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.



It’s that moment when you’re asked to be an early morning Seminary teacher…

At first you think, “Wow.  I must be pretty sharp.  They asked me to teach early morning Seminary.”

Then, through an unintentional but utterly reliable grapevine, you start to suspect that you were second, or third, or maybe even fourth choice for this assignment.  “Wow,” you think.  “I must be pretty nice.  I’m the only one who will say yes.”

Then you spend ninety-seven hours the week before school starts (because they didn’t ask you until the week before school starts) doing online training, reading manuals, and replying to a dizzying onslaught of emails regarding attendance policies, tardy policies, reading policies, credit policies, classroom policies, and a bunch of other policies that sound superduper important but will just have to wait until you figure out where Habakkuk can be found in the Old Testament (between Nahum and Zephanian, thankyouverymuch) because that is what you will be teaching this year:  the Old Testament.  And then you think “Wow.  I must be pretty gullible.  I just agreed to teach the Old Testament.”


In just ninety-seven hours, you went from sharp to nice to gullible.  But, whatev: you still have to teach the Old Testament—to a classroom of teenagers, at six a.m., Monday through Friday.

At six a.m., Monday through Friday.

Wait…did I already tell you that last part?  No matter.  It bears repeating.  That, and the part about the Old Testament.

My land.  I haven’t read the Old Testament since I took it as a religious class at BYU–and when I say read,of course I mean “skimmed.”  (I was twenty and single.  As if.)  And now here I am, standing at a podium in a classroom every morning while it’s still dark out, pretending that I:

a) know the Old Testament,

b) understand the Old Testament, and

c) can explain the Old Testament to these eager young minds.  (Wait, did I say “eager?”  As if.)

And on top of this sorry charade, I am also trying to make the Old Testament interesting! and fun! to a classroom of teenagers—at six a.m., Monday through Friday.  It’s been, um, challenging.  It’s been, um, hard.  It’s been, um–okay fine–patently impossible.  Because they see right through me, I know they do.

They may not say it, but I can sense the suspicion, the contempt, the secret-sleep-trick-where-you-shield-your-eyes-with-your-hands-and-look-down-like-you’re-reading-but-I-know-you-are-sleeping-because-I-invented-this-trick-in-my-tenth-grade-oceanography-class.  I can feel the eyerolls and silent yawns when I turn my back to write Bilbah on the chalkboard.  Oh, they smile politely and laugh when cued, but these kids are smart and they know a fraud when they see one.  I should run and hide in shame, but instead I keep showing up and talking, just a little more loudly, morning after morning.  I pretend not to know that they know I’m a fake.  And they pretend not to know that I know that they know.  Thanks to the collective sleep deprivation, it all works out.

But in spite of all this, I will tell you a secret that, after much speculation over many issues for many years, finally secures my place as a Nerd among Nerds:

I love it.

I love it.


Wait…did I already tell you that last part?  No matter.  It bears repeating.  Because this is the most fun, fascinating, fulfilling thing that I’ve tackled since I had children of my own and, truth be told, I’m a lot less tired and cranky now than I was back then. (Waking at five is nothing when you’ve been allowed to sleep the night before.  My little ingrates never gave me that luxury.)

And here’s another secret:  teenagers are great people—great people.  As in, fabulous.  At least, the ones who take early morning seminary are.  Because really, what kind of kid signs up to go to church for an hour before school every day?  The fabulous kind, that’s what.

Teaching is fun, and teenagers are fun, and the Old Testament is fun (really) and so at six a.m., Monday through Friday, I immerse myself in a Trifecta of Fun.  A Funfecta.  And I love it.

My only regret is that I’ve had no time to write, as all of my reading/writing/laptop time has been consumed with Noah and his terribly naughty neighbors.  But when I start to feel pained for my forgotten pen, I ask myself:  what are my unexpressed thoughts compared to those of a woman who morphs into a lump of salt?  Talk about being rendered speechless.  Worse things could happen to me than a neglected blog, so I’m trying not to worry about it—to everything there is a season, et al.  (Not to show off, but that’s fresh from Ecclesiastes, which is found between Proverbs and the Song of Solomon.  I’m just saying is all.)

And though I do miss the writing, what I really miss is you.  Very much.  I’ve never been into social media (my blog is more of a writing outlet), but since we’ve moved, I understand people’s need for it.  I understand my new need for it, because it makes me feel less alone in this brave new world of changed town, changed house, changed people, changed church work.  All good changes, but changes nonetheless.  And you—you are my happy and familiar place to come back to, always always always.  I hope you don’t mind.

So I will write when I can, and I hope you will write when you can.  And I’ll try not write too much about a man scuba diving in a whale’s gut or a nasty band of brothers going postal over a striped coat, but I can’t make any promises.  Art imitates life, you know, and right now, the whale and the coat–and a whole lotta other craziness between Genesis and Malachi, at six a.m., Monday through Friday–is my life.  And I love it.