Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Make a Joyful Noise

George Frederic Handel's Messiah is one of my favorite things in the world. At Christmas I never miss the opportunity to hear it. Last week I was at a Messiah sing along. As we were singing the words from Isaiah 9:6, I sang along in the best way I could -- Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. And then the words in my throat turned to tears and my singing turned to sobbing because I knew strongly, powerfully and unequivocally that He is all of those things. I listened to the beautiful, powerful voices around me and compared them to my own small, weak, off key one. Then I realized that my “joyful noise” was just as important, my praise of Him just as meaningful. My voice matters. It matters to Him. It is beautiful to Him because He made it. So I will make lots of "joyful noise" because without Him I am nothing and with Him I am everything.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Before my father-in-law passed, somebody asked me, "why?" Why meaning, why did he have to lose his mind and capacities to Alzheimers? Why did we have to struggle so hard to get him back after somebody preyed on his weakness and took him from us? Why was it so hard to take care of him? Why us? What could possibly be learned? So many whys?

I don't know why, but I know "what" taking care of Grandpa has done for my family. Selfishness, pride and impatience have been weeded from our hearts. We have learned to love unconditionally and to find joy in the moment and happiness in simple things. And when there was no joy or happiness to be found, taking care of Grandpa taught us to turn to the Savior who promises to "wipe away tears from off all faces"(see Isaiah 25:8). We learned to trust, to believe, to have faith when we couldn't see the end from the beginning. These things can't be learned from a text book or from the mouths of others, but only by experience.

Now that he's gone I feel disconnected from my surroundings, yet at the same time, keenly aware of the world around me--the stirring breeze, sunbeams of light sifting through a room, the honk of returning geese, the sun warming my back, the earthy smell of fertile soil, the blossoms on my pear tree that appeared the day he left like flowers from heaven.

We used to walk around the temple by his care center. We talked about what his wife, Maxine might be doing. We wondered what we might do when we joined her. We made a pact. If I died first I would come back and tell him what heaven was like. If he died first, he would come back and tell me. On his death bed, I kissed his brow, held his hand and reminded him about our pact.

And now I wonder if he were to gently tell me of heaven, if he might not send a gentle breeze, a beam of sunlight or white, fragrant blossoms. Or perhaps he would let me witness the very best qualities in my children and experience a little bit of heaven on earth.

Monday, March 28, 2016

To Go No More Out

When my oldest grandchild Charlotte held my newest grandchild, Jocelyn, her sister, in her arms, she cried, kissed her on the head and whispered I love you. Then in a moment that I didn't catch on video, but I caught with my heart, she said, "I am so proud of you. You made it. You are here."

I've thought about those words a lot lately. I thought about little Jocelyn leaving heaven. She has family there--grandparents, aunts, uncles--were they sad to see her leave? Will they miss her until she returns?

I think about my father-in-law. He got kicked out of his nursing home. Again. He is violent and combative, only he really isn't. He's scared and doesn't remember who he is or who anyone around him is, so he is defensive and afraid. I am sad to see him go yet remain here at the same time.

I watched the video of my youngest son's birth today. I gasped when I saw my mom who has been dead for almost ten years, standing in my hospital room. My heart skipped a beat as I watched myself give Luke his first bath while casually talking to my mother-in-law who has been gone for 6 1/2 years.

I am so proud of them. They made it. They are there. I feel their presence and influence in my life from time to time and feel that they are proud of me here. I am proud of my father-in-law who is stuck between two worlds and is neither here nor there, but must endure to the end.

Oh how I long for the day, how I pray for the day when we will all be reunited, when we will all be home, welcomed by our Savior hopefully with the words, "I am so proud of you. You made it. You are here," to go no more out.

". . . in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb." Alma 34:36

Because of Him, someday we will go no no more out. In my book, that is Heaven. Happy Easter.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Just Leave

About 28 years ago, I had a baby. I almost didn't have him. Early in my pregnancy I had a lot of hemorrhaging. The doctor told me I didn't have a viable pregnancy--no living fetus-- and that I needed a D&C (medical abortion).  Alone, (hubby was out of town of course), I checked into the hospital to get one. Something didn't seem right. I called the doctor 3 times asking clarifying questions. The doctor did not appreciate being called 1 time, let alone 3. Then my mother-in-law called me, kind of a miracle considering this was back in the days when phones were firmly attached to walls. Forget about cell phones, cordless phones weren't even around. She gave me some great advise: "Leave. If something doesn't feel right, leave."

I didn't even have time to sit up before 2 orderlies came to wheel me to surgery. I told them I wasn't having it. They weren't happy. Yes, I knew I'd already signed the papers, and I still wasn't having it. Shaking, I left the hospital.

A few weeks later and 2,000 miles away, I saw another doctor who told me that I'd been carrying twins and miscarried one, but the other one, my son, was alive and well.

Now, 28 years later, almost to the day, that same son and his wife had twins, a boy and a girl. The twins were welcomed by a 2 year old and 4 year old sister.

I look at my son, his wife, and my four adorable grand babies and think that they wouldn't be a part of my life if I didn't leave. Such a simple action with HUGE consequences.

If something doesn't seem right, leave. Great advice then, great advice now.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Enabling Power

Hey, I just remembered about this thing and my New Year's Resolution from 2015 to blog once a week. . .  so. here. I. am.

I was going to blog about how Christmas kicked my butt--like it does every year. It was good too. It's just hard being me, (unorganized, forgetful, insomniac, chocoholic) at Christmas time. But I'm not going to.

I also thought about sending out my 2016 Christmas card via my blog now because then I wouldn't have to do it in December. But maybe next time.

I thought about blogging about how I finally managed to run a mile. It was a 14 minute mile. . . but, butt. . . I did it. I was feeling pretty good and then my friend said, "Do you know you're running on an incline?" I was stoked because I still had gas (the energy kind mostly)  and I was running uphill. Unfortunately, when she said incline, what she was really politely saying was decline. She flattened my route and I felt like I was running into a headwind or a semi-truck. Blah. But I finished.

I could write about my new haircut which is kind of spiky on top. After spending forever getting it to spike, a kind lady said to me, "Excuse me, your hair is sticking straight up." And instead of saying, "I know, I flattened it. But I'm not going to write about that either.

I'm going to write about how I went to visit my father-in-law last week. In case you can't remember, or you don't usually read my blog, or you have part-timers, I will remind you that my father-in-law has Alzheimers.

But then this happened.

I went to see Grandpa after going to the temple. He was sitting at the table getting ready to eat lunch. I said to him, “So, did Ric come and visit you today?” (He did.) Dad got mad at me and told me that he wasn’t stupid. I told him I didn’t think he was stupid. He was still angry and mumbled some more things that weren’t nice. I tried to change the subject by talking about when he went to watch his granddaughter play basketball. He got even more agitated and told me that I didn’t know anything about basketball and that I wasn’t even a team player. He kept yelling. . .

I’ve had him angry at me before, but I’ve usually been able to calm him down and get him talking about something familiar. This time, though, I couldn’t get through to him at all. He just kept yelling. I started crying. It hurt so much more than I expected.  Still crying, I went to leave.  One of the workers, Linda, gave me a big hug and told me it wasn’t really my dad. I knew that, but the hurt was real and strong. I came home and cried for another hour.

When G-Pa first came to live with us, it rocked my world. I finally found strength to cope by living and experiencing joy in the moment. But in that moment with him, there was absolutely no joy. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. How did I not see this coming? 

Things are better now. Well, they aren’t better, but I’m better. I taught the lesson in YW. It was on the Savior. I was drawn to the part about the enabling power of the atonement.

I got to study awesome scriptures like these:

Isaiah 41:
10 ¶Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Mathew 11:
28 ¶Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

John 14:
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Philippians 4: 
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Mosiah 24:
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

Alma 27:
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Alma 36:
3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.

Ether 12:
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Surely, He has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows. (Isaiah 53:4) 

The atonement is real. Christ is real. And because it's real and He's real, I can do hard things and be okay.  And that my friends is nothing short of miraculous.

G-Pa and Ric in the "better" days.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What's Better Than No Shave November??? SILVER RUSH

I have some bad news folks. No shave November is over. Done. Won't be back 'til next year. I for one am extending the no shave celebration and growing my own leg warmers because growing your own is a lot easier than knitting your own and less expensive than buying your own.

Even though November is over, there are lots of good things about December like icy roads and finals and last minute Christmas shopping and mistletoe and hot chocolate and peace on earth or at least on 1-15 and egg nog. But one of my favorite things about December is Silver Rush.

For the first time since 2001, I do not have a student attending RHS, but that didn't stop me from being that "creeper mom" and going to the Silver Rush opening assembly. It did stop my children from saying, "Creepy mom, why are you here?" which was kind of nice. I like to go every year. It puts me in the Christmas spirit and gives me a bigger high than not shaving my legs for the whole month of November.

In the month of December, about 2,000 students from Riverton High School go bonkers earning money for a designated charity. They go door to door doing odd jobs for people like scooping dog poop and putting up Christmas lights and taking out garbage. They have dance-athons and pay money to put people in jail and have concerts and basketball tournaments and a Mr. RHS contest. They sell carrots and t-shirts and necklaces and sock snowmen and hot chocolate and muffins and saxagrams, which is a sexy serenade by a saxophone player in case you're wondering. They have the Silver Wolf Swap where the cheerleaders play the drill team in a basketball game, while the girl's basketball team does a drill number and the boy's basketball team cheers. Last year in 3 short weeks they earned $133,689.15. Since the opening of the school in 1999, they have earned more than $1.1 million dollars.

At my high school we had the cool kids which were the cheerleaders, student body officers and the jocks. We had the "not cool kids" who were the band geeks and drama nerds and just about everyone else. Silver Rush brings the entire student body together. At Riverton there are just a lot of cool kids who are involved in a lot of different things who love and respect each other and work their fannies off for something more important than a social class ranking.

In past years RHS has raised money to help people with congenital heart defects, people who need wheelchairs, the homeless, refugees, people fighting alcohol and drug addiction, just to name a few.  This year they are funding for Mitchell's Journey, a local non-profit established to help fight Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Not only do they raise funds, but students are educated about the cause they're funding for. This is stuff you can't learn from a textbook. This is community. This is service. This is life.

Perhaps principal Carolyn Gough said it best in an interview last year with Fox 13's Todd Tanner. "This is a great opportunity for the students to change people's lives, but really it ends up changing us."

For a list of Silver Rush activities or to donate, go here.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Real Pie Tastes Better Humble Pie

I filmed a wedding in Ogden Tuesday. This is the job I do when I am not doing the job called laundry, thinking of what to make for dinner, and chasing grandkids. 

I like this job. It makes me happy. It makes me think about love and new beginnings and the scary wedding dress I wore. It makes me think about toasters and honeymoons and studio apartments and occasionally gives me butterflies.

For some reason, I was worried I would forget to go to it and how bad would that be? So, I set an alarm on my phone everyday the week prior to the wedding, then 3 hours before, then an hour before, then 20 minutes before. #part-timers #oldage #brainrot.

The night before the wedding I dreamed that it was the next day and my husband and I were hanging around the house, when I looked at the clock and realized that it was noon and I was supposed to be in Ogden at 11:00. Then I dreamed that it was time to go and I found my camera on the front porch, which was really now the back porch (because that's how dreams are) where it had been all night with the sprinkler hitting it. Then I dreamed that I was lining my dead mother up with my high school vice principal whom I have never talked to or thought about and whose name I'm surprised I remember. Analyze that. . .  It was a rough night. I think this all means that I need some kind of therapy.

These are the kinds of dreams that give you heart attacks or make you think about changing your name and moving to another country because there are no do-overs for a wedding videographer. Thinking about it now turns those "wedding butterflies" in my stomach to bats and spiders.

I thought about my daughters wedding almost 2 1/2 years ago. We were going to have an ice cream sundae bar and rented a soft-serve ice cream machine, only, the reception started and the machine wasn't there. We kept calling the ice cream man who said he was going to be there any minute. Only he wasn't. He just kept saying he was coming which doesn't actually put ice cream in people's bellies.

As the reception ended, the ice cream man came with his tail between his legs and no ice cream. Apologizing profusely, he tried to hand me a wad of cash. I was annoyed. Why didn't he get the ingredients the night before, or plan more time into his schedule, or have a back-up contingency plan for emergencies because after all, there are no do-overs for a wedding.

I opened my mouth to tell him how he'd ruined our once-in-a-life-time and instead heard myself saying, "Don't worry about it. It was an awesome day. We've got a happy bride and groom. We're not going to let ice cream ruin it." I pushed the cash away. Teary eyed, he left. Unfortunately, those are not the words I had wanted to say. Fortunately, God takes over when I let Him and helps me say better words than my own.

After a night of dreaming up lame excuses of why I missed a once in a life-time event, I felt like pond scum. What if I'd actually had to give any of those excuses to the wedding party, especially if they had responded with any of the things that I had wanted to say to the ice cream man? What if I had said those mean, hurtful things I wanted to say to the ice cream man? After all, there are no do-overs for weddings. What if I had made it all about the ice cream instead of the bride and the groom and love and eternity and happily ever after?

God is good. I am good when I let Him in my life. He helps me see what's important. He helps me say what's important. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for God who helps me be better and focus on the important things so that I don't have to eat humble pie but can eat lots of real pie. And who doesn't like pie?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Oh if I Were a Spider, the Web I Would Weave . . .

Fair is a place you take a pig and you win a prize. Or maybe you don't win a prize. Maybe your pig dies before you get to the fair or maybe you get a flat tire on the way to the fair or perhaps you don't even have a pig and you just go to the fair and eat too much cotton candy and see the goat with two heads and the bearded lady and ride too many rides and throw up and and step in gum. Or worse.

I've been thinking a lot about "fair" this past month mostly because of my daughter from another mother, Maci. She can't seem to get her dang pig to the fair. If I was Maci, I think me and my pig would be wallowing in the mud and waiting for more slop which is not the breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions and is not a Maci meal either because she has willpower and has winning habits even if she and her pig are not going to the fair.

Last year was her first year running track and she was fast. Her mom, the other mother who is organized, sums it up well in her FB post from April 19th:

"Proud of my daughter Maci McCleary, Yesterday at the Taylorsville invitational she took 3rd out of 70+ girls in the 200, first in the 4x100, and 16th out of 90+ girls in the 100. She has done great despite her lack of experience and her daily injuries." 

But then she got a stress fracture in her femur that ended her track season.  How did Maci deal with this? She got up the next morning, dressed up, blinged up her crutches, put on a smile and hobbled to school.

In the couple years prior to that, Maci had back surgery, a broken arm, a broken hip, a broken hand a fractured tibia . . . twice,  a blood infection, a bruised neck and a concussion. In other words, a lot of her seasons ended.

After the fractured femur, the doctors figured that she had a weakness in one side of her body and came up with a plan to strengthen the weak side. Maci worked on this plan all summer. She spent hours doing physical therapy and practicing her basketball skills. She trained like a champion, and she ate like a champion, cutting all sugar and "slop" from her diet. She made it through tennis season injury free and had just started playing some preseason basketball when she tore her ACL and MCL.

Her basketball season ended before it even started. She is not going to make it to the fair. Life is not fair. All that hard work, all that time, all that discipline and dedication. . .why???? So not fair.

In the grand scheme of things, does this really matter? People died in terrorists attacks in Paris last week. People are murdered; people lose limbs and abilities; people lose loved ones; nations rise and fall, so why or how does this matter? That's what's been spinning around in my head along with the cobwebs.

I don't know much, but I do know this, I know that it matters. Champions are not made on the court or the track. They are not made in one defining moment--the swish of a ball, the crossing of a finish line. Champions are made from many moments, moments that crowds and newspapers and fans don't see. Moments of getting out of bed early while everyone else is sleeping, moments of practice while everyone else is with friends, moments of hobbling around on crutches with a smile even when you're dying inside. . .

I asked God one day, "Why?" He answered me with this question, "How has knowing Maci changed your life?" and I cried. I cried because I'm a woman with lots of horrormones, but also because knowing Maci makes me want to be a better person. Knowing her makes me want to do hard things, Knowing Maci makes me realize that I might not win, but trying will make me a winner.

So, if I were a spider with mad web spinning skills, I would haul my hairy spider behind over to Maci's and weave words like driven, inspirational, motivational and #OhIamsoblessedtoknowyou! over her house. I would probably use my glow in the dark silk so the whole world could see. And, if I was a spider like Maci, I would definitely add some bling.

The other mother doing Maci's hair, Tess painting her nails after the back surgery.

Maci at men's basketball game. It was a white-out. Love this girl. She doesn't do anything half way. 
Receiving the Riverton Choice Award this month. She would definitely be my choice.
(notice the ribbons and bling on the crutches :) )

I think Mother Theresa and Kent Keith sum up what I'm trying to say and how I feel about Maci. Don't do things because you want to be a champion or a winner, do things because you are a winner.

 People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.
-this version is credited to Mother Teresa

the Original Version:
The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sour Patch Kids, Stephen Curry, Family, Friends, Prayers, Costco Cards, & Tender Mercies

"Physical restrictions can expand vision. Limited stamina can clarify priorities. Inability to do many things can direct focus to a few things of greatest importance." (Elder David A. Bednar, Chosen To Bear Testimony of My Name, Ensign, November 2015)

We were humbled to see all the people who came to visit Tess. They brought cookies and Sour Patch Kids and hugs and Sour Patch Kids and lunch and dinner and Sour Patch Kids and balloons and stuffed animals and well, you know, Sour Patch Kids. They listened to Tess’ animated babblings about crowd-surfing, college life and Stephen Curry. If you don’t know who Steph Curry is, please don’t tell Tess because she will cry real tears for you because you don’t know how wonderful he is. At least that’s how she was in the hospital. 
Family :)


And more friends with food.

(There are so many more that came that I didn't get pictures of. THANK YOU!!!!)

My daughter, Bri, took vacation days to be with Tess. She cleaned the blood out of her matted hair, and washed her body, and spent entire days just being there in case Tess needed something. As a mom, this is the ultimate payback—to see your children truly love and care for each other, to put their siblings needs above their own.

A cute boy that Tess had started dating about a month before her accident came to visit. He walked in with a stuffed monkey and Tess very excitedly asked where he got it. When he told her Costco, she was a little perplexed because how in the heck do you get into that place unless your mom is with you with her card?  “How did you get into Costco?” she asked.
“I have a Costco card,” he replied.
“You have a Costco card?” Tess gushed. “That makes you SO much more attractive.”

So, this attractive boy with a Costco card sat by her side and didn’t mind that her hair was all matted and bloody because he came before the sister worked her magic. He listened to her talk about Stephen Curry and he understood what she was talking about. He held her hand while she slept and when she would pull the oxygen out of her nose and her monitor would go off, he would very gently stick it back in her nose. He called her at nights and read scriptures to her because reading is a hard thing to do with brain damage. He talked to her about her future, a future that did not include going to school that semester and a future that did include lots of therapy. He was supportive and kind and so much more helpful than Mom or Dad even though Mom and Dad have Costco cards too.

So, here is the part of the story that happened after the hospital:

About a month after her accident, Tess was cleared to participate in any and all activities except crowd-surfing. What was supposed to be months of physical, occupational, and speech therapy, ended up being a few visits. She has no lasting effects from her accident. No headaches. Her filter is working. She doesn’t cry if you don’t know Steph Curry, although she is slightly miffed. In short, her recovery is nothing short of miraculous. She literally floated on the prayers, faith and kindness of so many.

She is back in her apartment, though not attending classes. She just got a job coaching the Freshman girls basketball team at Logan High School. And although they live 4 hours apart, she is still seeing the cute boy with the Costco card. #blessed

Some of the great people that work at University Hospital:

Nurse Laura, they're still tight.

Nurse Jeremy, no sponge bathing for him--just lots of laughing together and consumption of Sour Patch Kids.

Celine from housekeeping. She sang for Tess and told her about the Rwandan Genocide where most of her family died--a very inspirational young woman. They are now FB friends.