Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Two Great Commandments

Spring has arrived, and I’m gonna try and articulate a thought that has been marinating in my head for several weeks. 
As a preface, let me say this: I’m a very active Latter-day Saint: church goer, temple attender, tithe payer, the whole 9 yards. I visit teach, I fast, and I serve in my callings. I LOVE my faith. And I love the organization of the church, for so many reasons.

That being said, I had two conversations back in February that are still with me. 
One was at a wedding, and the other was in the living room of a friend in the middle of the night.

I said something in both interactions that I’ve continued to think about, and I want to more fully express the thought here.

It goes like this:

At the end of my life, I don’t want to be evaluated by how many times I was in church, or whether I attended stake conference, or if General Conference was a priority in my life.
I don’t want somebody to look at my "stat sheet" and, if they see “good marks,” conclude that I must have been a good person. 

I find that completely offensive.

The Savior taught that everything hangs on two things: whether I love God, and if I love my neighbor.

I’m not saying that covenants and commandments aren’t important; Christ taught those too, and covenants, commandments, and prophets have made all the difference in my life. But as I think about my own spirituality, the piercing questions I ask myself come from pondering those two great commandments. 
Today, for example, I’m much more concerned about if I’m an ass in my interactions with other people, and if I'm actually looking out for my neighbor. Do I genuinely mourn with someone who is mourning? Have I learned to apologize when I make mistakes or hurt someone else? Do I care about another person’s feelings and perspective as much as my own? Do I try to elevate myself or focus on the contributions of others? Is my life about me, or is it about service? Do I practice honesty and live with integrity? Am I genuine in my interactions with other people? What are my motivations? Do I freely extend love, forgiveness, and compassion to others, recognizing that I desperately need those same things? Do I feed my ego, or do I live with humility?

These are the things I think about.

Questions like these expose how much I lack, and increasingly fill me with deeper gratitude for the Savior.

Christ’s example gives me one towering, upward-climbing ideal after another, and I am eternally grateful for the staggering gift of His atonement. He always inspires me to examine myself, start over, choose love and kindness, apologize, serve, humble myself, forgive, prioritize, recognize my own faults, and keep trying. His virtues are astonishing, demanding, and beautiful. But here's the thing:
His central characteristic is love. 
And at the end of the day, that's what it comes down to for me. 

At the end, I hope my life story reveals a simple woman who tried to LIVE what she believed, even though she was sometimes (frequently) an ass and she constantly fell short.
But even in the falling short,
she trusted in God's grace and found joy.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Love Day Selfies

The festive table,
balloons, table scatter,
and yummy food was good and all, 
but when I remember Love Day this year, 
it's gonna be all about 
these family selfies tonight.
Every time I look at Isaiah in this next one, he looks like #grannytown.
And it cracks me right up.
(The same time that Benj is playing thug life. They kill me.)
#stilllaughing
And in this last one, everyone's pretending they're in a romantic kiss.
Benj even has the arms going. 
Oh boy.

This throwback of Mia from Valentine's dinner 5 years ago goes right along with this theme, so I thought I'd share it again. (It's one of my faves.)
I think Audrey Hepburn had it right when she said this:

"The best thing to hold onto 
in life is each other."

#always
#happyvalentinesday

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Letter Writing on Thursday

Last weekend the kids and I drove to Southern Utah to spend a couple of days at a friend's parents' ranch.
Can I just say how much I love that wide open, rugged landscape? I felt so happy and light as we drove along. 
I've got the West in my blood and bones.
(I also heart this picture of Mia.)
And every time I travel with these peeps, I'm amazed at how easy they are.

They read, sometimes we listen to audio books, we talk, listen to music, and sometimes we dance.
They are the best travelers.

While there, we rode 4-wheelers,

the kids got to help feed the cows,


and despite the fact that Lisa's mom has cancer and her hair just started falling out, she loved on all these kids and taught mine how to ride the 4-wheelers on their own.


Coop shot a little bird when the boys were out on the 4-wheeler by themselves. He and Benj pulled off the wings and feathers, cut it open, salvaged the meat, grilled it up, and ate it.



 (Claire wanted to try it too.)
I want the kids to write thank you notes to send to Lisa's parents, so after Claire and I ate breakfast this morning, we worked together on hers. (I write the letters on one paper, and she copies them on her own.)
I've said this before, but 
I'm not sure there's anything I love more than learning-to-write-your-letters handwriting.
(See this post and this post and this post, for example.) 
I love her little tongue poking out in concentration, and the amaryllis on the table (see that little green spear just beginning to emerge from one of them!).

 After the note was done, we did her first reading lesson.
(I've taught all my people how to read, and I'm not about to miss out with this one--even if she does decide to do public school for kindergarten this year.)

Then we listened to some tunes, danced the "Boot Scoot N' Boogy" together in the front room, and I cleaned up the kitchen.

She's watching The Nutcracker now (her request--we have a DVD of it by the San Francisco Ballet), I'm sitting beside her on my bed about to plug in to work, and I've got meat thawing on the counter for meatloaf and baked potatoes for dinner.

I love these simple, quiet, ordinary moments of day-to-day life.
They are special.

Have I told you how much I love being a mom and how I wouldn't miss it for the world?
#truth

So far, this Thursday is giving me alllllllllll the good vibes.
Happy Thursday to you too--whoever you are, and wherever you are.

xoxo

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Topknot

While driving Claire home from dance class today, the combo of this girl plus topknot was killing me. 
 We were listening to Meghan Trainor’s “Better When I’m Dancin’”, a song we both like these days. There’s a lyric in the song that says “I don’t know about you, but I feel better when I’m dancin.” Frequently when Claire hears that line she’ll look at me and say, 

“I actually do, Mom.”

Mmm hmm. Me too.

True words, those.
Sheesh. 
I am loving watching her grow up.

Monday, January 08, 2018

These Boys & Me

Some of the happiest (for me, anyway) photos in my phone 
from the past couple of weeks come from New Year's Eve.
We'd eaten burgers
(hello pepper jelly, BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles, avocado, broiled meat with salt and pepper, cheese -- just give me alllllllll the condiments),

 and Isaiah and I were sitting at the kitchen table putting together a 3-D puzzle of a German castle.
Benji was hanging out with us too, 
snapping photos, 
and making smack comments that made us laugh.
I love Isaiah's amused expression above (I don't know what I'm saying to him) and these two photos where he's laughing really hard.

We were working independently and together, and sometimes I called upon his brain to figure something out because I was lost.
#smartypants
As I've looked at these photos since, I've laughed out loud and smiled.
I love moments like these where things get goofy with my boys.
And that's all.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

At the End of the Year

It's December 31st and fireworks are going off outside as I write.
Just a week ago tonight, I was watching snow falling magically outside the front window, late on Christmas Eve. 
The kids were asleep and the house was peaceful. 
I went out after midnight and stood in it for a few minutes, just listening and watching.

I'd been awake early that morning making orange rolls.
Ralph brought me over almond extract and lemon juice before 8 a.m.
Mia and Isaiah came upstairs, the tree was aglow, and Russian tea (recipe here) was simmering on the stove.
It smelled like Christmas and we all listened, expectantly, for that first lone voice singing the first verse of
At that moment, Christmas begins at our house.
The Rudolphs came for breakfast, and Kurt, Heidi, Goldie, and Moses.
My brother Brian and I had Christmas fettuccine later for dinner.

The kitchen smelled festive on the 23rd as well.
Mia and I were rolling out gingerbread dough, cutting out the pieces for the kids' houses, and the 
house was tight and warm and filled with the smell of ginger and cinnamon and cloves. 
It made me happy.

Later in the afternoon we put them together before snuggling up to watch "The Family Stone".
That night, the decorating went down once Claire and the boys came home.

And on Christmas morning? 
The world was white outside and it was beautiful. The kids opened stockings and presents, we listened to carols,
I put on my new pajamas from my sister and made roll dough again and kept putting logs on the fire.
You could hear the sound of a snowblower and we looked outside to see our neighbor plowing the front walks and our driveway too. Bless him.
We gathered with my family later in the day, like we always do on Christmas: delicious food, the best company, cracking up and playing games and eating pie.
And then, in just a minute, it's all over and here we are:
it's the night before the new year.

In the morning I'll be taking the ornaments off the branches, putting stuff back up in the attic, and preparing New Year's dinner so we can start the year off with bubbly and sparklers.
In the last few minutes of this year, I'm going to savor the lights on my Christmas tree one more time and then have the kids get ready to run outside at twelve to bang on pots and pans and shout "Happy New Year!" into the dark sky.

2017 was good to us.
I hope she was good to you too.

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