I Hope They Don’t Call Him on a Mission

P and Elder N

Patrick with Elder Nielson, the first missionary he ever met, 1998.

In the greater Brisbane (Australia) city area, if there is a news report of a stabbing, armed robbery, police car chase or drug-related arrest, chances are it’s in the southern suburb of Logan. So, obviously, that’s where my sixteen year old son was called to serve for a week on his “mini-mission”.

Cue parental heart attack, anxieties and worry.

I dropped him off one Saturday morning to the missionary flat, where two elders came out to the car to help with his bike, his suitcase, backpack and groceries. A final “Bye Mum, love you” tossed over his shoulder and I was driving back home, an hour north of where I’d just abandoned my firstborn to the cruel uncaring world. The entire way home I was praying – pleading – with God to make sure Patrick would be well, and happy, and gain something positive out of his mini-mission (and not be mugged, or hurt, or…) Continue reading

My life in books

Like most avid readers, books aren’t just  a side-note in my life, a mild but harmless diversion. Instead, books often become the backdrop against which I live my life, the questions facing characters raising themselves in unexpected ways in my own life.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this bookish lens. A couple of weeks ago, I read Rebecca Mead’s fascinating, My Life in Middlemarch, a hard-to-classify book that is part biography, part memoir, part literary history–and all about the transformative power of George Eliot’s Middlemarch. In it, Mead describes how reading this book at different times in her life changed the way she saw herself.

I think we’ve all experienced something of the way language transforms our lives, and the lens through which we view ourselves, particularly with scriptures. But I find it happens with other literature too. Continue reading

The Positive Outcome of an Injury

Over eight years ago, I tore some kind of soft tissue deep in my right hip, and it has affected me every day since.  I’ve taken a variety of stances towards this injury, but lately have stood in an unusual place: I’m grateful for my injury.

A thumb injury circa 2006 actually led to my hip injury a few weeks later.

I was cutting carrots too carelessly and cut off the tip of my left thumb.  While that was healing, I took about a month hiatus from yoga.  When I resumed my practice, I foolishly forced my right leg into a half lotus position, failing to realize how much flexibility I had lost over a month. When I shoved my shin onto my lap, I felt damage occurring in my right angle, right knee and right hip.

My ankle and knee healed up completely. My right hip will never fully recover.

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Choose the Funny

Earlier this week I read the delightful novel One Plus One by Jojo Moyes; it’s the story of a single mom with a chaotic life, two kids, and a stinky dog who gets thrown together on a road trip with a nerdy software developer whose life is also falling apart. The book is both funny and sweet and I highly recommend it (there are some spots of rough language and some sex, FYI). Yesterday I was trying to explain the book to a friend and why I loved it so much, despite the rather ridiculous twists and turns the plot takes along the way. My friend replied “I’m much more likely to suspend my disbelief for a crazy plot than for unbelievable characters”, and I realized that I feel the same way. As long as the characters in a book are believable, I’m willing to put up with a lot from the plot. Besides, I’ve learned that life can be pretty absurd at times. If I ever write a novel, I have more than situation that I could add that I know would leave readers shaking their heads in disbelief. Continue reading

Gathering Embers


About a week and a half ago, I packed up my desk, shut off my lamp, and locked the door to the office building for the last time. I knew this day was a possibility from the moment I decided to apply for the MBA program, but I didn’t realize what a punch to the gut it would be when it actually came. I baked cookies and brought them to the office that last day, hoping that the literally sweet parting gift would take some of the bitterness away from the experience. It was a nice, yet insufficient gesture.

I had worked at the advertising agency for a little over two years. As my first “real job” out of college, I can still remember my newly graduated, 23 year-old self accepting the offer and gaping over the reality of things like salaries, sick days, and business cards. I loved the rush of independence I felt, knowing that I could support myself without the aid of my parents or my (as yet nonexistent) spouse. I was a working woman, ready to soak up the business world and all its wonders while stacking up years of experience. Continue reading