Friday, March 9, 2018

All Is Well

I’d been praying for some time to FEEL some of the things I know. To feel them again – because I’ve felt them before. You all have too. At times. Even if you didn’t quite recognize what you were feeling (or even if your language to describe it is different from my own): that marvelous sensation when your mortal/natural self gives way a little – is pried open – and your immortal spirit can BREATHE. It can cup it’s fingers around this rough earthly mind and heart you’ve been given and whisper, “Listen!”. Truth. And you can FEEL it . . . truth and beauty and goodness and HOPE flooding through you. The connection your spirit has to God and light and all things eternal becoming, for a few moments, the perfect reality that it actually is. An open channel between heaven, Christ, all of pre-mortality . . . and your own soul. It always feels like the sky expands. And always always the message: . . . all is well. All is well.

In any case, I’d been pleading to feel it again. Because I can write it down. And I can remember it happened. But it is impossible – utterly impossible – to simply recreate the sensations, thoughts and emotions. They can’t be imagined up. They can’t be magicked into existence. They can’t be pretended. Which is part of why they are so valuable and so real to me. Because those moments . . . are the most undeniable moments of truth and clarity I ever experience. Between them is where I hang tight to that strong cord of faith – pulling myself actively along – hand over hand. Ah. I see that’s not my own analogy is it. Lehi saw it. I KNOW the things I believe. They are there in my mind. And I pull towards them, but . . . only once in awhile do I get to feel them in the way I long to. And because my mind has felt extra cluttered and clouded of late – not because of any particular challenge alone, simply because – that’s the mortal condition I suppose, I’d been asking to have another glimpse – to be able to exhale, drop the load of my daily demands, and, just for a moment, feel eternity, assurance and peace again.

It didn’t come. For weeks. And I know . . . that’s all right. That’s part of our challenge and growth here – to press forward and trust even when it can’t be felt and it’s all clouds and clutter and exhaustion. I can do that. I can hold to my God – and believe He is holding to me – even when I do not feel it at all. He can ask that faith of me. And somehow I can hold tight even when it is hard and muddled and I’m empty. Sometimes I am sadly certain that He has determined to challenge me that way for the rest of my life. I will never be allowed to have the veil part or to feel anything lofty again. And I’ll do it . . . I’ll plod along. What I have been given is enough. Even if my heart hungers and my soul aches and longs for everything beyond my mortal sensations.

But then . . . this morning . . . there it was! I was driving the kids to school, of all things. I drove a long route home. The three babies were quiet. And slowly . . . it came. God was with me. He knew my thoughts and prayers. All of everything? He was helping me with it. Everything my loved ones experience – every challenge they face and every challenge I face . . . it is all OK! We will find our way through. We will be supported. We won’t be left alone. It is all fine . . . all of it . . . ALL IS WELL. There will be SUCH rejoicing ahead. Someday every bit will be clear. All is well. All is well.

I sat in my driveway – holding to it as long as I could, praying my thanks, letting light and joy wash over me, knowing that in a moment I’d be cleaning up spilled cereal and doing laundry and stopping tantrums – that I’d be back to only holding to the truth of moments like the one I was in. Still, it was enough. It was enough. Again.

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(The above stinker has been waking me up three and four times a night lately . . . wholly unwilling to let anyone else soothe her.)

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(And that girl right up there? If I ever go anywhere, she requests to put a shoe by her bedroom door for the “shoe fairy” to leave a treat in. The other day there happened to be the same treat in our cupboard that the shoe fairy had left in her shoe the night before. Complete coincidence of course. Still I was surprised that a three-year-old would make enough connections to ask me [audaciously], “Mom, did you pretend to be the shoe fairy and put those treats in our shoes?” But if she thinks I am the shoe fairy, she clearly doesn’t trust me. When selecting a particularly darling shoe [all covered in stars] last night she asked Mike if he thought the shoe fairy would be likely to steal it – leaving her with only one star shoe -- because it was so undeniably and temptingly cute.)

And here Penny is. Because she participated in the story telling festival, she got to help out with activities at the school on Dr. Suess Day.

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And . . . a little last bit of kids messing around:

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Little Hansie boy is just on the verge of true walking. While uninspired by our attempts to hold his little hands and force him to walk or our eager outstretched arms beckoning him to take a few steps towards us, he often lets go of the chair or table he’s been holding to when needing two hands to properly manage some toy or other (not realizing at all that he’s standing unaided). And the last day or two have found him, for convenience sake, braving the distance in steps between one piece of furniture and another.

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And that’s nine babies I’ve seen progress from rolling to scooting to crawling to walking! Nine!

Of course we can’t dust off our hands just yet. We’ve only seen seven through potty training (perhaps the “only” should be omitted there), and we are only on our second child in the progression to . . . driving. (Daisy’s birthday is next month. We will have to cram eight more hours of driving in before she can officially get her license, but we are all excitement! What a wondrous new thing this summer will be with the girls being able to go off on little adventures together! Having Abe drive has been hugely useful to me, but I imagine the changed dynamics and overall excitement generated by another licensed driver will be greater with Daisy as she will be much more likely to plan outings with her younger sisters – visits to cousins, shopping, etc.)

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In any case. That’s a lot of people to get through every milestone leading to independent adulthood! Sometimes the thought is overwhelming. I must teach everyone to read, and write their names, and pour milk without spilling, and take a shower that actually gets them clean, and tie shoes, and ride bikes, and say prayers, and read their scriptures, and do their homework, and sweep a floor properly, and mix all the ingredients to make cookies, and fill out college applications, and . . . ? Everyone? All of them? All those things??

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Of course it’s the thought that’s overwhelming. In practice . . . it just keeps happening through the day-to-day living of life.

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But I do wonder about this living . . . and where all the day-to-day business and decisions will take us. I wonder about the huge changes our family will see in the next ten years as kids leave home and babies grow up and future babies . . . come from grandbabies. I wonder about adventures and changes that we occasionally consider -- and how they would impact each kid individually. (There’s this longing in us that sometimes wants to switch things up – try new places and make changes that make no outward sense. But that longing butts up against the rather comfortable and very solid framework of . . . settled and known with their obvious benefits.)

Sigh. We shall have to let life play itself out I suppose.

In the meantime:

Jesse called to me from the basement yesterday. “Mom! Come see the Eye of Sauron I drew on the carpet!” Which is neither here not there, but one of those things you find unexpected to hear someone saying in a regular old day.

Also, I was talking to the two little girls about caterpillars recently. I asked them if they knew what a caterpillar turned into. Mette thought for a moment and then offered, “Uh. . . . A duck?”

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The other day Abe picked a library book up off the table and exclaimed, “Mr. Darcy’s Diary??? What? Did Penny check this out? Terrible. . . .” Then, after a pause to consider, he added, “Mr. Collins’ Diary on the other hand . . .”.

Smart alec. :)

And that is all.

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bits and Pieces

**We have a windowsill full of cacti and succulents. Most belong to Goldie – who tends them with great care. At one point, in transferring one particular cactus to a larger pot, she added dirt from outside (I had a Botany professor who would take issue with the term “dirt” being used here, but that’s a discussion for another day . . . or perhaps never). Apparently what she added wasn’t completely free of life because a little something extra began growing next to her cactus. In all Goldie’s goodness, she has let it thrive – rather than casting it out as the intruder it is. Bless her heart – today it became clear to me that she has been tenderly cultivating a puncture weed plant.

**Our little Arianne came to visit a few weeks ago. She’s an adventurous girl. And I should like one of her visits to coincide with a trip to Bear Lake where there might be wave runnering and game playing or something a bit exciting. During  this visit, however, most of the kids were in school. I made her pick up groceries from Wal-Mart with me. And then I made her help me tackle peeling and cutting the giant banana squash that had been waiting patiently on my counter for months. (She was completely naive about banana squash . . . and I greatly regret not having made her eat some . . . even though all signs [not liking Thanksgiving sweet potatoes or yams, etc.] pointed to her not liking it.)

Photo Jan 29, 3 56 06 AMPhoto Jan 29, 3 56 49 AMPhoto Jan 29, 2 59 07 PMPhoto Jan 29, 8 27 45 AMBut I suppose that is one of the very reasons one loves an Arianne so well – she leaves one feeling quite convinced that she has found just as much of fascination and enjoyment in an afternoon of cutting banana squash as in a week of touring Italy. And she’s just the sort of person who . . . probably truly has. (But if not, there were the pork tacos and mini Cadbury eggs Mike brought us for lunch . . . so, that’s something.)

**Every now and then we invite Mike’s parents for dinner so the kids can have them all to themselves.

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**Mike and I got to go to a breakfast at the school where Abe was honored as one of the students of the month. Each teacher only gets to choose one student a year, so it’s no small thing, particularly in a high school his size, being chosen. It was kind of fun too that the teacher who chose him was a gym coach. Abe does so well academically that one would naturally expect praise from a math or science or history teacher (and he does get plenty of that), but Abe’s work ethic and good nature impress all. (And we got to have an interesting conversation with said coach over the rather awful experience of losing part of his finger a year ago.)

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**I have been wishing for Daisy to grow one shoe size – so the two of us might more freely borrow and share. I wished it even more when, after taking her to a doctor’s appointment the other day, Mike up and bought her not one, but TWO rather spectacular pair of boots! Speaking of Daisy, lately, if she is not playing music from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, she is playing music from The Greatest Showman (and occasionally Penny sneaks in and tries out Daisy’s music as well). Also, we have been working hard to catch her up on her driving hours so she can get her license in April. It’s almost too dreamy for her (and her younger sisters) to imagine that, this summer, they can just go to all the places I don’t usually have the energy to drive them (mostly Michaels and Target) of their own accord. It will be glorious. Unless, of course, Daisy tires of it. Heaven forbid.

**Mornings are so split into two parts. The part where we are getting everyone ready for school – backpacks and coats, breakfast and signed notes, lunches made and hair done. And then there is this other part with just these three little people.

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**This cute shirt was a gift from my sister-in-law. A good reminder to keep my mothering expectations reasonable. :)

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**In theory I would be on the ball enough to plan meals and make use of cool things like shopping online and then picking up my order at local grocery stores. And I have done that a few times. But in practice, I am forever needing this or being out of that. And when older kids are home from school and could actually tend, there is usually far too much going on – homework, dinner prep, etc. to be running errands. So . . . most of the time my grocery trips look more like this.

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**I adore Calico Critters. They are one of the few toys that I imagine keeping around to pull out special for grandkids, etc. (Of course perhaps my girls will take their respective critters and leave me with none.)

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**It really is the strangest thing that now, with March around the corner, the temperatures around here are freezing and snow is in the forecast as far ahead as one can see. January and February were so warm that I laughed at the groundhog’s prediction of more winter. “More winter? What winter?” I scoffed. Well, fools mock . . . . But here were a few pictures from a day at the park. Penny made everyone lunches to take complete with tiny sweet notes in each lunchbox.

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**We watched the old long Pride and Prejudice not long ago. Penny adored it and has since plastered her walls with pictures from the movie. She’s most smitten with pleasant Mr. Bingley, but we still all thought it was funny when Mike gave her a Valentine with a taciturn looking Mr. Darcy saying “Hey, Valentine . . . You are tolerable enough . . . I suppose.”

**And now I am so caught up on things that perhaps I can write all sorts of new and delightful posts of whatever I like. But perhaps I can not. After all . . . the very things that inspire me to write (these nine humans I’m raising) also make it . . . mostly impossible to write.

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