being thoughtless . Her own wants and needs top everything and it is painful, to see and to experience. I desperately want her to WANT to be around me on occasion and to feel connected, and she is on her own course. Yes, growing up and having “wings” is good – I am just praying that her foundation is with me as well, and that we can have a good relationship into her adulthood. Ocean seems so long ago, and …she came back. Now I am waiting again….and my heart hurts.”
Sometimes my heart hurts, too.But other times it sings.
One way or the other, I believe this: we all make our way back home.
On the eve of this Thanksgiving, we are cherishing the captain’s return. This Thanksgiving there are no empty chairs. Or dog beds.
I am thankful for those seated around my table. I’m also thankful for those who have departed, who are on different life journeys, to places we cannot yet comprehend. In a different way, they are with us, too.
“We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another…that we may all sit down in heaven together.” -Lucy Mack Smith
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! May we enjoy one another and give great thanks to be surrounded by the ones we love so much.
Last night Brynne was writing the answer to an assigned essay.
The question: “Is religion important to a region? Why or why not?”
Brynne quite indignantly wrote: “Religion is important to a region because it helps solve problems and causes less contention between people. Without religion, there might be more conflict, more worldwide issues, and more separation between different people. Religion unites and connects people and places all over the world.”
In the wake of the Paris bombings, I nodded dumbly.
Brynne writes this with all the conviction she has, because of her good religious experiences.
But another 11-year-old classmate wrote: “Religion is stupid. It’s people who commit suicide.”
Brynne thought this was stupid. I really hope she didn’t tell him so. You see, we’re all working on taming our passionate responses 🙂
This 11-year-old classmate writes because of his experience: he has none. What he knows of religion comes from the news; he hears of terrorist attacks, where people tie bombs to their body and kill others. All in the name of their God or Allah. If your religious exposure is based on the news, why wouldn’t you think religion is horrid?
I feel a slow burn when I read the terrorist reasons for the Paris bombings: Vengeance for “prostitution and vice.” As if they, the chosen ones, are justified in carrying out God’s punishment.
Didn’t the Ku Klux Klan and Hitler have similar egotistical justifications?
Extreme examples, but there are millions of people who have terrible interactions with “Christians.”
Recently I saw a Facebook post that read, “Act like Christ, not Christians.” This seems to come up during election time and these days, it’s always election time.
With the news cycle only reporting the horrible and shocking, we don’t hear of the food drive up the street, the coats donated to a domestic abuse survivor, or the Thanksgiving baskets assembled. Which is too bad, because the Christians that I know, respond.
I’m better for my religion. It’s been the conduit for spirituality and knowledge. It’s how I make sense of the world. It gives me a vision of who I really am and what happens next. It has made my family happy. It’s kept my parents married. It forces me to be less selfish. I cling to it.
So why are some people worse?
Huffington Post reports that millennials are less likely to be religious than their parents because of our culture change and emphasis on individualism. I begin to wonder? Without religion, who will organize my mother’s funeral? How will anything get done?
In January, the terrorist group al-Qaidain, Muslim extremist attacked the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo for publishing a drawing depicting the Prophet Muhammed.
Al-Qaida’s Yemeni leader Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi said:
“As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we, the Organization of al-Qaida al Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the Messenger of God.”
And it’s not ending. There is a sweet and innocent new generation of terrorists being trained Here. “My father reminds me of Osama bin Laden, who terrorized and fought the Americans,” Abu Ashak, a boy in the camp, told Dairieh. “One day my father will be like him, and I want to be like Osama’s son.”
It’s no wonder, with this kind of news, that after the Paris attack, Joann Sfar, a cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo, wrote a controversial Instagram post: “Friends from the whole world, thank you for #prayforparis, but we don’t need more religion. Our faith goes to music! Kisses! Life! Champagne and Joy! #Parissaboutlife.”
Christians verbally attacked him.
To which Sfar responded with more cartoons:
Dear Christians. Perhaps we have not opened the great history book called, The Bible. Perhaps we need a refresher course on how Christ actually behaved?
Just as I was feeling terrible and hopeless, convinced the world was going straight to you know where, I read two great responses from the church to which I belong: the late Gordon B. Hinckley responds to terrorism Here and, and Dieter F. Uchdorf recounts his life as refugee, calling on us all to remember the humanity we all share. I began to feel a bit better.
As Dieter F. Uchdorf has taught us: if we are criticizing, bullying, writing mean things on Twitter, there is a very simple solution: Stop it.
If you haven’t seen it, listen to the Paris pianist.
One other thing happened too. A very short conversation with my sister, who is about the kindest, most patient person you ever met (I mean, the hours she spent math tutoring me!)
Sister has been babysitting twins three days a week for a young, single mother who is really down on her luck. If you’ve ever babysat 3 1/2 year old twins all day, three days a week, you’ll know the energy it takes.
Sister has been doing this a long time.
As I busily cleaned up the kitchen I asked, “Are you getting paid pretty well?” Sister paused and very carefully said,
“Um…I’m getting paid in blessings from heaven.”
“What?” I exclaimed, snapping to attention. “You’re babysitting three days a week for free? Like, until they go to kindergarten?”
“You know,” she said. “I kind of think of it as a service. Some people go to India. Some people volunteer in orphanages in Russia. Some people travel the world doing these amazing things. And, I don’t know. This is just something I can do.”
All was right in the world again.
It makes me teary writing this. Thanks, Andrea, for once again reminding me: there are really good people in the world.
Are you having a good month of February love? When I stop coughing, I know the man of the house is going to like me a whole lot more. sorry, honey bunny.
I’ve read some good stuff on love this month. Interestingly, the more I study the brain, the more I understand “the heart.” Anatomically, the hearts beats, but it’s the brain that falls in love and keeps that love going strong. Here are some favorite love reads for your weekend perusal….
If you think texting during dinner isn’t having an impact on your love life, think again. A 2014 study from Brigham Young University found 70 percent of heterosexual women felt smartphones were harming their love relationships. Researchers dubbed this phenomenon “technoference.”