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)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Secret Prayer

There is an hour of peace and rest, unmarred by earthly care.'Tis when before the Lord I go and kneel in secret prayer.
When sailing on life's stormy sea, 'mid billows of despair, 'tis solace to my soul to know God hears my secret prayer.
When thorns are strewn along my path, and foes my feet ensnare, my Savior to my aid will come, if sought in secret prayer.
May my heart be turned to pray, pray in secret day by day, that this boon to mortals giv'n may unite my soul with heav'n.
- Hans Henry Petersen, 1835-1909

I can't say it better than the words of that beautiful hymn. Prayer is the way we have been given to communicate with our God, our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ. It is, remarkably, a two-way conversation.

In my life, as part of my faith, religion, and especially as part of my relationship with a real, living God, I have many opportunities to pray. We have prayers of gratitude over meals; we say prayers as a family; we join faith with others in prayer at church or in other circumstances; and I get to have personal prayers to express my own concerns, needs, and gratitude. There is little formal structure to these prayers: as patterned after Christ's teachings, we pray to our Heavenly Father, then express the feelings of our hearts - gratitude, faith, desires, and needs, and finally we close in the name of Jesus Christ, who acts as our intercessor with the Father.

Personal prayers are some of the greatest blessings in my life, and as the hymn "Secret Prayer" so sweetly says, there is a special power in private, secret prayer. I want to share with you my favorite, most sacred form of secret prayer, and why it is so important; it is part of how I pray in the temple.

For my friends and family who have never attended the Mormon temple, let me give you some background information. (And please, use the links I'm giving in my words to learn more.) We, Mormons, build temples to be holy places to the Lord. In fact, in the stone of each temple is engraved "Holiness to the Lord." We build them and restrict who may enter NOT, as I recently read, because we believe we are superior to others, but because we believe God is superior and that He deserves the very best we can give, the very best we can build, and the very best we can be. Thus, our temples are built with the finest materials and craftsmanship that we can possibly give. We do not reveal the cost of these temples because it is not something to brag about - it is an offering to our God, and all God cares about is that we give Him our best. In the same spirit, the reason we require people to honor and follow certain commandments and laws of God in order to enter His house is because we honor Him, and to be in His presence, we must offer the very best we can be. We are not perfect, but we are striving to be our best.
Visit mormon.org to chat online or find missionaries nearby
What we do in our temples is often a matter of speculation. It is not a secret. You can find all of it in the Bible and scriptures, as well as LDS publications. (Not in "anti-mormon" publications, I promise, because they are designed to breed negative feelings toward Mormons.)

We hold our temple worship sacred, however, and so restrict how casually we talk about it so as to retain a spirit of reverence regarding God's temples. We will not lie to you about what we do in our temples. On the contrary, we are anxious to tell you about our religion, the crown of which is our temples and the sacred ordinances and teachings there. There we learn of God's plan for us, which has existed since before the world was created and which is designed to bring us eternal happiness and salvation. There we bind marriages and families together for eternity by the authority and priesthood of God.

 In the temple, we wear clothes of white. Women wear white dresses; men wear white pants, shirts, and ties - the same attire we would wear to an occasion where we wish to show respect and reverence (the white is symbolic of purity - or as pure as we can humanly be, which is a far cry from perfect). As we learn about God's grand plan of happiness and salvation, we don additional, symbolic robes, including head-wear. The men wear hats; the women wear veils. The veils are not unlike wedding veils in that they are light and sheer; we wear them back, our faces still revealed.

 There is a point when we pray in the temple. At this point, the women are asked to use their veils to cover their faces. At first, I thought this was old-fashioned and sexist, like asking women to hide. And I confess, I don't fully understand the symbolism of this. One of the beautiful things about symbolism in the temple is that, much like the scriptures, it is simple and unchanging but we are left to interpret it as needed in our own lives and in different circumstances.
Finally, we get to my point. Here is what the gesture has come to symbolize for me. When I pull that veil over my face, even though it is so sheer I see through it clearly, it becomes a literal barrier between me and everything and everyone else but God. Inside that personal space, the only things that exist, the things that are allowed to matter are my private self and God. Just me and God. In theory, every time I pray that is the case, but there is something in that physical action that makes it feel so much more real. Yes, I am "hidden" from others, but that is exactly what I want to be when I am silently baring the most vulnerable parts of my soul to God. The other beautiful part is that God is in there with me, with only me. That is what "secret prayer" means to me. I wish I could feel that always.

I am no expert on other religions. I have not taken the time or opportunity to study other religions thoroughly, but it is a goal of mine (maybe when I leave the toddler-stage of parenthood). But there are several other religions where people cover their heads and/or faces to pray. I can only assume they feel a similar purpose in the gesture. Old-fashioned? Maybe. But how beautiful and how sacred a gesture!

Prayer is special. It is sacred. Let's make it, in whatever way we deem appropriate, more sacred, secret prayer.

"May my heart be turned to pray, pray in secret day by day, that this boon to mortals giv'n may unite my soul with heav'n."

To chat privately online with an LDS missionary, visit http://mormon.org/chat. They are truly anxious to answer any questions you might have!

You can also chat directly with me. I would love to tell you more about my faith.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Musing some more

You may have noticed I muse over music - a lot. I relate to music and art, it's part of being a highly-sensitive person. (There's a whole book: "The Highly Sensitive Person.")

 "Let It All Out" - Relient K

"You promise me that you believe in time I will defeat this, 'cause somewhere in me there is strength."

"Brave" - Sara Bareilles
(You get TWO versions of this video, because I see it so differently when I pay attention to the lyrics, and when I see the official video Sara made, especially when someone's "brave" dance encourages strangers to open up and join in.)

Sara Bareilles // Brave from The Wall Group on Vimeo.

"Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live. Maybe one of these days you can let the light in. Show me how big your brave is."

"Dark Side" - Kelly Clarkson

"Don't give up on me. Please remind me who I really am.
Nobody's a picture perfect, but we're worth it."

"Not Afraid" - Eminem

"This black cloud still follows me around 
But it's time to exorcise these demons
And I just can't keep living this way
So starting today, I'm breaking out of this cage
I'm standing up, I'ma face my demons
I'm manning up, I'ma hold my ground
I've had enough, now I'm so fed up
Time to put my life back together right now!

We'll walk this road together, through the storm."

A few glimpses of Lana

It's difficult to get pictures of Lana lately. She's so busy and bouncy and active. Also, as soon as I pull out the camera, she stops whatever it is she is doing and comes running to grab the camera - she likes to be the one taking shots. Pun intended. However, here are a few cute things about here lately. (You're welcome, Grandmas!)

"But Mom, these bubble baths have PRINCESSES on them!! How can you buy only one when there are, like, seven of them on the shelf?"

Best purchase this year: A three-foot stuffed Tigger for $4 at Goodwill (and of course a Pooh bear to go with it). Lana totes this guy everywhere, and goes to bed snuggled up against him with a great big smile on her face.
Lana gets her workouts by watching Tigger songs. Apparently he encourages VERY energetic bouncing.
Winnie the Pooh and Tigger each have their own chair at our family dinner table now.

Lana knows all the letters of the alphabet (my genius daughter!), but I don't think she realizes the ABC's song is singing the letters. She calls it "Baby Sees," and sings along repeating those words over and over.

My lucky little girl got to shake the hand of an Apostle today, one of God's own prophets.

My two-year-old's prayers: "Heavenly Father, babble, babble, babble, amen!" If I were God, those would be my favorite. 

You can tell Lana was born and raised an Oregonian. When the cloud cover eases up enough to let the sun shine through, if we drive in the car she covers her eyes with her hands and cries, "The sky! The sky!" and asks me to turn off the light. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Cracks Let the Light Shine Through

"Expansion" by Paige Bradley
I think know God has a bigger plan here. I am regaining just enough strength and perspective to see a few things.

First, this will pass. It is an episode, not a forever condition, although the physiological factors underlying it may be with me for life. But this dark and scary pit is one I will climb out of, as I have done before

Second, this experience will actually make me stronger. I don't buy the phrase "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger," because sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it leaves you weaker, damaged, and afraid, and the best (or worst) thing that can be said about it is that it didn't kill you. But this time is different. It's different because I am responding differently. Instead of waiting for the storm to pass, waiting to see the light ahead, I am taking a stand. I am shedding the shame and I am sharing, asking for and accepting help. New help - things I haven't tried before. I am determined to find a way to live my life so I am no longer walking along the edge of the precipice, liable to fall at the slightest push. I don't know how I'll do it, or how long it will take, or how hard it will be - but I will find a way. This time I am fighting back.

Third, God may actually have a purpose in this. It might not, in fact, be just the condition of my body, or just my life's trial to learn to live with, though it certainly is that. I'm starting to believe that God wants me to fight back, to learn how to be stronger, not for my sake alone but for others.

It's becoming clear to me that this trial might be similar to my struggles with infertility and pregnancy complications. When kept to myself, they are a heavy cross to bear. But when shared they become a conduit for empathy, for connection with other people in ways that would be impossible had I not experienced those things for myself.

Don't misunderstand me, this doesn't make my trial any easier, but it does give me hope and purpose, and those are powerful things. I may not be able to "beat" this, but I can come to understand it and let my broken-open heart fill with empathy and a greater capacity to love others.

“The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.” - Joanna Macy

Here's what God has to say on the matter: "The books on high will be opened and they will record the great messages that you have delivered, the charity that you have exhibited, the love you have shared, and the great things you have accomplished in this mortal life." And so on. (The rest is sacred and private to me.)

That has always seemed a tall order to fill, an impossible task really, to be the person He describes. But I'm beginning to see how He's making me that person. The process isn't easy; it requires me to go through some pretty hard stuff - I dare say some of life's hardest. 

But what if those "great messages" are really one-on-one conversations with a person in pain, when I can simply and honestly say, "I know what it's like, and you are not alone." What if the charity and love and "great things" I accomplish are not with the proverbial ninety and nine, but with one - one precious soul at a time, for each individual is precious beyond measure. 

To quote a hymn that's been on my mind, God sends blessings "through words and deeds of those who love." And true friends are His greatest gifts. What better friend can a person have than one who climbs into the pit with them and reassures, "You are not alone," while God does His work to help them find their way back into the light.

So all this breaking me - physically, mentally, and emotionally - may be for the express purpose that I know what it's like to be broken. After all, God asks us to lay at His altar a "broken heart and a contrite spirit" (see Isaiah 57:15 and Psalm 34:18). I'd always thought of these two things in relation to forgiveness. Contrite does mean remorseful or full of grief. But what if it can also mean something else? I'm a student of Latin, so I always search for meaning in the roots of words. Con means "with" or "together," and trite means "worn out" or "frequently used." Put the two together, and a contrite spirit may mean a spirit that is willing to be used by God, willing to submit to Him to the degree that we ourselves are so worn out that God is the One working. 

It occurs to me that when I break, if I offer up the pieces of myself willingly to God, He will put me back together as He wants me to be. I am like a broken vessel (see Psalm 31). And each time I get put back together there remain a few additional cracks for Light to shine through.

Let It Out

Huge, life-changing lesson from therapy today:

If I want to BE STILL, first I have to let the things inside me that will not be still OUT. 
And letting them out is not likely to be very pretty or controlled. 
And that is OKAY.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Where can you run to escape from yourself?
I dare you to move.
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor.

I am a hostage to my own humanity
Self-detained and forced to live in this mess I've made
And all I'm asking is for You to do what You can with me

Who has to know
The way she feels inside
Those thoughts I can't deny
These sleeping thoughts won't lie
And all I've tried to hide
It's eating me apart

"It's okay to open up. Go ahead and let the light shine through.
I know it's hard on a rainy day; you want to shut the world out and just be left alone."

You chose to stick around in spite of me, when I let the night take the day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014