Lydia had her new dance class today–with Olivia! I was happy to discover the Orem Fitness Center, where her dance class is held. For the past three weeks I have been working out on our treadmill, but when I run I usually end up injured, so it was nice to discover such a convenient alternative.
After lunch, tutoring, and naps, the girls begged to go outside. Even though I didn’t know if I had the energy to put on their boots, I acquiesced. The cold air was very invigorating, and I ended up getting to know my neighbor, Brittany, a little better. We scheduled a play date for tomorrow.
Bad news on the potty training front: Mary had a very unfortunate #2 accident in her pull-ups during her nap. I find that discouraging.
Good news on the potty training front: After her accident, Mary wanted to wear undies, and she’s kept them dry ever since! She’s gone to the potty at least three times since her nap. She also kept her pull-ups dry right up until her nap. I find that encouraging.
I have a mountain of laundry on my bed standing betwixt me and my bedtime, so I’ll make this quick! Today was a terrific day. I deep cleaned the house, cooked dinner, chauffeured, read the kids a ton of books, remembered to take pictures, read some of my new books, and did a whole bunch of laundry. Why can’t every day be like today? Oh, that’s right. Life. Life gets between me and rockstardom!
But here are pictures from a day where pretty much everything went right.
Again, reporting from death’s door. I have no idea why I am so tired…chronic fatigue syndrome? Abe feels the same way. Maybe it’s contagious.
Anyway, we have a new 1 pm church schedule, so in the morning I prepared dinner. I made this. By the time dinner came around, I was so sick of smelling it that I took a couple bites and felt completely grossed out. I kept eating to avoid waste, but yuck. Abe thought it was great, which is good because it means his lunches this week are totally taken care of. Here’s what it looked like:
Thankfully, I took one bite of the broth and realized the girls wouldn’t eat it. So I made them different plates with the instant ramen. I envied their plates all through dinner.
Today Mary had a series of potty successes…and failures. I am so thankful for Abe, who changed all three of her pooped-in undies. I asked him to describe his procedure to me in detail because I am so scared to do that. I don’t know why it’s so intimidating, but I feel daunted. Anyway, after all that, I decided that tomorrow she will just wear pull-ups…at least until Abe gets home.
And here’s one Abe took this morning before church. Lydia has discovered infant shoes are just the right size for her stuffed animals!
Also, a Mary anecdote. We let Mary go play in her room while the rest of us finished dinner, and about five minutes later we heard a blood curdling scream come from upstairs. As Mary tries to actively commit suicide at least three times today (at church today she flung herself off the stage onto the gym floor), I was sure she had broken a bone or worse.
Abe raced upstairs to discover Mary crying uncontrollably in front of the book Grandma sent Lydia for her second birthday, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.When Abe asked Mary what was wrong, Mary sobbed out, “It’s a scawy book!” Apparently, she had opened the book and found the pictures so terrifying that screaming and crying ensued. Abe switched out the book for a “less scary” one, and Mary immediately calmed down and smiled contentedly.
I personally love that book, but we thought it was so funny that Mary had that reaction. One day maybe she’ll read this and smile at herself. I hope so.
I felt like I was walking in molasses all day. It was one of those days where nothing went wrong, but every task felt daunting because I was so dang tired. After we got the girls in bed, I realized I didn’t have any pictures for today’s blog and I panicked.
So I went around the house and took random pictures of things I could talk about. Here they are.
I just couldn’t get it together enough to get the girls out of the house, but they did have a highlight occur when David, Olivia, and Isabella drove all the way down from Salt Lake just to babysit them tonight! We are practically speechless with gratitude. What a gesture of kindness! Abe and I were able to go to the temple, and we had the most uplifting time there.
Abe and I were about to throw in the towel on the potty training front, but Mary peed in the potty TWICE today! The thing about Mary is that she doesn’t pee often. Lydia pees approximately every twenty seconds. Grandma, Abe and I were remembering on how you commented that we changed her diaper ALL the time when she was a baby. Weren’t we changing her every five minutes? At any rate, because her internal system is so efficient, she had lots of practice in the three-day potty training system. Even though she still has accidents, by the end of the system we at least felt confident she knew how and when to go to the potty.
Mary, on the other hand, pees about four times a day. And it seems that when faced with the prospect of pooping on the potty, she can constipate her system indefinitely. Add those factors to her four hour mid-day naps, and potty training just got pretty hard. So today was cause for celebration! And two full paragraphs on the subject of my daughters’ bodily functions extends that celebration more than enough on the blog. Full stop to potty talk here.
David and Isabella took some great pictures from their babysitting which they will send over tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s what I have today!
We took today real sloooow. For the past couple weeks Lydia and I have been doing daily tutoring sessions, and afterward we relax–either together or apart, depending on how exhausting the tutoring felt. Today went really well, so afterward I watched The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with her. It turns out Lydia adores “scary” movies. Witches, goblins, and all sorts of dark creatures seem to capture her imagination much more than anything else.
Mary likes scary stuff too. She often tells me in the morning that she had a “scary” dream the night before. The other day she told me that witches came and stole her binkies during her nightmare. She hit the witches with a stick and got her binkies back. I like that her dreams always end with Mary vanquishing her scary foes, either by hitting them with sticks…or worse. Again, I think we probably talk too freely and too often about death in this family.
We went out to the mall for a short outing this evening, and then we came back home, ate dinner, and spent more time together. All in all, it was a lovely, slow way to start this year.
Frankly, I am frightened about the pace of the next couple months. I have restaurant this quarter, and that means longer hours three nights a week, not counting homework. Today was the last day of Abe’s vacation, and he’s also heading into busy waters at work. I get stressed out just thinking about the next ten weeks, but I’m trying to make up for it by taking it slow until school starts again.
I am reversing the order of today’s blog. We’ll do pictures first, and then I am going to post more writing. Specifically, I am posting our sacrament meeting talks from Sunday. They were supposed to tie together the new year and the atonement, and so I figure this is a perfect spot to reference our thoughts on that should we ever care to in the future.
Lily’s Talk: “The Repairer of the Breach”
Good morning, brothers and sisters. We just moved into the ward and are very happy to be here with you and addressing you this morning. By way of brief introduction, I’m Lily, my husband is Abe, and we have two girls, Lydia and Mary, ages two and three.
I am originally from Chicago, and Abe is from Salt Lake. Our lives converged five years ago, when we were living in Hyde Park, a neighborhood in Chicago. I had finished up a mission on Temple Square and grad school on the east coast and was working as a teacher in an inner city high school. I had just resigned myself to the fact that I would never get married when I met Abe in the foyer of our singles branch. He had finished a Spanish speaking mission in Chicago and his own schooling out east and was working at a company called Guardsmark.
We bonded over our miserable work lives and my lab puppy. The first time we bumped into each other outside of church, I was walking my dog and he was out on a run and came over and volunteered right off of the bat to throw away the stinky doggy bag in my hands. I thought that was so gallant. A couple months into dating we got engaged, and a month after that we got married.
I credit all of our present happiness to Abe’s remarkable ability to remain patient, calm, reasonable and loving even when my natural inclination is different than that. He is a creative, joyful, fun, intelligent, and deeply kind person, and every day I wake up grateful to be married to him.
Abe’s job transferred him to Salt Lake three years ago, and last year he took a job with Qualtrics in Provo and commuted until we moved. We’re very relieved to have that commute behind us, and Abe is happily rediscovering the joy and wonder of a normal sleep schedule again.
We were asked to speak on the atonement and the new year, and as I have pondered this topic for the last couple weeks, the words of Isaiah and the theme of repair keep coming to mind. Specifically, I have found myself meditating on the phrase, “the repairer of the breach.” This phrase from Isaiah 58 was the subject of a talk given at the first youth conference I ever attended, and it literally changed the spiritual trajectory of my life.
Isaiah chapter 58 is perhaps most famous as a discourse on proper fasting, or at least when I’ve referenced it in church settings, it is one of the classic references we seem to turn to for direction on why we fast. However, this chapter also encapsulates one of Isaiah’s overarching themes, which happens to be God’s command that we care for the poor. In this chapter, the Lord tells us to deal our bread to the hungry and clothe the naked, after which He articulates all the blessings promised to us when we follow these commandments. He promises us health, righteousness, answered prayers, and, my personal favorite, that we shall raise up the foundations of many generations and be called “The repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.”
That phrase, “the repairer of the breach,” is packed with meaning for me, and when I look forward to 2015, my heart yearns for this blessing to actualize, to happen repeatedly, and to be real in my life. Life is full of breaches that we need the Lord’s help in repairing. We might find ourselves in need of repairing financial breaches, breaches of health, and even breaches with our deceased ancestors that can be fixed through engagement in family history. However, the biggest breaches in my life that stand between me and a whole spiritual life are breaches of relationship. Matthew records Jesus teaching, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
Now, I’ll just pause here because if I were in the congregation today listening to this talk, I might check out at this point and assume this talk wasn’t relevant to me. As someone who dislikes open confrontation, (and admittedly, Abe could dispute the truthfulness of that statement) I rarely have fights or big disagreements with people who cross my path. If hurt happens, it is usually below the surface and often passes unnoticed by my conscious self. However, when I take the time to “go meta” and honestly examine my interior life, there are a surprising number of grievances, hurts, envies and even grudges that stand between the altar of God and me. These feelings might be so small that they manifest themselves only in constrictions of my heart when interacting with the subconsciously disliked person, an envious instinct so subtle that I don’t automatically recoil at the thought, or a grudge that makes me blame present unhappiness on another and outsource accountability.
Because my life doesn’t revolve around these feelings, when I kneel to pray at night, I might not even realize I have repairs to be made before I can honestly say I am “filled with a love of God and all men.” However, through Spirit directed ponderings, I have come to know that there are things in my life that need repair, and I rejoice to know that my Savior will help me repair them.
I learned this lesson over ten years ago when I was living in Rome with six other girls. We were studying abroad, and since I didn’t attend church schools, none of my roommates were LDS. I loved all of my roommates—except for one. The feelings of dislike started small, with just little things here and there that I found bothersome. Alice later let me read her journal, and I found out then that our feelings of dislike at the beginning of our relationship were quite evenly mutual. After a couple weeks, I came back to our apartment and discovered a situation that brought up those simmering feelings of dislike to a conscious level. As I kneeled to pray that night, I realized that before I could go before the throne of God with confidence, I needed His help in repairing this relationship with Alice. I prayed for forgiveness, guidance, and for God to manifest himself in my life as the “repairer of the breach,” just as I had been taught in youth conference. And then I went to bed.
I need to digress for a minute and talk about Roman laundry. While I was in Rome, most people hung out their laundry to dry on their apartment balconies, which is what we did. We didn’t have a washer or a dryer, and so our balcony was always filled with someone’s drying clothes. That night, Alice had set her clothes out to dry on our balcony.
After I went to bed, I awoke several hours later to a voice in my head that said, “Go bring in Alice’s laundry from the balcony.” It was such clear direction that even in my sleepy haze, I immediately jumped out of bed and brought in Alice’s clothes, not knowing why. As soon as I got the last rack of clothes inside, there was a clap of thunder and it started to pour rain. It was very dramatic! I returned to bed feeling the Spirit, but still not knowing whether this tiny act of service would make any difference in a relationship that felt beyond repair.
However, when Alice woke up in the morning and discovered I had brought in her clothes, our relationship changed. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass, and that night was a turning point in our friendship. That night meant that we would have a relationship that was a friendship. I grew to love Alice, and she grew to love me. Even though we’ve fallen out of touch over the years, when I think of Alice now, I feel nothing but love and affection.
This experience, however insignificant it might seem, has literally changed my life. I know now that whenever I have a relationship that feels toxic, I can bring that relationship to God and feel absolutely confident that He knows how to repair and how to guide me in whatever steps I need to take to make that relationship whole again. I have used that knowledge and witnessed the literal miracle of forgiveness take place in my own heart on multiple occasions. For the relationships in my life that still need repair, I move forward trusting that I will feel forgiveness, compassion, love, and genuine remorse for my own lack of understanding at some future point in time.
That experience has also taught me that one of the keys to repair is service. Back in Isaiah 58, the blessing that we can be called “the repairer of the breach” is predicated on our following God’s commandment that we serve our fellow man. My relationship with Alice changed when service happened. Now, I have to say, I am not in the camp that believes service is the ultimate panacea for every problem. Sometimes the very issue at hand is the fact that one party is putting more into a relationship than the other, and I don’t believe that redoubling efforts in a situation like that will necessarily lead to feelings of love and forgiveness. I do know, however, that God is the source of all knowledge and truth, and that He can lend us His wisdom, guidance and love so that any and every relationship in our lives can be made whole.
I take immense comfort in Isaiah 61, wherein Christ explains the mission of the Messiah. I read these verses and find the theme of repair at its Biblical apex. You will recognize the first verse as the one Christ chose to announce his mission when He was in the synagogue at Nazareth. Here he says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
When reading that scripture as quoted in Luke, I often get distracted by the following verses, which tell of how the people in the synagogue are so incensed that they try to throw Jesus off of a cliff. But what was Jesus saying here beyond simply proclaiming Himself the Messiah? He was explaining the true mission of the Messiah, which was to rescue and repair the meek, brokenhearted, captives of the world. And then in subsequent verses He paints a glorious picture of what that repair looks like.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
There’s more that I will quote in a minute, but I just want to unpack that verse with you quickly. To say nothing of my other favorite scriptural phrase, “beauty for ashes,” the promise that Christ will make us trees of righteousness and the planting of the Lord has filled me with excitement these past couple weeks. Once we decided to move to Orem, we heard over and over again from various friends and acquaintances that Orem used to be all orchards. Now obviously, the Lord is raising up his planting all over the world, but the idea that there is such a concentration of active covenant people in a place that used to be filled with fruit trees feels symbolic, important and exciting. I couldn’t help but think about the homecoming talks we heard a couple weeks ago and reflect on how many missionaries this ward alone has sent out.
In the last verse of Isaiah 61, we read, “For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it so spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations.” As we liken Isaiah to ourselves, we learn that our plantings in this very special place that used to be a literal orchard will go forth from among us and praise God before all the nations of the earth.
My prayer for 2015 is that we all can find repair and healing through Christ, that we can be, in reality, the planting of the Lord and his own trees of righteousness here in Orem.