Monday, March 7, 2022

Forever


In the middle of the pandemic the bishop sat comfortably at our dining room table and asked if Brian and I would teach a temple prep course. Temples were still largely closed, but their doors had opened just enough to allow in small groups to perform scheduled, living ordinances, and this particular course would be organized, the bishop said, to teach just one couple to that end.

We knew little about Jeff and Kim. Just that they were about our age with four kids about our kids' ages, and that they had been floating in and out of activity in the church for a long time. I knew Kim was an elementary school principal. Gentle, kind, reserved. And Jeff? Intimidating. I had heard he was a security guard for casinos and clubs on the strip, and though we'd never had a conversation, I had felt a quiet intensity from him that left me with no doubt he could snap me clean in two.

Sitting here now, after months of friendship, it's fun to compare what I knew then with what I know now. Yes, Kim is gentle and kind. She is also powerful and patient and strong and intuitive. She is smart and warm and all at once when you become lucky enough to be counted among her friends, she is eager to open up and talk about the real things in her heart, and to give sound advice for that which is in yours. And yes, Jeff is intense, in fact, more intense than I originally suspected... but he wears it well. He is the quickest of all to a smile, he's fun, passionate, disciplined, honest, and ready to tell one of a hundred true and unbelievable tales from his storied life. And (he might hate to admit this, but) once in a while during the soberest moments, when he feels safe enough to peel back the loud and visible folds of his personality, he reveals a heart vibrantly alive with softness, tenderness, and beauty.

But we didn't know any of that while Bishop Randall sat at our dining room table. And, frankly, the news that Kim and Jeff wanted to go through the temple at all was surprising to us while we operated under our limited knowledge. We knew Kim had been a member with various levels of activity most of her life, and Jeff had been a member for 8 years or so, but one thing or another had always kept them from fully committing and taking those final steps toward the temple.

“I don’t know what happened, exactly,” the bishop said, “but it doesn't matter. They want to go. And they want to go now. And your names keep coming to me as the ones to teach them." 

I was immediately excited. Brian was unexpectedly nervous. “So, did you ask them how they'd feel about us specifically?" he asked. "Because," he added with a nervous laugh, "I'm not so sure Jeff doesn't hate me."

Turns out Brian was a little intimidated by Jeff, too. Which, if you know Brian, is saying something.

After a little laugh, Bishop Randall shrugged his shoulders and admitted he didn't know how Jeff felt about Brian, but that he felt pretty sure that, overall, this was the right move.

So we talked through logistics and decided that meeting in our homes would be preferable to meeting in the church house, given the pandemic, and the bishop got so excited about the whole thing that he decided he and his wife would join us, too.

And the class was formed.

The Lessons

Brian's nervousness followed him through the week, and I learned on our way to the Randall's home for our first lesson that he had been fasting all that day. For clarity to his mind, words to his tongue, gentle confirmations of truth to the Bahsams' hearts... it's one of a hundred reasons why I love him. His deep trust in a power greater than his own, and his faith in a God who allows him, an imperfect (but amazing) human, to access that power, is inspiring.

And the power came.
During that first lesson, the power came.
Softly at first as we gradually opened the doors to ourselves.
Softly at first as we placed our individual natures in the center of our circle and carefully gathered the bits placed there from others.
The power came.
New friendships. Moving pieces of us, creating, organizing, building, developing, establishing...
Friendship.
God's power came.
Creating connection with curiosity, love, compassion, empathy, excitement.
God's power came.
It was the beginning of that kind of friendship.

For two hours we talked of life and of the plan of salvation. The Spirit burned in me and crafted my thoughts and my words into messages that sunk deep into soft hearts. And, judging from the power and wisdom coming from the other three teachers, they were feeling it, too. Excitement radiated like electricity from the Bashams as they began to understand things in ways they'd never understood before. I got to see what it actually looks like the moment the Spirit carries truth into a heart. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever been a part of.

The Spirit is a master crafter. He is powerful and poignant, whispering to both teachers and students so that every willing participant comes out a winner.

The next lesson was equally amazing.

As was the lesson after that, and the lesson after that. 
Every lesson more connection. 
Every lesson that power, 
thick and present enough to take up a space of its own, teaching of truth, teaching of truth, teaching of truth.

Brian and I found ourselves looking forward to each lesson with more excitement than anything else on our calendar until the last lesson was taught and the temple appointment was set.

"Do you feel ready?" the bishop asked.
"I've been waiting forty-one years for this," Kim replied.

That sentence will be wrapped in my heart forever.

The Temple 

If you would have taken an aerial view an hour and a half before our temple appointment time, you would have seen six people in three households independently doing the same things. Gathering temple clothes, dressing in church clothes, settling children. And somewhere just under an hour before the appointment, we all stepped into our own cars to begin the drive north. 

Brian and I were together, and early in the drive I pulled out my wallet to get my temple recommend. I carry my recommend everywhere because that small, signed piece of paper is a symbol of Who I Am. A reminder that I live my life for God, and that I will continually work to align my will to his. When I see it in my wallet as I pull a credit card out to pay for materialistic things, I see three signatures on that small rectangle and I'm reminded that I want to stand worthy of those three signatures that recommend me and vouch for me to enter into the house of the Lord. One from the bishopric, one from the stake presidency, and most importantly, one from me.

I glanced at the expiration date while we moved closer to the temple that morning and realized with a lurch in my stomach that it had expired.
It had expired months before.
Many months.
I couldn't breathe as I realized what that meant.

I could not enter.

It was another, albeit avoidable, casualty of Covid.

Covid, which blurred the passage of time into an unrecognizable ball of moments, strung and tangled back on itself like a long, neglected necklace. Somehow time stood still while the months passed out from underneath me and carried with them the legitimacy of my temple recommend.

I felt like one of the 5 foolish virgins. There, dressed in my best, holding my lamp, responding to the call, eager to enter, out of oil.

I thought of Kim. 

She had asked me to be her escort through the temple, to be the person to stand by her side through the ceremony to guide and direct. I would let her down. Deep down I knew she would be fine... she had her invitation, her lamp, her oil... but still. The thought of her disappointment in addition to my own was heavy.

My brain processed through the situation as the van carried us along and I realized two vital truths: 1) It would take a series of miracles to get me through those doors, and 2) I believe in a God of miracles. So I said a sincere and pleading prayer to the heavens and dialed the bishop, and the series of miraculous events began. Every needed person was in just the right place at just the right time and I had a new recommend shortly after we parked on the temple grounds.

That day I learned that sacred places can be anywhere... inside a dusty mini-van where an interview takes place, in a Lowes parking lot where signatures are penned, inside the hearts of friends who sacrifice a sliver of their day, inside a moment of deep gratitude, inside the celestial room of the temple itself. Sacred is where God is.

And because of the sacred, the sacrifice, the miracles, I entered with Kim and witnessed externally the powerful experiences she was having internally as she made sacred covenants with God and received her own endowment of priesthood power. I watched her face, soft and curious and filled with light, I watched her eyes, brimming with emotion and warmth. And I felt the sweet joy of renewing my own covenants. My heart, like a dry sponge, thirstily soaked in the peace and the power that flow so freely within the walls of that holy place.


The Sealing

One month later, Kim and Jeff returned to the temple with their children. We believe that families can be together forever, and that the power through which this happens exists only within the temples where men known as sealers, who are endowed with very specific priesthood power, seal families together "for time and for all eternity" through a sacred ceremony.

They invited us to be there.

And as we sat in the quiet sealing room, an elaborate chandelier in the center of the small, intimate room cast its brilliant light into every corner. The atmosphere was peaceful, bright, warm, and it resembled how my own heart felt in that moment... like Christ himself had hung a chandelier from the center of it and had turned it on to fill me with His light. Kim and Jeff were sealed together first, before the children came in, and then they sat on a comfortable couch at the head of the room to wait for the children. And within that relatively short amount of time between Kim and Jeff's sealing and the sealing of their children to them, there were two stand-alone moments, so small that a camera could have captured them both, that were particularly beautiful to me.

The first one was when the children came in and Kim and Jeff locked eyes with them. There, in that sacred room, a family all dressed in white, ready and excited to be sealed together forever. The sacredness and beauty of what. that. meant. hit our hearts with such a force that I had to physically take in extra breath to make space for it. Death loses its sting with a promise like that. Taking my own soaring emotions as a baseline, I couldn't help but try to imagine what this moment could possibly feel like to Kim and to Jeff. Coming in to the temple as a family, and leaving the temple as an eternal family. What could could be compared to that? Looking around I saw that every eye was wet.

The second moment came shortly afterwards when all four children had taken their seats. There they were as a family, sitting together in a row at the head of the room, listening to the sealer share instructions and advice and wisdom. Nothing happened in this moment to make it particularly significant. The beauty of it was simply the moment itself. I studied the details and tried to burn them into my mind so I could take them home. Here's what my mind remembers.

Sweet Avalynn, at thirteen, sat in a chair on one end of the row. Her elegant white dress almost touched the floor, and her smile was soft and peaceful. Reverent, elegant, soft, peaceful, calm, quiet... this was Avalynn. Her hand was linked gently with her older sister, Addison. To look at the sisters, you might assume that Avalynn is the eldest because she is taller of the two, but you would be wrong. Despite Addison's tiny frame, her fourteen-year-old body was so filled with light that it was she who seemed to sit tallest of all the family. Her smile was as bright as the chandelier itself and her eyes held nothing but the purest excitement. I couldn't help but be pulled into her inviting light and to share her smile. Bright, excite, light, invite... this was Addison. Kim sat next with her right arm outstretched to hold onto Addison's knee, and her left out to hold Jeff. Her back was straight despite the softness of the couch, and there was something about the fierceness in her eyes and the tenseness with which she held those closest to her that suggested that if she had had the capacity to stretch herself to encircle every member of her family, she would have. As a mother, I could feel her anticipation and it was inspiring. Fierce, earnest, piercing, straight, sure... this was Kim. Jeff, on the other hand, sat back into the soft couch with his legs crossed. He held his wife's hand on his knee with his right, and his son, Nolan's, knee with his left. At first glance, his posture gave the impression that he was comfortable, but a closer inspection of his face with rapidly blinking eyes and bowed head revealed a piece of the swirling emotions within him. I'd wager he'd be uncomfortable at simply hearing the phrase 'swirling emotions', yet there he sat, bravely shouldering them. Brave, humble, strong, honest, tender... this was Jeff. Nolan was next, sitting on the edge of his seat, straight backed and, though just ten-years-old, as still as any adult. Stoic, straight-faced, respectful, mature... this was Nolan. His hand was wrapped around his brother's arm, and sixteen-year-old Quentin held onto it. Quentin was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, which brought his face close to Nolan's and I could see the similarities in their facial features. Quentin bounced his ankles excitedly. Nervously? Probably a bit of both. At sixteen, he was working hard to hide his emotions behind walls of protection, which made it all the more sweet when they finally broke free. Quentin, I could tell from his tears later on, understood. Understanding, anticipating, protecting, leading... this was Quentin. A giant gold-framed mirror rose up the wall behind them to the tall ceiling and then circled back around to envelop the family. Reflected to my eye from its surface was the sealer, and I could see in his face that it was a special moment for him, too, to see the Bashams sitting there, linked together physically, listening to him talk about the ceremony which would link them, spiritually, throughout the eternities.

It was truly a day to celebrate. In fact, it will be celebrated forever.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

My Jess

 


This year Jess's birthday was a great one. We'd learned in previous years that picnicking on the temple grounds is rather frowned upon, so we abandoned that tradition and started a new one this year.


Olive Garden.


Maybe not my personal favorite on the list of things that are wonderful, but it certainly belongs on my kids' list of Wonderful.


So it totally works.


It felt like a celebration.


I never quite know how I'm going to feel as this day circles around each year. But this year the feeling was Family.

McKenzie told me recently that sometimes when we have an empty chair at our dinner table she thinks of Jess. I don't know how things work on the other side of the veil, but I know that Jess was sitting around this Olive Garden table with us that night. We laughed at spaghetti faces, teased about dumplings, cheered at the Coaster Flip game, and had such a genuinely great time that it made an impression on the waitress at the end of the night who whispered to me as we were leaving, "You guys have a really beautiful family."

I smiled and whispered back to her, "they truly are wonderful." And the narrative filled into my mind as I opened the heavy doors to the outside. They are wonderful... we are wonderful... because we have angels around us.

I believe we have armies of angels, really, but that night we were focused on just one.

We drove to the temple next and walked the grounds.




We talked about Jess and the impact he has on our family.


And we loved the feelings and the conversations and the energy so. much. that we stayed until dark.



My heart always breaks when I hear of a friend who joins the Stillborn Baby club. There is so much heartache and pain, and that hurt never really goes away. But in my experience, the joy gets louder and louder to the point where sometimes when I'm thinking of him, I can't hear the pain at all.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Some Deepish Thoughts on Treasure, Trust, and So. Much. Dirt

Once there was a man who traveled to a far-away city to find rumored treasure there which would help ease his financial burdens. But when he arrived, the treasure could not be found.

He was confused and frustrated and he prayed to the Lord for help.

And the Lord told him that there was, indeed, much treasure in the city for him, but that it was not the kind of treasure that would satisfy his debts. "For there are more treasures than one for you in this city."

We don't have record of what the "more treasures" were; perhaps knowledge and progression, perhaps souls.  But we do have record that the man wanted, needed, financial treasure, and that he went through great lengths to find it.

We also know that he didn't find it, and that the Lord didn't even seem to share his concern about it. In fact, knowing full well the depth of this man's financial distress, the Lord even went so far as to say, "Concern not yourselves about your debts." Or, in other words, "Joseph, the biggest concern of your life right now? Stop worrying about it."

I wonder if Joseph was able to do that, and I wonder how much faith it would have taken for him to do so.

It's a story about trust.

I feel like this parallels my journey here in Boulder City. Of course, I'm not seeking financial treasure here, but I think I'm seeking a treasure of ease. Maybe a treasure of rich relationships. And, dang it all, after all these years here I just haven't been able to find those things.

I've been confused and frustrated, and I have spent countless hours on my knees praying to the Lord for help.

I think I'm finally hearing that the Lord's answer to me is similar to the one he gave Joseph Smith all those years ago. "There are more treasures than one for you in this city... Concern not yourself about a desire for ease. Concern not yourself about your loneliness."

I wonder, as Joseph might have, if I have the ability to do that. 

"There are more treasures than those for you in this city."

I wonder, what treasures?

I am starting to see a few. In fact, I'm probably only able to analyze this today because I'm finding them. They are buried deeeeeeeeeeeep, but that's okay because I've been digging for a long time now. For seven years I've been sweaty and muddy, throwing nothing but dirt, but my dirt-throwing muscles are getting stronger, and - praise the Lord - my shovel is finally striking a few objects that are... not dirt. These not-dirt objects are still caked in mud and it's difficult to see what they are exactly, but I can see the general shape of them, and I can tell by the weight of them that they're valuable. 

The one I've cleaned off the most is the treasure of emotional strength. After years of deep study and practice, I now have a richer understanding of my emotions. I harness them, I control them, and I am building a better life for me and for my children by using, and even choosing them during my strongest times. It's an invaluable treasure to me; it's a gentle power that stirs within me, and it continues to gather strength. It has helped me become a better mother, a better friend, a better human. I've used it to mend strained relationships, to access the best parts of me as a mother, to help lift others, to change the course of at least one child's life. It is powerful. And it could never have been found if I had been living a life of ease.

There are other treasures, too. I see some wisdom. Some knowledge. Some understanding. But those are less developed and might take a while yet for me to see them clearly.

So in the meantime I'll trust in this promise the Lord leaves with Joseph:

"Therefore, be ye as wise as serpents and yet without sin; and I will order all things for your good, as fast as ye are able to receive them."

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Scrambled Thoughts

1. I might regret this... 




I got so tired of summer screens and overall laziness in our home that I went to the hardware store, bought an armful of shovels, marked a perfect 15' circle out in our one, lovely, little patch of grass, and told the kids to dig. 

For every two hours of digging they were allowed to spend one hour on screens. All summer long. It worked beautifully and the hope was that by the end of the summer we'd have a trampoline-sized hole that we could fill with... well... a trampoline. It turns out, however, that there's a lot more dirt in a trampoline-sized hole than I would have imagined, plus I hadn't taken into account that it would be over 100 degrees by 8:00 in the morning every single morning. They worked hard, but when the end of summer came, the pit was only 3/4 of the way dug. At that point, my work force went back to school and I climbed down in the pit myself to finish the job.

But after an hour of work, I was hot and sweaty and tired and remembered, wait a minute, this little project never really was about sinking a trampoline, it was about raising kids! I'm not a kid! So, I hopped out of that pit faster than a cheetah and hired a landscaping company to come finish the job. 

Lazy? Or resourceful?

We still have a lot of work to do in terms of landscaping, but it's coming along. 


2. Daddies who do nails are legit awesome.


Did I use that adverb correctly? I'm pretty sure that's how the kids say it these days. Or maybe that was so three years ago... I can't keep up.

Anyway,

3. I may have discovered why Miles isn't progressing in his piano.


I wish I was joking. I came around the corner to see why his playing sounded like... this. 

4. When Maisy doesn't want to come out of her cage, but Eliza wants to play with her:


I hate to break Eliza's heart, but it's entirely possible that Maisy was sitting in her cage to get away from Eliza...

5. I'm not so sure Eliza had a good time in preschool last year.


At the end-of-year ceremony she spent the whole time with a vacant, detached look on her face while the other kids sang their songs and smiled for their mothers.


She did smile once after I caught her eye and mimicked one myself... but then went right back to that safe place in her head.


Her teacher got up and said a few words about each child and it was clear to me after listening to her take on Eliza that my real Eliza never showed up for a day of preschool. 

It was a rather unnerving realization.

Of course, the child her teacher described was a piece of my Eliza... the quiet and extremely focused piece. And she mentioned that, on a rare occasion, Eliza would light up with an 'out of the blue' excitement when something sparked her interest.

It broke a little piece of my heart. Rare excitement? Out of the blue? That's not who she is in my world, but watching her there at that end-of-year celebration I couldn't say I was surprised.

Anyway, it was one of the first things that actively set me on a new path to study and understand the brilliant little mind inside this beautiful girl.


And, spoiler alert: that study has already proven rich and informative and life-altering. She is happy at her new preschool and progressing in managing her anxiety, and I can't wait to see where she goes next. But I'll leave all those stories for another post...

Visit us!

The Malms came to Vegas for a few days so Sofia could play in a volleyball tournament. It was fun to watch her and made me remember how much I liked watching Kenzie play. "Maybe I'm ready for this pandemic to end," I thought. "Maybe." And during the evenings, of course, we swam. 


And Mia and Timothy learned how to navigate the hover board together.


And there was lots of basketball, too.


Every time Mary comes to visit I watch her dive into honest and optimistic conversations with complete strangers. She talks and asks questions so casually and with such friendliness you'd think they hadn't just met twelve seconds before. She really does inspire me.

Next up was a visit with my cousin, Seth, and his family. 


After they left McKenzie opened her eyes wide and said, "I was *not* expecting that! My jaw *literally* dropped when he walked into the house and I had to consciously close it. I didn't even know 'jaw-dropping' was an *actual* thing." And then Carson and Miles said at the same time, "My first thought was, it's Hagrid!" 

And Hagrid he is. Such a kind and gentle giant. His whole family is wonderful.

Next up was Memorial Day.


I woke up in the morning and it didn't take long for me to start feeling all sorts of self pity that we had no plans. "I have no friends," is a common thought in my head and it never leads to anything good. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of effort to change it, though. Memorial Day was one of those times. "How can we have lived here for six years and have no one to party with on Memorial Day?" crept into my brain. "Everyone else has family around and they have no more room in their hearts for us," is another one. And always, always, always, "there must be something wrong with me."

I let myself sit in those feelings all morning and even let some tears fall before deciding enough was enough and that I was sick and tired of letting all those thoughts ruin my days. I tried to believe, just for a second, that there might be other lonely people out there... maybe even in my neighborhood. I always fight that thought, though, because it doesn't support my sad story and for some reason I'm really attached to my sad story. But anyway, I believed it for a minute which was enough time to get a text out to a few families to invite them over for a barbeque. And wouldn't you know, they said yes, so I tried searching for more lonely hearts... and it turns out there were way more lonely hearts out there than I anticipated and the party kept growing and growing.

Ah, look at all the lonely people. All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?

It was a good day. And ended up not feeling lonely at all.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Scrambled Thoughts

1. Did I tell you we named the parts of our yard? 


It's a real thing now - with signage and everything! 
Now, let's talk about drilling holes into that cinder block fence back there. Actually... let's not talk about it because I'm still recovering.

2. Let's talk about how lovely it is to have hanging lights along that cinder block fence instead.


Because it is quite lovely. Especially when you can enjoy them with some of your very best friends in the whole world. Doug and Becky were with Joseph in St. George for his senior trip when one night they had a harebrained idea to drive four hours round trip just to jump into our hot tub and visit for a few hours. We love the Larsons!

3. Another type of fun is when you cram 74 people back there.



I love a full backyard to the deepest parts of my heart. The youth needed a place for their summer party and we all ended up here. All I had to do was tidy the yard and turn on the waterfalls, another leader brought boxes and boxes of ice cream sandwiches, and we were good to go. Easiest activity ever.

4. And while we're on the subject of the backyard...


This is me, enjoying it. Truly enjoying it. One of the most frustrating pairings of my life is the deep pleasure I feel being in lovely spaces, but the incompetence I feel creating lovely spaces. Designing and homemaking do not come easily for me. I spend a myriad of hours thinking and analyzing before I make a move toward any improvements at all, and by the time I do finally get around to making some improvements my mind is frankly sick with worry that I'm making a mistake, and everyone is tired of hearing about it. And I do make plenty of mistakes. This house has not been a love project for me. Every single step of making this house into my home has been stressful and fraught with obstacles and disappointments... but it's working. And I'm starting to see some fruits of my labors. 
Slowly.
So slowly.
I'm starting to feel more at home here.

5. We're the Birthday Babes


I didn't choose the title, and I don't particularly like it, but it is alliterate, and I like that, so I suppose that's satisfying in a somewhat special sense. We assemble for the annual advent of another voyage around the sun to fan the festive flames of friendship by frolicking forth with a festive theme. The theme this time was Dora, Dora, Dora the Explorer.

We went OVER the mountain,
INTO the Luxor,
THROUGH the escape room,
to the happy, happy donut shop! 
Where we each left with some sort of GI problem and spent the night up and sick. Thanks donut shop. 🤢

6. Timothy has a friend in high places


So high that this friend invited Timothy to an amusement park for his birthday celebration.


And rented a hummer limo in which to take him.

7. I'd say my pool boy is cuter than yours, but that might sound rude.


So instead I'll just keep it to myself and continue watching out my window every time he shows up. It's a good thing I watch him so intently, too, or I might have missed this gem of a moment when he allllllllllllmost fell straight in.


He pulled himself up from that fallen perch with the strength of a hundred lions 😆

8. Teenage boys are hard on things.


Good thing a trampoline is just a 'thing'... but still. This is the SECOND trampoline those four destroyed in under a month. The metal frame is completely folded.


9. We end with my favorite two little girls:


I really am so glad that someone (all four children) talked us into getting a dog. ❤️

Hike to the Wild Grapevines

Did you know that there are wild grapevines growing in the desert?


Well, there are. And when we heard about it, we all jumped into the car to investigate. At first the trail didn't look too promising. 


Lots of rock, lots of sand, lots of desert, lots of sage


But we kept walking and walking and walking, through the sage, through the rock, through the sun... 


...and then, there! Around the bend! GREEN! The actual color of green that looks like green. We don't get much of that here as most of our green has so much brown in it that it almost doesn't feel green at all. 

I can't believe I didn't get a picture of just the landscape, but you can see the vibrant color of it in the background of these pictures:


Grapevines. Who knew?
Lovely. 

The trails through the grapevines were narrow, and plentiful, and while it was only a small area, it felt like a true oasis.

A short continuation led us to these reeds that grew along a small stream. Zoomed out like this it doesn't look all that impressive, but it felt impressive to my thirsty eyes.


Just like the reeds in this picture, sometimes the pockets of peace feel small in a largely barren landscape, but if you angle your lens in just the right way and focus on that peace, you can still create some beautiful moments.


Carson wasn't thrilled when I asked him to pick up Maisy for a photo, but he scooped her up without complaint. I only knew he didn't want to because of subtle body language and that super fake smile. 


I learned after the shot that it was because Maisy's paws were wet and he didn't want to get dirty...Which made a whole lotta sense to me and which I keep remembering every time I see that wet spot on his shorts up there. It makes me feel all sorts of things for this oldest son of mine. He is an obedient soul, still learning how to express his own desires and wishes, sure, but I predict that his obedience will take him far in life. I remember the first time I noticed that obedience in him... he was crawling-on-the-floor years old, making his way to an electrical outlet. From the couch I said, "Carson, no..." fully expecting to have to put down my work and go physically redirect him, but instead he stopped and craned his neck back over his shoulder to look at me to make sure he got the message right. "No, Carson," I said again, pointing to the outlet. And he turned and crawled another way. 

I was shocked! My sweet McKenzie would have increased her speed towards the outlet had she caught wind of the fact that I might be coming to stop her! (Let's be clear, she has a million strengths, too.) But Carson listened, then obeyed. And he's been making that choice ever since. Even in as something as small as a request to "pick up Maisy and let me get a picture of you two!" 

Anyway, that's just a tangent in a post about wild grapevines. 😂