The Joy to be Sealed

28 April 2017

Ryan and I woke up early to go to a temple sealing this morning for my former roommate, Julie.  Ready for another puzzle?  Julie is my friend who introduced Ryan and I, and she ended up marrying the younger brother of Ryan's childhood best friend, whose mom is Ryan's mom's best friend.  It has all been very fun.  And very confusing for me.

I've heard stories of Ryan's best friend "Stuart" since the dawn of our relationship.  And lo and behold, on the way to the temple, another Stuart memory came into our conversation - about eight year old Stuart wanting to find another way he could fast, so he decided to refrain from going to the bathroom for 24 hours.  Hahaha!  Ryan hasn't seen Stuart since he moved away when he was nine years old, so it was fun for Ryan to see him again and for me to finally meet this character.  Stuart's wife said the exact same thing to Ryan when she met him, saying she hears stories all the time too, ha!  And it was fun to watch Ryan and Stuart have a reunion and eavesdrop on them catching up through the last couple decades, as we followed the bride and groom through the chilling April snow.

And what was even more special for me was sitting through the temple sealing with Ryan.  First of all, I love being in the temple so much, because you feel so much love for all people.  I really feel the kinship and heavenly family ties for every person in the room, and I just feel so much divine love that I can't wait for the next life when we will be more connected and knowing of each other! 

And also to hear the words of the sealing ordinance again and to remember how special it is that I have that with Ryan.  There is so much meaning and joy in marriage, and it is exciting to watch a new couple make that covenant.  I love it!  I loved feeling Ryan's warm presence next to me and reminiscing back on our big day and how perfect it was!  When Julie and Sam first kneeled across the altar, I remembered when Ryan and I did the same.  I saw Julie wink at Sam, and I remember smiling at Ryan and his eyes were all watery.  And now....

We have a house and a silly baby and so many blessings!  I felt today in the temple that life gets sweeter as it goes, and I believe that is true.

And because today, I have not stopped reminiscing on our wedding day, a few pictures!


Upward and onward,

Dancing with A Star

27 April 2017

 A little family hello while I was away at boxing class!

Ryan and I have taken it upon ourselves to slowly give every reality tv show a fair critique.  Okay actually that's me.  But Ryan will watch whatever show I'm currently into. 

Recently, we have been looking forward to watching an episode of Dancing With the Stars each week. 

This show is actually really good.  I'm kicking myself for not watching it sooner.  A show is "really good" when you can enjoy it and make fun of it at the same time.

So we streamed the latest episode last night and afterwards, like I do each week, I start begging, "Ryan, dance with me!"  And we act as if we know the differences between the samba and the mambo and the rumba.

But last night, I forgot to request a dance before we locked up and shut down our house for the night.  As we were both standing in our walk-in closet getting ready for bed, I remembered that I needed a dance.

So, Ryan and I slow-danced in our little closet, half in our pajamas and half in our regular clothes.  There was just enough space to spin and slow dance.  Not really enough room for a waltz.  We laughed and laughed, and it was such a sweet time.

Marriage just gets better and better as time goes on.  I always think about this, but after being married to Ryan and learning more about him and who and how he is, I only like him more, and we just get along so well and so easily.  I'm really grateful for Ryan and our companionship and all our sweet moments at day's end.

Upward and onward,

Double the Rolls, Double the Fun

26 April 2017

Well, this week, some new things have been happening.

Like, realizing for the first time how inconvenient it is to have an itch in the middle of boxing class when you are strapped into huge boxing gloves.  And worse, getting an itch on the unreachable part of one's back.  Luckily, I was near the back so I could freely perform somewhat of a circus act as I unsuccessfully clawed at my back and then settled for shimmying against the wall.

But mostly this week, I have been taking care of TWO babies.

 It has been such a sweet week - full of fuzzy blankets and kicking feet and big grins.

Charlotte and I's new friend is named Janie.  Ready for a puzzle?  Janie is the daughter of Ryan's former roommate, whose wife was unexpectedly called back into work and felt a prompting to contact me to care for Janie, even though we have only met once at Ryan and I's wedding reception, coupled with some interactions over social media, but she felt strongly inclined towards me when thinking of someone she could trust with her daughter.

So I have been having a great time snuggling the babies into their naps, holding two warm babies and bottles at once, and listening to some nice classical music.  And I've been grateful to get to know Karla better in the mornings and Trevor in the afternoons when they drop Janie off and pick her up.

One morning, I was on the floor playing with both the babies, and I stood up to grab my phone off the couch behind them.  I turned around and saw this:

Hahahaha!  Their two little sets of eyes. <3  Both craning their necks to still see me. <3 I have a fan club.  Haha, this was seriously one of my favorite moments ever.  So cute!

Upward and onward,

Nom Nom Nom

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,

The Tree of Life

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 my life.  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,

a little review from my dear friend Allie on her Instagram about this blog post!

image source

Charlotte Snuggles

02 April 2017

The other night, I got up in the middle of the night to feed Charlotte.  She was sitting in my lap after she was done eating, and she leaned up against my body and just rested there, falling back asleep.  She's not a snuggly baby, so it was such a sweet moment.  I could have sat there with her for the rest of the night if I didn't need my own sleep.

Then a later night, Ryan got up with me to feed her.  We fed her in our bed, and then he was holding her afterwards to burp.  She leaned her head against his chest and just rested there, falling back asleep.  Ryan whispered to me, "she's laying her head on me."  I looked up at her little fuzzy bald head and round little body limp against Ryan.  It was so sweet!

Upward and onward,