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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Preparing the fatted little boy is coming home!!!

Next Tuesday my son Mikey will be returning home from two years in Costa Rica where he served a mission for our church. I thought the time went by so fast, but then I always think time rushes by...I feel we eat breakfast every twenty minutes. Even with time going by quickly, I have missed him so much. Our whole family felt the hole created by his absence. Sometimes it was too hard and sometimes it was even unbearable. But I knew the life he was living in Costa Rica was completely worth the sacrifice.

We missed his savant like mind for endless sports trivia. His unbelievable inability to sing. We missed his ridiculous outfits and theme dates.
We looked forward to Mondays when his weekly email arrived. We laughed at his antics and wondered what the "Ticos" really thought of our silly, sweet, but always determined Michael. We followed his adventures for two years.....from endless rain, beautiful beaches, volcanic eruptions. strange, strange animals and far to many earthquakes to count. I didn't feel nervous, which I should have...but I always felt a certain peace that comes when you know everything is fine.

It is true I couldn't listen to Jack Johnson for two years...or Michael Buble...the memories were too strong...he loved all kinds of music, but those two singers were his favorites. Every time I would hear Jack Johnson my heart would go back to an incredible Saturday afternoon watching him play football. So I avoided those songs. Unless they would come on the radio......and then honestly I would have to go off by myself, cry, compose myself and go on. I Knew there was no way I could offer him the kind of experiences he was having...I just let the wave of sadness come and then go....

For a long time I couldn't go in his room, then I went all the time, I found a lot of comfort there. I never made his room a shrine, but it was a place to remember the little boy I knew was never coming home. Mikey left a teenager, but he is coming back a twenty one year old man. A man who has had a lot of responsibility, worked through homesickness, impatience and a lot of rejection. He lost himself and found real joy....all from serving people he never knew before and may never see again.

He wrote to us first of not getting along with his companions...and then his letters changed to caring about others and not himself......his heart was broken telling us about his companion who was disowned by his family when he joined the church only a year ago. The sadness they both felt after his mother hung up on him when he called her for mother's day. He told me he felt guilty when he would get emails and packages. He begged me to send his companion a box, "just put anything in it, he never gets a letter or an email." We did that happily.....

Because he was so passionate about what he was there to do, it bothered him when people didn't accept his message....his heart was broken when very troubled people would come up to him and tell him how much they wanted what he was offering, how much they wanted to change...but they felt their weaknesses was too much to overcome. Mikey is convinced anyone can do anything. he tries so hard to get people to believe in themselves and the power they have. I hope he never loses is a good way to live.

So Tuesday Mikey comes home...and another chapter of life starts. He doesn't know what an iPad is, or the oil spill in the Gulf. When he left Bush was president and unemployment in Nevada was about is now the worst in the country at 14%. When he left Tiger Woods was still an athlete we respected and Ben Rothlisberger was a great quarterback whose only statistics were on the field. Come to think of it, Mikey may not want to catch up with everything....

Mikey shared with me the wonder of his mission through his letters and emails. He wrote about his absolute joy when someone would consent to baptism. He told us about the woman at the temple who recognized his name and told him she joined the church after her daughter shared the gospel with her.....and her daughter had been taught by Mikey. He was barely able to speak when he realized his message of hope had been passed to this wonderful woman, someone he had never met. We shared his disappointment when things didn't work out the way he had hoped. We laughed at his inability to be sad for very long, relieved he could still find the "funny" in the most depressing times.

His adventures were running from dogs, seeing amazing water falls, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, tremendous poverty, and unbelievable beauty. He had a surprise visit from his brother who brought a suitcase to him filled with Christmas goodies, a visit from dear friends who brought 30 people with them straining the walls of the tiny church he met in. He ran into a man at the temple who is a best friend of our stake president...I had a box delivered to him by the most amazing relay system you could imagine. The box went from a friend of mine in Las Vegas to a woman who lived in Costa Rica was in Salt Lake City for a conference....she then carried the box for a week before going back to Costa Rica and handing it off to Mikey in San Jose.

Then a former baby sitter who grew up to be unbelievably beautiful, went to his Sacrament meeting with her three children while she was there on vacation. She scared him when she said, "Hi Mikey, how's it going?" He didn't recognize her at first, and had the hardest time explaining to everyone who she was. There just aren't a lot of beautiful blondes in the jungle of Costa Rica.

Part of the fun of Mikey's mission was when he would run into people who knew his older brother. Trey served in the same mission, and there were quite a few times people would recognize his name and be amazed. Mikey was grateful Trey was a good missionary...he never had to apologize for anything.

I don't have adequate words to express my thanks to the people who prayed for him while he was away. Or those that sent him letters and gifts of money (he often got tired of Rice and beans and enjoyed many trips to Taco Bell, Burger King and McDonalds.) He got care packages from so many, including letters from former coaches. I don't think he ever felt forgotten, or unloved. And aside from constant problems with his feet (thank you Shawna for helping him get medical help) he is coming home healthy and happy. He truly left it, "all on the field."

But more than anything I want to thank my Savior for making it all possible. For giving me the strength to let my precious son be away for two years, and for being the only one Michael depended on for two years.
My love to you all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wimbledon and some great advice...

So here's the deal, the other day I read a really nasty column online. It upset me, so I sent it to my friend Wendy, she would know what to do. I mean it was the meanest, twisted bit of quasi journalism you could ever read. I was acrimonious with what they had said and I needed Wendy to fix it..... why should I deal with this alone? So she emails back almost immediately and tells me, "don't read this column again." And then she says...."Go watch Wimbledon." Some wing man.

But I did....

Holy cats!! Did you watch that match today? Did you see those 2 players slogging it out for 10 straight hours? Wait, let me say this again.....10 HOURS!!! The longest tennis match ever played...for those of you sleeping...they played for 10 hours, who does anything for 10 hours? And these guys played big boy tennis for 10 hours. If you wonder why I am repeating myself it is because no one plays tennis for 10 hours! Much less this kind of tennis........great tennis, aces, volleys, incredible tennis! These 2 players, a American named John Isner and a Frenchman named Nicolas Mahut started playing this match Tuesday but had to stop because it was dark (Wimbledon doesn't have lights...I know, I know, the English have heard of lights but it is in the same category as dentists....they just don't use them. ) And then back to it today...the fifth game is tied at....wait for it, 59-59. There should be see it is a rule that the fifth game can't go to a tie breaker. So instead it just goes on forever. I wouldn't think this would be very good news for France...they have that nasty reputation for simply giving up, but old Nicolas would have none of that....he is in it to win it...I am not sure if this performance will be enough to change the course of history about the French and surrendering, but who knows ...and these 2 guys are amazing. How many of us would do something like this? I have to tell you at some reasonable time, maybe at hour number 3 or 4, I think I would wander over to the net, motion to my opponent and say something like.....I'M HUNGRY! I'M TIRED! I NEED TO PEE! it's been real!!.....I would toss them a towel, gather up my rackets and head for a massage. So long!!

.....but not these guys.

Anyway, another great part of this marathon tennis match is the Queen is coming tomorrow! She is scheduled to see Rafael Nadal play, and you know Queens - they stay on a schedule, but I wonder if she will at least take a peek at the French guy and the really tall American. As cute as Rafael is, only his mom will be watching his match. I am so excited to see who finally wins. These 2 guys are freakin' famous!! (thank you to my children for that description) No matter what happens next, they are the story of Wimbledon. They have set a record no one will break....who else could survive that long to break it?
And they are going to be connected forever. Maybe they never met before they faced off on the green courts of Wimbledon...but now these 2 obscure guys playing on court 18 are going to be on Regis, People magazine and the food network. They will be endorsing shoes that can go the distance, a little trail mix for stamina, and a watch for telling the time...A watch that should be saying, "Hey Nicolas we have been here for 10 hours!!"

Court 18 or not everyone will be watching them tomorrow. Including the Queen, I mean come on she hasn't been to Wimbledon in 33 years, this is big! She will have to trot down to court 18...What am I saying? She and her purse can sit at Center court for a while and then demand they change courts. A little player rotation, why not? She's the queen!! There just have to be some perks for putting up with her kids all these years...

But here's the deal, in life, you never know what the real story is going to be. And that is what I especially love about never know. It is SO much better than the news, because we always know how that is going to end, someone yelling, someone lying, and everyone mad.

So let's tune into to Wimbledon tomorrow, before you watch that cute Rafael Nadal on Center court, watch these guys for awhile. No one told them they were just some obscure tennis players way back on court 18......they think they are champions. And after what I saw today, I think they are right.

Aren't you glad I listened to Wendy?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

James Taylor, Stevie Nicks and Me

I am a child of the 70's....We were all over the place. None of us knew what was really going on. For one thing we didn't really know what kind of music we liked.......It seemed like we were musically schizophrenic, there was hard rock, odd rock, slow music, loud music all of it, wonderful early 70's taste was devoted to Jethro Tull, Rare Earth and James Taylor. My parents had lived through the Monkees, the Beach Boys and of course the Rolling Stones...and then there were others....and all of the music had a story.

The summer before I graduated from high school I visited lots of colleges trying to decide which one could reject me first...and I heard "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart every ten minutes on the radio. I equate beautiful Texas campuses, warm summer evenings with Rod Stewart, and every time I hear Maggie May I go right back there.

During the race to become homecoming Queen my senior year the local radio station dedicated a song to me for luck every time I hear the song called "Sweet City Woman" by the Stampeders, I remember a wonderful Saturday afternoon at a great football game, and my yellow dress with shoes dyed to match. I didn't win, but it didn't really matter. I go back to that afternoon every time I hear...
"I can see your face, I can hear your voice, I can almost touch you
Swee-ee-eet, sweet city woman
Oh, my banjo and me, we got a feel for singin', yeah, yeah,"

And then of course that catchy refrain....sung about a thousand times, it doesn't matter how corny it is, I love it, I am 17 again....with yellow shoes dyed to match.
"Bon c'est bon, bon bon c'est bon, bon,"
(That is awful..but I still love

And then of course there was Fleetwood Mac...I wanted to be Stevie Nicks and sing Landslide, my favorite song...The fact I couldn't sing and didn't have a drug problem seemed to be deal breakers. I went to see her one time and she came out on stage in this amazing long black dress, she was beautiful....and her voice was perfect. It was years later that I read she lived in a small house behind someone's house with a couple of dogs. The article was clear she really loved her dogs....

I thought for sure Glen Frey from the Eagles would have asked me out. And he would have if only our paths would have crossed. But he didn't and they didn't.... I thought Witchy Woman was the coolest song...when I got older and really listened to the song I was a little surprised...I never paid any attention to the words as I sang along...I had no idea why "she drove herself to madness with a silver spoon...". My husband and I went to see the Eagles with Jane and Steve...everyone was our age, and I bet every one of us was thinking of another time...

"Mama told me not to come" by Three Dog Night was my anthem. I still think it is a great fun song, and it is still true!

Patti and I climbed on a table to sing along with War. Didn't they sing Cisco Kid too?

I knew all the words to "American Pie" by Don McClean, and I stun friends with my ability to sing the many years later.

High School graduation was a Rare Earth concert..."I just want to celebrate!" Remember that?
But do you know what makes me the happiest today is that Carole King and James Taylor have decided to get old. It took James Taylor a long, long time to find out that drugs are not a very good substitute for creativity. And just look at this picture...two old friends, still with a lot of talent....being who they are. This picture makes me feel good...I know James Taylor had a lot of things to over come. And he did it...there are lots of stars of music who died young, some tragically, many sacrificed marriages and were estranged from their children. I thought so many of them were the coolest.......I didn't really know.I am glad my life worked out the way they did. I wouldn't change a thing. Every bad decision I made helped me be stronger, and wiser. Every sad thing that happened every bumbling dumb thing I did......All of it made me better. All of our experiences are for our good, if we chose to look at them that way. And I do. I get to walk through life with the same person I started out with. That's the greatest miracle of my life. Thanks Ray-Ray. Congrats on 31 great years.

There is a great quote that says, "It is at the end of a man's life that he realizes how important the decisions were that he made at the beginning of his life."

I was never going to be a singer, or an actress, a great tennis player or Barbara Walters......I have a very small life, but it is an important one. So I don't look with envy at Stevie, or wonder if Glen is going to call...I think of that young girl looking at colleges listening to Maggie May and I know she would be happy for how things have worked out. Small lives are important lives...