I married a kind man and other musings on a 20 year relationship

As I mentioned in my “Love Story” Facebook posts a few months back, Ritchie and I went on our first date Valentines Day 1997 which means that we’ve spent the last 20 years cultivating our relationship.   As I look back and reflect on how those two sweet teenagers made their way from that first spark of giddy infatuation to more steady and enduring love, I am reminded of how small consistent decisions have far-reaching consequences.  Here are a few decisions we make that I am so very grateful for…

-Greet with a hug and a kiss.  I watched my parents do this and so it seemed natural to welcome Ritchie home at the end of the day with this small ritual.  When it was just the two of us I would stop whatever I was doing when he got home and meet him at the door.  Now I am usually outpaced by Jessica and Cassie but almost everyday we all express our gratitude for Daddy’s arrival home.

-Fight fair.  Early when we were married I drove Ritchie nuts as I played both referee and combatant in our verbal tiffs.  With my Family Science degree I was armed with communication recommendations (many of which I am still working at :)) and I would stop us in the middle of an argument to insist that we not use words like “always” or “never” or to patiently request a specific example when I felt I was unjustly accused of something. 20 years later that looks like clear and calm communication most of the time.

-Commit to creating something unique.  The relationship we have is unlike any other we have had or ever will have and it is different from any other marriage we know about.  As long as we both keep choosing to make it a priority it will grow and deepen.  We each bring our own gifts and in this shared space of our relationship we seek ways to let those gifts flourish as we develop as individuals, as a couple and now as a family.  As two different individuals seeking to grow, learn and make it through life we sometimes stumble and we each have a birds eye view of the others shortcomings.  In those moments we have the opportunity to extend patience, understanding and love and to witness the distinct beauty that comes from intimate kindness.

-Smile at each other.  As often as we can.  In the unexpected moments, the ones those two teens never could have dreamed of, from the hours of anxious anticipation in IVF clinics to the breathtaking views from mountain jungles sometimes there aren’t words to convey the emotion or the gratitude we’re feeling.  In those moments, with a simple smile I’m saying thank you for the gift of your loyal and incredible soul at my side along this path of life.  I think Ritchie’s smile is saying the same thing that gangly and goofy 17 year old said “Wow.”

Happy Valentines Day.

“His Hand is Stretched Out Still”

Yesterday I had the chance to go ice skating with Jessica.  Having only been a few times in her 7 years she’s still a bit unsteady on the ice.  She enthusiastically donned her skates and  I watched her stumble through the door to the rink and wait with anxious anticipation for the Zamboni to finish it’s job so she could begin skating.  Her initial enthusiasm quickly channeled itself into focused determination as she gripped the wall and unsteadily made her way slowly around the rink.  After a few minutes, I followed her out onto the ice, watching her strong little legs jerkily move along as she tried to master the feel of balancing her entire body on two very narrow blades and gliding on a very unforgiving surface.  When she was ready to leave the wall she took my hand and held tight, scooting one leg and then the other shuffling herself around the rink again and again.  After a while she began to let go at intervals.  Feeling increasing confidence in her steadiness, she would move a few feet from me, sometimes falling, sometimes skating and inevitably looking back to see if I was watching.  After a few laps of back and forth hand-holding, I began skating close to her holding my arm out.  I opened my hand and flexed my arm muscles so that my arm was strong and available to her.  I imagine watching me skate was pretty comical, partly stooped with one arm bent at the elbow.  It didn’t matter though, I wanted to serve as firm support for her when she needed it.  She grabbed on quite a bit but increasingly she could balance on her own.  A few times she skated farther from me and someone would come between us.  Other times she’d fall and look up at me with the tears that come from pain (knees+ice=hurt) and question why I wasn’t right next to her, why I’d left when she needed me.  I told her it was because she had skated on her own, she’d quickened her pace.  I thought about God, as I always do in my contemplative parenting moments, and how his support for us is the same.  He tells us his arm is extended, and that for all our faltering moments, His hand is stretched out still.  Just like I held my arm firm and steady, He offers his strength, support and solidarity as we learn new things, as we stumble, as we venture out and gain confidence in this thing called living.  And when we stumble and fall and look up blaming Him for His absence, he simply holds out His arm, helps us up and reminds us He’s never been far and that He’ll skate with us as long as we want Him there.  I love that about Him.

Take Action: Nourish your soul with a prayer today, gratefully acknowledge one blessing and ask to have the eyes to see His hand in your life.

Abundance is everywhere…

if that’s what you’re seeking.  There was a time when I would focus on all that was missing from a picture like this.  That view was usually wrapped around a desire for more carefree cartwheeling children.  Life is so much richer now that I have eyes to see all that is there.  There is one beautiful joyful child and I get to mother her. There are cartwheeeling children the world over.  They don’t need to be mine for me to appreciate the hope, love and meaning that they represent.  The overflowing love I have for this one can fill her and then spread wherever it’s needed.  

 Whenever I need a reminder about what abundance feels like, I look at the never-ending sky and feel gratitude for the chance to experience life below it each day.  And then I do a cartwheel.

What is Family Council? (Agenda attached)

Coordinate & Cooperate @ Family Council(1)

Family council is a quick weekly meeting with everyone in the household.  It’s best to have it regularly but even if you just do it once a month your family will learn to communicate, coordinate and cooperate with more ease.  The most basic meeting would include a schedule review and a discussion of individual/family needs.  As you practice meeting together you might find that you’d like to incorporate some other topics into the practice. I recommend starting small and firming up the habit before adding more items to the agenda.  Just practice being together, talking openly and being as patient with each other as you can. This week’s agenda will help you have a well-rounded meeting in just a few minutes.  Holding the space for family council each week breathes life into the home and gives the family and its members room to heal, grow, and become a strong team.

Bodies can heal

I have been off my synthroid medication for 8 months. I had my 6 month follow up in February and my antibodies were the lowest they’ve ever been, my thyroid hormones were were great.  I’m telling you this to give you hope because bodies can heal.  I have been told (repeatedly) by all manner of individuals that this doesn’t happen.  I have been told by a small handful that it can.  Anything is possible.

I remember sitting on the living room floor with Ritchie 2 years ago.  I’d just been to the doctor where they suspected I had celiac disease.  I was devastated because autoimmunity can be a slide and once you have one disease it’s easy to start collecting disorders until eventually your body is just mired in dysfunction.  I sat there feeling so disheartened at the prospect of that and also humble.  Like, well, if this is what God wants I will accept it.  But, like many of you, I had other plans!  Mainly living with and loving my family having adventures, using my gifts and skills to help other people grow.  These last few years have been an interesting adventure in cultivating a deeper understanding of the interesting tapestry that is woven from personal choice and God’s will.  Sitting on the floor in tears, I didn’t feel like I had filled the measure of my creation, there was more for me to do.  And not in a self-aggrandizement kind of way, just in a mothering-give-back-to-humanity kind of way.  So I asked God to help me figure out a way to do that, to fill the measure of my creation.   I remember praying to be healed and then over time I changed my prayers to ask for the gift of healing.  Instead of relying on something external to change my circumstance, the gift of healing meant asking God to teach me about this beautiful creation of his (the body) and to help me understand it and how to work with it’s natural tendency to heal.  I think sometimes we think of the gift of healing as something we have and use for other people but in my experience asking for the gift of healing to heal myself has been a different kind of prayer leading to a beautiful journey.  Like any artist, I have found my Heavenly Father to be more than willing to share the intricacies of His creations  with me.  Tune into your inherent strength & divinity, be brave enough to seek it and see what happens!

With love,

Lindsay 2.0

Family Council Quick Start Agenda & Notes

When beginning a new habit it’s important to start small, be consistent and build some incentive into it.  This Family Council Quick Start Agenda covers the basics and allows you to easily begin your first family council meeting this week. Use this agenda until meeting together weekly is an established routine (at least 1 month).

To your spouse you can say “Hey babe, I’d really love your feedback and input on some family stuff and I’d like to have a brief family council meeting.  I’ll take care of the agenda.”  People rarely say no when you ask for their opinion.

To your kids you can say “Hey guys, I want to know what’s going on with you, we’re going to have a quick team meeting after dinner on Sunday.” You may get grumbling but you can smile and offer to let them choose the game.

Expect to hear “How long is this going to take?” from all parties.  Smile and respond with “Not long, and it’ll be fun.”

Print 1 Family Council Quick Start Agenda copy for each member of the family and provide each person with a colorful pen which makes their random doodling all over your painstakingly-prepared agenda look especially nice.  Feel free to review the agenda with notes but if your family sees that many words on a page at your first meeting they may run for cover so tuck it under your copy of the Quick Start Agenda and refer to it as needed.  Start with the gratitude and make sure each person receives some because that sets a tone of love and appreciation for the whole meeting.  Ending with a game leaves everyone feeling like there was at least something fun that came out of it.

In our house my role is to manage our growth and experiences so I create the family council agenda each week.  In the coming weeks I’ll share ideas on how to evolve your agenda as your family acclimates and embraces the meeting.  So much of it is in the presentation and like Ritchie said, when the agenda shows up, we have family council.

Good luck!

Lindsay 2.0

p.s. I welcome your feedback and I’d love to hear how it goes for you!

Gratitude for Resurrection

It is Easter.  I am 35 and it feels like maybe I’m wholly celebrating it for the first time.  I’ve spent the past 2 years seeking to put an autoimmune condition into remission.  In the process of working with healers, both in heaven and earth, to accomplish this seemingly miraculous feat, I have cultivated a deeply affectionate and respectful relationship with my body, this friend of my soul.  I have sought to understand the way it communicates to me, to come to terms with it’s vulnerabilities and utilize it’s incredible strengths.  I have learned how to nourish its different systems and respect the interplay of this intricate work of God.  I have had a front row seat to some of the inherent rebalancing capabilities that are built into it and I have grown to love it in a way that you love an old worn set of scriptures or a favorite book, one that you re-visit many times because it contains more wisdom than you’ll ever glean in a lifetime of study.  You see, this body of mine, it carries both the signature of God and the story of my life, manifesting so much of how I have lived and been treated and what I have chosen to make a part of me, all of it written in the fleshy tables of my heart.

When my spirit is called home, it will still the beating of that heart which has guided me to so much goodness.  It will lay aside this mind which has sought to make sense of my experiences in ways that lead to learning and growth. The eyes that have watched many a sunrise will close and the ears that have heard laughter and birdsong and music will cease to collect sound.  The departure of my soul will quiet the breathe that allows life to flow to all of me. Life will withdraw from these bones which have structured my work and it will leave the muscles which have given strength to my endeavors.  It will leave the arms that have cradled my child and held my spouse and the hands that have opened books, written words, prepared meals, dried tears, planted seeds and pulled weeds.  The legs and feet that have kicked soccer balls, walked the dog and held me firmly to the earth each day will cease to carry me.  Without the atonement, that separation of my soul from my experiences would be permanent.

Inviting myself to make peace with the inevitability of this moment has encouraged my soul and body to weave themselves together to create a life where I don’t waste the moments I spend in this body, I own and cherish them. It is with tear-filled eyes that I consider the gracious redemptive work of the Savior that we commemorate today, wherein He gave me the opportunity to inhabit this body and to choose how to use it to grow and experience living as I seek to glorify and serve Him.  What a blessing that the labor of connecting my soul and body need not be a finite work, but a timeless and eternal one.  Happy Easter.

With love,

Lindsay 2.0

“Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

Elisha

Yesterday as I settled into the news of the terrorist attack in Belgium and felt the fear that comes when people are hurt, this scripture kept coming to mind.  These timeless words were uttered by the prophet Elisha to his servant when they woke up confronted with a seemingly insurmountable opposing force (represented by the tents).  Before taking any action, Elisha prayed that the servant’s eyes would be opened and that he would be able to see that their sincere and brave efforts supporting Israel were augmented by the surrounding horses and chariots of fire.  It was at that point that the real state of things was clarified to at least those two individuals.

Sometimes when disaster strikes or hurt abounds, it can be hard to “see” the hand of God because frequently we want to see Him in protection.  Like Elisha and his servant, we want heaven’s hand to be manifest in the avoidance of pain for innocent people.   It takes practice, patience and earnest seeking of the spirit to learn to see him in the midst of pain, to see Him in moments when resilience is being cultivated.  After yesterday, take a deep breath and acknowledge the fear that you naturally feel because it has the power to transform you, to give you the desire to see things you might not have seen otherwise.  When hurt abounds, as it does now, God can always be “seen” in the healing if that’s what you’re looking and praying for.

After acknowedging any fear or anxiety, try to see this: The signature of the adversary’s work is in fear, division and coercion. On the other hand, the signature of heaven is found in compassion, cohesion, healing and growth.  So find peace in the stories of compassion that begin to emerge, bask in the goodness that flows from people who care.   Find strength in the solidarity of humanity, the vast majority of whom abhor such violent acts.  Watch as wounds, both physical and spiritual, heal through the ministering grace of heaven.  Listen for the stories of people who draw on angelic strength and choose to grow through this hard thing that life offered them.  And hug your babies, your spouse, your parents or yourself, maybe sit in stillness for a few minutes, smile at a neighbor or a fellow driver, recognizing that whenever you choose to love, unify, heal, strengthen and support growth, especially in the midst of fear, you’re in good company “for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

With love,

Lindsay 2.0

This I know. One year later.

Sunrise

A year ago I shared some thoughts with my local congregation and close friends and family after suffering the loss of a briefly held but long-cherished and promised pregnancy.  In my anguish and confusion, I testified of my faith in the love of God and of His patience with my growth and understanding.  In the throes of that grief, tinted with hope, we entered a year where our little family, my body and my spirit have been challenged in ways that have required more of us than I could’ve imagined.  Sustained by a beautiful tapestry of heavenly grace, personal strength and loving support, I can stand here today with a different kind of faith and knowing. There is something about being nearly undone that makes one realize where true sources of strength can be found.  I would like to testify of these true things.

I know that because I chose to follow the Savior in the pre-existence that He has blessed me with a body.  This body is mortal and is subject to all sorts of influences in mortality, some self-imposed and some beyond my control.  Cultivating attunement between my spirit and body has given me beautiful insight regarding my work on earth and the specific things I can learn and offer.  I know that Satan does not have a body and that many of the ways he tries to influence me have to do with the use and care of my body.  I believe if he can thwart, interrupt or distract me from my connection to my body or put my in a position of opposition to my body that He can disrupt a measure of my growth.  I know that whatever gifts I have been given or whatever talents I have cultivated can be used for good, unifying, growth-promoting things or for destructive purposes.  If Satan can offer the primary influence in my life, those gifts, talents and skills are put to use for his destructive and divisive purposes, whereas if I am constantly and humbly seeking to obediently follow the Savior, I am in a position to grow and my growth is multiplied exponentially, along with the peace that I have access to.  I can also serve as a resource to other souls who are seeking growth.

I know that the Savior Jesus Christ is the author of peace which passeth all understanding and that He offers us that peace in the very moments we sincerely chose to follow Him or at the very least hope to believe in Him regardless of where we have been in the moments before.  I know that through His atonement, the ashes that we either find ourselves in or create in our lives can be transformed into unimaginable strength and opportunities for growth. However, the ashes have to be recognized as such in order for the cleansing relief of the atonement to be truly felt.  I know that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price all have powerful and true insights regarding the atonement, the Savior and the ways to integrate those two things into our personal lives.  Through study of the scriptures and my efforts to see the hand of God here on earth, I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of me and each of you.  I know that there is incredible strength that can be derived from our collective faith and our unity.  Like one of my local leaders taught a few weeks ago, I know that the roots of our faith are intertwined and in the midst of fierce storms, the strength that we can draw from each other can literally be life-saving.  I reiterate that I know this.

I know that the strength, goodness and truth that I enjoy today in my life, my home, my chapel and our local temple was set in motion by a 14-year-old boy who was confused and wanted to communicate with Heaven.  I have been in the grove where he offered that first prayer, and I know that Joseph Smith was graced with a view of heaven, particularly of God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, that few people experience in this life.  I know that he received further revelation and that that revelation led to the re-establishment of a beautiful religion with Jesus Christ’s robust doctrine, merciful and insightful answers to mortality’s questions and a clear authority to teach from heaven.  I believe in the power and efficacy of that priesthood authority from Joseph Smith to our prophet Thomas S. Monson today.   I know that my local bishop is a man who receives revelation for our little group of believers here and I am profoundly grateful to be led by someone who seeks the guidance of the Spirit as much as he does.  I testify of the grace and mercy of a God who wants to continually reach out to His people to offer them glimpses of heaven in this life.  It is hard for me that these glimpses aren’t permanent but that they come and go and that there are times of wandering and confusion that naturally result from trying to access heaven from a fallen world but that doesn’t change the veracity of those true moments when we experience them.  These are things I know.  And while the path to this knowledge has been at times seemingly unbearable, I am so grateful for the knowing because that’s why I’m here.

Fixed Worth

I’d like to give a shout out to Brene Brown for her contributions to today’s thought.   Among many life-changing ideas, she writes about the difference between guilt and shame.  Guilt has the potential to be productive, it’s behavior-oriented and capable of inducing change.  Shame is debilitating, soul-crushing and ALWAYS destructive.  Guilt says I made a mistake and I can change.  Shame says I am a mistake and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Although we all pack around far more guilt than necessary, it is important to make sure that it’s guilt we’re carrying as opposed to shame.  This distinction is vital when it comes to matters of the soul.  The adversary relentlessly uses shame to make us doubt our worthiness to approach God, ask forgiveness, change, grow, serve Him and be loved by Him.  This argument, made even easier by our  mortal distance from our Father,  would have us believe that we are not worthy to approach or be seen as we are by God.  Satan works tirelessly to have us to believe this.  Do you?