what is a squiggle?

According to fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Hill, a squiggle is a beginning point, a small, wiggly line on a page with the potential to become something more--a brilliantly drawn fifth-grade picture!

A beginning point. A silly phrase from my preschooler, my teenager rolling his eyes, or my kindergartner deleting my entire 3rd chapter...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Ephesians 5:25

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it."

My father is a dragon slayer. I've seen him in action as he defends his castle, and my mother, from the fearsome beasts. Fire breathing? No. Taller than a skyscraper? No. Massive jaws and killer claws? Again, no. Hairy, six-legged and creepy? Yes! My mother's dragons are ugly, brown, two-inch cockroaches. And my father is her hero.

My brother is also a dragon slayer. As is my husband. The dragons that terrify my sister-in-law differ from those my father slays and from the ones that attack my home. Hers are spiders; mine are scorpions. While the species of dragons differ, the love and affection the slaying of those dragons show for my mother, my sister-in-law, and for me is incredibly strong--the damsel-in-distress-knight-in-shining-armor connection.

Sure, I'm a strong, capable woman. More than once a dragon has reared its ugly head when my dragon slayer hasn't been home, and I've had to kill the monster myself. But when he is home, I'm a willing damsel in distress, and in doing so, I feed his need to protect and defend me.

All husbands should be dragon slayers--protecting the women they love from the things they fear most, whether the dragon is tangible or not. And all wives should often be the damsel, giving her husband a chance to rescue her. Stories are full of the rescued falling in love with the rescuers.

I know my heart swells with greater love every time my dragon slayer defeats another beast, scoops it up in a plastic cup and disposes of it in the garbage can.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Proverbs 22:6

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

My mom had a unique way of slipping bits of the Gospel into the lives of her children. She liked to place uplifting quotes, pictures and Mormon-ads throughout the house in places where we could not ignore them. Like the bathroom.

Even though I have been out of the house for over seventeen years, I can still remember many of the Mormon-ads on the wall of the bathroom: "Reflect on Eternity," "Rise above the Blues," "Cutting Remarks are really Hurting." I see the picture of the girl looking into a mirror and seeing, not her reflection, but her future self with a young man standing outside the temple; the one yellow balloon climbing above the group of blue ones; a young man with knives coming out of his mouth as he speaks.

On the wall beside the bathroom door, my mom placed a handwritten copy of the final stanza of the poem by Ella Wheeler Cox entitled "Gethsemane." I never saw that poem anywhere else, never studied it in church or school, but I can still quote those closing lines.

When my mom picked me up from church activities or school games, she always had uplifting music playing. Although I would unfailingly pop her cassette out of the player and turn the volume up on my own music, lines from the songs she played would linger in my mind, often steering the course of my attitude later on.

Mom never forced spirituality on us. She never argued when we changed the music, and we always had the option of using the bathroom with our eyes closed, but she surrounded herself with goodness. And because she did, when we were with her, near her, that goodness encircled us. And her children have been blessed by it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Scripture Squiggle Doctrine and Covenants 46:32

"And ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with."

During an address during general conference in October of 2008, President Monson reminded us, "Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings."

The Spiral Notebook

We didn't feel very thankful as November of 2009 approached. My husband and I and our seven children were living in a three bedroom trailer without hope of improved circumstances anytime soon. It seemed the complaints multiplied with each day that passed, and I was beginning to feel crushed beneath the weight of our unhappiness. "Mom, when will I have my own room?" "She never helps me clean up." "I HATE this house!" And, although I didn't voice it, I felt the same way. How can I ever keep the house clean with so little space? A dishwasher sure would be nice. Another scratch in the linoleum?

Something had to be done. Something to remind us of all the blessings Heavenly Father had given us. So I found a lightly used spiral notebook buried in a junk drawer, tore out the used pages, and decorated the cover with a few stickers and a marker: Our Book of Daily Blessings. I showed the notebook to the family and told them my idea. Each day, everyone in the family needed to write down a blessing that they were thankful for. Those who could not write, could draw a picture or have an older sibling write it for them.

I placed the book in an accessible location and stocked the area with pens, pencils and crayons. At the end of the first day, I discovered that my family was grateful for food, clothes and other basic necessities. But by the time Thanksgiving arrived, our blessings became deeper; we were far more aware of God's hand in our lives. My son, who struggled with sharing a room with three loud, energetic siblings, wrote, "God showed me how loving my family is and how to be thankful for my trials." A daughter observed, "God gave me the ability to help a student I didn't know with work and she became my friend." And my husband, perhaps the loudest of all the complainers, penned, "Heavenly Father helped me to recognize that our current lifestyle is not as bad as some people."

We enjoyed the Book of Blessings so much that we continued writing in it long after Thanksgiving passed. We became a family full of gratitude, a family that saw God and His magnificent blessings in everything around us-- thanks to a slightly tattered, wide-ruled spiral notebook.