This Lovely Morning

I’m slow again, so many things needing attention.  And yet… I sit at a desk in my bedroom with the open windows behind me.  A slight breeze flows in, bringing with it the refreshing scent and temperature of morning air.  A woodpecker is hard at work in a nearby tree, doves coo, and a hundred other birds chirp the good news of a new day.  And spring.

On my desk are my scriptures, notebooks, a picture of us at the temple with Emmeline, an old photograph of the interior of the Salt Lake Tabernacle, a few books that represent creative yearnings.  There is a new framed quote, lettered by Lindsay Letters, of the hymn that has stopped me in my tracks for years:

“take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. . . . take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.”

This hymn was sung at my mission farewell.  I am so pleased now to read these words and have that beautiful prayer on repeat in my mind.  This is where I sit each morning to study, reflect, journal, plan, feel.  I do it here, with these reminders.

But today there are lilacs.

A beautiful branch, covered in tiny flowers and gorgeous green leaves, and a scent that fills me with joy.  Lilacs from the bush I planted on the side of the house.

Fresh flowers – in my house – from my own yard.

Just like the ones I delivered last night to some friends (with boxes of lavender shortbread cookies).

This is proof that dreams come true.  It feels so luxurious, like something from a novel.  But it’s real life, and it’s sitting here on my desk to remind me.

I hope I never get over it.

-Jennifer

The Speech I Just Gave to Myself on Mother’s Day

If I could have one wish each May, it would be to gather every woman I know for a beautiful Mother’s day luncheon.  We would visit and eat and laugh and be nourished by good food and better conversation.

And if I could have a few minutes to speak, I would say this:

Each of us has a story.  It’s a powerful story, because it’s the only story just like it in all the world – in all the history of the world, to be exact.  There has never been, and there never will be, another life story exactly like yours.

Collectively our stories explain the perpetuation of the human race.  It is the story of motherhood, from the sweet smell of a newborn to the runny-nosed toddler who marks your pants each day like a growth chart with dirty hands and face.  It continues through the delightful years of childhood and into the uncharted realm of teenagers.  It is the story of daughters looking to their mothers as they step into adulthood, marriage, and motherhood themselves.

It is the story of women who would do anything to be a mother, yet are denied their dearest dream.  The story of women who, for many reasons, choose not to have children.  The story of women who nurse, teach and care for the children of others.  Women who, because of the choices of one party or another, don’t know where their children are, or perhaps even who their children are.  Women who feel like they have no idea what they’re doing.  Women parenting alone.  Women still caring for the basic needs of children who were born decades ago.  Women who buried their child and have wondered ever since, “who am I now?”  Women who grieve for mothers who are no longer here.

The scenarios are as many as we are.  All of them matter.  Each one is part of this collective story of women doing hard things.  Some of us love Mother’s Day; some of us hide from it.  For some, it is salt in a very deep wound.  And for many of us, it’s a reminder that we don’t measure up (to some false standard of perfect mothering).

Today I  say this:

How you tell your story matters.  How you receive another’s story matters.  What you do with these stories, matters.

It matters how we treat people, and how we treat ourselves.  It matters that we forgive.  It matters that we repent.  It matters that we learn.  It matters that we find people to serve.  That we seek truth.  That we understand who we are as daughters of God.  It matters that we reflect light.  That we show up, do good, and overcome.

I have a piece of art that hangs on the wall above my bathroom scale.  That scale and I are not friends; it represents failure to me in a big way.  But I get on the scale anyway because I’m trying to show up, and as I do it I lift my eyes to the message on my wall.  It says, “You are enough.”

Not perfect.  Enough.  And it’s true.  You are enough for Jesus Christ to have offered himself in your place.  Because of the great and merciful plan of happiness, what He did is enough.  You are good enough!

Here is my Mother’s day challenge (I’m preaching to my own heart): Let’s shake off the things that make us shrink instead of stand boldly.  Let’s dismiss Mother’s day as merely a headcount of our children and a recitation of their accomplishments, or as a symbol of what we’re not, and let’s make it about light.  Let’s stand up and stand together and let’s be a light, a light that shines in darkness, a light that reflects the Light of the World, the Light which can never be darkened.

We can do this.  After all, it’s our day, isn’t it?

Right now I wish I could hug you and say, “Thank you for the light you shine into this world.  WE NEED IT.  What will you do to make it brighter?”

All my love,
Jennifer

Collection Quilt: a quilt top finished

The Collection quilt.  What an interesting name! Collecting is the action or process of gathering something.  My quilt top is finished, and stepping back to look at it makes me smile.  I see fabrics gathered over time into my stash now working together in the blocks and also think of life experiences that came while I was stitching them.  In particular, I remember a day when collecting grew in meaning for me.

Collection quilt top

It had been another busy week and I was discouraged.  Would I ever catch up?  Could I please have a do-over?  I love my children dearly and want them to succeed.  Yet it seemed that everywhere I looked I saw parents doing something better than I did, something I’d never even thought of, and I would never be enough.  The thought was heavy.

completed collection quilt top

Then I heard a voice so clearly in my mind that there was no mistaking it.  It simply said this:  “In all the history of the world, there has never been, and will never be, another family exactly like yours.  STOP LOOKING AROUND!  I know what I want your family to be like.  LOOK UP, and let me show you.”

collection quilt, finished quilt top

Such a sermon in those brief sentences!

It invited me to look again at the unique group of people I call my family, and see with new eyes the experiences, lessons, and gifts we’re collecting together.  It was beautiful to look and really see.  I felt new love and gratitude for where we are today.

quilt top on ladder

Quilting reinforces this truth for me.  We each bring something unique to our projects, and regardless of skill, size of stash or fabric budget, time constraints, and design style, we stitch a piece of ourselves into our quilts.  I’m learning in my parenting and my sewing to stop looking around and instead look up.  In doing so, life (and quilting) becomes more beautiful, instructive, nurturing, and joyful.

collection quilt with borders added

The Collection quilt pattern is by Carolyn Friedlander.  I added borders to make it larger.  You can see progress pictures of my sections here, here and here.

Thank you so much for visiting.  I hope you’re looking up today!

Jennifer

 

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