Monday, October 29, 2012

My Life: When Not Doing the Laundry Actually Turned Out

Last Sunday, my son emerged from the bedroom in a state of distress. "Mommy! I don't have any pajamas! Again!"

"Um." (Ducking head)

Yep, that was me, not doing laundry for . . .well . . .  I couldn't remember when the last load I did was. But I had every good intention of doing laundry, considering I'd had this conversation with my son the night before. We'd resorted to an undershirt and a pair of basketball shorts that weren't that dirty.

I'd feel like a utter failure of a mom if I put my kid to bed in his underwear. And the dirty jeans he'd been chasing chickens in weren't any better.

And then, oh brilliance of brilliant, I had an idea.

Pajamas? Who needs pajamas? I think I wore an old t-shirt of my dad's to bed most of my life, and not because I didn't have pajamas either. It was preference. Something about a t-shirt that belonged to Mom or Dad was the ultimate comfort.

Kneeling in my closet, I pulled a black t-shirt my husband got from work off the shelf and presented it to him with all the excitement of someone who's about to share the best secret in the world.

My son eyed me with nervous skepticism.

"Let's put this on. Mommy wore her parent's t-shirts all the time when she was a little girl."

He likes stories about when I was a little girl, so he allowed me to undress him and slip the shirt over his head.

He stood there downing in the thing and gaped at his naked legs. "Without pants?"

A conversation commenced in my head. "JoLyn, what have you done? Your child is five and has never worn an old t-shirt to bed? You are seriously depriving him of essential childhood experiences! Forget the laundry! This should have happened years ago!"

"Yes, without pants." I talked him into the living room where he sat in my lap for prayers, automatically pulling his knees up under the shirt. I smiled to myself. Yes. There was hope. He'd already figured out the number one perk of a big t-shirt; curling up inside it.

We prayed and I sent him to brush his teeth. He stopped by his dad, his face perplexed.

"Daddy, Mommy says she wore a t-shirt to bed when she was a little girl." He spoke in a tone that said, "I think mom might be crazy. Maybe you'd better hear what she's been saying." He tugged at the shirt, looking down the front to his belly-button. "I don't have any pants." 

My husband didn't miss a beat. "Well sure, Daddy used to wear a big t-shirt to bed all the time."

A smile of sheer relief lit up his face. "I didn't know you wore a t-shirt to bed when you were a little boy!"

Finally at peace with this strange experience, my son consented to go to bed. He then proceeded to wear the t-shirt the following nights, even after I'd washed his pajamas.

All told, I think my tendency to forget the laundry turned out for the best. I've spent so much time looking for pajamas with the right qualifications; price, size, color, favorite action hero. With all that I neglected to give him this simple childhood experience.

Lucky for me I have another weakness to be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Want to Know More About Run?

My friend and critique partner, Rachel Hert tagged me on her blog for The Next Big Thing. Thanks Rachel! The Next Big Thing is a chance for writers to post a little about their current work in progress, or book. The way it works is I get to answer some questions about my WIP. Then I tag five people who will also answer the questions and so on. This should be fun. If you'd like to be tagged, I've decided that I'll tag the first five people to comment on the blog, so if your interested, leave a comment and I'll add a link to your blog on mine. This should be a good chance to get to know other writers and see what everyone is up to.

Okay, so here are the questions with my answers:

What is the working title of your book?
My book is called Run.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I've always liked big families with unusual things, like kids all the same gender, multiple sets of twins, names that start with the same letters, or other odd things like number patterns (birth days, years apart.) I know, it's a little weird. Perhaps I should clarify that the beginning of this idea, that a girl who was an only child ends up spending the summer with six male cousins, came when I was still in high school. Since then it morphed into something a little deeper, but the main idea, family, has remained.

What genre does your book fall under?
Young Adult LDS Contemporary Fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Actors? Okay, so secretly some of my characters (in looks mostly) are based on kids I knew in High School. Don't tell my friends . . . That said, how many actors do you know would be in an LDS themed movie? Don't answer that one. I'm going to go do a search for actresses that could play my main character, just for kicks.

After an spending way too much time look at actresses, I've failed. I need a short girl in her teens with wavy hair who can pull off serious and sarcastic.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Really? ONE sentence? I'm starting to hate the word synopsis. Here we go: Sixteen-year-old Morgan knows living at her aunt's will be the definition of crazy, but when family secrets start popping up, beginning with an empty house her parents own, she wonders if her aunt's six boys might not be the craziest part of her summer.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My book will hopefully be represented by an agency. I'm not ready to face the self-publishing world.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Do we have to count the six or seven years before I started writing seriously? Lets go with four years and leave it at that. *Ducking head*

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Um. Think LDS Young Adult and you'll probably have it.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
After the initial idea was born, the remainder of the book was inspired by my family and friends. One scene is straight from my memories of watching older cousins play in my granny's laundry chute. Morgan's aunt harbors many of my own aunts' personality traits. A certain scene was inspired by a friend that died when I was in middle school.The rest of the book was inspired by some tough questions I had as a youth about death and about the choice to do one thing when we know we should be doing something else. I've often been concerned about imperfection and Morgan's life is very imperfect. As I wrote the book, I found answers to those questions, almost without meaning too.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Run is about death, but it's also about Morgan, a sixteen-year-old girl who is trying to live up to her parents expectations while still being true to herself. It's about events that happened ten years ago to Morgan's family. It's about her six cousins, the neighbor boys, the cute kid from the track team, and all the chaos that follows. 

If you want me to tag you, leave a comment and I'll link to your blog for next Wednesday when you can be a part of The Next Big Thing!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Principle of Compensation

I've been following the reactions of people to the news about the new age for missionaries. So many echo my feelings of elation and excitement for the youth of the church. I have no doubt that they have much good to do. As I've watched the reactions, I was surprised to find many people who, while excited for the news, also have been experiencing a sense of loss for missed opportunities. If only this had been the way things were when I was nineteen, so many women are writing. I read an article where a women expressed deep sadness and sorrow for what she felt she had lost. This sadness was echoed by many others.

I was troubled. Do women in the church really feel like they were denied opportunities to be instruments in the Lord's hands because theirs was not the same priesthood calling as their nineteen-year-old male counterparts? I do not deny that within the church there are pressures for certain things to happen at certain times. Missions. Marriage. Children. There is a pattern, an ideal, and we are taught to strive for it.

But we are not perfect. Our bodies are not perfect. Our minds are not perfect. Unfortunately, in places where we are surrounded by others striving to reach these ideals, it's so easy to compare, judge, and condemn. Why has that boy not left on his mission? Why is that girl not married? Why don't they have children?

I've seen this. I've been there.

I do not pretend to know all the answers. I can't tell my friends and this sad woman why this announcement came now and not seven or ten years ago when it would have been everything to them. One thing I do know is the Lord's ways are not our ways.

No matter where you are, no matter how weak, no matter what gender, we are all loved by our Father in Heaven. Our feet, our hands, our willing minds and hearts, however imperfect, are his tools. He will use us for good if we will seek His will and follow it.

What about the might have beens? What about my righteous desires for things I wanted so badly I ached physically to see them unrealized? What about missed opportunities?

Whatever you believe, do not fall into the idea that these things are some how unable to be compensated. That is a lie.

I know this. With my whole heart.

Watch what Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin had to say about this, over five years ago. I hope you pay particular attention to this part:

"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude."

The Lord does compensate our losses. The Lord does fulfill his promises.

Over a hundred years ago, faithful saints left a beautiful temple and set out across a wilderness to a desert valley. The Lord made promises to them. Do we doubt that he will fulfill them? Do we think, after all they went through, that any portion of what they longed for will be denied them? Can we question that God will fulfill his promises to them?  I have. And his answer was a resounding echo I've remembered to this day. "I will fulfill my promises. Every one."

Yesterday, I drove around the point of the mountain, heading north. Below me, from one side of the valley to the other were houses. Dotted between the houses, I saw temples. The posterity of these faithful saints sit in the basin of the Salt Lake Valley surrounded by the very covenants and blessings their parents received in a temple they left. We are the fruit of their labors. We are, in part, the fulfillment of many promised blessings. We are, in no small way, miracles.

If you feel like you've lost something. If you feel like blessings have been denied you, know this: You will be compensated. That is a promise given to us by the Lord himself. It's reechoed through the words of his prophets. It's a principle of the Gospel. It is a promise. And the Lord fulfills His promises.

My feet have been led down paths I didn't expect. Sometimes the places I find myself in are not what I want. Sometimes the things I'm asked to sacrifice are what I want with the deepest parts of my heart. But when I turn to the Lord, when I ask him to let me be an instrument for good, He opens doorways, He pours out inspiration and He lets me serve Him. No matter were I am. No matter how short I fall from the ideal. I can be His hands.

I like to think that my feet are making a different sort of trail across a wilderness equally as daunting as the pioneers' trail was. I like to think that my righteous life makes a difference in this world, to myself, my family, my posterity, and yes, even those beautiful youth that will so valiantly take up the call to serve missions at a younger age than ever before. I hope the steps I've taken are worthy for those after me to follow in.

I do not know what they will face. I do not know what losses they will experience. I can only hope that they never doubt that a righteous step forward will always lead to the promised land. A land far more beautiful that we can imagine. A place were all our tears will be wiped and every lost compensated by a loving Father and a merciful Savior in who's arms everything can and will be made right.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Year Mark: Celebrating Good Things

October marks the one year birthday of my first post. Yay for posts! A year and a half ago,  I was all excited to do my own blog. I got as far as saving my blog name and address. For the better part of six months it remained blank.

I kept thinking, what on earth would I even say on a blog?

In October of last year, inspiration hit. If I was going to try and blog every week, I might as well be positive about it. Thus my slightly cliché motto "Celebrating Small and Simple Things."

Over 40 posts later, I guess I did have a lot more to say than I thought I would.  It's like that Good News Minute they sometimes do in Relief Society. Half the time you can't think of anything to say, but when you hear what others say, you realize even small things can be beautiful.

Like when the light isn't quite bright enough outside your window to convince you to get up and a little boy crawls up on the bed, his face wide with his morning grin. You know at that point, sleep is over, but for a few still seconds, he snuggles into you and is content to talk.

Like when the bunnies escape again, and you dread chasing them from one end of the yard to the other, but for some reason, they hop back into the pen and let you close the gate.

Like the random phone call you get at quarter to nine. "You want to go shopping? There's the best sale." You pull up your soaking wet hair into a knot at the back of your head and leave the dishes for later. You only have thirty minutes to shop between picking up kids and dropping off kids. And some how, you actually find something so cool it makes you want to dance.

Like the speaker set your brother let you borrow for your phone that plays music loud enough to hear it while you're in the shower. (I do apologize to the neighbors, but my singing this morning was much more on key, at least.)

Like your favorite song. On repeat.

Like the color of the mountains in fall.

Like riding a bike downhill.

Like two nieces and a nephew you haven't seen more than four times, still comfortable enough to hold your hand, climb in your lap, or let you braid their hair.

Like really long hugs.

Life is so beautiful. You'll never run out of things to celebrate. It makes me happy just thinking about it.

What makes you happy? What are your moments when the world aligns and you realize something glorious is happening, even in the midst of all the bad? What messages of love has God left in your life? Let's celebrate them for one cliché of a moment. There's a lot of good out there.