Thursday, January 3

Lord of the Rings Holiday!

Nope, this traveling crew isn't visiting New Zealand, although it's on our bucket list for someday. Did I have you wondering?

If we accomplished one thing this Christmas break, it's that we time spent watching a bit each night of the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time with the kids. The boys also got the LEGO version of LotR for Christmas too with a lot of time to enjoy it. We've soaked up a quiet break from our busy school life and Ryan's gone to work for a lot of it to save up vacation time for upcoming trips this year.

On New Year's Eve afternoon, Easton conquered the game and I was grateful he, my tender hearted son, knew what to expect from finishing the movie since he tends to be the one who gets nightmares. Those orcs and other evil beasts are scary! Essentially, what he was playing we would watch that evening since we were only getting through a disc a night as time permitted. I was a bit wary of letting McKay and Morgan also watch, but they seemed to enjoy it as we all snuggled and rotated snuggle buddies.

Our family time doing this together has totally paid off in teaching moments when kids fight or are creatively playing LOR/Sonic/Star Wars/Indiana Jones hybrid pretend!!! Themes of envy and gratitude, friendship, loyalty, courage, helping another carry a heavy burden, working on our talents, choosing the right . . . and that's just before noon today! Awesome!

For example, Memay and Grandpa Mark had sent us some See's chocolates (YUMMY dark chocolate nuts and chews deliciousness! My precious!). The kids like to sit and pop the bubbles of the protective packing sheets. Easton was the first to discover them so he snagged the biggest sheet. McKay wanted one so I gave him one too. But he was upset because Easton's was bigger and it was so unfair! Well, life is unfair and he needed to be grateful for what he had. Life theme, right? Then Morgan chimed in wanting one so now all three had their own. Morgan tired of hers quickly and gave hers to McKay. Now Easton was upset that McKay had more than him. Where's my parrot?! Life's not fair, be grateful for what you've got. Enjoy it and move on. "Remember when on LotR, the elves gave each of the Fellowship of the Ring a special sword or dagger?" I told them. "Did it matter in the end which one they were given or did it save them or another when the time came?" "Do you think being jealous of the gift given is a happy, helpful way to live?" "If Sam had thrown a fit about the sword he was given, how would the Elves have felt?" And so on. Loved it. Loved hearing their answers and interpretations!

Today I didn't get on them to start their chores. They know what needs to be done if they want media time and they were happy to know I had no plans to get us out of the house today. They sat and played for over an hour together in their room nicely after I mitigated sharing of the carpet space to their satisfaction. Morgan is into building "beds" or "forts" for herself which is a fence around her made by Ikea bins. It takes a lot of space so we had to figure out an arrangement that made everyone happy.

An hour or so later when they had exhausted their play mode, they just began doing their chores so they could have media time. Easton came and said that when they were playing, they had mixed all their favorite characters and story lines - LotR, Sonic, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones - on a spaceship adventure. I was proud! It was fun to chat about favorite parts of those movies and relate them to our gospel understanding. I was telling him how LotR was originally a story written by Tolkein, not Frodo and Bilbo. Easton thought about it for a minute while washing off the table then came in and said, "So I could make Meowers Powers like that." I said, "Yep, but it would take some more work to make it the very best story you want told. What could you do to make it even better?" He's thinking about it . . . I'm so very grateful that I got this chance to be chatty with my kids today, that it's where my heart was today.

I'm reading a really fascinating book by Fiona and Terryl Givens called, "The God Who Weeps: How Mormons make sense of life." This husband-wife duo met at BYU in a comparative literature class and have spent their career teaching/take classes and authoring at the University of Virginia, Richmond. I'd listened to a fabulous interview of them in early December on where Fiona shared her conversion to Catholicism and then Mormonism in her youth. This book came about in an interesting way - Terryl Givens was at some sort of LDS seminar in NYC a year ago and said the Church could do a better job telling/sharing what beautiful truths Mormonism brings to the world's religious dialogue. Someone in the audience worked for DeseretBook and within a few days and then months, DeseretBook (Sherri Dew) asked them to write this book. So from Givens' remark to the date of publication - less than 10 months I believe! That's amazing!

They wrote this book in a couple months' time which I find miraculous because they utilize the wealth of the world's greatest thinkers throughout history who framed the timeless questions of mankind - why do we seek God; what is the nature of God that he/they should be worshipped; where did we come from (a premortal existence); why are we here on earth and what must we do here; why do we experience pain and suffering; what does death and the next life hold; if Christianity or other faiths that literally only touch select pockets of people on the earth in various periods of time while countless others die without being "in the know" - how can the Atonement and sacrifice of Jesus Christ apply to all of God's children as well as other saving ordinances many churches hold dear like baptism.

This book draws on their shared academic life studying all the great theologians, political scientists, scientists, poets, and such and so it just flowed out of them. It would have taken me a good ten years to write anything close to what it took them a month or two to compile. I'm so glad I discovered this book when I did. It gave me a lot of comfort when on the same morning in mid December, I woke to hear about the Connecticut school massacre and a dear high school buddy's fatal accident. Bern Kellogg took me to a few of our high school dances and was seriously such a genuine, Christ-like kid even back then! He was even voted Prom King because his kindness touched so many. He leaves a dear wife, four children around the same ages as my own, a church community and extended family who will always feel this loss.

I just can't plug this book enough - it's a real thinker, much like C. S. Lewis stuff and I am lapping it up! More like slurping actually, in small doses, cuz my mommy brain has to work mighty hard to grasp it. As I have the opportunity on a daily basis to share my faith with my kids and friends here, it is such a great tool to explain things I hold dear from the point of conversations people have always had or intuitions we've all tried to frame for ourselves. For instance, in chats with my dear new friends of other faiths, I've been better able to come from a point of commonality of world experience to describe what us women and mothers hold most dear. I'm not out to convert them to Mormonism, just relate to and share in the light we're both holding. Then we all walk away edified and ready to share our light with others and help bear one another's burdens. Life and great books are wonderful!