Sabbath Revival: Last Thanksgiving

Today’s Sabbath Revival post was originally published in November 2007 by Heather O. We wish each of you a Thanksgiving full of thanksgiving.


Last Thanksgiving I was 11 weeks pregnant.  And on bedrest.  And terrified I would lose my baby.

Cramping, spotting, unable to move without pain, I spent the day listening to my mother-in-law prepare the entire meal, which she did with amazing cheerfulness.  I looked out the window at the bare trees in my yard, too distracted and worried to do anything else.  I ate my mother-in-law’s delicious feast, tried to help with the dishes, but then I doubled over in pain and started spotting.  I promptly went back to bed.  I settled back in the cushions, and stared out the window once more.

6 months later, I was back on bedrest, staring at the now budding trees in my yard, trying to remember what life was like without pain, wondering if I would ever be able to move without wanting to cry out, and again terrified that I would lose my baby.

My pregnancy taught me a lot about pain.  And I have learned that when pain is gone, you are made truly grateful.

I used to think gratitude was about appreciating what you have, particularly relative to what others do not have.   Eat your beans, child, because there are starving families in China!  If you don’t like your toys, I will give them away to somebody who does!

I also used to think gratitude came from acknowledging your unworthiness of blessings.  Thank you, Father, for what You have bestowed on Your humble and lowly servants, and we acknowledge Thy Hand in all things.

Maybe gratitude is all of those things, or a part of them. But really, I think it’s all about the pain.  And the not having of it.  In any capacity. The sweet joy of relief.  Such a blessing trumps any thoughts of have vs. have not, stuff vs. no stuff, service to know your nothingness.  This is such stuff as joy is made on.

This Thanksgiving, the leaves in my yard are an eye-popping display of gold, red, pink, and yellow.  I stared out my window this morning as I snuggled with my baby during her morning nap.  I cleaned my house for my mother-in-law’s return, and we have already prepared 2 fanstastic looking pies, raspberry jello, and the yams.  We are ready to party.

And as I pray over our meal tomorrow (today?  Sheesh, what time is it?), I will sing a song of gratitude for the One who can relieve all sorrows, the One who can take away all pain. I will understand what it means to sing the song of redeeming love.  I will feel true gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.  And all you marshamallow haters out there, stay away from my house.

the long term benefits of an emotional crisis


On a long-ago camping trip, we arrived late and scrambled to find bedding and situate everyone in rather close quarters. As young kids do, my small son placed his sleeping pad, bag and pillow in the center and reclined happily. When his older long-limbed brothers tried to adjust him,  he gazed up in complete innocence and responded, “Why? I’m fine.”

Since then, “I’m fine.” became shorthand in our family for any situation where someone lacks an awareness for others. It works for all kinds of scenarios, especially in church settings and when dealing with mental health. Just because “I’m fine,” doesn’t mean I should ignore others who are stumbling in the dark, trying to get comfortable, searching for rest and ultimately peace. Continue reading the long term benefits of an emotional crisis

But Then Face to Face


CHRISTO V, J. Kirk Richards, 2007

A print of the above portrait hangs in my bedroom — a gentle reminder every day of my relationship with Christ. First, a confession: I’ve never been a huge proponent for mainstream LDS artwork. I can appreciate a sunny Greg Olsen vignette or a crisp Liz Lemon Swindle painting, but they have never been the type of artwork I’m interested in displaying on my walls. A lot of it boils down to aesthetic taste — I’ve always been more interested in art that is less literal.  I love art that reads like a free-form poem, open to interpretation with evocative imagery that might not fit neatly into a specific structure. I was skeptical when my sister offered to buy me a print for my wedding present a few years ago. She recommended an artist (J. Kirk Richards) and let me pick the piece and frame. I went to the artist’s website to see if there was anything I would remotely like, and unexpectedly fell in love with this portrait of Christ.  Continue reading But Then Face to Face

Peculiar Treasures: Crunchy Goodness, Chewy Brain Food and Sweet Poetry


213H (1)While I do live in one of the deadliest-creature countries on earth I’ve never seen a coyote outside my tv, but if you live where there are coyotes and hawks, you may want this jacket to stop your dog being chewed on.  Protection comes inside and outside for buildings too this week – in particular these chapels that are being converted into temples.

If you are a big fan of Star Wars, maybe you’d like this to keep you warm, amused and practicing your impersonations?  In a remarkable reminder, The Oatmeal has shown how a moment can change lives in the immediate moment and for decades.

Have any old suitcases lying around? A 17th century suitcase of undelivered letters is being examined, and is giving an amazing glimpse into the concerns and lives of people in Dutch society.  For closer literary developments, have a look at how the latest Richard Scarry book has been updated to reflect our current times.

How would you answer this huge question – how do you forgive a murderer? With news cameras pointing to tragedies all around the world, remember goodness is captured everywhere too.

Here are some unusual tips for becoming more productive, and a heartfelt piece on how our words are waves onto our loved ones.  Check out how this grant is helping scientific people with their writing skills, in order to better teach students about science and keep more people in STEM fields.

This week’s First Draft Poetry is by Lara, in response to the centuries old letters now being read.

I couldn’t burn them,
though we were cold,
so much tragedy and passion,
so much urgent communication.

She wanted to throw them out,
but I would not move in my
and so she feigned disinterest:
maybe they will come for them
maybe they will pay
that would make them worth it.

My son, a starling’s mind like his mother
tried to burn them
when my job passed to him
but my daughter, with her dreaming mind—
A curse! She gets this foolish fancy from you, husband—
took them home with her
and emptied out her wedding chest
and taught her children
that the stories mattered.

Naked and Nude: Down With Idealizing Motherhood


Recently a friend sent me an article about the dangers of idealizing motherhood. As a mother, and as a new foster mother (with a newborn laying here beside me), I’m rushing to say amen before the author gets to the end. I don’t like to be called an angel or a saint in my work as a mother. I don’t adore being a mother all the time. It’s hard work. And the work has yet to sanctify my brain of all the tired, angsty words churning through it when I have to get out of bed in the middle of the night. At least I’m keeping most of them to exhausted self. The notion that motherhood ought be seen as a relationship instead of a role, was the highlight of the piece, and the dissipation of any guilt about my crankiness for waking during the dark hours.  Moving from role to relationship makes motherhood a lot less about who you are, and what you do, less task oriented, to how you interact with others; requirements are less defined, and relations become more central to success. That’s a messy sentence, but something like that.

But beyond motherhood, parenthood. It isn’t about what I do alone, it’s what we each do and often do together as parents (and all that participate in the process of parenting children, the friends, teachers, and mentors who become family). It’s a relationship for a family, not just a mother. Continue reading Naked and Nude: Down With Idealizing Motherhood