Tuesday, February 13, 2018

To BYU or Not to BYU? That is the Question.

As much as I want to pay thousands of dollars to start having that dream again where I'm wandering around campus without pants, and I can't remember where my classes are, I'm just not sure if I want to go back to school. But it is my daughter's dream for us to go to school together. It use to be her dream for us to be roommates too until she married the dreamy Austin Anderson. She also dreams of Big Macs, laundry that folds itself and Lacrosse practices that don't start at 5:30 a.m., but I squirrel.

As terrific as it would be to wander campus with a big map in 20 pt font, I can think of a few problems:

There are so many other things I could be doing, like eating and sleeping and breathing, because I don't remember having time to do those things a bazillion years ago when I went to the BYU.

The major thingy. I think dance--that was my major before--is probably out now that I'm 20 lbs heavier and the only splits I'm doing are the banana kind.

Again, the major thingy. What in the world do I like enough that I want to study exclusively? Do they have a renaissance woman degree? Oh wait, that's motherhood, right?

Clothes. Can I wear stretchy pants? What about pajama pants? Are bras optional?

There's a good chance I might be older than most of my professors. If they ask me to do something I think is stupid, I might say something like, "That's stupid."

But I did some practicing last week. A friend and I went to Hank Smith's New Testament class with our daughters. When I wasn't stretching my neck trying to minimize my neck rolls, I was worried that I was breaking an honor code violation because you know I wasn't actually enrolled, and I had a wee bit of anxiety like the time I attended a full day of classes with my zipper down and thought the modesty police might write me up, but Bro Smith was happy to have us there probably because we brought some spiritual maturity to the class.

So when I wasn't worried about the honor police and my neck rolls and wearing pants, my brain did a little happy dance because it was entertained and it did a little stretch and I didn't want to say the word stupid once. Then later my mouth did a happy dance because we went to the Cannon Center and had a Navajo taco and I've missed those tasty guys.
Me and all my chins so happy to be arriving at that happy place again!

The lovely sight Bro Smith saw while he was teaching.

Can you see the "Y" behind us???

Navajo taco, only mine was bigger and had a pint of guacamole on top.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Mother Nose Best

I was eleven, in the church gym, trying to find my silhouette that I'd made for a mother daughter activity on the wall. I examined the half dozen or so pictures, but not one of them looked like me or at least how I thought I looked.

My friends giggled and "kindly" helped me identify my likeness. "Yours is right there; the one with the big nose."

I was mortified. From that moment, I knew I wasn't as good, wasn't as pretty as the rest of them and I felt embarrassed, almost ashamed, that I had not been aware of this before.

 It was also at that moment that I mounted a continual, relentless effort that ruled my thoughts and actions to shield the world from the unsightly horror that was my nose. During school, I literally kept my nose in a book, or hid by my hand, or my arms by putting my head on my desk. Anything to hide the horror that was my honker. I even took up sleeping on my face thinking that I could force a little bit of it back inside my head. Of course it didn't work, but for years I sported a line--just like a minus sign--across my nose.

I worried that people were staring at my nose. My bigger worry was that they would think I didn't know how ugly it was, so to eliminate any confusion, I made jokes about it.

If this wasn't bad enough, at thirteen I discovered I had chicken lips. This was pointed out to me by my "helpful" Young Women leader who was teaching us how to apply make-up. And I quote, "If you have chicken lips like Jill, you can blah, blah, blah. . ." The rest was kind of lost on me because just like the silhouette nose thingy, I had no idea my lips were offensive too. I had no clue that full lips were what I was supposed to want. Heck, some of my best friends were chickens. Seriously. But that's a different story.

So why am I writing all this? Because 40 years later I finally like who I am. I finally feel beautiful, not because of how I look, but because of how I feel.

I'm throwing out the "b" word because of that Dove commercial where they have the "beautiful" door and the "average" door and women have to choose which one to walk through. Beauty has got to be more than how we look. We all know people who are visually appealing but are "ugly" and plain or average people who are beautiful, glorious in fact. We can choose to be beautiful.

I am writing this because my beautiful daughter, who looks so much like me but is so much better in so many ways said she wanted a nose job. I was crushed. How much of my "nose" paranoia had rubbed off on her?

So my dear "T," forget about your nose, embrace beauty. A nose job might make you look different, but it would also contradict everything that I love about you: your ability to see the beauty in others; your ability to help others see the beauty in themselves; your abundant joy and happiness with life and its many opportunities; your ability to triumph over adversity; your ability to not take life too seriously. If you changed your nose, I'm afraid you wouldn't be able to see past the end of it.

I wasted so many years worrying about my nose, focusing on myself, that I couldn't focus on others. Nobody cares about your nose. They only care about how you make them feel. So, forget your nose (or your hair, or your weight or your crooked teeth--insert whatever insecurities you have here--and leave them here) and be beautiful.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Happy Things

There has been a lot of sadness around here. Gut-wrenching sadness. But there is also love. So much love and so much goodness. Queen Victoria II (and my bishop) said, "Grief is the price we pay for love." So true. I've wanted to want to blog all week, but life has felt heavy, and if you haven't been reading, my last few posts have been heavy.

So instead of blogging, I've been procrastinating. I am good at it. I practice a lot. But I am finished flipping through Insta and FB and being "heavy." I am a doer. Of hard things. So I am blogging about things that made me happy.

1. I am happy that I can walk. It is such a miracle each time I take a step. I'm still not super good at it. But I am doing it.

2. I am happy for sweat. I went to the gym last night and for the first time in a looong time, I was able to work out so hard that I was sweating. That was joy sweat friends.

3. I am happy when my feet are so sore at the end of the day and I see this beauty. I 💗 Sheila.

4. I am so happy that I have a winter coat and warm shoes.

5. I am happy that I was insanely brave (for me) yesterday and I had something great happen.

6. I am so happy that Wingers makes those sticky finger tacos and that I have good friends to eat them with.

7. I am happy that when there is so much sadness there can be so much love too.

8. Car dancing makes me SO HAPPY and it is my new drug. If you are hurting, try it. Maybe it will work for you too.

9. I am so happy I got to go to this place with an awesome friend and that I only fell asleep for a little while. . . It was a celestial snooze.

10. And who cannot be happy watching The Greatest Showman (three times)? I love the message-YOU ARE GLORIOUS, "bruised" and all. The Best of Us All, the Greatest of Us All, "had no form nor comeliness; . . . (he had) no beauty that we should desire him. He (was) despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: . . .he was bruised for our iniquities." He knows what it's like to be bruised like nobody else does. And friends, He thinks we are glorious. Because of Him we can be even more glorious than we ever imagined. And it gets better. We are part of HIS family. His eternal family.  Family is also one of the themes in The Greatest Showman. Go see it. You'll love it. Buy the music. You'll sing it and car dance to it. You will be happy and you will fell glorious.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Several years ago I had a friend that was experiencing a devastating tragedy. One night I couldn’t sleep. I was worried about my friend and the weight of her burden. Was she able to sleep? Did she feel alone? How could she possibly endure such a trial? I found myself on my knees praying. I asked if her pain could be eased if only for a while. I said I was willing to share her burden so it could be lighter. A heavy, oppressive feeling overwhelmed me. The weight was crushing, almost unbearable. After about an hour, the pain lifted. I wondered if my friend’s burden was eased just a little during that hour?

I love that Christ wept when He heard that Lazarus died. He had power to raise Lazarus from the dead, so why did He weep? I like to think He wept because He felt the sorrow of Martha and Mary. Their problem, their pain became His burden. Bearing one another’s burdens is a casserole and babysitting and lawn mowing and donating funds, but it is so much more. When we truly mourn with someone, we go from saying, “That’s sad,” to “I’m sad.”

In the Fall I had a surgery that knocked me for a loop. I had some set backs and complications that involved a lot of pain, no sleep, and little healing. Sometimes the pain seemed unbearable; I literally didn’t know how I could make it through another day. I received phone calls and visits from countless family members and friends. They brought meals and gifts, but more importantly, they listened to me, they mourned with me, and they cried with me. My burden, my pain became theirs and I was lifted.

Recently a friend and I talked and she shared a heavy burden with me. She apologized saying she didn’t want to weigh me down. I remembered a time several years ago when I had unapologetically unloaded on her. She had been through a similar trial and because she had been where I was and because she loved me, she could give me words that provided new perspective and charted a course of action that changed my life.

The Savior, through the power of His atonement, has the ultimate power to lift burdens. As a people that have covenanted to take upon us His name and try to be like Him, we should mourn with, cry with, and feel the pain and despair of our brothers and sisters, and no one should ever have to apologize.

Friday, January 5, 2018

New Year's/Old Year's Resolutions--I've Heard it Both Ways

New year's resolutions always kick my butt. I mean I make resolutions but let's face it, my resolve dissolves as fast as cookies in milk. I wasn't making new resolutions, I was really just wringing milk from last year's cookies and passing those soggy things off as next year's Oreos. So, then it got easier to not make resolutions. . . to break. But then there's guilt. And pounds. And dust bunnies. And chocolate cake for breakfast. And brain drain.

So last year I resolved to be more resolute. I thought carefully about what I wanted to accomplish. I had a long list of soggy cookies I could resurrect, but I decided to leave them all in the cup. If I died at the end of the year, would I really care if I had exercised, or eaten broccoli, or even if I'd read my scriptures everyday if it hadn't really changed me? Not changed my health or my body, but changed me, my soul, my spirit? So I picked one goal. One thing that mattered. My new year's resolution for 2017 was to not withhold love. It has kicked my butt, but in a good butt-kicking way, in a way that it needed to be kicked.

I learned that there are SO many ways to withhold love: when people annoy me, when family members hurt me, when my children are bullied, when I am jealous, when someone dismisses or even laughs at my opinions just to name a few. This week.

Last year, after a few months of this goal, I started to feel a little beat up and far less than perfect. That's when God sent me a message. I was at a conference and one of the presenters was a woman who my college boyfriend had dumped me for. I was hoping she was fat, not very interesting, and maybe just a little bit bald. She wasn't. She was beautiful, articulate, captivating, everything I felt like I wasn't.

That night when I checked in with Heavenly Father, I realized that once again I had withheld love for this sister in a big way. After I finished what I hoped was a full, sincere, heartfelt repentance, Heavenly Father said to me, "There's one more thing you need to repent of--withholding love from yourself. You are every bit as bright and beautiful and loved by me." That's when I learned, although I had been told and taught a jillion times in dozens of Sunday School classes, that I can't love others if I don't love myself.

That's why my resolution for 2018 is to not withhold love. It may be an "old" resolution, but it will make me a new person.

President Thomas S. Monson, a great example of love. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Fox in A Box

It's  4:40 a.m. Christmas morning and just like the first 40 years of my life, I haven't been able to sleep. 'Back then the magic of the day wouldn't allow me too even in the lean years--the years we had no money for presents so wrote notes to each other or the socks and underwear years. This year I think it has to do more with a recent surgery I had, but who knows? Maybe it's the magic.

A few weeks ago my 4 year-old granddaughter, Jena arrived for a sleepover with her cousins and she was so excited. Practically breathless she said to me, "Gwamma, I got you a fox in a box!"

She knows I love foxes. My fox fetish started about 12 years ago after my mother died. I fell into a deep depression, and then I started seeing foxes. I saw them whenever I'd go on my river walk. One day they came curiously close to me. So close I almost touched them when I knelt down and extended my hand. I saw them in fields and then I saw them at the cemetery near her grave. My mom was such an animal lover that I believe when she died, there was a great shift in the heavens as thousands of God's creatures ran to meet her. I felt like the foxes were a small sign from her or God that she was still there.

So, when Jena handed me a small shoe box and I pulled back a piece of paper and there drawn on the bottom of the cardboard with orange crayon was a little fox adorned with a few small stickers, my heart melted. "See Gwamma, a fox in a box. I knew you would love it." It is probably my favorite Christmas present this year. In fact as I'm writing this in the wee hours of the morning looking at the Christmas tree and all the presents around it I'm thinking, "What else could I possibly need?

I've already received the best gifts this season. Along with my fox in a box, I got:
* a text from my son one day telling me he wouldn't be coming home for lunch because he had seen a person eating alone and joined them.
* I had a sweet sister buy me a new nativity for my eclectic collection when I know that funds were extremely tight for her.

* I had one of my old young women come by and sing me a beautiful song she'd written and give me a tender note.
* I got to see my grandchildren perform the nativity at a nursing home and hear my oldest granddaughter, Charlotte say, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord," and I could almost remember witnessing this event and singing joyfully with my less than mediocre voice as I marveled at the simplicity and the magnitude of his birth.
* I got to use the power of  Christ's atonement several times this month as He bore my griefs and carried my sorrows, not in some figurative, abstract way, but in a literal, powerful way that was nothing short of miraculous to me as my burdens were lifted and gone.
* He has helped me see others through his eyes and healed my broken heart helping me to forgive. Oh how could I possibly receive anything better?

So, I will sit here in the still, magical twilight hours and ponder small, simple gifts and marvel at a  Savior who gives the best gifts of all.

Merry Christmas 2017!

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.