Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I delight in living a real life.

Lately, I've some real life moments...what is a real life moment you ask?

I'm not sure I can describe them, I just feel them. Real life means you've vulnerable, it means your brave. It means you are real. It means you don't think, you just do. It means you don't reason through every little thing, you reason enough and then you trust. It means you do things that you never expected to do, or you never expected to do them in the way you think.

Real Moment #1: Buying a house by myself. No one dreams of buying a house for just them to live in. No, everyone dreams of buying a house for them, their sweet spouse and probably their current, pending or growing family. Some things just have cultural norms...buying a house for yourself, is not a cultural norm, and most people who you tell...well their eyes tell you that you're not living the cultural norm. That look is usually fleeting as they either become proud and supportive of your bravery...they couldn't imagine doing such a thing but maybe you're inspiring them to change their mind about that. The look sometimes changes to a look of judgement...why would you buy a house? Just rent until you get married. And sometimes the look says...it feels good to be brave doesn't it? They know this because they've experienced it and they've experienced all the looks. Their look is the most validating because they know what its like to live real life moments and how they've grown.

Real Moment #2: Learning that "alone" does not mean "lonely." Somehow life gets real when you do things by yourself because you just have to own the life you live and your choices. Sometimes when I get home...its weird to think that no one else is going to "get home" or walk in the door. And so, I've had to make deliberate decisions about what I do, how I spend my time, and how I interact with others. I make specific efforts to spend time with people, to see friends, to call the people I love. No more just waiting for fun to walk in the door, I'm intentionally choosing to be with people because I love them. Because I live alone, I am not lonely.

Real Moment #3: Being in a room with 300 people who you don't know and who don't know you but you are now going to see them every week and spend time with them. aka I went to church in my new YSA ward. That alone wasn't a big deal, although it was the first time I ever went to a ward that was going to be my ward without a roommate, a friend, an associate or a possy for that matter. I didn't really think twice about it, I went in, sat down and enjoyed the meeting. And then, then it happened, things got real. They announced that after the closing hymn and prayer, the congregation was to remain seated for introductions. I knew something was coming that I wasn't sure I was entirely up for. Post-prayer, sure enough, new and visiting members were invited to stand up and introduce themselves. There's something to be said, when on "super-cute sunday" (your first sunday in a new ward), you are asked to stand up and introduce yourself. I felt like I wanted to crawl in a hole! Now I'm not shy. I've performed in front of lots of people. I've sung in front of a crowd. I've taught classes, I've given talks and conducting a meeting...not a problem...but somehow, introducing myself that day...well I think I'm still having some PTSD from it. Now, its not that big of a deal, for whatever reason, my heart is making this a deal due to my emotional response, but man oh man...it felt like real life because then after introductions were over...it was like all the eye balls continued to look at me...few words but many words...oh the strength to be the initiator of conversation, and oh how happy the hug and smile of a familiar face that immediately began to introduce me to people.

Real moments will continue to happen. And maybe, I'll blog about more of them as they occur but until then, I challenge you to live them too. Have the experience you've been putting off. Do what you've wanted to do but haven't found anyone who wants to do it with you. Be brave and then be grateful for your ability to live life!

No regrets.

Monday, October 19, 2015

I delight in filling my life.

My life has come to be represented as of late by a big empty house. I don't have an empty life...nor do I have an empty house...if only the books could be transformed into couches and chairs...we'd be in great business.

I've been thinking a lot as of late about filling this space in my life (i.e., my house) and I've been thinking about the structure of the house its self and all it represents. It reminded me of this quote by C.S. Lewis 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.”

Doesn't that seem like the way life goes? We start building something and God thinks it needs some re-vamping, some remodeling, and so it goes.

And so it is with us. Since General Conference, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of, "start where you are and do one thing better today." The last year has been completely unanticipated. I have, to one degree or another, let things fill my life, rather than intentionally filling it myself. Presently, I can hear the tapping of the Lord's hammer reminding me, that this wall isn't as secure as I think it is, and that pipe is in the wrong place.

The Lord is reminding me, I need to improve how I'm filling my life. This reminds me of some advice I was once given. Thank goodness for Facebook and the connections it allows you to keep for so many years. After my mission, I corresponded with a woman who I met in the first branch I served in. Her name was Anne. While serving in Anne's branch, I had the blessing of seeing her life change. Albeit at a distance, I saw her meet a sweet man who showed up at our branch for conference, and her life was never the same, eventually marrying the man and moving away. As we reconnected post mission, she gave me the following advice as I wandered through the challenging "I'm home from my mission, now what stage" she said,

"As for returning home from your mission, well it can be a difficult transition. Your life as a missionary is so focused and spiritual and structured. The challenge is keeping the spirituality and focus while dealing with other necessities of life. Small things count, daily scripture study and sincere and I stress sincere, prayer. Most of all, keep busy and involved with the church. It took me a long time to learn that I needed to fill my life with spiritual things and eliminate all the junk there is out there. Get an MP3 and listen to conference while walking, jobbing or traveling to school or work. Listen to spiritual music and keep the Sabbath Day holy. I hope that helps. I know I had a hard time after my mission and made some mistakes. But what kept me going is that I never, ever, missed Church. It reminded me week after week of who I was and what was right."

Anne's advice hit my heart and changed me. Her advice has come back to me in the past month or so and has changed me again. You see, since moving into the calm blue house (I'm still coming up with a nickname for the house) things have gotten quiet so I've turned up the noise. This is generally out of my character but I've turned on the TV, the news, the radio. I've turned on all sorts of playlists and movies to fill space. But, its weak space I'm creating with the noise. I need better noise, more filling noise, the right kind of noise.

So, last week, an exciting thing happened at my house...I got the internet! I thought this would be a necessity I could live without, in fact, I determined (at least I told myself) I didn't use it for that many things anyway.

I was wrong. I realized that I used the internet for a lot of things...both good fillers of my time and space and bad fillers. What would I choose when the internet again filled my home. It was a choice I had to make.

All this to say, that since having the internet, I have listened to A LOT of general conference and music off the mormon channel app. Sure, I might have caught up on my favorite show NCIS, but I have made an intentional choice to fill my life with better things. I've filled my house with happy hymns of heaven. I've started singing in my house and I think it adds to calm blue's aims. Creating a happy life, a haven home and a peaceful heart is something that begins with us, is remodeled by God and acts as vehicular protection of sorts for us to return home to him.

Challenge: Substitute one "filler" in your life for a better filler.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I delight in contributing good.

pretty flower/leaf things
somewhere in israel

Yesterday and today I have been soaking in every drop of general conference. 

Historically, I've always been pretty hyper-vigil about general conference. I like to watch it, notebook in hand with a great pen. Focused, quiet and determined to take abundant notes. This conference, I was in a sense, forced to do something different. 

You see, this weekend, I was supposed to be in Idaho with the fam at the cabin. I really wanted to be there with my family in my favorite place. However, as last week drew on, I realized, I was suffocating in my to-do list and quickly going crazy living out of boxes spread throughout my house. Therefore, the best choice I could make for my sanity was to stay home, get organized and participate in conference from home. 

Friday was full of fulfilling the to-do list, at least in the home-life sense. And so I did...I shopped, painted, organized, cleaned, painted, painted and did I mention, paint? Friday night however, it occurred to me that I had no internet and no cable leaving me with few conference options. In my exhausted mind, I decided I would run home-home, watch the first session after stopping to buy some paint, and pack up some stuff from my family's house. Then, I would learn to be settled experiencing conference a different way...listening without a pen in hand but with a steering wheel in hand instead. And you know what...I'll never forget listening to the afternoon session and hearing the names of the new apostles who had been called: Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson and Elder Renlund. My heart swelled as I drove on I-15 and I was gently reminded that conference with pen-in-hand is my own rigidity, not the Lord's necessity. The Spirit filled my car as I drove and the radio filled my house upon returning home, all the while, the Spirit continued to abound. As I was unpacking, moving, cleaning, organizing and even painting, I listened with intent and the Spirit taught. I jotted down impressions amid everything else and it was a beautiful experience. I was reminded, its not about your circumstances, its about your heart and your intent. 

God is so good and so merciful. My heart has been touched, my soul consoled and my spirit buoyed up to stay afloat. 

While there are many impressions I have received, one of them hit me the most this morning as I listened on the radio. At first I listened outside, unfortunately it was far too cold, so then I sat on my kitchen counter because I don't yet have stools and my kitchen table...is full of tools and papers. Again, the answers came and the Spirit filled my home. This session; however,  I had a very distinct thought that directly applies to this blog in fact!

During President Russell M. Nelson's talk, I'm not going to lie, my initial thought was...oh here's another talk about women. Not that I don't like those talks, but sometimes, I get overwhelmed by how "great" we are supposed to be. As I listened, more closely, I didn't hear a talk about how awesome I am as a woman or about how great I'm supposed to be, I heard a plea and promised blessings. 

President Nelson spoke of a prophecy by President Spencer W. Kimball that much of the major growth of the Church in the last days would come because of strong and devout women. He then went on to say that the Church needs women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and that we must be courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. He went on to say, 

"We need women who are devoted to shepherding God's children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation; who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment, women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families, women who teach fearlessly."

That doesn't tell me how awesome I am supposed to be yesterday, it tells me how much the Lord needs me, whatever it is I am today! 

The lesson here for me is two fold: 
1) "Take your rightful place in the kingdom of God. He will magnify your influence." My word of the year, has been radiate, and now its time to let my light shine in a few new ways: in my new ward that I have yet to attend, in making this blog public again, in being an organized soul who has more time for those I work with, in being a solid friend who says what she means, returning phone calls, making dinner dates, and showing the people I love just how much I love them by spending time with them and serving them. 

2) The Lord needs me to be where I am now. No one dreams of buying a home for just them alone to live in. It is so easy to feel behind and inadequate when many of my dear friends are married, have children and get to be mothers now. My heart yearns for these things and sometimes I wonder about the fruition of my desires in this life. But, the Lord has taught me in some way, almost every single day this week, that my worth is not dependent on being like anyone else or living their plan. He sent me to live my plan which is His plan for me and he wants me to have JOY in my this mortal journey I am on. And so...while I may not yet be a mother, I know that my eternal soul is a mother and that I am here trying to qualify for eternal life. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

I delight in a world where there are Octobers.

 thank you anne, and pinterest

October 1, 2015--I delight in feeling loved and supported. 
It was a go-go-go-go day. When it finally slowed down late that evening at a traffic light...I was delighted and surprised to see one of my dearest friends and former roommates sitting in her car next to me with a big smile on her face. Of the many cars traveling on Foothill, what are the chances? That's right...its not chance, it was a blessing. And one of the most tender blessings the Lord could bestow that very day. I have been blessed with such choice people in both my personal and professional life. People that have spanned the ages and stages of life so far and we've still got so far to go.

October 2, 2015--I delight in being physically able and happy hearted.
I woke up with a big to-do list. The fam went to Island Park but I stayed behind in an attempt to make my house an organized space. After spending a morning painting, I ran errands and essentially packed my car with things that have been collecting on my list for the past week and a half. I was so grateful to find some great rugs on sale at Target! Rugs are expensive...okay houses are expensive but so are all the things that go in them! While there are many things I can live without...I love sitting on the floor too much to deprive myself of something soft to sit on. As I returned home, painted more, I listened to Women's Conference. I hadn't had a chance to tune in the week before due to Christin's swim meet. As I stood in my garage and painted...my heart swelled at just how the Lord knows my heart and knows exactly what I needed to hear. I don't even know who said what because it all just ran together for me but the point I took away was...Don't look at your life with just mortal eyes. This life is not a time for all blessings to be realized but a time for us to prepare to meet God, there to receive all He hath. Don't let your happiness be conditional on the realization of those blessings in this life and in your time frame.

While I know those aren't the words that were shared, the Spirit shared them with my heart and it just buoy's me up in ways I can't even express. As I stood there listening in my garage...I just thought...once again, I know this is where I'm supposed to be right now. I'm so grateful for that feeling and knowledge!

October 3, 2015--I delight in hearing the word of the Lord through His Prophets and Apostles. 
I love General Conference.