Monday, February 29, 2016

general conference: worthy of our promised blessings

this was one of my favorite talks from last general conference.

october 2015 conference was an interesting experience. my family was in idaho. i was in my new house. i didn't have tv, i had run out of data on my phone, and i was overwhelmed with everything I had to do. i had missed the women's conference the week before. and honestly, i was just feeling sorry for myself in this transition to a new normal, aka living alone.

so i painted. i was determined i would finish my closet by myself. i painted the entire closet, the doors and i even hung the doors myself (not an easy task).  as i painted doors, i listened to women's conference. This quote struck me so deeply...

Understandably, many have expressed that our Father’s promised blessings are just “way too far away,” particularly when our lives are overflowing with challenges. But Amulek taught that “this life is the time … to prepare to meet God.”8 It is not the time to receive all of our blessings. President Packer explained, “‘And they all lived happily ever after’ is never written into the second act. That line belongs in the third act, when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right.”9However, a vision of our Father’s incredible promised blessings must be the central focus before our eyes every day—as well as an awareness “of the multitude of his tender mercies”10 that we experience on a daily basis.
Sisters, I do not know why we have the many trials that we have, but it is my personal feeling that the reward is so great, so eternal and everlasting, so joyful and beyond our understanding that in that day of reward, we may feel to say to our merciful, loving Father, “Was that all that was required?” I believe that if we could daily remember and recognize the depth of that love our Heavenly Father and our Savior have for us, we would be willing to do anything to be back in Their presence again, surrounded by Their love eternally. What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior?
i'm so grateful to know that in the end, all will be made right.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Week 8: Life is not a bucket list

If there was one word to describe my week, it was probably "over." For whatever reason, potentially hormones, I was over the week, the entire week. It didn't keep me from doing any of the usual things and honestly, there were probably only two people who knew I was feeling any different than usual.

Lessons I learned this week:

  • Hugging brings happiness. I like hugs and I like to hug other people. For whatever reason, I needed some hugs this week. 
  • Talking to people louder than my usual volume makes my voice fatigue much faster.
  • The value of assuming good intent is HIGH in every single context of life.
  • Saying good-bye is never my favorite thing
  • Bananas are one of the smelliest foods
  • Choosing frames for pictures always starts with me having no opinion and ends with me having really strong opinions.
  • Listening to books on tape is addictive.
  • I'm a terrible judge of size and dimension.
  • I would rather drive than ride when I don't have the attention span for a book.
  • I dream of making delicious Thai Curry (or any curry for that matter) and am grateful for friends who can. 
  • Regular tires are much quieter than snow tires. 
  • Chocolate cake is an appropriate dinner some days.
  • Maddox is the only place I will eat pickle relish. 
  • Hamburgers have been my food of the week which is ironic because the first time I ever ate a hamburger was 11 years ago!
  • Life is not a bucket list. 
  • Life is never to be taken for granted.
  • Grocery shopping at WinCo really is that much cheaper.
  • Put your heart into everything you do. 
  • Be the kind of person who makes other people feel so welcome and loved.
  • Ants and I will never be friends!

Friday, I had the opportunity to honor the life of my dear Aunt Lorraine. As her daughters and grandson spoke of her life, I was so impressed by the woman she was and the woman that she is.

Something my cousin Lisa said really really struck me, in so much that I had recorded the funeral service for Craig and went back and listened to it myself to write down this quote that has been on my mind for the past two days. In closing, Lisa said: "I sometimes worried about her. I wanted her to have everything she wanted to have and do everything she wanted to do. And I just had this sweet peaceful reassurance the day after she died, that none of that mattered.  And that the focus so much these days is on bucket lists and doing things that you want to do and living your life and making sure that you get to do everything or have everything that you want. I want to testify that it does not matter. I feel that. I believe that. I know that she let all of that go and she was happy to let all of that go. These are earthy cares, the cares that are here on earth, they stay here. She has moved on to better things and a better place."

Those are wise words. They really made me re-examine...everything. Not everything I do, but it made me re-examine and refine my motivation for what I do...why I do it. 

I love my bucket list. And at the top of that bucket list is people--I want to be a wife and mother. I want to be the best sister, daughter, friend and person to those in my life. That is the frame in which I want to make sure I do everything I do. None of the other "stuff" or experiences should ever take the place of people and doing the things of eternal value and worth. At the end of the day I want to have lived in every moment, living a meaningful life is my bucket list. 

Sure I have lots of fun experiences I want to have in life and I've had lots of great experiences. I will still have a bucket list. But my life will not be defined by the number of things I've crossed off on that bucket list. I want my life to be defined by the people I loved, the conversations I had and the promptings I followed.

Yesterday, I tried to savor moments a little more. I hugged a little longer. Volunteered to give Christin her bath. I tried not to rush moments. I drove a little slower, aka the speed limit. I listened a little more. I waited a little more before responding. At the end of the day, as I drove home around midnight on the quiet streets of my neighborhood, the audiobook I'd been listening to for 3 weeks had just wrapped up and nothing seemed an appropriate substitute but silence. I reflected on how mortality happens and we are along for the journey. 

Lisa is right, life is not a bucket list. Bucket lists don't bring happiness. The events on a bucket list shouldn't be things to do just so you can say you did them. To me, they're experiences that happen in places I want to learn more about and with people I want to make memories with. Seeing the Mona Lisa wasn't all that great. Seeing my mom see the Mona Lisa, something she never thought she'd see, was best part. Going to Israel was great. Experiencing it and feeling it and loving it with my Dad was incredible. They are moments we talk about, share about and that have brought us closer together.

"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military man or the peacemaking of women in homes and neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries as made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this." --Neal A. Maxwell

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Week 7: The Week that Happened

Last week happened...I don't remember it very well.

I made cinnamon rolls. Played cars and dinosaurs. I threw a party. I laughed so hard that I cried. I cleaned out grandpa's basement. I said goodbye to someone I love. I continued to listen to the book "Blink." I conducted the ward choir in singing my most favorite song "Jesus Savior Pilot Me." I did some yard work. I picked out carpet. I spent hours staring at paint samples with friends and my mom. I cut out a new project. I completely botched an almost completed project. I talked. I walked in the sunshine. I hung up pictures. I met some new people.

At the end of the day, a week happened! :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

I Write

For the past couple of years, I have felt that I should write more. When I say write more, I just mean, write more. What I'm trying to clarify here is that I don't mean to write better. I am terrible with grammar and punctuation. Sometimes, I give up on capitalization all together; although I'm trying to be better at that. I never know if I have dangling participles or if my use of commas is appropriate. I know my sentences run on and on. If that bothers you, either help me or don't worry about it. Maybe one day I will focus my efforts there but today...I just want to write! You see, I used to be a diligent journal writer...grad school killed that and it hasn't really come back. But, I have been somewhat of a diligent blog writer. Maybe its being able to tag and search for things that I've written or maybe its just the fact that its like a journal I can keep in my pocket, but I have written with some consistency on this platform, or on another closed platform depending on the subject.

Lately, I have taken to using this as a medium whereby I can collect thoughts and formulate an essay on a subject of interest. That subject of interest currently is the Provo City Center Temple. As I have studied related subjects and themes from my experience in attending the Open House, my life has been blessed as I have labored over what to write, how to write it and how to synthesize my studies together.

I've always had a unique way of studying that works for me. One day I want to describe it further and write about it but for now, I want to share the value of writing. Sometimes, I think I write too much when I study. I write words on new pages that are printed on other pages right in front of me. It makes no sense to me sometimes. But, I've determined there is value in this effort. For me, writing words somehow makes them a part of me in a way that just thinking about them as I read them doesn't do. It internalizes them, makes me experience them through another modality and maybe allows me to carry them with me a little longer than I would otherwise.

I was reflecting on Sunday about a quote book that I kept from Junior High through my mission. In that space of time, I filled an entire composition book with handwritten quotes that I had read that had left an impression on me. I have turned to that quote book for inspiration and guidance from the time I started it to present. I often reflect on quotes I wrote down so long ago. I laugh that I know exactly where to find them in the most hodge podged book of quotes. But I think it goes back to the fact that the written word has become a part of me. I could have typed them in a lengthy document only to be accessed on my computer. I could have typed them and taped them which might have worked too and definitely would have been more time economical but I really love that I took the time to write them.

While I love seeing the evolution of my penmanship (neat to messy to print then cursive), I also love remembering where the quote came from, who shared it with me, how it impacted me at the time and why I wrote it in the book. Its like a journal without the written description of why it was important in my life at the time. That history is written only in my heart.

And so, I commit to writing more. I started a new quote book after I finished the first one but haven't kept it with such diligence as I did the first one. I need to. I commit to continuing to work on the essay I've started about the Provo City Center Temple and to eventually publish it here.  I commit to my weekly recaps to monitor my progress on my goals and keep myself in check. I commit to my continued favorite way as of present to capture the sparkles of life which is Instagram. I commit to write.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


buffalo in yellowstone
spring 2014

"...I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written;..."
--Doctrine and Covenants 18:3

:depend on with full trust or confidence
:be dependent on

I rely on a lot of things. I rely on the lights turning on when I flip the switch, my car starting when I put the key in the ignition. I rely on phone service working when I make a call, the internet working when I click and app or turn on my computer. I rely on my fridge to keep my food cold, and my body to function properly.

I rely on a lot of things. Almost unintentionally and without much thought, I full expect and have confidence in the fact that when I use or do something, the object will do what it is built and anticipated to do. I've become somewhat dependent on that fact.

But reliance isn't just in things, switches or electronic items. Because honestly, these things will all fail at some point. You will turn on the water faucet one day and water won't come out (see the post about my flooded basement). You will depend on someone to do something and it won't happen sometimes. We've all been there, on both sides of the experience. And you know what, we're human, its expected, its okay.

But what does it really mean to rely and how can we really do it? What can we really rely on?

Tonight as I was reading in the scriptures at the end of a particularly long and challenging day and week, I opened to Doctrine and Covenants 18. This word rely stood out on the page in verse 3. The scripture says, "And if you know that they are true, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written;..."

I had this moment of peace as I reflect on being able to "rely upon the things that are written."

I am so grateful to have the scriptures. These ancient records of scripture allow me to rely on them. They're words and friends that never fail me. They never fail me when I read them and they never fail me as the Spirit brings them to my remembrance in the moments when I need them most. I am so grateful that I can depend on the words that are written in the scriptures and that I can trust and have confidence in the words that are written for my benefit and learning. I need to rely on them more.

week 6: life is a curious thing

When your own words fail you, its always best to use someone else's.

My friend Amy says it best...

Life, ooh life is a curious thing
Well, I know that it can be demanding
I know that it can be unkind
I don't really understand it
But Lord sure knows I try
Life is a curious thing

It pretty much sums up my week. Life has been demanding and at times unkind.

I've learned some invaluable lessons though about kindness, love, and forgiveness. I've seen miracles this week in my own life and in the lives of others.

It doesn't make it any less curious though.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Before Our Time

Leave it to Jon Foreman to once again sing a song straight to my heart.

I listened to this song for the first time a week ago and probably 50 times since then.

Time is a funny thing. It is an illusion, it is a curse. But like most things in life, time is all about action. Its about what we choose to do with it and how we make the most of it. It's about intention.

Sometimes, okay a lot of the time, I get wrapped up in time. I don't have enough time, there is too much time, I need to spend more time, I need to spend less time, what time, how long do you think that will take? I'm somewhat of a planner person, or a lot of a planner person. Now, that's not to say that every minute of everyday need be scheduled with something monumental or even something. Although my planner might suggest it, I have come to prescribe to a balance of planned time and unplanned time.

I find that it is generally during those unplanned times that I take the time, make the time to enjoy the beauty around me, express gratitude for the mercies of the Lord and for the miracle of mortality. It is in those unplanned times that I sing the songs of my heart. Literally. I love to sing. It's something that brings me deep joy and happiness. It is both my release and my relax. Living with others and working constantly surrounded by others, I realized about 6 months ago that I stopped singing and started trying to figure out how I could sing more (hello calling as the ward music co-chair and choir director, answer to a prayer!)

Over the past 4 months, I've started singing again. Singing more of songs out loud rather than just in my heart. I still don't usually sing when others are around, usually just when I'm in the safe confines of my car, or the echoing ebbs of my shower. This practice has been so positive in my life. There is something that has become so rejuvenating and invigorating about singing. In a sense, I'm making time to sing before my time runs out.

Life isn't about living the moments, its about making the moments count!

And so, while intentional is all about choosing, planning and making things happen, don't forget to sing before your time runs out.

"Let us sing before our time runs out."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

week 5: a beacon to the world

peggy's cove lighthouse
july 2010
nova scotia

Time literally flew by this week! It was my Ogden week so I spent a fair bit of time on the road. By the end of the week, I finally went to the library to get myself a library card for the first time in 7 years! I'm embarrassed to say it has been that long. But I'm happy to say that the deed is done and I am now an active library card user! Wahoo! Roaming a new library is like making a new friend. I'm really excited. I also checked out some audiobooks so I can make my time in the car a little more productive and so it can help me reach my book goals!

I had the opportunity to go to ward temple night on Wednesday. I really love my ward and being in the house of the Lord with them just makes me happy! It's so fun gathering at Bishop's house after to enjoy treats and one another's company. There were some classic conversations that went down that totally made my night!

Thursday, I got to play with my ward again! We went down to the Provo on a bus! The fancy chartered kind, to go to the Provo City Center Temple Open House. It was lovely! I really enjoyed it! I'm intending to write an entire post about the experience I had and impressions I had. It was truly a choice, lovely experience!

Friday I attempted to tackle my ginormous to-do list. It was great but also a little challenging. When I finally got home from errands around 11 I'd been to Walmart, Target, Costco, work and Sonic. Whew! Needless to say the rest of the day was a go, go, go kind of day. The evening was my favorite part though because I had Nicole and AnnMarie over for dinner (GF and DF) and crafting. We had a blast! It was so fun to chill and chat and just thoroughly enjoy the company and the mishaps of crafting (which are always inevitable). I also really love giving tours of my house, even though I'm always reminded that I need to finish hanging things up. I also need to determine what my next focus project will be now that the windows are in and the immediate need curtains are finally in place including the very long curtain rod which I hung by myself with the use of my power drill. Yes...I proud!

Saturday I went home so my parents could go to the temple open house. CC and I, along with Sven and Olaf, went to 7-11 for the Saturday Slurpee and then on to the Willard ride. I always have to laugh when I think about how much I hated Craig's rides as a child and how much I love them now. We had a great time together. We fixed lunch, I worked on my presentation, Christin and I snuggled and might have napped. When the parents got home, we had dinner and then I headed out. I stopped at Target to get some curtains (because all I do, I swear is buy things and then return them half the time) but this time I will only return 1 curtain and keep the other 2) and since I was so close to Nat's I had to stop and play. 

I love being Aunt Erin. It's quickly becoming my favorite roll. Especially because Porter loves to play almost as much as I do. I can't wait till Clarke can join in a little more actively; however, I'll keep him as my cuddle bug for as long as he'll allow. 

And today, today has been great. I love Sunday's that are just as relaxing as they should be. Choir is my favorite, my calling brings so much happiness to my soul and I really love my ward. I've been able to study, sing, worship, read, write and reflect...everything a great Sunday needs.