Wednesday, December 25, 2013

why is it that this will be the best Christmas ever?

sidenote: blogging was a fail this month. apologies.

main note: merry christmas!

i always seem to meet christmas with some trepidation. you see in christmases past, things have not always been...well, peaceful. every year is an unknown adventure.

this year will go down in the books as one of the best christmases ever. not because anything significant happened, but because of the peace, joy and love that was experienced.

on christmas eve, my mom and i kept tradition of venturing to the grocery store hours before the sun was out, we bought doughnuts---best tradition ever! after "wolaxing" and finishing a recorded hallmark christmas classic (yes, oy...) we welcomed the day and got to work. christin and i went delivering goodies, we visited friends and spent some time with my dearest friend carly and her sweet babies. they bless my life in so many ways. my heart couldn't help but be turned to my savior who truly is the prince of peace and the light of the world. their eyes send a light into my heart that can't be described.

while back at home, we were blessed with an abundance of visitors, friends and neighbors, puppies and babies. we love visitors at my house (as long as they're older than 10 or so...and that's a story for another time if you don't know my family) and we welcome them anytime, announced or unannounced.  as i continued to bake, visitors continued to come which ultimately resulted in me being a little latte for the family christmas eve party as i waited for the pecan pie to be done. the stillness of a christmas eve night; however, was perhaps just what i needed. as i traveled to brigham to be with my family i couldn't help but "count my blessings instead of sheep" on a "silent night, a holy night."

during dinner, favorite cousins of mine who i rarely get to see stopped in. again, can i just say how much i love vistors. i love being with family and friends. i love seeing people, hugging them and hearing how their lives are.

after the cousins had left, the pizza, ice cream and bingo were over. the pajamas were unwrapped and we settled off for home. poor lb could hardly keep her eyes open as i drove the streets of my hometown, soaking in the christmas lights i had somehow missed for the previous 25 days.

returning home set in a new frenzy of getting ready for bed. you see, craig and christin love christmas. they got out santa's cookies, and milk, christin had her sleeping bag on my floor (per tradition) quicker than a flash and before you knew it, we were ready to read the christmas story. somehow that's become my job over the years and i don't mind. but this year, after reading in luke 2, i felt impressed to read something that i have glued in between the pages of the beginning of the new testament...the living christ.

this is a document/proclaimation of sorts published by latter-day prophets and apostles, witnesses of jesus christ who have been called, and set apart with authority in our day to testify of jesus christ. i challenge you to read this document, this simple but profoundly beautiful testimony of the divinity and reality of our lord and saviour jesus christ.

my favorite line is this, we solemnly testify that his life neither began in bethlehem, nor ended on calvary. how true this i and howperfectly it coincided with my evening scripture study as christin tried to find sleep on an anxious christmas even night.

jesus christ's divinity and mission was known and testified of, even by he himself, long before the advent of his birth. i know that he is the way, the truth and the light and life of the world. i know he lives.

christmas morning seemed a little more holy this year, sure there were presents and gifts (with christin and craig, how could there not be), but more than that, there was a peace. there was no squabbling, even over the little stuff. there was no competition, no rush, no nothing that there ought not to have been. it was all good. even as i was slow to get ready for the one got too frustrated with fact they let me finish getting ready at my own pace and come along a few minutes behind since we had to take two cars anyway. that meant a lot to me as i love to be with my family but i also love just a little alone time, time to process, time to think, time to pray.

after visiting the grandparents we brought grandpa to our house for the first time since he moved closer. how peaceful that was. how much craig and christin love our folks, but how much they love the company of my grandpa, or as christin calls him, her grandpa lou. fixing lunch/dinner was a process...but again people came and went inbetween fixing and visiting, no one got annoyed or short tempered, we all just enjoyed the process. throughout dinner, i just kept thinking as i sat with my immediate family and all 3 of my grandparents i just great is this. everytime it happens, i think it might never happen again given ailing health, but we are. i have so much to be grateful for.

you can get the drift of where this is going. and in no way am i traying to portray a perfect christmas (in fact that's exactly what my mom and i joke about while watching hallmark movies, because people do perfect things...ethey even make mistakes perfectly like slipping on the ice right into the arms of the man you love in just a perfect position for kissing...really??? that's not reality. ever.) but you know, reality is in the moments and its in choosing what each moment is really about. its about exercising those christlike attributes which all too frequently can be a much challenging task.

but aside...i just have to say...god be blessed for the infinite gift of his son.

i know that everything that is unfair about life can be made right through the atonement of jesus christ. i know that we still experience pain and sorrow, confusion and despair but i know that ultimately he will reign as king of king and lord of lords and that things will be made the meantime...we have prayer, temples and chocolate and the sun....a few mortality essentials.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

i delight in choosing to define me

the other day, i had the most enlightening conversation with a friend. she told me of her recent experience transitioning from a singles ward to a family ward. this is an experience for lots of my friends and not necessarily because they are turning 31, but because they are choosing to go to a family ward. i've done it too before.

as she told me of her experience she told me that she was introduced as being name who just left the singles ward. to which she continued...can't i just be name who has a great job, or name who is working on a masters degree, name who owns a car and a house, name who attends the temple every week, name who does family history work, name who is something more than the one who left the singles ward.

i have been thinking of how i define myself.  recently while staying at a friend's house, i noticed a paper she had hung on her wall. it was a list of sentences she wanted to define her. i wasn't surprised as i had seen a similar paper on her brother's wall when i had stayed with her family on a previous occasion.

i was so impressed. it left an impression on me.

the world seeks to define us. i could list you all the things that i have been defined as but instead i want to share five things that i choose to be defined by, that i am striving to be defined by.

i. i am a daughter of a loving heavenly father who knows me, loves me and has a plan for me.
ii. i am a member of the best family in the world.
iii. i am patient and compassionate.
iv. i see the good in those around me.
v. i have a purpose that i have been sent to this earth to fulfill

i challenge you to take the things that you have been "defined as," write them down, and throw them away. then take the things you want to be "defined by" write them down and put them on your wall.

i know that as we seek to maintain a clear vision of who we are and whose we are that we will more boldly go forward doing hard things and defining ourselves and others better and more accurately.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I delight in assurances from the Lord.

I recently finished a study on assurances. I want to share a portion of it with you here.

The word "assure" stuck out to me while reading a general conference talk by Elder Boyd K. Packer from October 2013 entitled, The Key to Spiritual Protection." 

In his address, he quotes from 2 Timothy 3: 14, "But acontinue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;"

In this chapter of scripture, Paul has described the terrible conditions of the last days including wickedness, persecution and apostacy, but I love what he wraps it up with: continue in the things you have learned and have been assured of. 

To me, he's saying...don't you give up. Don't you ever think that Jesus isn't here for you. Don't you ever think that his Atonement isn't for you and that all can't be made right. Remember what you know and how you know what you know. Remember who taught you. Remember the experiences you've had and the things you have felt.  And in those times of despair, doubt, persecution, hardness or whatever it may be...don't forget what you know. Just trust. Rest assurred and move forward.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"i wanna see you be brave"

my life runs in themes. right now, there are a few of them. while this isn't soley or specifically a spiritual lesson, this is something he is really trying to teach me and that he's been trying to teach me for years. i'm finally starting to catch on.

its a sara barellis song. her songs have been blessings, answers and ironies all too many times in my life before, but her new(er) song brave is like the theme song of my life and honestly, it kind of hit me this week...maybe its the words that heavenly father's been trying to tell me,
"erin, i want to see you be brave."

lately i've been having all sorts of experiences. good experiences. learning experiences. experiences in profound trust (as a article i recently read put it). new experiences. sad experiences. heart pain growing experiences. i'm having to put my money where my mouth is so to speak and be brave because of these experiences.

i've always decribed myself as an extravert who masquarades really well as an introvert until i'm comfortable. the problem is that that comfort line sometimes is like a concrete barrier that i just can't seem to get over. i know that life would be different if i was just a little more brave. and i've always wondered if i could really do it.

and that's the lesson i'm taking away, he wants to see me (finally) be brave. and here's the assurance in it all...its about trusting him (and trusting him with profound trust) as i choose to move forward with the assurances i have and trust in good things to come.

it is too easy to sit back and say, welp, i'm doing all the things i should so he should just bless me. well its hard for him to bring somethings (most things) about in our lives when we're sitting in our houses or hiding out in our comfort zones. we have to step out into the dark, into the less comfortable places and just be brave and trust in the assurances we have been assured with.

people make the scripture "anxiously engaged in a good cause" out to be interpreted many different ways. i think we don't think about it as often in the light it deserves. anxiously engaged in a good cause is a cause other than ourselves. i am not a cause. when i'm reaching out and concerned with others, that's the cause we should be dealing with and focusing on.

now i write this with all the bravery of my soul but me as mortal erin is just plain terrified. so my goal is to try to be brave rather than try to not be brave. i'm going to do things i've never done. i'm going to try things i've never tried. i'm going to try my hardest to be brave and to put myself in new places with new people doing new things because he just wants me to be brave.

do you ever feel those challenges to rise to the call that has come your way?
what areas does the lord want you to be brave in?
have you listened to how awesome this song is? (check it out here, but the music video is strangely likeable...the song is good, the lyrics are excellent)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I delight in a thankful thanksgiving.

christin making pie
thanksgiving 2013

I love thanksgiving. This thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for. I'm grateful to have been able to make an extra effort in delighting daily.

25) I delight in happy Monday's.  Today was a happy Monday. Maybe it was because of the happy kids I saw, maybe it was the notification of my holiday bonus...its just so hard to say. What it really boils down to is that its my favorite time of the year. I love the holidays. I love that my mind is like a really good Christmas radio station and sometimes its all I can do not to just sing the "now playing" hit at the top of my lungs, or at least hum or sing it softly where're I may be.

26) I delight in being a visiting teacher. I'm so grateful to get to know and serve some sisters in my ward just a little better. I truly look forward to being able to visit them each month in their homes (or at least try to). It always ends up being one of the highlights of my month.  Having an awesome companion always helps too!

27) I delight in making pie AND cake. Christin was the best handmixer ever. We had a blast, and concluded our baking extravaganza with a dance party. Mom always thinks we're crazy. I always think we're the best! :) I also delighted in Christin's "gothic salad dressing" comment. I wish I could remember the quote exactly, but it was awesome. Take my word for it.

28) I delight in Craig having a happy birthday and being able to spend the day with family. I love the uninterrupted, no other agenda days except to be home, with my family, having a good time. I'm grateful for the thanksgiving season that turns everyones hearts to what they're grateful for. I personally have so much to be thankful for. My soul delighteth in the things of the Lord because I know that all the blessings in my life are due to Him.

29) I delight in mother-daughter time. Mom and I pretended to be serious Black Friday Shoppers.  When we walked into Target at 7:00 am, the crowds were long gone from 8 pm Thanksgiving evening, it was great. We shopped to our hearts content, had a hobbits brunch and then shopped some more. I'm grateful for a mom who gets me, puts on her classic smile when she says well that looks like you and has my back when it comes to talking to cute boys in line. She's awesome!

30) I delight in knowing how to handle a gun. In my house, this is considered a life skill, and I think its important. I'm grateful for a dad who teaches me a portion of what he knows and is kind and patient when I ask really ridiculous questions. I'm also glad he knows everyone we ever see at the gun range.

1) I delight in November. What a month it was. I'm so grateful I was able to make a more concentrated effort in delighting because I haven't been so good at it lately. I can honestly say that it helps me see with more clear eyes all the ways the Lord blesses me. I would challenge that you join me in delighting daily. In December I am turning my focus to delighting in my Savior Jesus Christ and his teachings.  There are so many things I have learned in my study of His gospel this year that I want to share some of those lessons and treasures here. As one of my favorite Christmas song's poses the question, "what shall we give to the babe in the manger?" I hope to be able to give my testimony and to stand as a witness for him for all who may read this blog, that we may be strengthened and heed the invitation to come to Him.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I delight in always knowing there's a choice.

columbia river gorge, oregon
fall 2013

Last week was one of those weeks where I really had to sort some things out with myself. I know that sounds kind of ridiculous and it is so be it, but really I felt like there was an invitation that came ever so subtly where I had to decide what I was really going to make time for in my life, what I was really going to stress over and what really matters the most to me right now. I have been abundantly blessed lately. I once again, have been tutored by the Lord that indeed, when I put first things first, everything else falls into place. Sure some of the first things that go first change from time to time but the staples are still the same: having quality and regular prayers, spending quality and regular time in the scriptures, attending the temple regularly and with purpose, serving my family and fulfilling my callings. Those are the top 5. When i'm doing those things, I'm doing the other good things I should be doing and the Lord blesses me and blesses my time. I'm not sure I'll ever understand how, but I know he blesses me.

This week I spent a lot of time in the car  as I drove to Boise early Thursday morning, and then back on Saturday afternoon. I had some quality listening time as a consequence. I loved listening to the Mormon Channel's Conversations program with Elder and Sister Bednar and Sister Dew. I feel like I learned so much from both of these conversations. One thing that I loved a lot was when Sister Dew said, "I don't view myself as single, I'm simply not married yet." It made me so happy because I feel much the same way. There is something about these roadtrip/work/independent adventures that remind me of all the reasons I'm grateful that I am where I am and who I am. While I am certainly aware of the desires of my heart and the things that I want most, I'm grateful that my circumstances or lack there of have not limited me in doing what it is that I want to do and being who I want to be. I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to act and not just wait to be acted upon. That's the lesson of the week. I'm grateful that I know my worth and that its the Lord who validates my worth, not anyone or anything else. I'm grateful for all the things I have to delight in and for the many things that make my soul delighteth in Him.

18) I delighted in getting to know myself and everyone else in my ward a little better. There's something about the color code that I just love. Whether you're a red, blue, white or even a yellow I feel like I gain a little more perspective into who people are and how they perceive themselves and how I perceive themselves. Not going to lie, I love that no one ever correctly guesses what I am. I love being a little mysterious I guess. I also love being a mix of colors and I loved seeing how I've changed. When I took the test in high school I was split red/white like almost exactly with 2 blue and no yellow. I'm happy to report that a few (or more than a few) years later I've changed. I was hoping for change because there's no way I'd want to look at the last 8 years and say I'm the same person. I'm grateful for the experiences that have invited me to become something different and hopefully a little more balanced than I was then.

19) I delight in a dad with listening ears. I don't know how I got such fantastic and admirable parents. They're amazing. Tonight, my mom and I barely crossed paths as I walked in, she walked out. And then I filled my dad's ears with all the random thoughts of my brain before I walked out the door to a relief society activity. Later, he gave me a screwdriver and let me practice my skills. I'm glad I can be his "other son." I'm so glad he teaches me lots of things that most girls would never know.

20) I delight in family who cares. I'm leaving tomorrow for Boise for URLEND. I'm excited about my trip but its going to be a long one. I'm flying solo on the trip. Sometimes it does the soul good. My mom has been checking the weather, my dad making sure my care is in good condition (fluid levels, tires, etc), mom packed me a snacks bag, dad made sure i was "safe." I know Craig wishes he was going (we've got relatives in Boise), and Christin, she just says, "three days except my sissy" or translated "three days without my sissy." Its so great to be so loved even though sometimes its almost like too much love? Many would say, is there such a thing? I would say, you haven't lived with Christin. But then I am reminded of how because of Christin, my capacity to love others has grown so much. Her deep and abiding love is as close to the love that the Lord has for us that I think I'll ever experience here in mortality. I'm so blessed.

21) Today I had the most awesome opportunity. First of all, to come to Boise, a place I've never been. Second, I was able to observe at NNH's Autism Clinic. In one day, families can come in and have a complete diagnostic assessment for autism including feedback. It was so great to be a part of. I learned so much. As much as I delighted in that whole experience, I have to say that my delight of the day was being in bed (a king bed for that matter) asleep by 9:30.  I can't even know when the last time that happened. It was magical.

22) I delight in going to a new temple. I have a running goal to do a session in 3 new temples each year. Today was 2:3--the Boise Idaho Temple. It's so beautiful. It was made extra special as there were two missionaries in my session who were going home the next day. As I sat next to the sister missionary who goes home tomorrow, I couldn't help but reminisce back to when that was me. Its been almost 4 years, but honestly, my memory can bring back those memories in a snap. Sitting in the Canada Halifax Temple at the end of my mission was a treasured time. I delight in those memories. I'm so grateful for that experience. And I so delight in being able to recall those times.   

23) I delight in a met goal. Today made 3:3 for sessions in new temples this year. I did a session in the Twin Falls Idaho Temple on my way home from Boise today. It was beautiful. I also made a stop at the scenic Shoshone Falls with some extra time I had in Twin. It was so fun! I love being a tourist in new places. It always makes me happy to be independent and touristy even when I'm by myself. I also delight in further adventures. Its one of those "adventures" that I've known was coming for a while. While I'm not sure its really logical (meaning that I don't have time for it), I also don't have the sense to say no. When I'm passionate enough about something, and when there's enough factors in play that its definitely going to be a success, I just can't say no. And so, here's to publication and a lot of writing.

24) I delight in finishing books. There is something so rewarding about finishing anything really. I used to be a serial book book had to be finished before reading the next. I don't know what happened...I really think that way worked better but now I read 5 books at a time and I consider myself to still be reading a book when I got half way through it and then stopped for 1.5 years (the current status of one book I'm reading). But today, I finished the most recent book I started, "How to get a date worth keeping." It is the only and best book I have ever read about dating and I feel like it highlighted and reminded me of all the things I needed to be reminded of. I love empowering books. Books where I go, hey, I just need to think about or do, this or that differently, and then I can do and be better. I love learning. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I delight in being brave.

leaves at the rose garden
portland, oregon
fall 2013

The title of this delight is a little deceiving because it implies that I am already brave. However, I'm intending it more as an affirmation of what I want to be.  There are some situations you can't really deal with entirely until they happen. You can always say what you're going to do or what you're going to think when "something like that" happens, but honestly, you never ever know until that moment of choice comes and you really have to deal with the situation. 

In those moments, you've got to be brave and just go. I like to plan and contemplate but life involves some risk. It involves taking a chance to see where you might end up. One of my lessons this week is this: "its incredibly worth the risk." The details of that lesson end there but let me just tell you, it's a powerful lesson when it comes from a powerful friend. Powerful because of experience and powerful because of perspective. 


11) I delight in dancing at PALS. This is another treasured place where I always feel I can be myself. Where I feel I can love these kids so openly and so sincerely. I'm so grateful to have Christin in my life so I can know and love her friends. She has awesome friends with such distinct gifts, talents and such an incredible ability to love. 

12) I delight in my calling. I love the opportunity to get to really know and love the sisters in my ward. They are incredible and their strength is undeniable. They are gifted, talented, remarkable women with so much to offer the world and the kingdom of God. I'm blessed to know them, blessed to love them and blessed to be loved by them.

13) I delight in a delightful evening. Delight isn't a word I use lightly but its the only word that kept coming to mind as I tried to describe it later. There is something about not knowing a person very well, having dinner and seeing where a conversation goes. A conversation that has no agenda. It was so delightful to discuss books, places, adventures and family without any mention of television or pop culture. It's so delightful to discuss the scriptures like its a normal topic of conversation which I so strongly believe that it should be. I delight in remarkable people who go about doing good. 

14) I delight in a lifetime best friend. Not many people can say they've been friends for forever but in Carly and I's case that's honestly the truth. I'm grateful for her wisdom, friendship and love.

15) I delight in the experiences of life. I'm grateful that experiences can count for something when it comes to sharing with others what you have learned through the experiences you've had. It makes it so much more worth it. I'm also grateful for professional relationships that grow into so happy to see you that I must give you a hug. I am so grateful to know the people I know and to be able to learn from them. I'm ever impressed by the lives they lead.

16) I delight in a comfy day. I haven't had a comfy day in a long long time. It involved me doing the things I needed to do, doing the things I wanted to do, all while wearing sweatpants---my BYU ones of course because it is a game day! I loved babies, helped script out a primary program about children with special needs, I fixed myself a real lunch, cleaned my room (which was in much need of cleaning), put up my Christmas decorations, Christmas crafted with my mom, had dinner with my family, ran errands with LB and had some quality sister time with that sweetest LB of mine. She's the best.

17) I delight in making choices. Agency and prayer have been a major study theme recently. Making choices is exercising agency, exercising agency is choosing to act as opposed to being acted upon. Even though making choices can be difficult sometimes, I'm still glad I can make them. I'm glad I can choose how I feel about a situation. I'm glad that I have moral agency. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I delight in November.

4) I delight in kind words. Some people say the nicest things, precisely when you need someone to tell you nice things. When people do it for me, it always reminds me of the influence a sincere compliment, statement or observation can have on another person. It reminds me that I need to share the good I see in others with them.

5) I delight in friends for life. I have been blessed with some of the greatest friends. I'm highly convinced, no one has better girlfriends than I do. It was so happy to be reminded tonight of my good ole BYU days with the 183rd ward: the pranks, the jokes, the tacos, the frisbee, the adventures and the travels. and of course the best roommates a girl could ever ask for. Dinner with Nicki reminded me my BYU experience really happened (sometimes it feels like it was a lifetime ago) and that it was such a treasured experience in every way!

6) I delight in singing. I love to sing. I don't see much in public anymore besides church and ward choir but it still makes my soul soar to sing a happy song. Like disney songs, in the car, on the way to the gas station, with LB and my Dad. Two words: tone deaf. 3 words: i love it!!!

7) I delight in assurances. This latest Mormon Message was the perfect way to start my day about wrong roads. I delight in spending time with my mom and sister. I feel like I'm most "me" when I'm with them. I'm also so glad that I didn't imagine how terrifying Ursula was at Disney on Ice when I was little. Seeing things you saw as a child again in your 20's is completely entertaining.

8) I delight in good friends. My mission has brought so many people into my life who are now spread all across the world. I feel so incredibly blessed to have Jen as a friend.

9) I delight in people who care about me. I had the worst day. I was so fatigued and so grouchy. And then, I come home to the most thoughtful acts of caring friends. Friends who get me. Friends who care about me. Friends who love me. They're the sisters I never had. They are the sounding boards I so often need. They are the inspiration and examples that drive me to be better. I am eternally blessed!

10) I delight in a truly happy birthday. I was 'unenthused' about this birthday for so many reasons. Some more credible than others considering that half of them had to do with the "odd-numberness" of this birthday and my dislike for any multiples of 9. See what I mean about the credible factor? Anyway, I delighted in my 27 kisses on the cheek from my sweet sissy Christin. I delighted in calls, texts, facebook messages, balloons, emails, cards, cake, the list goes on and on. I felt so loved and I'm so grateful to be loved by so many great people. I also delighted in the messages of stake conference and the opportunities to be taught by wonderful people and by the Spirit. For all these things, I again just feel abundantly blessed. I also have such positive vibes and aspirations about what 27 holds for me. It makes me happy!

I delighted in my twenty-sixth year.


Dear twenty-sixth year, 
What a year we have had together. We hit the ground running and we've never stopped. There is only one word that describes the past year and that word is challenge. It's not challenge in the typical sense of the word, I feel like I have been challenged to decide where I stand on a lot of issues and who I am. My identity as a daughter of God has continued to grow as my primary identity. I am His and anyone else's after. I've learned so much about what really matters, who I am, who I want to be, and where I need to go. You have given me so much this year! You gave me trips to the cabin to relish in all the beauty of my favorite place. You took me to Washington DC to present research at CAAI and learn independence traveling solo in a large city. You took me to Salt Lake almost every Friday to learn more about how to help the pediatric patients and their families that I get to work with, see and love. You gave me experience in a job that I become more passionate about everyday. You gave me so many new people, especially my "kiddos" to love who are full of light and potential. They bless me and inspire me everyday of my life! You gave me mentors, relationships, friends and peers; people who are such examples to me and who have guided me to think outside the box, stretch myself my skills and my knowledge. You gave me a fantastic trip to Portland to meet my little nephew, see my bosom friend and adventure in a new state. You gave me beautiful babies! I'm so grateful for three particular little ones who I have the chance to love and be their Auntie Erin. You gave me the opportunities to stay put in a living situation, this has been a challenge but much more of a blessing than I could have ever imagined. You gave me "sister time" "double kisses" "hug me, hug me, hug me", a week with my sibs, the opportunity to be loved and to love my family more deeply. You gave me the opportunity to spend time with, learn with, dine with, eat ice cream with and learn with my dearest friends. I'm so incredibly grateful for the good friends I have and who bless my life in every way! You brought early morning temple trips to Brigham City, stops at sonic for dirty diet cokes and visits to my grandparents. You brought bravery by signing up for my trip of a lifetime which my twenty-seventh year will get to experience.  You brought learning. You brought the opportunity to serve in two different callings. You challenged me to do more, to be more, to rely more on my Heavenly Father and to trust Him and to trust Him completely. You challenged me in ways I never expected, but its all brought progress. I've experienced high highs, low lows and everything in between. I am overwhelmed with the love, support, encouragement and hope this year has brought. What a memorable 365 days even though it only feels like the blink of an eye. You have truly taught me the value of agency, choosing joy,  acting more intentionally when I think more eternally and being consistent about my scripture study habits. You've truly taught me that "worry ends where faith begins."                                                  ......cheers, erin  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

a happy november from me to you

mantua, ut
november 2013

i love november. i loved september and october but november is my month. its the month that welcomed me into the world so we've always had a special bond. :)

already this november i have done things i've never done before period or done things that i've never done in the month of november. i've also done things that i haven't done in a while. all these changes just within the first three days of november give me lots of promise and hope for the wonderful month ahead.

last year i listed something i was grateful for everyday and i did a big post at the end. this year i decided i would spread it out a little and try to post on sunday nights what blessings i recognized from the week before. 

this is my formal invitation for you to delight with me for all 30 days of november. let us have hearts full of gratitude and delight in the things for which we have to be thankful for.

1) i delight in learning. i had the opportunity to hear from elder oaks and elder nelson at a fireside i attended today. i then had the opportunity to attend the temple. what great sources to learn so much from.

2) i delight in assurances. this day was filled with a massive to do list, but somehow, it all got done, at least what needed to get done got done. i know that as we do the things we ought and attend to the little things that the lord magnifies our efforts.

3) i delight in being among friends. i go to church with some incredible people. it makes my heart happy and grateful to be among them on sundays. to worship with them, to learn with them and to grow with them. i feel so blessed to experience this part of my life with them.

Monday, October 14, 2013

lessons from 2.5 months of life

today someone asked me how my "things" were going. knowing they were implying as to the status of my life stuff...i replied that it was all good. those words all good have haunted me ever since. and so i retract the previous statement and offer this response instead.

how are "my things" you ask? well let me tell you. i feel like i'm the rock and the river is rushing all around me. like i'm just stuck in the midst of it all.

i'm not getting the things done that i need to whether it be by my own time management deficits or the timeliness (or lack thereof) of others.

i find myself ignoring to-do lists or being settled with not completing everything on my to do list. while i hope i never overlook something major, there is something to be said about something that you were going to do two weeks ago that you didn't and just letting some stuff go.

that last thing probably isn't news to anyone else and it isn't to me either but boy do i try hard to do it all. and then i just get tired and inevitably grouchy. who wants to be around a tired and grouchy person? no one. that's why i have christin. she keeps me less grouchy and more grounded to what matters most.

the lesson that the past 2.5 months has taught me is this:

you can create the life you want 
by creating the attitude you want to have about it.  

possibly better is this statement quoted by a boy in my ward: "we attain joy by choose it over and over and over again, right now."

we just can't choose what we go through or what is going on in our life but we can choose how we respond. i believe in agency and i bleieve that agency fully applies in regards to choosing how we feel. i believe that one of my favorite hymns is absolutely right when it says:

know this that every soul is free.  to choose his life and what he'll be...

and so, while the river is a rushing on by, i'll be here with my whole hearted attempts at honestly being good and having a good attitude. as my mission president always said, attitude is everything. and isn't that the truth.

i am abundantly blessed. i choose joy. i choose to not let the things that i am not and that i don't get done define me because i am more than a conglomeration of my weaknesses and tasks left unaccomplished.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I delight in themes of conference.

saturday am conference exodus
october 2013
salt lake city, ut

General Conference was SO good. Although the night before was long one (but such a good one), I met conference morning with happiness in my heart and great hope for answers that surely would come.

While you'll hear me talk about this conference for the next 6 months, I have to start by sharing some themes that stood out to me. Overall, I felt impressed that the prophets and apostles were speaking with a great voice of warning to the signs of the times that are upon us. Let there be no doubt that we have been warned about the wiles of the adversary which will tempt us in these the last days. Prophecy is being fulfilled at a rapid rate and it requires discernment, we need the companionship of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost.

Other themes included:
have courage not to compromise
how to receive strength
don't be deceived by satan and the world
covenants: make them, live them, love them
the priesthood and me
the essential role of women in the home
there are significant lessons to be learned in these difficult times
this is the Lord's church and the Lord's doctrine
pray to invite someone to receive the missionary lessons
the importance of our spiritual and physical well-being
we need the holy ghost's companionship
love others. be kind. have compassion.

Overall, I felt impressed that we as Mormons, as Latter-day Saints, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must be clear, we follow Jesus Christ.

Let there be no doubt about it in the thoughts of our heart, in our actions and deeds whose we are (children of a loving Heavenly Father) and who we follow (our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ). We must settle these things within us and live accordingly.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I delight in being prepared for general conference.

general conference april 2013
salt lake city, ut

Loving general conference has been a process for me in life and for the past 12 years or so, its been a process I've been actively trying to improve. Over these years, I've learned a lot of things that for me, make a difference and some years, it has made all the difference. For me, life seems to collide around general conference. There are a lot of times when things have come together and I have just said,..."thank heavens it's almost conference." My heart fills with gratitude as I think about general conference.  I'm so grateful to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and now I add, I know it, I live it, I love it, thanks to Sister Dibb's talk this time last year!

While preparing for this general conference, I have made a list that I call, "10 Principles of Learning at General Conference." These are a few things that for me have made all the difference in my conference experience. It is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list and over time I anticipate it will still change.  But if you're seeking for ways or ideas to help conference mean more to you, maybe you can take some principle away from my list, apply it and see how conference blesses your life a little bit more.

1. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
This preparation happens in a lot of different ways...I'm going to throw a bunch of things out that have helped me prepare

  • Writing down questions and taking them to the Lord through prayer and keeping them visible throughout conference. This is critical. If nothing else, do this. I have been working on my questions for a while now and I've been taking them to the Lord in prayer and pondering them in my heart. This has made all the difference for my conference experience.
  • Frequently listen to general conference talks. Listen to previous conferences to prepare for future conference. Let the Lord tutor you in how he talks to you. You're also showing the Lord how much you treasure His word.
  • In the week prior to conference, do 4 things: 1. Fast, 2. Attend the temple, 3. Serve, 4. Right a wrong. One of my former bishop's wives was in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She shared that this is what they are asked to do the week prior to general conference. I still remember the distinct impression I had as she shared this that this was a critical formula.
  • Get adequate rest. Enough said.
  • Watch as much of conference live as you can. Be where you can be taking notes. I find that the first time I listen to a talk is when I get the most out of it and if I can listen live I tend to get more out of it as well.
  • Be in a clean, spirit conducive environment. I need to listen in "peace and quiet" as my sister would say.  While not always possible, it is a good thing to strive for.
  • Get "other stuff" done before so you can focus on conference. I like to multitask which at times has made this one hard; however, its so so worth it. Plus your mind is at rest when as much of that "other stuff" is done and can be out of your mind. 
  • Pray about how to get the most out of conference. The Lord will help you know how best to help yourself prepare.
  • Decide how you're going to take notes at conference. For me, this is exciting because I am a lover of all things "school supplies!" Notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, whatever it is, I just love it. If I am starting a new study journal, one that I'm likely going to carry around the next 6 months, I usually take notes in there, if I'm at the end of a study journal and its not going to last till the next conference, I usually take notes in a small journal I can carry with me in my scripture case for the next 6 months so I can refer back to it, remember, and use what I learned.
2. Be ready to listen and learn
  • Again, get enough sleep. 8 hours is a long time, and brethren, 10 hours in one weekend is a challenge. It takes some spiritual and physical endurance. For those of us who have the opportunity to watch from the comfort of our own homes, sometimes this is a blessing and sometimes it is a curse because we can watch it wrapped up in our blankets and quilts. So be well rested so you can get the most out of the time you're devoting.
  • Look the part. This historically and presently has been difficult for me. I have looked to conference as a break from getting ready; however, I am a huge proponent of dressing the part. I'd dress up to take tests (sometimes*) in grad school because I wanted to look successful to tell myself I was going to be successful. I believe the same applies. I feel like I'm going to get more out of it when I look the part.
  • Have snacks. Done.
  • Be spiritually ready. Really here I think the biggest thing is to know how the Lord talks to you. If we are being consistent in studying the scriptures and praying, this is generally easier in my opinion. Do whatever you need to to be ready to hear and feel what he has to tell you through the Holy Ghost.
  • Have a pen and paper ready. Coming from this compulsive note taker...this is critical. Write down the thoughts you have because you might not have them again. 
  • Go on walks in between sessions and prior. Again with the being awake concept. :)
  • Turn off the stuff. We live in a society of smart phones, laptops and ipads...we check facebook automatically, instagram, pin things, whatever...leave your phone in the charging station or away from your fingers. An entire talk could have come and gone before you realize how much time you've spent communing with your phone rather than listening to the prophet. Eek!
3. Review your questions frequently.
I really like to have my questions on a note card or some place in my notebook that is easily accessible so I can review them frequently. 

4. Focus on your thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes I almost transcribe the whole talk...but that's not the point. The point is that I write down the inspiration I receive. The words that they say will be posted but the impressions I have will never be published unless I write them down.

5. Note patterns and things that stand out. 
One of my favorite activities is to write down summaries of each conference. What themes stood out? What recurring thoughts did I keep having? What patterns are in my notes as I review them? What was the Lord trying to tell me? What do I need to change? What does he want me to observe in myself? I then love later going back and comparing what themes stuck out to me initially and then what themes stick out 6 months later.

6. Write things you're going to do because of what you have felt and learned.
Coming from someone with a perpetual to-do list, this is key for me. I like to keep a list of do impressions as it were that I can tape in my journal and go and do as a result of conference. Sometimes, I've also called this my focus list, just things to focus on over the next 6 months.

7. Re-read, re-listen and re-view.
Never be afraid to go back and ask the Lord, is there more? Even after studying talks for 6 months, I still learn new things, different things still impress me and even now sometimes I I remember this talk? Because different things will end up standing out to me. I love that we can go back, that I can dial up a talk and listen to it while I drive, while I get ready in the morning, anytime. Its an easy way to fill my life with good things!

8. Keep your commitments. 
If there was a change you felt prompted to make, make it. If you felt like you needed to do something as a result of what you heard or felt, do it. Remember that the Lord blesses us by what we do with what we are given. And where much is given much is required. If it was right on Saturday afternoon during conference, it will still be right on Monday evening.

9. Keep conference in your heart.
Review your notes. Its also always a personal goal of mine to re-read every conference talk by the following conference. This time I'm going to try to watch, read, or listen to a conference talk everyday  between conferences. And before you discredit a world of technology and smart phones, its SO easy to listen to talks as we exercise, garden, commute (that's what I do), get ready, shower, prepare meals, etc. There are so many ways we can keep conference in our hearts, just find a way that works for you to do it.

10. Express gratitude to the Lord for living Prophets and Apostles. Pray for them for the following conference.
These good brethren need our prayers. I can't imagine all the time, effort, labour and diligence they put into preparing these talks, and for the first presidency to prepare two, even three talks...I just can't even imagine. They need our faith and prayers! Also it is so important to thank Our Heavenly Father for what we have learned, for living prophets and for the blessings that come into our life as we listen and learn from latter-day prophets. 

Now it's your turn. What works for you? How do you prepare for general conference? What is something new you will try to prepare for this general conference? 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I delight in being prepared for fall.

perfect fall leaves
sardine canyon, utah

I love fall. Everything about it, the colors, the temperature, the feeling in the air. There is just something about all the senses of the season that come together and really make perfection for me.

With that being said, there's a lot to prepare for in the fall because winter (that dreaded, cold, suck the life out of me season) is a'comin.

I recommend making a list of 10 must do's for the fall season.

1. Shop at a farmer's market or local fruit stand.
I'm pretty lucky because this one is an easy one for me. I live right by Utah's Fruit Way. There is something about buying local and meeting the farmers who grow my food that makes me happy. There's also something about finding a pumpkin that fits my personality.

2. Make meals from your garden.
I'm already failing at this one this year. Historically (while living away) I would come home on the weekends and stock up on everything I was going to eat for the week which usually involved tomatoes, tomatoes, and tomatoes, a few onions and more tomatoes (can you guess what we have the most of at my house?) Again, there is something about eating something that comes from your own backyard that is so rewarding. And may I recommend a caprese pasta delicious! Oooo and don't forget the pesto!

3. Buy some hot chocolate
Whether it is stocking up on the powder stuff for winter, stocking up on the evaporated milk so you can make the extra delicious kind like my roommate in college or stopping by your local hot drinks spot...enjoy a cup of some holiday cheer. Hot chocolate makes me feel assured that everything is going to be okay because I have a way to keep my very insides warm.

4. Enjoy the outdoors
Walk, kayak, go hiking. For fellow summer stragglers, fall is the best time to get out and about. I melt in the heat so hiking is tricky for me in the dead of summer. I love fall because a) I feel like my surroundings are even more photogenic and b) because its cooler, there aren't as many people and I can just enjoy it more. Now is the time of the year to travel to some of the summer "destinations" like yellowstone, arches, zions, and blanding.

5. Go on an intentional "I'm going to love the beauty of the season" drive.
This one is such a stretch for me. My family loves to drive and go for rides but for me to be the instagator of such a thing is a rarity. Plus because I spend a lot of time commuting, driving is sometimes the last thing I want to do on the weekends. I do however love a good adventure and going for a nice drive is just the ticket. Last year it was sardine canyon. I didn't need to go to Logan, I just needed to see leaves. This year I'm taking a new route with friends, up emigration canyon and down through east canyon. Its going to be incredible...incredibly brown because the leaves just aren't as fantastic this year (the joy of living in a desert) but it will still be fun because of the other traditions and experiences we have built around it (e.g., going to trader joes, eating breakfast at Ruth's diner).

6. Have a campfire.
Nothing, I repeat nothing will make fall more "fall like" that having a campfire on a cool evening while staying toasty in a hoodie. It is perfection. Just do it and thank me later.

7. Go on walks while wearing hoodies regularly
Can you tell I have a thing for hoodies? As a teenager, I lived in them. Now, not so much; however I do know how to appreciate one. This shapeless, thick, hooded piece of clothing keeps me warm and brings back oh so many memories of the hoodie fall time's of years past. I reminisce old holey hoodies as I wear new, yet to be holey hoodies.

8. Find a place to watch the perfect sunset.
I haven't actually done this one; however it was recommended to me by a new friend I met at institute last week. She told me she liked to find sunset spots. I immediately recognized and reported that this was something I could really get behind. I love the sun (just look at how many pictures I take of it.) And so, this is a new one I am adding to the list.

9. Prepare for the winter.
The only thing I don't like about fall is that it means winter is a coming. I am not a winter girl. I don't really care much for any winter sports (although one of these years I think I should do something about that and just learn to like to ski). So that means we must prepare for the winter with craft projects. No one wants to be going out for thread or glue in the snow just to finish a project. I get more craft/sewing projects done in the winter because I'm not out doing other things so it means that now is the time to check my inventory/stash of stuff to make sure I'm prepared.

10. Get ready for general conference
That leads us into the next list. General conference is my most favorite thing.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I delight in preparation.

indian paintbrush
monte cristo, ut
july-ish 2012

This is the introduction to a two part series. Don't worry both parts are already written and scheduled to be posted. This is not an empty promises blog post like some previous posts (what can I say? blogging is not high on my list of priorities). With that being said, when I feel inspired to write actually gets done.

I delight in preparation--being prepared for anything, a trip, taking notes, breaking down on the side of the road, my friend needing a tissue at an unexpected moment, a pen, you name it, I want to be prepared for it.

With my favorite season upon us, I decided there are two major things we need to be prepared for this time of year (and I'm not talking shopping for the holidays):

1) enjoying the best season of the year (fall)

2) being ready for LDS general conference

With that being said, I've been thinking about these two things as of thought and felt like I should share what I have been studying and learning.

Enjoy and please add how you prepare for these occasions in your life.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I delight in the command to fear not.

Today I had the opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting today which is the main meeting in my church. I spoke with three other women in the congregation who I have the opportunity to serve with right now. We all spoke on the scripture from Isaiah 41:10,

 10 aFear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I amthy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Some things I learned were this, 

  • We ought not to permit fear and uncertainty to distract us from doing what we ought. 
  • 2 Kings 6: 13-17
 13 ¶And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.
 14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
 15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his aeyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses andbchariots of fire round about Elisha.

  • "I'm here, I have always been here." He has always been with us and he always will be. What do we have to fear when He is with us?
  • What fears do I need to stop taking councel from?
  • Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. 
  • Sometimes we want strength without struggle
  • We can't pray to be painlessly incapacitated so we can get out of things. We need to rely on the Lord and keep in mind that we are always accountable to our Heavenly Father.
  • Failure is not an option to the Lord. 

I shared about my "almost encounter" with a bear and talked about the many ways the Lord has sent me assurances that have kept me moving forward in times of fear. One of those is the story of the people of Alma from Mosiah 23-24. That story saved me as a missionary time and time again because it reminded me that the Lord doesn't deliver us from the things that make us fearful or that are hard but he makes it so we can handle it, he strengthens our backs to carry the load if you will.

I found another scripture in Isaiah 43: 1-5 that struck me so deeply, it states,
But no thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, that I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

When thou passes through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour…

Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.

Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring ty seek from the east, and gather thee from the west.

I love how Christ emphasizes here, not that he is the Savior of the World, although he most certainly is but here, talking one on one, ministering one by one as he does he says, thy Saviour. He reminds us at so many times and in so many ways that he is our Savior. I am grateful to know the true character of Christ, that he cares, is compassionate and that he wants me to rely on him and fear not. He is my Savior and your Savior.