Words to Live and Write by

I am willing to fall Because I have learned how to rise.

I craft Love from heartbreak, Compassion from shame, Grace from disappointment, Courage from failure.

I am among the brave and brokenhearted, and I am rising strong.

(credit to Brene Brown)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What it Really Means to Serve

This was too good not to share. Excerpts from Elder Neal A. Maxwell's book "All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience." No coincidence that I'm reading it now.


There are direct, obvious, and traditional services to be performed, such as providing food, clothing, shelter, and physical care. But there are also more subtle needs to be met that are no less real for not being quite so visible.

So often what parched and thirsty people need is to be nourished by the drinking of true doctrines and to be revived by the food of fellowship. Giving genuine companionship to the malnourished mortals who have known so little love and so few friends is as vital as food for the starving.

 So often we can serve by bathing the wounded and bruised egos of others in the warm waters of deserved commendation.

So often what people need is to be enveloped in the raiment of real response

 So often what people need so much is to be sheltered from the storms of life in the sanctuary of belonging


Frequently, we busily search for group service projects, which are surely needed and commendable, when quiet personal service is also urgently needed. Sometimes the completing of an occasional group service project ironically salves our consciences when, in fact, we are constantly surrounded by a multitude of opportunities for individual service. In serving, as in true worship, we need to do some things together and some things personally. Our spiritual symmetry is our own responsibility, and balance is so important.

 We should balance the service we give as between, for instance, the young, pretty, and handsome and the old who are worn and frail.

 We should balance our service between those who give us immediate response and gracious appreciation and those who are grumpy—so grumpy they almost dare us to love them.

As we strive to render significant, though often quiet service, we should avoid life patterns in which the seeming pressures can make for superficial service and rushed relationships. What C.S. Lewis said of our reception-oriented social gatherings is often true: meeting people in such settings is like reading only the first page of one hundred different books—very unfulfilling! All of us should strive, therefore, to have some friendships that are deep and solid—so solid, for instance, that if they were interrupted, the unfinished conversation could be resumed months later almost in mid-sentence, just as if we had never been apart.
 You and I are believers in and preachers of a glorious gospel that can deepen all human relationships now as well as projecting all relationships into eternity. Friendships, as well as families, are forever.

 When we see "things as they really are," we shall see others and ourselves as we really are. 

 Let us, therefore, define service to others as including genuine listening—a listening that is more than just being patient until it is our turn to speak; rather, a listening that includes real response, not simply nodding absorption.

 Let us think of service not only as giving, but also as receiving righteously. Parenthetically, one of the many reasons some of today's children have not learned to give is that some parents do not know how to receive.

 Let our service, at times, include a willingness to hold back in conversation when what we would have said has already been said—and perhaps better. To contribute not money, but time and space, so that another can expand is to reflect a quiet nobility. There are so many times when to forgo is to make way for another.

  We can serve by giving deserved, specific praise.

 Genuine responsiveness to the achievements of others is a noble, though subtle, way to serve. It means, of course, that there will be times when we applaud and no one notices our pair of happy hands, and no one even hears our added decibels—except us and the Lord. There are so many times when genuine human service means giving graciously our little grain of sand, placing it reverently to build the beach of brotherhood. We get no receipt, and our little grain of sand carries no brand; its identity is lost, except to the Lord.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hold my Hand

Ah, friends: panic and sheer terror are my constant companions of late.
Did you know our flesh has a memory all its own? Long after our minds have forgotten, erased, or changed the past, our bodies remember. Those scars: we may be used to seeing them, we may brag about them, we may even forget the minor ones are there. Our bodies don't.
My body sure hasn't forgotten. My mind and heart, changed by God's power, have altered the agony and pain of my last pregnancy to be part of the process of receiving my glorious girl. As C.S. Lewis aptly described, "That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, 'No future bliss can make up for it,' not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory."
But my mortal flesh remembers. Lately, although I am not pregnant, I have felt the complete and total exhaustion that accompanies early pregnancy. I cannot stay awake, my energy is all but disappeared. And today especially—probably because I ate too many Christmas cookies—I have felt that gnawing nausea in my stomach. My pelvic floor muscle spasm has not yet ceased, so I have also felt a lot of pain. And my depression has flared up to be overwhelming most of the time. These were the things that dragged me down into a personal hell during pregnancy: pain, sickness, exhaustion, and that God-forsaken darkness.
This spring, God told us what to do. He told us to let another child come. He said it as clearly as anything. I was terrified, but I made room to obey. At first I was determined, "Fine, let's do this." Then I was excited, "Can you imagine having another adorable, sweet baby?" Now… Now I am back to terrified.
I am not exaggerating when I say my last pregnancy almost killed me. It literally nearly did. One interesting thing I learned about staring death in the face—for real—is that it's not at all scary; it's a kind of peaceful. Lying on an operating table, unable to move or breathe, I had only a moment of panic realizing my lungs did not work, and then I felt calm. Completely calm—death meant release, peace, freedom.
Obviously, I did not die. But my body remembers how close I came. And every pregnancy-like symptom I get throws me back into a panic-stricken "I'm going to die!" mindset. I can't escape it. I've tried. I even made an appointment with my OB to reinsert an IUD, just to stop the constant stress of it all. Conception (which includes infertility complications) and pregnancy (which includes miscarriage and a plethora of other complications) are too heavy a load for me to carry for long.
But an inspired conversation with a trusted friend directed me back to the Lord's commandment. Terrified as I am, I will stay the course, no matter the consequences. (My OB will think I'm the most fickle woman she knows.)
Last night I read this scripture: "I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7) If that wasn't enough, two nights before I'd read this: "the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I think Someone is trying to tell me something.

The Lord's tender mercies, I have found, most often come in and through other people. If ever I have been in need of tender mercies, now is one of those times. So friends, I ask of you, if you can think of any small way to help me, strengthen me, encourage me, support me, or just express that you care, please do. This is a scary time for me, and I need a hand to hold—as many hands as I can have. I don't know what mercies I need, but I need them. Something has got to get me through this.

Where is my Solace?

Troubled times. Troubled thoughts. Hard decisions. Physical and emotional pain. Story of my life.
Tonight I am finding comfort and strength in these beautiful hymns.

Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart, searching my soul?
Where when my aching grows, where when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand? He only One.
He answers privately, reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace He finds for my beseeching.
Constant He is and kind, Love without end.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul: thy best, thy heav'nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
In every condition--in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea--
As they days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

Friday, December 20, 2013

To Lana, at age Two

Dear Lana,

I cannot imagine there has ever been a child as loved as you. I know, for myself, that I have never loved anyone so perfectly and selflessly as I love you.

From the day you were born you've been a miracle. It took a lot of pain and sacrifice to bring you into this world, but you were strong and very determined. Angels protected you every moment, and I believe they still do.

You have such a strong personality that has always been evident. I say your blood is filled with sugar and spitfire. You have the biggest, most tender heart I've known. You are so sensitive to your surroundings, and concerned whenever someone is sad, and anxious to help. That's the sugar you were born with. You also know your own mind and what you want, and you won't let anything come between you and your goal. That's the spitfire.

You are still so young now, but you grow every day. Most of the time I think you're growing too fast and I miss your first months. You were my first, and I was so lucky to have such a good-natured baby. You hardly every cried. You'd wake up laughing and singing (my mother says I did the same thing), and our days were slow and filled with cuddling. That was always my favorite part: holding you in my arms and looking at your beautiful face while you slept. Your dad and I used to get greedy over who got to hold you in church.

But you've grown up; in your own determined way, nothing has been an obstacle for long. You love to move and dance and sing and run and laugh. You truly are a joy. Every night, after you go to bed, we stay up talking about all the cute, sweet, amazing things you did that day.

You are so loved, Lana. I'd say I love you with my whole heart, but my heart just isn't big enough. It's like my heart breaks open and glorious light/love comes pouring out and fills me to overflowing. I'm surprised I don't start literally glowing.

I just want you to know you are loved. Completely. Forever. Unequivocally. Beyond comprehension.

I am so grateful that I get to be your mommy. Thank you for being my daughter.


Monday, December 16, 2013

What shall we give?

What shall we give to the babe in the manger,
What shall we offer the child in the stall?
Incense and spices and gold we've a-plenty-
Are these the gifts for the king of us all?
What shall we give to the boy in the temple,
What shall we offer the man by the sea?
Palms at his feet and hosannas uprising;
Are these for him who will carry the tree?
What shall we give to the lamb who was offered,
Rising the third day and shedding his love?
Tears for his mercy we'll weep at the manger,
Bathing the infant come down from above.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Two Years of Life

Lana turns two years old on December 20th. Can you believe how the time has flown? She gets more beautiful and more enthusiastic every day. She does nothing half-way; when she's happy, she is all laughs and excitement.
Before she was born, this song began playing on the radio, and when I heard it, I knew: this was going to be her song.
"It's gonna a be a good life!"

Enjoy a few pictures of her over the last two years.
Happy Birthday Lana Delecia!

OneRepublic - "Good Life"




And don't miss this!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Card Season


It's the time of year for Christmas and holiday cards. These cards are actually one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love to see all the familiar faces from near and far, old friends and new ones. They all get pinned up next to each other and I see a beautiful collection of people who know us and love us enough to include us on their holiday list. All that love is something magical for me. Nothing brightens my spirits more than being remembered as someone's friend—even if time and distance keep us from regular contact.
So if you were debating whether to send us a card, or if you'd forgotten us from your list, please send us one! I LOVE them! It's one of the simplest, sweetest gifts you can send me, and I will cherish it because it means "love."

This year, unfortunately, brings a bit of melancholy for me. (I'll explain, but first, don't you dare take me off your list. I mean it when I say I love and want to see your faces!) Melancholy because I see how families keep growing. There are always a few new additions to friends' family pictures. Mine is the same this year. While each member of my family is a little bigger (and my doctor says that's a good thing in my case), the number 3 isn't getting any bigger.
Three is lovely, really. I appreciate three. I have a miracle child who fills our lives and home with laughter and love and temper tantrums and learning and frustration and JOY. (Joy is capital letters because it's really too big an emotion to be contained in a word.) When will I ever have such opportunity to give my full attention to my child? When will I ever again be able to contain both my offspring and some groceries in a single, normal cart? When else will I know a child is "up to something" because the house falls silent? When again will I have just one bedtime, just one bath time,  just one child in diapers, just one car seat, just one of—well, a lot of things.
And yet, it's that "just one" that pulls on my heart as I see my friends' families grow.
Even now we're travelling that long road that ends, hopefully, in number two. But I forgot how agonizingly long the road is. No, "forget" is the wrong word; I surely remember that journey. But this is a new road and so the emotions along it are fresh.
Six months and nothing. This spring, God told us very clearly and unequivocally to make way for another child, and quickly. In one of my most terrifying leaps of faith, we did. I just can't understand the reason for the urgency we felt in the spring if now, at the end of the year, we've got nothing to show for it.  God works in mysterious ways, but sometimes I hate all the mystery.
So as I see friends welcome numbers 3, 4, and 5, I wonder: where's my 2? And that annoying voice of pessimism in my head is stuck on repeat, saying, "Maybe you don't get a two. Maybe you don't deserve a two. Are you even good with one? Why should anyone give you a two? You will always number less than—and be less than—them." The voice is wrong, and I know it, but it sure is persistent. I'm trying really, really hard not to fall into its trap; that way lies depression, and we've had enough of that for a while.
So send me your cards and pictures, please! And as you do, take a moment as you stick that expensive little stamp on the envelope to say a tiny prayer for us. Tell God or the universe that next year, you'd really love to see a Trujillo picture with four.
'Tis the season to be merry, and as they say, "the more the merrier." (Except there's no way we're passing the number six in our family; I'm pretty sure that would kill me.)