Repentance for me is a bloody process. I’m stalking 40 years of age, and my understanding of repentance is a much darker, more violent and powerful star than the “repentance is like a bar of soap” example given in the Primary cosmos. Just as “milk before meat” is a component of the gospel, so is the real awareness of bringing “a contrite heart and broken spirit” to our personal altars before the Saviour. The blood and profound change to His feet is as painful and fundamental as our own pivotal experiences are, leaving us marked and leaking on our way.
I’m searching for deeper examples of repentance, forgiveness, charity and patience not only because I’m parenting teens, but because my own heart and dedication wobble in the course of my days. Soap’s useless when the issue at hand is internal, gory and nasty. Being washed clean as the first person in an entire family to join the church is a wonderful occasion, but the washing doesn’t rinse away generations of abuse, dysfunction and family habits. Sometimes the repentance process involves not taking the sacrament, leaving deacons anxiously pressing trays to knees, encouraging to take the morsel, accept the love, unaware of the gnawing of bone going on inside, worrying our broken shards towards redemption somewhere further ahead.
Years ago, I cannonballed in love. Continue reading What We Leave On The Altar
When I told people that I was taking my children to Hawaii for the week of Christmas, reactions ranged from admiration to disbelief to jealousy. I generally tried to temper things with the caveat that my children’s father grew up in Hawaii, so we would be visiting family and friends, and that trips to Hawaii have always been a somewhat regular part of our family life. We hadn’t been over there for three years, and a trip to Hawaii seemed like a better family Christmas gift than more physical objects that would just clutter up the house. I spent a year saving and planning, but still felt a bit of guilt at the extravagance of such a vacation up until the moment our plane landed in Honolulu and we walked out into the warm, tropical air. Continue reading The Cost of Leisure
Jana Porter is still pinching herself over the fact that 3 1/2 years ago she married the best man in the whole world. She and her husband, James, have a very active and adorable 18-month-old son named Blake. She is just barely scratching the surface of this whole mom thing and finding out it is a lot deeper/harder/richer than she every imagined. Jana has a bachelors and masters degree in English from BYU and in her oh-so-precious spare time she loves family history, Zumba, and daydreaming.
A few Sundays ago I attended a class in my ward on the sacrament. The instructor began by asking what we thought of Brother Abo’s talk that day. Apparently, he had spoken on the Atonement and the Lord’s sacrifices for us.
There was a short silence as everyone tried to think back to the talk and formulate a response. Normally I would have joined them. But … I couldn’t.
You see, although I had been at church during Sacrament meeting, I hadn’t heard Brother Abo’s talk. I had been sitting in the foyer with my son, handing him cheerios and trying to keep him from stealing toys from the other kids who were also in the foyer being fed cheerios by their moms.
So instead of reflecting on what had apparently been a very moving talk, I sat there in silence, unable to participate. And cried.
I cried because I had not heard Brother Abo’s talk. I cried because I had not really heard more than a handful of talks, if that, in the past year since my son had been born. And I really like talks. Continue reading Sacrament Meeting with a Toddler
I’ve been teaching early morning seminary for a few months now, and so far I’ve learned a few things:
1-I truly believed before I started teaching that I could get all my prep work done if I gave myself an hour a day. I look back on those innocent days of summer, and I laugh and I laugh and I laugh.
2-No matter how good your kids are — and I have some really good kids — they will try to text during your lessons. I’ve tried to develop my kindly-but-also-disapproving face for such occasions (you know the one, with the raised eyebrows and the cocked head and the little half smile) and it kinda works. Temporarily.
3-The Old Testament is fascinating. Complicated prophets. Bold, sassy, decisive women. Incredible miracles. God’s exasperated scoldings. Intrigue, mayhem, redemption. Good times. Continue reading Early Morning Seminary
Today’s guest post is from Marcia Stanford. Marcia lives on a tree-lined street in California with her charming husband and delightful children, who are growing up much too quickly. She is a BYU English major currently completing the last few courses via Independent Study. Raised in Utah, she now savors the opportunity to pick fresh lemons year round and tend to her window boxes filled with red geraniums.
She’d always wanted to go on a mission. On Sundays she would organize the television programing, self-appointed as the oldest sibling, as they watched “Families are Forever,” “Labor of Love” and “Called to Serve.” She loved them all. So really, it was no surprise when shortly after turning twenty that she began the process. It didn’t matter that she was in college 700 miles away from home. I got calls, texts, and emails about health insurance, medical appointments, and interviews with a Bishop whose name I didn’t know. She was always an independent soul—a soul filled with faith.
When the call came she was volunteering at the Provo MTC. At the appointed hour we gathered around the speaker phone at home, while roommates, boyfriend, sister and grandma gathered in her apartment. This was drama. She started to read the letter. It sounded like the lines from “Called to Serve,” only this time it was real. My little girl was ready to fly.
“You are hereby called to serve in the El Salvador San Salvador East Mission,” her quavering voice read. Ah! At least I knew where that was. My brother served there in the 70’s—before they closed the mission to civil war unrest. Obviously it had been reopened in the decades since. I hadn’t paid attention. Now I prayed with earnest that such unrest had been resolved.
Continue reading A Missionary Mother