Tuesday, November 26, 2013


This past Saturday Daman and I got reacquainted over an entire evening and day together--ALONE! This meant going to the bathroom in complete peace, adult conversation without punctuations of "He laughed at me!" "They won't let me play with them" and my personal favorite:  "She hit me with her unicorn!"


We ate grown-up food, like stuffed mushroom caps from Food Lion, and did grown up things, like watched an hour's worth of YouTube National Geographicesque videos of enormous snakes taking on animals twenty times their size. If you've never seen a python take on an antelope. . . you simply haven't lived.

But then, we did the best thing of all. We went to the Temple. This is a place where we go to learn more about God, His Plan for us, and our purposes in this life. We make sacred promises to the Lord in the Temple, and learn more about the beautiful blessings that follow obedience to those promises. Daman and I were married in the Raleigh, NC Temple and are therefore bound together for all time and eternity (even if we only get to pass in the halls and catch up on the weekends here in mortality).

On this trip, we went to the Temple in Washington, DC.  Every trip to the Temple improves you. In that sacred place, you feel like you have everything figured out. You just know exactly how you are going to live the rest of your life, from that moment on. You know how to raise your children, how to manage your time, how to shun the world and embrace the light. It all seems completely doable.

Then you leave.

Cue the lone and dreary world.

But after this visit, I was ready. And I'll tell you why.  This experience in the Temple imprinted on my heart, more than ever before, the profound meaning of the Fall of Adam and Eve. I had never thought so deeply about the magnitude of their departure from the Garden of Eden, their banishment from that lovely and wonderful place, from the very presence of God. Their heartbreak felt real to me, and the reality that we are all so far from God as we wander around this globe struck my heart.

This was not a hopeless thought, by any means. No, it was a merciful, exciting, and glorious revelation. I believe I felt, for the first time, a true understanding of the Grace of Jesus Christ. And I came away with a greater appreciation that we so desperately need it---Every Single One of Us.

We are all so incredibly fallen, aren't we? We are weak, sick, impatient, ignorant, and broken. We yell at our children. We break our resolutions. We bite our nails, sleep too much, serve too little. We worry. We doubt. We question. We are Fallen. As we are, we would have to hope to return to the presence of God, the Father. It would be hopeless, almost laughable. He is Perfection, Light, and Strength. Our frail and flawed selves would shrivel and hide should we be thrust back in His presence as we are.

But we won't be. God has provided Hope. Jesus Christ is that Hope. It is through Him that we can beg, plead, and pray for change. He gives us all a chance to go home.

And we all need Him. What right have I to be impatient with any other living soul, as fallen as I am? What right have I to get angry at Isaac for leaving his socks on the floor (again) when I'm asking the Lord for the 10th time (this week) to forgive me for having a bad attitude about my job? Because I was taught to value education and honesty as a child, does that give me a right to condemn a student or random stranger because they were never given that chance and what they wear/say/listen doesn't match my standards?

We are all Fallen. And God loves us each. He knows where we are, and He knows where He wants us to be. And we, none of us, are there yet. We are so quick to judge, to condemn, to point. Of course sin is real. People do horrible things to each other. There is right and there is wrong. We must seek the right and embrace the good. I don't believe we should nurse relationships with toxic people that crush our spirits or put us in danger of choices that would drive out light. But, I don't think we need to condemn as much as we do either. In 1 John 4, we learn that "God is love." God is also truth righteousness. He is bound by eternal laws, and we must respect and honor the truths He has established. But along the way, can we be more gentle with each other? Can we seek truth, light, and righteousness and help others do the same without condemnation, hate, or judgement?

When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they brought us all with them. From that moment, people have been born to broken homes, twisted cultures, and painful beginnings. Hunger, sorrow, and weakness became a part of our existence. We are all beggars before Jesus Christ. We need Him. We need His Grace, His hope, His mercy, His outstretched hand, and His advocacy.

And we need each other.

Think of the first serious sin recorded in the Bible. Cain slew Abel. Why? We don't know exactly. But we do know that Cain was jealous, envious, and angry and took it to a painful level.

Do we? We probably don't act out violently when we feel jealous or envious. But, do we judge? Do we withhold praise? Do we criticize those that we think we have the right to, and seek fault with those that we think might be further along? That seems like a terrible waste.

Let's leave the judgement to God. For us here below, all clamoring to return Home, let's keep the judgment focused on what is right and best for us and our family each and every moment. And when we meet, speak, and work with others, let's give a loving look and a knowing nod that yeah, this Fall thing stinks and we just have to make the best of it. We are here for but a brief mortality, but let's keep climbing. Let's keep trying. Let's keep seeking Christ's help.

We can make it back. I know we can.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wells Without Water

"These are wells without water. . . "
2 Peter 2:17

This phrase has been running steadily through my mind since I stumbled across it in my scripture study a few days ago. 

How many wells do I keep digging that offer me no water at all?



Pointless internet surfing?

What about self-pity? Resent? Discouragement or disdain?

These are wells that I think we tend to dive in and claw down. . but they do us no good.  What good comes to my soul by kicking pricks and wishing things were just "different"? What thirst is quenched by moping or self-reflection to the point of egotism? Perhaps, just perhaps, it is not all about me. Perhaps other people are thirsty, and rather than dig myself into a hole without water, I should jump out and help someone else dig.

And together. . . we will drink.

So, I'm trying to cultivate real friendships more. I'm reading again. I'm taking deep breaths on those Sunday nights when panic and anxiety hits because I have to teach again in the morning. I'm taking cookies to neighbors and remembering how to laugh.

I'm looking for wells with water and trying to leave the dry ones behind.

Join me?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bow Down to Me. . .

. . for I am the queen of unrealistic expectations.

Don't even try to hang with me. Check out my track record, average-expecting commoner:

--Never run before and sort of hate it? I think that means I'll train for a marathon.

--First year of teaching and putting children in daycare? I must be teacher of the year and mother of the year simultaneously or I don't deserve to do either.

--Think your sweet tooth might be a little out of control? Subject self to laughable sugar abstinence and then berate self for failure.

--Need to lose some weight? Lemonade and cayenne pepper anyone? I need 30 pounds off. . NOW.

Look, I know you might think you set high expectations for yourself, and I believe you--I do. I know lots of people set lofty goals, but I believe I have a special little corner on the masochistic market. I'm not sure why I do it. Sometimes I wonder if there is a deep part of me that believes if I'm not suffering, then surely my life isn't doing enough. It must be really hard to be right.


Stretching is good. Growing is crucial. Suffering is inevitable. But, it all has to have a purpose. I'm realizing, slooowly, that if I was as gentle with myself as I am with others, I'd be a much happier person.

So, maybe I walked a little on my "run" this morning.

Maybe I let my high school students watch a movie in Spanish sometimes because if I have to look in their vacant orbs of apathy five more minutes, I might claw said orbs out with my dry erase marker.

Maybe I eat a few too many _________ (insert array of sweets here)

And sure, I'd look better with these extra pounds stripped off.

But, I can't do it all tomorrow.

I can't do it all at once.

And I certainly can't do it all alone.

If you're after my crown, you can have it.

But, expect disappointment. Realistically.