I have something to confess that might be heresy.
I’m not a dog person.
While I’ve met several very amiable dogs, none of them have inspired in me the intense need that seeing a fat baby did (still does–but don’t tell my husband). Admittedly, puppies come close. I might even be temped if I didn’t know they got bigger.
Some of them even scare me. I still, seeing a large and strange dog while I’m out walking, have been known to cross to the far side of the road. My mom thinks some of this is due to the fact that my first encounter with a big dog was a Saint Bernard who, when I was 18 months old, bowled me over, stood on me, and licked my face. I think it might be due to the time in fifth grade when a stray dog got onto the playground at school and attacked another little girl, biting her on the head and face. (I know this is a rare incident, but it means I’m wary around strange dogs).
My not being a dog person hasn’t been much of an issue till now in my life: for the first part of our married life, we lived in rented spaces or other people’s houses (hi, mom and dad!). Even after we bought our own home, our kids were still very small. But now we’ve entered the stage of life where my kids are desperate for a pet–and not just any pet. They want a dog. Continue reading Seasons: To Get (or Not Get) a Pet
I love Christmas and the holiday season–though you wouldn’t have guessed that Monday morning, as grumpy as I was. I was smothering under the weight of my to-do list, and taking all three of my kids grocery shopping had proven to be the last straw. I snapped at my children, frightening them, for once, into something like quiet. I hustled them to meet their dad on campus, while I went alone to the campus post office to mail a package and buy stamps. (I wasn’t yet crazy enough to brave the local post office on the Monday before Christmas).
As I sorted through the letters I’d brought with me and affixed stamps to each one, I started to calm down. I half-listened the postal workers (all young, married students) talk about their new in-laws, and I started to remember why every year I add sending Christmas cards to an already full to-do list. For me, there’s something about that moment of writing down someone’s address and remembering our shared memories and experiences–of celebrating all the people I have loved at all the different stages of my adult life: college roommates, mission companions, colleagues in graduate school, friends in various wards. To me, the act of writing and sending the card, small as it is, is a way of saying to them and to the universe at large: I love you, you are important to me and my life, and I am thinking about you.
Continue reading Embracing the Small Gifts
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.
Continue reading Healing the Wounded Heart
During the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference, I found myself driving my children home through rural landscapes mellowed by fall, flecked with amber and crimson. We listened as we drove, and it was pretty near perfect: my heart slowly filling as the miles unspooled before me. (To be honest, I probably got more out of the talks this way, with my three year old buckled into a car seat, instead of climbing all over me).
Then Elder Holland started to speak. My reaction at first was purely intellectual–I’ve always been fascinated by semantics, and I caught the significance of “carry” and “bear” almost at once. But then he said, “no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.” My throat constricted, and not in a good way. By the end of his talk, I was blinking away tears.
Let me say that I love Elder Holland. Some of his talks have been anchor points for me in my life, and I know many women needed to hear what he said. But all I could think was, if my mother-love approximates God’s, we are all in big trouble Continue reading Bearing (with) Children
In the last week or so I’ve witnessed two friends’ vastly different experiences with acceptance from other members of the LDS church. One, who sometimes posts about controversial topics on social media, was told by someone who does not know her personally, that she ought to simply leave: the church would be better off without her. The other attends sacrament meeting with a same-sex partner and wrote of being welcomed by the ward and uplifted by Sunday meetings and worship services. It seems clear to me which response is motivated by love.
On some level, I understand the instinct to push away things that threaten us. Certainly, I’ve found my own faith shaken after confronting ideas that radically conflicted with my beliefs, and I understand the fear of negative influences on me and my children.
But I also know that at a low point in my own life (in the MTC, ironically enough), when I held my doubts to myself because I was afraid of poisoning my companion, I nearly lost myself. It took an inspired sister to bolster my faith and remind me that we are weaker when we are alone. I’m forever grateful that she didn’t see my doubts as a threat, but as a call for help.
I like to think there’s room at the gospel table for everyone—especially those who are seeking a place.
Continue reading Making Room at the Table