Monday, February 24, 2014

Hard Isn't Bad

So I have some questions for ya.
Get ready to think and also to type.

First, a little background:

Around Christmastime this past year I went home to Mesa. I was still a pretty broken-hearted person. To be perfectly honest, it took me three months to start feeling fairly normal again—not the same, but more normal. While in Arizona I spent an hour or two with Greg in the home of Jenny, my Denton mom and also a very good friend. Something she said struck a chord with me, and I’ve thought about it often since then.

“Hard isn’t bad.  It’s just hard.” 

I believe this with all of my heart. Difficult things are not inherently terrible things. In fact, I would think it’s totally accurate to say that our greatest difficulties have the potential to encompass and engender our greatest blessings, our greatest triumphs, and even our greatest happinesses (and yes, I just made happiness a plural).
This is what Neal A. Maxwell said about challenges: “If, indeed, the things allotted to each of us have been divinely customized according to our ability and capacity, then for us to seek to wrench ourselves free of our schooling circumstances could be to tear ourselves away from carefully matched opportunities. To rant and to rail could be to go against divine wisdom, wisdom in which we may have once concurred before we came here. God knew beforehand each of our coefficients for coping and contributing and has so ordered our lives.”

I hope I’m not the only one who had to read this like seventeen times before I understood it. Thanks to the lovely Christine for sharing this quote with me, I love it.

I like what he says about concurring—agreeing with God. Can you picture yourself in the time before you came here, sitting down with a Father and saying “Yes, I will try to do that. Yes, if that’s what you need me to do, I will do it.” I’ve felt strongly before that this has happened to me, but I’ve never heard anybody else actually endorse this mindset.

Let’s be honest about all of this, though. Even though Hard isn’t Bad…it is Hard. All of us will probably wish that we didn’t have to go through our Hard things.

But we do have to go through them. So where does that leave us? I’m not exactly sure, but all of these musings on Hard have left me with some questions. Questions I’m really interested to see your answers to, even very tentative answers. One of the reasons I’m interested in people’s perspectives on this is because I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately about infertility and miscarriage, and I’m trying to clarify what some of my themes are.

Get your thinking cap on, people.
Here are some things I’ve been wondering:

If hard isn’t bad, do you ever associate Hard with being inherently good?

Just because hard isn’t bad, does that make it “better” than something that’s easy?

If you have a situation where you can pick to do the easy thing or pick to do the hard thing, which do you pick? Why is that your inclination to pick that?

What do you think God expects us to pick? Do you think He ever allows us to choose? Why or why not?

Is it noble or at least note-worthy to pick to do the hard thing, or is it more noble or note-worthy to try to understand how the thing that you are doing is not as hard as you originally thought?

Christ said “Take my yoke upon you…For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I always thought this meant that if we strengthened our faith, even our most challenging trials could become easier, and even “easy” to bear. Does God give us hard things so that we can learn to handle those things like they are easy? Or are some things always going to be hard? What exactly is the definition of “easy” in this scripture?

Can love be hard? Is it supposed to be hard?  Is it supposed to be easy?

Is hope hard? Is it supposed to be hard? Is it supposed to be easy?

If our trials are “divinely customized” and “carefully matched” to us, do you think sometimes God gives us trials, on purpose, that are the hardest for us to bear? Or the easiest for us to bear?

The more I think about these things, the more I wonder if there are ever any solid answers. That being said, I do believe that our lives are going to be measured in large part by the deliberate choices we make when we are confronted with “Hard.”

So now, let me know your thoughts. I’ve never written this blog in order to generate a lot of comments. Sure, comments are nice. Some things people have related to me on this little blog have changed my perspective, or made me feel loved, or helped me to cope. And I really like that, and I appreciate it. But I’ve never been really super concerned with comments, if that makes sense.

Today, I’m asking for comments.  I really want to hear what everyone thinks.

Seriously. I’m talking to you.

Thanks. Peace and Word.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Fam is Famous

Greg and I had a really great President's Day weekend. We spent a good portion of it at a cabin in Island Park, Idaho, with his parents and sisters, watching the Olympics and generally being lazy. This is Island Park in the winter, in case you are curious:

Then on Tuesday we found ourselves in Rexburg listening to BYU-I devotional.

Not just any devotional, mind you. Greg's dad Steve had been asked to give the devotional. He is the Career Service Coordinator and also in a Stake Presidency in a singles ward on campus. He spoke about the need for organized religion and the blessing it is to have order when it comes to spiritual things. His lecture was really thought-provoking, and also beautifully delivered. If you want to listen to it, you can go here to get the MP3 version. Also it is being broadcast on BYU TV on Sunday, March 2, at 2 I believe.

I thought that we would just be sitting in the crowd listening, but they actually had our family sit on the stand. Those lights are BRIGHT, people.

Most of the time, though, I was sitting in the darkness listening to Steve's thoughts. And I'm glad it was dark. I had a neat experience that I feel like I should share.

Lately I've been feeling out of whack. I'm busy enough that I'm reasonably happy. At the end of January, we found out that I don't have to be tested for cancer and my ovaries are no longer dangerously enlarged--so, you know, that's good. I guess I can't quite articulate how I've been feeling. I think I am a little unsure of myself and what comes next. It's been hard because I don't know how to blog or talk to people about it. I got a book in the mail that describes it best. The book is called Tear Soup and I have no idea who sent it to me, but thank you. The book says that most people around you will be able to tolerate your grief for about one month, and then they will expect you to be "over" it. While Greg and I have had so many incredible people supporting us, I have felt a little bit like maybe I should stop talking about it. I've blogged about it a few times, but I've always taken the posts down because I'm afraid no one wants to hear about it anymore. But it definitely isn't over for us. And sometimes I think that even though time has healed us so much, there are things that are just compounded now. We've been told that I'm healthy enough to try and get pregnant again, but I can't shake the feeling that it's all just incredibly pointless. And also--I'm so frightened of being pregnant again. Every day will be scary. And then I wonder if wanting another child is somehow not fair to those two little children I already have.

So I guess I'm just a tiny bit lost.

But I was sitting there on the stand, and I was thinking of my sons. I was remembering how it felt to be with them. Thinking that they will never be counted and not often remembered by anyone else, but they will always mean to much to me.

And as I sat there, I felt a tiny bit of peace. Not a big feeling, just a little one. But it was enough. I thought, Heather, you are in the right spot. You're doing the right things. Aren't you glad that any distress in your life is caused by this incredible blessing? Aren't you glad that the things that cause you worry don't have anything to do with things you are doing wrong? You're doing okay.

So I sat there in the dark on the stage and held Greg's hand and just kind of cried a little and felt a tiny bit better.

I always wanted this blog to be a place people could turn to so that they know they're not alone. I always wanted do document the things Greg and I have been through, not because our experience is inherently note-worthy, but rather so that maybe someone somewhere can have a better idea of what it's like. I guess what I'm trying to say now is that even in the difficult moments, God is aware of us. There might be days when you think "This would be a really good day for God to fix all my problems." And He may not do it, but you can still survive, and even be happy.

The biggest events in our lives don't happen, and then are over. They become a part of us. I think it is up to us to decide what parts of us they will become, and when everything is said and done, who we want to be.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dinner FAIL

So, to preface this, I'll begin by saying that I really like to cook.  I don't know if I'm a great cook, but hey, I LIKE it, and that's got to count for something, right?

No matter how much you like to cook, sometimes things just take a turn for the worse.  Or, in this case, maybe like seven turns for the worse.

Greg and I were dinking around this afternoon after we were done with homework, trying to decide what to have for dinner.

Me: Greg, just pick something! I'll make whatever you want.

Greg: I don't care.  Make whatever YOU want.

Me: Okay, we're having baked potatoes.

Greg: (Silence).  I don't WANT that.

After about 45 minutes of this, I started flipping through a cookbook.  Because some people get inspiration from cookbooks, you know? And maybe I could be one of those people.

And then I saw it.  The perfect recipe.  Fettuccine alla Carbonara. Basically white sauce with bacon in it. Hey, that's my favorite pasta at Pizza Pie Cafe!  And I even have all the ingredients!  Let's do it!

On weekends, Greg so obligingly helps with dinner (sometimes).  His chore today: cook the bacon.  Usually he's very good at cooking bacon.  Because he really likes bacon.

That was the first FAIL.

Me: did this happen?

Greg: I have no idea.  One second, it was fine.  The next second...dead.

Well, you can't blame Greg.  Because I didn't do much better.

The recipe said you had to time cooking the noodles with finishing the sauce, so that you could just pour the sauce immediately over noodles.  I didn't have fettuccine on hand, but I can use garden spirals, right? Yeah, all pasta tastes the same. So I was doing great...had my pasta almost cooked, got the sauce on the stove. The recipe said DO NOT BOIL the sauce, which was made of milk and eggs.  I've made a few cream pies before--enough to know there was a danger of cooking the eggs too fast and getting little cooked egg pieces and stuff like that.  So, hey, I've cooked cream pie.  How hard can this be? So I very obediently sat there gently stirring my sauce over medium heat.  It was supposed to take six minutes until the sauce coated the spoon.

But after like three minutes, the sauce started boiling. What the heck?  Stop that!  What do you do if you don't go the full six minutes?? Is this sauce "coating a metal spoon"? What does that even mean, anyway?!? And my pasta isn't done yet!!

The sauce ended up looking like this.  I'm not sure the picture does it justice:

Yucky and curdled. Basically chunky milk with a bad egg smell.

I have no idea how it tasted, because neither Greg or I had the courage to eat it.

Good thing I have some of this on hand:

I threw in the torched bacon for good measure.  Because bacon is bacon, you know?

Bad idea.

This picture doesn't do it justice either, but it was weird.  Charcoal bacon in red sauce is weird.

Greg's running commentary at dinner: Are we going to end up at Chick-fil-A?  What are these squirelly chunks in here?  Is that the bacon?  Did you put in the bacon? It looks like it's covered in...blood. That's what it is, covered in blood.  Can we please go to Wendy's?  I'm still going to be hungry after this.  No offense, babe, but this is probably the worst meal you've ever cooked the whole time I've been married to you.

Yeah.  He said that. I'm going to take that to mean that most of the meals I cook are DE-LISH.

Good thing I've learned to laugh at myself because that's what I was doing.  Laughing, and NOT EATING.

Greg: Hey.  You know what?  The corn is good.

Yes, I CAN warm up corn from a can, people.

Thank you, thank you.  No applause, please.