Each new year I have a cluster of friends who choose a word. A word they will focus on for the upcoming year.
I first noticed this trend when I was in the throes of babies by the double. People I admired were choosing words like see, lift, simplify, breathe, accept. I loved their words. I wanted one. But the only word I could think of then was survive. And the drowning, muffled ring of it didn’t set right. So that was that.
Two years later, I considered it again, but my brain had no space for it. It felt like one more thing. As 2015 bobbed in, however, I watched my five children toss balloons and blow streamers, and thought, maybe this is the year.
Maybe I should choose… a word.
My long-time friend and young women’s leader, Cristie, always chooses a word. She is a radiant, happy woman who still drops by with an unexpected gift, cares about staying in touch, and lives a consecrated, joyful life. Twenty years ago, she let me sit on her bed late at night and talk with her (and her husband) about big life decisions, boys, marriage. This year she made a number of darling bracelets for her daughters and friends who chose words.
Just before January she posted her word. It was listen. And with it she posed a question. What will your word be?
I thought about it for a week. I tried on words others were using. I tried being original. I tried being deep. I tried and tried and tried, but nothing fit or felt right. I needed so many words. Yet no single word seemed to possess in its meaning the salve I searched for. Continue reading
Just a few lines I love from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ (1884-1889) poem, The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe.
Nazareth 1842 Continue reading
I was sitting in sharing time last Sunday, surrounded by my class of nine year old girls, when a member of our primary presidency brought out this painting.
It’s by Nicolaes Maes. A Dutch painter from the Golden Age who studied in Rembrandt’s studio. In his best period, from 1655 to 1665, he devoted himself to capturing the domestic. He painted life-size figures with deep, glowing color schemes and some of his art now hangs in Buckingham Palace.
This piece is called Prayer Without End.
I studied it as this thoughtful sister taught. And the more I looked, the more I found to love. The more I wanted to know this woman in prayer.
I loved… Continue reading
It’s a typical Wednesday morning. 5:45 AM. I turn off my alarm clock and sink back into the pillow. I want to sleep in. But I don’t. Still blinking against the bathroom light I put on my running clothes, rinse with mouthwash, then quietly step out the front door to meet my running friends.
Half way through our route, most the group peels off to head home for junior high carpool. My friend Laurie and I continue the full loop as the sky turns a pale blue. She asks about my husband’s work and before I know it I am talking about the exhaustion I’ve felt of late.
It is nothing new. With a deadline looming he’s been working late nights and weekends. And even with our three girls returning to school I can’t seem to find two minutes to rub together. I’ve been doing this routine for years, I tell her, but for some reason it isn’t getting easier.
I can’t remember all I said about the struggle of getting through the evening hours alone with five young kids. About managing the homework, refereeing arguments, trying to make a decent dinner, and doing dishes after 10 PM, followed by a Saturday with husband gone, then a Sunday where several additional hours outside the church block are consumed by his church calling.
I was talking about our marriage, about how it’s hard to stay connected when you simply don’t see enough of each other, when suddenly, I broke. Right there on Wander Lane. The female tear viaducts opened and I cried quick, breathless sobs. I squeaked out an apology and tried to pull myself together. But you know that moment? When you realize you’re hurting? When you unintentionally speak a truth you haven’t admitted? And the ache comes pouring out? Continue reading
Last Saturday I volunteered at Salt Lake City’s Color Run. The happiest 5K run on the planet. Volunteers splashed powdered color on runners wearing tutus, rainbow headbands, and striped socks. It was pretty incredible to watch.
The run benefited two charities. Global Citizen – a movement, website, and app invested in ending extreme world poverty, and UN Women of Utah – an organization working to help women and children in a variety of ways including refugee services, eliminating prostitution, and advocating education for girls in Africa.
My friend, Nikki (pictured above) is the go-to girl for both. Years ago, through the International Refugee Committee, she connected me to a Sudanese family that I spent time with during my college years, helping them acclimate to a new life in the United States.
Saturday was the first time in years I’ve volunteered somewhere beyond math facts and reading at the elementary school. And it got me thinking. When I do have a little more time, as kids go to school, and life cracks open a bit, how will I spend it?
My interest was piqued when a friend shared a FAIR talk with me, given by Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities. I thought it interesting that she was asked to talk on a subject unrelated (so I thought) to her work. A topic that has worn us out of late: Women in the Church. Continue reading