Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I delight in looking forward.

kayaking on Mantua reservoir
july 2017

I'm studying faith in Christ right now. In doing so I've been reading a lot about trees and fruit and roots. About trust and diligence, patience and hope. I love the analogies used to teach faith. I can relate to trees and roots and water and through them, I'm starting to understand more about faith.

This scripture particularly stood out to me,

Alma 32:40
"If ye will not nourish the word looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life."

The theme of looking forward stood out to me. At this part of the parable on faith, Alma has talked a lot about seeds and the importance of nourishing them and giving it room and good ground for growth. He's talked about giving it great care and the importance of not neglecting it. I find it interesting that another dependent variable for the success of the growth of the tree and the rooting of the seed is looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit.

I feel like Alma is reminding us that we must be future forward faith focused. We must have goal directed persistence (to put it in executive functioning terms). We must not give up before we've given the seed a chance to grow. We must keep watering, keep nourishing, even when we think the seed might not make it or when we aren't sure whether it's going to take off or not. We must persist with the perspective that our current circumstances are not our future circumstances.

Alma goes on to say...

Alma 32:41
"But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

Our God is a big picture God. He doesn't see things in isolated events or occurrences. He doesn't experience our experiences in snapshots. He knows how they connect, how they interconnect with others--his view is perfect. It is broad and deep. He knows the in's and out's. He is both high and wide. He "gets" it!

So what does looking forward look like for me, right now, as a 30-year-old-single-working-female-who-hopes-to-be-a-wife-and-mother-one-day-and-who-is-absolutely-happy-and-optimistic-in-the-meantime? It means that I look forward! I get anxious and excited about the present and the future. I remain optimistic in all aspects of my life. I strive to be engaged in the present and in the opportunities that are currently present in my life. I make intentional choices to have joy. I focus on the things that have eternal worth. I thank the Lord for the fact that I am on the ride and that there is more around the riverbend. Looking forward also means I keep sowing. I do good things, contribute good to the world, and try to make the world a better place for my presence. I continue learning and trying so that I am becoming who I want to be. I strive to be in the right places and examine whether I am in them with the appropriate frequency.

my study journal--by subject

Today I thought I'd post a little about one of the ways that I study the gospel.

the study journal: by subject

For this journal, I just took a notebook that I had that I felt was big enough but small enough. Next I counted the number of pages in the book and reserved the first 3 or so pages for a table of contents. I numbered the pages and made a table of contents page so I could find subjects quickly. 
Next, I determined what some of the content pages would be. When I started this notebook, I wanted it to be a way to collect information that I learned in church, conferences, or in personal studies I was having so deciding on subjects was important to me. Some subjects I took right from Preach My Gospel, others from the For Strength of Youth pamphlet, and finally, other subjects I felt I wanted to understand better such as leadership, learning, teaching, effective study, patriarchal blessings, sin/disobedience, desire, testimony, and work. 


Next, I went through and labeled all the pages correspondingly, leaving some empty initially until I determined what subjects I wanted to study. I determined a general layout for each page. On the left, the top three lines were for a definition, next a section on scriptures that teach this doctrine or principle, at the bottom, a section for favorite quotes. On the other page, (note that they are all an open double page layout) is room for my personal thoughts, examples, insights, illustrations, stories, pictures, and testimony. Sometimes I glue things in or add sticky notes with a reference to something I want to go back to at some point to add to the content. 

Below is an example of my study on Jesus Christ. On this page, I even recorded what some of my favorite hymns are about the Savior since I love the music. I also included a picture I took in the garden of gethsemane. 

So that's basically it. I want to just say that being able to have this tool in my studies. I still don't have something written on every subject and that's not the point. It's been fun to see where my studies take me to and fro. I love being able to focus on something and return to it later when I have a new or different perspective depending on how things in my life have changed. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

perceptions

Words I actually heard:
-so what is new with you?
-are you loving your house?
-what are you up to these days?
-it is so good to see you

Words I actually felt:
-why aren't you married?
-are you dating anyone?
-what are you doing with a whole house?
-you are loved


Perceptions are something I think about a lot. Later in the day, mom and I were talking to a neighbor. She made some comment about a common acquaintance who had lost his job. She had heard about the ordeal from his son earlier this week, but the man we were talking to shared a different side of the story. We remarked as we walked home, how everyone's story is different because it is experienced through different lenses. It's not that one person is right and another person is wrong...it's that they both experienced the same event differently so their stories can never be expected to be the same.

So it is with other perceptions. If I had only listened to what I heard, I would have been frustrated at having the same conversations over and over again. I would have probably been mad because, I've now answered these types of questions for years, always with few updates, and little new to say about it. But because I recognized that the people asking genuinely cared and loved me, I acted a little more patient, a little more kind, and gracious that they would be so concerned as to ask how I was really doing. From my preschool teacher, to old neighbors, to old friends who have moved away and had children, to the mothers of friends of mine from high school, to the children I used to babysit who now have babies of their own, to old church leaders...I recognize that I have a whole group of people who love me, who are cheering me on, who are in my corner. Sometimes, I may not be able to discern what I hear from what I feel. I'm human and sometimes, I'm tired. But when I step back and strive to see things for what they really are and discern what I heard from what I felt...I can see that the Lord has given me an incredible support system for which...I am so blessed.

Monday, June 5, 2017

write more

Sometimes I get impressions and I'm not sure what they mean. This one was one of them. Write more.

Write more.

more more more more more more more more more....

I don't think that's what was meant. This was an impression I received back in February and the February before. I'm not sure what it means and most of the time, I'm really not sure I do anything different because of it. But sometimes...when a pen is in my hand or keys are under my finger tips...it comes back to me...write more.

So, let's talk about what I delighted in today.

I would have liked to have delighted in waking up early, which thing I didn't do, exercising before work, again didn't do it, and eating a balanced breakfast, didn't do that either. I did however get to work on time. Go me.

I persevered through my email which always seems to feel like the never ending black hole...because it is. I left with no unread emails. Does it mean that I'm done responding to email? Does it ever? No, it never does. But I've come to terms with it and its fine.

I ate lunch and did paperwork. I called a dear patient's mother who I've been so worried about. I fretted about what I was going to do about another patient situation which is still unresolved.

I went on a walk. I calendared for the week. I went home. I fixed myself dinner. I listened to a book on overdrive. It will always be a bother to me that overdrive only lets me reserve 5 books, I mean have 5 books on hold at a time. That means I've been waiting 2 months for one of my books to come through. I'm too cheap for audible, even though I know, I'd love it.

I read my scriptures, finished my monthly planning, responded to text messages. Then I watered my flowers and went on a walk. I made my step goal today. Then I made lemonade. Then I took pictures of twin baby deer out my window and now I sit, here. Writing more.

Life is an interesting thing. It's easy to want what you don't have. It's easy to dig yourself in a hole of things you wish you did or could have done better, or think you ought to have had a better attitude about. But...it is what it is and tomorrow I can do better.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow...I have the opportunity to write more...again.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Will it matter?

A few weeks ago.I was on a plane. I was coming back from a work trip. The flight into Chicago was particularly turbulent. No drinks were served. The seatbelt light never did go off. And for someone who doesn't get sick on planes...I was glad I didn't eat dinner before I got on the flight.

The woman sitting next to me, who I didn't know but who had attended the same conference I had, was becoming increasingly more uneasy as the flight went on. She read her book more slowly, until she couldn't read it at all. Then she started making sound effects..."oh dear," "oh no," "wow." I finally took the cue and commented on her remarks. "Bumpy flight isn't it?" "Oh yes," she said. "Doesn't it make you nervous?" she asked. "Not nervous. Just acutely aware that I'm flying in the sky."

Flying in the sky! That's a thing we can do. Sometimes it blows my mind. So...if the air is bumpy...at least I'm still flying. I looked over at my coworkers. One was sound asleep, the other, wide awake. "Quite the flight," I remarked to my coworker across the aisle. "Is it making you nervous?" "Will it matter?" she responded.

Nope.

Then we proceeded to discuss about this concept of "will it matter?" Our jobs are stressful. Attending this conference made us even more aware of how not being at work, but learning about how other people do your job makes you aware of all you have to do when you return to work. Mid-level management is a mostly thankless job. You're frequently caught in the middle. Dealing with the problems. Supporting the bottomline. Ensuring safety and patient satisfaction, as well as engaging the employee and making sure their needs are met as well. As we segued into a discussion of "will it matter?" she shared about how she strives to think of this any time situations at work arise. "Will it matter?" she asks herself? Will it matter tomorrow? In an hour? Next week? or Next year?

Most of the time the answer is no. But that doesn't mean I don't engage it in my worry. I'm a master worrier. I blame my mother who got it from her mother who more than likely, got it from her mother. I don't like to engage in the worry but often times it engages me whether I intend it to or not. And so, I'm trying to ask myself, "Will it matter?" And if the answer is no...intentionally choose not to worry about it.

Easier said than done, but it is a start.

*I was just back in her office and I had the quote wrong...it's "would it help?" close enough.

lessons in budgeting

I wrote about a few of my financial goals earlier in the year. I am of the opinion that we don't discuss finances in the right way, at the right time, or in the right manner on too many occasions. I've never one to be too worried about finances. I guess that speaks to the fact that I've been very fortunate for this not to be a major constraint in my family growing up. At the same time, it's something I've always been aware of. Budgeting has been a new thing for me though. I've always tracked my spending, paid off any credit card at the end of each month without carrying a balance or paying interest but I felt like things were having the potential to get out of hand. With a few years of a career under my belt, a mortgage, and many pressures to do this or that...I decided it was time to have a better understanding of where my monies were really going each month so I could be more intentional and hopefully live more fully with joy...not just today but for the tomorrows.

So, I started down the course of budgeting. I had to figure out what that meant for me. How I was going to define it. After 5 uncomfortable months, I can finally say that budgeting has become delightful. Never would I have thought those words would come out of my mouth. This month, marks a few months in with my cash budgeting system. I've indoctrinated myself whole heartedly with the teachings of my dad, Dave Ramsey, and Robert Kiyosaki.

Let's be honest. It hasn't been easy. Spending is sone of those things that has some automaticity to it. You see a store. Stop. Walk in. Pick something up. Whip out the plastic. Done. It can happen with minimal thought. That's scary. Especially at the end of a work day when my inhibition may not be as good as it would be at other times.

Shopping with cash makes me think about exactly what I'm carrying and what purchases I'm preparing to make. If I make that stop, do I have the money to buy what I'd be going in for. Would buying that bring me happiness today and tomorrow? Carrying cash has come in handy. You can get out of a restaurant faster and pay back friends easier (sorry guys...haven't bought into the whole venmo thing yet). Carry cash has also been awkward. First of all, some cashiers struggle to count change. I'm getting better at my money math. Second of all, if I'm getting things from different categories (enter Costco), I've learned to prepare my cash somewhat while I'm in line so I don't take too long at the register. And finally, I always ask for a receipt. I keep them in my wallet and write down everything I spent on my monthly log. Some people give you the oddest look when you actually ask for your receipt. Oh you want your $1.06 McDonald's Diet Coke reciept? Why yes I do.

I still carry my credit cards. They're sitting right next to my cash...but I don't use them...unless I'm buying gas or purchasing something online. Gas is just in my budget. I travel for work. I don't really worry to much about gas and it's factored in as a purchase that I don't draw cash out for. Purchasing things online is challenging but I think I've finally figured out the trick!!! Don't buy things on Amazon at the end of the day. When you're in bed...don't make purchases. Again, you're not thinking clearly. Put it in your cart and purchase it in the morning if its still a priority.

Lastly, give yourself some slack. There are some categories I've learned I just need to own. For example, I really like to buy books. I love to read and books are important to me. So...I have a book budget. Eating out is a very social thing at my age and with my friends. I do my grocery money and my eating out money separately. If I go over my eating out allotment, the money comes out of my grocery money. That way...if it happens to be one of those months where I get together a lot with friends for dinner...then I'm having to be careful about what I eat the rest of the time. And finally...give yourself some blow money. Things will always come up that you just can't anticipate budgeting for. Give yourself the opportunity to have fun. I don't want to not "live" just because I'm on a budget.

And one more tip...don't forget to pay yourself! I keep a list on the top of my planner of the accounts I need to allot money to each month as some of my earnings are variable. Some things have set amounts and other things have variable amounts. They're on my radar and I pay attention to them.

The things that have our attention must have our intention engaged.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

strength and decay



This morning, I listened to a Face to Face with President Eyring and Elder Holland. In the church to which I belong, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members or leaders of the church host events such as this as broadcast, usually with a certain demographic population in mind. This one was targeted toward the youth of the church, so generally 12-18 years of age. The goal of these events, at least as I see it, is to give members of the church an opportunity to feel the spirit and to seek and receive answers to their questions.

The first question was asked by a sister in Mexico, "What can you do if you feel your faith is decaying?" (Watch here) Elder Holland excitedly expressed loving her use of the word decay suggests that a testimony is living and that it is organic. 

It made me think a lot about where my testimony is...how are its current standards of living? Is it barely alive? Or is it thriving and flourishing?

I love gardening...truly I am my mothers daughter. I can't begin to express how much joy it has brought me as my garden flowers have begun to emerge from the ground. I've worried about them all winter. Would my perennials survive? Would the flowers that struggled last year come back? Slowly, as I watched the daffodils, then the tulips and hyacinths emerge my heart was filled with hope, then with anticipation for what was to come. As I learned last year, in my first year of independent gardening...there is a visible difference between a plant that is barely surviving and one that is thriving.

As I went to church and pondered this further...I heard the word decay again (all before 9:15 am). This time in the words of a hymn (Abide with Me, Hymn 166), "change and decay in all around I see." This time decay brought on a different thought for me. I thought of the decay of morals which seems to be so prevalent in my day. Yesterday in talking with a friend, she shared that another acquaintance of ours had left the church. I'd known that she moved and that she was dating someone...what I didn't realize was that she moved to another state to live with him, simultaneously abandoning her previous religious beliefs. These realizations are always somewhat difficult for me. Even if I don't know someone well, when I hear that they're living in outright rebellion, my heart hurts for them. Subsequently, I also become extremely concerned about my faith..was it growing or decaying? 

Last but not least, decay also reminds me of teeth. You know...dental decay also known as a cavity. Having many issues with my teeth through the years, I am acutely aware of the lingering damage decay can lead to. If a dentist does not completely get rid of the decay before filling a cavity...that decay can and will continue to grow causing further deterioration of your tooth and for me...needing root canals. Any level of decay is dangerous. We must be in a strict regimen of taking care of our teeth and protecting them from decay.

And so...why decay? Well because its all around us. It's the enemy of what I want. So what is it that I want after all? What is the opposite of decay?

Strengthening. To keep our testimonies from decaying we strengthen them by praying and reading the scriptures. To keep our flowers from decaying we water, fertilize and plant them in fertile soil. To keep our morals from decaying, we serve others, we make intentional choices about what we are doing and why. And to keep our teeth from decaying...we brush, floss, and in my case, use high fluoride toothpaste. 

Just like building muscle doesn't come passively, strengthening anything takes work, effort and pain. There will be times where we will still struggle. Expect it. But don't give up just because you're experiencing it. Pain is part of the process. 

The ultimate strength comes through the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He supplies our need. I am so grateful for him. I am grateful to have experienced decay so I can recognize the building of spiritual strength and spiritual muscle through spiritual work. My confidence lies in him. I pray that we may be able to have him abide with us.