Saturday, July 28, 2012

Moments

Iyov stands on a chair, face dirty from playing outside, looking at a smooth rock in his hand.
"Mom who made this?" he asks.
"Jesus," I reply.
"I love Jesus. Can I hug him?"
I consider my response carefully. "Well, when you die, you can see him and hug him."
"Where does Jesus live?"
"Near a star called Kolob. Far away."
Iyov doesn't even pause to examine this fact. He replies, "Well can you put me in the car and take me there so I can hug him?"
A little sadness over the predicament tugs at my heart, but mostly I love immersing myself in the simplicity of a child's mind.
"Oh, I'm sorry sweetie. My car doesn't go into space."

***

Beya randomly lays on the kitchen floor while I feed Keshet oatmeal. She looks up to the ceiling and says, "I love you to...to...to...to...out to space mom!" She lifts her arm and points upward, "Space is that way," she explains.

***

Novan's taken an interest in nutrition. Not eating it, mind you. He just wants to know about it.
"Why are carrots healthy mom?"
"Are hotdogs healthy?"
"Are chips healthy?"
"Is peanut butter and jelly healthy?"
"Are apples healthy?"
"Are chips healthy?"
"Is bread healthy?"

Because of endless questions like these, he now considers himself an expert on healthy foods.
"Cake isn't healthy Beya."
"Macaroni and cheese isn't healthy Iyov."
"You should eat vegetables Amelia. They're healthy."
"But mom, ice cream isn't healthy."

Now if I can just get him to hold as much conviction that he should follow his own advice.

***

I watch Keshet, tottering across the floor, gaining confidence, and she finds a ride-on car pushed just-so under the bench next to the couch. She holds on to the bench and steps up on the car. I simply observe her, curious as to what she will do next. Will she try to lift her leg up the 8 inches or so to climb the bench? Does she know how to step down? She starts talking to herself, shifting from foot to foot, even bouncing a little, leaning on the bench, when all of a sudden, the car shifts from under her feet so that the bulk of her weight rests on her arms. She clings to the bench. I ignore the slight worry I feel and watch her, arms gripping the bench, feet struggling to maintain their grip on the plastic car's seat. What will she do?
Grunting, she holds on to the bench and carefully steps down, foot searching for the floor. I want to clap or cheer for her small accomplishment, but I restrain myself (mostly because when I offer attention, she comes and clings to me and I just like to watch her sometimes).
I'm struck that stepping down to the floor holds no amazement for me, but it's a big deal for her. And she wasn't fearful, even when the 'floor' moved beneath her feet. She simply found a way to cope with it. And then she toddles away.

***

I sit on the couch reading a book propped on my knees while Iyov plays with his cars on the other end of the couch. He ambles over, making car sounds. "Rrrrrrr," he grumbles with the bulldozer. "Shhhhhhh," says the plane. Hardly paying attention, I become aware when I notice he's turned the cavern formed by the apex of my knees into a garage for his vehicles. He parks them, one by one, under my legs, saying nothing and lost in his daydream of cars and trucks, planes and machinery. I'm overcome with contentment. Could a Saturday morning be more perfect than when your 3-year old turns you into a garage? I think not.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tampon Expedition

The heaviness of the air in my life is so thick you could bite through it, so I am going to try something a little lighter today because I need a break from heartbreak. However, before I do, I realize some of you probably are like "Whaaaat?" and you're trying to guess at who I referred to, so while I won't say WHO it's about, I will say who it's NOT about. It's not about Brad or any of my kids. However, that doesn't make it any less at the forefront of my mind and the anguish is still very real so please send a prayer up for me and my family. We really need it.

So, moving on. Last night I made this for dinner:

It's one of my favorite things and it's very simple. Every single time I make it I think to myself, "Geez this is such a mouthful of healthy goodness, I could eat this every day! WHY do I not make this more often?"
The ingredients are as follows:

bunch of curly parsley chopped finely
diced tomatoes
can of chickpeas
diced cucumber
diced onion (either red onion or scallions)
lemon juice
salt and pepper

I really love the simplicity of lemon juice, salt, and pepper as a dressing. The parsley makes it pop. I love parsley and it is incredibly good for you so you should make it part of your green veggie repertoire.
Sometimes I make flatbread and/or falafel and/or tzatziki sauce (Brad prefers to have it with all 3) but I prefer it a la carte.

And finally, I had some funny thoughts about feminine hygiene products recently that I thought you might find humorous.
I have 4 children which I've borne in the last almost 8 years and as a result of my children being breastfed and having them so close together, I can count on two hands the number of periods I've had in the last 7 years. Every time I get my period once the latest kidlet ceases to nurse constantly, I am reminded of how much of a blessing it is to NOT endure the monthly irritation of menses.

So I get my period for the first time since Keshet was born last week, and I go to Wal-mart because all I have on hand are giant pillow-sized pads from postpartum bleeding.
I arrive there and I'm standing in the aisle searching the colorful rows of plastic packages and wondering where in the heck the tampons are. Did they stop making them or something? I'm scouring the shelves for the characteristic box shapes, and then it hits me, "OH, I'm standing in the incontinence section..." A swift look to my right and left reveals that no one has spotted me confusing maxi pads with adult diapers.
Phew!
I scoot discreetly away, cheeks slightly reddened with embarrassment over being a 29 year-old woman who doesn't even knowing where the tampons reside.
Unfortunately it takes me a full 5 minutes of going UP and DOWN and UP and DOWN and UP and DOWN the aisles trying to find those pesky tampons. I mean, where the heck do they keep those things?
I find them, FINALLY, and understand why they've now been moved away from the family planning section. The industry has grown so much that they now require their own aisle.
I don't recognize anything on the aisle itself.
There is not a single box or package that looks familiar.
And I'm not sure if I like the imagery of a string of pearls to go along with my tampons or whether metrosexual purple on black is really the color I want to associate with monthly bleeding.
Overwhelmed, I try to at least consolidate what is and is not a tampon box, but the kaleidoscope of color disorients me.
Yeah you think I'm joking, but it's true.
I start to get upset, because all I want is a package of super plus tampax tampons like I'm used to, except it's been about 2 years since I bought some, so I don't know what the package looks like anymore and there's so many options and colors that I just don't know what I want anymore!

I angrily snatch the first box I find with "Tampax" as the brand and "Super absorbancy," even though I really don't like that string of pearls picture. The visual unnerves me.

Then I proceed to find some kind of more modest pad except none of those packages are recognizable anymore. Furthermore, wings appear to have taken over. I thought wings were an option, not a requirement. The "man" is now forcing me to have wings on my pads even though I hate those things.

Once home, I open my tampons and discover that the applicator is PURPLE and slightly iridescent.
What the ?
Is that scientifically proven necessary or even beneficial in some way?
AND, because their color carnival confusion marketing tactic made me pick up the first vaguely recognizable tampon box, instead of having the extra large box of tampons I intended, I'm now the proud owner of a trendy tampon carrying case which is a bonus gift that only cost me an extra $3.

I think it's time I get pregnant again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Worst Kind of Helpless

You all will know what I'm talking about.

Those times when your heart aches for someone whom you love without condition, but you know that helping them is beyond your reach. They don't see where they are. Where they're going.

Hell. They can't even see where they've been.

They barrel through life, like a blindfolded child in a china shop, disbursing their pain on the unsuspecting fragility around them.
What are they running from?
Who is chasing them?
Do they hear the sounds of the breaking hearts around them?
Do they recognize the sound?

You close your eyes and imagine what it must be like to be them, trying to explore their pain, trying to feel what they feel, because just maybe doing so will alleviate their suffering, will make them whole again. But you can't really. And you cry because you can't. Your heart aches because you can't.

Their suffering, you know, is their own. Even when they don't recognize it as such.Their pain is not something you can reach out and break off a portion of for yourself even though you wish with all your might that it were possible.

You are.
completely.

helpless.

You're heart breaks, because a portion of your heart has now attached itself to them. They unknowingly carry it around with them, in their pocket, with all the lint and fuzz, not knowing that it's there. Sometimes they empty their pockets and say, "What's that doing in there?" And then they throw it out, because they don't recognize what it is.

F o r g o t t e n. 

Why is loving them not enough? You must have failed to communicate it to them, because if they knew how much they were loved, would they make the choices they do?

I understand why Christ was able to do what He did. I would have done it too, were it possible.
I think of the people I know and don't know.
So much suffering. So much pain. So much

Darkness.

Who cares who's fault it is?

I empathize. I feel.

I know I would do anything to save them.

If they would just let me.

If they would just let Him.

Monday, July 23, 2012

When I questioned the existence of God

In college I took chemistry from a guy named Doctor Pool, who, by the way, is perhaps the most amazing chemistry teacher on the planet.
In that class, I finally understood ionic and covalent bonds, the beauty of the periodic table, balancing chemical equations, and on a macro level, the origin of the theory of macro-evolution and the Big Bang.
That semester I came as close as I've ever come to questioning the existence of God.
For example, I remember learning about mitochondria and seeing how they behave like separate and individual organisms. Indeed, humans seemed like nothing more than an organized conglomeration of a bunch of smaller individual beings.

Human beings, when confronted with something that doesn't fit into their schema of the universe, (whether it be interaction of planets or simply interaction of people), will adjust some tenet of their thinking to account for the new information that previously gave them the hang-up.
I had to adjust my thinking. Either I disbelieved science, or I disbelieved what I understood up to that point about God. I'm not one to ignorantly discredit hard evidence, so I had to re-create how I envisioned God, because I am a believer in science, and I am a believer in God. You can't believe in two things that are logically at odds with one another without adjusting one. You can't exist in a state of imbalance and be at peace with yourself.
It was during this time of scientific exposure that I had recently been baptized into the Mormon faith and also took my first philosophy class.
I was in a theological-philosophical-scientific primordial ooze, if you will. My mind was afire with all kinds of new never-before-imagined connecting of synapses and firing of neurons. New constructs took shape. I questioned and re-questioned my own assumptions about life.

That exploration has not ceased since.
With one exception. I have one rule, or ultimate assumption: God exists and is omni-benevolent (All-good). 
I throw omni-presence (everywhere at once aka all present), omnipotent(all-powerful), and omniscience (all-knowing) out the window.
Yes. I really do.
I know, it sounds absolutely blasphemous. A god that isn't all-knowing and all-powerful and everywhere at once can't possibly be considered a deity! I guess it's there that we would have to politely disagree. 
Probably part of my problem (or understanding as I think of it) is that I am NOT an agnostic.
I'm uncomfortable with the idea that I can't know everything I want to know. I believe 100% in the possibility of understanding the nature of all things (God included).

"Well we'll just never understand that in this life" is a common statement from people who ascribe to some belief in a deity.

That's bull.

I repeat, that's a bunch of BULL-ONEY that religious persons everywhere claim because
A) They think that the only place they can gain divine knowledge is from ancient scripture
and/or B) They think an incomprehensible God somehow makes him more amazing.

Most religious followers have a pitifully poor understanding of science and most scientists have a pitifully poor understanding of God. It's a shame that two groups, who should be so in sync with one-another are constantly at odds.
If you truly want to understand something, you can seek it out. Read all you can on the subject. You can study it out in your mind. You can entreat God for the assistance of the Holy Ghost for help. And the truth really can be revealed to you if you have done all you can.

Fortunately I didn't let a momentary hiccup in my view of the universe deter my need to know. I didn't find one flaw in my religious schema and decide to throw it all out.
And currently? I believe more strongly in God than I ever have. And I believe in science. In my mind I think science=godevidence. With every scientific breakthrough, such as this latest (and quite exciting I might add!) near discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, my mind is repeatedly blown over how amazing and masterful the organization of the universe is. I can at that moment feel he veil of forgetfulness which we come to this life shrouded in being slowly lifted.
Science is the hard observable and testable evidence of God, which ironically, humans have turned into the anti-God evidence... wait, isn't that exactly what Lucifer's job is? Hmmmm.
No, when I read up on Supersymmetry, or gravity vs. dark energy, I think, "Hey! That's just like the law of opposition in all things!" I especially like entropy, (essentially, things tend toward chaos when there isn't a force holding them together), it makes me grin, because it demonstrates what happens when God isn't holding things together.  Kind of like life.
No, exactly like life.

The thing is, I comprehend things about God now that I wondered and labored over in the past, thinking to myself, "I think my brain just isn't capable of comprehending this!" Then I find, after a while, the answer unravels itself, and I get it.

Let me relate this to being Mormon. My faith only has a few basic tenets that form the necessary foundation of the Gospel. They are best summed up and simplified in the Thirteen Articles of Faith.
That's right. Thirteen little one or two sentence blurbs about what we believe.The beautiful part is that pretty much everything else is up for grabs, meaning, if you have some deep doctrinal issue, you are allowed, nay entreated to seek for and arrive at the answer yourself. I love that. What more open-minded atmosphere can you possibly place yourself in to explore spiritual issues yet remain close and personal with God?
So if I want to believe in evolution on some kind of scale, it's totally fine.
If I like to watch documentaries about the Big Bang in order to better understand God, I can, and I don't have to be ashamed.
And I can question the existence of God over and over and over, and amazingly, come out of it with greater faith than I had before. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Primary Responisbilities

As I mentioned briefly, I am serving in the Primary at church (for you non-mormonites, that's the organization in charge of the instruction of children in the Gospel). I've been mum about this very blog-worthy topic, because I wanted to give myself time to see what I thought about it with an open mind. You're wondering what I mean by that, I know: What's she saying? She hates primary? 

No, I don't hate it, but honestly, when I became a member of the Church, my list of callings I did NOT want looked like this:

Callings I do NOT want:
-Primary teacher
-Primary President
-Nursery leader
-Primary
-Primary
-Primary
 

Ok, get it? Yeah, I don't like kids, but what I have come to realize by serving in Primary, kids are easy to please. In fact, teaching them is downright fun. I love seeing their little minds spinning when you say something like, "Can you believe the sons of Mosiah turned down being kings to go serve missions among the bloodthirsty Lamanites?" or seeing my class of 4 and 5 year-olds get excited about earning a bead each time they come up with something they're thankful for so that they could make a "thankful bracelet" in class. And nothing tops the time I was sitting on one of those itty-bitty chairs with the sunbeams to help wrangle a bunch of wily 3-year-olds, and the music leader had the sunbeams sing "Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam." They were beside themselves with excitement, and when we got to the chorus, "Jesus wants me for a sun-beam!" they leapt up all around me, throwing their little hands in the air like sunbeams, shouting "BEAM!!!" Priceless.

The kids steal the show in Primary. I can say something like, "We're going to see who can hold on to the leg of their chair the entire time in Primary to demonstrate holding on to the iron rod," and the kids would think it was the best game ever. Today, when I was demonstrating weaving a rope using a bunch of pieces of yarn to represent pieces of our testimony like prayer and scripture-study, the kids actually asked to keep the yarn pieces, because they thought it was just so amazing to be able to hold a piece of yarn in Primary. Yeah, Yarn. Really truly.

No, sharing time (a 15 minute lesson someone in the Presidency gives each Sunday during Primary) doesn't phase me anymore, and I think I might even be able to handle music leader just fine if I actually knew the songs.

Then Today happened.
Oh today.
After today, I have finally figured out why women in the primary presidency always have this "deer in the headlights" look at church. They're afraid that the next person that comes up to them is going to say, "Ummm, there's a bunch of kids down the hall, and I don't think they have a teacher" or that one of their teachers is going to say, "So I'm going to be gone for 1 month. Can you find me a sub?" or that when they walk into the primary room, there will be nothing but kids with no teachers... yeah all of those things happened to me today, some more than once. And the one day this happens, they're the only person (other than their trusty secretary) from the primary presidency at church. Yeah, that happened today too. And then their husband gets called into work and no one is around to take their one-year old baby. Yeah... that happened too.

The primary presidency is made up of four women whose job it is to bully, coerce, praise, thank, beg, plead, bribe, and apologize. All at the same time. In the same sentence. Yes, we will use our jedi mind tricks on you.

We're logistical masters. And we have to do it all with a smile, and without breaking a sweat.

Oh wait, sweating's ok. But they ought to make us some kind of primary presidency tribute trailer that we ladies can watch before going to our primary presidency Sunday job in which dramatic music plays, we walk in tandem decked out in our most in vogue apparel with nary a hair out of place as fiery explosions happen in the background, and a movie voice says something like:

"They are the finders of lost teachers, the pinch hitters of gospel learning.
They are the queens of quiet reverence, the enforcers of butts in chairs, the distractors of the distracted child. They are eluded, shunned, shied from. But they will find you! The forgotten coordinators of the youthful worship. They are the Primary Presidency."

Come to think of it, maybe we should just have one of those draft posters that says "Uncle Sam wants YOU!" except have it be a woman with a primary president name tag. It would say, "Sister TwistUrArm wants YOU!" And we should post it around church.

Trying to accept the exhausting flakiness of so many people on a daily basis is hard enough, but doing so in a church setting, while trying to stay attuned to the Spirit while wondering to yourself why in $*@#*% people can't call you and say they aren't going to be at church to teach their class is at times impossible. Patience in dealing with the logistical side of primary requires one's full-time engagement. Relegating one's self to hints of deceit at times is also a good marketing practice:
-phone rings and voicemail picks up
-"Hello Sister So-and-so. This is Sister Rachel Kelly. Hey! I have a question for you. Can you give me a call back when you get a chance? [repeat phone number at least twice] Thanks! Bye!"
Because you know if you mention needing a sub on their voicemail, you run the risk of not getting a call back.

I'm really going to be screwed when all these people I call finally figure out that I'm in the primary presidency. They'll memorize my number and put a little note next to their phone that says, "If caller ID says 909-518-5434, DO NOT ANSWER!"
Our ward is especially hard to deal with because of the constant influx of new people, temporary and migrating people, and just plain hardly-active-but-just-active-enough-to-get-called-to-primary people. Primary workers often feel disconnected from the rest of the ward, because they spend most of church in primary, away from other adults. When you add a constantly evolving ward to the mix, knowing anyone outside of primary is a miracle. Then of course, you have to figure out who is in town, active, willing, or able to teach when you need a sub. Generally, this is supposed to be left to the teachers themselves, but someone in the presidency is inevitably called, because the primary teacher "just can't find anyone" or whatever the case is.

I'm learning though. By the time I've streamlined this business, I feel that "primary 1st counselor" will grace my resume in bold letters. After all, coordinating people is a skill. Thank-goodness for flexible kids who think coloring a picture of Jesus every week, because the person pinch-hitting the teacher spot needs to insert some busy work, is a perfectly acceptable way to spend a half hour.

If Church is about helping us be better people, I don't feel left out at all.

Oh and here's a really cool picture. I need to see cool clouds like this on days like today.

Hey, it's just one day. You're just one person. The world will still be beautiful even if you go down in burning flames today. This is all swallowed up by the big giant cloud of life. No biggie.