Monday, October 24, 2016

week something of something in 2016

A few weeks ago, I knew I'd have to finally do something I'd been putting off for literally years. So this weekend, I got all my gear together...when both external hard drives come out, you know something is really going down. And down it did. I kind of haven't updated my operating system in...well since I bought it...during grad school. Yep, good thing I've been graduated for four years (which means it's been 5 years). In computer world, that's a small eternity. But really.

So I backed up everything I owned and started the update process. I'm happy to report that 90 hours later...we are all updated and I only had to delete everything once and recover from a time machine back up! And I only spent 47 minutes on the phone with an apple specialist for the most productive and helpful technical experience of my life! Thank you Edwin!

When it stopped backing up my phone (oh about a year ago) I decided I better do something about it. Procrastination at it's finest. Anyway, I'm excited to be back in technical business so I can share some pictures! Finally! 

2016 has taken me on some fabulous adventures and I'm so excited to share them. 

On a different note, it's come that time of year when I get a little more reflective. It's the fourth quarter, the end of the year, the time when I start contemplating how I'm going to turn a new number and this year a new decade of my life. As I reflect on the last 30 years, they've been so good. Sincerely. A lot has happened in them. And it's led me to where I am now with a lot of quality experiences that have taught me about people, kindness, the gospel, and Heavenly Father's plan for His children. Sitting in Stake Conference this last weekend, a question was posed that has stuck with me.

How comfortable are you with Heavenly Father's plan for you? 

Honestly, it's about the only thing I remember from the meeting. But it has really resonated with me. I have had a testimony for a long time about the Plan of Salvation, Plan of Happiness, Plan of Redemption. But specifically that plan for me?

Well his plan for me and my plan for myself have looked different. I've recently run across a number of "5" and "10" year plans I wrote for myself, things I wanted to do before I turned 30, and all the goals I've made over the years (I've been compiling them and so much more but more on that later). It's been absolutely amazing to see all the things I've been blessed enough to do and how many goals and dreams have been realized. And then there's the glaring one at the top that linger's "un-crossed off"...eternal marriage. 

Fortunately, marriage isn't something to be crossed off, a box to be checked, or a reward for being a good person. I'm certain it is worth the wait. And I know it is in God's plan for me. It's just that whole timing thing. 

And after I remind myself of all those things that I know, just sometimes forget...then yes I am absolutely 100% comfortable and better yet confident in my Heavenly Father's plan for me. 

I know that he has a plan for each of us. Of that...I delight everyday!

Monday, September 26, 2016

I delight in women's conference and being given what you need.

Every 6 months, my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church) has what we call General Conference. This is a time where during 6, 2-hour sessions the body of the Church is addressed by General Church Leadership. 4 sessions are General Sessions, intended for everyone, 1 session, the General Priesthood Session is for men ages 12 and up who hold the Priesthood, and 1 session, the General Women's Session is for women ages 8 and up. All sessions are broadcast and posted for any and all to listen to.

Last night, it was the General Women's Session.

I think every talk was just for me. Here are some of my notes:

Jean B. Bingham

  • One of the greatest forms of charity is withholding judgement. 
  • I will bring the light of the gospel into my home. 
  • Commit to do whatever is kind and human, to cheer and to bless in humanity's name. 
  • Look for and share positive things about others.
Carole M. Stephens
  • We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ. 
  • With an increased understanding of the doctrine of Christ, the Plan of Salvation, and the Savior, then we have to apply it and our love for the Savior will grow. Despite perceived differences, we all have need for his infinite atonement. 
  • He meets us where we are.
  • He can give us living water where we need it. 
  • He will comfort and strengthen us when we experience pain.
  • Hope and help are not found in darkness and secrecy. 
  • He is the master healer. 
Bonnie Oscarson
  • We should not be surprised by our day. 
  • Moroni asked, "What are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ?"
  • We have many reasons to rejoice and be optimistic!
  • It will take concerted commitment.
  • We need foundational testimonies: 1) acknowledge centrality of God, our Heavenly FAther and Jesus Christ, 2) understand the need of restoration of doctrine, organization and keys of the priesthood, and 3) understand temple ordinances and covenants.
  • Through temple ordinances and covenants, the power of God is manifest in our lives. Are we drawing upon this power?
  • See yourself as an essential participant in the priesthood
  • Understand the plan of happiness.
  • Let us also use our common sense and sensitivity in teaching essential gospel truths and do so clearly.
  • We must be willing to speak up.
  • It is our responsibility to teach correct doctrine.

President Dieter F. Uctdorf
  • There are more ways to see than with our eyes. More ways to feel than with our hands. More ways to hear than with our ears.
  • Distill the voice of the Spirit
  • Challenge: to develop faith in a literal world
  • Faith is powerful and often it does result in miracles
  • 2 things faith cannot do-- 1) cannot violate another person's agency, 2) force our will upon God.
  • The purpose of faith is not to change God's will but to empower us to accept/trust God's will.
  • Follow someone who can see what I cannot. Trust and act accordingly. 
  • Trust in his love. Know that everything in the end will make sense. 
  • Walk by whatever faith we have.
  • Faith comes to those who pay the price of faithfulness.

I think my major take aways were these...
1) There are a lot of things that have become awkward subjects. Same sex attraction and marriage, gender identity, the family unit, and the roles of men and women, just to name a few. How have they become awkward? Well, honestly in my growing up experience, there wasn't the need to really discuss them like there is today. Not because we were ignorant, but because it wasn't as prevalent and everything in life wasn't so public. We live in a time where black and white just don't cut it for most. All shades of gray are expected to be accepted. In an effort to not offend, to be "up on the times," to be "kind" to all, to be open and non-judgemental, we may come across as being accepting of things. For me, the challenge is to teach that there is a balance between loving the person always; and yet, being aware that their beliefs and choices, may not coincide with mine.

As a parent, I don't know how to walk that fine line or how you teach that to your children. But I do know that I was raised by parents who taught me how to love others who were different than me. How to love them in spite of their weakness and how to be a friend to those who were struggling, no matter what the struggle. I believe that we must become these things, live these things. The only way we can teach those around us is by becoming it ourselves. 

2) The role of faith is crucial. We live in a literal world where proof is expected. Where immediate results, immediate gratification and immediate validation are expected on so many levels. I post something on social media and I can get all of the above right? But what are we really seeking? And how will it get us where we need to go? Well social media won't get us anywhere that we want to go. But God can help us get everywhere we need to go. I love when President Uctdorf said, "the purpose of faith is not to change God's will but to empower us to accept/trust God's will." I love that! God is great! He sees all the things that we can't see. He is our eyes from on high, our ears that can always hear and it is his hands which constantly reach toward us. 

3) "Faith comes to those who pay the price of faithfulness." This reminds me of patience. Patience is a virtue and it's one that I'm trying to develop but man it is hard. I don't rock at patience. In fact, just this morning, I woke up feeling very impatient that my life was not yet what I wanted it to be. But then, I thought of this line and of what it means. I think faithfulness is acting in a manner that is consistent with what we want, not just with what we presently have. I think faithfulness is a choice that you have to make over and over again in the million tiny little decisions you make, down to every thought you think in a day.

I'm looking forward to general conference this week. I hope I can be ready to receive the impressions that are in store for me.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I delight in hope.

***I started this post a few weeks ago and have contemplated the writing of it for a while. It's one of those post that puts my vulnerabilities out there for what seems to me to be "all the world to see." However, only a few people will probably ever read this and that's fine too. There is something so meaningful for me to attempt to put complex emotions into words...but I believe in trying...

Tonight I started to mourn the end of my twenties! I'm not sure if it was just my internal alarm that went off that I was on the 60-day countdown to a new digit leading my age or what, but as I drove between my co-workers house and my own, I realized...this decade is quickly coming to a close.

This week I've been reflecting on a question someone last week asked, "What is different now than a year ago?"

I think one of the most exciting things about my twenties is that every year has looked somewhat different. College, college, college+mission, mission, grad school, grad school+externships, work+urlend, work+urlend+relief society, new ward+roommates+new job, bought a house+new ward+different new job.

As I've reflected on this decade, I can see growth and change. I reflect on the zig's, the zag's, the up's, the down's, the doubts, the fears, the wishes, the defeats, the successes, the joys, the sorrows, the challenges. But the overwhelming feeling that I feel is that of hope.

"There is hope smiling brightly before us."

"Hope is the anthem of my soul."

"Hope's a seed you have to sow."

While my #olw has been intentional, the word that has been impressed upon my soul in so many ways is hope.

While my twenties may be coming to an end, the future is full of hope in the things which are to come. My twenties may not have brought me to where I intended to be but I think I have ended up where I have needed to be. I know I have reiterated this before but the words of Kristin Oaks, wife of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Member of the Quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once said, "Has it ever occurred to you that you are single now because you're supposed to be?" She wisely reminded us of the people that we can impact because of where we are, and what our experiences have been. She taught us that the unexpected life is no less a life.

Life up to this point has been unexpected but it has been no less a life. I know that I am where I need to be and that I have been able to influence and bless the lives of people that I simply would have not had the chance to connect with had I been married. I've received some feedback lately about friends whose daughters look up to me which is such a compliment and so kind. I owe so much of who I am to those I have looked up to throughout my life. It always makes me nervous though that I'm not setting the best example or that someone may get the wrong idea about what's important.

What I'm trying to say is that, while some may look at my life and say, "Oh see she is just having so much fun, its okay if I don't get married, or I don't need to make marriage a priority right now", I would say that lots of things get harder as you get older. Marriage is definitely in that category. My advice, do whatever you can do not to delay it but don't stop progressing. While my life is great life, I would say that happiness has come from consistently progressing and pursing the life I want. Marriage is at the top of that list. It's still on the top of that list and has been for years. I'm not just living plan B, C, D, and E. I'm more on Q, R, S, T, U... Pursing marriage is important and while I haven't pursued it maybe as aggressively as I could have or as I see some do, I think we all have our own way of going about things and pursing what we desire.

What I'm also trying to say is that, I think that God would be disappointed with me if all I did was mope around and talk to everyone about how sad I am that I'm not married and how life isn't working out. I think its important to remember that what we share publicly, aka through social media, is just one piece of our lives.

Regardless of my age, my job, my relationship status, or any other general category...what I desire most is to live a life that is acceptable to God. I want to love his children and be his hands. I want to contribute good to the world and leave things better than I found them. I want to live my life in such a way that I can return home to his presence doing all that I covenanted to do. Re-enter the subject of hope! I am so grateful for the principle, skill, and blessing of hope! One of my favorite lessons I've learned this year is that "It's never too early. And it's never too late." I think it is so powerful to realize that time is measured only to man and that God is dealing with eternity. Jesus Christ is our great source of hope and is the light and hope of the world. His way is the way to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

week something of something

Oh how I love summers. I don't know if it's how long the days are or the warmth on my skin. Maybe its the evening walks, the incredible sunsets (which are even better as they slip beyond the horizon through my bedroom windows while I'm tucking in for the night), or the flowers that are thriving in my garden. Maybe it's the spontaneous trips to the cabin, the time spent with and in water including lakes, rivers and pools. Maybe its the mid-day work walks or the stops at the farmers market. Maybe its the zucchini and soon to be tomatoes that come in seeming endless supply from my dad. Maybe it's the school supplies that have emerged from the stores or the hint of fall that slowly seeps into the air. 

I can never put my finger on it exactly, but either way I know I love it. Summer has come and I'm elated. Maybe one day I'll write about it but the most important thing I want to remember is that I lived it. I lived it everyday! 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Week 22/52

fun things of the week:

  • finishing my powersheets
  • going for a walk to the bountiful temple
  • hearing my bishop play the bagpipes
  • hammock time
  • adventuring to 13 different quilt shops--some with my mom and christin, some by myself and most with my friend carey
  • cutting for my new quilt
  • continuing great scripture study on access
  • christin's pals performance in layton
  • gardening--from the picking out, to the weeding, to the planting and watering...i'm loving it!!
  • having dinner with nat and wandering city creek
  • breakfast adventures with friends

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Embrace Your Influence

You have an influence whether you want to believe it or not.

Today, I had one of those moments where I realized I'd been fighting not wanting to have an influence. I didn't want to be in charge. I didn't want people looking to me. I didn't want to be a leader. I mistakenly believed I wasn't one. But that was silly. I always knew I was born to lead and I knew I was born for glory. I know that I am a daughter of God, that I have infinite potential and a work to do on this earth. 

Now I need to own it and to live my destiny. He will support it and those around me will support me too. For that I am infinitely grateful.

"You are good, but it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others." --President Gordon B. Hinckley

(This has been my life mission statement since I was in the 9th's time to embrace it even more!)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lessons from Tabernacle to Temple

"Growth doesn't happen in the comfort zone and 
the comfort zone doesn't exist when you're growing."

I often find myself thinking about growth, change and progress. I reflect back on who I've been, who I am and who I want to become. At times, it's a seemingly evasive journey. While I've come so far, there is always farther to go. There are many factors that contribute to the progress made on the journey of life. I recently had an experience that reminded me of an essential aspect of the journey, the enabling part of the journey, what gets me from who I currently am to who I want to become. 

Provo has always held a special place in my heart. It's the place of my ancestors. I grew up visiting there on a regular basis. My grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins on all sides of the family lived in or around Provo. And as a terrified and excited 18 year-old, I moved there to attend university.

When I heard the Provo Tabernacle had burned, my heart was so sad. I had the memory of attending Stake Conference there on multiple occasions, singing in the choir and listening to President Uctdorf. I had the memory of driving past it on the way to visit the deer with my grandparents almost every Sunday for 3 years. My grandmother would often remark about how beautiful that building was. Although, her Alzheimer's kept her from remembering what it was, she recognized it as a place of beauty, a place of heritage and a place of history.

After it burned, I wondered what the future held for this once sacred, dedicated space. Would it would be rebuilt or be torn down? Why did it happen? What plans did the Lord have? It seemed that the building had been spared no degree of vengeance from the flames that utterly destroyed it. Fire seems so relentless, so demeaning, so engulfing and yet, so purifying, so cleansing and so mesmerizing. It's incredible just how quickly something can go from present to absent, from standing to vanishing and from whole to broken. Anyone who has been near a forest fire can speak to the all encompassing nature of a fire as it seamlessly and viciously destroys anything it touches and spreads with even the smallest of breeze. The sound of crackling and the thickness of the smoke inhibits the ability to see far off and the ability to freely breath as fire pours in every sense of the body. The charred earth and remnants of a "once forest" left lifeless by the heat of the destructive flames. However, upon returning to this same space at a later time, the blackened remnants slowly unveil specks of a color, where life once more returns. And eventually, it comes back better and more lush than before. New life is born. And out of the ashes, life is born and a new day breaks forth.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the open house of the Provo City Center Temple. This temple has come to exist because of something awful and terrible that happened, the tabernacle burned down. This newly rebuilt/converted tabernacle to temple is a transformation that occurred as a direct result of a tragedy. Tragedy paved the way for something better. What I always knew as the Provo Tabernacle has become the Provo City Center Temple.

As I wandered through this sacred building, my heart was deeply impressed by what the tabernacle had become. While it was great before in its acoustics, its old school character and its reflection of the time in which it was built; the Lord has turned something good into something much better. It now served a higher purpose, order and calling. It invited and soon would allow patrons to make and keep covenants with God in His house. It had become a House of the Lord. In order for this place to fulfill the full measure of its creation, it required refinement. That refinement occurred in the process of something that started as a tragedy and turned into a temple. It has now become a sacred edifice, truly "Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord." It had been refined and re-defined. It has become better than before.

How is this kind of transformation possible? How could anyone have known that tragedy would indeed pave the way for something better?Why did God achieve destiny through tragedy? How were we to know when it burned that God had other plans for it? How could anyone have guessed that something so holy could rise out of ashes of devastation and despair?

As I stood outside, I marveled on how the outside structure had been preserved, how it was much the same as it was before. However, the inside had become so different. My mind was taken to the Savior, to His life and ultimately to His Atonement. I love how Preach My Gospel talks of the Atonement as encompassing three events, Jesus' suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, His crucifixion on the cross and His Resurrection three days later. In process of the Atonement he went from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows. He trod the loneliest path that will ever be taken.  He truly descended below all things in every sense of the meaning.

"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sickness of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffering according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance...." (Alma 7:11-13)

And because he suffered every pain, affliction and temptation that we will ever encounter, endure or experience, he has provided a way whereby we too can overcome the suffering of the flesh and ultimately be delivered to our heavenly home. Through the great tragedy of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we too can reach our ultimate destiny. Through the Atonement, we too can become better than before. We can be cleansed of sin so we are worthy of blessings, and ultimately become pure, even spotless, becoming worthy of living in the presence of God and inheriting eternal life.

This cleansing process is often more intensive than we might think. I often think my heart just needs a little renovation. You know, polish some things up, fix a leak, maybe a broken pipe, refinish the patio, change the kitchen around, maybe update some fixtures, patch the roof,  just some touch ups with simple tools and household cleaners. But God expects more and therefore, more is required. Clean enough isn't clean. It requires intense work and effort in order for true purification to occur. Tough abrasives, scrubbing, scratching and even stretching and stinging. It involves a lot of time and diligence. It requires at some points, the element of heat, be it through friction or fire to be ultimately cleansed. This occurs in our souls.

Our Heavenly Father has a vision of potential for his children that is truly divine because he knows that divinity is in us. He intends for us to use the Atonement of his Son to become refined, prepared and pure in order to dwell with Him. That transformation takes the shape of a rebuild/conversion that is much more like what is described in this CS Lewis passage from Mere Christianity.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

And so, what God did with the temple, he is trying to do with us. It is the same pattern, a foreshadow if you will of what could and should happen to us. As I thought about the significance of the temples in my life, I thought of how I go there to make and keep covenants with God. These covenants are intended to eventually allow me to return to live with God. It's the course I'm putting myself on, its the path I want to walk.

I thought the tabernacle had reached its potential but it was through the cleansing fire of adversity and affliction (which really at the time we called tragedy and terror) that it has risen from the ashes to become something more incredible and more beautiful than could have been imagined.

And so it can be for us. Happiness and joy were not ever intended to be experienced in full measure in mortality, this life is only a time for us to prepare to meet God (see Alma 34:32).  Happiness and joy are the eternal gains. We knew that mortality would entail a lot of uncomfortable moments, lots of stretching, lots of growing. Growing isn't comfortable. But there isn't growth in the comfort zone and there isn't comfort in the growth zone. The fire of refinement is hard and at times, heartbreaking. Tragedy can pave the way for something better. We may wonder what good can come of it, if any at all. We wonder if growth and change are possible. We search for understanding and we look to God to understand what he is doing. But all the while, don't forget that he is always at the helm.

"You know...that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small held in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves. Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." (Doctrine and Covenants 123:16-17)

I don't usually use this as a platform to outrightly share my testimony although it is inherent in a lot of what I post. But, I want to share in a few simple statements. I know that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and I love Him. He gave his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ to tell the world of love, sacrifice and death. He sent his son to die for us and rise with living breath. (He Sent His Son, Primary Songbook) Jesus is the Living Christ, the light of the world. "His way is the path to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come."  (The Living Christ)

Let us choose to follow Him.