Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Dioubate and Sheik
After searching high and low for weeks--praying and talking and combing through listserv emails and Craigslist and looking up addresses on googlemaps, I have some good news. We found Dioubate a place to live! It's been quite the task that fell into my lap, somewhat exhausting and overwhelming, finding appropriate residence for a Muslim West African, who, it seemed, had high hopes of living somewhere near his mosque in Falls Church, his classes at University of Maryland in College Park, and his comfortable study spot at NOVA, not to mention somewhere close to a metro and within walking distance of a grocery story, all for under $600. Oh--and he preferred living with Mormons with a similar standard of living. And he needed to be settled before Ramadan. No pressure (s).

After many adventures (and seeing some very scarey apartments in the far reaches), being offered drugs last night under the guise of a room for rent, and literally unplugging our noses, we found a spot near Courthouse with a guy who comes highly recommended from several friends. Thanks to Tim O., Dallin, and Michael, who provided much needed assistance in the search. Ahlamdulilah!

The great part of this story links to my deeper belief: lost things can be found. Missing pieces can come together. This morning I have searched high and low for a folder containing my readings for class tomorrow--the class that needs a 2-3 page review paper of those readings and, did I mention, is the last class of my graduate career. I reorganized and cleaned and checked under beds, couches, stacks, in corners, purses, bags, my car. I almost walked over to check at the pool and called the mechanic where I had my oil changed last week. I retraced every step I could think of. I prayed--remembering my dear friend Stace's admonition that God knows where lost things are. I IM'd dear Lee Ann at work to check my desk, but to no avail. I searched Google for the readings, hoping to recreate my notes from anything I could find online. I was at my wit's end. When right as Dioubate called and sang Ahlamdulilah in my ear, I glanced over at a pile I had looked through no less than five billion times, and right on top, there was my readings folder.

So many thoughts. I remember some very powerful personal revelation I received as I found a missing pearl earring back in January. I know so very clearly that there is a plan and a purpose--that we have a loving God who knows where we are, even when He puts us in the far reaches. He knows how to bring us together and how to take us apart to accomplish our greatest growth. He knows how to heal broken pieces and how to make it work. Ahlamdulilah.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

6 Random Things

My dear friend Deb tagged me, and as much as I have avoided these kinds of things, I suddenly realized that this is a good time to celebrate the randomness of my life. So here goes:

1. I am a very strange feminist. I believe in equal opportunity and equal pay. I believe in equal partnership in marriage, in work, in church, in family, in education, in sports (go Olympics!). But I am apparently a very traditional feminist because I love making quilts and aprons, and that's about as non-feminist as you get. But I LOVE them. 2. I love to cook. I've always enjoyed cooking, but I'm really having a good time trying new recipes. Tonight I made chicken marinaded in this yummy lemon rosemary garlic stuff, with squash in olive oil and lemon pepper. Then I had to try this recipe for roasted red potatoes with pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette. With corn on the cob from the farmer's market. And homemade ice cream--mint oreo. And to top it all off, I ate by candlelight on my patio. Delightful. 3. I love making lists and crossing things off. I made my own little planner with a page for each day and I have to write things down to remember all the madness, but I love the feeling of accomplishment. For example, by 11:30 am yesterday, I had read my scriptures, run 14 miles, cleaned the kitchen, the bathroom, and my bedroom, done 3 loads of laundry, watered my flowers, made blueberry waffles, and was at the pool reading the book I have to have done by class on Wednesday. It was exhilarating, I tell you. (And a very unusual day. I'm NEVER that productive. For the record.)

4. I change my sheets weekly. It's a firm rule I have. There's nothing like the smell of clean laundry and crisp sheets. And rumor may have it that I have ironed my sheets.

5. I won a major award ("F-R-A-G-I-L-E. Must be foreign). The Helen Papanikolas Best Paper on Utah Women's History award. It was for a paper I wrote on the Representative Women of Deseret. Here is a website I made two years ago for a class.

6. I am SOOOOO excited for this summer to be over and for fall to start. It's been a bummer of a summer, and I say, bring on the Fall. Bring on a new season in my life. I even bought a pair of orange pants to wear to my first day of class tomorrow--the last semester I'll have of class as a student. Ever. Wahoo. Bring it on.

The rules:
1.Link the person who tagged you.
2.Post the rules on your blog.
3.Write 6 random things about yourself.
4.Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5.Let the person know you tagged them on their blog.
6.Let the tagger know when you've posted.

And I tag JBrink, Jenette Kim
Oh my gosh I hate it when people do this to me so just do it if you want to and let me know. Thanks, friends.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Two days ago I finally said goodbye to a man I loved. I gave him my heart. He gave me a gallon of bleach he couldn't take with him to Africa. In all honesty, he also gave me a year rich in experience, in understanding compassion and patience, and in love--raw and consuming as it was. (In all honesty, for my birthday a couple of months ago he also gave me a gift card for a day spa which I can't wait to use on Saturday!)

I also said goodbye to a life I thought I wanted to live. Exciting, exotic, and very different from the one I'm accustomed to living, one of what I considered security, importance, intellect, diversity and cultural exchange, and politics. Now it has filled itself back up with books and oral exams, marathon training, and apron making. I decided the best way to mend was through stretching my mind and my legs, through creating with my hands. Right now it doesn't really fill the emptiness, but one day it will. I believe.

I sort of feel like I'm at a crossroads, like I'm shedding one skin and exposing myself to another. I remember one time when I worked with the Young Women in Harlem. At our New Beginnings activity, one of the leaders told the girls they had to wear Sunday dress, and brought some of her own white NYC career woman skirts for the black projects girls to wear. One refused, saying bluntly, "Those is not my skins." Right now I don't feel like I'm in my skins. I know, I know--it's all about time. I'll grow into myself; I'll find my own new life. And one day I'll again be comfortable and embrace the skins I'm in.

But for now, with the farewell, I'm reminded of one of my favorite Book of Mormon concepts: deliverance. I echo what dear Helaman wrote to Moroni after fighting incredibly difficult battles with his small, seemingly flailing band: "Blessed is the name of our God; for behold, it is he that has delivered us; yea, that has done this great thing for us" (Alma 57:35). I believe that in the delivery from old to new, from past to future, that we experience tender mercies. I believe in saying goodbye we also say hello to newness.

And so to him I say: May you find true peace, true joy, and true deliverance in Africa. And thank you for the bleach. And the memories.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

So many pressures

Yesterday I was talking to my African friend Dioubate, who told me the he was under "so many pressures." He really is, poor guy, and he is always asking me to keep him in my Mormon prayers, Insh Allah. I thought about that phrase all day long, and realized that I, too, am under "so many pressures."

The greatest thing about so many pressures, though, is the relief that is bound to come. I love how Henry B. Eyring talks about learning how to wait upon the Lord--that the powers of heaven are immediate but that we just have to learn how to access them. He talks about the importance of studying things out--of doing our duty--before revelation and relief will come. He also talks about recognizing that a great part of our lives may be spent in the onion patch--and that we need to change our attitudes so that we are doing things for the Lord. I love the scripture phrase he uses--that with the Lord, we can rise up on eagles' wings, and run and not be weary, and walk and not faint. (Check out his talk here, and other cool scriptures: Ex. 19:14; Deut. 32:11-13; D&C 124:18, and of course Isaiah 40:31)

There is nothing like a good run to run away from those pressures. This morning as I ran down Martha Custis Drive, I felt my feet take off. I swear it was like in the cartoons, where the bottom half of your body is running faster than the top half of your body. It was as if my body has been racing ahead of me--and I've been doing everything in my power to keep up--and suddenly I was zooming ahead like no one's business. For a split second, I felt that relief and that exhilarating rush of eagle's wings. I'll tell you what--I'm holding on to that one for a long time. It'll see me through so many pressures.

(and, P.S., speaking of fowls, the past couple of long runs I've been on, once on the W&OD trail I saw an owl sitting on a stump, and on the Mount Vernon trail I saw a crane over the marsh. Very cool. Do you think I'll see an American bald eagle when I run along the National Mall this Saturday? Maybe at the White House or something equally as patriotic?!?)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Aprons aprons aprons

The "Aunt Spicy" birthday apron

I have a new craze in my life: aprons. I have always loved them--from wearing my mother's and grandmother's aprons to wearing the apron my grandmother made for my great grandmother. They connect me in the same way that quilts do to my maternal heritage. I love the way they cover and protect, nurture and provide. I have especially needed that right now in my crazy little life.The "Cousin Arian" apron
This apron must not be named because it hasn't been given yet and I can't bear to ruin a surprise ...

I have also found a new addiction to designer fabric. I love Amy Butler, Joel Dewberry, Sis Boom--I could go on an on and on. The crazy thing is that this preference for higher end has both led me to haunt Ebay bargains (and I've set some great parameters and found some incredible deals!) and led me to the super duper remnant bargains at Joanns to embellish these fabrics. I love the textures, the designs--stripes, florals, paisleys--the colors, the ric rak and binding--so much to love.

And I love making aprons for dear friends, for women who have loved me and nurtured me and blessed my life. And I'll be honest... sometimes I love the apron so much that I have to make one for myself. So my own collection is growing, too. Hee, hee! Here are my latest creations:
The "Karen Garl Diner Girl" apronThe "Mrs. Nicole Peterson Davis" apron
The "Jessica Johnson is driving across the country and needs a travel apron" apron