Thursday, April 28, 2016

Red

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Funny, I have three posts sitting in the blog queue, doing just that. Sitting. But there's something about a deadline that makes you write. So I spilled something out this morning. Because it's my day at Segullah. And it only rolls around once a month.

We're running a new series of posts over there about favorite things. 

When I thought of favorite things, I thought of red. In all its splashes of joy.

It's everywhere lately - making me happy. Color can hold so much.

So puddle jump on over ... and tell me, what is your  favorite color right now?



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Easter 2016

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Prettiest pink tulips

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for our Passover meal on Holy Thursday.

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Hot Cross Buns

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to share with our new neighbors on Good Friday.

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Easter Walk in Grandma's backyard.

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Thorns.

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Pieces of wood.

And the boys, with their best bud, Brandon.

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Liza swinging.

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Ali's resurrection bloom.

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Spencer's symbol of Easter morning. Chocolate round his lips.

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Ice-blue starflowers.

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Sami's sweet-smelling hyacinth. And last week of braces.

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Gordon's quirky smile.

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This weeping willow. 

Can't believe I never noticed it in the context of Easter. 

Tear-shaped leaves just beginning to green. So appropriate for Good Friday.

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Darling Brandon.

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Last light of day.

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Family Easter egg hunt Saturday afternoon.

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My sweet mom, watching from the window. 

Ever smiling, despite this new normal we're all trying to accept.

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Cupcakes for cousin Hana on her second birthday.

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I adore these photos for Hana's pigtails and sparkling eyes. 

Then I saw them enlarged on the screen, and I withered. Look at my Mom, in the background, unable to see Hana's face, but smiling just the same, as we sing Happy Birthday and Hana puffs out flames.

This... is my Mom's new normal. On the periphery, watching, unable to fully participate. 

I'm not okay with it.

It's hard. 

Hard for us. Bur harder for her.

I didn't realize it until I saw these photos. Too often this is her view.

I don't know why we didn't bring Hana to the middle of the family room, right in front of her.

It pains me that we didn't notice, didn't see this for what it was.

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How easily we overlook others.

How quickly someone can go from being seen to unseen.

Usually, we circle everything around Mom. 

But we didn't this time. And it makes me sad when I think about it. 

You think you are aware and then you realize... you aren't. 

And you need wider eyes, a wider heart. 

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Saturday evening, we placed our Easter lanterns on the doorstep.

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Haven't found the right tree yet. 

But I liked the change. 

A path of light into and out of our home. 

Making way for the Savior of the World.

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On Easter morning, Doug spoke to our congregation.


My favorite part of Doug's talk was about how the Christ sees us for who we can become. How His atonement allows for real change, lasting change, despite what our personal demons may whisper to us:

The adversary will do all he can to prevent us from experiencing the enabling power of the Savior’s Atonement, redeeming love, and healing peace of forgiveness that only comes from sincere repentance. He will tell you that any shame you feel because of your mistakes must be carried with you throughout your life. He will tell you your weaknesses can never be changed and he will try to deceive you into thinking that you must accept that you are weak. However, the truth and reality of the Savior’s Atonement will always overpower even the most deceptive lies. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul taught, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”  

For as long as I have known the stories of Paul, Alma the younger and the Sons of Mosiah, I have been fascinated with the dramatic changes in their lives. The Sons of Mosiah were described as “the very vilest of sinners. However, the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them.” I am inspired by their strength to change from being “disrupters” of good, to becoming loyal disciples of Christ. I love how the Lord’s plans for them did not focus on who they were, but who and what they would become. 

In the story of Saul, later known as Paul, who became one of the Savior’s greatest ministers, when the Lord asked Ananias to go and visit Saul, Ananias, looking at Saul’s past, had concerns because of what he had heard about Saul. He said, “Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem.”  But the Lord responded, “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” Later in his life, Paul explained how accepting Christ empowered him to not dwell on his past. Paul said, “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” I do believe there are lessons to be learned by looking to the past. However, I think what Paul is saying is that when we allow the Savior’s Atonement to heal us – whether it be sin, discouragement or other trials – it enables us to look forward with confidence and not be hindered by the past.

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After church we found Easter baskets. 

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Sami is not pictured because she was in melt-down mode on the couch after not getting a stuffed animal like the boys. Easter bunny bad. Spencer was fevered all day, but you wouldn't know it from his antics here. 

And so it went. Another Easter. Another holy week.

As I write today, I think how holiness is all around us. In the faces of my children who spin and burn with light. In the trees as they explode with color. In an email from a friend whose father is dying. A good man, a great man. A man who will know the names of the angels who come for him. 

It's in the words of an honest husband who knows what it is to change. And it's in the eyes of my mother, doing something so hard, so difficult, so beyond what she thought her life would be. It is that moment. When she looks out the window, smiles, and assures me she is alright. That is holiness. That is Easter.



Monday, March 21, 2016

Shout Hosanna

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It is holy week. Spring, in all its popping and blooming and rejuvenation is turning the world majestic. I can feel my own slip of soul opening, thawing with the ground.

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Spring, we've been waiting for you.


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Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday and welcomed the holy days. 

Jesus is on my mind. And I am lighter, happier. 

Spring break is just a week away, and I can already feel the relief of slowing down, stepping out, doing less. Even sitting down to write today feels joyful. It has been too long.

I think you know by now how much Holy Week means to me. I love it more than any other week.

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This year we are reading from J. Kirk Richard's book, This is Jesus. Marking the days with his poetic, impressionistic depictions of the Savior's life. 

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I love that moment on the streets of Jerusalem when, as Matthew says, all the city was moved. Moved by the presence of one man. Some asked who he was. And they said among themselves, "This is Jesus." 

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I'm also loving this piece by Richards that I placed on our mantle. It is called Where Have They Taken Him?

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Since it is not spring break for us yet, we don't have the luxury of fully immersing ourselves in our traditions. But we will do the best we can.

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For Palm Sunday we made our Easter Tree. Boughs cut from one of the apricot trees in our backyard.

Tuesday I will do work in the temple.

On Holy Thursday we will have our passover meal.

Good Friday we will make hot cross buns and do our Easter Walk.

Saturday, we will color eggs and hang our lanterns in a new tree, maybe don the steps of our front porch with jars of light.

On Easter Sunday we will attend church, hunt for baskets, celebrate with family.

For more on our Holy Week traditions, peruse these posts:

Our Easter Week
Our First Easter Walk
Because He Lives
High and Low Holy Days (Hot Cross Bun recipe)
Easter Walk and Lanterns
The Appalling Strangeness

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Each evening we will watch the bible videos that capture so beautifully the Savior's last days, talk meaning, tell story.

And this article by Daniel H. Ludlow has a wonderful synopsis of what happened historically from Sunday to Sunday. 

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I was especially touched yesterday morning, Palm Sunday, as we dressed and prepared for the dedication of the Provo City Center Temple. The event could not have been planned for a more fitting Sunday. 

When LDS temples are dedicated, patrons bring white handkerchiefs for a ceremonial tradition in which we shout Hosannas to God. We do not wave palm branches, but we do wave handkerchiefs. In celebration and gratitude. Declarations of Christ's saving power. An invitation for the Lord to receive and accept a temple as his house. 

Yesterday, as we shouted Hosanna, with thousands of other saints, I thought of Jesus not just coming to his temple, but into Jerusalem, and into our lives.

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Two weeks ago, I pulled the kids out of school and drove south so we could tour the interior of that temple. In December 2010, this gorgeous building, which was the historic Provo Tabernacle, was destroyed by fire. Now, it has been rebuilt. Restored. With even greater architectural beauty. 

I love this picture of Gordon. He was the only one that day who cooperated for a photo. It made me imagine what he might look like at missionary age.

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The others were bribed into a shot. But Ali, who was mad as a hornet (can't remember why) would not comply. Obviously, she was not amused when I joked that she didn't look too happy about the prospect of being "together forever." (The whole purpose of temples is to seal families together for the afterlife.) 

All of them, however, were wowed by the temple rooms, the dark wood railings, the spiral staircase, the artwork, and the stained glass windows. Spencer whispered to me as we walked in, "Mom. I feel something special. I think it's the Spirit." It was a sweet experience.

I'm so glad we went.

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On the home front, warmer weather has meant lots of exploring in the new yard.

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Ali has been making teensy bouquets of blue corn flowers.

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Spencer and Gordon pulled out all the tools in the shed and started turning the garden. The garden plot is big. We don't plan on keeping it. We will likely grass it in this summer and build grow boxes for our garden. But for now, they love the idea that they are being productive.

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Mostly they collected worms. 47 to be exact.

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The crocuses are out in full color.

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But our tulips unfortunately... have been eaten by the deer. Next year I'll make sure we spray early, but for now, we can't get over the magic of having these four-legged visitors wander into our yard some mornings.

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A week ago on Saturday, four of them hopped the fence and came gently plodding down the hill.

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At first we just watched from the windows. But it was too hard to shoot through the reflection of the glass and the shuttered slats. And the kids wanted to get closer.

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So we crept outside.

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The deer watched us carefully. But they didn't run.

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They came back three times that day. And by early afternoon, made themselves comfy in the shade.

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We were all abuzz watching them. Gordon and Spencer call them their buddies. In fact, I have to show you this watercolor Gordon did for the school art contest. He called it Deer of Happiness. Came up with the title all on his own. And drew these awesome details. After sketching it, I talked him through the watercoloring. 

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People say we won't like the deer when they start eating all our plants. But right now, I think they're charming, graceful, and beautiful to watch. 

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They remind me of this Easter book I loved as a girl. About a deer who comes to her in her dreams and flies her up into the misty clouds "where the bluebirds dye their feathers, and the robins find the color for their eggs."

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The artwork takes me right back to my childhood. 

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St. Patty's Day was full of funny tricks and wearin' o the green. These boys made quite the statement with their plaid suspenders.

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And it was a very lucky day for Eliza, who got her braces off! 

Love that beautiful smile.

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Today she watercolored and cut these palm leaves for our mantle.

It is a holy week. And we are full of rejoicing. That Easter happened. That Christ is truly risen. 

All new life is a metaphor for his existence. Each crocus, each puffing apricot blossom, each tulip, and even a building - once damaged and destroyed, made new again for higher purposes.

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I see these symbols and remember. All of us can be made new. Not just tomorrow, when our imperfect, struggling bodies will be made right. But now. In our hearts. Because of his healing reach. 

Shout! Shout hosanna to his name! 

And may you have a lovely, holy week.



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