Sunday, November 13, 2016

From Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult:

"Yes," I say softly, because it is the opposite of restraint. Because it breaks chains. Because I can.

I ball my hands into fists and tilt back my head and let the word rip from my throat. Yes.



Monday, October 31, 2016

The Parable of the Pillow

When I left for college at age eighteen, I took with me a thick foam pillow I inherited from my grandmother. This pillow saw me through Ricks College and the BYU Marriott School of Management. After graduation, it accompanied me to Los Angeles and, a couple of years later, into my marriage. When my husband’s work brought our then family of three to Salt Lake City, my pillow came too.

At some point over the several years that followed, my foam pillow started to fall apart. At first I’d occasionally notice a tiny bit of foam in my bed when I woke up in the morning. Before long, though, the pieces got larger, and they were appearing more frequently. Sadly, I started contemplating life without my pillow.

I’d never purchased a pillow, but for some reason my expectation was that such a purchase was outside of what my budget would allow.

One day, while shopping at Target, I decided to look at pillows. To my amazement, I discovered that I could replace my worn-out pillow for less than $10 - and I could obtain an even better pillow for about $20. I couldn’t believe it!

I quickly placed a “new and improved” thick, firm pillow in my shopping cart, and my old pillow ended up in the trash can.

Even as it happened, this experience seemed to me to have the essence of a parable, but at the time I didn’t know what "the parable of the pillow" meant.

Recently, though, have I come to see the experience through the lens of Yes.

Sometimes what we want — or even what we really need — is available to us at little cost.

Sometimes something of worth doesn’t require a lot of money, time, or effort.

Sometimes we just need to put what we've desired into our figurative shopping cart and take it home.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Joyful Day

One morning last spring I woke up in a gorgeous mountain setting. The beautiful blue sky held the promise of goodness, and the glorious sunshine invited joy. Almost immediately the words of Psalm 118:24 came to mind, and I was glad.

The trick, though, is learning to feel this same gladness when I wake up on a Monday morning to a rainstorm that will certainly lengthen my commute, or when I wake up to a gloomy day that promises only long hours of below-freezing temperatures. Harder still is waking up not fully rested, struggling with a cold or with lingering memories of disturbing dreams.

"This is the day which the Lord hath made." Still a true statement.

Will I make the choice to feel joy despite the circumstances?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Light of the World

Last Friday, en route to the Utah Shakespeare Festival for Fall Break, my husband, our son, my mom, and I stopped by the newly opened Light of the World Garden. It was an amazing experience!

Be Thou Clean (Matthew 8:1-4).

One Thing is Needful (Luke 10:38-42).

Lazarus, Come Forth (John 11:1-44).

Because of Love (Mark 15 and John 12:23-50).

Reach in Faith (John 20:24-31).

Note: I took these photographs during our visit. For professional images, go here.

The founder and sculptor of the Light of the World Garden is Angela Johnson. Right after the garden opened, I read a newspaper article about its conception and development. I was particularly interested in the sculptor's background:
Johnson's career as a sculptor and later her vision of the garden came about in a unique way. After vigorously pursuing a dream to become a prima donna of the Metropolitan Opera for many years, Johnson realized with finality in 1997 that it would never happen. Instead, she felt inspired to go to an art supply store, where she bought a block of water-based clay and a sculpting tool. Within hours she had created a bust of a little girl. Thus began her journey as a sculptor, she said.
Sometimes it's hard to leave one dream behind to say a big Yes to something else. This incredible garden exists only because Johnson was willing to do just that!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Living Redemption

The Provo City Center Temple — the 150th temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), located in downtown Provo, Utah — has an interesting history.

From 1898 to 2010, the Provo Tabernacle served as a multipurpose religious meeting place and community center. Then, in December 2010, a four-alarm fire gutted the interior of the historic building.

In the words of Linda S. Reeves, a leader of the LDS Church's worldwide women's organization:
[The building's] loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”

Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple — a house of the Lord!

Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple.
This magnificent temple, which my husband, son, and I were able to tour in February, was dedicated on Sunday, March 20, and we were blessed to attend that service. As I sat waiting for the dedication to begin, I read from Shauna Niequist's Savor, the daily devotional book I'm reading this year.

The scripture for March 20 was Isaiah 43:19:
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
Shauna's words seemed to have been written just for the occasion:
This is what I know: God can make something beautiful out of anything, out of darkness and trash and broken bones. He can shine light into the blackest night, and He leaves glimpses of hope all around us.
Provo City Center Temple, February 2016.
© Alison Walker 2016

The theme for my annual women's retreat this year was Living Redemption. On the first night of the retreat, each of us shared a definition or experience or quote about what redemption means to us. I shared Shauna's words and the circumstance in which I'd read them, because this is what I know — God can make something beautiful out of anything!

Monday, October 24, 2016

This Far

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll start this post by indicating that it's backdated. Tonight is actually October 29, and it's been six days since I've posted for #Write31Days. After twenty-three days of posting every day, I hit an incredibly busy week at work coupled with a level of fatigue I haven't experienced in a while. Something had to go — actually several somethings — and writing was one of them.

My teenage son Jonathan, who is a senior in high school pursuing an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, had his own extremely busy week, what with end-of-quarter assignments, service hours for National Honor Society, college applications, and putting together a costume for the Halloween dance.

(Tangentially, didn't the costume turn out great?!)

Woodstock and Snoopy.
© Alison Walker 2016

One morning this week, as we were hurriedly gathering our belongings so we could get out the door and on the way to school and work, Jon told me about his current mantra, the thing that's keeping him going during this final stretch of high school.

Those words?

I didn't come this far to only come this far.

This seems like a good mantra for me too, something that's going to keep me going for a while, the thing that brought me back to #Write31Days when it would have been easy to just be done.

I'm saying Yes to perseverance!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

All Things New

Last year for Advent, my family and I prepared our hearts for Christmas with a study from She Reads Truth titled "Born is the King." (You can find it here.) The entire study is beautiful, but one Bible verse in particular settled itself in my heart.

I'd read, even studied Revelation 21:5 before, but this time it meant something more — and ten months later, it continues to fill me with all the hope and joy and peace that I find in Jesus. It seems to embody all of the Yeses that matter most.

I especially like the way the verse is worded in the HCSB:

"Look! I am making everything new."

© Alison Walker 2016