Wednesday, June 3, 2015

This I Believe

For the last 38 weeks, my body has been producing life.  I can’t explain the details of how it works, but somehow my heart, my brain and my organs have been building and sustaining the life of another human being.

I have become a host for an “alien” life form.

Now, even though my physical being has gone into auto-pilot to complete this process, my mental being still has to reach a point of acceptance.  My body automatically does what it needs to take care of this tiny human, but my soul—my soul must take care of itself.

When I initially got pregnant during my first year of teaching, I adopted the Rosie-the-Riveter-attitude.  I am a strong, independent woman, I said, and if anyone can get through this, I can.

I was cool, nonchalant, confident.  Yes, I was vomiting, but I even did that with style.

As the months continued, I realized that it wasn’t going to get any easier—neither teaching nor reproducing.  I realized that pregnancy was going to be a long, hard process and as far as the light at the end of the tunnel?  Well, it’s going to be a painful tunnel.

I’ve got 1 week and 4 days to go.  My journey in the wilderness is drawing to a close.  I know that I’ve been strengthened.  In fact, I can think of several mornings when I knelt and prayed to “just make it through this day, just give me the strength to make it through today.”  Miraculously, those prayers were and continue to be answered.

But I also continue to offer them.

Accomplishing hard things is not about finding the easiest solution.  We don’t award Nobel Peace Prizes to scientists who instantaneously or spontaneously found the cure.  Our highest honors and admirations go to those who tried hard and who often failed—sometimes 10,000 times.

Hosting a human has reminded me that hard was never meant to be easy.  Hard was meant to be hard.  And I believe in doing hard things.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Replenish

    What I need now is quiet time.  I have brain-rushing time and sink-splashing time and clothes-spinning time, but I rarely have soul-searching time.  When mornings were shared by me and God, my father offered some advice--advice passed down from his father: "Two hours to study the scriptures?  Relish that.  Because I'm lucky if I can find ten minutes."
    I never thought I'd have to limit myself that way--my precious two hours cut to ten minutes.  But now, I check off my personal devotional time if I can squeeze in an ear-plugged talk on my walk to school.  
     I miss mornings waking up to the Indian sun, chipmunks crooning outside my windows.  I would stretch my arms to the untainted air and then fold them gently at my chest.  After a short conversation, study time was mine: Never have I searched and pondered so fervently.  Flipping and fumbling and scrunching and scribbling, me and my books worked hard.  Sometimes we answered tough questions and sometimes we sat, still as silence.  After one hundred and twenty minutes, I was always replenished.
    Nowadays, it's hard to find such time for stillness.  And when the cherubs start descending, the quiet will only run farther.  Though I may never get her back, I might learn to find soul in the stridency.  

There is spirit in the social as there is spirit in the soft. 
There is wisdom in the working as there is wisdom in the word.
There is heaven in the hubbub as there is heaven in the hush.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Clinging to Peace

Lately, my husband's been feeling the pressure of the future.  Clinging to his neck, the future droops on his back, loaded with mortgages, car payments, dirty diapers.
    He's a tall man, my husband, but the future takes a few inches off here, adds a few there.  He thinks only of cubicles and the crowded house he'll come home to.
    My husband is full of color, really.  He draws and he doodles, whistles and writes.  He has a creator's heart.  But the future hangs heavy on him and he gives into gray.
    I wish that he'd look a little bit closer at the future.  I wish he'd stretch back his arm, scoop the future off his back and swing him around.  The future would twist and spin and fill with the air of hope--a drooping diaper bag turned to a rising parachute.  Waving the future high above his head, he'd create an elevated path.  Sunlight streaming, windows opening, we would both reach forward and upward.
    We're both worried about the future--about gaping mouths and starving minds.  But I want him to see the future that I see:
    I want him to see the two-toothed grins and the messy trips in the family van.
    I want him to see the photographs with friends at his novel signing, to feel the warm hugs.
    I want him to see the tears of a co-worker who needed him for his strong words, for his message of optimism and faith.
   Lately, my husband's been feeling the pressure of the future.  I want him to feel peace.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

A la Gertrude Stein

Taken aback. I am taken aback. Boxes and hallways that froze in our doors. Hollow. Alo. Hello. Tight lines and hemmed jeans. If you need to sneeze, don't breathe. Ha. Ah. Ah. Huh. Sounds like a hurricane. Too bad there's not enough room. Without blood, your chair will tip over. So take out your pencil. The exam will begin in five minutes. Your white shirt is too tight. Your ears are too low. An explosion in London-the bridge has fallen down. Without the red, I would collapse and breathe too quickly and paint the world black. Black is a color for those without shoes on. Concrete. Asphalt. Mud Pies made of Ash. A world is for ants to build and people to shape boxes. Box Box Box Box Box Box Box Box. My little red thinks she's a robot. Oh red, he really hasn't broken into his tap shoes yet. But something is clacking. Horses feet go boom boom boom. You've never heard me without my hair down. You've never seen that side of the moon. A frame is a window. A frame is a lock. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

God's Plan of Happiness

'After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden. Importantly, however, God said “it was not good that the man should be alone” (Moses 3:18; see also Genesis 2:18), and Eve became Adam’s wife and helpmeet. The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females was needed to enact the plan of happiness. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11). The man and the woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless, and complete each other.'

-Elder David A. Bednar, April 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Protect the Children:" a different perspective on the current debate

From a man whose opinion I respect and admire, in a discourse called, "Protect the Children," (October 2012):

"Of utmost importance to the well-being of children is whether their parents were married, the nature and duration of the marriage, and, more broadly, the culture and expectations of marriage and child care where they live. Two scholars of the family explain: “Throughout history, marriage has first and foremost been an institution for procreation and raising children. It has provided the cultural tie that seeks to connect the father to his children by binding him to the mother of his children. Yet in recent times, children have increasingly been pushed from center stage.”12

A Harvard law professor describes the current law and attitude toward marriage and divorce: “The [current] American story about marriage, as told in the law and in much popular literature, goes something like this: marriage is a relationship that exists primarily for the fulfillment of the individual spouses. If it ceases to perform this function, no one is to blame and either spouse may terminate it at will. … Children hardly appear in the story; at most they are rather shadowy characters in the background. 13"

Dallin H. Oaks is arguing that children are always affected by their family lives and by their parents' behavior in relation to marriage.  When parents treat their marriage solely as a means of individual fulfillment, they seem to be leaving children out of the picture.  Likewise, when divorces occur with no consideration for the children involved, there seem to be adverse effects as well.  In my adolescent development classes, we recently discussed how a divorce in adolescence can directly and permanently affect a child well into adulthood.  I have personally seen the stress that divorce can have on a child.  There is often cynicism towards marriage and doubt in its ability to be stable.

So is this argument about same-sex marriage?  Yes and no.  The debate in Washington gives us the opportunity to consider the defense of all marriage.  My junior year of high school, we were assigned an issues project in my AP US History class.  Some students chose things like abortion, drug abuse, etc.  I chose the breakdown of the family.  (We chose this song to represent our discussion: Raise it Up).  It seemed like an irrelevant topic to some of my group-mates and to some of my classmates as well.  I mean, what 16 or 17 year old is thinking about their future family or wanting to talk about their own?  Still, I thought it was important that we talk about stable households, with mothers and fathers working for the good of their children.  I had one girl thank me after our presentation.  She said that her parents were going through a divorce at that time and she didn't feel like anyone else really saw it as a problem.  They just saw it as something that "happens."

Successful marriages don't just "happen" and neither do divorces.  Either choice requires thought, effort and sacrifice on the part of the individuals involved.  And especially when there are born children involved, parents should give extra thought to their decision-making.    

Dallin H. Oaks continues, "looking  upon marriage as a mere contract that may be entered into at pleasure … and severed at the first difficulty … is an evil meriting severe condemnation,” especially where “children are made to suffer.”14 And children are impacted by divorces. Over half of the divorces in a recent year involved couples with minor children.15

Many children would have had the blessing of being raised by both of their parents if only their parents had followed this inspired teaching in the family proclamation: “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. … Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another.”16 The most powerful teaching of children is by the example of their parents. Divorcing parents inevitably teach a negative lesson."

Elder Oaks clarifies that there will be occasions when a "divorce is necessary for the good of the children, but those circumstances are exceptional.17 "  Whenever possible, parents should give all of their effort to give children the "emotional and personal strength that come[s] from being raised by two parents who are united in their marriage and their goals...Summarizing decades of social science research, a careful scholar concluded that “the family structure that produces the best outcomes for children, on average, are two biological parents who remain married.”18 A New York Times writer noted “the striking fact that even as traditional marriage has declined in the United States … the evidence has mounted for the institution’s importance to the well-being of children.”19 That reality should give important guidance to parents and parents-to-be in their decisions involving marriage and divorce. We also need politicians, policy makers, and officials to increase their attention to what is best for children in contrast to the selfish interests of voters and vocal advocates of adult interests."

Elder Oaks also explains that children can be "victimized by marriages that do not occur."  These circumstances include birth out of wedlock, families with an absent father or mother and cohabitating couples.  "Whatever we may say about these couples’ forgoing marriage, studies show that their children suffer significant comparative disadvantages.23 For children, the relative stability of marriage matters.

The last disadvantage Elder Oaks mentions in this category is same-sex marriage.  He states, "We should assume the same disadvantages for children raised by couples of the same gender. The social science literature is controversial and politically charged on the long-term effect of this on children, principally because, as a New York Times writer observed, “same-sex marriage is a social experiment, and like most experiments it will take time to understand its consequences.24"

No one knows for certain what the effects of allowing same-sex marriage are.  As Justice Kennedy admitted, "We have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more" (NY Times).  Nevertheless, I know where I stand.  I stand for family.  I stand for marriage that is lasting, committed, unselfish and even eternal.  While I recognize that there is good in everything and there is always a gray area, I also know that there are some things that are black and white.  I join with the First Presidency of the Church of Latter-day saints in "solemnly proclaim[ing] that marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" (, the family).  

This is what I believe.  I do not rescind anyone else's right to believe what they will, but I do expect respect for my beliefs and I do expect my efforts in 2008 regarding Proposition 8 to mean something to the Supreme Court.  It was the people's decision and it should remain the people's decision.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


The true story of the life and love of a friendship bracelet

There once was a woven bracelet.  She was brown and black and another brown.  She lived in a basket on the ground, until someone came and traded for her. 

The someone didn’t just pick her up and force her in a pocket.  The someone rifled around all the bracelets until the someone found two that were exactly the same: brown and black and another brown.  The someone tied the two around her wrist and waited.

The bracelet couldn’t help but notice he who was exactly like her.  Well, he was exactly like her, except he was a he. 

“Hello,” said the she bracelet.
“Hello,” said the he bracelet. 

They cuddled close together, tied on a wrist.  They talked, and occasionally rubbed into each other.  They noticed that while they were very similar, they were also different.  His edges were folded a little ruggedly.  Hers smoothed together and couldn’t be followed.   But the two talked and rubbed and eventually, became friends.

Some might say that they jumped into things, but they didn’t.  They were tied together by a giant someone, who had a bigger idea in mind.

After driving for a very long time, the someone pulled the he bracelet off and gave it to another someone. 

The she bracelet expected to miss her friend dearly, but she found (the way that friendship bracelets always do) that she actually felt closer to him now that he had his own wrist.  And she tied her knot a little tighter.

The he and she bracelet saw each other frequently.  They treasured each other’s company and thought only of the other while they were apart.

“I love you,” the he bracelet said.
“I love you too,” the she bracelet said.

Sometimes, when the she bracelet would come for a visit, she couldn’t find the he bracelet.  There was his wrist, but where was his friendship? 

Once, while the she bracelet was avoiding a waterslide, her wrist forgot to retrieve her.  She was lost for a very long time and her wrist began to forget that he and she were in love.

The she bracelet doubted and wondered.  She didn’t want to be without the he bracelet, but they were so far apart.  She thought how sometimes their rubbing didn’t seem like rubbing.  It seemed like friction.

The wrist found her again and tied her tight.  This time, she would not be forgotten or untied.  Her decision was made and she would be with him again.

The she and he bracelet talked and rubbed.  Sometimes they frictioned.

“But I love you,” she said.
“But I love you too,” he said.

On a morning after a windy night, the she bracelet hurried to the he bracelet for consolation.  But he was not on his wrist.  He was not there at all.

The she bracelet struggled and strained.  The she bracelet pulled on her weaving, longing to undo the braid.  The wrist resisted.  The wrist was strong.  The wrist wanted to allow love. 

In time, the bracelet prevailed and came undone.

The wrist of the he bracelet recognized her.  She had fallen, but his fingers would tie her back together.  The brown and the black and the other brown could be rewoven!

She, tied together in a makeshift knot, held on.  But she knew the end was coming.

The she bracelet went on a walk.  She did not plan to go, but the wrist insisted.  The walk was longer than expected.

The she bracelet was almost home when her makeshift ties began to slip.  Her wrist did not notice as the browns and the blacks and the other browns came completely undone.  She slipped to the ground.

She did not wait there long.  Her wrist came rushing back to her with fingers moist and salty.  The bracelet was off the ground, but at last, she could not be woven back together.

The fingers held her tightly, as if she meant something more than friendship.  The rubbing of the fingers, reminded her of the he bracelet.  She knew that because she could no longer tie, she could no longer be close to him.  She was disconnected.  She was undone.

Her wrist cared for her so much that the wrist refused to put her in the trash.  The wrist placed her in the bottom of a jewelry box, mixed in with other old or broken things.  The bracelet did not feel alone.  The bracelet knew that she had lived and loved.  Now it was time for her to learn.  She looked around at the other broken things and realized that they all had a mature beauty.  She looked at her own brown and black and other brown and did not regret her colors.  She was undone, but she had served her purpose. 

Nestled in the new air at the bottom of the jewelry box, she dreamed of the he bracelet and she drifted off to sleep.