Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I have a need to get up on my soap box today. Bear with me. If you are offended, it's not that I don't like you. I just feel a need to clarify my stand on this particular issue.

We had our annual Ward Conference at church on Sunday. Being the Bishop, Greg had the opportunity to speak during Sacrament Meeting. He gave a great talk and I enjoyed listening to him. After the meeting was over, a friend, who happened to be male, stopped me on the way to Sunday School and said, "You did a great job training him."

"Training who to do what?" I asked.

"Training your husband to give such good talks in church."

"No", I responded, "he's that good all on his own. In fact, he's taught me a good chunk of what I know about teaching and speaking in church."

My friend replied something to the effect of, "We all know that good men are only as good as they are because they've been trained by their wives."

While I appreciate what I think was meant to be a compliment, I have real issues with the prevailing attitude that women are some sort of unfallible being who consent to spend their existence on earth with hopeless men who should spend their every waking minute singing praises to the women in their lives for saving them from themselves. Why would I want to spend eternity with an "inferior" someone? Why would that someone want to spend eternity always feeling inferior? It doesn't sound very pleasant for either person.

Contrary to some popular beliefs, men are very capable people. Yes, most of them have mothers who love them and do their best to teach them while they are growing up. Once they leave home, though, they are on their own, or should be. When they are married, those skills are used to manage their own families. Yes, they then have a wife, who shares in the responsibility of raising a family and maintaining a marriage, but it's both parties working together that makes things work.

I met Greg after he'd served a two-year mission for the church on the other side of the country and been home for over a year. On his mission he was three time zones away from his mother. He did have a mission president's wife whom he loved and we still keep in contact with, but she did not get him up, manage his time, shop, cook, clean, budget, wash clothes, or choose outfits for him. He did all of those things on his own. Several of them all on one day a week- his Preparation Day. On top of basic living responsibilities, he made and kept teaching appointments, studied the gospel, knew and obeyed mission rules, served in any way he could, strengthened his relationship with his Heavenly Father, and added to the very solid foundation of his testimony. He came home giving good talks, so that was a skill he'd developed well before he even knew me.

After his mision, Greg came to BYU where we met. He lived in an apartment with 3 other guys. And, once again, he and his roommates cooked, cleaned, decorated, went to school, shopped, dated, worked, attended church, and all of the other things that people do to survive and have fun at school. I met him when he'd been home almost 18 months and we were married 18 months later. Was he perfect? No. Was I perfect? Heavens no. I didn't expect perfection, but neither was I looking for a "fixer-upper". I was looking for, and found, a capable person who loved the Lord, wanted to be a good husband and father, was willing to work hard, and loved me for who I was. He was my best friend well before we were married. He helped me to see how be a better me and I just plain liked being around him. I could see the kind of person he could become and I wanted to be part of that process. I know we have both played a role in shaping each other into the people we are today- not because he or I "trained" each other but because we loved and encouraged the good while helping to remove and replace the bad.

Now we've been married for nearly 2o years. That means I've known Greg now about the same amount of time than I didn't know him. Looking back, neither if us is the same person in many respects that we were when we got married. We have tried, experimented, cheered each other on, talked, cried, failed, succeeded, learned, and tried again TOGETHER on so many different things that there isn't room enough in my available computer memory to list them all. Our kids have managed to survive us so far and the working together has strengthened the team that we are.

Do we do everything the same way? No. On the really important things we are very united and the same. We both love our family and God, have similar views on the raising children, the importance of education, budgeting money, etc. On others, not so much. Do I shop, cook, and clean house "better" than he does? Maybe. I certainly do those things more often and am thus more familiar and maybe more efficient than he is. However, he steps in just fine when I am gone or not feeling well. Being more removed from those situations sometimes allows him to see more clearly a way things could be done better. Do I provide for our family better than he does? No. Could I? Maybe, but I couldn't be as good a mom if I also had to be the dad at the same time. That's where the team work comes in. There are so many "jobs" that need to be done in a family that it's nearly impossible for one person to do them all. Ask any single parent. There are things that just have to go when there aren't two of you. Heaven knows there are enough things that have to go when there ARE two of you. Neither of you will be as good as the other at everything. I shop and make dinner a little more efficiently. So what. Throw me into a molecular biology lab or a teaching room at the library and see how "efficient" and "productive" I am all of a sudden. It's not that I can't do those things. It's not that Greg can't do what I do. It's that we work together to meet the needs of our family by taking on different responsibilities and hoping our combined efforts cover everything.

With time, experience, and communication we've even become better and more efficient at helping and supporting each other in our different responsibilities. We learn skills the other has, what it takes to keep everything ticking, then help it to get done. Greg has bent over backwards in this department. In fact, most of the time I feel like he picks up more of my slack than I pick up of his. The best part is, I just still plain like being around him and he's still helping me to be a better me.

So, it all comes down to this. I need him and he needs me. Neither of us can get to the Celestial kingdom without the other. I learn from him every day. I'm grateful that he has skills and abilities where I don't and vice versa. We compliment and learn from each other creating better halves of a more and more complete whole. Maybe it's training after all. We're just working out together under the watchful eye of the same Coach.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Miracle Worker

Last fall I ran into an old friend of mine. Justine and I were friends from 4th-7th grade in northern Michigan. We lived in different towns, but were in the same small branch of the Church. Her family moved to southern Michigan and mine moved a year later to Arizona. We saw each other a couple of times while we both attended BYU, but lost contact after that. Last fall she happened to be standing in front of me in line at Parent/Teacher conferences at the middle school. We have sons the same age and in several of the same classes. I had no idea she lived in the same state, much less the same school boundaries.

We've gotten our families together twice, now. The second time being last night. My parents are visiting us, her parents live in UT, and we all got together to have dinner and catch up. It was lots of fun. It wasn't until this morning, though, that I realized she'd worked a couple of miracles last night.

The first involved Joseph. For most of Joseph's life, he has been a bit of a social enigma to me. He hated play groups and going to the park. He never wanted to go visit anyone. He was just happy to be at home doing his thing and he could make life kind of miserable for the rest of us when we did go out. I worried that he'd never have friends. To my surprise, he's been a very social and out going kid. He has lots of friends and has a couple he spends as much time with as he can. He still hates to go places and visit people, though. He'll tolerate the drive over, about 5 minutes there and then he's ready to leave. Often he's not very discreet about it , either. It's lots of fun for the rest of us.

This morning I realized that not once last night did he say anything about wanting to go home. In fact, he didn't even come upstairs from playing except to grab another cookie. I can't remember the last time that happened. He is friends with Justine's oldest son at school. I hope they hang out more often. I might actually get a chance to visit with one of my friends occasionally.

The second miracle involved me. My friend is involved with a small magazine called Segullah. It publishes essays, poems, and artwork by LDS women about twice a year. I'd never heard of it before, but I read through some of the articles this morning and enjoyed myself. I have no grand aspirations when it comes to writing, but our conversation last night reminded me that I hadn't written anything besides a family newsletter in months. I realized I missed it. That's saying something because I hated writing in high school. Somewhere along the way I've picked up the idea that writing can be fun and my brain was missing it. I've sat down to post something to the blog several times in the last couple of months, but nothing came to mind that seemed worth writing about. I blamed it on being busy or tired. This morning my head was flooded with ideas and I'm still busy and tired. Maybe it was some sort of writer's block. Maybe I was just too tired and busy from all the holiday stuff going on. Either way, it was gone this morning. Too bad I didn't sit down and write while all the ideas were flooding, because you might have something a little more interesting to read at this point. At least the ideas made an appearance. That felt nice. Maybe they'll trickle back in and I'll put them into words here. That would feel nice, too.

So thanks, Justine, for dinner, conversation, fun, and reopening a door I hadn't noticed swinging shut. I needed all four.