Monday, November 28, 2011

Stick a Fork in Me

(My brother's going to LOVE this photo!)
We had a great Thanksgiving.  Let me announce that right at the get-go.  I LOVED it.  But may I also confess that I am exhausted?  Just absolutely tuckered out.

Here's how it went down:
Week before Thanksgiving:  Paint 2 rooms.  Move furniture, toys and about 200 books up and down the stairs.

Sunday:  Mom arrives.

Monday:  Shop for an enormous amount of food. 

Tuesday:  Continue shopping for food.  This time braving Costco.  It's nuts, but I bump into 2 strangers who exhibit so much kindness that they reignite my hope in mankind.

Wednesday:  Clean, clean, clean, clean.  Strip 6 beds and make up 10.

Wednesday night:  Two of my brothers arrive with their families.  That's 12 house guests, but whose counting?  Start baking pies at 9:30 pm.  Finish at 1:00 am.

Thursday:  Put out a self-serve breakfast of bagels and cereal while preparing Thanksgiving for 22 people.  It's eaten in half and hour.  But it's really good.  Enjoy an afternoon of watching football, playing games, and eating turkey sandwiches.

Friday:  Waffles, fruit, and vanilla syrup for a late breakfast.  Thomas' family joins us, and we enjoy a game of touch football out at the park.  Later that night,  I sing in a concert while everyone else eats leftovers.  After everyone goes to bed, Mr. Wicke and I try to restore some order in the house in preparation for tomorrow.

Saturday:  Up early for Griffin's baptism.  My brother Ken and his family head back to St. George. The rest of us rush home and prepare a lunch for 30 people.  We serve cold cuts, salad, chips, hot spinach artichoke dip, sparkling apple cider, and lemon and chocolate cakes. Our families hang out and play games.  That evening I make an easy sausage & broccoli pasta while my brother, Curt, whips up a baked brie as well as another pecan pie.  We visit late into the night.

Sunday:  Curt and his family prepare to go.  We send them off with an egg and ham scramble, toast, and Orange Julius.  They drive away, and I put a roast in the crock pot and baked potatoes in the oven in preparation for dinner with Thomas' family.  We attend church.  My friend tells me I look really tired.  She's right.  After church I hurriedly prepare popovers and steamed broccoli.  After dinner everyone else cleans up while I begin two lemon meringue pies.  I don't quite finish before I have to leave for Stake choir practice.  I give Mr. Wicke instructions on how to finish.  I come home to two delicious pies and a card game of Phase 10.  When that breaks up, Thomas' brother stays and visits.  We hit the hay at 12:30 am.

Monday morning:  I wake up late.  Miraculously, we get the kiddos off to school on time and I survey the damage.  As my father once said, "I don't know whether we should clean it up or burn it down."  All I know is that I'm ready for a nap.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Last spring I had the chance to visit the Carl Bloch exhibit in Provo, Utah.  It was, in a word, magnificent.  So inspiring and beautiful.  I have an artist's heart, but I have not been blessed with an artist's eye or hands, and so I must content myself with looking at the masterpieces of others.  Ohhh, and what a master Bloch is.  I was touched most deeply by his sympathy for the human condition.  I think that quality is what gave him his ability to depict the Savior so powerfully.  That, and this little quote that explains so much of his process:

"God helps me--that's what I think--and then I am calm." --Carl Bloch

I wrote it down on a little scrap of paper and have been carrying it with me ever since.  Like Bloch I believe there is a higher power that can help me.  And I know when He is present I am calm, even amidst the storm.  I think He can help me today.  And every day.

I am not an artist.  But I am a creator.  We all are.  Creating and crafting moments that, at the end of our lives, can be our masterpiece.  So inspiring.  So beautiful.  And God helps us--that's what I think, too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Run, Run as Fast as You Can

I'm running uphill faster than I know how.  Anyone else?  Yes, it is that time of year again...when the world falls in love and moms lose their minds.  (I don't think that last bit made the final cut of the song, but it should have if it was going for truth.) 

Today I made it through getting the kids ready, making the beds, one piano lesson, making lunches, a quick morning pick up, Albertsons, park playgroup, Costco, 2 voice lessons, homework, bathroom cleaning, one bleeding cut on a child's head (no stitches necessary, thank goodness), dinner, children's reading (during which I kinda' sorta' fell asleep...don't tell), family home evening, book before bedtime, one load of laundry, and remaking the bed before I fall into it.  And I didn't get to half the items on my to-do list; one of which was
to compose my "Thankful List" this year.  Please, Lord, give me time to be thankful.

Here's a short version.  This year I am thankful for:
1.  a healthy body that works.
2.  healthy and happy kids.
3.  a solid, supportive, fantastic husband.
4.  a mother who still walks the earth to love me like nobody else.
5.  vision.
6.  a big family that I know I can count on.
7.  QT
8.  great reads.
9.  laughter.
10.  hope.
11.  dear, wonderful, thoughtful friends.
12.  a lovely home.
13.  faith.
14.  randomly kind strangers.
15.  a toddler who is totally entertaining.
16.  a son who is inventive, creative, and curious.
17.  a daughter who is one of my favorite people to be with.
18.  date nights.
19.  a Savior who can work miracles.
20.  the memory of a wise father.
21.  beauty all around me.
22.  dessert.

You know there's more.  But it's bedtime.  I got a lotta' runnin' to do tomorrow.  I'm also thankful there are tomorrows.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Things are a Little Off Kilter...

This is not my house, but it feels like my house.

1.  My daughter was home yesterday after waking us up at 5:30 am with these words:  "I just threw up."

2.  My son is home today.  I have a sneaking suspicion that he is not really that sick...but I can't prove it.

3.  I am in the middle of a giant painting project.  Again.  I know.  Don't say anything.

4.  There are two things that make Mr. Wicke grumpy:  cleaning the garage and painting projects.  I can't explain it, but they do.

5.  My mom is flying in on Sunday.  The house--which currently resembles a nuclear waste dump (see #3) must be back in order by then.

6.  My daughter had to wait for the dryer to finish this morning so that she had something to wear to school.  (Again, see #3.)

7.  I am feeling my age.  My lower back is killing me, and I am sore.  (Stupid #3.)

8.  Having the kids home from school is not helping me accomplish #3.

9.  Quite frankly I'd rather do anything than #3.

10.  Wish me luck.

P.S.  A giant thank you to a wonderful friend who read on Facebook that my daughter was sick and showed up at our door with homemade chicken noodle soup and hot rolls.  She is Wonder Woman and deserves an award.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Definition of Nothingness

Renoir, A Self Portrait

Currently, I am reading a biography of Renoir written my his son Jean.  This little bit struck me as wise this morning:

In discussing his father's personal tastes and asthetics he said, "A visitor once remarked to him: 'What I like about this brand of brandy is that the quality is always the same.  There's never any unpleasant surprise.' 

'What a good definition of nothingness,' answered Renoir." (Renoir, My Father, pg. 381.)

I guess the same could be said about life itself, could it not?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sorry, It's Personal

Mr. Steinbeck

John Steinbeck once said something about writing that I wish I remembered word for word.  I don't.  I wrote it down--or actually, I told Logan to write it down because I was driving across 4 states at the time.  She did, painstakingly I might add, but that 3 ring notebook has long since disappeared probably somewhere 2 states away. The memory of it, though, has not.  He said something about how he didn't write to tell other people what to think but, rather, that he wrote to understand what he thought himself.

When I heard that it was like lightening.

And so, these last few posts, haven't been for anyone but me, really.  I'm just busy speaking out loud so that I know what I'm thinking.  Because in putting words together, lining them up and ordering them, they suddenly clarify and make some sense of what feels nonsensical sometimes. 

That's all.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Trying to Answer: Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen? (part 2 of a 3 part series)

I am not a real time blogger.  If I were, I would blog even when I am sick, which I have been.  The kind of sick that makes me forget to put homework in my kids' backpacks, or makes me let them watch far too much TV instead of insisting that they read, or makes me take a nap in the middle of the afternoon...that kind of sick.  It's been going around here in Mesa.  Hope you don't get it while reading this.  I shouldn't be contagious anymore...

Nobody likes pain.  Most of us do what we can to avoid it's painful.  And who wants that?  The fact that some actions result in painful circumstances is not lost on me.  I really like the commandments for the very reason that total freedom is not totally free.  God's commandments are statements of fact about natural consequences of certain behaviors.  The "Thou Shalt Nots" are shalt nots because those things will hurt us.  Every time.  He doesn't want that for us either, and because He is a loving parent, he gives us plenty of guidance about dangerous actions.

Those of us accustomed to faith get used to the idea that living with some restrictions actually makes us more free.  But I propose that some of us get a little too used to it, and we become somewhat confused in this area, assuming that by doing what is right we can--or should--be able to avoid all pain.  Then, when we are blindsided by difficulty, we find ourselves saying things like, "But I did what I was supposed to do.  Where are the blessings?  This wasn't supposed to happen to me."  This is a misconception that will lead us further away from God and from His healing power.

Certainly, obedience to the commandments saves us from the consequences of our own poor choices, but if we believe for one minute that obedience will keep us from all pain, we are bound to be frustrated and our faith will be weakened. As we have already discussed, we live in an imperfect world where we confront disease, disasters, and death. Those are givens, and they will touch us all in one way or another. But we must also come to terms with the fact that we share this earth with other millions of our Father’s children who have as much right to their agency as we do, and sometimes, sadly, their misuse of it will effect us. The outcomes of these poor decisions run the gamut from disappointing to horribly unspeakable, but always it is unjust. It is unfair. However, let us remember that we did not fight to come to a world that was fair.

In our premortal existence Lucifer stepped forward with a plan where not even one soul would be lost. Indeed, it was a plan of rebellion, not only against the Father but against the principle of agency. Marion Hanks taught that: “Lucifer had no love in his heart, no real concept of freedom or respect for it. He had no confidence in the principle or in us. He argued for forced salvation, for imposed survival, for an agencyless round trip to the earth and back again. None would be lost, he insisted. But he seemed not to understand that none would be any wiser, either, or any stronger or more compassionate or humble or grateful or more creative, under his plan.”

Then Christ stepped forward and exercised his agency to support our Father’s plan and offer himself up as a savior for us. To cover our shortcomings, our pains, our disappointments with his blood.

And we chose. A third of our brothers and sisters followed Satan, and we—here on this earth—had enough faith in Jesus Christ to choose a life that was sometimes unfair. We believed he could cover us.  Even when circumstances are unfair.  Even when we do everything right and we experience pain anyway.  Even when it is not our fault.

Pain, adversity, uncertainty, difficulty--we will experience them all here in mortality.  There is no escape route.  No easy way.  As Dr. Carlfred Brokerick said, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not insurance against pain. It is a resource in the event of pain.”  We will not be saved from pain because of our faith, but because of our faith we can know what to do with it when it comes.  Our faith--even in our darkest moments--can lead us to Him in whom we can trust, who is The One who can heal us.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Photo Essay: A Sick Day for Momma

No sick days.  No vacations.  No coffee breaks, lunch hours, or paycheck...And I wouldn't trade it.