Saturday, April 12, 2014

my sister at 40

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Last December, everything in my little world was happily humming along. Enough that I became a bit self-congratulatory, "I'm doing great with this whole healing process, gaining emotional stability..."

And the next week, I crashed. I could barely get the morning chores done and the kids off to school before collapsing into tears. Every awful thing spun through my head like a broken record during the day then revisited me in nightmares.

I talked to my sister daily, "What is wrong with me? Will this haunt me for the rest of my life."

And after three days she confessed, "I know what's wrong. I've been fasting for you every Friday and last week I skipped."

I was stunned.

Fasting. For me. Every single week.

"I've been doing it for a long time," she explained, "I knew you needed extra heavenly help."

Once I found words, I gasped, "Thank you! And please never skip a week again."

To have a sister like that. To be a sister like that.

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You can scarcely read my blog without knowing Ruth's virtues-- she's strong stable, good to the core. A marathon runner who will slow her pace to walk with you and XXX. Give Ruth an hour and she'll throw an amazing party (without panicking or whining), give her 20 minutes and she'll prepare one of the best dinners you've ever eaten. In her spare moments, she pens stories (look for her best-selling novel later this soon as she finds an agent), gardens and creates magic for her four kids.

This morning, Ruth's friends threw a surprise party complete with strawberry shortcake and a photo collage in the shape of 40. Gathering friends has always been one of Ruth's gifts. They adore her, will do anything for her and usually love me too just by virtue of association.

Ruth's kindness has made me think more of my own friends (especially my friends without sisters). I can and should fast for someone every week. As women, as sisters, I know we have great power to help each other both physically and spiritually.

I did send a box in the mail, but my real gift to Ruth this year is a commitment to fast every Friday for friends who need a sister like mine. And maybe, I'll become just a little bit more like her.

Ruth's birthday post from 2008. Always worth a reread.

Happy birthday darling sister!

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

General Conference-- beauty all around

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It's no secret we love General Conference weekend. The semiannual meetings are a fabulous excuse to beg out of obligations, dump legos on the floor, eat crepes, pull out sewing projects, stay in pajamas all day and enjoy time together.

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Once we'd put out the Easter decor,  we simply had to increase the fun by buying four new chicks.

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Meet Elsa, Anna, Marie Antoinette and Anastasia.

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As usual, we are keeping the chicks in the master bathroom tub until they are big enough to move to the coop. They make a happy 'peep, peep, peep' all day and night.

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Every few minutes Saturday, Gabe asked "How much longer until Priesthood Session?" After years of watching Erik, Grandpa Fritz and his brothers go, Gabe was finally able to join them (he may or may not have fallen asleep the minute he sat down).

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In turn, Mary and I headed to the Linkous' for a true girls' night out.
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We don't actually eat crepes all weekend-- they are reserved for Sunday mornings. Sweet crepes for breakfast: strawberries, Nutella, whip cream, bananas, lemons, powdered sugar; and savory for lunch: ham, cheese, spinach, mushrooms... I must say, I think mine are as good or better than any you can find in France.

2 cups milk
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 powdered sugar

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Mary creating a countdown to summer; Xander with his Lego masterpiece.

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You might think Ben donned the king/superman cape just for the camera, but he wore it most of the weekend. I made it for Halloween fourteen years ago and it's been a favorite ever since. It's been used in multiple school pageants and costumes; Stefan used to channel it's powers while studying.

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Yep, it still works.

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A few favorite talks: Sister Linda Reeves, who spoke with grace and power against pornography, Elder Craig Zwick, on speaking kindly and Elder Uchtdorf on gratitude. He spoke of suffering grievous harms, expressed his love and concern and offered his advice for healing, "focus on gratitude."

I know from experience his words are true. When you've been hurt it's easy to get your mind stuck in an endless loop of "Why?" "How could he?" "I've been so mistreated." And although it's important to forgive, focusing on forgiving a grievous harm can just restart the broken record of questions. It's so much more effective to push those thoughts away and focus on everything good and bright and beautiful.

At the top of my list are always, always my husband and children, family and friends who love me. And then, I simply look outside. I believe God made sunsets breathtaking, mountains grand and wildflowers exquisite simply to offer daily reminders of "I love you." in a world God knew would often be hard.

At times, I've been accused of presenting a world a bit too shiny and happy, but I'll defend myself by saying I am simply counting my blessings, searching out silver linings. And I believe the more we recognize beauty, happiness and God's hand in our life, they more we receive.

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Last year, Hans' friend Paul offered us the idea of a monthly gratitude poster to hang on the fridge. All month long family members can jot down things they are thankful for-- whether it be a word, or a few sentences. After Elder Uchtdorf's talk, Mary joyfully created an April poster and quoted Elder Uctdorf as she drew, "We don't need to wait for the rainbow to be happy for the rain."

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Thursday, March 27, 2014


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It's lovely to have an in-house blog fan like Mary. She makes me feel like my scribbles and pictures are something precious. And this week she reminded me, "You used to do Sunday posts-- just pictures of the day." 

 I'm happy to oblige.

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Our bunnies went on their first date. We didn't let them get any closer than this. Should we rename them Romeo and Juliet?

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Xander's been playing with this balloon five weeks straight. He rigged up a propeller and temporary battery which he recharged with a 9V battery. It flies straight up to the ceiling.

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After church, Ben and his MTC buddies arrived to make dinner for us.

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Gabe, David, Jess, Charles (Jess' boyfriend) and Xander.

They based their creation on this recipe, but beautiful Jess made much of it up as we went along. A compicated lasagna recipe is really the best icebreaker-- everyone had a job (or ten), everyone laughed and talked.

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