Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Fall is my favorite season. There is something about that nip in the air that brings a quirk to the corner of my mouth. After being baked out of my clothes all summer, it is time to take out the clothes that cuddle my whole body and wear them in layers. I wait all year for my orange shirts to be in season, for my velvet jackets to come out of the back of the closet, for the long stripey socks to sneak up from the bottom of my drawer. It's time to show my colors again, it's time for Fall.
It's time to start making things with my hands, and thinking of giving to people I love. It's time to carve pumpkins and bake pies. It's time to stop mowing the lawn and start amassing deep and fluffy piles of leaves. It's time for cocoa and warm apple cider with a spoonful of honey. It's time for hiding with a book under a blanket on the chaise lounge. It's time to watch an enormous black and orange spider spinning his massive web from the bushes to the eaves. It's time for witches, for moonlit magic, and for buckets of candy. It's time for Fall.
Fall is the season of turning inward. As we wrap our jackets ever tighter about our chests we are warming up our hearts, getting ready for a season of love and celebration. We begin to think of all we have in a natural pre-winter inventory. While the squirrel sums up his stash of nuts we take stock of our blessings, as innumerable as they are.
Then our thoughts turn to families and friends, the true treasures of life, and we long to have them near our side. So we pull them tight around us, just like our jackets, and bask in the warmth of their love. We share a turkey, or a steaming bowl of soup, or perhaps just a late night long-distance call. We utter the words "Happy Thanksgiving," but instead they hear, "Thank you for being part of my life."
As the bright leaves cascade all around my house, and the acorns tap, tap, rattle-roll down my roof I'm taking a moment to let Autumn flow through me. I thank Heaven for the beauty around me, for my blessings, and for this season.
Autumn is when I fall back in love with life, and that's why they call it Fall.
(This is my submission for the November "Write-Away Contest" on Scribbit)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The Rules for playing TAG:
- Link to the person who tagged you
- Post the rules on your blog
- Write six random things about yourself
- Tag six-ish people at the end of your post
- Let each person know he/she has been tagged
- Let the tagger know when your entry is up
Now for six random things (which is going to take some serious thought because "Numb3rs" had altered my perception of random.)
- I have double jointed thumbs, which I realise isn't the right medical term but :p on that. All I know is that if I make a thumbs up the part of my thumb beyond the last knuckle points back towards my wrist.
- I have an extra vertebra, my S1 isn't fused to my S2 like it's supposed to be. Which means I can really swivel my hips (ZUMBA!), but when that baby goes out of line it takes relaxation exercises and contortion to get it back in.
- I tend to go home and cry if anyone is rude to me or sets me straight in a not-so-nice way. Pathetic I know, but what can I say? An open heart is open to it all. I'm going to keep it open though.
- I haven't really fought with my Mother-in-law in months. Miracles really do happen, lol. I think she just figured out that if I'm making a stand, it's never on anything I'm flexible on.
- Chocolate and oranges were made to go together, if you don't see at least two ways that applies to me you don't know me very well.
- I hate video games.
I was tagged twice, so here's the other one.
1. Get the book that's on your nightstand (or whatever you happen to be reading).
2. Open it to page 56 and find the 5th sentence.
3. Post the next couple of sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
4. Do not go and find your favorite book; it has to be the one you are reading now!
5. Tag five other people to do the same.
I've been working my way through the New Testament. The other book I read is the one I'm writing and you aren't getting that!
And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
I tag: Crystal, Kate/wiimiii/law, RubyJade, Bethany, Kaylene, and Jenni
Just pick which game you want to play!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I can only hope that my daughter keeps up her angelically forgiving attitude as long as I kept up mine towards my own mother. I hope that by the time she figures out how incredibly young, flawed, and inexperienced I was when she was growing up, I will have become a bit more like the person that she seems to see in me.
It's not an easy goal to reach, but then Iit is hard to find a definition of a good mother that is both desirable to me and attainable. For example, let me illustrate the skills and duties of the "perfect mother" in my culture.
The ideal woman must:
- Keep an immaculate house at all times.
- Decorate said house in crafts she's made with her own two hands.
- Take her 3+ children on visits to the park, but make these trips learning experiences packed with science, sociology, literature, and art.
- Teach each of her children 1-20 and a-z before entering kindergarten.
- Have her children evidence perfect decorum on shopping trips, in church, at social functions, and certainly at school.
- Read to each child every night before tucking them in, this is in addition to listening to them as part of homework.
- Be spiritually balanced and ready to extemporise on gospel principles with no advance notice.
- Cook gourmet meals from a pantry stuffed with whole wheat and legumes.
- Maintain her own appearance at least at a 7, even if she wasn't a 10 in the first place.
- Be employed in either a job, hobby, or volunteer work to "contribute to society."
- Bake her own bread.
- Be actively involved in church, holding imortant positions and going the extra mile.
The reader must be informed that these are the expectations of my culture, not my religion. Our church leaders are constantly telling LDS women that we should be kinder to ourselves. In fact, any good hearted man with half a brain would never place so many requirements on anyone.
The fact of the matter is, we do this to ourselves. In so many cases the guidance of our leaders is added to a list of chores instead of internalised. "After I clean the house and put the finishing touches on the charity event I need to practice having charity towards myself," we think to ourselves, and here's a shocker, we never get around to it!
So to my fellow exhausted and overworked LDS moms I offer this perspective. You are raising children, not a house. None of us will be judged on judgment day on the number of vegetables we masked with jello salad. The parable of the talents wasn't talking about toll painting, it was talking about spiritual gifts, Things like listening, forgiving, and sharing are the things we are to invest and reap the rewards of. He was telling us to use what gifts we DO have to build His kingdom, not that we are lacking if we do not develop more.
One of my dearest friends says she doesn't have any talents, and yet she is a really great friend and teacher. She greets new people at church all the time, she has a great shoulder for crying, she has a really positive attitude, she double fills her multiple callings, and she supports her husband in his good works. Now that's a good woman.
Personally, I sing, dance, paint, sculpt, plan parties, decorate cakes, sew, crochet, write, and make yummy Italian. My REAL talents, though, are my ability to love people and my desire to bring them joy. Those are the talents that God cares about me using, those are the talents that I need to invest myself in. The others are just fringe benefits to being me and ways to supplement my REAL talents.
What each of us needs to do is find out what her real talents are and invest herself in them. In our efforts to beautify the world we really need to start with making ourselves more beautiful inside. Make kindness a priority. Slow down just a bit.
The dishes will be there tomorrow, the laundry will always be heckling you from the couch, there will always be another meal to make, silver to polish, phone call to make... the world is not going to stop being so DEMANDING. You have to learn to tune it out, and get tuned in on the things that really matter.
Kind, meek, charitable, temperate, forgiving, long-suffering; those are the words that you want contesting for room on your tombstone, those are the skills that you need to master.
In Matthew 6:33 the Saviour admonishes his disciples "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." If they in their tasks as fathers, husbands, and disciples were to set aside the aspirations of their society and put following Christ as their first priority, how much might we prosper from a similar mindset?
Instead of wasting our time in search of perfection, if we took every moment and looked for the good we could do in it, then the perfection would come to us.
I know, I ask the impossible, I ask you to give up the pursuit on which you have based your identity. I ask you to somehow find the time to stop and think in each moment when you hardly have a moment to think. It's the only way though, it's the only way we are ever going to conquer this world.
Stop doing all the things that make a person the "perfect mother" and start to BE a more perfect person.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I have to admit, I wasn't really prepared to dive in to this portion of my life. I don't know why, I just kind of expected a few more years of reprieve before I had to juggle games and practices with work, hobbies, church calling, more hobbies, and husband. In point of fact I would probably have neatly avoided this whole whole "activities" experience if I hadn't moved to a community where "community" is so pervasive.
I had hardly moved in before a friend at church was asking if Tali was going to take dance, or even Jay, there are lots of boys at the studio she goes to... what about Jordan? So I look in to the price... uhhh no. Then I mentioned to her that I was going to need a part time job, and she hooked me up with my job.
It's a great job. I work with kids, I have great co-workers, great bosses, take dinner with me, get a discount on our family membership. Which is to say I am now plugged in to "activities."
I'm still getting used to this whole way of life. It's not at all a bad thing, it's just different from what I expected. This is just not a page I ever really expected to be writing on in my life.
To be honest I've still not completely defined to myself why this is such an odd fit for me, why I feel so awkward at the sidelines of my son's t-ball practices or watching my kids on parent day at swim lessons. I just feel like this is "old hand" for everyone else, like they are easily taking the steps in a line-dance that somehow I've completely missed out on learning. "Hey, who wants to bring snack for after our first game?" The volunteer coach's wife asks. The gears in my head were still catching up with her question when someone else had already volunteered. I just really hope I didn't look as completely inept as I felt at that moment. I mean, snacks, yeah, I heard soccer moms did that, but... am I a soccer mom now? I guess I am. I guess I was the summer before last when I was watching my kids take swim lessons and I just didn't know it.
But... I'm NOT a soccer mom! I'm not! I'm a bookworm, seamstress, creative, computer-junkie, kind of mom. I'm the kind of mom who makes pointy ears for all 25 kids in the class to wear in the play and who brings in strawberries for snack.
I'm... I'm... I'm not who I thought I was. I've been tricked!
I don't even know how to handle all this soccer mom stuff, I mean... wasn't I supposed to have an opinion on soccer mom types before I became one? Over-protective, laid back, competitive, which am I? I find myself cheering for every clank of ball and bat, be it our team or not... and then I think, "Am I doing this wrong? Am I supposed to participate more, or less? Is my son stuck out on second base the rest of the season? How many innings are there in t-ball? Why are there 9 innings in baseball anyway, and who gets more at bat? Why do they wear batting helmets when no one is pitching? Why didn't I think to bring lawn chairs and bottled water like everyone else?"
I just don't get it, I feel so... dumb! I'm not used to feeling dumb. But when it comes to sports and kids activities I simply don't know what I'm doing. I'm so out of touch that the whole thing feels very surreal. I was sitting there in my lawn chair at his second game, bottled water in hand, and it just felt like I was living a day out of someone else's life. There is NO WAY I was really sitting in a southern park in October watching a t-ball game while a bluegrass band practiced nearby. How did this scene get in my plot?
And now we've come to the part of my post where I sum it all up and say something sage that makes my Daddy proud and my sisters miss me... but tonight I'm out of sage-ness. So I think I'm going to take my hormonal, chubby, soccer mom self to bed and have a good cry to help get my head around all this. I'm going to take a few hours to figure out how I got from where I was to where I am, and how much of who I was I gave up getting to be who I am.
Don't worry, I'll be fine. I'm sure that some time tonight I will reconcile all this. Then with the morn I will take solace in the fact that, at the very least, we do not CURRENTLY own a mini-van. Both labels might have killed me.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
It's true though, there really is nothing so universal as individuality. Taking the statement as a whole, in the entire human family there are no two people exactly alike. Even twins vary in their experiences and outlook, and while there are common threads in nearly every heart, no two hearts will experience life the same way.
If we were put in a centrifuge and by sheer force lumped together with like minded persons we would still find in each layer of humanity a richness of variation and complexity that is un-chartable. Each person is entirely and beautifully unique.
Individuality is an interesting word though. In it's archaic sense it meant something that could not be divided, inseparable. Then after the "indivi" part we find the word "duality." This is interesting to me simply because duality is being two things at once. Indivisible dual nature, what an intriguing concept.
The theology which I subscribe to informs me that the two sides of my soul are flesh and spirit, the two key elements in my personal evolution, and the struggle between them decides the direction I take in this life and in the eternities. The purpose of this life is to learn to bring the flesh into subjugation to the spirit, to overcome the lust and desires of the flesh in favor of the quiet and favorable needs of the spirit.
I see people all around me who do all they can to express their individuality without taking into consideration what it really means to be an individual. It's not about what color you die your hair, your clothing style, how many various and sundry groups you belong to. Your individuality is really about where you stand in the process of perfecting yourself, and if you are even aware that this process is the goal of your existence.
I am as guilty of imperfection as anyone, but I often wonder what people are thinking as they go about their lives. Is introspection really as rare as it seems? I wonder how it is that people can be represented as polar opposites and yet in many ways be so alike in their individuality? I wonder if, as life on this spinning rock draws to a close, people die as alike as they are when they are born? Do most of us learn what we lived to learn? Are we as wise as when we first opened our eyes?
All those moments between birth and death, and what do they teach us, what do they prove? Just this, we have to choose. We much each choose the conquering part of our dual nature, and in doing so we reveal as a race the true nature of mankind.
I have great hopes of what that summation will reveal, don't you?
Monday, September 29, 2008
When I was younger people would comment to my mother how good her kids were, and she would always blame all the goodness on having started with good stock.
The nature verses nurture debate will last forever, but I like to think that every child reflects two sets of parents. Each of us reflects his or her earthy parents, be they biological or adoptive, and heavenly parents, the ones who fashioned our souls.
I think my mother had a point, my kids are certainly better people than the influence of their family and friends could have possibly made them. There is something in their eyes that reflects goodness known longer than their sojourn under my roof. There is a spark of love in them that is eternal and perfect, and the proof of divinity lies within that spark.
I live in wonder of all that God teaches me about Him and I through my children, and I thank Him for them every day.
Friday, June 27, 2008
To tell the absolute truth though, I didn't write the words alone, and my freind didn't write the music alone. If you want to know who we had helping... read on.
He Loves Me Because I’m His Daughter
In a world ever changing I’m trying to grow,
and among all the paths pick which one to follow.
But among all life’s mysteries, this one thing I know,
That He loves me because I’m His Daughter.
I have beauty and promise I don’t always show.
If you look at my head you won’t find a halo,
But through all of my struggles this one thing I know,
That He loves me because I’m His Daughter.
So I pray to him each day, and through his guidance
I’m finding his ways… this I always know
That He loves me because I’m His Daughter.
There are good works and service that I strive to do,
and because of his blessings I seem to come through,
Then with each of our triumphs we prove this is true.
That He loves me because I’m His Daughter.
Through devotion and strife, I’ll prove with my life,
That I’m like him because I’m His Daughter.
If you want to hear the tune you can find it here, the person singing is my friend who wrote the music, and due to the recording conditions and the tune not being suited for her voice it's not the best recording in the world, but I still love it. I figured those who love me will love it too.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
and this is something I should know,
is not but a letter, the letter t.
A single letter the difference defines
between excuses and errors prevented by time,
by tact, by taboo, by temperance and by me.
For what is “Thora,” but another t-word?
And what effect do I wish when “Thora” is heard?
My actions decide what the definition shall be.
Lord help me to think, and to pray ere I act,
to retrench my impulses and exercise tact,
that someday my title be a credit unto me and Thee.
be there anything as peaceful as a tree?
What but a tree could grow so large or tall
and not have bullied his way at all?
Each starts as a seed so passive as he moves
born on the wind, eaten, shuffled into grooves.
Then he nestles into the cool damp earth,
and waits patiently for his eventual birth.
Slowly he exercises the wisdom of eons,
and extends first his root, forever to lean on.
Only once he is rooted in times greatest treasure
does he reach to the sky in potential unmeasured.
Gently he grows, gracefully extending his boughs
dancing on the wind as only arbors know how.
With each sweep and bend in his undulating dance
He captures the viewer's heart, as if in a trance.
Then rest the gentle tree when naught disturbs him
and soaks up the sunshine that sprinkles upon him.
And whilst he is still, high above the ground,
his roots he extends without making a sound.
But there in the trunk, an insect invasion
the tree first confronts it with gentle persuasion
"I'm not tasty I'm tough, just look at this bark,
surely there's a tastier treat in the park."
But not dissuaded the ravaging parasite
bores into the tree and administers it's blight.
Defenses breeched he can naught but bleed,
and pray before his death to scatter his seed.
Then scatter he does, his last gift to the world
his young to grow up all leafy and knurled.
To dance and to play us the raspy leaf song
and grow to the sky so slender and long.
And to fill the void that is left by their sire,
once to the forest floor he has at last retired.
Whispering, "The worst damage he ever did at all,
was the day that his greatness, expired did fall."
Then with the autumn as each shivers and grieves,
and divests it's self of its opulent leaves,
they cover the dead, their beauty now shorn,
and in branches and sticks, his passing they mourn.
But once come the spring, his memory celebrate
and send forth new leaves, a memorial ornate,
and with dancing and music to celebrate life,
a sound more beautiful than dulcimer and fife.
Rejoice oh ye young trees, rustle and bounce,
spread forth your joy, despair thou renounce,
for life is your purpose, your being, your song,
and bestow it thou dost, thine whole life long.
Breathe in and breathe out oh generous tree,
Send forth sweet breath to each living thou see,
Gently nudge us aside, when thy way we do hinder,
And reward our lea with thy wondrous splendor.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thinking back though, the song listed lots of generic guy things (being strong, throwing pitches), but it really failed to list why MY dad is the greatest guy. Considering that I didn't really know my father well until I was an adult, it think it's about time I set the record straight.
My dad has been a cop all my life, and sadly some people will never know him as anything but that. Being a cop is a huge chunk of a person's identity, and I have always been proud of the way in which my father had protected and served his community. He's a hero, and he's a bit of a ham... pun intended.
There is so much more to my father than the badge though, so much more than the excellent marksman and karate black belt. My dad is a renaissance man. My dad does it all.
If I ever have a question about anything, my dad is my personal google. Why is it hotter at lower elevations and colder on mountain tops? My dad knew. Need a few quotes from Chaucer? My dad can recite them. Who's his favorite daughter? All 7 of us are. How to calm a baby with colic? My dad can do it in seconds, with kids that aren't even his. What are the key points in the history of the Knights Templar? He can orate upon them. Want to know the location of Nevada ghost towns? He'll drive you there. How to say "Your lawyer is on the phone," in seven languages? He knows that too.
I think my favorite thing about my dad though is the poet in his soul. It is from him I learned to never be without paper and pen. He reads my writing, I read his, and through it we share a connection. As much as I am like my mother, I really think that I look at the world more like my father does, through the lens of a writer.
Some people look at a beautiful scene and wish to capture it on camera, my dad and I look at it and begin composing in our hearts. Then suddenly the words come spilling out of our over-stocked hearts and we scramble to catch them on a page before they are absorbed into the infinity of language from which they sprang.
For us, words are a labor of love and a vessel to convey the wealth of emotion with which we have been blessed. Words are precious gems to us and more powerful than "The Elder Wand." We simply cannot fathom how some people can go through life and not constantly seek for new words. So many people spend their life describing all their highs and lows with the same shallow four letter words. People like my father and I find that grossly ill-beseeming. With the breadth and depth of the English language one would think that the power of words would appeal more to the general population.
Perhaps I inherited this writer’s gene from my father or perhaps it’s something I learned by proximity, but that’s why I love my father so, we share this secret. His soul is as complex and multi-faceted as my own, and I shall always cherish the relationship I am privileged to have with him.
(Are your allergies bothering you, Dad? Well, Happy Father’s Day.)
Friday, May 09, 2008
It's not so much the wrinkles and grey hairs that frighten me. I think I can handle losing my "beauty," or at least I'm determined to accept it gracefully.
It's not a fear of death either, because I am so very confident in my beliefs of what's on the other side of that wispy dark veil.
What my fear of being old is really about is being infirm, being a burden, and having my mind slip away.
I know I'm not alone in my fears, at the very least they were shared by one of my Grandmothers, who committed suicide when I was a pre-teen. My mother supposes it was because Grandma was losing her independence and couldn't face a future of her body gradually failing her, a little at a time.
I'm sure that others join me in fearing the loss of mental capacity, Alzheimer’s or other "dementia" disorders are a daunting prospect. A future like that, perhaps languishing for year after year in a care facility, or lashing out during a spell at one of the people we love most, is terribly frightening.
However, I’ve had the fortune recently to have a learned a little about this subject from a woman in my area. I’ve never met her, but I work for her daughter.
My manager, K, is one of the most genuinely pleasant people you will ever meet. Sometimes I have been suspicious of people who smile all the time, like they were hiding a darker side under that perma-smile, but K isn’t at all like that. I honestly believe that K just decided to be a happy and lovely person, and she does it very well. She’s an inspiration to me.
One day though, she seemed to have misplaced her smile, her eyes bore the shadows of pain and exhaustion, and though I barely knew her I walked up and gave her a hug, she seemed to need one. It was then I learned that her mother, F, has a brain tumor, an inoperable one that by all medical calendars should have quieted her pulse long ago. K is the driving force of F’s emotional support system, while raising two great kids, being active in church and community, and excelling at her demanding career.
K is my hero, needless to say, and I’ve added her to the list of people I worry about (while driving or cleaning or enjoying a relatively quiet moment at work.) I wonder at how she holds up in such a circumstance, how she even puts one foot in front of the other much less goes about doing so much good.
Then I realized this morning as I was reflecting (while driving, of course) on the relationship between the aged and their children, that K’s mother’s condition isn’t anywhere near as much of a burden as it is a blessing to her daughter and general acquaintance. In these, the last vestiges of her mortal life, she is giving her final gifts.
To her daughter, she gives the opportunity of service, and the chance to see beyond her mother’s activities and really see her mother. She has learned in these last years the person her mother is, something so many of us may never know.
To her husband she gives a fond farewell, a chance to really demonstrate in these final years the love that he has nurtured for her all along.
To her friends she also gives an opportunity to serve, that precious chance to step outside themselves and care for another. They are also blessed with a valuable reminder that life is short, and love is too important to be suppressed in favor of the mediocre daily pursuits of our lives.
Lastly, to this particular complete stranger she unknowingly bestows a gift of wisdom and peace. As I scurry throughout my life, striving to serve my friends and family while I am still able, I shall remember F. Perhaps I will get old, after all. Perhaps I will lose control of my limbs and eyes. Perhaps I will not remember things as clearly, or perhaps I will eventually become so disconnected from the world around me that my children will see a hollow shell where their mother once was. I just pray, that in that day they will have learned the lesson that God finally got through to me. People age so that the younger learn that part of us will never die. Age is the very evidence of the immortality of the soul.
Thank you F, you are my hero.
Happy Mother's Day.
Monday, May 05, 2008
when you look at her core,
under scrutiny what is found
that was overlooked before?
For often at first glance
a hurried label is attached
and with a group or genre
her identity is attached,
But what shallow judgements
will so very often fail to see
is women have so many sides
they number infinitely
She's not a jewel to be shaped
to produce a transparent glitter
but a thing of much more worth,
that glowing crowns befit her.
Nor is there a woman born
who's soul is an open book
for casual study to comprehend
or to be known within a look.
To truely know a woman
to know just what to ask
is the labor of a life time
the reward within the task.
For even when you know her
enough to love her true
you'll find she's only begining
to unveil herself to you.
If she ever stands before you
her secrets known and sure
rest while you can, for inside
she's not who she was before.
While the why of woman's changes
has stymied philosopers of the past
today I shall reveal it to you
the motivation known at last.
While men do daily struggle
the whole universe to subdue
a woman's heart whispers low
"the universe is you."
Creation, flux, revolutions,
the fires and the seas,
the violence of clashing worlds,
the gentle hum of bees.
Kings, prinicipalities, riches,
such frail and passing shades
in comparison to a woman
their glory wanes and fades.
For she is the embodiement
of power, greatness, charity.
Alas, poor man have ever
you seen her with clarity?
For where you see a woman,
through the lense of eternity
glimpse with me my friend
the Goddess that will be.
T.E.L.H. May 5, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
How May I Bear For Thee?
To bear another's burden, what will that mean today,
As I go about my duties and watch the children play?
Will it be a sore knee kissed, or kind words after a loss?
Will it be a chasm of guilt, that only I can reach across?
Will what is needed be my hands, making something light,
Or is my shirt what's required, to soak up tears tonight?
What tools have I to fit me for the holy work of God?
Perhaps naught but my feet planted firmly on gospel sod.
Perhaps my lips through prayer can serve and help a suffering friend,
or with kind words and true intent a long felled fence may mend.
Better yet still, perhaps I could erect no boundary fence,
but there I'll plant a garden, where love grows thick and dense.
Today my oven may bake God's way into a lonely heart,
or perhaps my phone today will His words of peace impart.
At the very least I'll stop and think, before speak in jest,
that no idle words of mine will pierce another's breast.
I'll meet the weary of the world each door that I pass through,
and the service that is needed is never something new.
It's time and patience, forgiveness, and work with good intent,
true service be naught but good hearts on worthy labor bent.
So I'll "bear another's burdens, that they may be light,"
and through my simple services I'll help the day be bright.
Thora 4/16/08 (written to get Stivey's mental juices flowing for her talk in church)