On the night before Thanksgiving two years ago I woke up suddenly to the sound of vomiting. My three-year-old had come down with the stomach bug that had hit my other children earlier in the month. Unfortunately we were at my parents’ house for the holiday and I had not packed many extra clothes. I spent the rest of the night tending to her as best I could, quietly searching the crowded house for extra towels and blankets to keep the mess contained without waking up anyone else and spoiling their holiday too. By the time the sun came up, my poor daughter was only wearing a t-shirt and was lying on the floor swaddled in a large bath towel. I spent Thanksgiving morning catatonic on the couch watching Disney cartoons with my daughter while my mom cooked the entire meal herself. I didn’t even enjoy the feast that year because I was too tired and the smell of food was nauseating (thankfully I escaped the illness myself). Continue reading Thanksgiving Mayhem, Christmas Chaos, and Other Cherished Memories
So I’ve been driving round town listening to Brene Brown for the last month. No doubt most of you are familiar with her work, her research, her books. I can’t wait to dive into her newest release, Rising Strong. But of late I’ve been listening to her talks on vulnerability (developed from her book, The Gifts of Imperfection). I love what she has to say about wholehearted living. She offers ten guideposts to those who want to live more open, more joyful, and more fulfilled. Things like letting go of perfectionism, creativity, play, rest, and gratitude.
What she had to say about gratitude made me laugh out loud. Continue reading More Than an Attitude
The last few weeks have been difficult for me (for many of us, I think): I have wrestled with the new church policy, cried watching footage of the bombings in Beirut and Paris, and the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis has wrung my heart.
I’m not here to offer pat answers or solutions–I don’t have them myself. But I did find a tender mercy this past weekend in the form of a member of my bishopric, who asked me to give a talk on finding peace through the Atonement. The process of preparing that talk reminded me of some truths that I needed, and would like to share here.
Sometimes peace through the Atonement comes as we rely on repentance and forgiveness to heal the wounds we’ve caused through our own mistakes.
But sometimes–often–such peace comes purely gratuitous, as an act of grace.
Recently my oldest son and I watched a show on Netflix called Daredevil, and it lead to many weird and deep conversations. Most conversations involved – at least to some point – the fact that we were strongly disagreeing with each other about a character called Fisk. On first glance, Fisk (a rich guy with flunkies, body guards, car conveys and huge anger management failures) and his nemesis Matt Murdock (a blind freelance lawyer lying to his friends and also being a masked vigilante beating up criminals and thieves) both actively made their decisions and actions based on their total belief that they were doing it for the good of the city they loved and the people who lived there. I think Fisk is a sociopath, or a combination of serious psychological diagnoses, whereas Patrick thought he was determined, focussed, using his money and power in intelligent, precise ways Matt was too poor and grass level to even dream about accomplishing.
The series is over, we still disagree about Fisk, and while I’ve forgotten most about the show, there’s one piece of dialogue that I can’t get out of my head. I keep gnawing at what Fisk says, and it’s guided my scripture study and self-examination ever since.
I was thinking about a story from the Bible… I’m not a religious man, but I’ve read bits and pieces over the years. Curiosity more than faith. But this one story… There was a man, he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was set upon by men of ill intent. They stripped the traveller of his clothes, they beat him, and they left him bleeding in the dirt. And a priest happened by, saw the traveller, but he moved to the other side of the road and continued on. And a Levite, a religious functionary, he came to the place, saw the dying traveller, but he, too, moved to the other side of the road, passed him by. But then came a man from Samaria, a Samaritan, a good man. He saw the traveller bleeding in the road and he stopped to aid him without thinking of the circumstance or the difficulty it might bring him. The Samaritan tended to the traveller’s wounds, applying oil and wine, and he carried him to an inn, gave him all the money he had for the owner to take care of the traveller, as the Samaritan, he continued on his journey. He did this simply because the traveller was his neighbor. He loved his city and all the people in it. I always thought I was the Samaritan in that story. It’s funny, isn’t it? How even the best of men can be deceived by their true nature.
FBI Guard #1: What the hell does that mean?
Wilson Fisk: It means that I am not the Samaritan. That I’m not the priest, or the Levite. That I am the ill intent who set upon the traveller on a road…
I was floored by that sentiment, that self-study and awareness, and that scriptural angle. I often poke at myself: my persistent soft belly, evaluating how I’m doing as a parent, how much my calm is damaged in peak hour traffic, if my anxiety or depression needs professional help, which fictional character I’d most like to be… it’s all part of what I consider and try to be regularly aware of. The same with scripture study – I try to liken the scriptures to myself, so that I’m the repentant prodigal son AND the oldest son AND the father waiting and watching the road… but I had never considered being the bad guy. Not the “before” guy, the ignorant, the uncaring. At least, not unknowingly. Continue reading Being the “Bad Guy”
Annalaura Solomon is interviewed here by the Mormon Women Project about her experiences joining the Church after being raised by her Lesbian moms. It’s especially interesting to read after all the brou-ha-ha of the church’s recent announcement about baptizing children in a homosexual household.
Who doesn’t love a good performance? Here’s a funny and interesting clip of the amazing singer, Adele, showing up in disguise as an Adele-impersonator to try out with other Adele-impersonators (is it just me or does this bring to mind the scripture of the sheep recognizing the shepherd’s voice?). Or maybe you just love a good old Hollywood song and dance number? Check out this modern mash-up that will make you want to get out of your chair and do a sashay across the room.
Most of you wonderful people adore books and reading as much as we do. This is a heartwarming story about children’s book-vending machines in a poor area of Washington D.C. where books are hard to come by. I love to read the dedication page of a new book and here is a collection of some of the funniest and most clever. There is a new anthology coming out soon that explores the many voices of Mormon Feminism, both old and new; this article interviews the editors of the book about the time, work and thought required for such an undertaking. Are you leaning more toward poetry these days? Here’s a hot new trend that uses existing books or newpsaper articles: it’s called blackout poetry and it’s something even poetry-dislikers can get on board with. It’s super easy and fun! Want to give it a try? This video shows you how to do it and the New York Times has made a computer-friendly place to do your own blackout poetry.
Our Melonie Cannon has done her own brilliant and artistic take on blackout poetry: