Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Dear May, I love your sweet honey locust smell, your green grass, your blooms, and the blessed rain we've received all month, but truthfully, you're killin' me. With all your recitals and programs, baseball games, birthdays, piano duets, school projects and school activities. Trying to hang on. Submissively Yours, c.

Pretty sure I haven't sat down for an entire month. And it's not over yet. Thus the neglect here. Pardon the silence. It's been a multitude of things. May on steroids, trying to squeeze spine rehabilitation into my life, a blip on studio 5 yesterday about books to read over the summer (more on that next time), Doug's marathon, a power of moms retreat, and needing/wanting to take care of my own mom.

But it's alright. We capture what we can and hold the rest quietly inside, grateful.

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Let me start with my Mom. After writing that last post, she took another difficult turn. The day following, she had a hard seizure that would not stop. (I can't imagine how terrifying that must feel.) Her seizures are sensory and muscular, so she is conscious throughout. A couple weekends ago I was there when she had one and it was hard to watch. I could see her steeling herself mentally to survive the four minutes it lasted. But this particular weekend, the seizure wouldn't stop.

My Dad took her to the ER where they sedated her heavily so the seizure would turn off, which it did. But once she was clear to go home, my Dad had the difficult task of getting a drugged, grown woman out of the car and inside the house. Here's where the story gets funny... I was horrified when he first told me. But now we can laugh. Because they both survived it.

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His brilliant idea? Put her on a hand dolly. Yep, one of those things warehouse workers stack boxes on, tip it backwards, and roll it on two wheels where they want to go!? Yeah. Somehow he got her standing/reclining on the dolly, tipped it backwards, and started lugging her up the front walk. Obstacle 1? Steps. As he hefted her up the first step, they lost balance and fell down. My Dad sprained his thumb badly, but my mom was okay. She actually slept through the whole charade. Can't remember a thing!

After the fall, she slumped down to the bottom of the dolly, was just sitting there. So my dad got himself up and pulled again, bumped her up over the steps and into the house. From there he dragged her back to her bedroom, propped her against the bed (imagine this: she's facing the bed, forehead on the mattress, kneeling on the carpet, arms dangling by her side). Then he grabbed the back of her pants and hoisted her into bed.

Oh. My. Goodness. It was like Weekend at Bernie's! I told my Dad I don't ever want to hear a story like this again! We live five minutes away! Next time... call us! Which he promised to do.

My uncle made me laugh when he said, "Now the only thing Robert forgot... was duct tape!"

The bad news? My mom had an increased loss of function on the left side after this seizure. We were quite worried about her for a couple days. She could't get out of bed on her own, stand, or walk. Very little balance.

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That afternoon Kara brought these gorgeous tulips over. Some for me (pictured at top of post) and some for my Mom. With the most inspired and beautiful letter, which I took to my Mom that next evening. Just to give you a feel for Kara's heart, here is part of the letter:

Ronda, When my Isaac died, your card was one I kept close by and reread again and again. You grieved with me and rejoiced with me and then you said this, "little baby Isaac, a pure and precious soul, has been enfolded into Father's loving arms with everlasting shouts of joy!" Your testament of joy meant so much to me. It was exactly what a worried, wondering mother needed to hear and think about. I am so grateful for you and your perfect insight always. You remind me that life is joyful. That life does not end here. That life is a continuing, beautiful experience here and there... You make life beautiful and strong for everyone who knows you. And you are still doing it, even in your suffering, because it is so much who you are. You can't help it.

I sat on my Mom's bed, my Dad in the chair next to it, and together, all three of us cried, as I read the letter to her. I cut the tulips and put them in a vase in her room. Then I climbed into bed next to her and read her the Psalms until she fell asleep.

Since then she has regained some function, is able to walk on her own if she steadies herself on something. She even dressed herself a few days ago. Which was a big accomplishment! But I know it's a struggle every day to feel grounded, to calm herself, to trust.

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So for Mother's Day I gave her this necklace.

An anchor. To remind her when she feels worried or tossed, how anchored she really is. By God. That he has a hold of her life. That she won't have to go through anything without him. Or without us. 

My Dad wrote her the sweetest card. About this new road they are going down, with bumps and rough patches (literally!), and how he is so grateful they don't have to go it alone. That they have each other, and the Lord. 

Seeing them navigate these new challenges together has been very touching.

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My Mom has always been an anchor to me. I've relied so heavily on her input, her experience, her listening ear. She never judges; she just listens and tries to understand. Because of her I have a sense of belonging, of being known, of being loved.

Thank you, all of you, who have left words here, on Segullah, or Facebook. Who have stopped by my door, sent me a text, visited my mom, told her how much you love her, prayed for her. Your compassion and outreach have brought us to tears again and again and again. We can't say thank you enough.

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I am also grateful for this mother. Who raised Doug and his brothers. Who continues to serve and love our family. My children adore Renae. I don't know what I would have done without her all this years of having small children. She has been the favorite babysitter, the one who offers to help before I ask, and never makes me feel like I've inconvenienced her when I do.

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We love you Renae.

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Mother's Day 2015. Finally got the boys to stand still... for just a second.
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And these were their portraits of Mom. Gordy's is top left. I'm in my blue dress. Spencer's is below. Note the red starfish eyebrows. Ali's bottom middle. Sami's above. And Eliza's on the right. 

I love those five children of ours. With all I have.

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First weekend in May we had the annual Power of Moms retreat at Richard and Linda Eyre's home. It was so fun to be with these wonderful ladies, Saren and April. I don't see them enough. They are always inspiring.

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Saren's Eliza came along. So fun to see them together. We love that Eliza.

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And it's always fun to meet the tremendous moms that come to these retreats. I ran a few discussion groups and had such a delightful time talking with some of these ladies.

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This mom and her baby were so darling.

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Richard and Linda always bring such a great sense of humor to the day. As well as incredible insight and gifted teaching.

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I was so excited when I learned Saydi was coming! Saydi (Saren's sister) and I went to Israel together years ago and she has been such an inspiration to me as we've become mothers. I love her parenting style, her devotion, her realness, her intent. This is Richard talking about how much he loves his amazing daughters. And they are amazing. 

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April's daughter, Grace, also came along. And it was her BIRTHDAY!  So we sang to her.

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Seriously, if you're in Utah (or want to come to Utah) next year, first weekend in May, make this retreat happen! It's open to moms everywhere. We had moms from Canada, Texas, Virginia, California, Boston. It was a great group!

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Richard and Linda talked about how to avoid Entitlement. (Have you read their book, The Entitlement Trap?) It's excellent. So helpful as my kids get older and we work on developing qualities that will help them become independent, hard-working, compassionate, human beings.

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Saydi gave an excellent presentation on living in the moment and being present. It was so well-done.

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A couple tips on how to be present more often: 1 - Change your focal length. Zoom in or Zoom out. 2 - Change your filter. Change the way your'e seeing things. 3 - Try to stop sometimes and really see your children. See their hair, their eyes, they way their body moves. See who they are right then and enjoy it.

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We can't wax blissful all the time. Most days we just slog through, trying to keep everyone alive, and we teach where we can. Like this photo which I absolutely love. April took it last summer. It's of Saydi trying to have scripture study with her kids. This was during the prayer. Ha! I laughed so hard. Doesn't it make you feel normal!?

It takes our family at least five minutes every night to quiet down for family prayer, get everyone on their knees, and stop the fighting.

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And here's part of our Power of Moms Board. The women who make everything happen behind the scenes. They are an incredible group of people. So talented. And devoted to this cause of making motherhood the best it can be for women around the world. So glad to associate with them.

As I looked through photos of all these moms, I thought of each of them, as anchors in their children's lives. Anchors for their husbands or other family they associate with. I love what women and mothers can do for the world. Ground it. Give it meaning. Teach compassion and strength.

A late Happy Mother's Day to all of you women and mothers who keep the world anchored and spinning. I love you.


  1. Oh beautiful Catherine, what a month for you! Wow! First of all, the story of your mom coming home from the hospital. What an adventure! I can't believe what your parents have been through. They are such amazing people, supporting each other and being there for each other. I cannot imagine what that would be like for your mom to experience her seizures, fully aware and conscious of the lack of muscular control. I will keep her close to my heart. I LOVE the symbol of the anchor for your mom. Such a beautiful image.

    That picture of you with your sweet kids! Look how they've grown! So tall and good-looking. And the boys will be heading to kindergarten in the fall, right? Where has the time gone?

    When I read the part about you appearing on Studio 5, I quickly googled to see if I could find the clip with you appearing. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. Oh friend, you did a marvelous job! You were so lovely and eloquent. I have already put the Lemoncello book on hold at the library and am looking forward to reading it with my boys. I love how you promote literacy and spending time with your family. To think of all the books you have read with your kids and all the conversations that you have had with them. They are so incredibly lucky! You mother with your whole heart. It is absolutely amazing.

    Hoping that you can catch your breath here and there. Busy, busy times for you and your loved ones. Sending love to your courageous, extraordinary mom. Thank you for sharing your faith, life, and love here. So grateful. I love you, dear Cath

    1. Sweet Anne Marie, thank you, thank you. My mom started his first chemo pill last night. She will do four weeks of both oral and IV chemo, then a two week rest. Then repeat the cycle for 36 weeks. She continues to lose strength on the left side but we are hopeful the chemo can stunt or even reduce the tumor somewhat. Thank you for your compassionate heart and love. Yes, the boys are off the Kindergarten this fall! I remember when your boys went to school full-time (this will be half-day) but still a big deal! How are you managing now? With everyone in school? How did you decide to spend some of your time? And school is almost out now! The studio 5 segment was fun. Kind of stressful. But exciting to talk about something I love so much. Hoping you are well. Email me an update if you find time. I love you.

  2. Praying for your mum and for you. x

  3. You are amazing. You often make me smile and cry. Thanks for sharing all that you do. Thinking of you and your sweet mom! Lots of Love, Kim (a stranger :) )

    1. Not strangers of the heart. Thank you for commenting here. xo


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