Music I Love

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Don't you just love watching people do what they love to do?  Their energy and passion is absolutely contagious.  And it doesn't even seem to matter what it is they're doing, when someone loves a thing, and you are in their presence while they are doing it, you can literally FEEL their enthusiasm, and all of a sudden you become enthusiastic with them.

Last night, at a Relief Society Enrichment activity (that's the monthly get together that we have as a women's organization of the church) I watched a woman teach a lesson about personal financial management.  (yawn...)  I did not expect to even really listen, much less find the subject enjoyable.  But, the teacher clearly loved what she was talking about, and her energy instantly drew everyone in.  She was knowledgeable and funny, and her ideas were relevant and accessible, and by the end of 30 minutes or so, I was thinking about personal financial management in a whole new way.  I told her afterward that I was shocked at how she had been able to change my mind, and looked forward to implementing her ideas at home.  (Beware family...)

Last Thursday, DMCO (Dallas Millennial Choirs and Orchestra) met for our first rehearsal since April!  Thats way too long a break, in my opinion.  And even though I was there for 5 hours, and even though I was exhausted and my throat hurt and my abs hurt and my legs hurt from all that singing (when you do it the right way, it is a dang workout, I tell you) I didn't even care.  I could have stayed for another two hours!  There is energy in that space with those people who all love to sing, and especially with those directors who have a passion for bringing about an enormous sound with a huge message.  I cannot help but be motivated and inspired in their presence.  

"We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.  And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." - Marianne Williamson 

That's a small part of one of my favorite quotes ever.  And as I have gone through this year thinking about LIGHT...being light, receiving light, standing in places where there is light...this quote comes to mind often.  There is LIGHT everywhere, and people radiate it in so many different ways.  It doesn't matter if you are speaking in front of throngs of people, or singing in the privacy of your own little garage band, when you do what you love, you have no choice but to emit LIGHT.  

I want to do that.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Morning

You'd think Monday mornings would be hard for me, especially since my body insists lately on staying up until midnight and waking up promptly at 5:00am every. single. morning.  

But they're not.  

Mondays are my favorite.  I like order after two whole days of random.  

I love making breakfast for my family.  Since we've switched to a 9:00am church schedule, it's harder to make breakfast happen on Sunday mornings, so I thought I'd make up for it with a little more ambitious breakfast today.  It turned out so pretty I even impressed myself.  (Don't think I do this every morning...)

I love starting the day with scriptures.  This is the chapter we're on today...

"Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith, ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."  Those words were so comforting today as I thought about all the many things I hope for, but don't actually have knowledge of yet.  

And this sweet, little, almost grown up, mouse of mine totally melted my heart (and her dad's) this morning when she scooted her chair right next to his and snuggled up while we read scriptures.  I can feel it tugging at all of us that these days aren't going to look like this for much longer.  I keep trying to soak it all in so that I don't miss anything.  But the days roll forth anyway and all of a sudden we're one week or one month closer to the part where she leaves for college.  

And then there was Institute.  Oh, how I love going to Institute on Monday mornings.  Honestly, the rest of the class could just not even be there because I'm quite sure every week that the lessons are entirely for me.  

Hope your Monday was great and that the week ahead brings fulfillment and joy.  

Friday, September 12, 2014


Have I mentioned that I am ridiculously impatient?  

Well, I am.

I struggle on a fairly regular basis with the need to wait and the inability to do so.  

I am, by nature, a striver and an orchestrator and a manipulator of events in order to accomplish the things that I know are supposed to happen in my life, and to expedite them as quickly as possible.  Because why know a thing is coming and then have to wait forever for it...that seems unnecessary, don't you think?  

I peeked at my Christmas presents when I was a little girl.  

I skip to the end of books...only the really, really good ones, though.

I Google to find out what happens at the end of the movie...while I'm sitting in the theatre.  

Clearly, waiting is hard for me.  

But, guess what happens when I restrain myself and exercise even the smallest particle of patience...EVERYTHING!  All the good stuff happens when I stop hounding people for it, whining about it, and worrying that it won't ever happen.  

Answers come.  Inspiration comes.  Motivation comes.  The clock slows down.  The weather changes.  People show up with a plan.  Opportunities present themselves.  Windows open.  Songs have the perfect lyrics.  And sunflowers grow in the middle of a wheat field.  

"God gives us vision to point to what's coming.  It is a witness in our spirit of the dreams, promises, purposes, destiny and calling He has stirred within us.  But there is a season of waiting that comes between the time you receive the vision and the time it comes to pass.  God's timing is perfect.  And as you walk in step with Him, you don't have to worry that you'll "miss it."  Don't get anxious when you start to ache for the vision or the dream to come to pass; don't force your way of making it happen.  He is more eager than you are for you to step into the fulfillment of every promise He has given you, so STAY THE COURSE.  Wait for it.  And before you know it, the answer comes.  The breakthrough happens.  The dream comes to life.  The relationship flourishes.  The miracle bursts forth.  He won't be a single day late in bringing the fulness of His plan and its purpose to life in your life."   - Andrea Howey

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Someone in our house has a major birthday coming up this month.  She also has gargantuan expectations for it and a mother, who as of Monday morning, still had no earthly idea how to pull off anything close to what she might want.  

But, as is typically the case in my life, I realized that when I slow down long enough to do the things I NEED to do first, and then ask for help with the things I can't do on my own, everything miraculously comes together.  

The only thing on my list yesterday was invitations.  That's it.  Well, there were plenty of other things on that list that needed to get done, but the only thing I absolutely wanted to accomplish was getting invitations finalized.  By 10:00 last night, I could count the million other things I had done yesterday:

Read my scriptures.
Planned my lesson for Sunday.
Went to lunch with a friend who I really, really needed to connect with.
Had a conversation that I really, really needed to have with another friend.
Remembered to mail Savannah's transcript to BYU Admissions.  
Picked up Megan from school.
Showed up with a guest speaker/presenter for our weekly Cub Scouts den meeting.
Made dinner.
Drove all over Allen dropping people off and picking people up.
Listened to all four kids debrief me on their days, made sure they finished their homework, said family prayer, and got them all in bed in a timely manner...mostly.

But...those darn invitations still were not done.  And because of the nature of this party, I couldn't wander upstairs and work on them with someone potentially looking over my shoulder.  

And then the miraculous started to happen...  

I had been emailing a couple of people via (that cute DIY website where people sell their handmade stuff) about invitations that could be sent via pdf and that could be edited and then printed from here...or from Staples.  At 10:30, I looked again at what I thought were my limited and not very appealing options, and noticed a message I must have missed earlier in the day.  Tracy, from Australia, said that she could make some changes and rush a custom order and send me the file by Friday morning.  Hallelujah!   I sent her my specific details, along with my payment, and hit SUBMIT.  And then I slept fitfully all night worrying that I might have missed something or that the 16 hours I had waited to respond had changed her availability, or that the time difference between countries would delay her.  (ugh...)

But this morning I woke up to find that not only does Australia stay awake while we're sleeping, but they also have wonderful little DIY angels/elves who can manifest exactly what I envisioned in my head, but could not possibly have done on my own!  

Eek!  I'm so excited about them, I can't even stand it!  Now...I just have to try really hard not to blow this whole surprise accidentally between now and next Friday night.  

Don't say anything, k?  

Monday, September 8, 2014

One Tiny Sunflower

Some days are inexplicably difficult.  There's no good reason for them to be challenging, but they just are.  Sometimes the workload and the number of hours in which to do it all doesn't quite add up.  Sometimes expectations are extremely difficult to live up to (mostly my own.)  And sometimes the discouragement and doubt settles in where I don't expect it to.  

I felt like that most of today.  Despite starting Institute again, which I have missed so much over the last three months, and despite having lunch with three of the most enjoyable people I know, I felt a little flat and hopeless.  

At 2:30, I scooped up Megan from school, turned up the music, and invited her to come with me on a quest to find something beautiful in the day.  We chatted about her day while we looked for something unexpected in the ordinary places we've driven a thousand times.

And then we found it!  A little gravel road with an open gate!  We nearly missed it as we sped by with all the traffic around us, but we had just enough time to make a bit of an abrupt turn off the main road. I have come to love that feeling of uneven terrain under the tires, and weeds right up to the windows beside me.  In my brief experience, those back roads almost always open up to some hayfield or barn, or some other beautiful, unexpected thing.  I didn't even have my camera with me.  Just my phone.  But I told Megan to keep her eyes open for anything she thought was beautiful.  She took a few pictures of some purple wildflowers and a really tall, really thorny bush from the window of the Jeep.  And then, almost at the end of our gravel road, we found this...
one tiny, immovable, yellow sunflower in a field of drab, ordinary weeds.  If I had been driving any faster I would have missed it.  I stopped the car and jumped out, snapped one quick picture and off we drove back home.  

That's how I can always tell it's been a successful trip.  When something catches me by surprise or takes my breath away enough to make me get out of the car and take a picture of it, then I can go home without regrets.  And almost always, it only takes one shot to catch it.  

Our mini adventure only took about 30 minutes.  We made it home in time for homework, practices, and dinner prep to continue as scheduled, but what a great little break it was. That little yellow flower and Megan's sunny personality were exactly what I needed to remind me that there is always, always something in every single day to be grateful for; sometimes you just have to hunt for it.   

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Speaking of Bravery...

Sometimes I'm not sure whether the things I do are inspired or just impulsive.  

Yesterday, as I was basking in my first real moments of uninterrupted quiet since June, my head wandered to a song I had heard on Sunday morning.  Craig almost always gets up on Sunday mornings and turns on some kind of churchy, inspiring music.  I love how it fills the whole house.  I love the combination of beautiful music and the sun streaming through the downstairs windows.  It's a nice way to start the morning.

This is the song I heard...
That's a familiar song because I sang it a couple of years ago with that first little group that later launched me into looking for more musical opportunities in my life.  I loved it then, and I loved it when I heard it again Sunday morning for the first time in forever.  

Read the lyrics...they're amazing.

They heard His voice, a voice so mild.
It pierced them through and made their souls to quake.
They saw Him come, a man in white,
The Savior, who had suffered for their sake.
They felt the wounds in hands and side,
And each could testify:

This is the Christ.
This is the Christ, the holy Son of God,
Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind.
This is the Christ
The healer of our souls
Who ransomed us with love divine.

I read His words, the words He prayed
While bearing sorrow in Gethsemane.
I feel His love, the price He paid.
How many drops of blood were spilled for me?
With Saints of old in joyful cry
I too can testify

This is the Christ.

(Words by James E. Faust)

I found the song on Spotify yesterday morning and listened to it again.  And again.  Maybe four or five times.  And then part of the song stood out for me, "the words He prayed while bearing sorrow in Gethsamane," so I looked them up in Matthew and read them.  And that led to a really huge, immensely humbling experience that I won't even write about here because it's just way too much...even for me.    

After that, I remembered a woman stopping me on Sunday to ask if I would help her think of a musical number for a missionary homecoming/farewell that's coming up in our ward in a few weeks.  I checked to see if I still had the sheet music for this song.  I did not.  But the miracle of technology makes nearly everything instant these days, so within a few minutes I had printed out the accompaniment to This is the Christ.  (Success!)  Except what I had printed was actually the solo version...the low voice solo version.  (Eek!)  And that's when the "20 seconds of insane courage" took over.  I texted Donna and told her I had an arrangement of This is the Christ that might work for the program.  She asked if it was all women or mixed, and I said, "It's a solo arrangement."  And she said "For Craig? Or for you?"  And I did it...I said "for me" and I hit SEND.  (If I could add that emoji with the shocked face that's mostly eyes, I would do that here.)  

Donna was shocked,  I was shocked.  Craig was shocked when I texted him later and told him what I did.  Because I don't sing solos.  I'm a choir voice.  I'm support.  

There's still a possibility that divine intervention will do it's thing and...well, save me from my recklessness.  The family may not love this song, or the Bishop may not love it, or there might miraculously be some better option that will slip in at the last minute.  I'm kinda hoping for one of those things.  In which case, I'll know for sure that it was impulse and insanity, not inspiration that made me do such a crazy thing yesterday. 


Maybe the water slide experience has gone to my head a little?  

Maybe this bravery isn't a fluke; maybe it's a trend?  

Maybe I'm braver than I thought and it's time to take on the next scary thing?

I'm leaving it alone for now and just letting the Powers That Be decide.  I'll let you know what happens.  

"Always do what you are afraid to do." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, August 25, 2014

The First Day of School

Oh, what a weekend it has been...

It's a miracle that any of the people in my house survived the chaos.  We were slightly over scheduled all weekend, but I think we could have handled it better if it hadn't been the weekend before school started.  Too many things to do, and too many places to be, combined with the various emotional drama that three teenagers and their mother bring to any and all transitions.  I'm pretty sure I have personally strained every one of my relationships in the last 72 hours, and the weight of that is still lingering.

We survived though, and they all made it to school (I'm fairly sure) with lunches and backpacks and a couple of them had pens and notebooks (I think.)  

We had just enough time (and patience) for exactly three pictures of the three different shifts as they left this morning.  

I'm grateful for a new, "more consistent, less frat-house" kind of schedule.  I'm grateful for a few hours of quiet before everyone comes home.  I'm grateful that we made it through the chaos of the weekend.  And I'm grateful that our home doesn't typically run this way.  Hopefully, everyone's emotions will settle as the school schedule becomes more least until Thursday when early morning Seminary starts... 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Uncharacteristically Brave

So this happened today...

It's been a crappy day.  Really crappy.  

Except for the parts that were amazing.  

I always tell people that I'm afraid of heights and afraid of the dark and afraid of everything.  I bill myself most days as a chicken.  I always think that I'm more nice than I am resilient or strong or hard working.  And before today, that might have been a little bit true.  

But do you know what I realized just a few minutes ago?  I'm different today than I was a month ago or a year ago or ten years ago.  I've done hard things before.  I do them all the time.  And in the past week, I've crossed crazy long bridges...over water, trespassed in abandoned buildings, and slid down a dang waterslide!  

After I did it, McKay said, "I love that you're so adventurous!"

...and that makes amazing beat out crappy for the day.

"Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves."  - Cheryl Strayed

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happy Surprises

I've been waking up at the crack of dawn for some reason all summer.  I think that must be a side effect of reaching my mid-40s.  I remember hearing my parents' voices before dawn on most mornings comparing calendars and coordinating schedules and whatever else they were talking about.  Since Craig hasn't yet reached his mid-40s, he was still soundly asleep when I woke up this morning and realized I had a few free hours to go on an expedition.  So I happily slipped out of the house without anyone even knowing.

I never really have a plan with these trips.  They're mostly spontaneous except for the camera, the music, and the Diet DP...those things are not random.  Since I've tried driving east a few times, I opted for west today.  I vaguely remembered seeing some wide open spaces when I drove Megan to Denton for Bass Camp one summer, so I typed Denton, TX  into the GPS with some random address just so I could get in the vicinity, turned up the music, and started driving.  

I found a few backroads, exactly one barn, and then a giant lake that I wasn't expecting at all...apparently that's Lake Lewisville.  Who knew that was even there?

...and then there was absolutely nothing worth stopping for.  I snaked through subdivisions and drove down backroads that just led to freeways for nearly an hour.  By 10:30, I went back to consulting the GPS and decided to follow it to that random destination I had typed in earlier.  And here's where I ended up...
I glanced left, and saw a HUGE, random Tyrannosaurus Rex made out of what looked like aluminum foil just standing right in someone's front yard!  He was my last, and maybe my best, picture of the entire day.  He was unexpected.  He showed up when I thought I was going to have to go home with nothing.  And he made my whole day.  If I had known when I left the house this morning that this tinfoil dinosaur would be my only find, I still would have gotten up and gone on this expedition.  He was so worth it.  And the whole day turned out to be sprinkled with little happy surprises.  

I love when life is like that...happily surprising.  It makes me want to keep going on adventures and to keep expecting those little happy things, because if you put them all together, they turn into really happy days.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday School

The lesson today in Sunday School was on the importance of learning about our family history.  That's an appropriate lesson for me to teach, don't you think?  I happen to really LOVE family history in this season of my life.  

This morning, I gathered a few family pictures, worried about my lack of preparation on this subject, and then spent the rest of the morning irritated at the kids about the most insignificant things.  I couldn't focus at all during Sacrament, and the only thing that kept running through my head was that this parenting calling, and these church callings, and this waiting patiently is way too hard for me some days.  

By the time I got to my class, I was over whatever little things had bothered me before church, and happy to be surrounded by those 20 teenagers who I have grown to love so much. They asked a few great questions.  I talked about my complicated and vast family, and the reasons I started doing family history in the first place.  And then I thought about a scripture from the lesson (D&C 128:18) which refers to "welding links...between the fathers and the children" and also says "for we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect."  And then I realized the real reason I do family history.

There is some point in every single day when I feel motivated, hopeful, happy, and confident.  Typically that happens early in the morning before the house wakes up, before chores and distractions and life get in the way of my great plans.  And inevitably there is also some point in every single day when I crash...emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  Usually I can count on that happening about 12 hours after getting up, but every now and then it hits at a time or a place when I'm not expecting it.  And every now and then it hits harder than I expect it to.  Everything feels too hard, or too far away, or impossible to achieve, and mostly what I want to do in those moments is just give up.  

But the craziest thing about family history is that all of a sudden, after finding what you think are just names to fill into a tree-shaped chart, those names become people, and those people become connected to you.  Eternally welded links.  

I have had spiritual experiences in the past four years through family history and temple work that have connected me eternally to people whose names I didn't even know before 2010.  They are part of me.  And therefore, I am part of them.  And I am convinced that they have a vested interest in my well being.  As I do family history, I invite more and more of the "numberless concourses of angels" into my life.  They then have the ability to influence and assist when I cannot keep up the spiritual and emotional pace.  

My family tree is broad and leafy.  It is complicated and messy.  And I may or may not be related to some of those people who I've fit into unique spaces on those branches.  But, what I have learned in the past few years is that we are connected to more people than we realize, and in ways that we may not have anticipated.  Sometime, long before I came here, I know that I made promises to people I would meet in this life, and people who had already lived theirs.  I promised that I wouldn't just walk through this life randomly all by myself.  I promised that I would marry the man I married, and give life to the four children who are currently in our home.  I'm also quite certain that I promised other things to other significant people. Maybe those 20 kids in my class?  Maybe my visiting teachers, or my sweet neighbors who I adore, or the missionaries serving in our ward?  And because I know that, I am physically unable to quit when I want to, even when it's really, really hard to keep going.  Those eternally welded links between my ancestors and countless other people provide not only the hope and motivation I need at the beginning of the day, but also the additional assistance that I need 12 hours later.  

Family history isn't just an opportunity to help our ancestors.  It's an opportunity for them to help us.  I am eternally grateful for the people who have gone before me and paved the way for my family.  But I'm even more grateful for the knowledge that I am welded right in the middle of that family link and many other links, and that the place that I occupy is uniquely mine, necessary and integral to my joy in this life and all of ours in the next.