Sunday, February 19, 2012

I delight in Sundays.

I think having to work every other Sunday with this first externship of mine has made me appreciate the Sundays I do have off much more! This Sunday brought a lot of learning and pondering. Yesterday, I studied 2 Nephi 9: 1-12 and had an increasing realization of how much I need the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I hope that I always have an increasing realization of how much I need the Atonement--I think it is a good thing!

During my studies I was drawn to was a footnote in Revelations 12:7, 11 in the New Testament. In Revelation, we learn about the council and consequent war in heaven resulting in Satan and 1/3 of the hosts of heaven being cast out of the presence of God, never to return. Whenever I think about that battle, I wonder what I was like then. Have you ever wondered which aspects of your personality and character defined you the most as a pre-mortal spirit vs. your personality and character development here in mortality?

Point of this story is, in verse 11 in the Book of Revelations chapter 12, John the Revelator tells us of the 2 ways that we essentially won the war: 1) by the blood of the Lamb (Christ) and 2) by the word of their (or our) testimonies. My next two thoughts were: testimonies of what? And Christ hadn't shed any blood yet.

You see, I have always considered myself to be a blessed soul to be able to live on the earth at a time after Jesus Christ had lived on the earth and suffered the Atonement for all mankind...including those who lived before his time and after his time, something we often describe with the term "infinite atonement."

Anyway, I always thought it would have been more difficult for me to accept the reality of the Atonement had it not happened yet. But after reading the scripture in Revelation in conjunction with Jacob's words in 2 Nephi 9, I thought to myself: "As a pre-mortal spirit, I must have had a testimony of the infinite sacrifice and Atonement that Christ would suffer for me and for all mankind." Essentially, even though The Atonement of Jesus Christ had not yet occurred, we already had a testimony of that magnificent event that would come.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have a testimony then and now. To know for myself, the dealings of Christ with His people on the earth and to know of His continuous, infinite and eternal atonement.

My all time favorite quote relating to the Atonement is from Preach My Gospel and says,
Everything that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that is true.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I delight in mother-daughter time.

picture not taken today...taken back in July/Aug 2008 in Rock Springs, WY.

Today I was able to spend some time with my Mom. This does not happen very often so it is kind of a big deal when just she and I get to do something together.

Mom is always game for anything with enough warning to sufficiently prepare. Who else would go to a sewing sale with me at 6 in the morning and actually enjoy it! Who else would love talking to, laughing with, and meeting other lovely sewing/fabric lovers who line up outside stores for early-bird sales? Nope, I can only think of her! :)

I love that we have a lot of things that we both enjoy doing together. Lately, we've (well I've been more than her but it all started with her) been into sewing more than normal. We're taking a sewing class together this week so we needed to get all our stuff so we'd be ready. Now we just have to figure out how to attach the walking feet we bought to our machines so we don't look like clueless goonies at our introduction to machine quilting class later this week. It's going to be an adventure full of lots of laughs. I can tell already!

My mom is fantastic when it comes to helping me develop my talents. She lends a great amount of support and can answer or direct you to where to find answers to any question. At the same time, she let's me just figure some things out since I like to be a little rebellious like that sometimes.

Later in the day, we went to the antique show, one of our oldest and most long standing traditions. It's great to see our "friends" aka the vendors who we know and to run into our "antiquing friends" who we tend to only run into on Saturday mornings at Acorn's Antique Shows. Some themes of this antique show included: Beatrix Potter (a long standing love of mine), some 1930's-1940's "fair" ride toys, and jewelry.

The rest of the day held other various adventures like a trip to the mall, where I usually don't go.

All and all, I loved spending quality time with my Mom. I believe in mother-daughter bonding time. Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I delight in sincere love.

Is there really a love more deep than the love between a man and his dog? Humor me a little on this one will you?

I'm not a Valentine's day hater, but I'm certainly not "into" it in the way a lot of other people are. To me, at this point in my life, Valentine's day is just another "day in the life of Erin and today will prove nothing different than any other day at the surface level."

However, I love any reason to celebrate. Valentines day at my house is celebrated by having pizza for dinner, I kid not. This year, I did attempt to get a little crafty and so I something extra to show those I love how much I love them.

But all that aside, these days I spend most of my time at the hospital for my externship. I have recently come to appreciate a new and deepened sense of the term love.

It is defined differently by different people. It can be manifest regardless of relation to a person. It can be evidenced by word, kind deeds, generous thoughts or in a fleeting passing glance. Love is not solely in saying "I love you" or in getting chocolates, affections or flowers; no, love is more. Love more! Love is deeper than just the here and now, it is a heart felt regard for another person, their character, their being and their soul.

Today I am thankful to be loved and to have the ability to love. I am reminded of the "homecoming" talk I gave when I got home from my mission. It was framed around Elder Bednar's talk, "More Diligent and Concerned at Home." Here is an excerpt from His talk:

Express Love—and Show It

We can begin to become more diligent and concerned at home by telling the people we love that we love them. Such expressions do not need to be flowery or lengthy. We simply should sincerely and frequently express love.

Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you took your eternal companion in your arms and said, “I love you”? Parents, when was the last time you sincerely expressed love to your children? Children, when was the last time you told your parents that you love them?

Each of us already knows we should tell the people we love that we love them. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. We may feel unsure, awkward, or even perhaps a bit embarrassed.

As disciples of the Savior, we are not merely striving to know more; rather, we need to consistently do more of what we know is right and become better.

We should remember that saying “I love you” is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love.

President Thomas S. Monson recently counseled: “Often we assume that [the people around us] must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. … We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us” (“Finding Joy in the Journey,” Liahona and Ensign,Nov. 2008, 86).

Feeling the security and constancy of love from a spouse, a parent, or a child is a rich blessing. Such love nurtures and sustains faith in God. Such love is a source of strength and casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18). Such love is the desire of every human soul. We can become more diligent and concerned at home as we express love—and consistently show it.

That second to last line is one of my favorites..."Such love is the desire of every human soul." We all want love in our life and that's a good thing! Let us love more freely, openly, and let others know how much they mean to us everyday, not just today.

If you're in need of a "funny valentine" song...well here you go.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I delight in the way to make my day.

(this is the picture the last comment refers to...the original blog header)

Today I was stressed out. Kinda.
At first, the day didn't start out as I had planned (suprise suprise...i need more accountability in the early morning hours). Then I thought I had plenty of time, but really I was running behind. But then I got to where I needed to be 15 minutes early. Oi.

And so began my second sewing class. I'm in sewing classes since I got a sewing machine for Christmas. It's a beautiful Bernina. I can't believe I haven't taken a picture of it yet. That will come soon!!! I delight in sewing. It is such a wonderful activity, full of creativity and trial and error. As the Mary Englebreit cards I recently bought say, "Arts and crafts keep you sane." And in my case, that is true.

And so, sewing saved my sanity. I came home, made quiche. I love quiche and I think I have finally perfected the pie crust. Now if someone could teach me how to make the edges descent, then it would look as good as it tastes.

I reviewed language development and played the "quizzy game" "skype style" with Mary (aka, the person I credit with my grad school success). We were both pleasantly surprised with our retention of language development stuff. Good news.

Now what happened to make my day? Well fastforward past a bunch of other good things (visits with aunt, cousin, visiting grandparents while delivering some quiche, building a better resume, etc.) Dad and Uncle get home and come to visit me in my cave (an endearing term for my room). Kind Uncle says he likes my cave and then proceeds to admire some pictures on my wall commenting that they're cool, to which my Dad replies, well Erin took them. "You took that?" Yes I did.

That was the way to make my day. Be impressed by a beautiful picture I took.

And so, my day was made.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I delight in compensatory planning strategies.

Every day off starts roughly the same way.
With a to-do list.

Of course, it tends to be filled with more items than one person could ever reasonably do in one day, but I always give it my best go. If I'm worried I'm going to get distracted, I break my day down by hours and give myself an appropriate number of tasks to complete each hour. Additionally I have been a religious planner user since junior high school so that helps me keep track of what needs to happen and when. Finally my phone and computer both have calendars, notes and stickies (electronic style) that remind me what I need to do, where I need to be and what I need to do to be prepared when the time comes. Oh and don't forget those post-it notes--they're great. And I have a strange tendency to write lists on napkins or kleenex's--clean ones of course.

Point of this story? I use all the strategies I teach to people at work who have cognitive impairments myself. I believe in and encourage these strategies for those who need them because they work when employed consistently and when needed.

My day off would not be remotely productive without compensatory strategies. Good thing what I do all week carries over into my everyday life so well...and vice versa.

In other news, I was unable to sleep in this morning. I should have appreciated that fact more than I did. Additionally, the praxis is a month away...thank heavens. And finally, the internet is a great, grand and marvelous thing in helping me learn how to write a curriculum vitae. Thank heavens.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I delight in decision making trainings.

Today my thoughts have centered around past decisions I have made and upcoming decisions I have yet to make.

As I've thought about how I am going to make the next set of major decisions in my life, I turned to my file of favorite talks. The talk that jumped out at me was, "Discerning the Will of the Lord for Me" by LaNae Valentine. My dear friend Carly gave a copy of this talk to me back in the day when I was trying to decide where I was going to go to college. I was so glad for the things I learned back then, and I'm grateful for the things I continued to learn as I read this BYU devotional address again today. (All the quotes, are from this AMAZING BYU devotional given 29 June 2004.)

Okay, so...[some] kinds of choices are easy: What brand of cereal should I buy? What color of pants should I wear? Who should I ask out this weekend? Should I watch TV or read the scriptures? Should I go to Relief Society or go shopping? But what about those more difficult choices: Where should I go to college? What should I study? What should my profession be? Should I go to graduate school? Which job offer should I take? Where should I live? Whom should I marry?

In my copy of the talk, I had underlined the questions I was most concerned with when I read this talk back in 2005 (see italicized). I survived those questions, and the question regarding graduate school. But now...I'm on to the next 2 questions.

"Which job offer should I take?"
"Where should I live?"

While I don't have any job offers yet, I'm going to apply for some jobs soon. And I really need to decide where I'm going to live and what population I want to work with.

And so,
When it comes to big decisions, you don’t want to make a mistake. Sometimes I have wondered why the Lord doesn’t just tell us what to do concerning the big things. The answer is simple: If we are going to become as God is, we will have to learn to make decisions—even decisions of great importance—on our own initiative.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie notes,
And so we’re faced with two propositions. One is that we ought to be guided by the spirit of inspiration, the spirit of revelation. The other is that we’re here under a direction to use our agency, to determine what we ought to do on our own; and we need to strike a fine balance between these two. . . .There’s a fine balance between agency and inspiration. We’re expected to do everything in our power and then to seek an answer from the Lord, a confirming seal that we’ve reached the right conclusion. [Bruce R. McConkie, “Agency or Inspiration?” New Era, January 1975, 39, 41]

Even though this process seems quite clear, I have struggled with striking this balance between agency and inspiration. At one extreme, I have felt that the Lord has more important things to do than listen to my concerns. This attitude has at times fostered a spirit of pride and a propensity to not seek His input at all and to just do things my own way. On the other extreme sometimes I have been paralyzed into inaction, unwilling to do anything without an answer from the heavens. How can we avoid relying too much on our intellectual powers while ignoring the Spirit, or expecting spiritual solutions while ignoring our own power to reason things out for ourselves?

President Marion G. Romney described how he has found this balance:
When confronted with a problem I prayerfully weigh in my mind alternative solutions and come to a conclusion as to which of them is best. Then in prayer I submit to the Lord my problem, tell him I desire to make the right choice, [and] what is, in my judgment, the right course. Then I ask him if I have made the right decision to give me the burning in my bosom that He promised Oliver Cowdery. When enlightenment and peace come into my mind, I know the Lord is saying yes. If I have a “stupor of thought,” I know he is saying no, and I try again, following the same procedure. When we learn to distinguish between the inspiration that comes from the Spirit of the Lord and that which comes from our own uninspired hopes and desires, we need make no mistakes. [Marion G. Romney, “Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, October 1975, p. 35]
How do we discern the burning in the bosom from the stupor of thought? What is a stupor of thought? Sometimes I feel like I’m always in a stupor of thought. I looked up the word stupor in the dictionary and found the descriptions a “dazed state, a . . . lack of mental alertness” (Encarta World English Dictionary, s.v. “stupor”). Other descriptors are sluggish, numbness, absence of the ability to move or feel, apathy, languidness, dullness, or not feeling inspired to go forward. I was struck by the depressive mood created by all of these words. There is nothing inspiring, exciting, or comforting about any of them.

Contrast the stupor descriptors with words describing the Spirit: enlightens, enlivens, quickens, enlarges, expands, purifies, inspires, fills the soul with light, peace, love, clarity, and joy (see Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. [1965], 101). Other descriptors of how the Spirit confirms our course are “much assurance,” “peace to your mind,” “confidence wax strong,” and “feel that it is right.”

Even though we must all learn how the Spirit speaks to us individually, I found these descriptions to be helpful in making righteous choices. Growing in our ability to receive revelation is like learning a new language or learning to play a musical instrument. We must practice diligently for a long time before we feel comfortable with it. We must be patient with ourselves, recognize that we might have some setbacks, and persist until we become masters at recognizing a witness of the Spirit.
(Sister Valentine then goes on to discuss 6 barriers that might interfere with our ability to receive personal revelation. Today number 2 spoke to my soul)
2. We haven’t learned how to listen.

In his book The Lost Art of Listening, Michael Nichols states, “True listening has become a rarity in modern life.” We live in a noisy, busy, hurried world and rarely take the time to listen. He notes that listening is so basic that many of us take it for granted and think we’re better listeners than we really are. In reality most of us hear only what we want to hear or what we have trained our minds to hear. He notes that good listening takes effort and can be achieved only by suspending our preoccupation with ourselves and with our needs (Michael P. Nichols, The Lost Art of Listening [New York: The Guilford Press, 1995]).

When it comes to communicating with the Lord, these obstacles to listening can be difficult to surmount. After we have studied, pondered, and prayed, we must listen carefully to our Heavenly Father or we will miss His answers. Elder Boyd K. Packer notes, “The voice of the Spirit is a still, small voice—a voice that is felt rather than heard” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Cloven Tongues of Fire,” Ensign, May 2000, 8). If we are not in a quiet, still place when we approach Him, we might not hear or feel His answers. That quiet, still place must extend to our state of mind. The Spirit has difficulty impressing a busy, racing, anxious mind. More often than not, whisperings of the Spirit will go unheard if we are too busy to listen.

In addition, we live in a time when many of us turn to addictive substances and behaviors such as television, shopping, eating, computer games, surfing the Internet, and busyness for comfort and avoidance from the problems and stressors of life. These habits can desensitize us and deaden our sensibilities to the promptings and feelings of the Spirit. Plus, much of our modern day entertainment with its increase in stimulation, gratification, and indulgence is offensive to the Spirit.

We each could ask ourselves: What could I turn off, turn down, or tune out in order to hear the voice of the Spirit in my life? Am I doing anything in my life that is offensive to the Spirit and preventing the Holy Ghost from being my constant companion? Is there anything I could eliminate from my busy life so that I would have more time to be still, to study scriptures, ponder, and pray?

After reading this section, I recognized that since January, I have been more "run here, run there" than ever before. Grad school has been full of "busy" but I was better at making quiet moments count. These moments included: time to time "quiet drives" to or from school with no radio or phone calls, quiet journal/scripture time, and regular trips to the temple. Recently, I seem to have "given up/given away" my quiet times. The times when I could be listening to what the Lord has to teach me. And so, today I am asking myself, "What could I turn off, turn down, or tune out in order to hear the voice of the Spirit in my life?" and "Is there anything I could eliminate from my busy life so that I would have more time to be still, to study scriptures, ponder and pray?

Since reading number 2, I have yet to make it to the others, but this has given me something to think about and reason to change.

Yesterday in Stake Conference, Elder Nash of the Quorum of the Seventy explained that the spirituality of human beings is like a sine wave. A horizontal line through that sine wave signifies the level to which we feel compelled to "do" something because of what we know (in my words, change behaviors match our feelings). Then he said, hopefully as LDS members, who keep covenants, our sine wave is progressing up as we are edified and lifted by the Spirit. It still goes up and down but it is moving in an overall upward direction.

As we respond to the Spirit to make proper decisions in the way, fashion and manner that the Lord would have us do, I know that all things work together for our good. I can receive the revelation I need to make decisions regarding my life...big decisions or small decisions, the Lord is there and he cares.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I delight in February 2012.

How many pictures have I taken in February? Hence the picture from October.

Today I am missing Fall. Don't worry, this is normal behavior for me. Winter is not my favorite and winters especially like this one (sans snow) are not my favorite. However, it has almost been too busy to notice. January brought a big learning curve {hello externship} and I LOVED IT.

But February, by the time your 29 days are over...a lot will have been accomplished!

February brought some big decisions. I'm pretty excited about all the potential! February brought a lot of serious contemplation regarding what I really want and how much I really want it. It has been a time of hard work--mentally, physically and emotionally. I've developed a lot of clinical skills and challenged myself to become comfortable doing things that I was so uncomfortable doing. I have also studied for the praxis, A LOT this month.

Outside of school/job hunt: I've developed my sewing skills this month. The four basic Bernina classes that came with my sewing machine are now over, but I really loved them. Mom and I also took a Introduction to Machine Quilting class through Village Dry Goods this past week. It was fantastic but SO much harder than it looks. On another note, I have transcribed some of the most interesting children yet. Additionally, I have had fantastic studies in my scriptures this month and have found a way to take my scripture study to the next level. And finally, I started carrying out some of my health and fitness goals I made back in January.

All and all February has been good to me. I'm exhausted but it is oh so good!