Sunday, June 23, 2013

an offering.

“Behind every flinch is a fear or an anxiety - sometimes rational, sometimes not. Without the fear, there is no flinch. But wiping out the fear isn't what's important - facing it is.” 

a few nights ago, i had a dream.

the fact that i can still remember it in detail is nothing short of miraculous.  i've been so sleep-deprived lately that the second my eyes hit the pillow i'm out and don't recall a thing that goes on between the hours of being still and when my eyes are forced awake by my children and daylight.  with this one, i could almost hear my subconscious whispering to me that there was an actual point of it, and i needed to focus and find its significance.

it was the same scene, over and over again.  i was walking down a dark street with two loved ones who continually changed throughout the dream, but each time i felt comforted by their presence.  we turned toward a small building, climbed a few stairs, and i unlocked the door.  i can still hear the keys jingling as i type.  inside was a small, dark foyer, with a short hallway that led to another door, obviously to another person's apartment.  to the left was a long staircase, leading up to where i knew the door to my apartment would be.

at first glance the dark foyer looked empty, but when i began to walk toward the stairs, i saw movement come out of the shadows of the small hallway on the right.  it was a grey wolf, lean with hunger, its shoulder blades protruding as it steadily walked toward me, yellow eyes glowing and never leaving my face, its mouth open in a snarl.

i was terrified.  and so, it seemed, were the two with me.  we ran screaming from the building, slamming the door behind us just as the wolf lunged for the doorknob.

suddenly i was transported back to the beginning on the street, walking again toward the apartment building.  this time i knew the wolf was there waiting for me.

each time i relived the scene in my dream, i would try something new.  i'd pick up a stick along the way before i reached for my keys to open the door, prepared for a fight.  or make a break for it and run for the stairs as fast as i could to escape the wolf.  the scene would play out to just before the wolf could catch and devour me, then it would immediately cut, and start over again.

each time, i was abandoned by the two people accompanying me, fleeing out the door to leave me to my own devices.  sometimes they were friends, sometimes they were family members, sometimes they were ben and another, sometimes they were my own children.  i changed roles; cowering to be protected, then wrapping my arms around to be the protector, then searching for an ally to team with me.   the emotions i felt with the scene vacillated depending upon who i was with, but there were two that remained constant, regardless of the changing details:

fear, and panic.

have you ever been able to watch other parts of your dream continue, even though you're not physically there, like you're watching a movie and you've just become a character in it?

as the dream went along, i could see myself and the two people with me enter the apartment building, then see them run screaming out of the front door, leaving me standing inside.  they would scream all the way down the front steps, stop, turn around, and silently wait.

without my character in the dream knowing, i realized they were part of a plan--a test, for me.  they walked through the door knowing the wolf was there waiting.  they also knew the wolf was actually someone in disguise.  in fact, it was someone i loved deeply.

i didn't know this, however, and became increasingly frustrated as time and again i found myself back out on the dark street, approaching what seemed to be my apparent doom with the wolf.  i couldn't find a way out of the puzzle and started to suspect, even while still in the dream, that there was a lesson i was supposed to be learning.  a way out of the repetitive.

after opening the door time and again, finally something clicked and i knew what i needed to do.

i walked up the stairs, this time with one of my nieces on one side and a nephew on the other.  my hand trembled as i turned the keys.  the door creaked as it opened, spilling a small patch of light from the street lamp outside onto the dark floor.  as i took a step inside, i told my niece and nephew they needed to leave, i needed to do this alone.  they silently turned and walked out the door.

i was so afraid that my breathing became shallow, my heart beating so loudly i could feel the pulse in my head.  i took another step toward the darkness where i knew the wolf was waiting for me, my legs shaking as i walked.  i could hear the sound of the its paws scraping lightly on the floor and the low growl from its chest as it approached.  two yellow eyes were only a foot away from me, staring.  i wanted to scream, run, or do something besides stand there, but i couldn't.  i was paralyzed in fear, knowing it was going to kill me.

the wolf opened its mouth again in a snarl, and leaned back into its hind legs as if it were preparing to spring.  i winced, but my feet did not budge.  instead, i slowly raised a trembling arm up toward its open mouth.  it was not done as a surrender, it was an offering.  i knew i was going to face pain like i had never experienced before, and as terrified as i was of it, i knew i needed to lean into it instead of run away or try to fight it.  i knew there was no other way.

the wolf looked at me one more time before focusing its gaze on my extended arm, widening its mouth and chomping down.  in the dream, i screamed.

as it bit me, the wolf's form suddenly changed.  the hair on its body disappeared, turning to peach colored flesh.  paws became hands and feet, legs and arms lengthened.  and a human face began to appear while still sinking its teeth into my arm.

i realized as i watched this transformation happen that i couldn't feel pain.  i gasped as i began to recognize who had been disguising themselves as the wolf.  the lights in the apartment foyer turned on, and all around me i heard applause and cheering.  i looked around and saw my loved ones there with me, smiling at me as they clapped.

once the wolf was completely gone, the person stood and embraced me, wrapping their arms tightly as they said softly in my ears, "you did it!  i knew you could.  i'm so proud of you."  i smiled and leaned into them, hugging them back.

i had passed the test.

then, i woke up.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


there was a time in my life when, admittedly, i did not let myself think ahead to this day.  there was too much fear wrapped around it, and too much unknowing of what the future held in store for him.  it was a milestone like watching a first step being taken, and giving a kiss and a wave as i watched him march toward kindergarten, and seeing the gap in his smile after losing a first tooth, and all of those moments in between and after that i could not mentally or emotionally let myself believe would come to my fragile and sick baby, just in case they didn't.

but eight years later, just like those other milestones, this one came.  and we were surrounded with love, tears, and another glimpse of God demonstrating to us again just how special this boy is, because He was in the moments that made the day so beautiful.

God was there in the quiet silence and then swish of the water as it enveloped caleb's small body,  He was there in the hugs between a boy and his two parents as he dried off and dressed in his new suit and tie, and He was there in the confirmation blessing given by this boy's father, with words to bestow upon him a Gift, and to remind caleb again of his strength to not only overcome, but to be made a leader for good and holy purposes, if he chose it.  He was there in the song softly sung by caleb's little sister and grandma,  testifying of the piece of divinity that lies within him, the thread that can never be broken, because he is a Child of God.  He was there in the tears in caleb's grandpa's eyes and the promises spoken by the primary president and member of the bishopric.  He was there in the presence and hugs of loved ones who came from near and far to be there for this milestone.

 and God was there in another piece of this mother's healed heart.

these moments used to be stolen from me by fear, consumed with apprehension and what if's, but they no longer are.  as i watched my son reach the milestone of getting baptized, that fear was again replaced with intense gratitude and a love so remarkable that i felt as if i was being washed over with it from head to toe.

when caleb was cleansed, so again, was i.

it was a beautiful day.


Sunday, June 2, 2013


this week has been a tough one, in many different ways.  and though there has been beauty and God and love so thick i could almost taste it intricately woven in between the tough, i can very easily say i am drained.  hopeful, but drained.

this morning i found myself two hours before church sitting on the floor of june's room, crying into a pillow to muffle the sobs that came from somewhere deep down in the depths.  it was a mixture of overwhelming exhaustion, frustration, and extreme sadness.   i didn't know how to button up the emotion so i could continue functioning through my sunday morning, and even if i had known how, it would have been taking steps backward from where i have learned to push through.  express, don't repress.  isn't that how the saying goes?

so i sat there letting the tears slide down my face, praying as i cried into the dark teal of the pillow and the white canvas of the ikea chair.  please carry me, i said silently.  i know things could be harder, but right now, this feels like too much.  

my kids were in my bedroom that i had left minutes before, but i heard june's mama!  mom?  mo-ooooommmm! coming closer.  ben intervened before she made it to the door i was closed behind.  mom's sleeping, i heard him say.  she'll wake up in a minute, okay?  i heard june's soft okay,  and knew that ben knew where i was and what i was doing.  he was explaining something that june could understand, so she would give me space and time to recover.

i did recover, finally releasing all of the tears and unleashing all of the frustration until i felt ready to face the world again.  a hot shower relaxed sore muscles, and i worked on getting ready for church with my family.  the rest of the day i have felt like i have been carried, and peace has come into my overwhelmed heart.

there is so much i want to write, but i have to hold back because it was not my pain that produced the tears, it was another's whose suffering has been so acute.  it feels mean just typing that, because i can't really go into details about this week, only to say a few random things.

this:  abuse, in all of its many forms, is so ugly.  when it happens to a child the ugly is magnified and compounded, put upon innocence that is too young to be able to comprehend and fully heal from the dark, twisted, and truly evil of the world.  sometimes just the knowledge of the burden that is placed upon abused children can overwhelm my spirit to the point that it feels so heavy it aches.

this:  i bear my testimony, again, about therapy.  finding a good therapist is a gift straight from God, one who can be the vessel to crack the thick, sometimes bullet-proof shell that has been built for years to protect from the ugly and twisted.  when the shell is cracked, it can feel like the soul and spirit are going to crack right along with it.  but i promise, it does get better.

this:  i am so grateful for those who are willing to be vulnerable, to share their pain with the world  unselfishly and without the need for validation, but in the way that others can learn from it, and not feel so alone.  i listened to a beautiful girl speak into a microphone today, doing just this.  vulnerability takes courage and true humility.  she touched my heart as she cried and spoke Truth to those who were open to hear it.

this:  we are officially insane, because we are moving again.  only one street over, in the exact same model as the house that had mold in it, only my fingers and asthmatic lungs are crossed that this one is as mold-free as it looks.  july 1st is our move-in date, so this little therapeutic internet space may be neglected more so than it already is.  or maybe it will be my outlet, saving me from drowning amid boxes and packing tape?

this:  caleb is getting baptized this coming saturday morning.  i'm hoping i can get my act together  in between packing to make it a special day, because it feels so special to both ben and i.  we love our first and only boy so much, with his sweet heart and strong spirit.

this:  ben is one of the most amazing men i have ever known.  and i am not saying this because i am his wife, because others feel this way who are not his wife.  he continues to astound me and i thank God i was somehow chosen to have the privilege of knowing intimately just how incredible he is, walking through life to watch his courage and unselfishness continue with all he is carrying.

this:  music heals me in the same way the written word does.  much more so than chocolate ever has.

this:  we are surrounded by good people.  i have not been feeling well this week, and had friends reach out to let me know they cared.  ben's uncle pat passed away yesterday, and we were stranded without a baby-sitter while i was in phoenix and ben was trying to be with his aunt and lend his support.  after some phone calls and texts, friends and ward members rallied around to help where we needed it.  our kids were happy and fed and sad for us to pick them up.  living away from family is so hard during times like this, unless you can find yourself living among others who are examples of selflessness and kindness.  we are so grateful.