Blood is the new black.

Yesterday I was wrapping up our seminary lesson with my testimony of obedience, ending what I felt was a good discussion and on a nice spiritual note.  The kids seemed to be watching me with an unusual level of interest, so I decided to close with a prayer and chalk the lesson up to a success.  The second the prayer was over, however, one of my freshman girls piped up (rather loudly), “I think your foot’s bleeding.” Naturally, the whole class stopped to look at my foot.  Wouldn’t you know it, I’d worn sandals that day.

I looked down and saw that the last two toes on my right foot were soaked in a small but deep pool of bright red blood.  Like, they were really bloody.  Like, I wondered how two toes could be so bloody.  I’d venture to call it a bloodbath.  Think Braveheart, and apply it to my two toes.  That’s how bloody they were, and exaggerate I do not.  (Never have.)

Luckily, my sandal sole had kept the blood from dripping onto the church’s carpet (thank you, Payless!), so I was able to drag my injured foot home without incident.  I cleaned up the (grotesque amount of) blood and found that my pinkie toe had a deep, inexplicable cut in it whose blood had spilled over to the neighboring digits.  I bandaged the wound, offered a prayer of gratitude for strength to endure the affliction, and sat back to wonder:

1.  How long had the kids been staring at this gruesome sight while I waxed poetic before them?  and

2.  When they seemed so engaged by my Bleeding Heart rhetoric, were they really just fascinated by my bleeding foot? and

3.  Could this episode have lessened my credibility, just a bit, as their teacher?

I really need summer to come.

As for me and my house, we will push play.

Every morning we begin our seminary class with a “devotional,” which is a scripture and thought shared by one of my students.  It’s a way for the kids to dig into the scriptures and share what they know and is, in my opinion, always the best part of the lesson.  Since today was our first day back after spring break, I had no one assigned for the devotional and decided to mix things up and do it myself.  I thought it would be nice for them to hear from me as a fellow learner, not lecturer.  What a great chance to open up and share a bit of my softer, non-lecturer heart.

I thought all week about which scripture I’d choose, how I would present it, what personal experiences I’d share to underscore my appreciation for it.  I thought about the kind of devotional I wanted to give my students on our first day together after a week apart.  I thought about it a lot.

Until, um, I forgot about it.  (In my defense, please see my Standard Line of Defense:  It’s Really Not My Fault.)  But it worked out, because guess what I remembered at 11:30 last night?  It flew across my groggy, grateful mind like a yellow bumper sticker on a crowded freeway:

No preparation?  No problem.  Just push play.

And so I did.


I found this fun little  Mormon Message about how we can open ourselves up to blessings if we just understand the process.  I loved it, the kids loved it, and I know you’ll love it too.  (Because it’s also really short, and we can spend only so much of our day in deep thought.)  But this clip, cute as it is, is only the tip of the lazy teacher/leader/mother/father iceberg:

Don’t feel planning your youth lesson?  Push play.

Don’t feel like planning family home evening?  Push play.

Don’t feel like having that talking-to with the kiddos?  Push play.

Push play.

Push play.

And then, for a really good one, push play again.

These videos are engaging and encouraging;  they explain who we are and who I am.  They are perfect to share with my kids, my students, and my friends—both of and not of my faith.

But that’s not really the point, is it?

The real point is that when you’ve committed to be:  Insightful, Prayerful, Inspired, Prepared, and generally the Best Version Of Yourself, you…well, you can try that.

But if that seems like too much work, you can always just push play.


p.s. bringing donuts doesn’t hurt either.



The day I went to court in my pajamas

It was the day before I was due to go to Bella Voce.  It was, for lack of better phrasing, the day before The Most Glamorous Day of My Life.

In other words, it was today.

Let me explain how it happened.  We got home from a long and lovely weekend in Seattle late Monday night, and Tuesday morning hit us all hard.  We were tired and grumpy and not ready to face Life yet, but face it we did.  And for me, that meant sifting through a huge stack of mail, school papers, church stuff, and trying to morph nineteen separate pieces of scribbled-on paper and post-its into one Master To-Do List.  (At least then I’d have only one list to ignore.)

The prior week had been hectic so my inbox was already suffering before skipping town for four days.  So Tuesday morning, after shooing the chicks out of the nest, I stared down my mountain of papers, mountain of dishes, mountain of laundry, and did the only thing I could do:  locked the door behind me and went shopping.

Oh, stop judging me—in forty-eight hours, I was going to Bella Voce to meet Geraldine Brooks!  What, you think I’m gonna show up in my twenty-dollar Forever 21 dress?  (Wait.  That’s the cutest thing I own.  Crap.)  I needed something subtle, sophisticated and, above all, something that made me look smart.  (Once you hit forty, the heavy-rimmed fashionista glasses don’t work anymore; everyone knows you actually need them to see.)  So I scrambled through every women’s clothing shop in the greater Kennewick area–all three of them–and after searching and sorting and trying and tussling, came back with exactly two pairs of jeans.  (Hey, I needed them for spring.)


By the time I returned from my non-shopping spree, it was time to pick up the kids from school and start the standard violin/volleyball/basketball routine.  By the time I returned from that, it was time to get the kids settled and start the standard Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire routine.  And by the time I returned from that, it was time for me to lie in my bed and make a conscientious decision to leave the Pile Of Important Papers for the next morning.  First thing, I promised myself as I dozed off.  First thing…

Fast forward eight hours.  I woke up late, got the kids up late, shuffled everyone to school kinda-on-time-ish.  I came home, still in my pajamas (sweatsuit that doubles as pjs, I swear nobody can tell) and sat down to tackle The Pile, figuring I would shower and shine a little later on.  Under The Pile lay my big family calendar which, though heavily lettered, did not have anything on it for this particular Wednesday morning.  Which was good, because I really needed this particular Wednesday morning to go through The Pile and get myself organized.  Shuffling through the papers and pulling out the calendar, I sighed and thought, good thing this morning was clear.  Crystal clear.  But…wait.  What was that I was seeing scrawled across  Wednesday, February 18?

Oh.  Wait.

Yes, Wednesday morning was clear–except for that little cursived note at the top ‘o the day, in my own handwriting, reminding me that I was DUE IN COURT.  At nine 0’clock.

I glanced at my phone.  It was eight fifty-five.

My mind reeled back to three weeks earlier when, while zooming my son from guitar to basketball practice, a rather disagreeable state trooper pulled me over for having a bit too much zoom in my zoom.  (I told him I thought it was 65 mph, not 60, which would have rendered my 71 virtually harmless, but my pleas went unheard.  Men.)  He wrote me the first ticket I’ve had in ten years (men!) and a few days later, I received a notice in the mail stating the time for me to appear in court and also stating–in an unnecessarily frightening tone, I thought–that “failure to appear” would result in the suspension of my license.

In other words, I had five minutes to get from my couch to the car to the courthouse to the judge or I would  not be able, the following day, to drive through the Gorge and meet Geraldine Brooks.  At least not legally.

All I could think was:  thank goodness I’d brushed my teeth.  See?  I wasn’t a loser.

I grabbed my purse, flew out the door and flew down the street, fully aware that I was risking a speeding ticket on the way to pay for a speeding ticket.  I flew into the courthouse parking lot which was, providentially, a mere five minutes away.  (I love you, small town.)  I parked the car, flew out, flew across the lot, flew through the front door, flew through security, and flew down the hall to Courtroom Number Four.  I flew through the double doors, then came to a sudden and complete stop.  The courtroom was silent, with only a single person standing before a scowling judge.   I could see the slumped back of the accused and the dismal face of the accuser.  Mercy.


There are two things you should know at this point:

1)  I was fifteen minutes late.

2)  I was, in fact, still wearing my pajamas (“sweats”), thick fuzzy pink socks with brown leather mules (so the heels of the socks showed and no I’m not kidding), no makeup and, tragically, no bra.  (Going bra-less in a baggy sweatshirt isn’t usually an issue for me.  But it did seem rather poor form in court.)  My hair hung in a flat, greasy sheaf against my ruddy and large-pored cheeks, and I’d thrown the heavy brown coat that my entire family hates over the whole mess, hoping to strike a sympathetic note somewhere between impoverished and ignorant.  I slowed my pace, bent my head, and stooped to the last bench in the back.  If I couldn’t look pretty, I could at least look penitent.

Sitting small and alone on that pew, swathed in my own morning smell while I waited for the formidable justice to apprehend me, I could think only one thing:  thank goodness I’d brushed my teeth.

The judge dismissed Convict Number One and cast his disapproving eyes on Number Two.  He didn’t ask my name, but rather the one question I dreaded:

“What time is your court appointment for?”

“Nine.”  I squeaked it out.  “I’m sorry.  I’m really late.”  (see:  “ignorant”)

“Well, come up.”  He waved me forward and I sighed with relief.  The judge would see me!  I wouldn’t lose my license after all!  I would meet Geraldine Brooks–legally!  I almost burst out this last one, so happy did it make me, but then met the judge’s eye and thought better of it.  He looked mad.  Or maybe just old and unattractive like the rest of us.  He frowned down at me.

“Do you have anything you want to say for yourself?”

“Well, um, I was going 71 in a 60, but I was just sure it was 65, so though I was speeding, I didn’t realize the extent of my speeding…”

“If you were going 65, he wouldn’t have pulled you over.”

“Yes, yes, I know.  I shouldn’t have been going that fast.  See, I was rushing to get my son from guitar to basketball on time, and…”

“Well, it didn’t work.”  He seemed pleased with this statement.  I half-smiled, hoping he would notice my brushed teeth.

“I know.”  He kept glaring.  So I kept talking.

“Um.  Yes.  I know.”  Steady glare.  Was he looking at my pasty hair?  Or did my big brown coat anger in him as it did my family?  For perhaps the first time in  my life, I could not interpret an older man’s stare as an admiration of my beauty.  He finally spoke:

“Sometimes you have to accept that you’re going to be late.”  The irony of his statement was not lost on me as I stood before him in my pajamas and pink socks.  He scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it to me.  “I can get you down to ninety dollars.  Pay at the cashier.  Good bye.”  And just like that, it was over.  I flew down the hall to the cashier’s window and happily signed off my check for ninety dollars.  What was ninety dollars in the wake of Pulitzer-Prize winning authors?  I was suddenly Jane Eyre roaming the sunny countryside, calling out to my beloved Mr. Rochester.  “I’m coming, Bella VoceI’m coming!”

Mama always said things would work out.  And the best part was, I didn’t waste good shampoo, body wash, or make up on the whole dastardly affair.  But I couldn’t help wonder:  if I had exercised any amount of personal hygiene this morning, could I have gotten him down to less than ninety bucks?  Hmm.  That is a question I’d rather not ask these days.  I am forty-one; perhaps I should stick with the impoverished and ignorant angle from now on.  At least when I’m staring down the law.

But not when I go to meet Geraldine Brooks.  Tomorrow, when I meet Geraldine Brooks!, it will be all class and enlightenment and brilliance and style.  (Okay, it will be my white blouse and fake silk scarf.  But I tried, Geraldine.  I tried.)  And at least I’ll be wearing a bra.  Of one kind or another.