Changing my mind

brainI have a new job. Same company, but a new boss and new responsibilities. Intellectually, I am pleased. The new position is challenging, needed and supported. Every detail has lined up perfectly, and yet two months in, I am feeling a little lost. I am overly sensitive and questioning everything. I am tired. Cranky. Slow. Moaning at work/life balance and then when home, staring out the window instead of quilting, reading or riding my bike.

What is wrong with me? I have been asking this question over and over. Snap out of it! This is a great opportunity! Go for a walk and get it together! After moping around for weeks, I finally have a diagnosis. The job will be fine. The problem is me. My world is moving fast and my emotions are a tangle of neurons cowering in my primitive brain, scanning nervously for sabor tooth tigers. I am having a textbook change response.   

Read More

Finding God in Community

"Lightning on Columbus River" by Ian Boggs

“Lightning on Columbus River”
by Ian Boggs

By Jenny

The spring thunderstorms have set my mind back to my youth.  I watch the misty greyness creep in as the rolling thunder awakens in me a sense that a powerful universal force exists.  Lightning pierces the melancholy clouds and lacerates the sky with its fierce power.  It’s as if God is raging in the heavens above, until the clouds open and the fierceness turns to a cleansing grace which flows freely to earth allowing life and beauty to thrive.

My teenage years also flowed with grace that allowed life and beauty to thrive in me.  I was nurtured by community and by dedicated leaders.  I lived in a world filled with scripture stories, faith, and miracles.  On a Book of Mormon Trek the summer after I turned sixteen, these scripture stories surrounded me in the form of handcarts and liahonas helping my youth group through the wilderness like Lehi’s family.  Prophets appeared to tell their stories and miracles surrounded us at every bend.  My leaders had put their heart and souls into planning a three-day trek that they hoped would be life-changing for those in their charge.  And it was.

I sat in the forest alone after the prophet Enos had appeared.  He sent us to pray and meditate on our own in the woods as he had done.  My scriptures lay open on my lap as the thunder began to roll in.  I looked up at the sky and smiled.  I could feel raindrops slowly kissing my face.  The smell of newness filled the air.  Thunder crept closer to me, as if warning me of what was coming.  Suddenly a boom shook the earth and the forest was consumed with fire.  A sharp pain shot through my back and I fell to the ground.  Through the chaos of people running down the mountain, I stumbled and was carried to a tent.  The doctor came quickly and looked at my back.  When he decided I was fine (just experiencing acute shock), he couldn’t hide his excitement over seeing an actual mark left by a lightning strike.  He took a picture.

The Stake President and Bishop came in then to give me a blessing.  Everyone in the tent could feel the power at that moment.  I don’t remember exactly what my bishop said.  It wasn’t so much a power of words, as it was a power of love and belief shared among humans.  When they left the doctor checked my back, but the mark was gone.  As a community, we felt the miracle in this event.  No one else on that mountain was hurt.  Through the storm, God had showed us power and grace.  I spent my teenage years feeling wrapped in that blanket of grace, safe and secure.

From that environment of communal nurturing and growth came a strong and powerful faith.  Over the years my faith has become more complex.  I have gained a deeper understanding of experiences beyond my own.  I have found knowledge that extends beyond my cultural conditioning.  I see now that things aren’t as they always seemed to me when I was younger.  Some might call the complexities of my faith “doubt,” but that word doesn’t describe it.

I have frequently been asked over the last few years, “So what do you believe?”  I don’t have the words, or maybe the words are meaningless to someone who hasn’t experienced my journey.  How do you describe what lightning feels like to someone who has never been hit by lightning?  If I could just show you my faith.  If you could see it, feel it, hear it, taste it…like running out into a thunderstorm, arms out, feeling energy flashing in the sky, the rain streaming down your face.  If you could only know my faith the way I do.  But you are in your safe shelter, watching the storm from a distance.  All it is to you is a disturbance to your plans, a tempest when you want sunshine.

I don’t claim to know the form of God.  Male, female, an old man with a beard, a king, a spirit, energy, embodied being, the evolutionary perfection of the human race, Elohim, Allah, Krishna…it doesn’t matter to me.  God is perfect love.  God is brightest light which opens the mind and fills it with knowledge and wisdom.  God is energy to move in a positive and powerful way.  God is grace.

I felt that grace as a young girl.  I felt it through family, friends, and leaders.  It kept me in the light.  It moved me in a positive direction.  It surrounded me with the power of love.  I don’t feel like I am wrapped in a blanket of grace anymore.  So I must generate grace within my own soul.  God is in me.  God is in the way I love, forgive, and connect with other people.  God is in the way I accept my imperfect faith and move forward.  God is in the way my heart tries to understand those who don’t understand me.  I believe God’s power and grace can be found in lightning and miracles.  God’s power and grace are in communities that nurture, build, and support each other.  God’s power and grace are in a heart that is open to love.     As Victor Hugo wrote in Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

Read More

For the Beauty of the Earth

Spring has sprung in my corner of the world!

We’ve had a brutal winter and so seeing 60ºF (and up!) in the forecast makes me incredibly happy. I love seeing all the flowers. I love seeing happy faces out on the street, smiling for no other reason than warm weather has finally arrived. I find myself joyful, even more so when I’m with friends. Spring is just a happy and optimistic time of the year.

SPRING

Read More

Moving Day

exponent jan 2I spent many hours over the New Year’s holiday helping my son move into yet another college apartment. This time he is in a tiny studio without the roommate riffraff, a choice highlighted by bright windows and his own kitchen. His mood vacillated between excitement and trepidation. Mine was alternately gung ho and over it. This is his fifth living space in two and half years. Each time it seems to get more complicated. Moving is always difficult, but why are we not better at it?

Early twenty-somethings live in a scattered universe. My son was abroad for the Fall quarter and his belongings are equally far flung – in the garage, in every corner of his “also-known-as-the-guest” bedroom, in a giant duffle bag. He has begun to look at our possessions with shifting perspective. What was ridiculous and parental last year is quite useful and necessary now as it disappears into his pile. Things get lost, or are given away, or wear out. Just getting organized, gathering what will be needed to survive, takes days and accumulating charges. Then there is a small car to load, stairs and hallways to navigate, and my growing anxiety about his safety as we witness a rather dodgy business exchange on the sidewalk in front of his building.

I was consoled as we hung pictures on his walls. Any person who uses a level to align a poster with mounting tape can take care of himself. He cooks like his father, spreadsheets like his mother, and has a fierce, brilliant spirit all his own. He creatively arranged his books, clothes, and utensils in ingeniously compact ways. His confidence was contagious. He is on his own again, ready for adventure. I began to think this whole moving over New Year’s Day was a grand metaphor to embrace. Why should I need a class syllabus to feel the same surge of energy? Why can’t my mental space feel like a new lease? Why can’t each new year hold the potential of this new apartment?

Read More

In The Meantime: Finding A Personal Ministry

every member a minister. 1395453_10151773808308717_127812155_nThis post is my last as a regular contributor to The-Exponent blog. My time here has been a profound and delightful blessing. Exponent women are among the best people I have ever encountered and I will always remain a part of this community, but I’ve felt pulled in a slightly different direction with writing. In this post, I share one example of why I’m making a change. Writing for The-Exponent has helped prepare me for whatever comes next. For this reason it is quite impossible for me to adequately express my gratitude for the remarkable gift of Exponent in all its iterations.

Thank you, readers and blog contributors, for enlarging my heart and mind with your unique and compelling stories. Thank you for being my sisters. I love you.

*        *        *

I sometimes find myself slipping back into the mind of my child self as I make the daily forty-mile commute to work on the train. FrontRunner traverses the I-15 corridor between Utah county and Weber county each day. While I was growing up, we passed the Point of the Mountain hundreds of times either coming or going from Provo to Salt Lake City. The point itself has receded through the years and has lost some of what defines it as a “point.” Earth has been scraped away and used for road base or concrete mix or who knows what all else. All I know is that a monumental structure–a mountain–has been changed over time. The north-facing slope where we used to watch dune buggies and four wheelers crawling up The Widow-Maker is now covered with subdivisions of homes. I still don’t understand how those houses got there. The mountain face is changed forever and, even though I’ve watched it slowly recede, it still surprises me sometimes that it is now so different from what it used to be.

Read More

The “Measure of our Creation”

Today is the end of my seventh week in a 24-week programming bootcamp. Three months ago, I was only non-chalantly  applying for it, after having applied to another and had not gotten in. It wasn’t originally in my plans to do this now- next year at the earliest, but when opportunities come, I try to take them and not think to much about it. So far that philosophy has worked out.

I had been a stay-at-home-mom for 6 years. We homeschool. It has been a huge lifestyle change, and it’s unlikely to go back to how it was if I get a job after this. I am now gone 8-6 M-F. I have had a lot of disjointed thoughts on this situation this week and I supposed I’ll list them chronologically.

Read More