Monday, June 30, 2008


Today was the last day of our family's Writing Month and I have just completed my 50,000 word novel. The end of it is very skeletal and rushed but I did it and maybe in a couple of weeks I will have the gumption to go back and start editing it. For now, I am just tickled pink that such an enormous volume of creative work has been completed and that I actually did what I set out to do. There is a wonderful feeling that comes from accomplishing a goal, especially a crazy but entirely measurable goal. It's the feeling of empowerment. I just achieved a dream I thought was impossible. What other impossible things could be accomplished?

Of course, I cannot take the glory for myself. Even on such a temporal level, this novel I have written is a gift from God. Many nights Scott and I would pray for the determination and the creativity to keep writing. I know that my Heavenly Father wanted to help me with this because my success in this very worldly matter is still important to Him. Because He loves me and wants me to succeed in all of my righteous desires.

A Family Holiday

I was sick on Friday, so I didn't write, but I was very grateful that Soren was able to play with himself so that I could rest. I spent most of the morning dozing and felt a lot better afterwards. Getting sick always reminds me of playing Oregon Trail and the icon popping up that says someone in your party is sick. The way to make them feel better is to rest for many days, but sometimes that a really bad idea when you have the winter deadline for pushing yourself out West. I'm glad that we live in a time with a little more leeway. To take a day off to rest and feel better isn't a recipe for disaster or family ruin. I know we always talk about how we live in a really fast-paced world but it's nice that we have the conveniences and support structure in place to allow us to take things a lot slower than they had to a couple of centuries ago.

Anyways, I got well and the weekend was AMAZING. Saturday was our anniversary and I couldn't have planned a better way to spend it, even if I'd tried. The nice thing about it was that Scott took charge of it and really enjoyed treating me. We had our traditional waffle breakfast. I made the waffles from scratch this year and they were really buttery and sweet. Scott went to the grocery store and bought me roses. There were two this year, for the two years we've been married. Then, while Soren napped, Scott helped me put on my wedding dress. The skirt was really wrinkled but wearing it was super fun and made me feel really beautiful. Scott is very good at making me feel beautiful. It was his idea to have me wear it and he kept saying, "Spin around. I know you want to." He knows me really well. I know it sounds really vain, but I always appreciate the way that Scott dotes on me. He said, "You look more beautiful today than the day you were married and that's saying a lot because you were the most beautiful woman in the world that day." I hope we can make a tradition of this. Last year I was a little too pregnant to squeeze into the dress but this year it fit perfectly. Anyways, after the dressing up we looked at wedding and engagement pictures on Scott's computer. I love pictures and I'm so glad that technology today allows us to take so many. Then we walked to the grocery store (with the baby) and picked out some fancy cheese. We got Swiss Raclette and French Bree with a bagette and a bottle of grape juice. Then we walked to Liberty Park and sat under the shade of a huge tree to try some new cheeses. The seagulls gathered round and Scott gave them austere and sophisticated British accents. They were trying to convince us that they were discerning enough to deserve some cheese but were sorely disappointed. We had brought them the heal of a regular bad loaf and Soren loved watching them hop around, fighting over the crumbs we threw to them. When we were leaving, there was a group of college students getting ready for a LARPing battle, but we had to get home because a sitter was coming for Soren. Sister Gillespie watched him while Scott and I went to the temple. I am very grateful for the generosity of people. It was very refreshing to spend that time one on one and I'm glad that Sis. Gillespie made that possible. The temple was wonderful. I really love my husband. I'm so glad that we are going to be together forever. And it's not just someday. Forever starts now. I often feel that when Scott comes home and holds me and the baby in his arms, it's just like what being in the celestial kingdom must be like. I have everything I could ever want at that moment. All those things we came to earth for, the things that Heavenly Father wanted for us, are there in that circle of love. I have a body and an eternal companion and I have posterity that has sprung from those former two gifts. And I want nothing more than for those things to continue forever.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Renewing Power of the Atonement

I was listening to a talk by Joseph B. Wirthlin the other day that, although it was mostly directed to inactive members of the church, has given me something to think about. He said that when we are converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ by truly coming unto the Savior, he will renew our bodies and give us energy and strength. It reminded me of the story in the Book of Mormon where the people had heavy burdens placed upon them and when they prayed, the Lord did not take those burdens away but made them lighter on their backs. Elder Wirthlin brought up the scripture "for my yoke is easy and my burden is light". This is a promise that I am grateful for. I know that I have comparatively few responsibilities in my life and only a little work to do right now but I feel very keenly the need for the strengthening and invigorating power of the Holy Ghost. So I've been praying every day for this spiritual gift and I know that the Lord is upholding me as I strive to do the important things in life. Some days I feel so drained and it seems that I'm not able to get very much done but when I look back on the day, I know that the Lord has helped me to do those things that are most important. He was sustaining me when the baby needed to be fed or played with. He was sustaining me when I wanted to sleep but needed to read the scriptures. He was sustaining me when I was preparing to welcome my husband home from work, giving me the energy to cook and tidy up. And he has always sustained me with ample energy when my new calling has placed demands on me. Even if I get only those few things done every day, then that is a tender mercy of the Lord to me. It is those things that make my life full and meaningful, not the side projects and flurry of activity I often envision myself involved in. I am grateful for the simplicity of the gospel and the sustaining power of the Holy Ghost.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Technology of our Forefathers

Today I am grateful for technology. Scott and I were talking the other day about human history and how amazing it is that we live at the pinnacle of so many years of advancement. He was saying that people in Sumeria, thousands of years ago, must have thought they were living in the golden age. They had cities and farming, beer and writing, art and music. And yet, now here we are, in an era so advanced we cannot imagine mankind without those essentials. And we have technology that has transformed our relationships and our pursuits. I love the internet and cameras and word processors and telephones. It's wonderful that we live in a time when I can talk to my parents, who are thousands of miles away, every day. I can take videos of their grandson and within minutes, they can be watching what he was just doing here. Or, with a web camera, they can watch his discoveries as they unfold. I really appreciate the way technology has connected our world and how it has made it possible for me to have a close relationship with my parents, even though we cannot be together right now. I was thinking the other day about pioneer women who, once they had married Mormon boys, left behind their parents and siblings to travel west, knowing they would not see or hear from those people they knew and loved for the rest of their lives. What heartbreak! And yet, no matter where we go in the world, now I can still be connected to my family. This is surely a blessing from God.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Patience of our Father

So, what is this? Well, I've decided to start a gratitude journal or, as I want to call it, my Tender Mercies Log. I've kind-of resisted starting a blog because I don't think I'm very entertaining and I like to read blogs when they are funny. But funny so often means negative and cynical to me and that's not the way I want to look at my life anymore. I want to be more positive and more aware of the Lord's hand in my life. Every good gift I have comes from him, and I feel keenly the need to record those good gifts. And maybe when you read this, you will be more aware of the hand of God in your life. It's a form of worship, I think, to remember and be thankful. In church on Sunday our high councilors spoke about Henry B. Eyering's talk "O Remember, Remember" from the October 2007 general conference. I do remember being very impressed by it and each time I am reminded of it, I feel very strongly that I need to write in my journal. Well, now I have set aside a specific time of day to write about the things the Lord has done for me. And that's all I'm going to write about because there is no need to gripe about any misfortunes I might have.

So the first thing I am grateful for is Heavenly Father's knowledge of my human failings and the constant gentle reminders he gives me. The Lord truly does stand at the door knocking and waits for us to let Him into our lives. He isn't just standing out there, though. He knocks again and again for those of us who want to let Him in but just forget He's out there. I am so grateful for that gentle tapping of the Holy Ghost. I have often noticed in my life that in a short period of time, the same principle of the gospel will be presented reiterated again and again until I pick up on it. Heavenly Father is seeking to bless me by giving me His gentle commandments and He does not give up the first time I brush them aside. I do think that writing more consistently in a journal is very important. I have never found it to be particularly therapeutic and don't know if there are exciting stories in my life that beg to be recorded, which is why I have so often petered out on consistent record-keeping. But I do know that the Lord's hand is in my life every day and that a record of those dealings, blessings, and promises would be of great value to me and to my posterity. So I am very grateful that God has reminded me of this over and over until it stuck. Or at least, I hope it's at the sticking point, now. But I just wanted to record that these gentle prods of the Spirit are a tender mercy of the Lord.

Just one more thing. My whole evening yesterday was another blessing from God, mostly because of the time I was able to spend with my kind husband and little Soren. I don't know how to describe those evenings that fill me up with joy and make it obvious to me why God's greatest gift to us would be eternal life, or an eternal family with limitless posterity. Sometimes I think of them as domestic tranquility but it's a much more powerful feeling than that. To see my husband smiling and playing or singing with our son is one of the greatest joys I've ever known. I know that the depth of my happiness comes from our eternal marriage and the sure knowledge I have of the divine nature and potential of our family. I am grateful for that knowledge and for the reality of its blessings in my life today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Peace Like a River

"Leif Enger ... is a natural-born storyteller, and his novel moves in a current that can be poetic and slow or as tumultuous as whitewater rapids. This novel has the power to convince that, despite sorrow, human experience is a miracle of ordinary truth and extraordinary love." - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This month in our ward's book club we have been reading Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. And I sprinted through it today so that I would be ready to discuss it for our group. But I think I would have read it this solidly anyways since it is so well-written. I think this is some of the most stupendous prose I have ever read (with some of the greatest poetry interspersed). And I grew very attached to the characters very quickly.

In the novel, the boy Rueben remembers an unforgettable year of his childhood in a small town during the mid-twentieth century. When his brother, Davy, shoots two local bullies who break into their home and then escapes fom prison, Rueben, his sister Sweden, and their father take a cross-country journey to find their outlaw brother and son. They are followed by a federal agent who believes the family will lead him straight to the convict Davy. Reuben watches his father battle between love for his son and a desire to do the right thing in this haunting story about family and miracles.