Music I Love

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Particularized Challenges

It has been a great and terrible week.  Terrible because there has been waiting and restlessness followed by disappointment and heartache.  And great because there have been so many answers to so many prayers. 

The thing that I've noticed, though, is that heartache and sadness and discouragement may look different on the outside for different people, but on the inside it all feels the same. Each person in my family and a few close friends have struggled with some major emotional catastrophe this week, and although difficult to manage with a few of us sprinkled across the country, it has been moderately comforting to know that there is some level of compassion binding all of us together.  Somehow knowing that you're not the only one climbing an endless mountain seems to make the mountain a little less foreboding.  

Neal A. Maxwell gave an amazing devotional at BYU called But For a Small Moment that was such a huge help this week.

"I'm not sure we can always understand the implications of God's love, because his love will call us at times to do things we may wonder about, and we may be confronted with circumstances we would rather not face. I believe with all my heart that because God loves us there are some particularized challenges that he will deliver to each of us. He will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know. He will set before us in life what we need, not always what we like. And this will require us to accept with all our hearts the truth that there is divine design in each of our lives and that we have rendezvous to keep, individually and collectively."

In the temple this morning, those words "particularized challenges" seemed more comforting than they did earlier in the week when I first read them.  What a huge blessing to know that we have a Heavenly Father who has designed even our challenges to bring about the best possible potential in us, and to draw us nearer to our Savior.  Because ultimately, that's the whole reason we're here.  

There are very few hard things that I enjoy doing.  And this week has been filled with way too many of them.  But I think Heavenly Father knows that nothing compels me to move like love and loyalty.  There are a handful of people in my life that I love enough to attempt to climb an occasional mountain for.  

I can't even tell you all the things I've learned this week about my personal challenges and about being elevated to a new level.  I think there is much in our lives that we can do with just our own strength, will, and determination.  But eventually there will be something that requires us to acknowledge our complete weakness and inability to climb on our own, and we will be brought to our knees to ask for help from someone much stronger, much more willing, and more determined than we could ever hope to be.  

In the presence of God, . . . all things . . . are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord” (D&C 130:7). The future “you” is before him now. He knows what it is he wishes to bring to pass in your life. He knows the kind of remodeling in your life and in mine that he wishes to achieve."

Although I'm not at all comfortable with the "remodeling" process, I am grateful for the most amazing Designer who is constantly at work in my life and in all of our lives, turning us into things we could never be on our own.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I really enjoy seeing.  I love it so much that I am compelled to take pictures of nearly everything I see so that I can remember it when I get home and sometimes share it with the whole world.  But lately, my eyesight hasn't been great.  I noticed last Sunday when I was playing the organ that the lines on the music had mysteriously disappeared.  I attributed my many, many mistakes during Sacrament meeting partially to lack of practice and partially to being overly emotional because it was our first Sunday at church without Savannah.  But the real reason was because I couldn't tell the difference between the space notes and the line notes.  And that makes it difficult to play the right ones.  Those little lines are immensely important!

I have been asked to play the piano this Sunday for a missionary farewell.  It's not a difficult song.  It's only two pages.  But every time I've run through it, I make a million mistakes.  And since I don't love to make mistakes, and I don't love things that are difficult, I have procrastinated learning that music.  Which leads to dread and guilt and this giant thing looming over my head.  

I have to KNOW this by tomorrow morning at 11:30 in order to be able to practice it with the violinist.  

So today, I decided to try it again..this time in prime seeing the middle of the afternoon, with all the blinds open in the piano room, and a spotlight on the music. lines.  And more frustration.  Within minutes, I considered calling another pianist to fill in for me.  I planned my resignation from my self-appointed substitute organist calling.  And I prepared for a dismal future of darkness as my sight dwindled from "not great" to "legally blind" over the next few years. 

And then...I had an idea.  

I own a pair of glasses, you know.  They have lived in my bathroom drawer for almost three years because I don't like them, they don't really work, and glasses in general just give my a huge headache.  

But, you know, desperate times...and all that...

In complete desperation, I dusted off those glasses and made one final attempt at playing through that music.  

And miracle of miracles...they worked!  Things were magnified.  All those invisible staff lines reappeared.  And I played right through that whole song without any difficulty.  Oh, how much easier would my life be if I would just use the tools that are right here within reach?

I've been wearing these things around the house all night and it turns out they work on just about everything.  The font on my iPhone is larger.  My IG pictures aren't at all blurry like I thought they were.  I can read books...the printed kind with words on pages...and I don't have to wait for the sun to be up.  I can see the cooking instructions on the box of mac and cheese...yes, that's what we had for dinner tonight.  

It looks like that one little idea may have just improved my life a whole lot!  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Empty Bedrooms

I went into Savannah's room today for the first time since we've been home from Utah.  

Holy cow...  

People told me I would feel the full range of human emotions with this event, but I had no idea.  I immediately started crying at the thought of her presence being so noticeably absent from the room, but still so much a part of it.  All the chalkboard notes are still there, all the pictures are still on her bulletin board, even the familiar and ever-full trash can still had trash spilling out of it.  But her pink Christmas tree has been packed away.  Her shoes and socks aren't sprinkled on the floor.  And her bed is made.   

I have prayed in her room since we moved into this house.  I love the warm light that comes in through her pink curtains and the sun that seems to shine brighter in there.  I love the quiet in her corner of the house.  And typically her room is the cleanest and most enjoyable place to just linger and have a conversation with Heavenly Father.  

My first instinct after I walked in there was to get the heck out and never go back.  But I made myself stay.  Even though I could barely breathe.  And I made myself feel every single one of those emotions.  And holy cow, was it hard.  

But after a really good cry, I was completely flooded with gratitude.  To have loved that little bird so dang much that the thought of her being far away rips my heart out.  To have had such a great relationship and friendship with her that I ache to think of how long it will be before I get to have a real conversation with her again.  To have had so many, many memories in her room that it hurts to go in there without her.  

And I also thought a really important thing that sort of swept away all the floods of tears for a minute.  I don't have a single regret with her.  Not one.  I don't wish I had said, "I love you" more.  I don't wish I had snuggled her more, or listened more, or spent more time with her.  I know in the deepest part of my heart that I did all of those things.  I was where I needed to be when I needed to be there.  I acted when I felt inspired to uplift or edify or scold.  I apologized when I needed to.  And because of that, I know that she now has what she needs for her new adventures and all the upcoming experiences that are waiting for her.  I could not have filled her with more knowledge or love or life lessons.  I gave her absolutely everything I knew how to give.  And it will be enough.  

And now it's time to make sure the three remaining little birds in this nest have all that stuff, too.  

Thank goodness we only lose one baby bird at a time, because this is so much harder than I ever thought it would be.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I love this quote.  It lives in the back of my head all the time and pushes me to do the things I would normally talk myself out of.  

Yesterday, I got a text from Savannah that she and her roommate were making cookies for some friends.  And then late last night she sent this picture...
Apparently she was inspired to make a pie for her friend from home who is also a new arrival at BYU and who just made the rugby team!  (Yay Koa!)

With Savannah's example and that quote running through my head, I decided to throw myself into acting on some generous thoughts today.  I was nervous about a few of 50 or so...but at the end of the day, I realized that Sister Kimball was totally right.  How can a generous thought be a bad thing?  Who doesn't appreciate a thank you note or a compliment or baked goods?  

It was a nice way to spend a not-so-random January 7.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Oh man it's been such a long time since I've written anything here.  I was shocked today to see that the date of my last post was ONE MONTH ago!  December has been long and eventful and there's no way I could possibly recapture every single moment that I've missed blogging about.  

But...I decided this morning to just start where I am.  Which is really all we can ever do, right?  

Today is January 6th.  Things are noticeably different nearly everywhere since one month ago, from the weather to our family to the prospects for the upcoming year.  For a few days, I moped around about all those changes, and the loss, and the draining of all color from my home now that we've taken down the Christmas decorations.  But today, as the kids start a new semester of school, and as we start a new chapter of our lives, I heard that familiar voice in my head reminding me that changes aren't necessarily bad; they're just different.  And different is sometimes good.  Maybe even better.  

I'm excited to be back at home and back here on this little blog that has become such a huge blessing in my life.  I'm grateful for all of the changes that have come and will continue to come in 2015.  And I'm grateful especially for the things that have stayed the same...For the sun that rises everyday and looks the same in the bright blue sky whether it's 30 degrees or 110 degrees.  For an amazing family that is eternally bonded no matter how many miles separate us.  For friends that stay and listen.  For hope and joy as we watch Heavenly Father's hand in absolutely every detail of our lives.  

Friday, December 5, 2014


Let's talk about flight for a minute...

I have a new calling in church.  For the past year or so, I've been teaching the 16/17 year old Sunday School class.  I'm now teaching Gospel Doctrine, which is the adult Sunday School class.  It's not vastly different than what I've been doing for years and years in church.  It's a teaching calling and I love teaching.  It's just the audience that's different.  And slightly more intimidating.  Mostly because they are spiritually amazing people who already know so much more than I could ever hope to know about the gospel.  And somehow I am the one who gets to stand up every other week and facilitate some kind of spiritual uplifting and edification for the group.  

Needless to say, the weight of my upcoming responsibility has felt heavy this week.  

But here's what I thought when I read that little quote up there on IG this morning...Heavenly Father has not set us up to fail.  It was His idea to give me this calling, so He must think I'm capable of succeeding in it.  I must have some kind of Gospel Doctrine wings that I just haven't fully exercised yet.  For the past several years, I have collected (hoarded might be a better word) quotes, scriptures, song lyrics, anything that spoke truth to my heart.  Anything that rang in my ears and made me FEEL light and love and hope, I scribbled down on whatever piece of paper happened to be closest.  And as my piles of papers got bigger and became notebooks and journals and a blog, I wondered what in the heck I was supposed to do with all the stuff I've been collecting.  

Maybe this is the very reason for all that searching and hoarding?  Or maybe it's just one of a handful of ways I can use all those piles of truth I've collected?  I really have no idea what the plan is, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to find out.  I'm grateful for hard things that compel me to rely on Someone other than myself for courage and faith that I didn't think I had.  I'm grateful for people who see in me things that I cannot see in myself.  And I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who places us in the exact circumstances where we can learn and grow in the most effective way.  

Launching out of the nest on Sunday morning at 10:05...I'll let you know how the flying goes.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Random Stuff I Love Today

I lingered in the temple this morning and felt floods of gratitude for a whole giant list of stuff. It's sort of random, but I thought I'd write it down so I can remember it on those days when the list feels shorter.

  • a body that works 
  • the ability to hear glorious Christmas music
  • changing leaves...finally
  • Christmas lights coming up around the neighborhood
  • late nights
  • energetic mornings
  • jammies
  • new challenges
  • the Grs' upcoming visit
  • unhurried, unscheduled days
  • lunch with Amy
  • chilly, sweater weather
  • heated mattress pads
  • fuzzy slippers
  • trumpet music
  • Conference talks
  • healthy, happy children
  • bloggy friends and Insta-sisters
  • windows 
  • soup
  • new friends
  • old friends
  • Monday morning Institute classes
  • a good book
  • nativities
  • a new 2015 planner that fits in my purse
  • Christmas music...wait, I think I already said that.  Oh well, I do actually love it enough to write it down twice on the same list.
  • and a favorite new perch for the month where I can sit and contemplate all of that stuff

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving Break

These were originally supposed to be about five individual posts, but somehow last week flew by, a calendar page turned, and now I'm about a week behind on this blog and nearly everything else I've needed to do.  Sometimes recap blog posts just have to be good enough.  

Early in November, Savannah made a list of all the things she wanted to do in Dallas before she left for BYU:  
It's been on our fridge for a month, so we decided to go on a few field trips over Thanksgiving Break.  

Monday: The Perot Museum
I love this place.  McKay and I had been there on a school field trip last year, but the girls had never been, so it was a fun adventure for them.  Oddly, it doesn't matter whether you're 10 or 45 when you're wandering around in a hands-on science museum.  We created our own bird, ran with dinosaurs, journeyed to the center of the earth, made a remote-control crane, and experienced an earthquake.  It was a pretty great day.  

Tuesday:  The Temple
Savannah and Megan both had to work on Tuesday, so while the other kids slept in, I stole a few hours in the morning and went to the Temple.  Perfect day.  Perfect decision.  

Wednesday:  The Dallas Zoo

This might have been my favorite thing we did all week.  The Dallas Zoo has two days annually when they offer $1 admission, and one of them happens to be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  As gorgeous as the weather was, we were all a little nervous that it might be really crowded, but we ventured out anyway and it wasn't crowded at all!  

And we fed giraffes!!    

These are the most amazing animals I have ever seen.  They were so tame and so huge and so drooly.  Their tongues are a mile long.  Each of their little faces (ok, giant faces) is totally unique and different.  And they each have their own individual personalities.  We hung out with these guys for a really long time and just let them eat cracker after cracker out of our hands.

Seriously AMAZING!

Thursday:  Thanksgiving
We spent Thanksgiving with our really good friends, the Kings.  Oh, I can't even tell you how much I love this family!  This is the second year we've spent Thanksgiving together, and it was just as fun this time around.  They are so patient with my experimental recipes and my lack of turkey experience.  They came early and stayed late.  We ate turkey, and pie...and more pie.  We played games, had a Mario Kart tournament, and we even fit in decorating gingerbread houses.  It was a really good day.  We are so grateful for the amazing people that surround us in both our neighborhood and in our ward.  This place has been such a huge blessing for us in every possible way, and we could not be more thankful to spend another Thanksgiving with these awesome people.    

Friday: Camping Trip
Friday was unexpectedly gorgeous, and no one was really interested in shopping, so Craig decided to take two of the kids camping.  They loved it.  The girls and I took advantage of a free TV and leftover pumpkin pie, stocked up on some extra large Diet DPs with coconut from Sonic, and had a Gilmore Girls marathon at home...until 2:00am!  Totally fun!  So girly.  When we couldn't keep our eyes open for one more episode, we all camped out in my bed and slept in the next morning until Craig and the other two kids came home and woke us up at 11:30.  Perfect weekend.  (I can't even remember the last time I slept in until 11:30!) 

Saturday:  Craig's Birthday
Craig came home from camping to find a fresh loaf of his favorite birthday treat ever...lemon poppy seed bread, and a pile of Christmas lights that needed to be put up outside.
He and the kids were so awesome to get all of that done.  We have visitors coming in this weekend so there was a little pressure to get Christmas up as soon as possible.  After the lights were up, we snuck out for a quick dinner to celebrate my favorite carnivore's 44th birthday.

What an amazing week we had during this Thanksgiving break, sprinkling a little busy in between some really lazy, really relaxing days, and making lasting memories with our kids.  And poof! in a blink it's December.  How grateful I am today and everyday for this family, for good friends, for the blessings we have in abundance, and for the upcoming Christmas season.  I love this time of year.  

Let the Christmas music begin...    

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Anchors and Wings

A few weeks ago, we had a conversation in our house about anchors and wings.  I told the kids that I am drawn to people who are anchors.  You know, the kinds of people who are steady, consistent, and reliable, who are always where I can count on them to be?  I need that influence in my life because I don't have much of it on my own.  They easily identified their dad as the anchor, and me as the wings in our relationship.  

I fly around haphazardly, loving the view but not always keeping sight of the shore.  Craig, on the other hand, stays firmly planted on the ground, carefully and deliberately moving toward his life goals.  Every day is a brand new possibility for me, filled with brand new decisions that I may have already made yesterday, but will probably make over again anyway.  For Craig, every day has an expectation, a purpose and a plan.  I jump around when I'm excited.  He stands still.  I cry when I'm sad, lonely, embarrassed, frustrated, tired, angry, or joyful.  I yell and occasionally destroy things when I'm angry.  He is calm and rational in every situation.  He carefully considers his words.  He is not quick to anger.  His feathers rarely ruffle.  

For all of my moody, unpredictable flying around, Craig remains solidly anchored in place.  

I love that he has expectations and a plan.  I love that he is consistently faithful in his callings, both in church and in our home.  I love that he is where he says he's going to be, without fail.  I love that he is the same in public as he is in the privacy of our home.  I love that he teaches our kids to be all those things, and that he has taught me a greater appreciation for anchors in my life.  

Hopefully, my constant quest for the steady and reliable in my life has helped a little of Craig's solidly and happily anchored personality seep into my own.  And hopefully, a tiny little bit of my reckless abandon has made him delight in the occasional opportunity to take flight.  

We're a pretty good match, I think.  

I'm grateful for the opportunity to freely gush today over this amazing man on his 44th birthday.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


This is just about my favorite school break of the year.  There's no pressure to travel, so we usually don't, and although I love being with our Utah family for Thanksgiving, I really love just staying home, too.  We have a ton of stuff planned for the rest of this week, which I'm so excited about, but we had nothing on our Tuesday calendar, and that worked out pretty well, too.

The Temple
It was 39 degrees this morning when I woke up, and the absolute last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed.  But that little voice in my heart kept saying, "You should go to the temple today," and I could only manage to ignore it for about 20 minutes before I had to just get up already.  The temple was lovely, and not at all crowded like I thought it might be, and so much better than staying in bed.  I especially loved the Celestial Room where I lingered for a really long time, and the drive home with Diet DP and really loud Christmas music, where I also might have lingered a little.  

Turkey Hunt
I have had a little trouble finding a turkey big enough for the 11 people I'm feeding on Thursday.  So Emma and I went out again this afternoon on yet another turkey hunt...and we found it!  just kidding... 
We actually did find the perfect 19 pound bird who is happily defrosting in my fridge right now.  

The Park
It warmed up to 61 degrees this afternoon so I took my three favorite 11-year-olds to the park to play their newest obsession...frisbee.  They had three frisbees, and obstacles and invented some kind of adventure frisbee game that they played for two whole hours!  

Miraculous Ladders

About 10 minutes into our park date, one of the boys got his frisbee stuck in a gutter on the roof of the little pavilion.  Three boys and two frisbees is a slight inconvenience, although nobody complained.  I didn't even try to retrieve it because I'm only about 4 inches taller than the boys.  But just after everyone settled on a frisbee sharing rotation, this man came out of nowhere to work on something (I still have no idea what) and I asked him if he would please get the stuck frisbee.  And because he was so nice, all three boys had their own frisbee again.  

Dinner is currently in the oven.  Two out of four of my children have picked up extra hours at work tonight.  Everything is on schedule for Thanksgiving which means I can take the kids to the zoo tomorrow guilt free.  Inspiration and confidence were regained, a couple of blog posts were written, scriptures were read, thank you notes were sent, and music was practiced for DMCO.  I'm quite sure that had I chosen to stay in bed for two extra hours this morning instead of spending that time in the temple, the day would not have come together as well.  Something about making the effort to get there, and being quiet for the first few hours of the day, helps everything else come into perspective.  Ladders appear miraculously.  Turkeys are found.  Play dates fit into the schedule.  And I spend a whole lot less time running around doing things that don't matter very much, like dusting.  I'm so grateful for a temple that is close enough to get to on a spur of the moment impulse.  I'm grateful to have listened to that little voice.  And I'm grateful for all the tiny little details that made this day so much better than I anticipated.