Monday, July 24, 2017

In Which Mom is Wrong

Dear Kids,
My whole life long I have run my car until the gas tank was nearly empty. I have almost never run out of gas. I know my car's gas tank capacity better than the folks who designed the thing. I ran out of gas once in 1988 and once in 1997. Both happened because I had no money to refill the tank and was pushing my luck.

No one has ever been able to convince me that it saves time to fill up at a quarter of a tank or three quarters or whatever crazy time they refill. I don't buy the sludgy bottom of your gas tank is bad for your engine argument either. The other day a friend of mine was teasing his wife about it and I defended her, because seriously, it saves so much time to only refill when it's empty. Then someone mentioned that gas pumps are in the fuel tank and that they are designed to be cooled by the gasoline in the tank. If one runs a car on a near empty tank, the fuel pump is too hot regularly. In short, the habit wears out your fuel pump faster.

"HOGWASH!" said I. Then I began to research a bit and guess what. It's true. I was wrong.  Okay, I'll say it louder. I was . . . um . . . wrong.

Since I have taught my empty gas tank falsehood far and wide, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I must now repudiate my former sentiments. Even though it takes longer and the sludge in the tank thing is silly, you really should refill your gas tank before it gets below a quarter of a tank so your fuel pump doesn't receive undue wear and tear.

I know that keeping the tank full, like getting regular oil changes and doing recommended maintenance, is a financially stable person's privilege. (Trust me, I know.) But still, if you can, it's a good idea. You know, when you get a car.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

J's Day

I am thankful for many other things and people today, but Jacob always wins on November 3rd. I'm going to spend the day with him instead of writing about him, but I thought I'd check in with a quick note of thanks to God for my son. I'm pretty sure I've gushed about him previously if you want to search.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Returning to Gratitude

I had a plan last year for November. I was going to write a series of posts about people who had affected my life and for whom I was grateful. It was going swimmingly. Then the leak about the church policy about couples in a same sex relationship and their children hit, and I was . . . what's the word . . . hysterical, maybe, with a dash of devastated. I couldn't focus on my thankfulness for people in my past or present. I could only mourn.

One of the first things I did was call my two oldest children who had left the church to ask them how they were. I asked them if they were going to send in their official resignations (kind of a self-excommunication from the church). I don't remember what J said, but I remember what E said. That it was hard to be attached even in name to an organization that does such hurtful things, but that whenever something like this happens I am so upset that she doesn't want to do anything to make my pain worse. Then she sent me a care package with tissue and treats to comfort me. She sent ME a care package.

I kept going to church (because I love God and I truly believe this is his church) but I've felt fragile there. I like primary and the family history center best. I sub in with the children whenever I can, and go to the family history center then Relief Society whenever I can't. I've been trying to mend my relationship with God, because as it turns out, I am kind of mad at him. There have been several other personal hits to my happy church going, and I'm just mad/sad. I need to get over it.

I'd thought discipleship would be more predictable than it turns out to be. You do A, then B, then C, and as a result D happens. But here's how it really works. You do A with someone else and you bring someone else and their free choice into it. They are totally with you on doing B together. Then you go from being two people with free choice to being eight people with free choice. At first the extra people are little and malleable, so you and your partner take them to do C with the two of you. D is going to follow, right? Not so much.

I got married in the temple to a guy who wanted to raise a family in the gospel. We got busy and made six other humans. We taught them the gospel. Then their free agency kicked in. It turns out that you can't make all the "right" decisions and thereby force all of your family to make the same decisions. Who knew? They get to chose all on their own, just like I did. Just like their father did.

But here's the other thing. My kids are still wonderful. J is just as clever and funny as ever. E is just as kind and observant. N is still a delightful flibbertigibbet who may actually be the smartest person in the room. V still loves with all her heart. L still has his quiet mischievous ways. C is still a cuddle bug. I adore them. I've invested a lot of time and life energy into them, and I honestly think there is nothing they could do that would cause me to no longer love them. If they did something heinous, the annihilation of the human race, for instance, I'd be heart-broken, but broken hearts keep on loving.

I've spent the year in grief of varying degrees. and each time I began to emerge something new hit. I'm beginning to emerge again. I need to focus on the bright and beautiful in my life, and so I am once again going to work on my thankful posts. There is plenty to be thankful for, and I am going to strive to focus on those things.

Today's thankful: I am thankful for the resiliency of my spirit, for God's patience with me and for his gentle healing.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

World Suicide Prevention Day

First off, I must say that I am still not in the mood to talk with the world. (Notice the abandoned blog look I've been rocking since November.)

Second off, congratulations! You made it another year. Another hard year. I did too. At some point, I might feel up to discussing it or talking about something silly, but mostly I just want to say thank you all for staying on planet Earth with me. Thank you.

Have a link to inspirational suicide prevention twitter thingies.

Have some phone numbers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

THE Policy

I'm not going to try to go into all the ins and outs of my thoughts and feelings on the new policy that states that children with parents who have ever been in a cohabitating same-sex relationship cannot receive the same blessings and ordinances as children whose parents are not LGBT+. I'm not even going describe the policy. I am just going to say one thing. It is wrong to deny innocent children ordinances required for salvation and to place stumbling blocks before them.

God will fix this. I don't know how or when, but he will. And the meantime I'm just going to say my one thing: it is wrong.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mrs. Riggs

A lot of the people I am grateful for in my past are teachers, but librarians also have a huge permanent spot in my heart. I’m pretty sure that my patronus is a librarian. (Unfortunately, I am a Hufflepuff and never did manage to get the patronus charm down well, so I can only assume.)

For the most part I’ve forgotten almost all of my librarians’ names. Not Mrs. Riggs though. She was my grade school librarian and she was ridiculously kind to me. She knew all the good books, film strips, and records and never batted an eye when I managed to talk my teacher into letting me out of class (which I hated) to go watch my Greek gods and goddesses film strip again.

Her little haven of books was my favorite place in the school. Loved it more than the playground. Certainly more than the classroom. I loved Mrs. Riggs more than any student in the school and more than all but one teacher. She had two things I value above all others, kindness and a really great collection of books.

 I was so disappointed by the junior high school library. It was run by managers who were always in the back, telling the student volunteers what to do. If my high school had an adult librarian, I never saw any evidence of it. I failed to be impressed by school libraries again until I was in college. For some reason, the University of California, Davis’ library, where my mother worked for a time, seemed rather commonplace to me, but BYU’s Harrold B Lee library filled me with awe.

Years later I was in my elementary school library and picked up a book that had fallen out of popularity—Twenty and Ten, I think. It still had my name written on the card a half a dozen times. I was just flooded with lovely library memories. And when the Yvil sister became a substitute teacher for a while about a decade ago, she ran into Mrs. Riggs who remembered her. Twenty years after the fact.

She also sort of remembered me. “There was another one of you. She talked. A lot.” Oh, yes, indeed, I did. How could I resist? A kind adult with rooms full of books that she couldn't wait to share with me. You betcha I talked with her. A lot. Bless her lovely soul!

This could be an actual picture of a patronus for bibliophiles.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Two Elaines

This the first of my posts Giving Thanks for People in my Past.

Thought I'd hit both Elaines in a single post. First things first: I have never known an Elaine who wasn't a beautiful person. It's one of the reasons my oldest is named Elaine. The other two reasons are:

1. My aunt Elaine.

My mother's older sister Elaine was a small fiery creature. I've heard hilarious stories about her temper. But that's not what I remember about her. I remember her kindness and her love of Jesus.

My mom was a very young mother, seventeen when I was born, and she received a lot of help from family while she finished high school and then as she was working. Elaine was my second mom when I was small and I adored her.

One of my earliest memories is of waking up with the stomach flu while I was at her house. I remember her calm patience. I remember her gently washing the vomit out of my hair and reassuring me again and again that it was going to be okay and that she wasn't mad about the mess I'd made. I remember her making me feel like the most gifted person in the world when I got my cousin to burp. I remember her not laughing her tail off when I sprayed Lysol in my eye wondering what it would feel like. I remember hours and hours of fun with her and her babies.

She worked with the kids at my church too. I remember her singing with me about Jesus. I have a very distinct memory of a call and response song asking why I loved Jesus (because he first loved me). I knew he first loved me because she told me he did. That is no small gift.

When I was five, she died from liver disease, the same liver disease that had plagued her the entire time she was doing all those wonderful things with me. I've never stopped missing her. I'm certain that, had she lived, I would have had a more complicated relationship with her, as my conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints flipped out the rest of my Southern Baptist family. Perhaps I wouldn't have found her fiery temper so amusing if it was aimed at me, but as it was, I just had a loving aunt who was there for me whenever I needed her. 

2. An Elaine I hardly knew who gave me one of the most generous gifts I've ever known. 

This Elaine was someone who knew me when I first joined the church. She and her husband decided that I ought to go to BYU and so they paid for my tuition for both years I attended. (One of those years was after a significant stock market crash which hit them hard and they still helped me.) All that they asked is that I pay it forward when I got a chance. After my mission, I transferred to a local college. Since my family had moved out of my hometown, I wasn't in the same ward anymore. I lost touch with her. But I didn't forget. And I'm still working on that pay it forward thing.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Giving Thanks for People in my Past

This November I've decided that I am going to write a series of posts thanking people from my past, many of whom have moved out of my life now, but who have touched me, served me, changed me in beautiful ways. Some have died. Some were never close enough to keep in touch. Some were far too close and needed distance to move on with their lives. Some just drifted off. I just want to share in a reasonably lasting way some of the people who have blessed me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Original 160 Scriptures Mastery Verses with Links

Update: Now with links and columns! I may cry with joy (or fury, if the formatting doesn't work out). You have no idea how hard that was for me.  The links take you to the chapter and then you scroll down until you get to the highlighted verse. If I got a link wrong, let me know and I'll fix it.

Having just spent an inordinate amount of time seeking out the list from which I memorized scriptures back in the stone ages, I am going to put it here, so I can easily find it. Feel free to correct me in the comments if any of them are wrong. Many thanks to the anonymous person who went digging in her in-laws' crawlspace for the information. And thanks to my friend "JoAnnaBeth" for sending me hunting.

Update, 8 October 2015: My friend Julia G. pointed out this handy dandy chart. I found it fascinating, so I'm sharing it with you. I'm fairly sure the verses in the left column are the replacements for the list above and the ones on the right are their replacements. Nothing so constant as change.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Brain Dump that Facebook Missed

I'm taking a break from Facebook right now for several reasons: The noise of all those voices and notifications. (As of now, I've got 71 waiting for me when I get back next Monday.) The politics and fractious sharing of religious opinions. The pull to look again and again to see if anyone has written anything new. And oh yeah, the life envy. I admit to shoving down a bit of life envy from time to time. (The week before my birthday a friend posted about how sweet her littles were being whispering and planning surprises to delight her for her birthday. I got bubkis. A little twinge of covetousness.)

But more than that I found myself turning again and again to my online community of friends whenever I needed support, not to my family, not to God,  but to Facebook. It was all well and good in moderation, but I'm not that great at moderation. I realized the face I wanted to see was God's face, metaphorically, of course. So I decided to stop immersing myself in my virtual community, seek out real-life interaction with people I love, and try out some of those "Sunday school answers" in real life. (Q: How do you feel the Spirit? SSA: By fasting, praying, attending your meetings and the temple, service, etc.) So here are a few of my insights a week in.

1. I miss it. I miss the noise and the arguments and the announcements. My nephew and his wife just announced a pregnancy, and my SIL had a huge proud mommy moment. My husband says it's "weird" when I tell him to tell them I said congratulations. My daughters agree with him, so I'm tapping my foot, trying to keep my weirdo commitment to not facebook for two weeks. 

2, I have a backlog of thoughts I want to share with the wide, wide world. I want to write, Hence the blog post.

3. I have logged way more hours on my spiritual and intellectual pursuits than I normally do. I've been cleaning up other people's messes in Family Search. (Honestly, doesn't anyone else notice the thirty kids, and six Janes and six Joes and six of everything? Then I have to go research and see which Jane, Joe et al are the real ones and merge a bunch of people which messes with their kids . . . but I digress.) I've also done a lot more reading out loud to Caroline.

4. I am no more physically able to do other kinds of things, like cleaning, exercising, moving things, gardening than I was prior to this fb-fast. So I have a fair amount of sitting around thinking, "Hm, I can't really move: what should I do now?" Luckily, I live in my very own library, filled with my very favorite kind of books. Also, I have six million Kindle books. (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit on the Kindle.) And a laptop. (Did I mention how hard it's been to NOT go to Facebook?)

5. I kind of hate Facebook, because Facebook destroyed casual blogging. Our easy likes, and short quips and one-stop shopping (all of our friends in one spot) was easy enough, but our status updates have been ridiculously easy. A sentence here, a paragraph there. I wrote when I blogged, and I made new friends through blogging. I miss it. But I love Facebook for all the reasons I hate it. I'm fickle like that. 

6, There have been new Doctor Who episodes and I've been staying away from Twitter and Facebook, so after I watch the new episode, my husband asks, "How was it?" And I respond, "SO GOOD!" and that's the end of it. No speculation about Missy's clever idea or chuckling over the clever lines or fist-shaking over Davros' evil plans or cheering over the Doctor choosing mercy and still winning the day. Nope. Nada. Silencio. However, point 3 sort of makes it worth it. I can squee with my online friends later. 

7. People know that I've written on my blog primarily though me posting a link on Facebook, so very few people will see this. Which is fine, I guess. It's the point, I guess. To talk to real people, not virtual ones. The problem is that some of my very favorite people in the world are ones I only have on-line contact with. I won't name names, but I'm fairly certain, they know who they are. 

So, given that maybe seven or eight people will read this, I'm not feeling all that motivated to put a big ribbon of a concluding paragraph onto this mess of thoughts, but please know I DO appreciate you reading it. 

The end. (Of this post. Sheesh. Don't get all dramatic on me.)