Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fishing in Manhattan

When Garrett was a teeny, tiny little embryo, I went to New York City for the first time. As a little guy, he enjoyed telling people he'd been to NYC. Two years ago, when we took him to Israel, we had a layover at JFK. We went outside for a few minutes. So now he tells people he's really been to NYC. In May, my mom and I took a trip to the city for a week. Garrett desperately wanted to go. He didn't get to.

I decided that, budget allowing, I'd plan to take him for a couple of days in a few years. When he just thinks I'm mostly dumb. Before he's a teenager who "knows" I'm a moron. I hadn't said anything about this to him though.

Today I had a conversation with him all about how I knew that he was getting to an age where being a kid is hard. I told him that he'd struggle with wanting to make the rules. I promised him that Troy and I do our very best. I said we sometimes fail but that we always have the very best of intentions. I said that if he could be a relatively good boy and listen to us and respect us, I would reward him with a trip in a few years--as long as his dad said it was alright and as long as we could afford it. I told him that I'd take him to NYC to see some of the sights and maybe catch a Broadway show. I really built it up as an incredible mother/son trip full of historical places and musical extravaganzas. Given his stated love for the city and previous desire to go there, I was a little surprised when he interrupted.

"Hey, Mom?"


"Are there any fishing hot spots in New York City?"

Sigh. "Well, buddy, I guess I can just take you fishing in the mountains if you'd rather."

So who wants to go to New York with me in a few years? Because I'm going to need a Magnolia cupcake after that big fishing excursion.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Off Track

In approximately 25 minutes, my kids are out of school for a month. A MONTH. I'm so sick and tired of this year round shenaniganery. We're just getting started. "Hey, here's an idea! Let's be done for A MONTH!" One of my two is struggling to nail down a couple of concepts. So, "HEY, HERE'S AN IDEA! LET'S BE DONE FOR A MONTH!" I totally get it that the teachers like this. I get that it refreshes them and they're ready to go tackle the next 12 weeks or whatever it is until their next break. But this is NOT GOOD FOR MY KIDS.

Maybe some kids thrive on this schedule. Maybe some parents love it and want it forever and ever. I have only seen it as a detriment to my own kids' learning. So if you happen to live in ALL THE OTHER PLACES IN THE COUNTRY WHERE THIS IS A COMPLETELY FOREIGN IDEA, consider yourself so lucky. Count your blessings and your stars or your sheep or whatever. I'll just be sitting here in Utah thinking all about how my kids will have a severely stunted summer because of this ridiculousness.

Okay. End rant.

The good thing about year round school is this...we can go on vacation when the world is not on vacation. This is a blessing. The one that I count over and over and over. So the boys and I will take off for California on Sunday. So there's that.

Which is cool.

Silver linings and all that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Lock Down

I was sitting at the desk, counting down the minutes until recess. First graders were cutting out nouns and adjectives and gluing them in the correct columns. "BEEP BEEP!" the intercom alert sounded. I thought it was just for my class. They'd tell me that someone was checking out and to send him to the office. I was just about to respond to the beep with a, "Yes?" But immediately following, a woman's voice, stern and strong, came over the speaker. "Teachers! We are on lock down. Lock down now!"

In the next two seconds my mind processed a handful of thoughts. The first was that the teacher had failed to inform me that we were having a lock down drill. The second was that the office staff had failed to inform me that we were having a lock down drill. The third was that the woman's voice had been so stern that I wasn't entirely sure we were having a lock down drill. I walked very quickly to the door, pulled the magnet and tugged the door closed quickly. In the couple moments it took to accomplish that particular task, I saw two teachers doing the same thing. They did not look like they knew anything about it. They looked...concerned.

I flicked the lights off.

A sea of six-year-olds stared at me. I glanced quickly around the room and then whispered, "Get against the wall." I ushered them over to the wall where their backpacks hung. It couldn't be seen from the window by the door.




I put my finger to my lips. "You have to be quiet. I mean it. You can't talk." I whispered almost inaudibly.

"Is it real?" one child whispered back.

"I...I don't know," I replied.

I had no idea if it was real or not. And so I had no choice but to treat it like it was absolutely real. And I had no choice but to treat it as though it was the worst case scenario. "Our door doesn't lock," one boy said.

"What do you mean it doesn't lock?" I asked.

"It's broken. Even when we pull it closed, it doesn't lock," he said with panic painted into his eyes. So there was that piece of information gnawing at me as we sat still for ten minutes. The kids got bored and started giggling. I put my finger to my lips again and told them they had to stay quiet.

Suddenly, a shaky voice came over the speaker. "Teachers, you need to email me or text me.immediately. I repeat, email me or text me immediately." The voice sounded afraid, upset, only barely in control. And that's when I really began to believe that there was someone in the building. This person had reason to believe that there were teachers who were not okay, teachers who could not respond because they were hurt--or worse. They were taking inventory. Which teachers were able to respond?

I was not.

We were fine. But I didn't know who "me" even was. I don't have a district issued computer so I couldn't email. I could use my phone to text or email but it was across the room, past the window, and getting it was a risk I wasn't willing to take. If there was a psychopath standing at the window, waiting for sound or movement, I wasn't about to let him (or her) know that we were in there. Whoever "me" was, she was going to have to wait on the first graders in room 103.

The school was laid out exactly like the one my sons attend. Only the kindergartners stood between us and the front office. If someone went in through the front doors, it wouldn't be long before they reached us. I hadn't heard any confrontations or gun fire, but the upper grade levels are around the back and my first graders weren't being particularly quiet when the first announcement had come. If they'd opened fire on the opposite side of the school, I assumed it was possible that I hadn't heard it.

A few moments later, the handle on the door jiggled up and down several times. Several of the students gasped and I threw my finger over my lips again. Tears welled in kids' eyes. I was characterized by a calmness I'm still surprised by. I realized in that second that our door was, in fact, locked. I also firmly believed that someone was inside the school and they were trying doors.

As I tried to keep scared six-year-olds quiet, I had only a few thoughts.

If someone comes through that door or that window, I have to die trying to protect these kids.

PRAY! Ask for deliverance but also make sure you're ready to see Jesus today.


My family will never see me again. 

Aside from these thoughts, I was numb. I prayed that God would spare me but I also asked that He would welcome me into His presence. I thought of how I would lunge from my place on the floor and slam myself into the gunman. I thought about how much the bullets would hurt. I thought about my husband and my children. Eventually, I thought that the longer we sat there, the better chance we had. Certainly the cops were taking care of it by that point--and I still hadn't heard gunfire.

Suddenly, another jiggle on the door handle. I swallowed hard. Then, the jingle of keys and a woman poked her head inside. She looked around the corner, made eye contact with me and said that I could resume teaching. However, we were still supposed to keep our door locked and no one was allowed to leave the classroom for any reason. Then she turned and walked out.

In that moment, assuming that any imminent danger had passed, I exhaled. Adrenaline flooded from my body at a rapid rate leaving me shaking violently. I'd remained calm. Apparently I'm alright in a crisis situation. It's just after the crisis is over that I fall apart.

The lock down was never really, officially, lifted. Teachers kept their doors closed and their lights out. When the bell rang about a half hour later, I waited until other children filled the halls before letting mine go.

Then I marched down to the office and asked what the heck had happened. "Oh, well, there was a suspicious individual in the neighborhood so we chose to lock down." I explained that I was unable to respond to the announcement about emailing because I had no idea who was speaking and no access to a computer. As I spoke about that being a problem, I got the sense that the office staff thought I was overreacting. Had I known that the threat was outside, I wouldn't have had to jump to "worst case scenario" in my mind and in how I handled the situation. But I had no idea and the best way to take care of a classroom of first graders is to treat the situation as though it could have the worst possible outcome.

I assumed that it was a "no big deal" situation since the office staff seemed none too worried. But this morning my friend sent me a message and an article. As it turns out, the individual was located less than a block away from the school and was being pursued on foot. He was one minute BY FOOT away from the school. He is one of Utah's most wanted. Apparently he was extremely armed and dangerous. You can click here for the story.

Having now been in a situation where nothing really happened and I still feel like years were taken off my life, I cannot imagine what it would be like to sit in a room, listening to gunfire. I cannot imagine witnessing mass murder. I cannot imagine being asked to state my faith and then killed.

When it was over, I looked down at my arm. As an after thought, I'd grabbed my favorite bracelet before I'd walked out the door. It has select phrases from Jeremiah 29:11. He always knows the end from the beginning. And I'm so thankful that yesterday He kept all of us safe.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Christmas in September

I'm having an issue. I took this picture on September 29.

I'm sorry but...what? ALMOST THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE ACTUAL HOLIDAY? We still have to make it through Halloween AND Thanksgiving before this holiday has its moment. We used to talk about Christmas in July. I'm fairly certain that in a handful of years we'll actually be able to buy all of our Christmas stuff in mid-summer, making Christmas in July an actual possibility.

So, yes. I stood there and I stared. And I blinked a lot. And then I took out my phone to take a picture because I thought maybe I was dreaming the whole thing.

Turns out, I wasn't. People are insane. Walmart is insane. Other stores that already have their Christmas decorations out are insane. That's all.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Raise the Light

If I'm being totally honest with myself, I'm three talents short of being a triple threat.

I can only barely act. I can carry a tune in a bucket but not much beyond that.

My dancing skills are 100% appalling. It's as if I'm made of wood and my joints are fused together. I wish I was exaggerating.

So, compared to your average Broadway star, I'm a zero threat. Compared to your computer programmer or school librarian, I'm lucky to be considered half a talent short of a double threat.

It's a shame.

Because I take care of business which is a talent that is lacking in a lot of artists. And I love the creative process. I love rehearsing. Over and over and over again until I get it as close to right as my limited talent will take me.

I used to think I would shrivel up and die if I couldn't perform--or, at the very least, be a part of the creative team. Life has proven that to be an incorrect hypothesis. God has given me other passions.

Still, I love the opportunity to watch live theatre, attend a concert, read a brilliant piece of poetry, or watch a dancer's body float fluidly across a stage. To me, in the loosest of definitions, art is the communication of the human experience through various mediums. I love to watch as someone else does something really bold or reinterprets a piece in a way I never would have imagined. I love, even more, watching an audience respond and, feeling in my own self, the awakening or recognition or cathartic revelation of something new or, at least, something shared.

I'd already seen Idina Menzel sing Radiohead's Creep so I knew what to expect. What I wasn't expecting was the audience's reaction. As she sang about wanting to be someone she's not, wanting what she doesn't have, being weird, lights began to flicker on.

There are so many reasons people fire up their lighters or, this day and age, their cell phone flashlights. Some say it's to pay tribute to a favorite song. Others say it acknowledges that the performer has been through something difficult. Still others say it's to recognize that the song is touching their soul.

I think it's all of the above. And I think it's a way to say, "See this light? I'm holding it and it's the only way I can think to connect with you and say, 'I get where you're coming from. This song is speaking to me, too.'"

She posted a picture last night on Instagram with the caption, "Sea of lights during #creep made me so emotional. Felt like a rock star thank you Utah. Thank you #radiohead.

This is just one angle. The lights wrapped around the venue. "I want a perfect body." "I want a perfect soul." "I wish I was special." "I don't belong here."

It was an incredible moment. Knowing that regardless of location, status, or fame, we all feel like a mess some days. From last October to this one, my life has been filled with incredible highs and the lowest of lows. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I just keep breathing in and out. But there are days when, even though I know I am loved and redeemed by an Almighty King, I wish things were different. There are days when my heart is broken and I feel like a girl, sitting raw and exposed on a stage, being watched and evaluated and judged. Sometimes, the only thing getting me through it all is the fact that so many lights are raised in support. Each of those lights represents the joys, pains, and journeys of a bunch of weirdos who all wish we were special. 

When I remember all that, I find joy even in the midst of the trial.

We turn on our lights. We turn them on and we say, "I see your cancer. I see your divorce. I see your loss, your fear, your unrealized dreams. I see that you don't always--or ever--feel special. And while I may not walk your particular path, I understand the journey."

This is why I chose to study theatre. I'm not the most talented, that's for certain, but I longed to get just a little tighter grasp on the human experience. And, in some limited way, I think I got it. May I always remember to raise my light so that I can really see you.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Whirlwind Wedding Weekend

My brother's wife's sister got married on Saturday. Holly and her new husband, Nate, asked Troy to officiate the wedding and they asked the boys to serve as ring security. Awhile back, I was making Garrett an appointment for a hair cut so that he'd look sharp on the big day. I explained to my stylist that he needed an appointment because he was going to be a ring bearer in a wedding. "Troy is marrying my sister-in-law's sister," I said. I glanced just in time to see her trying to hide her shocked eyes. 

I live in the right state, see. There really are people here who marry more than one wife. Why not a sister-in-law's sister? I quickly explained. "Wait. No. NO! Troy is going to perform the ceremony. He is going to marry my sister-in-law's sister TO HER FIANCE WHO IS NOT MY HUSBAND." 

We couldn't afford to fly and the wedding was in Temecula, CA so we loaded up our car on Thursday afternoon and drove to Mesquite. On Friday we finished the drive in to California about two hours before the rehearsal. Saturday was filled with wedding festivities and Sunday we hightailed it back to Utah so that the boys could be back at school this morning.

It was a whirlwind weekend.

My boys got to meet their cousin for the first time and they are both wildly smitten with her. As in, fight over who gets to feed her the bottle and howl, "I WANT HER FIRST! GARRETT HAD HER FIRST LAST TIME!" And, "SO, WHAT! I SAID IT FIRST!" And who wouldn't want her first? I mean...

Well, okay, so I'm only posting that one because it totally looks like she's doing the Friends alternate to cursing.

This little lady was the flower girl although she wasn't quite big enough to walk herself down the aisle just yet.

The flower girl's parents are my brother and sister-in-law...

My handsome husband cleans up pretty well. He also didn't call Holly a man at any point during the ceremony which is good because the same cannot be said for my poor sister-in-law. The officiant at their wedding tongue twisted his words and referred to her as a man not once but twice. It is now the standard by which all pastors are measured. "Did you call the bride a man?" "No." "Then you were a total SUCCESS!"

The boys took their job VERY seriously.

Nate and Holly were handsome and beautiful and adorable and all the things you should be on your wedding day.

Then we took more pictures and my boys made faces and said, "AGAIN?" and "ANOTHER ONE?" Except not in this picture. In this picture, Garrett desperately wanted a shot of him and his cousin all dressed up and then this older lady came up and shrieked that she just had to see the adorable baby (understandable) and she put her hand on Hannah even though I had my camera up and ready and she just left it there and wouldn't move it and Garrett got really mad about it but he's too polite to say anything so he just smiled like this instead...

Thankfully, I was able to snap this later.

We got pictures of my parents with their grandkids...

And pictures of the family together...

At the reception, Hannah had a massive poopy blow out all over my mother's dress. It was also, obviously, all over Hannah's dress. There was no way to casually exit the venue so we changed her right there, in a back corner, and then my mom and I scooted out so that she could change her dress (she'd had the foresight to bring a spare). The baby's dress had layers and layers of material and poop was smeared on what seemed like every single one. My mom changed her clothes while I rinsed and rubbed and wiped poop from every crevasse of that garment. We took pictures of the ordeal...

I feel like my brother owes me an ice cream sundae or something. But he owes my mom, maybe, the whole ice cream parlor because she was for real wearing his daughter's poop in multiple places. It was like a Lady Gaga outfit gone terribly wrong. But it was hilarious so it all worked out in the end.

Someone else took this picture and Hannah and I were in the background. It looks like my dress had a tag that was sticking out but it didn't. The color is not good and both baby and aunt look like we have a raging case of jaundice, but I really like it anyway.

When the boys agreed to be ring security for Holly and Nate, they sent them clothes along with badges and masks that made them official agents who would stop at nothing to protect the rings. For the reception, they got to wear the badges and the masks. It was hilarious and made it super fun for the kids.

It was a whirlwind trip to southern California and back but it was such a fantastic and gorgeous wedding. We had a blast and we wish Nate and Holly all the best.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


I need to take a minute.

I need to take some time to tell you that I understand abortion. I understand being 16 and terrified. I understand being in graduate school and at a loss for what to do now. I understand being on the streets with no future plan. I understand being addicted to drugs. I've never been any of those things, but I can empathize with the fact that it would be quite difficult to add a whole human life to any of those situations. I understand that sometimes there is a great deal of despair and abortion seems like the way to move on, to fix it, to make it all okay.

I know people who have had abortions. I know men who have encouraged or stood by abortions. I know men who wanted their babies but had no voice. There are so many others that I don't know about because abortion isn't usually something we scream from the rooftops.

I am pro life.

That doesn't mean that I don't believe that God's grace and mercy extends to each of us regardless of the choices that we've made. I do. I have great compassion for women and men who live with the burden of abortion every, single day. 

Choosing life is sometimes really HARD. It's sometimes really BRAVE. Choosing abortion is EASIER than choosing ADOPTION. Choosing abortion is EASIER, sometimes, than choosing LIFE. I understand that and I care deeply for women and men who made a choice and can't go back and change it. If there is even a hint of confusion, guilt, sadness, grief, pain, wondering, or questioning, my heart breaks and I know that there is healing available. There is a future. There is forgiveness.

What I don't have compassion for is #shoutyourabortion. "My abortion was awesome!" "Best thing that ever happened to me!" This campaign, I am struggling with. This campaign is taking a lot out of me. Because, while I can comprehend the reasons women abort their babies, I cannot comprehend celebrating it and wearing it like a badge of honor.

Amelia Bonow wrote, "...I am telling you this today because the narrative of those working to defund Planned Parenthood relies on the assumption that abortion is still something to be whispered about. Plenty of people still believe that on some level--if you are a good woman--abortion is a choice which should [sic] accompanied by some level of sadness, shame, or regret. But you know what? I have a good heart and having an abortion made me happy in a totally unqualified way. Why wouldn't I be happy that I was not forced to become a mother?"

I am pro life. 

It's not that I can't understand circumstances that lead people to make a different choice. It's not that I don't understand women and men who are pro choice. It's not that I am judgmental and unfeeling. But I simply cannot understand abortion making someone feel happy in a way she's never felt before. 

This is not my world view. This is not a world view that I want any part of.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Wing Girl

There is this fact of life.

People move.

School. Employment opportunities. Warmer weather. Cooler weather. To be closer to family. To be as far away from family as possible. Because Portland seemed like a fun place and New York was killing her dead. Because California is too bloody expensive. Because the south is a good place to raise a family. People move.

When we moved a fourth of the way across the country and left everything I'd ever known I was precisely 65% devastated and 35% eager for the adventure. It surprised me, that 35%, on account of all the deep roots I had and the fact that I did not like the idea of digging them up. I've determined, however, that the unknown adventure is what keeps us putting one foot in front of the other one as we trek to our new destination.

But when we're staying put and someone else is doing the trekking, well, then we're just kind of heartbroken. And 100% devastated. When it's clear that God is leading them away, it's even worse because we're 100% sure we shouldn't feel that way. Except it's also better because we know that the Author of every chapter is writing their story. We focus on rejoicing over the fact that we were allowed to be written into it at all.

My friend, Abi, is leaving.

Initially, we were more like acquaintances. There was the occasional shared meal. We were friendly with one another, said hello on Sunday mornings, engaged in small talk. I attended her wedding. But a deep friendship between us would have been unlikely. She is quiet and reserved. I am loud and intimidating. I couldn't invite her over because she is deathly allergic to cats and I make it a practice not to kill members of our congregation. She was busy with earning an MFA in Modern Dance and I was busy with raising toddlers.

But our paths began to cross more frequently than just Sunday mornings. We served together on the worship ministry team. I discovered that her writing skills, quick wit, and knack for the sarcastic far surpassed my own. I chose not to be overly jealous of these facts and realized that this woman was quickly becoming someone I really liked being around.

Later, we started to sing together on the praise team. Somewhere, in those Sunday morning rehearsals, where some notes were hit and some weren't, where coffee might have helped if either of us drank it, where we were the only women on a stage of men, the beginning of a friendship was forged.

I prayed in my prayer closet that God would provide me with a like-minded ministry partner, someone who would rise up next to me and, maybe, one day, take the reigns of Women's Ministry. I believe in constantly looking for people who will come up and position themselves to be able to take over if need be. At that point I was, quite actually, looking for a wing man. (Wing Girl?) Like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, I needed a Goose. God whispered, "Abi." At that point, she wasn't even on the women's ministry team. We were slowly becoming friends. I couldn't just walk up and ask her to be my Goose. It would have been weird.

But God is always right.

Abi joined the team. She had a baby. Then another one. We bonded over events, retreats, baby barf, mommy fails, and Sunday school classes. We've stood side by side on the stage, our voices lifted in praise. We've served together. We've laughed and cried (something neither of us used to do with any regularity because we are actually a robot and a cyborg) and prayed.

And then God called her family to Texas. He closed all the other doors and left one wide open. It's just that the open door is a job in Texas and her kids are going to speak with accents and she'll have big hair and live far away from me.

I've prayed for her family like they were my family. I love her children so much they could come live with me and I'm pretty sure I'd just instantly believe they were mine. I've come to love her a whole, heaping lot. Her heart has wrapped itself around my own in such a way that the thought of doing ministry without her is crushing.

That's not meant as a guilt trip. I don't have to like it to know that it's God's plan. I can solidly stand in the court of not wanting someone to leave and still solidly know that she has to, that leaving is obedience, that leaving must happen.

My friend, Abi, is hilarious, brilliant, kind, patient, loyal, godly and faithful. She's some things that I am and a lot of things that I'm not. I won't speak for her--this could be completely one sided for all I know--but I feel a lot like Jonathan did. "Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." 1 Samuel 18:1

When they left each other, "Jonathan said to David, 'Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever,' Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town." 1 Samuel 20:42

Matthew Henry's commentary says, "The separation of two such faithful friends was grievous to both...Christians need not sorrow, as men without hope; but being one with Christ, they are one with each other, and will meet in his presence ere long, to part no more; to meet where all tears shall be wiped from their eyes."

I prayed for a wing girl and, for a short time, God gave me Goose. But, ever so much better than that, God gave me David.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

BB Bagel

I'm just going to go ahead and talk about bed bugs for a minute. I don't have them. At least, not that I know of. Yet. It's only a matter of time. They're everywhere.

Last year, we found them at our women's retreat house.

Two weeks ago, our men found them at their men's retreat camp.

Yesterday, we found them at our women's retreat house which was a completely different house than last year.

We take all the precautions we can to not bring them home but, well, like I said before, I think it's only a matter of time. I'm only telling you about this because of the hilarious thing that happened today.

And by hilarious, I mean nauseating.

I'd let the owner know that I'd leave the bugs in a bag on the counter so that they could show them to the exterminator.

We were dividing all the leftover food between our ladies. My mom, who flew in for our retreat, was getting me some bagels to bring home. There was one fruit flavored bagel and she didn't want it to make all the other bagels taste like fruit. She said, "Is anyone using this bag?" And she reached across the counter and picked up the occupied bed bug bag.

My friend, Christy, had a mouthful of food but managed to yell out, "BUGS!" just before my mom opened the bag.

Thankfully, my mom heard her and dropped the unopened bag.

I involuntarily gag when I think about it.

We could have had a bed bug bagel. WE COULD HAVE EATEN BED BUG BAGEL!

Thankfully, we did not.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

We're Just So Busy

My upcoming week looks like this:

On Monday, Matthew has football practice and Garrett has Scouts and Troy has a meeting. On Tuesday, Matthew has a football game. On Wednesday, I volunteer in classrooms and then Garrett has a football game and I teach Bible study and the boys and Troy have Kid's Club. On Thursday, my mom flies in and Garrett has football practice. On Friday, my mom and I leave for our women's retreat.

This schedule does not include time spent on homework. It doesn't include Bible study prep or grocery shopping or all the things I need to do to prepare for the women's retreat. It also doesn't include me working. Which I really should do.

I have two children.

How do women with six or eight or ten kids ever get anything done? I mean, aside from driving kids places. I thought motherhood would be easier once my children were in school. I WAS DEAD WRONG.

And this, friends, is why it's been six days since I've blogged.

And also why this one is so short.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Tale of Two Stories

I have two stories to tell you. They both happened this week.

First, my birthday is on Tuesday. Troy has been asking and asking what I want but I can't really think of anything. I mean, I know what I really want but Troy can't rush the adoption process for me. So we wait. I started thinking and here's the thing. I am actually, like, an Idina Menzel groupie. I borderline on "stalker" meaning that the only reason I am not her stalker is that I have not had much opportunity. This makes me a bad candidate for an actual stalker because REAL STALKERS FIND A WAY! Anyway. I've already seen her World Tour once and I'm seeing it again in October and then I found out that she was performing in the first seven cities of the If/Then tour. So I told Troy that what I really wanted was to fly to one of those cities and see the show.

But even with flyer miles, that would require a hotel and a rental car and the tickets and...well, that's way out of my birthday budget. Still, Troy said we could do it. Because he loves me and he's awesome like that. But I am practical so I ultimately decided that the only real option was to see it in San Diego in January. In San Diego, if I'm really nice and play my daughter card just right, I have free lodging and access to a vehicle. Still, it would be a lot cheaper if I went with a friend and Troy stayed here with our children. Especially since Troy doesn't particularly care about seeing it.

I tried to think of which of my friends I could ask to join me. I remembered that my friend, Jenni, said she was seeing it and I texted her to find out which day. I knew she already had tickets but I figured if I went on the same day, I could at least say hi there and hello to her during intermission. It turns out that Jenni has two tickets and her husband didn't want to see the show either. So she said I could have the extra ticket. Specifically, her text said, "Would you like to come with me to the show? I have an extra ticket. They're front row on Saturday January 9 at 2:00pm. The matinee."

If you think I slapped myself and then pinched myself and then assured myself it was just a dream I was having trouble waking up from you, you would be correct. I ran around my room wearing the doofiest of doofy grins and then ran downstairs and said something about, "YOU'RE NOT EVER NEVER GONNA BELIEVE THIS...."

I wasn't even calm and collected in my response. Calm and collected would have been like, "Oh. Sure. That'd be cool. Thanks." But what I said was, "ARE YOU DEAD SERIOUS BECAUSE YES I WANT TO GO WITH YOU AND SIT IN THE FRONT ROW AND I'LL TOTALLY PAY YOU FOR THE TICKET..."

And then she said no and I replied with, "But I WANT TO pay you! I honestly feel like I can't accept such an enormous and amazing gift for free!"

Then she responded with something about how she understood but it wasn't necessary and I said something about how she didn't understand the magnitude of what she was giving me and that I was kind of a stalker and she said, "I know, that's why it's awesome that you have the opportunity to come out here for it. Although I would be embarrassed if you jump up on the stage and accost Idina. I'm not gonna lie." And then I promised not to do that which, in retrospect, was a pretty hasty promise to make but I'm a woman of my word so now I'm bound to NOT RUIN THE PLAY.

Here's the second story.

We've had a hand me down entertainment center since we got married. I've wanted a stand for awhile now but it just wasn't in the budget. I shopped around for one that we might be able to afford...if we had a successful yard sale (which was held yesterday) and if I used any birthday money I might get on Tuesday.

I found one on sale at RC Willey that I REALLY like. It was $299 (down from $399). The yard sale ended up being a bit of a bust. It was Labor Day weekend and the infamous wind we have in these parts was blowing everything all over the place and people stayed home and so we only made $118.

Then Troy found out that a check for $63 had been sent to our old address. We haven't lived there in nearly eight years. My sister-in-law lives down the street though and ended up with the check in her possession. She took a picture of it for me and it makes no earthly sense because the check is from USBank. We never banked with them in the entire time we lived at that house so...weird. But it's a legitimate check and it's on its way to us. So with that extra money, we were at $181.

We wanted to see it before we bought it but the closest store to us didn't have one on the floor. We didn't really want to drive to south Salt Lake to look at one but that was our only option. We loaded ourselves into the van and headed over. The boys were in heaven in such a huge furniture store and were acting like it was Christmas morning. Troy thought it would be fun to meander through the clearance section before heading upstairs. As we walked around, we spotted one TV stand, from the back, and started walking toward it. Maybe we'd like it?

As we turned around to see the front of it we discovered that it was almost identical to the one we'd gone to see. The clearance one was a slightly different color and just a tiny bit lower to the ground. Otherwise, it was the same piece of furniture. It was originally $399, marked down to $199. There's nothing wrong with it. It used to be a floor model. Bonus, no assembly required! I was overjoyed.

I'm telling both of these stories because sometimes we're so busy asking and waiting on God for the big stuff that we forget to praise Him in the smaller things. We want Him to cure someone's cancer, give someone else the job he wants, bring us another tiny human. We wait and pray and cry out and wonder when, if ever. He looks at us and says, "Hey, I'm in the big stuff. I'm going to prove it by being in these little things that you didn't even think to ask me about. You can see this show for whatever your friend will allow you to pay. You can sit in the front row, even, of a musical with this person you really enjoy. I'm gonna do that for you. Also, that TV stand you want, it's going to be $214 after tax. Do you think you can handle paying $33 out of pocket?"

We call it coincidence or luck. We smile and move on. But what if we chose to see God in ALL our good  fortune? We are blessed. We find His favor so much more often than we acknowledge. He uses people to bless us and we miss it. What blessings have you decided to call random chance, fate or luck?

Take a look around. I'll bet God shows up a lot more than you ever realize.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Let Her Go

Grief is funny.

It's not at all ha-ha funny. It's peculiar, irregular, spastic.

Grief shows up at inopportune times.

As has been well documented, I'm not much of a crier. This year, though, has maybe made up for a lifetime of little tears. I didn't cry at Kate's funeral. I knew I wouldn't. I don't think I have ever cried at any funeral. I correctly assumed that my own daughter's would be no different. But, since January, I've cried in dozens of bathroom stalls, a handful of quiet hallways, a few garages, and several stores.

There have been weeks, even months, that have gone by without tears followed by days where I feel like this heart-hurt will go on forever. I think I'm pretty good at faking it--I have a college degree in pretending--but there are times when the grief just surfaces so quickly that I don't have the time to suppress it.

When Garrett's teacher asks them to raise their hands if they have a sister and he comes home and tells me that he didn't know what to do. He has a sister. But she's in the ground. I turn quickly toward the sink, tears springing instantly to my eyes.

When Matthew prays, "Thank you that you gave us Kate even though you didn't give her to us that much."

When I'm getting ready to have a yard sale and I open a box and I'd forgotten that I'd put all the sympathy cards and the paperwork from the cemetery in it. It catches me off guard and I cry because I don't want to have paperwork from a cemetery. I want to have a five month old.

This song. Whenever I hear it.

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you've been high when you're feelings low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you'll make a dream last
But dreams come slow and they go so fast
You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you'll understand why
Everything you touch, surely dies.


Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
'Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast
Well you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
'Cause you loved her too much and you dive too deep

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go

And you let her go

I never knew her. I tell myself as if that will somehow make it easier on me. But it doesn't and I pray long prayers about how I have no idea what Heaven will be like and I know that my one request won't change the order of things, but if God, in His infinite wisdom and glory, could just set aside a few minutes for me to meet my daughter, I would be much obliged. And if He could tell her just how much we wanted her and just how loved she is and just how much we miss her, I sure would be grateful.

I do Bible studies called Motherhood for Every Moment, Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted, and Stronger: Finding Hope in Fragile Places. I find joy and truth and hope. I keep moving forward, knowing that while the grief still surprises me, the moments are fewer and there are longer spaces of laughter and smiles in between.

Songs will continue to catch me off guard when they suddenly come on in a grocery store. People will ask me if I just have the two boys and I'll nod because there isn't time to tell the story but in my head I will say, "And I have a daughter waiting for me in Heaven." My boys will struggle with what to say when someone asks them if they have a sister. Years from now, perhaps, moments will still make me cry.

Because grief is strange. And the thing about the song is that I'm not sure I quite know how to let her go.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Ultimately, after revisiting it with fervor for approximately two and half days in which I vacillated between being almost sure that we were going to become parents again in September to being positive that we're never going to have another child, we decided not to have our profile shown. It was an agonizing decision and my thoughts swayed--pendulum style--roughly 1.7 million times in 60 hours. I imagined pulling the crib mattress out from under my bed and hanging girly pictures on the wall in the playroom turned nursery turned library, turning it back into a nursery once again. Just as quickly I would spin my mind's wheels trying to figure out loan options and how we would begin to accomplish the getting of such a large amount of money so fast and I would feel restless and without peace or direction.

My brother's baby was overdue. I knew we had to decide before that baby was born. I knew my judgement would be even cloudier once she was here. (Turns out THAT was a good call.) Every time I prayed I felt more confused than before. There just wasn't a clear answer. In the absence of direction, does one move forward when a little life is on the line? Or does one close her eyes and say, "I will wait on you, Lord."

When we said no, we agreed that our time may never come. I know that sounds pessimistic and negative--defeatist, even. It isn't meant to. In February, we decided to move forward in anticipation of another adoption because, independently of each other, the Lord gave us her name very soon after we lost Kate. It's not a name we ever would have considered if God hadn't whispered it to both of us. He's never spoken any of our other children's names into our hearts. But that is a story for another time...perhaps. I won't share the name. I'm presently much too busy treasuring it in my own heart. Even then, though, holding her name on the tip of our tongues, we were never certain that He would bring us another child--much less that He would bring one we have the privilege of naming. We both trust that He told us. We just know that it could have been the dream He gave us to keep us moving. And so, we had to accept that there was an opportunity in front of us and another one might not come.

We decided to wait on the Lord.

For what is to come or what may not come.

It was not an easy choice. And, once made, I still wondered if we'd chosen wisely. One week later, through a strange set of circumstances, the Lord spoke clear and perfect confirmation to me. The details are not important. But the Lord works in utterly mysterious ways. He also began a convicting work in me.

While on earth, my job is to draw near to Him and make Him known to others. (For the record, I fail this mission every, single day.) I've been living in limbo since January. I suppose in some ways it's to be expected. The grief process has been real and encompassing and while I've tried to pick myself up and walk on in public, my husband can attest to the grittier side of things. (I'd be lost without him. He deserves some kind of medallion or a constellation in his honor for the way he has loved me in these past nine months. Truly, no one will ever know the way he has held this messy, grieving family together. But seriously. I should reward him with a belt buckle or something.) The back and forth between grieving and waiting has been exhausting. One minute it's excitement and longing. The next minute it's crying and pain.

The convicting work has been this. I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO DIE WAITING. Especially when no official promise was ever made. I'm supposed to draw near to Him and share Him and whatever He chooses to bless me with along the way is just a whole lot of icing on the cake. Don't get me wrong, we are still waiting with hope and eager anticipation for what He might have for us. I just don't want to waste my life wondering if the phone is going to ring.

Last night, Matthew woke up crying. He called out for me. He'd had a scary dream and wanted to stay with me on the couch. I pulled him onto me and he snuggled in. After he fell back into sleep, I thought about it. These two boys are (usually) a pretty intense delight. I don't know what earthly good I've done to deserve them. But I remember waiting for them and wondering if they'd ever live and breathe and grow up big enough to call me Mom.

I kissed his nose and ran my fingers over his back. Another one would be an amazing and welcomed addition. But the blessings He has bestowed upon me are more than enough.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Meeting My Niece

Does anyone remember the fact that I used to blog here?

Yeah. Me neither. It's been SOOOO long.

I have an excuse for the past few days though. On Sunday afternoon, my parents flew me to San Diego so that I could meet my niece!!! We planned it a couple of days before she was actually born, bought the airfare the day after she was born, and I got to spend three days (off and on, of course) with her! I just got back yesterday and I'm not actively working on a formula that will allow me to clone myself so that I can live in two places at one time.

We completely surprised my brother and sister-in-law which ended up being SUPER HILARIOUS. They live in a town home (condo?) and so my parents dropped me off a handful of doors away. They went in and the plan was for me knock on the door several minutes later. My brother had been out running an errand and we wanted to make sure he was there. My mom texted me that he was but I wanted to wait another minute. Then I replied with something or other about how I was on my way.

"Wait!!!" was her reply. I had no earthly reason why and was afraid my brother was walking outside. As I was already almost to his door, I dove into some bushes, directly in front of someone else's house. Crouching there, I texted back, "I'm hiding in a Bush. What am I waiting for?" (Yes, regular "bush" autocorrected to a former president.) As it turns out, they'd gone upstairs and they quickly decided to sneak me in and just have me sitting there when they came back down.

Heather's grandparents, parents and sister were there. My parents were there. So it was quite a party of people. Maybe that explains why my brother looks directly at me and just keeps living his life for a solid nine seconds. It was pretty great.


Then I held her and hugged her and promised to take her to a Broadway show.

And, BLOG WORLD, my brother somehow ordered the world's best baby. She ALMOST NEVER CRIES and when she does it's because someone has dared to change her dirty diaper or because she'd like something in her tummy. 

I am so glad that Troy is officiating Heather's sister's wedding in a month so that we have an excuse to go to California. And also even though I still hate year round school, the boys are off in October and you'd better believe that that baby is going to be spending some serious time in my arms again. And then, Troy is leaving on a mission trip to Haiti on Thanksgiving day and, well, I feel like I should maybe just go to San Diego because cooking Thanksgiving for three does not sound like my idea of a good time. Right?

Also, short of kidnapping my niece (which my sister-in-law already informed me is not really a good option) frequent trips are really my only option. Maybe I need to start a "Visit My Niece Monthly" Go Fund Me page to help support my habit.

Okay. Not really. But almost.

Friday, August 21, 2015

My Lil Gert

Early on Thursday my brother became a dad.

I was all set to announce my niece's name and post a picture of her but I haven't asked them if they're ok with me doing those things on my blog and since they've slept, like, negative hours in the past two days, I'm not going to burden them with it right now.

I will say that I got to virtually meet her tonight and it was super but NOT NEARLY AS SUPER AS MEETING HER IN PERSON WILL BE SOME DAY. Because I live in Utah and she does not. Which, if you ask me, is a complete travesty.

I will also say that it doesn't altogether matter what her name is. They didn't give her one until this afternoon and, in the meantime, I started calling her Gert. My brother refers to my children more often than not as G-Money and M-Cat. It's just...his uncle thing. So when they didn't give her name, I threw out Gert as an option. Entirely from the episode of Friends where Chandler and Monica get married and Ross switches his table number and ends up at the kids' table and dances with little girls all night. One little girl's name is Gert and she is enormous--both in stature and in girth. She towers over the rest of the children. I threw it out, obviously, as a complete joke but pointed out that it's a family name.

My great grandmother's name was Gertrude.

I continued joking about it and my mom voiced her concern that it might stick. The damage was done. It stuck for me. I mean, at least as a joke. G-Money, M-Cat and Gerty Girl.

I've also long said that I am going to be the aunt who always has gum so it would seem we're going with a Friends motif. Even though, by the time she's old enough for her parents to allow her to watch friends, it'll be so ridiculously dated that she'll think we're all old and lame. 

My niece actually has a beautiful name that I love and plan to use often. She's totally adorable. I want to reach through the computer screen, pull her into my arms and tell my brother and sister-in-law to take a break. Take a nap. Take a shower. Take 18 years, give or take.

Gert and I have got this. Together. For the rest of my life.