Saturday, May 21

God is an Auto Mechanic

Driving home from a "girls night out" Friday night, the radiator on our little car blew. Actually, I didn't know that was what happened, but I knew something had just happened. The car was still going, and I was nearly home, and limped into the driveway.

I told my husband what happened - complete with quasi-useful sound effects - and we both agreed that our scheduled temple trip Saturday morning was not going to happen. He thought it was the CV joint, which has been making noise for a while, and which he already planned to fix.

Saturday morning, he went to the store to buy an impact wrench so he could fix the CV joint (?). It's a pricey tool, but we had a little bit in savings, and it was cheaper than taking the car in to the shop. He even called around to get the best price on it.

At the lumber store, he ran into an acquaintance, and they were talking shop. Lo and behold, this guy has an impact wrench we can borrow. Coincidence? Of course not. And the money we saved because of his generosity was about what we needed to buy a new radiator, which my husband discovered as he was finishing up the CV joint.

In the scriptures, God has so many names and titles. Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father.

To that list, I would like to add Auto Mechanic. It's not disrespectful. If you believe that God is all-wise and all-knowing, it makes sense that He knows everything about cars, right? He knows who to send to the lumber store that knows us and has the tool my husband needs. He also knows what we can afford, and that it is much better to limp a few blocks home late one evening instead of being stranded on a lonely country road, miles from home and in our Sunday clothes, trying to figure out what just happened to the car.

Here is a song that expresses this same sentiment much better than I can.

What have you been blessed with today?

My Zuggy Boy

Do I have a lot of family with birthdays? Yes, I do. And I am grateful for all of them.

Today, my middle brother celebrates his birthday. He was born when I was old enough to help with babies, and young enough to not realize it was a blessing and a gift to be in big family. I think I was in third grade. He was my pet. I am pretty sure I hogged him from the rest of the family, because my name was the first word he learned. It was my idea the time we convinced our friends that he was our little cousin, Jessica.

I remember, when he was a toddler, the night he was sick and throwing up and feverish. My mom had just had another baby and my dad was away on business, and so I stayed up with him all night, and cleaned him up and held him and paced the living room. My mom let me stay home from school the next day.

He was my Zuggy Boy. It has always been my nickname for him, until I had kids who couldn't pronounce his name properly, effectively giving him a whole list of rather twee nicknames.

I love him. I have worried about him, prayed for him, laughed with him, hugged him, nagged him, and learned from him. I am definitely very thankful for him. He has a great heart, and he is a good uncle and a one-in-a-million brother.

What are you blessed with today?

Friday, May 20

Marching Orders

I was trained from a very early age how to keep house properly. I'm actually very good at it. But no one would guess it if they came to visit me.

For days at a time - and sometimes weeks on end! - I forgo all but the most basic of housekeeping for other things: family outings, Story Hour at the Library, service projects, visiting with friends/neighbors, making cookies with my daughters, roughhousing with my little children.

I can tell myself over and over that I am choosing the better part (and it's true, too, I know it), but when my head hits the pillow at the end of the day, if my dishes aren't done and the dining room and living room are cluttered, part of me feels like a miserable failure.

I am not a miserable failure. I am a work in progress. And so is my family. But the unkempt thing niggles away at me, and pressure builds, until I am the nastiest, crankiest person ever to stalk from room to room.

My husband loves me anyway.

In fact, he loves me enough to lay down the law when things get piled higher and deeper, and give my children indisputable, highly-enforceable marching orders.

Like during lunch: as he was finishing up his food, he issued a directive that all electronic devices were to be locked and remain so until the dirty dishes (which were many) were washed and the clean laundry (which exceeded the dishes exponentially) was folded and put away. And it was to all be done before he got home for the evening.

The weeping and gnashing of teeth began immediately. But it worked. When I called the troops into the kitchen, they came. And they worked. And we got all the dishes done. Then we descended on the clean laundry, and had it done in less than 45 minutes.

It's not that I did anything different. It's that Marching Orders from the father carry a sense of urgency that nothing I say or do can match. I don't mind it at all.

I am grateful for a husband who knows what matters to me, and does what he can to make it happen (whenever possible). I am grateful for children who are competent housekeepers (when they want to be). I am grateful that the toddler was asleep so that we could work and that the baby was sufficiently amused watching us do it. I am grateful that we have dishes and laundry to begin with. It is a sign of blessed abundance (no, really, it is!). I am really grateful the dishes and laundry are 100% caught up (for now), so I can go read stories to my kids, and maybe do a little blogging without guilt.

What are you blessed with today?

Thursday, May 19

Be Not Afraid

Tonight was my "kid date" with my toddler. He was very excited that it was his turn to go with me all by himself.

He is two-and-a-half, and still working on speaking intelligibly. He is just going into the "parrot phase" and he loves to say prayers, but doesn't get a chance very often at home, simply because we can't understand most of what he says, and because he needs lots of prompting to get through.

After we were done at the park, we found a burger-and-fries joint and ordered our dinner. When our food was ready, we found a table and sat down. Well, I sat down in my chair, while he clambered up into his and plopped down, with his chin even with the table top.

I reached out and held his hands and asked him if he wanted to say the prayer. He said, "Zhesh, Mamma." (yes, Mommy), and proceeded to pray to the best of his abilities. I didn't have to prompt him until the very end, as he had forgotten how to finish up. I didn't understand most of what he said, but he wasn't talking to me, anyway.

He then dug into his fries and and ketchup like it was gourmet food, stopping every third fry or so to exclaim about how "nummy" it all was, and to say, "Hake-oo, Mamma, a much!" (thank you, Mommy, very much.)

It's funny to me, the stupid stuff I worry about. I was worried about taking him to a fast-food restaurant, because he might not behave. Well, he was good-as-gold, and there was hardly anyone in the dinning room, anyway.

I was worried about getting him a kid's meal, because I thought the toy would be a cheap disappointment and he would throw a fit about it, ruining anything good about our evening together. He loved the toy like it was the Crown Jewels, and clutched it in his little hands all the way home.

I was worried about praying with him over our food in public, because I didn't want to look foolish or expose us to ridicule. The senior couple dining near us - the only other people in our section of the dining room - stopped by our table as they were leaving. The gentleman put his hand on my son's little shoulder and said, "You've got a fine-looking boy here." And his wife said, "That was a good thing you did with him, praying on your meal. He's going to turn out all right."

Why do I worry? I had my little boy pray over our meal because I wanted to make him happy, it was his "kid date" after all, and he really likes to pray. But I hesitated because I was worried about what people around us might think. I should not have thought twice about it, whether in private or public.

I am grateful for little moments where I wrestle briefly with what to choose, make a decision, and then immediately see that it was right. I am grateful for more and more opportunities to take into my heart and into my life the words of my Savior, "Be not afraid, only believe." I like to think that the more of them I get, the stronger I become.

What are you blessed with today?

Monday, May 16

External Deadlines

I can do a lot of things very well. I can even do some things excellently. What I can't do is get any of them done on time. I mean, if I say to myself, "I want to have this done by this afternoon," then it may or may not get accomplished by the end of the month.


If I tell someone else that I will get it done by this afternoon, then - by golly! - it will be done before dinner!

What is it about me and my weak self-discipline? I will make and keep commitments for just about everyone else but myself.

Want to exercise regularly? Promise to go walking with someone at a specific time/day! Want to get my house clean? Invite someone over for dinner! Want to read a certain book? Commit to give a presentation on it in three weeks! Jonessing for some home improvements? Uhm, I basically have to have another baby for that one.

So, it's not a perfect system. But it's what I've got, until I spontaneously develop some self-mastery and can accomplish things simply because I want to, and in the time frame I choose.

So, today, I am grateful for external deadlines, because the internally-imposed ones are beyond less effective. And I prefer to have something to show for my life and times.

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, May 15

Faith in Action

My faith is like my own internal combustion engine. It is my motive power on good days and bad. I am grateful that my faith is strong enough to keep me going when things aren't going how I envisioned them. Sometimes what I reeeaaallllly want is exactly what I don't get.

It happened recently.

I thought something was going to happen, and I even got lots of little hints and signs that something was going to happen. I wanted this thing to happen very much. I tried to NOT get my hopes up or count my eggs before they hatched, or whatever, but I failed in that respect. The best I could do was to be patient until "it" happened, and I quietly and humbly congratulated myself on being so patient.

And then, the exact opposite thing happened. I miss-read the clues completely. No one knows it, but I was actually speechless. My initial reaction was to throw a tantrum. Or walk away and quit. But I didn't.

And I'm not.

My faith keeps chugging along. The things I know to be true are still true. God has never let me down before. Oh, He has done things vastly differently than I would have, to be sure. He has also taken much longer and dragged things out farther than I would have liked. But His ideas always work out, where mine do not. So I have faith, and I stick with it, and even though I can only see it in hindsight, it is still there, and He was right all along.

I am grateful for my faith, and for the opportunities God gives me to put my faith in action. If He left me to my own devices, I am ashamed to say I would always pick the easy, convenient, attractive, "reader's digest" version of everything. I am grateful for His way of doing things, because of the depth and solidity I would skip out on every other way.

What are you blessed with today?