Love is a sacrifice

Marc Chagall (Russian-born French painter, 1887-1985), “Abraham Slaying Isaac.”

We talked about Genesis 22 in Sunday School at church today: a familiar Bible story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. If you grew up in the LDS Church, this lesson is typically the same: you talk about how Abraham waited decades for this son; how God had promised him seed, numbering as great as the sands and stars; how he and Sarah cherished Isaac; how Abraham’s own father tried to sacrifice him when he was young; how Isaac was probably old enough that he was stronger than his father; how the experience is a type of the Atonement and God’s sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all of us.

We touched on that today, then went on to have a different conversation, which I won’t run through, but will instead share a thought I had at the end of class and wanted to put together in a coherent idea. Here goes. I can’t promise it’s totally coherent, though.


Sarah is part of this story, too. The style of the Bible text is minimalistic, played down, and unembellished writing. We’re used to the sensationalized news stories thrown at us over the internet today. Reading the Bible requires a lot of guessing about what goes on that isn’t explicitly shared. Sarah is part of that guessing.

She isn’t mentioned directly in any verse in chapter 22. You might guess some things such as did she know or did they sneak out, if “Abraham rose up early in the morning…”?

But Sarah is mentioned in Chapter 23. She’s the first two verses of that chapter: “And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. and Sarah died in Kirjath-arba… and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”

Keep that thought in mind. Immediately after the record of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac, Sarah dies.

Now to another thought about the LDS belief of what we have to do to be exalted: it takes fulfilling certain requirements. God expects us to earn the highest exaltation. When the disciples asked Jesus what the most important laws or commandments were, what did He say?

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.”

We’re commanded to love.

Love is a sacrifice.

Sarah’s sacrifice was her love: a mother who loved her son.

You have to be vulnerable to love because it is wrought with uncertainty. Will our love be reciprocated? What if those we love choose to hurt us? What if others hurt those we love? What if we lose those we love? What if we can’t help those we love? What if those we loved can’t be helped by anybody?

When we follow the commandments to love God and to love our neighbors, we sacrifice. A lot.

Part of our discussion in the class was to talk about and share personal sacrifices and how they had changed us. I couldn’t think of a good example for my own life. One parent talked about the death of a child. Another talked about an accident that left her son handicapped. Several talked about the sacrifice of time and leaving loved ones in order to serve missions. What could be my example to share?

I didn’t raise my hand, but by the very end of the class, I had thought of this. My sacrifice has been to love. We’ve all sacrificed in this way. It’s brought the greatest heartache, but it’s also brought the greatest joy.


There’s no real forgiveness on the internet

I couldn’t delete all traces of the post I accidentally published late last night (well, technically, early this morning). That’s how the internet rolls. You can’t delete things entirely. No matter how much you pray and cry and confess your sins and try to satisfy the demands of justice by doing anything anything in your power to erase them.

The internet doesn’t care.

I came home late last night from an indoor soccer game and while I was showering, had some ideas for a blog post. Once in bed, I used my phone to jot down what those ideas were. It was filled with typos (thanks autocorrect), and sentence fragments, and incomplete ideas. I told myself I would flesh it out the next day and create a real, legitimate post. The thing is, I don’t compose blog posts on my phone. Ever, really. Phones equate to stupid typos… like “in” instead of “on” and “out” instead of “our”. I hate that I have those errors constantly because I don’t review my phone texts and comments closely before hitting send.

Last night, I wanted to find the spot on my phone where I could click “save draft” for the post. I ended hitting “publish” instead. I’m so tech savvy.

I quickly deleted it from this site.

But then, there’s the auto publicizing that I’ve set up. My typoed post had also gone out to Facebook and Twitter, as well as email. For a moment, my heart paused its beating, but then I figured… oh well. I went and deleted the posts created on Facebook and Twitter.

For those of you who received my email… lucky you?

This is just to tell you that I still know how to spell words correctly; I can write in complete sentences; I can put together coherent ideas; and I didn’t go crazy at 1:00 a.m. last night.

Even if the internet doesn’t forgive, I’m sure you will!

You’ve never done something like this, right?


My 2018 hashtag (better than a list of resolutions)

This year, my hashtag of choice is #becausehappiness. Instead of writing a list of resolutions, I’m going to learn about and share things related to happiness. I like this way of doing things. It works for me.

Granted, for my hashtag last year, #yearofbeautiful, I didn’t put together as many posts as I envisioned in January, but, hey! I made it through the year with it and that’s far better than most resolutions I’ve made.

I’ll go more in depth on my plan for this year below, but first, a brief tangent about resolutions.

Ann Cannon wrote her last Wednesday column for the SLTrib recently. She wrote about resolutions she wrote when she was ten. Ten-year-old Ann wrote a nice, short list:

  1. Be patient.
  2. Don’t talk on the telephone too long.
  3. Be nice to all my friends.
  4. Be a good student.
  5. Don’t show off like …name deleted.
  6. Don’t swear or spit.

Did you record any of your resolutions from when you were a kid? The first list I put down in a journal was when I was 12-years old. It is not a short list. It’s a list that, for some reason, is embarrassing for me to share with others, but whatevs. Here it is… my resolutions for the year 1993 and for my lifetime (because I came up with those, too). The actual journal entry is several pages. I turned it into a much-abbreviated list. You’re welcome.


  1. Read the Book of Mormon.
  2. Play another [piano] piece by [Edward MacDowell].
  3. Practice doing Keorver (sic) methods in [soccer] games.
  4. Write in journal monthly.
  5. Draw 50 Natey cartoons.
  6. Sculpt a head or body.
  7. Complete the Everglades.
  8. Find a penpal.
  9. Complete a photo album.
  10. Complete some Personal Progress thing.

Lifetime (as decided by 12-year-old me):

  1. Play the violin.
  2. Draw blueprints for my own house.
  3. Marry and have kids.
  4. Play piano in concert.
  5. Compose piano song.
  6. Design daughter’s room.
  7. Live to the year 2050.
  8. Have a real garden.
  9. Own a wildcat.
  10. Build a dollhouse.

Interesting lists, huh?

Okay, on to this year’s plan. I dub 2018 my year for #becausehappiness. I created a reading list. I’m really very talented at starting and not finishing books. I’ve given myself permission to substitute or ditch a book once I get into it. Some of these books, I’ve read before (partially or complete), others I only have a vague idea of the content. Have you read any?

I made a #becausehappiness reading list on Amazon if any of these pique your interest.

I also wrote up my little plan in my journal. As the year goes on, I may substitute for a different book. We’ll see how it goes. Today, I started reading Happier, which is a book-version of one of the most popular classes at Harvard. In other words, for January, I’m enrolled in a Harvard class (at a discount!). Anyone want to read it with me?

My #yearofbeautiful summarized

At the beginning of this year, I decided to have a theme instead of creating New Year’s Resolutions. I called it my #yearofbeautiful. This is my summation post of that year, in blogs. As children, work, and life have become busier, I let this blog slip and I didn’t post frequently. However, I feel like the posts I did publish were quality. For me. Whether anyone else found something beautiful in them, I don’t know. If you did, feel free to comment and tell me!

I organized my #yearofbeautiful into three areas: feeling competent, living authentically, and connecting with others.

Here are the highlights of posts and quotes and things I’ve learned this last year.


  1. Daily Habit Tracker
    I spent the month of September bullet journaling. It’s a trend, yo. It was fun. I had pretty pages. I took it with me to a seminar on sex and stress. My notes look cool. I also used it to create a one-page habit tracker for the month. What did I learn? I learned what things I never did once. One of those things? Go to bed by 11:00. … Set reasonable goals, people.

    “Maybe by the end, it will be a gradient going from blank to lots and lots of turquoise. Bring on the turquoise!”


  1. Smothered mother
    I started out by saying I was going to learn more about what it means to be authentic. Based on the number of posts, this was the area I liked learning about the most.

    “Motherhood is beautiful, but there’s more to me than raising two small kids.”

  2. The transcendent mom
    What makes work meaningful? This post grew out of an article by from MIT and I applied it to work as a parent, instead of an office job. I think it worked. It’s a post I could revisit often and remind myself of the meaningful mom job I do.

    “I’m The Mom. I do things. I do transcendent things. I rock.”

  3. 3 ways to live authentically
    Learning to feel accomplished and appreciated as a mom is a struggle. There’s not a regularly-scheduled performance review with my supervisor. This post shared three things I’ve learned that help me to feel like I matter as a mom in the midst of raising little kids: doing something for me, creating the world for my kids, and modeling my life after the life of the Savior. It’s good wisdom from a therapist, my husband, and a friend.

    “…make a good list of things to do where your kids can see you alive. My list includes writing, doodling, and playing the piano.”

  4. Grit
    After posting this, Grandma DeeDee wanted me to know that she learned her grit from her mother. I wrote about the gritty, Carlquist culture. I should have focused more so on the gritty, Rich culture. Sarah Ethel Rich taught my centenarian grandmother her grit. She made my baby blanket. I keep it as a treasure.

    “Understanding both grit and authenticity feels like understanding the entirety of an iceberg to me.”


  1. Family Narrative
    This post is a subject I’ve talked about often with friends; I even shared some of my personal takeaways in the setting of my ward Relief Society class, as a participant. Also, it includes a gif of my son. You can’t go wrong with an animated gif. Didn’t we learn that with Geocities sites in the 90s? I thought so! If you haven’t read any of my thoughts from this year, read this one! Do you know your family narrative? Do you have kids and if so, do they know theirs? Teach them. Learn yours. Be strong because of it.

    “If you want to create strong, lasting family relationships, develop a strong, lasting family narrative.”

  2. “How do you spend most of your time?”
    I am often looking for ways to be better at socializing because it’s not an easy thing for me, although I thrive off of the right social situations (book club, soccer team, game night, etc). This post shared this question, which is a better way to get to know somebody than asking, “So what do you do?”

    “I am awkward. It’s not a feeling. It’s a state. I am in the state of awkward.”

Finally, I’ll finish by quoting my husband who wrote this as a comment on my post at the beginning of this year.

“Who invented the comma splice rule anyway? Certainly not James Joyce, that man did whatever he felt like and got applauded for it; he was like the Florence Foster Jenkins of writing.”

And with that, my #yearofbeautiful is coming to a close.

Will somebody drive to Kamas and buy me some donuts?

I wrote this as an attempt to get a job with a magazine as their humor columnist. I didn’t get the job. It was good times trying, though. Now, you can hear my story. It’s from last summer, up in Park City, so I get to include the video Google made for me from my cell phone media. Enjoy.

The fritter mission: unaccomplished

I couldn’t be interrupted. Not for a poopy diaper. Not for fighting kids. Not for spilled milk. Not for a few minutes. I was on Instagram. You can’t be interrupted when doing that. If you look away for a few seconds, it races you back to the top of your feed. Who designed that user experience?

While my two kiddos bickered and argued about who got to help Daniel Tiger go potty on the Kindle game, I double-tapped on all of my friends’ pictures of their kids. Like. Like. Like.

And then.

And then this delectable picture slid up into my view. Oh. My. Donuts!

I was hungry. Dinner waited for me to put down my phone and begin assembling a Pinterest-inspired Instant Pot Martha Stewart or Paula Deen or Anthony Bourdain or Lion House rolls copycat recipe.

Donuts looked so much better. Especially these donuts. The social media post was spot on: it highlighted the sticky sugar coating on the top of the fritter, with frosted and maple donuts tucked into the corners, and the caption was short and sweet: “The best donuts and hot fritters from the Chevron in small town, USA.”

The fritter filled more than half of the donut box.

Yeah. I could eat that for dinner. I had to go. I clicked on the location tagged in the picture.

These are REALLY from a Chevron?

I could get some donuts with my Techron?

I scanned over the comments on the post and made note of several important details: one person said they went and the donuts were sold out; the fritters are as big as a dinner plate; the locals want to keep it a secret.

The secret was out.

Do you ever fall victim to the mistake of browsing social media when hungry? I am an accomplished dessert-pinner between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon. The location of the donuts was problematic for me. It wasn’t because it was at a Chevron. I’m what you might call a Chevron fan girl. I know. You didn’t think that was a thing. It is. I’m one. My mom is one. It’s that Techron, you see. According to my wise mother: a reputable consumer product ratings magazine declared that Techron was a legit additive that truly did clean your engine when you used it. I often passed gas station after gas station to arrive at a particular Chevron, whip out my blue gas card, and fill ‘er up.

The problem for me was that the Chevron was located in Kamas. Trusty ol’ Google maps informed me that it was a 59 minute drive to purchase the sugary goodness of those small-meteor-sized fritters.

For some people, an hour in the car is their typical one-way commute.

I was once one of those people.

Now, an hour in the car means trouble because my world revolves around the sacred nap.

I’m THAT parent.

Don’t interrupt my toddler’s nap. Do you want to know the last people to knock on my front door during nap time? Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I decided to make the donut trek late in the afternoon after a day at the lake. Donuts post swimming and boating sounds like the best way to refuel. And I could do it while simultaneously fueling my SUV with Techron. Everyone wins.

I was with family at Rockport Reservoir, which, by the way, is a hidden gem on the Weber River, named after the town of Rockport: a town it completely submerged when it was created by the Wanship Dam. (Insert bad joke about being underwater on your mortgage here.) Shortly after lunch on the beach, I loaded up my four-year old and one-year old in my soon-to-need-gas SUV. We took a scenic drive to get there, traveling along Highway 32, through Peoa and Oakley before rolling into Kamas. My toddler fell asleep at the beginning of the drive.

“Let her keep sleeping,” I whisper-commanded my four-year old. He nodded and grabbed the sleep sheep to turn on some white noise. (I buy ALL the sleep products. Because nap time is sacred.)

“There it is, mom,” son announced, pointing not at the distant Chevron we were approaching, but at the red dot on the Google Maps app on my phone.

It was 3:00 in the afternoon. Could there be any donuts left?

We filled the car with Techron, then went inside for donuts.

I looked around for the donut case.

They didn’t have a case.

They had a wall.

A donut-display wall: four doors of five shelves with trays filled with donuts, bars, fritters, bagels, and brownies.

They HAD BEEN filled.

At 3:00 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, only a few brownies remained.

Not a single fritter.

Not one maple bar.

Not even a plain ol’ glazed donut.

“Where are the donuts, mom?” my son asked.

“They’re all gone, buddy.”

I told him I was sorry. I was sorry for myself.

I felt tricked. I’d been caught by a social media phishing scam! I’d seen pictures of donuts. Delicious donuts. Giant donuts. Calories-for-days donuts. Maybe they HAD been a trick! A gimmick! A carefully crafted hook to convince me to drive to the small town, nestled in a nook of the Uinta Mountains. Once there, I’d bought their Techron gas. And I’d used precious nap time to drive there!

It was a long, quiet drive back, without anything frosted in maple. Without anything that rhymes with twitter. Maybe I should stick to thumbing through Twitter before dinner time anyway. I have yet to get swept up in a futile mission to buy donuts while reading through Tweets.

Unless the Kamas Chevron has an account…

Grit and authenticity #yearofbeautiful

The culture of the Carlquists is grit.

Carl Arvid Carlquist was born in Sweden in 1857. He moved to Utah, raised his family here, had a son, Carl, who had a daughter, Edith, and she is my Grandma DeeDee.

I am a Carlquist.

From Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, she says the following. “If you want to be grittier, find a gritty culture and join it.”

Or be born into it. I was born into the gritty, Carlquist culture.

It’s about the team you are on. Duckworth explained further in her book that excelling athletes need talent, hours, and correct practicing to become the best. But they also needed one more thing: they needed to be on a great team.

I tried out for my first competition soccer team when I was in elementary school. I think most of the girls there made the team. It wasn’t very hard to be a girl playing soccer in the late ’80s. I remember my freshman basketball tryouts and how we were running drills and it was packed, getting all of those girls, hoping for maybe 20 spots on the team, to line up together and start sprinting up and down the court. The coach had a lot of people to cut.

Great teams have tryouts. They cut people that won’t excel in their culture.

And the great players that make it, are what make the team great.

The sociologist, Dan Chambliss said it this way: “There’s a hard way to get grit and an easy way. The hard way is to do it by yourself. The easy way is to use conformity–the basic human drive to fit in–because if you’re around a lot of people who are gritty, you’re going to act grittier.”

Now, let me bring this back around to the Carlquists. As I said, Grandma DeeDee is a Carlquist. A few weeks ago, after finishing up a piano lesson with Dom, she started telling me about the recent projects she had finished in her garden and what was next on her list. Then she told me that she has a very specific goal lately: “to have more grit.”

MORE grit.

She’s 99. She has about 20 piano students each week. She puts in hour after hour of hard work in her garden each week. She plays the piano for the children in church. She does the crossword. She hosted a dinner with friends at her home recently and made several wreaths and decorations from flowers she’d picked from her garden and carefully dried. She’s doing all this while she’s going blind and has lost much of her hearing. And she feels crippled by arthritis.

She wants to have more grit.

She exudes grit. I have grown up around her and the Carlquist culture. It’s the grittiest. I have heard family stories of grit and witnessed it myself.

With that said, and with that history of a PART of my family history that is gritty (I have so many examples), here are three ways that I could work to be more gritty, myself:

  1. Have a growth mindset. This one is included in Duckworth’s TED talk and it “is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed… can change with your effort.” Failure doesn’t stop you. Grandma DeeDee calls her backyard the garden of her mistakes. I told her, once, that I’ve had a lot of failures figuring out how to garden. She laughed. She has failures every year. “That plant just doesn’t like that spot,” she said. “So you move it or you pull it out and throw the dead thing away.” You do something different next time.
  2. Pursue your passion. Lots of things I’ve read online have impressed on me that having grit doesn’t just mean that you’re tough. It means that you push through and hold true to your end goal. So you have to have an end goal to begin with. And then, you need to have the passion to get there if you’re going to overcome the potholes on the way. Grandma didn’t marry young. She finished her degree at the University of Utah and went on to Columbia Teacher’s College for her master’s. She lived in New York then went to San Francisco to serve an LDS mission. When she did marry, she was passionate about raising a family, fighting through eight pregnancies where she was sick the entire time. I have had two pregnancies, sick the entire time through both, and it felt eternal to me. With both pregnancies, I reached a point where I hit a wall of depression and unfounded realization that I would feel like this for the rest of my life. I couldn’t convince myself that it was temporary even though I knew it would be gone once the baby was born. I could never imagine doing that eight times. Grandma was passionate about having children. She pursued it and raised bright, talented, loving, and gritty kids.
  3. Authenticity matters. This is the part that brings me to my #yearofbeautiful initiative. How can I live more authentically? How does this tie to grit? Well, let’s imagine that you’re pursuing a goal and you’re determined to stick with it, no matter what. Because grit. But, as you get further along, you realize that your goal does not align with your inner values. Do you then keep your rigid determination to follow through? Do you ignore at what cost you must do that? That doesn’t sound fulfilling for me and I’ve found an article that lists many studies that found that it matters MORE if you can be both persistent, and authentic when creating your goals. From that article, they defined a three-part measure for authenticity: living in accordance with your values and beliefs; staying in touch with the ‘real you’; and not feeling the need to always do what others expect of you. My Grandaddy was in a hospital when my Grandma was younger and taking care of her little kids. He was in a hospital for mental instabilities. And he wasn’t getting out. So Grandma went down there and brought him home, determined to help him and take care of him, in addition to caring for her own small kids and her two step kids. She didn’t care what others thought about her going and doing this. She wanted her husband around. And she believed that she could help and take care of him. And she did. He got better. They worked hard. They raised their family. This story is authentic.

Understanding both grit and authenticity feels like understanding the entirety of an iceberg to me. I have a glimpse of the surface. I haven’t even walked on it yet, let alone, been beneath the icy waters to see the full size of it.

Tell me, please: have you found podcasts, blogs, books, or TED talks that have given you more insight into both grit and authenticity? What are they?


Connecting with others by asking, “How do you spend most of your time?” #yearofbeautiful

I thrive off of connecting with people so a big part of my #yearofbeautiful initiative is doing this better. It’s my third item (of 3) on my list: “I will strengthen my connection with others.”

I find, often (especially since joining the SAHM world), that I don’t know how to ask if a new person works, stays home with kids, or what. Do you tend to fall back on the question… “What do you do?”

And have you always had good responses to that question?

Here’s how my conversation sometimes goes down (and down and down, depending):

“Hey, new person,” I say. “So, what do you do?”

New woman stares at me. She stares at her feet.

I am awkward. It’s not a feeling. It’s a state. I am in the state of awkward.

It’s like that time I asked a coworker if he was feeling okay and he was and then he wanted to know why I thought he was sick.

New person finally answers. “Well,” she says, “I’m just…”

And there it is.

The “JUST”.

She’s just doing something that she doesn’t think will impress me. She’s just at home. She’s just working a lot. She’s just putting her kids in daycare. She’s just home cleaning up toys. She’s just in school. She’s just trying to find a job. She’s just not in school without a job. She’s just homeschooling. She’s just on the school board, running her own business, and driving her high-achieving kids to all of their activities.

Back in the day–before I had kiddos, before I met my husband, before I had a titanium toe–I listened to an audio book. I would go on audio-book kicks, see. I’d check them out from the library and then, while driving to and from work, it was me and the audio book. I always picked nonfiction. It was a great way to learn tidbits about new things. I learned about Yellowstone, Buddhism, Outliers, and being “normal” in social situations, from the book, How to Talk to Anyone.

I wonder how well I learned that last one. (Me and my awkward states of being.)

In that book, there was a section that talked about saying something different, something better, than “So what do you do?”


I blame children.

Memory… post babies… what’s that?

I kept thinking that I would need to revisit that audio book to recall what I should say to people. But then… this week, guess what I found?


I know. I’m shouting.

But guess what? Some kind soul summarized the points from this book and made it visually appealing. Three cheers for that YouTube great. Woot woot woot.

After all of these years, I finally have the “better” question to ask.

Ready for it?

Here it is. (In case you didn’t already realize that IT’S IN THE POST TITLE.)

“How do you spend most of your time?”

Want to know how I would answer?

I spend most of my time doing so many things, from potty training my daughter, to pushing my son on the big ol’ backyard tree swing, to filming them both perform their bedtime ballet tonight, to throwing dinner in the crockpot in the morning so it was waiting when we came home from piano followed by a gym class, to helping put kids to bed, to ending the night with writing work and watching some random TV show.

What about you?

How do you spend most of your time?