Here’s an Advent exercise I enjoy practicing to keep me tethered to tranquility during the rush of Christmastime. We’re in the thick of Advent right now, but there’s still time to jump into this, and it’s a great family activity.
There are three assignments, each of which should be accomplished before Christmas day. I never do them in any particular order, but if you prefer a little more structure, go for it.
Each assignment involves giving a gift or doing a service of some kind. Here are the challenges: Continue reading
This past weekend women who I count as friends, known as ward members, and as neighbors who’ve gathered round my kitchen table, joined together outside the door of the Tabernacle to ask admittance to the General Priesthood Session of conference. This past weekend men and women that I count as friends, known as ward members, and as neighbors who’ve gathered round my kitchen table, criticized their actions, calling them out as faithless, insecure, and presumptuous. While I did not stand in line or have my name carried with them, my heart bled for them.
Growing up I recall our family of seven gathering around the kitchen table, laughing and testing our wit often at the expense of some of the more awkward characters we picked from school, church or the headlines. It was always fun; I’m certain I nearly peed my pants snorting in laughter. It all seemed safe within the filter of our home. Yet whenever we were really nit-picking or began ripping into someone new my mother would pipe in over us, to condemn our ridicule, and repeat her wished-for mantra, “your name is safe in my house.” Typically we’d fail to maintain the ideal she had for us, but it did a wonder at worming its way into the back of my consciousness. I still hear on regular repeat without her voicing it; and I want to ask it of others, when I begin to feel as my mother felt.
With her mother-heart my mom had the gift to find good in everyone. Everyone, to the point of groaning and aggravation of all of us kids. We just wanted to lay into the deserving and serve their follies sunny-side up for our own merriment and pride at “thank heaven we’re not like that.” Perhaps I’m slow on the uptake, or really just like to a good time, but the consequences of my actions didn’t seem to wear on me until I got older, a little taller, and later began to grow a mother-heart of my own. Not a mother-heart solely because I am a mother, but a swelling, blood rushing, pumping, red and blue heart of compassion because I saw the bleeding world around me. . When I saw others hurt, I began to hurt a little too. Shocked at the trauma, I offered my own heart to hold some of the flow and began to know my mom’s mother-heart, modeled after Christ’s sacred one. Continue reading
Mrs. Rainwater’s 2nd grade class
Children are back in school. I have seen the Staples commercials and know that it’s the “hap-happiest time of the year” for many families. In honor of this season I wax nostalgic about lessons I learned through the years. Not all of these lessons are noble, but like too much sun exposure in my youth, their effects linger. Continue reading
When my mother died in 1994 I inherited her stash of quilting fabrics. Since she lived by the premise, “She who dies with the most fabric, wins,” this was quite a substantial treasure. My two sisters and I – and our children – were the lucky recipients of her quilting and sewing projects over the years.
Not long after her death I had a dream in which my sisters and I were tense, still grief stricken and frantically scurrying about her house trying to get the chaos tamed before trucks came to remove all her belongings. I kept opening closets and bureaus and cedar chests and from each of them flounced out quilt after quilt she’d made for us. I hollered to my sisters, “It’s going to be okay! Look! She left us so many comforters!”
That word “comforters” was so blissfully layered with immediate meaning. Her warmth, her love, her creativity, her spirit – as well as the Spirit was overflowing and consoling at a much-needed time. Continue reading
The Boy who was Raised as a Dog
When our youngest was born (it’ll be 27 years ago on April 18th), my husband held Chase in his arms and cooed, “We love you so much, and you haven’t done anything cute yet!”
Fast forward a few years. We lived in a lovely little home with exposed beams and stucco walls. On the landing of the stairway, there was a significant crack from the settling of the house over time. Along that fissure the stucco jutted out – a mini tectonic plate shift. If one were inclined to pick at things, this provided great temptation. Three-year-old Chase didn’t see it as temptation but an opportunity suited to his curiosity. He plucked away at the stucco until there were shards of plaster on the carpet and lath exposed in the wall.
Within minutes I saw the mess and damage and bellowed an annoyed and mighty “Arrrgghhhhh!”
Chase heard this and absorbed it into his tender heart. “You broke my feelings!” he wailed.
Immediately I saw that it wasn’t Chase’s stucco plucking what was the problem. It was that my umbrage bruised his little psyche.
Quick intervention with hugs and cuddles seemed to salve his emotional wounds and eventually spackle and plaster took care of the wall. Chase has no memory of this encounter so he has either suppressed it admirably, or he successfully shook it off at the time. Continue reading