On the first Sunday of every month in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a.k.a. LDS or “Mormon”) the theme of the day is Fast & Testimony. Members are encouraged to fast for 1-3 meals as your health permits and to donate the cost of those meals to the church which then distributes the funds to those in need. We (the members) are also encouraged to come up to the stand and bear testimony over the pulpit to the rest of the congregation. It’s supposed to be really spiritual and to help you strengthen your own testimony, but often what happens is something else.
Some of us have dubbed Fast Sunday as Open Mic Sunday. This is when people get up and give their thank-a-monies (how they’re just SO THANKFUL for their laundry list of blessings, etc.), or their travel-monies (in which we are treated to a retelling of a recent trip). Sometimes we’ll get an organ recital (detailed description of health problems), a life history (some of those older folks can be long-winded!), and though politics at church is taboo, there will be plenty of stump speeches in the fall. Usually there’ll be at least one Job’s Doppleganger (the person who’s got so many trials you’re amazed they haven’t jumped in front of a truck, yet), a few kids that barely know their names but somehow know the church is true, 2-3 guys calling you to repentance, and my personal favorite: the podium as confessional-mony.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I realize sometimes you want to give a little back story as to how you’ve come to Jesus. But let’s not lose sight of why these meetings exist: to strengthen and nourish our spirits. So let’s get going with the Reader’s Digest version. Edit for content. Leave out the TMI, the travelogue, and the things only the bishop needs to know. Tell me what you know, not what (you think) makes you sound like the next prophet, and if you have a story you want to share then give us something like “I have a really neat story that goes with this, but what I really want to say is….”
I say these things in the spirit of brevity, Amen.
I like labels. They help me sort, identify, organize things. I feel _____ today. I don’t know what this is. It’s not necessarily bad, neither is it good. It just… is. I think this might be what normal feels like? I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I wish I knew though, because I feel like doing something, but my brain won’t tell me what.
Today was not a good day. Neither yesterday.
I think a lot about these bad days. Why do I have them? What brings it on? Was there a trigger?
I thought a lot about the last time I had a bad few days. It was about a month ago.
And the month before that.
And again, the month before that.
(Do you see where I am going?)
*WARNING!! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!! TMI AHEAD!!!*
Most women are intimately familiar with their cycles. I am not. I avoid having a cycle like the plague. God’s gift to women is the Mirena IUD, which causes one to have basically non-existent periods.
Mother Nature though, she makes damn sure I remember her gift whether I want to or not.
Don’t ignore me! I’m worth taking a look at!
These are things I hear in my head when I’m driving. I’ll notice a patch of sunflowers, a decaying cornfield, cows, the detritus of life; and usually I’m driving too fast to listen to that voice. Except last night.
Every day, M-Th, I take a pretty scenic route to the Villagers school. One of the things I pass is this little hole-in-the-wall dive bar called Finley’s. It looks no bigger than my living room, but is extremely charming and looks as though it’s been there since the beginning of the Pony Express. Last night I was driving home from a fundraising meeting at the Villagers school for choir and it was juuuuuuuuuust the sweet spot of twilight as I approached Finley’s and thought, “Now that would make a beautifully haunting picture.” I sped along for about 50 more feet and then quickly pulled over because I said to myself, “Sallygirl, this is not the first time you’ve gotten the message to pull over and take a picture. You must do it! Stop ignoring that voice.”
I don’t know what this voice is. Maybe it’s God. Maybe it’s the Holy Ghost. Maybe it’s my own brain reminding me that I’m always wishing I had better/more photos to post on Instagram, and that I really need another hobby (as I have a tendency to pick them up for 5 minutes and then drop them like hot rocks). At any rate, here is the photo I got:
It’s not that great. I wish I had PhotoShop and knew how to use it so I could fix the squinting lights. I super wish that the arrow sign were lit up. It makes me want to purchase lightbulbs, if only Finley’s owner would screw them all in, but it’s probably a larger issue like damaged wiring, or maybe they’re trying to save money on their electric bill.
Last night I decided I’m not going to ignore the voice anymore. From now on, I’m going to stop when something screams at me “Take my picture! Take my picture before I’m gone!” Maybe you will like my pictures. I’m not trying to be a photographer, that’s too ambitious. I just want to practice noticing, and seeing, things that are put here on Earth just for me.
I’ve been pretty slack in my grocery shopping duties lately. I used to go religiously every Wednesday because it’s the first day of the “new” prices for the week. Then I changed to Fridays because it felt like I was shopping less. Then I just stopped shopping. Though obviously not totally because we’ve had food to eat, but I just wasn’t giving it the care that I used to, or getting any enjoyment from it.
Today I had to get over to Safeway because I was completely and totally out of Coke and needed some Golden Mushroom Soup for the pork chops we were going to have for dinner last night. I’ve got several Safeway Gas Rewards that I needed to use before they expire later this week so I decided to go after picking B up from school as it put me halfway to the Stockton location that has a gas station attached, which is also in the same shopping center as Trader Joe’s, and who needs an excuse to go to TJ’s? Not me! I decided to get the gas after I was done shopping. In my mind there was a logical reason, but it doesn’t really matter. I ended up spending more than I planned, which helped me to decide not to go to Trader Joe’s while also giving me an extra gas reward! so we got our gas and headed for home. But first….
While B was dutifully pumping the gas I noticed a man checking the garbage cans for recyclables. I knew I had some empty water bottles in my car but didn’t think to give them to him. When a second man came around, I got the impression that he was in greater need of help and I asked him if he wanted the few I had. I felt badly because I only ended up having 3 or 4, not the dozen I thought were hiding under my seat, but my shoulder angel reminded me that I had a ton of food in my trunk so I asked if he’d like something to eat. Now, it probably should have been obvious that he would want something to eat but you just never know. I hear stories all the time of people that panhandle for a living, and make quite a nice sum doing it. There are scam artists everywhere, but it was clear to me that he wasn’t one of them. I was perturbed when the rent-a-cop on a bike rode up and told Larry (that was his name) that he wasn’t supposed to be there, but I made it clear that Larry hadn’t approached me. I didn’t want the poor guy getting in trouble! So I gave him some fresh fruit and made him a cheese sandwich in the hopes that it would make a small dent in his hunger. As he started to wander off it occurred to me that he probably didn’t have access to clean drinking water so I sent B running after him with a few full water bottles and wished him a good day. I wanted to ask him so many things to see if there were some other way I could help but Paul Blart kept giving us the stinkeye so we just headed home.
Every day when we pray, we ask for an opportunity to be of service to someone. I am so grateful that I met Larry today and was touched by how humble he was. I hope I am blessed with more of these opportunities, and I hope my children are with me so that they can see how important each person is. They argue and fight so much… I keep trying to teach them that Kindness Begins With Me, but it’s hard for them to see beyond their own noses and when we are graced with the opportunity to love someone as our Savior loves us, I think those moments are the most effective teaching ones.