Memorial Thoughts

At some point this weekend, Claire popped her head around the corner of my bathroom door and asked, “Mom, what’s Memorial Day about again?” I answered her before I realized she wasn’t really asking; she was reminding me. “Right, so we’re going to put flowers on Ellery’s grave?”

Right. She remembers every year. Maybe it’s because of Claire’s nudging or because I just added their birth story as its own page here on my blog, but, for whatever reason, I was more eager than usual this year to make the short trip out to the cemetery. Sometimes I forget to think about that tall white marble stone etched with the prettiest name I’ve ever put together; I hate for people to worry that I’m not healed or moving on with the beautiful life He’s given after our loss.

I remember visiting cemeteries with my great-grandmother and feeling a special sacredness about the whole thing – as well as some trepidation. (This particular grandmother got after us for walking across where the bodies were buried . . . is that standard?) I don’t think I’ve instilled that same sense of awe very well, but I did ask the kids as we piled out of the van with our beach bucket full of garden roses to please be respectful.

They did a great job. Granny Grubbs would have been sure the stone was going to fall over and crush one of them while they hugged it, and posed around it, and traced it’s script words: Ellery Blythe White – Our Glory Baby. But it worked for us. Maybe someday we’ll plant some purple petunias or add a smooth rock garden, but for now our simple offering will do. We didn’t stay long, but we remembered.

From Oprah

This is from a transcript of Oprah’s finale show on Wednesday. I didn’t get to see it because we had bad weather in our area and the entire show time was taken up with weather people tracking storms (at least, according to my recording). Bummer. But I love this advice; I think it speaks to the Rare Rocks attitude well. Enjoy and look up the rest here if you are interested. By the way, I thought she looked lovely in her pale peach dress.

You let me into your homes to talk to you every day. This is what you allowed me to do, and I thank you for that. But what I want you to know as this show ends: Each one of you has your own platform. Do not let the trappings here fool you. Mine is a stage in a studio, yours is wherever you are with your own reach, however small or however large that reach is. Maybe it’s 20 people, maybe it’s 30 people, 40 people, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your classmates, your classroom, your co-workers. Wherever you are, that is your platform, your stage, your circle of influence. That is your talk show, and that is where your power lies. In every way, in every day, you are showing people exactly who you are. You’re letting your life speak for you. And when you do that, you will receive in direct proportion to how you give in whatever platform you have.

M O S A I C Project

Dan’s M O S A I C Project is posting later today. The challenge was simple: do something creative and share it with the group. I wanted to do something outside of my usual repertoire – such as writing poetry or an essay – and instead combined my love for gardening and my recent interest in photography. These roses are from my front garden. I arranged them in a Ball jar and set them on the small bench I inherited from my Grandma Nickerson. This view is from above.

Full Circle

This weekend Macy and I were lucky enough to borrow Mom’s van, pick up my sister and her son Jake, and make a quick road trip to Omaha to celebrate my brother-in-law’s engagement. He had engineered a sweet day that culminated in an after-party of sorts in the fabulous downtown area.

It was a 5-6 hour trip one way, but the kids entertained each other and Serenity and I chatted. There’s rarely enough time for that – as my other sister, Charity, describes well in her Mundane Monday post this week here. Sister time as a bonus, it was a gift to be able to show my support for the newly engaged couple in a tangible way, even if it has cost me some sleep and some work time.

What is more important than celebrating the commitment of two people I love to each other? I’m a big fan of marriage. I think it is quite possibly one of the most beautiful and mysterious sacraments in our modern world. Two people who come from different families, different schools, and different genders realize that despite what it might cost them, they desire full-time, full-hearted, signed by the government and blessed by the Church kind of commitment. I like it.

Still fighting some of the travel fatigue this afternoon (hey- give me a break; I’m not 20 anymore!), my uncle stopped by my office and gave me the search terms for a YouTube video he wanted me to see. It was the perfect full-circle moment to my weekend adventure. The video is a production of a speech made under these circumstances:

After his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Columbia Bible College and Seminary President Robertson McQuilkin found himself torn between two commitments, two divine callings.

to Dance

I am a dancer. I believe that we learn by practice.  Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living…. In each it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit.  One becomes in some area an athlete of God.  ~Martha Graham, c.1953

Saturday we celebrated our beloved Dance Recital. I have told the girls’ teachers before that we really don’t care about the quality of the program – as parents, we just want to see our kid get a few minutes on the stage in exchange for the many hours they’ve spent in the dance studio in the back hallway. We want to see them kick up their heels or sah-shay or whatever it is that they do.

But sometimes, even when our expectations are low, they take our breath away. We don’t know why because it usually isn’t the precision of their movements or the grace with which they turn. It is mostly that they are there trying and to us it is beautiful.

Macy was part of her first recital this year. To see her tiny eyes glued to her teachers and then see her legs and arms straining to match them pose for pose was priceless. So much effort from her produced pure joy in me.

Ada seems to be growing inches every week and, no exaggeration, just last week she knocked her feet out from under herself from a still and upright position. I have never laughed harder at a crying child. And yet on that stage she has some kind of magic. Clumsiness disappears. Sometimes when I look at that girl I feel like I’m watching the beginning of something so special I don’t have words to describe it.

Claire. I don’t need to say much more if you are a regular here. Claire is our miracle girl – a preemie with a very uncertain future. She surprises us everyday. But our hearts also break because of the physical limitations of her body. Just months ago she had surgery to lengthen the muscles and tendons on her left leg. Her left arm is uncooperative and stiff. But Claire loves to dance. She had one move, an arabesque I think, that she was quite proud of. I noticed her smile when she got it right. The rest of the time you could tell her mind knew just what to do even though her body wasn’t obeying.

But she never looked frustrated. She smiled and jumped a little faster to catch up or flipped her head as if to say, ah, maybe I’ll get that one next time. And we cried because she is so brave. So much braver than we are.

These are lessons I learn while I watch them learning to dance.

Something Beautiful

You know how you read things once in awhile and get this feeling that it is more important to your life, maybe to your soul, than even you can put into words?

Well, that happened to me once when I was reading a feature story in Radiant magazine about a young woman who worked in India. She helped start a company there called Sari Bari that provides employment for women who want to escape the prostitution business (or sex slavery). The employees at Sari Bari learn an artisanal trade by recycling old saris into bags, scarves, blankets, and other accessories and selling them. I was moved by the story because it seemed like such a simple, relational model for changing the world. Sure, one little corner maybe, but change just the same.

You can read more about Sari Bari on their website. I bought a bag from them this winter as a gift and it arrived quickly and in perfect condition. This is the description of their mission from their homepage:

Sari Bari is a business. Our mission is to offer freedom to women who are trapped in the sex trade and to provide opportunity to women who are vulnerable to trafficking. We do this by providing employment in a safe, loving environment, where women are trained as artisans. The women create beautiful, sustainable, handmade products, while making their lives new. We invite you to journey into the freedom story of one woman with your purchase.

When I first read about the young woman who had moved to India to be part of this kind of community, it opened my eyes and my heart to the way one person can make a difference in a beautiful way. Of course we know that her story also included homesickness and discomfort and culture shock and sacrifice, but those are all part of beautiful stories.

That article felt important to my soul because I knew there was something like that in me – a beautiful, useful contribution to the world. And there’s something like that in you. Until we know exactly what it is for ourselves, let’s take the opportunity to celebrate and support those who do know and have acted. Big social justice issues like human trafficking and slavery can kind of get lost in the big corporation blob for me; a small group such as Sari Bari gives me a place to connect in a more relational and personal way.


This week Sari Bari is hosting an auction for two exquisite bed coverings. If you are interested, have a look here. Or click over to their website and buy something beautiful for someone special (or at least read some of the inspiring freedom stories). Maybe something in this beautiful story will inspire beautiful you!


UPDATE 5/15: The auction is closed. Sari Bari raised $900 toward their computers and other office needs!