Thursday, April 23, 2015

How to Find Comfort in Times of Trouble

It's been a while since I've written about my Mom. New symptoms and challenges have developed. Two weeks ago, a sensory seizure left her without the use of her left hand, a loss of function similar to a stroke. Recent imaging studies are helping us understand what needs to happen for her next. 

I am writing about it at Segullah today. About comfort, the psalms, and inner storms.

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Mom, I know Jesus will calm the waves you feel. He is not sleeping in the hull. He is listening to you, and loving you. You are in his boat. You are in his hands.

Your bravery makes us believe no matter what happens, it will be alright. And I'm with Dad. There is still time. Still much for you to do together. I love you.

Monday, April 20, 2015

High (and low) Holy Days

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Hi ho! Hi ho! It's off to school they go. And who would guess it's the middle of April?

Last week a much-needed snow storm blew in. Boy, do our mountains need the water! So we celebrated that morning with hot chocolate and the donning of snow gear. 

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Our sweet neighbor, Rebecca, took the boys sledding and then to preschool. So I had the day to run a list of errands I'd been putting off during spring break. Of course, as luck would have it...

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this happened as soon as I pulled into the grocery store parking lot.

The good news? It was April 15th and Doug could actually break away from his desk. He's not just handy with a ten-key; he can change a flat. In the snow. Hallelujah. Tax man to the rescue.

I wish I could report that he'll be home for dinner every night this week, but I can't. I've learned over the years that April 15th is just a pause in the tax madness. Immediately following are new deadlines, employee reviews, and other projects. So... I'm hoping we'll see more of him in... May?

For now, I'm just grateful he makes the bed every morning. I appreciate that small service so much. And on his first Saturday off, what did he do? He cleaned and detailed the minivan. By himself. (With some vacuuming help from Spencer and Sami.) Seriously. Pen on the seats, popsicles melted into drink holders, stickers on the windows, french fries in-between seats. Oy! You should have seen the pile of trash he pulled out. And I thought I was throwing away all garbage every time I gassed up! Bless him. 

There are always blips in the journey. Lows, if you want to call them that. But we've had some beautiful highs. Particularly during Holy Week. 

Spring Break and Easter fell on the same week. Which I loved. Time off from school gave us the luxury of diving into all our traditions. We stayed close to home, tried to make the days holy. 

Here are the highlights, along with a few new traditions or alterations. 

Palm Sunday

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On Palm Sunday we cut blossoms for our Easter tree. A tradition I've really come to love, as we tie small squares of religious art onto plumb boughs, depicting events in the Savior's life.

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Starting Monday, much of Spring Break was spent on the Pollei's trampoline. A favorite, old, bouncy tramp tucked into a beautiful yard round the corner. When our kids heard Dick (Pollei) had put it back up, they were the first to try it out. Dick and Bev are dear to us. Despite Bev's ailing health, she and Dick love the children to come. 

Monday

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Monday evening we took the kids to Temple Square for Family Home Evening

Because Christ preached in the temple the Monday before his crucifixion and cleansed it a second time that Monday or Tuesday, I thought it would be a good tradition to take the kids there, see the beautiful gardens, and have one of the children teach a lesson.

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This statue is called "Joyful Moment." The original is in the Nauvoo Women's Garden, where I served my mission. I used to walk through the garden after we closed the Visitors' Center, past the beautiful bronze statues, toward our little white house. Fireflies flashed lazily in the humid air and I would think about the future. What kind of family would I have? How many children? Would they love me? I wanted so much to be that mother, who knew joy.

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Doug was kind enough to oblige as we tried to create a similar joyful moment. It lasted all of three seconds, then Gordon decided ring around the rosy was stupid, and Spencer got stepped on and decided to sit out.

You know how it goes, right?

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The tulips were amazing.

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Eliza wore her french painter's beret. 

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And right about now, as I was taking pictures of the girls leaping over the flower beds we were approached by security and politely asked to take our playing elsewhere. Oops.

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Ali took us into the Visitor's Center, where they hung new murals of the Savior and she taught us about love. 

The best moment of the evening was when two sister missionaries joined our lesson and told the kids how lucky they were to have good parents who loved them and were trying to teach them the right. 

One sister from China read 1 Nephi 1:1 about Nephi being "born of goodly parents" and explained how she didn't have parents who wanted to spend time with her or teach her. She told our kids she could see how much we loved them. Then she committed them to always remember how blessed they were to have good parents. It was very tender. Just what our family needed. And I was reminded how inspired missionaries can be.

Tuesday

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Tuesday morning, Renae watched the kids so I could attend a temple session. In the temple we learn about the creation and renew special covenants we have made with God. I'm not getting to the temple enough in this season of life. But when I do, it is a real joy.

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A couple other events that happened over Spring Break: I attended my friend Kristen's first solo concert. Kristen and I served missions together in Nauvoo. I wrote about her here a few years ago. Doug couldn't make it so I took Ali. Kristen did an amazing job. Her voice, her wisdom, her stories. I'm so glad I was there. She has a new CD out and I'll let you know when it's on iTunes. But for now, enjoy this teaser: her version of How Firm a Foundation.

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We took everyone to see Cinderella. Pretty sure we were the last ones to see it (note the empty theatre), but if you haven't, you must. Don't wait.

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This scene was totally entrancing. The whole movie was so. well. done.

Holy Thursday

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Thursday we invited friends to join us for our annual Easter Walk

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Parker found this withered daffodil to represent something dead. Every year Katherine and Parker join us (Kara's children), and I think of their baby brother Isaac. How his death and anticipated resurrection will forever instruct and inspire their family.

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The underside of a mushroom for something black, representing the darkness after the crucifixion.

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Alice and Abby with their small round stones, in memory of the stone rolled away.

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My mother's crab apple tree. Truly glorious.

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Eliza's stacked tulips, representing new life and resurrection.

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The whole crew. We always welcome newcomers.

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This year it was chilly enough we had hot chocolate and cookies afterwards.

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Late afternoon, I went over to Pollei's to gather the kids for dinner. When I turned around, I noticed this dark eastern sky, neon trees against gray clouds swiftly moving over the mountain. So beautiful.

The girls set the table while I went to pick up our take-out from Layla's. Our modified version of a Passover meal. Seder, in memory of Jesus' Last Supper with his apostles.

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I still haven't made the traditional foods. Some day I will. For now, it's pita and hummus, chicken kabobs, kibbe, falafel, salad and grapes. But we do talk about the symbolism of the meal, the bread made in haste with no leaven, the exodus, the bitter herbs. 

This year I turned on some arabic music for fun, and well, it was all crazy after that.

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Gorgeous full moon Thursday evening. 

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That night we talked in depth about Gethsemane. About the word Atonement. I love this painting by Franz Schwarz from the Sacred Gifts exhibit last year, Agony in the Garden. 

My friend, Elizabeth, found this beautiful children's song I played for my kids. The words are perfectly chosen. Just right for young minds and hearts when it comes to comprehension. All my children loved it and wanted to listen to it as they fell asleep that night. I think we'll try to memorize it next year.

Each day of the week we watched a few LDS bible videos depicting the last week of the Savior's life. The church keeps adding new ones and I am always impressed. Such a great teaching resource.

Good Friday

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First time ever making our own hot cross buns and I was thrilled they turned out! Did you know English folklore says that sailors took these baked buns on ships with them for good luck? Others believed that hot cross buns baked on good friday would never spoil. And friends who give hot cross buns to each other will remain friends for life.

I think that goes for us Adri. Even if it was only in recipe form. Thank you for sharing your recipe. And thank you Pioneer Woman. Recipe here: Hot Cross Buns. They were delicious! 

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Funny side note: My sister, Deb, unbeknownst to me, used the exact same recipe. Friday morning I got this text and picture from her:

"Pretty sure these are going to have to be 'it's the thought that counts' hot cross buns."

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I laughed so hard. "Not necessarily round," I said, "but I bet they taste good!" We laughed some more, especially because I'm the lesser cook and infamous for dough fails, and mine turned out! Beginner's luck.

Then she texted me this:

"Mike (age 4) just said, 'Look! An S for Super Jesus'!" 

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My kids busted up. We had no intention to be irreverent, but on Good Friday, I thought it absolutely appropriate for a four-year-old to consider Jesus a hero.

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Friday afternoon we colored eggs.

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And in the evening we hung our lanterns.

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Our own Easter Vigil. 

More about what this tradition means to us in a post Multiply Goodness ran a few days before Easter.

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Small flames, slowly glowing brighter.

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As the last rays of sunlight fled the valley, Deb texted me again. With this photo.

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"It was a special night for us to talk about Jesus and the resurrection."

Her own Easter lanterns were flickering on her porch, her daughter Lizzie, sitting quietly in her pjs. 

That evening and into the next day, photos on Instagram popped up from friends round the world who lit lanterns. And below each picture, their own declaration of a living Christ. Beautiful lines about lighting Easter fire, about waiting, and believing. 

In Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, London... all these friends quietly witnessing. I was so touched.
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Easter Sunday

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Easter morning we joined Eliza in watching the sun rise over her backyard garden tomb.

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Sami wrote a most important message on the blackboard.

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We hunted for Easter baskets.

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Notice the small pom-pom animals Sami and Ali made. They worked soooo hard on these! And they made one for each person in the family. A chickie, a bear, a fox, a squirrel, a bunny...

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Eliza decorated our hummingbird cake with fresh flowers. Traditional Easter dinner was at my parents' home. 

Our high holy days were beautiful, full of juice and joy, and life. It's official. Holy week remains my favorite week of the year. 

This is a long post, and I feel like it hasn't much depth. It's taking all my life force lately just to keep our family moving. Week after week goes by and I find almost no time to write, to read more than my scriptures, or to ponder.

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But just a few days ago these rays of sunshine were buried under snow. Now look at them. Sometimes we doubt our own resilience. Our ability to thrive, even when we feel we aren't getting to it all, or doing it right. 

How grateful I am that Christ restores my soul. Again and again.

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