your best surprises of 2014


A few years ago, in December, I was wrapping gifts and– with the melancholy that sometimes visits during the holidays– letting tears slip down my cheeks as I mourned things that hadn’t happened that year, carefully crafted plans come to naught (primarily, a baby). I continued to wrap and cry, grumbling a bit that I wasn’t getting the gift I really wanted, when I remembered the friend who’d handed me tickets to a Christmas concert the week before. One by one, I began thinking of all the good things in the past year that happened without my planning, without my goal-setting. Joys, successes, new friends, small victories…handed to me with no effort on my part, wrapped up beautifully and tied with a bow. I ripped a piece of wrapping paper, turned it over and wrote down everything that had surprised or delighted me in the previous months. Continue reading

Peculiar Treasures: When Is Whenever


When statistics become human, emotional stories. When we publically address our mistakes as a parent, or deliberately address where we spend our moralistic anger.

When a girl races her diagnosis, and is literally caught at the finish line. When we realise we all live in Babylon. When we answer this question.

When a love of pi and knitting come beautifully together. When there’s more to Temple Square at Christmas than expected. When generosity isn’t rewarded, but remembered decades later.

When you know which three pieces of advice you would give to YW/YM. When you wondered what would go perfectly on that wall over there

When we read anyone’s first draft – this week’s First Draft Poetry is by Melissa Young, which ties in with the determined runner mentioned before:

“They don’t bloom the first year,”
the cashier warned,
ringing up the small red hibiscus.
but this morning
the first bud (of many)
and though my mind whispers
that God performed no more
than a distant, law-bound creation,
the confluence of these blood blooms
feels to my dry soul
like intimate,
defiant grace

Guest Post: Eve and How to Fall

116e0p8k3w5hkJamie Wood is the mother of five children and is currently stranded in wintry Iowa while her husband completes his PhD in Accounting. She spends her days homeschooling her two oldest, enduring floor wrestles from her three youngest, and sending them all to the basement in the afternoon so she can write. Her first novel, “Bearskin,” has recently been accepted for publication, a fact which still keeps her up at night in utter disbelief. Jamie posts thoughts about motherhood and her writing journey at

“And Heavenly Mother.” he declares.

My son interrupts our family scripture discussion. He’s a regular distraction to the nightly course, but instead of rushing to the bathroom, feet pitter-pattering in long-put-off emergency mode, instead of pointing at his siblings, intent they show a reverence he forgets to practice himself, my son reminds our family to think of Her as well as Him.

It is always he who reminds us to include Her in our discussions of what Heavenly Father wants for our family. His little voice speaks as an echo of the many desires felt by the women in my church. When my sister-in-law questions why her Heavenly Mother is relatively absent in revealed scripture, or how she, as a daughter, is to fashion herself after a Goddess so many are hesitant to discuss, I think of my son. His certainty of his Mother is a gift from Heaven, a knowledge he grasps tightly in his pudgy, marker-stained hands. Continue reading

Let us Pray – a poem

Lutefisk enhanced with bacon

Lutefisk enhanced with bacon

For the fray of the parking lot –
Fuming vultures bumper to bumper:
Lord, give us peace.

For the rehearsals and performances –
And the hithering and thithering thereunto:
Lord, grant us peace.

For the wheedling children –
Who cry “Mine Mine!” finding themselves overcome with wanting (See Daniel 5:26):
Merciful God, give us peace.

For the exchanges of sundry sorts –
Of the cookies, of the festive cards, of the homemade ornaments, of the nasty viruses:
Lord, grant us peace.

For the relatives harboring grievances –
Who will stir up unto themselves gripes, complaints and all manner of lamentations:
Lord, give us peace.

For Mormor Ingrid’s gelatinous lutefisk –
However reminiscent of our Scandinavian family history it may be:
Merciful God, save us no piece.

Of mistletoe and reindeer –
And other traditions melded fancifully with the stable and the manger:
Lord, let us make peace. Amen