The Tale of Twins

It’s 8am and the babies are fed, changed, and asleep. After tag-teaming the 7am feeding/changing routine, I sent Daddy-Tadd to bed as he’d had the night shift. Caitlyn helped with the 2:30am. They let me have a full, uninterrupted night sleep. I feel like a new woman. 

Franklin, or Frankie, is a noisy sleeper. I have come to call him “Squeaky McSqueaker” because of all the racket he makes while he dreams. You are never sure if he is awake or asleep until you actually look at him. After he eats he likes to be propped up in the corner of the couch so he can survey the living room—or the blurs of the living room, depending on how a newborn sees the world— until his milk coma takes over and he falls asleep, which doesn’t take too long.

Sally has become a FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) child. Whereas Frankie stays awake a tiny bit after polishing off a bottle, little Miss FOMO keeps her eyes brightly open so she won’t miss a thing. She doesn’t fuss, just lays there looking around—waiting and watching. She must be FBI-in-Training.  FOMO FBIT.

Neither of these little twins are super fussy or colicky, and we thank our lucky stars for that. But they are twins, and everything is times two. Lots of diapers, wipes, and laundry. 

I have the privilege of being here in their house for the first weeks of their lives. How often does a grandma get to do that? Sure, Tadd, Caitlyn, and I are sleep-deprived, but we are told that will pass—there are no indicators of that yet, but we have hope. Hope springs eternal in the hearts of parents and grandparents. 

I am fortunate in that Tadd doesn’t hate having his mother-in-law around, at least he is not letting on if he does. We are working together to take care of these babies so Caitlyn can get some much needed rest. Her body has been through the ringer. First you consider she carried these two babies to full twin-term, and then underwent a vaginal birth AND a c-section to get them here. She can nap for three hours, get up and move around for a bit, and then go down for another nap. She says she feels guilty for sleeping so much, but I told her yesterday she has ONE job: sleeping. That’s it. We can handle the rest.

Thankfully these babies are bottle fed, so anyone can take care of them (well, not really anyone, but anyone on the trusted list). Caitlyn bought a nifty machine called a BabyBreeza, which makes a perfectly mixed and heated bottle in like 30 seconds. I can’t tell you how much that helps. 

Thus far, Frankie and Sally have had their first outing (to the doctor for a checkup—does that count?), first bath, and their first trip to Grandpa Jack and Grandma Sue’s for family swim day. They lounged in the shade by the pool and were passed from one set of hands to another, until oldest cousin, Jack, insisted they be brought inside while the lawn boys were working on the grass. 

These babies have older brothers. Samson. six, is the ever attentive biggest brother. He loves to hold Sally (the novel sister), and is learning how to feed and burp her and her twin brother. I keep trying to hand off diaper changing to him, but he’s not having any part of that. 

Walt, three, on the other hand, could give a flip less about the two new family members. All he cares about is Otter Pops, string cheese, and Mickey’s Playhouse. As long as there are plenty of those, life is good. 

He is also digging the string of play days he is having with cousins. Caitlyn’s sisters, Whitney and Haley, and sister-in-law, Lindey, have truly stepped up to the plate and taken turns corralling the two big brothers. It’s just one party-day after another for Sam and Walt. 

Grandma Camme comes by often to get some twin time. Face it, these babies must be held. She also heeded a request from Samson for spaghetti. He wanted some Camme-ghetti for snacking, and she complied. 

Charity is in full force and there has been a parade of dinners coming in. Ladies in the neighborhood have brought by meals, which have helped immensely.  I’m beginning to behave like Pavlov’s dog and start salivating at 5pm. And my understanding is family and friends have signed up to continue feeding us for the next couple weeks. 

Today I have my assignment at the Payson Temple, so Whitney is coming down to help out while I am gone. She and family friend, Kalli, are committed to come here and take a night shift sometime this coming week. My only concern is Kalli putting a twin in her pocket and taking him or her home. We must perform a pat-down before she leaves. 

Yes, twins are a trip. You have these moments you look at the two little bassinets in the living room and think to yourself, “Holy crap, there are really two of them. Seriously, two of them,” and you have a mental moment of freak out. Then you hear that unmistakeable sound of someone filing their diaper, or a burp with some spit up to follow, or the dryer buzzing to tell you a load of clothes is ready to fold, and you get back to work. Double the work, double the magic, and, most of all, very double the blessings.  

Wade Through the Dark

“And we did … wade through much affliction in the wilderness.”

Yes, Nephi, we know it was tough out there in the wilderness with that nightmare of a family, but why use the word wade?

Webster’s definition of wade is “to walk through any substance that yields to the feet, like water; to walk through on the bottom, like a river; to move or pass through with difficulty.”

What an excellent way to describe our “walk” through life, which, at times, is really more like a wade through quicksand.  Down here in this fallen world, we are on the bottom. (I don’t mean to infer we are bottom dwellers.) The apostle Paul describes it this way: “we see through a glass darkly.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) 

Looking up from the bottom here on earth to the heavens above, our vision is obscured and reality is elusive. The reality I speak of is God and Christ. They are what is real. This earth life is merely a stage for us to act out our life on and prove to ourselves what we’re made of. It’s not permanent, people, so don’t get too attached to it. 

Nephi’s use of the word wade helps me understand that even though the way might be hard to travel, I’m still able to move forward. It might be difficult, but it’s possible. This phrase might be trite and overused, but truly “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 

And I hate to be Debbie Downer, but just so you know, life will eventually kill you. 

My Poor Sunday School Class...

each week I subject them to my ideas and interpretations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh sure, I back up my thoughts with scriptures and the words of the prophets, but overall my 16-18 year olds are my captives for 40 minutes and I take advantage of the time I have them in my clutches.

There are three things—directives—I am trying to beat into them this year: 1) Gain a strong testimony of Jesus Christ. Do that and you are on the road to good things. Life will make more sense and you will have the strength to withstand the crap thrown at you.  He is the Beginning and the End. He is the Answer and the Way. He is Everything.

2) If you have doubts and questions about the gospel or the church, ask God—your Father in Heaven—not Google. Look to the right source for your answers. You will have questions and doubts throughout your life—there is nothing wrong with that—the problem lies in WHERE you look for answers. Joe Somebody who lives in his parent's basements and spends his days cruising the internet is not the best source for doctrinal answers, and neither is the professor who uses his large brain to pick apart the Mormon church. Faith does not fit in a tidy box. God's ways are not man's, and we don't have the intelligence to understand everything gospel related. Bottom line: God is a lot smarter than we are, and it's plain arrogance to think we know better than He does.

3) Keep promises. In our day a person's word means squat. This is why we have attorneys and the court system. (Oh for the days when your word was your bond.) When you make it to the temple, it's all about covenants. We promise this, and God promises that. His promises are pretty awesome and worth seeking. He always keeps His end of the deal. ALWAYS. We are required to do the same. When we make temple covenants, we don't sign documents, we just say "yes." That's it. I tell my Sunday School kids that if you practice keeping your promises now, then the temple covenants you make in the future will be easier to keep.

Last week I asked them what the three class directives were this year, and they gave me blank looks. Apparently I'm not doing my job very well. Thank goodness I have these kids in my grasp for seven more months.

Plain. Precious.

(WARNING: here we go again. Another religious rant. Proceed with caution.)

Plain and precious.
Plain and precious.
Plain and precious.
Plain and precious.
Plain and precious.
Plain and precious.
Plain and precious.
Plain and precious.
Plain and precious.
Plain and precious.

For the prophets of old, writing scripture was not an easy task. You’d have papyrus, animal skins, or metal plates to record your life and revelations on. None of these mediums were  found in neat packaging at the local office supply store. They were usually made by the individual writing on therm. And writing instruments were hard to work with as well. Ever try writing a book with a stick or quill dipped in homemade ink? Or pound out letters and symbols with a chisel?

My point is this - writing, condensing, abridging, transcribing, and printing scripture was a labor-intensive process; so when a phrase is repeated many times over, it must mean something. So it is with “plain and precious.”

In the Book of Mormon,  chapter 13  in the book of 1st Nephi, the phrase “plain and precious” is mentioned 10 times. You know me, I have to ask, “Why is that?”

I have thought about this for the last couple days and not really come up with a concrete answer to appease my curiosity. But I have had some ancillary thoughts. 

Plain means clear to the mind, distinct, simple, evident, and free from ambiguity or evasion. Precious is defined as of great value, costly, and highly esteemed  for some spiritual or moral quality. 

How better can you explain the principles of the gospel? They are clear, simple, and of great value. 

You’ll note that one of the definitions is “costly.” No kidding. Scripture and the gospel have cost some individuals greatly, even to the point of their blood. 

As I consider “plain and precious,” I think of the “straight and narrow.” (Don’t ask me how I got there…it just happened.) The world’s way is the polar opposite of plain and precious. It is gaudy and cheap. Fancy on the outside, empty on the inside. Conflicting, confusing, and easily obtained. Like the wide road of the world, there are many different notions traveling side by side. Choose one and link arms with it. It might be fun for awhile, but you will go nowhere. 

The gospel path is narrow. It’s simple and plain. There is one individual leading the way, and that Individual is Jesus Christ. Follow close behind Him and you end up at the feet of your Father in Heaven. Christ is plain and precious. Clear and valuable. Free from ambiguity and of great worth. 

Maybe that is the message for me. Keep it simple, Sue. Remember the value of what you know and believe. Stay behind the Savior. He is plain, clear, honest, trustworthy, of infinite worth, and offers you something of unimaginable value: Life eternal with God the Fatherand it's pretty plain to me that's precious.

One, Two, Three

(WARNING: Yet another religious rant ahead. Gee, Sue, what is the deal? Can't you write about anything else?)

Interesting how one verse—and it’s not even the whole verse—in the good ol' Book of Mormon, can have so much information in it.

Take for example 1 Nephi 11:1 (lots of “1s” there). Here Nephi is outlining a great way to get answers from Above. He has listened to the words of his prophet father, Lehi, and wonders just what they mean. So our pal, Nephi, tells us the formula for receiving personal revelation. In the LDS church, personal revelation is a thing.

First Nephi says, “I had desired to know.” Step One: you want to know. How many truths have you wanted to know? Understand? Untangle? Doubts and questions about the gospel are fine, actually good, because it means you are thinking. What matters the most is where you go for those answers. Ask God, not Google.

Step Two in the process: “Believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me.” Here is the faith stuff. You have no doubt God can answer you. It doesn’t say He must, or will, or should, but that He is able if He chooses to and thinks it’s the right thing for you at the time. (Again, the God Timetable Principle we all have such a hard time with.)

Then the Third Step, “Pondering.” This is the Turn Off, Tune In, Think About, Deliberate, Consider, Meditate—whatever term you want to use for “getting into your head and listening with you heart.” And the cool thing is that our Father in Heaven, because He knows all of us so well (He is our Father, after all), knows exactly how to talk to us. He knows the  language, examples, thoughts, words, and analogies that will get through our thick heads and really resonate with us. 

If you continue to read chapter 11 in 1 Nephi, you will see that this formula worked pretty darn good for our friend, Nephi. And I am pretty certain it will work for each of us. 


(WARNING: Religious Rant Ahead. Proceed with Caution)

In 1 Nephi 10:13, Lehi tells his family that the Lord wants them to go to the “land of promise” being “led with one accord.” What is the meaning of accord in 1838 when the Book of Mormon was translated? It means to be in agreement and harmony; to consent and have a concurrence of options or will. 

Unfortunately, Lehi’s kids didn’t all go “with one accord,” even though they did go.

In the book of Moroni, chapter 10, verse 7, we are told that the Lord works by the power of the Holy Ghost “according to the faith of the children of men.”

Can this according and the former accord have the same meaning? “According” to Webster, yes, they do (duh), and when put in this context, we come out with the idea that the Holy Ghost can work in our lives if we are in agreement and harmony with God, and consenting to His will. (Again, duh)

As Lehi and his family were “led with one accord” across the ocean to the Americas, we too can be led through this life by the Holy Ghost, “according” to our faith in, and compliance to, our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ.


(WARNING: Religious Reflection and Rant Ahead. Proceed with caution.)

So, a couple of thoughts and cool “coincidences” in 1 Nephi, chapter 7 this morning.  (Are there really such things as coincidences when it comes to the gospel? I think when I contribute something to coincidence, I’m just trying to find a way to say, “Whoa, if God is behind this—and I'm having doubts He is—I would have to take it seriously and do something about it; so let’s just say He isn’t, and chalk this up to fate. That would make my life a whole lot easier.”)

Before I jump into the non-coincidence stuff, let me just say how bad I feel for Lehi and Sariah. Talk about a dysfunctional family. Here you have a prophet who has kids trying to beat, tie up, and kill their sibling. Talk about contention in the family. I know I shouldn’t take comfort in someone else’s misfortunes, but knowing a cool, inspired guy like Lehi had family issues (and rather bad ones), takes the pressure off me for achieving the “perfect family.” 

Anyway, after yet another sibling quarrel, Nephi gives one of his “why don’t you stand up and fly right” pep talks to Laman and Lemuel; and at the end of his rant (it was a good rant) he says in verse 15: “for the Spirit of the Lord constraineth me that I should speak …”

Constraineth. Hmm. I wondered just what that meant. So I pulled up my trusty 1828 Webster’s Dictionary ( “Why Webster’s 1828” you ask? Well, folks, when the Prophet Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, the words in Webster’s 1828 were the words of his day, and no doubt the translation was in terms Joseph best understood. And if you compare some of the word meanings of his day, against our day, sometimes there are slight differences.

Anyhow, the world “Constrained” means the following: Urged irresistibly or powerfully; compelled; forced; bound; necessitated. To my limited understanding, our pal, Nephi, HAD to tear into Laman and Lemuel— the two who had helped  to create the yin and yang in the family.

I suppose when you’re of the caliber of Nephi, being constrained by the Spirit means you MUST open your mouth and say what the Lord wants you to say, whether your audience likes it or not, and whether it puts your life in danger or not. (Case in point: Abinadi and Samuel the Lamanite. I would say they were constrained, the latter fairing better in the end than the former… How hot was that fire, Abinadi?)

Now, given I have delivered my rant on the word “constraineth,”, let’s jump across the column in 1 Nephi 7 to the 21st verse. Ishmael’s daughter (I wonder, did she marry Nephi after this? my romantic self wants to know), and her mother (it stands to reason this woman became Nephi’s mother-in-law at some point—the pool of women to choose a bride from was pretty small for Nephi. either he married a sister [eww], or one of Ishmael’s girls), and one of Ishmael’s sons (a soon to be brother-in-law), talked Laman and Lemuel out of beating up Nephi. Their powers of persuasion must have been pretty good, because Laman and Lemuel were “sorrowful,” did “bow down before” Nephi, and “plead” for forgiveness. I really wonder what in the world those people in Ishmael’s family said? Could they give a fireside in persuasive discourse?

Anyway, moving on, Nephi, being the good kid he was, responded to his brothers in this way: “I did frankly forgive them.” Cool, right? But, as is my pattern, I was snagged by a word, this time, “frankly.” I asked myself, “Self, what would Webster have to say about the word ‘frankly’?”

This is what Webster had to say, “Frankly: openly; freely; ingenuously; without reserve, CONSTRAINT, or disguise …” “What?!” says I, “there is that word again? Self, what could this possibly mean??”

Self has this thought: just as the Spirit can urge us forcefully to speak, we are also urged to forgive without being forced, and to forgive without bounds or restrictions. Seventy times seven, the Lord tells us. (Interesting side note: the number seven means “complete.” Think on that for awhile.)

I’m Irish. There is a joke among those of us who are of Irish descent: “What is Irish Alzheimers? You forget everything but the grudges.” Most of us who have had an Irish relative know just what this means. But taking the counsel I got from two words on one page of the Book of Mormon this morning, my lesson is clear: “Sue, when your little feelings are hurt, or you’re offended, the Spirit constraineth you to frankly forgive without constraints.”

Must Be.

(WARNING: Religious Reflection Ahead.)

A phrase in 1 Nephi 7:13 reached out and grabbed me this morning:  “… and ye shall know at some future period, that the word of the Lord shall be fulfilled concerning the destruction of Jerusalem: for all things which the Lord hath spoken concerning the destruction of Jerusalem must be fulfilled.”

Now, I’m not all hung up on the “destruction of Jerusalem” part—what’s done is done—but what got my attention was:  “ye shall know at some future period,” and, “must be fulfilled.

Sometimes it’s a bummer that God works on the principle of faith. That I have to believe before I receive. “You want a witness? Show me you believe in one before I give it to you.” Seems backwards, but it’s how God works. I guess it builds character, or something like that. I guess it’s like planting a seed and knowing it will sprout. Course I have to water faith and belief with prayer,  patience, trust, hope, and thought; but do that, and eventually a witness or answer will sprout. Then there is God’s timetable, which is horribly contrary to my own, but that’s another subject. 

Now the “must be fulfilled” part in the verse. I really thought about that. It doesn’t say, “will be,” “could be,” “might be,” or, “should be.” No, it’s “MUST be.” What does that mean to me? That there is no choice in the matter. The choice was made when the declaration was made. It will happen. It has to. This is integrity at its finest. The kind of integrity our world has little concept of today. I think of the Prophet Joseph, who said of the First Vision, “I knew it, and I knew God knew it, and I could not deny it.” Powerful integrity stuff. 

I also remember what the Savior said to the Nephites when He appeared to them after His resurrection, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.” If I’m a prophet, and for years I have promised that something “must be,” I would think it rather cool that the first thing the Lord does when He shows up is validate me. 

I’ve been thinking about the kids in my class—I do that a lot. I want them to understand they can ask God for answers, and now I want them to get the concept of integrity when it comes to making promises. If you make one, it’s as good as keeping it. When Nephi caught Zoram and asked him to come along with the family and take off into the wilderness (“Hey, don’t want to be a servant?  Laban is dead anyway, so what’s the point? Come along with us! Freedom! And you won’t get destroyed along with Jerusalem!” Nothing was said about wandering, camping, building a boat, or sailing across the ocean—I suppose those were details the boys didn’t need to know at the time), all Zoram had to do was make an oath, and BAM, he was trusted and off they went into the wilds. What kind of power did one’s word have back then? What kind of power does is have now? Neither one of us has to make a comment on that, we both know the answer. 

So proof requires trust and patience; and integrity requires honesty and follow-through. Seems like a lot of work. But I have faith it works, and am committed to keep my word. (Will I screw up? Probably to some degree. But then we have that whole repentance/atonement stuff, which is a whole ‘nother subject for a whole ‘nother time.)


(WARNING: Religious Reflection Ahead.)

I realized something the other day: Our Father in Heaven is a God of addition. 

From what I have observed, Heavenly Father is always trying to add something to us. No matter where we are, what we believe, don’t believe, or what we are doing, God is trying to make us more than what we presently are. Even if we have no idea who He is, or do know of Him, but have no intentions of obeying Him, He is reaching out to us and trying to teach us—add to us. Never does God ignore us or give up on us. He believes in our potential, even if we have no idea that we have any. 

And because of our spiritual DNA, we as His children are always trying to be more and do more, whether we acknowledge it or not. We are beings that have the desire to create, obtain, improve, and grow. Even on days we stay in our pajamas and mold in front of a television or computer, we don’t live in stasis. We are not designed that way. Every day we inch towards being more than we were yesterday. This growth, or “addition,” may be so small it’s imperceptible, but it’s happening nonetheless. 

I don’t do math. It is not in my wheelhouse; but I do know the principle of addition when it comes to God’s children. It happens every day, to every one of us, and it’s all because of our heavenly Parentage.  

M R-E & S E P in NYC

For the past few days I have had the chance to spend time with my oldest kid. She has been generous enough to take her old mother to New York City. We have stayed at the Park Lane Hotel, which is literally across the street from Central Park. We are on the 44th floor and look out over the park. Pretty ugly. 

We have gone on a carriage ride though part of the park; visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art (to which I am in love and want to go back and spend about three days there); attended a taping of the Jimmy Fallon show; went to the top of Rockefeller Center; met my first cousin (on Mom’s side) John, and his wife, Margaret, face to face for the first time, and had lunch with them in a historic tavern; and not merely rode the Staten Island Ferry, but drove it. 

We saw the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange building; Alexander Hamilton’s grave, World Trade Center Memorial pools, The Wall Street Bull, complete with the new statue of the little girl challenging the Bull. Tonight we went to see Wicked, at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway. 

Tomorrow we go back to our real worlds. I have never been to NYC before and have been enchanted by streets bordered with man-made mountains know as skyscrapers. The wind whistles though “canyons” made by buildings so tall, I walk down the street and can’t help by look up constantly—amazed at what mankind has created here. I realized today that this place is about as far removed and different from my little Elk Ridge as you can get. 

I am grateful to Meganand Jim, who actually arranged this trip before he died. Unfortunately, he did not get to enjoy it. But he has blessed my life through it, even in death. 

And to Megan, who has been a trooper, even though she misses Jim, and has had to put up with her mother’s snoring…