25 April 2017
Charlotte has taken to solid foods like a champ. She loudly gulps her bites as fast as she can and comes back for more, with her neck craned as far forward as it will go, and her lips protruding all the way out. Anything to shorten the distance between her mouth and the spoon. Her hands stay up in the air, quivering in excitement. Ryan and I just laugh and laugh! This little thing.
Every morning lately, Ryan and I have been making green smoothies. One morning, after feeding Charlotte, I sat down next to her with my smoothie. She leaned forward with her lips all pooched out, trying to get a taste of my breakfast too. So I poured some in her mouth. She kept wanting more, so I ended up giving her most of my smoothie. And since we were sitting on the carpet, I'd use my finger to mop up her face before it dripped, and then I'd lick my fingers. I thought of how baby birds are fed by their mom regurgitating food into their mouths. I guess it's the opposite in our house.
Everyone is fed and happy here!
Upward and onward,
14 April 2017
Charlotte and I went to the library on a beautiful spring afternoon this week. I picked up a book titled, "Following the Light of Christ into His Presence."
Anything with the word "light" is a guarantee that I'll connect with it. That's my favorite word.
Also, this book is written by John Pontius who also wrote "Visions of Glory," which is a fascinating read. Before my good friend Becky moved away, we stayed up late on many occasions talking about that book.
So, I figured this was a good find.
I have barely begun the first chapter, and I want to pause to write my thoughts. All the writing I have done lately has been about the Atonement or Jesus Christ in some way. I am just really bonded to this doctrine lately, and it's been really special.
The author is talking about Nephi's vision with the tree of life. Nephi is shown the tree, and Nephi's like, "Cool. What's this about?" So then he is shown Mary, Mother of Jesus, and promptly asked, "Knowest thou the condescension of God?" Nephi is like, "um, I know God loves all His children." Then he is shown a vision of baby Jesus. And then it seems that something of a lightening bolt has struck Nephi's brain. He's asked the meaning of the tree of life again, and this time, Nephi knows.
"It is the love of God."
Not a lot is said about what is going on Nephi's mind between these visions and these questions and how he arrives at his answer, but John Pontius says this, "In seeing the nativity of our Lord, Nephi undoubtedly was filled with an understanding of the tremendous love required on the Lord's part to cause Him to leave His throne (condescend) to be born in the flesh. Further, Nephi was taught how this love spreads abroad in the hearts of the children of men. He undoubtedly felt that love, felt the power and majesty of it, felt the soul-refining fire it is, felt the eternal worth of souls, and felt the deep compassion it engenders within the recipient. His whole being was filled with such unspeakable joy that he could only exclaim, 'It is the most desirable above all things!' "
Thus, "the tree of life represents the love of God. Not the celestial kingdom, not eternal life, not calling and election, or any other spiritual gift or reward. It represents only the love of God."
And the whole big meaning of the tree of life vision is showing the means and pursuit of people trying to get to this tree. We are all meant to travel towards God's love. That is our powerful. Our pursuit here is only to find the love of God and fill ourselves with it. All else will fall into line: our characters, our obedience, our pains, our questions - all these things that I "work" on. I devote so much energy to those things. When really, my focus needs to be pivoted just a bit, set my mind more towards, "Did I find God's love today? Do I feel how much He loves me?" Then I will be naturally obedient; I will be improving as a person; I will get more of the answers and the peace that I seek. I LOVE that!
Also, back to Nephi's vision and his epiphany. Before when I read this passage in 1 Nephi 11, I always felt a disconnect of thought - "God loves His Children. Oh, Christ as a baby! Oh, now back to the tree of life, what we were talking about in the first place." Like I'm eaves dropping on a conversation between people that is not connecting. I'm grateful for John Pontius's thoughts in this book, for teaching me that there's more happening in Nephi's mind that isn't written, and pausing to step into his thoughts is where we find the depth of meaning. Just in that teeny tiny passage of scripture in the Book of Mormon.
Nephi must have understood the peace and majesty and joy of Christ up in the spiritual world. It is a good life there. And for Him to come down to this life in the flesh, to give up such a wonderful place, and enter of world of pain and injustice and fear, it's a huge condescension. And in that is found a HUGE amount of love.
Last night, I briefly saw a news clip of families in Syria, right after Assad dropped chemical acid on them, and parents were frantically trying to get the clothing off of their writhing children. It was mortifying to me. It made me instantly sad, so so sad, and I felt like running to my bed. Seeing innocent people suffering is so painful. Thinking about the fear of those children, wondering what is going through their minds as their fearful eyes look up at their parents, wondering why their skin is burning, why their parents are so frantic. And the pain is not any less for the parents. Whose focus in life is to give their little ones the best of all they can, going about their business with this great desire in their hearts. And then acid rains on them from the sky! It's horrible!
And Christ's condescension is like a man turning from his joyful, happy, peaceful life and saying, "I'm buying a plane ticket over to Syria right now, and I will live with these families for the rest of their lives. I'll give up everything I have to go over to just that one family on the tv screen and help them however I can."
It was no small change of scenery for Christ. A surplus of sacrifice. And an overwhelming amount of empathy in His heart for wanting to enter into our state of suffering and do all He could to help alleviate it. And so Nephi actually sees Him arrive here in the flesh and he's like, "Oh wow. He bought the plane ticket. He has come!" And then he felt Christ's immense love.
So then the author says, "If an angel of the Lord appeared to you and emphatically informed you that something was the most desirable and precious thing that could be attained in this life, and that it was readily available, would you not pursue that thing with great vigor and determination? It is possible to read such promising words, such wonderfully potent language, and ignore its message? The effect that charity has upon the soul is the greatest of all feelings in this life; it is the loveliest, the most joyful, and the most delightful. There is nothing to compare with its joyous effect upon the human soul."
And feeling that love He has for us is the ultimate goal and focus of our existence. That's what our daily reach is for.
How humbling and loving and even exciting. Because it's so incredible to feel that love, so to be given a purpose that results in that level of happiness is really exciting to me. What a sweet existence that God wants for us.
This love is charity.
"Charity is the love of God for us, not the other way around."
So when we are told to fill ourselves with faith, hope, and charity, the greatest of these being charity - that isn't meaning a "serviceable spirit," or filling myself with love for others, it is filling myself with Christ's love for me! Reaching out for the tree of life daily. Letting myself be reminded of Christ's condescension for me. And then my best self comes out, and I am my best for others. Everyone wins.
I love the idea of the tree of life as my daily focus and reaching for that love.
Upward and onward,
31 March 2017
Hi my friends! What are you up to this weekend? We are going to dinner tonight with my aunt and uncle who are in town. Also, General Conference!!!!!!! Also, I have to read about 400 pages of our book club novel by Monday, because I am leading the discussion in a couple weeks, but the book is due back to the library on Monday and I don't get any renewals! So, maybe we can divide and conquer by each reading a portion of the cliff notes. ;)
I've picked out some links I want to share with you this week!
Categorizing our meltdowns and how to best pull out of each one. Love it. Aimed at children's tantrums, but I see application for adults as well.
Ryan and I watched this on Sunday and gave it all our thumbs up - intimacy talks! Start young, keep it an open and normal topic of discussion, and also, the fruit comparisons - golden!
Peg board wall. Yep. Gonna find a wall to do this on.
"Hurry hurry!" The most dangerous enemy of joy.
Last time, I said to have a SUNNY weekend, and it rained all weekend. So... we're not doing that again!
Upward and onward,
24 March 2017
I'm going to post some fun links from around the internet more often. Because I've been collecting articles and pictures I've loved in a folder on my web browser, and they are getting digitally dusty. So I'll post them here over time and share them with all of yooooouu! :) And keep emailing me your good finds too! I love seeing what you are reading, listening to, and liking.
Cutest gif ever. (Based off the live news video when a professor was interrupted by his little family).
I'm all about phone boundaries. (do you agree with the slot machines and social medial creating the same ludic loop? Interesting, huh?)
I could use one of these - Bouncer for my brain.
**Curiosity vs. passion. Elizabeth Gilbert could drop a mic after everything she writes.
An "almost" sleepover party invitation. This is my kind of party!
Have a great SUNNY weekend!
Upward and onward,
19 March 2017
I found this post buried in my drafts today. I re-read it, and my thoughts are exactly what I needed to hear today, exactly one month later.
Written February 19.
During church, I had a flow of thoughts within me that wasn't synced with any talk or lesson I heard that day. Something my consciousness has been mulling over lately. And as Charlotte and I each occupied a chair in the mother's lounge. She in one, and I in the other, facing each other, with my boots pressed up on her chair, rocking us both, I let my mind wander into this flow. (Charlotte was busy wondering why her crib was not packed with all the other hundred items we brought to church with us).
I thought about how a lot of our greatest pains are largely gut-wrenching because they leave unwritten stories. A loose thread that is left unwoven. A spare wire that is exposed. A protruding nerve that is very, very vulnerable. It's the open-endedness of our stories that can cause so much hurt year after year. Still waiting. Still wanting. Still needing. It's an open orbit - circling and circling around us, never having a launch pad to finally retire, gear down, and power off . So the embers of old wounds stay smouldering for a long, long time.
Several weeks ago in a BYU devotional speech, I heard the presenter said boldly: "Take hold of your life and order yourself to be valiant." Like he was stating boldy, "You're the accountable one for you! So take control of yourself and be better." Love that! So I jotted that quote down on a sticky note and added it to the collection pile of influential sticky notes in the drawer of my desk, which come to recall when I need them.
Then several days ago, I thought back on this quote, relating it to the side of ourselves that is weighed down with grief. Instead of a motivated declaration: "Take hold of your life and order yourself to be valiant," it became a hopeful, comforting plea: "Take hold of your mind and write a new story." Once again, calling myself to accountability; this time for my sorrows. Self, you can take control and find a new way to see things.
We have the power to rewrite any story we please. Every circumstance has a hundred vantage points. If our vantage point is dissatisfying, we can pick up our feet and move to a new one. Same with our stories. If we dislike how one of our life stories turned out, we can pick up our feet and lay hold to a new ending.
So I thought today about the reason the Gospel bears so much hope and light for us is because it helps us either finish writing our unwritten stories or re-write a past story from a better vantage point. The curtain hasn't fully closed on any part of our lives, because we haven't returned to our Maker and wrapped anything up yet. But, we get hung up on pains and sadness that keep orbiting around us, and we just keep seeing them the same thing over and over. Truth be told, we aren't very good playwrites sometimes. So Heavenly Father sent Christ down here to us, because we all need a co-author.
Christ helps us finish the story.
He promises that we will receive the love we want - or that acceptance, or that child, or that health, or that security. We will get the lost piece to our story. His promise is so sure that we can rewrite our story now with His ending. In a way, we yield our pen to faith, to what will come, and our stories can balm themselves now. We can land our orbiting places of grief now.
Now when my sadness rises to an open-ended story, I remind myself that this story was rewritten. The story is sealed with His pen. Remember, self, what Christ told me that ending is? The Plan of Salvation and celestial life and all the joy and love and blessings that He has promised beyond any of my best imaginings. My story is re-written and closed with faith of what is to come.
I take hold of my mind and allow myself to be healed with faith.
Upward and onward,