Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just Visiting

I love chatting with people. Favorite. I was in the market for a new car back in September, and test drove several. My favorite test drive was with a man my roommates and I actually had a lot in common with. He loved spending some time with 3 rural Idaho girls, and told us how much he hated living in the city.

"How long have you been living in the city?"

"I've been visiting this city since 1993."

We all had a good laugh at that!

Recent events in my life have caused me to reflect on this statement. I sometimes grow weary of living in this world. I hate how Satan twists meaning, alters perceptions, and degrades the divinity within each of us. I know I am a daughter of God and will return home to Him. I know my life on this earth is a necessary test of my strength and loyalty. What a training ground it has and will continue to be! I still hate this part of God's plan.

I've been visiting since 1983!

There are incredible things to be accomplished in this world, and I want to be a tool in God's hands to accomplish His work here. I hope to live a long, healthy, and happy life. As I do so, it sure helps to remember I'm just visiting!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rule #10

Sometimes I'm not very good at living in the present. I sure try to be, but when I get stressed out about deadlines or other things that may or may not happen in the near or distant future, I struggle to keep my head in the here and now. This has been one of those weeks. I've been worrying about responsibilities, realities, and relationships, and have been mentally a little miserable.

I worked as staff at a wilderness rehabilitation program for at-risk teens for a few years. When they came into the program they had to memorize 14 rules verbatim, and pass them off with a staff before they could progress in their program. That meant I also had the rules memorized verbatim. It has been almost 5 years since I've recited those rules or heard them recited, but I'm pretty sure I could still recite them for you!

I'll never forget Rule #10: I will not ask questions pertaining to the future. A simple rule, but one of the most questioned and also most learned from. Those kids needed to learn to live in the present! For them, it didn't matter what was going on at home, what their friends were doing, what was happening politically, etc. What mattered was their treatment, and that was where their thoughts needed to be. I loved going into the wilderness every week, leaving everything behind, and living in the present with them! As I did so, I learned the value of living in the present.

The transition from the simplicity of living in the wilderness to the complexity of rejoining the world is a tough one. Rule #10 goes out the window, yet I know the value of living in the present: not worrying so much about what I can't control. Too bad I have to keep relearning this lesson! I am determined to move forward from this week with Rule #10 in mind, focused on the here and now, focused on what I can control, focused on the blessings of each day.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Train Wreck

There was a tragedy this past week in the town I live in, which hit pretty close to home. Three young girls, who attended the school my roommate teaches at, were killed in a train accident. I was grateful to be able to play the supporting role for her as she struggled with the emotions of this week. As I did so, my thoughts lingered on train wrecks and life choices.

The phrase, "What a train wreck!" has taken on all new meaning for me. I am now poignantly aware of the tragedy, emotion, and fallout of a train wreck. It is not something that affects only the lives of those involved, but every life that touches upon the story. It has touched my roommate's life. It has touched my life. It has touched the life of everyone I tell the story to. Now it has touched yours. So what now? What do we take from such a story? How do families and communities move on? I don't know. But I know how I will move on.

I am reminded the Lord will call me home when He needs me home. I don't know when that will be or how much time I have left on this earth to make a difference. I am determined to make a difference now! I am determined to live every day as if it's my last--no regrets.

I am reminded of the value of my relationships with everyone around me. I don't know how long I will have them for. I am determined to love and cherish the people in my life. I will not hold back my love and friendship. I will do everything in my power to let people know I love them and am grateful for the lessons they teach me every day.

I am reminded to reach beyond myself. So many people are dealing with train wrecks in their lives! I am blessed with a good family, good friends, a good education, a good job, a strong testimony, and so much more. I have the capacity to look beyond myself, reach out in love, and play the supporting role more often and more effectively. I am determined to do so.

I am reminded to live in the present. To cherish each moment, to make needed changes now, to stop doing what I should not be doing, to keep doing what I should be doing, and to start doing everything else I should be doing.

These are lessons I've learned before. These are things I know. How easy it is to get busy and forget what matters most! I thank God for this reminder.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cover Your Eyes!

I recently went to the Circus with a group of friends and loved it! One of the acts was 2 strong men performing incredible feats. Cool to see but kind of awkward as they were fairly scantily clad. At one point one of the strong men's legs went up into the air, his gladiator skirt fell down around his belly, and his whitey tighties showed. My friend promptly reached over and covered my eyes with his hand.

It was just funny in the moment, but it got me thinking about this world we live in and how often I wish a good friend would cover my eyes with his hand. It has reaffirmed my resolve to hide my own eyes from the things that pull me down spiritually. That is certainly something I have control over! It is amazing how quickly little things like seeing a strong man's whitey tighties from the nose bleed section can desensitize you to Satan's lies. I'm resolved to be more vigilant in protecting my soul from all that threatens to destroy me!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just a Few Millimeters

I learned how to roof a house this past weekend! It was super fun to learn something completely new to me and to build and strengthen relationships with the people in my life as we worked together to complete a service for somebody in need.

As I threw down shingle after shingle and helped solve the problems that inevitably cropped up, I couldn't help but see life lessons in almost every moment. Lessons about the importance of laws and commandments, the importance of communication, the value of work, the value of service, et cetera.

Last night a dear friend dropped by to visit with me. She has been struggling with obeying the little commandments in life, and has been in my prayers every night. Her choices are breaking my heart because I know where they will lead. I've been there. Much like laying shingles, the seemingly small mistakes now make all the difference later on.

That shingle you just laid is only a few millimeters off, but unless you correct it immediately you'll be 5-6 inches off by the end of your row. That distance is much harder to fix! It is the same with commandments. My friend is making choices that seem small now, but I know they will drastically alter the course of her life and lead her farther and farther from God. She is asking questions and seeking guidance, and I have faith that with God she can correct the mistakes she is making and get back on track. Oh how I pray that she does! How important it is to be diligent in abiding by the little things in life!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Principles, Priorities, & Passions

Remember how I'm making one of the biggest decisions of my life? Well, this week was decision week for me. I had meetings and interviews all week long, and I'm happy to report the decision is made and I feel really good about it. Yay!

Last week held countless reminders for me of the things that are important and essential in the decision-making process. Looking back on the past 2 weeks, I cannot deny God's hands in my life and in my decision. Knowing I would make my decision this week, He sent me the right people at the right time to remind me of the importance of eternal principles, balanced priorities, and my own passions.

I live my life by eternal principles. These eternal laws make hard decisions easy. I know families are eternal, and I forever want to be reaching out to lift and strengthen my own family and the families surrounding me. I know I am blessed as I abide by the Lord's will and make time every day to worship and glorify His name. I know I am called to serve as His hands, and have a great desire to share His love with all around me. Whatever my decision, it needs to enable me to continue to live by eternal principles I have covenanted to abide by.

I have established balanced priorities in my life. Maintaining this balance is a constant challenge I am happy to face and eternally learn from. The world pulls at me from countless directions and in so many ways. As I balance work, play, relationships, health, and worship, I am enabled to do more with God than I could ever do on my own! Whatever my decision, it needs to allow me to maintain the balance that keeps me happy and useful.

My passions guide and direct my life and my interactions with others. A good friend looked me in the eyes last week and told me to remember to follow my passions as I made my decision. He didn't know it because I'm a master of disguise at times, but I panicked! I realized I had forgotten my passions. What do I wake up for in the morning and talk about all the time? What do I think about all the time and do for free? Lately it's been this decision, and I know that's not my passion! I turned to my friends and family--those who know me best. If you were describing me to a stranger, what would you tell them my passions are? I think friends and family exist in part to remind us who we are when we forget. And I am certainly blessed with friends and family who know me well! They quickly and unanimously reminded me of my passions: God, family, nature, and service. They reminded me to slow down and listen to myself. How grateful I am for a new friend who counseled me to follow my passions, and for old friends who knew what they were!

After last week I went into meetings and interviews armed with my principles, priorities, and passions--ready to make a decision. And I received a distinct impression that I could happily walk down either path--the decision was truly mine to make. The decision I've made is most in line with my principles, priorities, and passions. It may not make the most sense to some, but it is right. It sends me down the path of ambiguity, bound to be filled with more decisions that may alter the course of my life. I'm ready! Ready to face them with my principles, priorities, and passions in tow. Hit me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Life Stories

A man came into my office today to install a software program on my office mate's computer. While he sat and installed the program, this man I had never met before proceeded to tell me his life story. I now know all about where he's traveled, his health history, and the bladder cancer he was surprised with this summer. I know how they diagnosed it, what surgery entailed and what treatment now entails. I know how many people are in his family and where he fits and why he worries about his older brothers. It only took about 10 minutes to install the program!

Last night I was standing around with some friends after an activity, and gave my friend a ride to her car. We ended up sitting in my car and talking for 2 hours! And she did all the talking. I was amazed by how much detail she remembered about the story she was telling me--dates, times, the particulars of text messages and phone calls. I loved listening to her story, and I loved offering her the support she needed.

I met another girl recently, and we've already had 3 conversations like the one I had with my friend last night. Without knowing anything about me, she's opened her heart to me and trusted me with stories she won't tell others. I am humbled by this trust. I love listening to her stories and offering needed support to her! I now count her as a friend.

Another office mate sat next to me today as this man installed the software program. After he left, I asked my friend why people always tell me their life stories. He said it's because I ask genuine caring questions when others offer sympathy but don't leave conversations open. He told me this is a gift. Again, I am humbled by this gift. I believe it is a gift each of us can develop.

I love being trusted with the stories of others. I learn so much from them and grow so much from these kinds of conversations! Perhaps I am able to offer a kind, caring, and listening ear to people who need it most, but I think I gain far more from listening to their stories than they gain by sharing them. I am grateful for my God-given gift of listening, and hope and pray I will always be able to offer support to both strangers and friends while I learn and grow from the stories they tell!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Solving Puzzles

My roommate has these wooden puzzles that sit on our end table. I love them! I've always enjoyed doing puzzles, and it's great to just have something to do with my hands when I'm sitting around. The best part about them is everybody grabs them when they come in, and they're great conversation starters. We've been hosting a lot of get togethers at our home lately, and these puzzles have been consuming my thoughts as countless people ask me which puzzles I can do and for tips on solving them.

As I respond to these queries, I can't help but think about other puzzles in my life, and feel grateful for them. It would certainly be easier and less frustrating if I guided the hands of my friends and helped them complete the puzzles. The thing is, they wouldn't remember how to do it the next time, and they would likely not learn much from the process. It is the same for me. I am sure God could figuratively put his hands over mine, helping me to solve the puzzles in my life. It would sure be easier! Yet, I find myself feeling gratitude for the difficulty of solving those puzzles. As I solve them on my own, with occasional tips from friends, family, and God, I am enabled to remember them and continue learning from them.

One friend is particularly gifted at puzzle solving. He sat down and worked through puzzles in a few minutes it had taken me about an hour to figure out the first time. This opened conversation about other puzzles, and he mentioned he could solve a Rubik's cube in just a few minutes. Ever the skeptic, I asked him to bring one over the next day and show me. He wasn't lying! He explained the logic of the cube to me, solved it multiple times, and showed me other patterns you can create with it. I've always thought Rubik's cubes are unsolvable, but now that they have been unveiled in some ways, I feel like I could probably solve one if given enough time. I'll get on that.

Again, I'm thinking about puzzles in my life. A few days ago I would have told you some were unsolvable. No more! Some things just take time, and I am grateful for the time I'm given to patiently solve the puzzles in my life. I'll get on that too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Be Still and Listen

There is so much noise in this world! It is deafening at times. Sometimes I plug my ears when I'm in a room full of people listening to music, talking on cell phones, visiting with each other, etc. I really do! There is peace in quiet. God is in the silence.

I wonder what it used to be like before personal media devices. What did this world sound like before TV, Internet, and cell phones? Were people innately closer with God? With each other? Was it easier to listen to the whisperings of the Spirit and receive personal revelation? I wonder what it could be like now if we calmed down.

I love intentionally dampening the noise in my life. I don't have or want a facebook account. If we're friends, call me! Let's do lunch. :) My roommate and I don't have cable TV or Internet access in our home. When I live somewhere with these things, I try my hardest to ignore them (not always successfully). I use my cell phone to communicate with others via phone calls and text messaging. I take pictures too, but that's it. And I don't always have my phone with me. If I'm with someone else who has a phone, or somewhere I'll have to turn it off anyway, I usually leave my phone at home. It's my tool, not my captor. So don't be offended if it takes me some time to get back to you!

Emotions and stress deafen me too. When I am feeling anxious or overwhelmed it is hard for me to focus on anything other than how anxious or overwhelmed I feel. When I can't focus on anything else, I am unable to hear and see the people around me, and I am unable to hear God speaking with me. This is harder for me, but I'm working on it. Daily exercise, eating healthy, and visiting with loved ones help me to keep the volume down.

I'm on a mission to intentionally and proactively keep my life, inside and out, quiet enough to be able to hear and respond to people and to God. Yes, I love the silence.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dancing in the Rain

A few nights ago I was partly in charge of an activity for hundreds of young single adults. The committee I serve on planned a fantastic romp at a local wilderness jaunt, complete with mingling, games, pies, a bonfire, and s'mores. It was a huge success! And yes, I ran around barefoot.

I arrived about an hour and a half before the activity was scheduled to start, to help get everything ready. My shoes came off almost immediately. I love walking barefoot in the dirt! To my delight, God saw fit to shower us with a fluke summer rain storm. It began to pour, and I danced barefoot in the mountains in a shower of raindrops. Best ever.

Some people joined me, others looked at me like I was crazy, and some maintained their decorum while looking at me with a little envy in their eyes. Sure I was wet for the rest of the night, and yeah my feet were kinda dirty after running around barefoot for 5 hours, but it was so worth it! I think all of us need to just let go sometimes--to relax and release our tension and stress while embracing the beauty of this world, if only for a moment.

Never be afraid to dance barefoot in the rain!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Buried with Grandma

I was born with an innate desire to make a difference in this world. This desire grew inside of me, becoming a living thing pushing me to do my best, to see the world, and to try to do as much as possible in my lifetime. It's helped me to excel in my schoolwork, to see the world, and to interact with hundreds and hundreds of people. I figured the more places I went and the more things I did, the better person I was. I was wrong.

Circumstances led me to live with my Grandma for the rather difficult final 9 months of her life. At first I thought I was there to help her, and I was grateful for the difference I knew I was making in her life. In hindsight, I know I was there so she could help and teach me. As I helped to prepare her for burial and watched her coffin be lowered into the soil, I knew my life would never be the same. I knew something had changed inside of me, but I couldn't quite place my finger on it.

Grandma has been with our Father in Heaven for a year and a half now. I can't believe it's been so long! Some days it feels like she's been gone forever, and some days it feels like I'll see her when I head home at the end of my day. I wish for the latter every day. Grandma had this incredible ability to make every person in her life feel like they were the most important person to her. I miss that. She never traveled the world or served on some fancy board. She lived her entire life in the same town, and was happy to do it. She taught me how to bloom where I am planted, to form and nurture real relationships with the people around me, and the blessings of staying still.

If you look at my track record, you'll quickly see I've never been good at staying still. In my desire to touch every corner of the world, I've not stayed in the same place longer than 2 years since high school graduation. I have good friends, and then move and lose touch with them. I've always lived in the future to some extent--planning my next grand adventure without cherishing the adventure I'm in.

I now find myself standing at a fork in the road. I will soon graduate with my Masters degree. I have an incredible offer to pursue my doctoral studies at a good university, fully funded, with opportunities to travel. Yet I find myself hesitating. I'm not scared. I'm good at moving to new places and making new friends. I know God will be with me wherever I am, and that gives me strength to do all things. I just don't want to go. I don't want to move. I don't want new friends--I like mine. I don't want to move farther away from my family. I don't know if I can handle 3-4 more years of graduate studies. I don't have the desire.

My drive is gone: buried with Grandma. I don't want it back. I am happy to sit still, to live in the moment, to nurture the relationships I have, and to bloom where I am planted. I can make a difference here.

I don't yet know what this means for me. I knew something fundamentally changed inside of me on that February afternoon a year and a half ago standing in the cemetery. Now I know what it was. I need to understand it. I stand at a fork in the road, uncertain which path I will tread, yet knowing this decision will be one of the most important of my life. Do I spread my wings and fly, embracing new opportunities and possibilities, or do I keep them folded in, embracing the incredible people and places I now hold dear? It is a choice only I can make, and I will make it.

Maybe I'll walk the path familiar to me, and maybe I'll walk the path less traveled. No matter which path I tread, I only hope I will have the strength to leave some things buried with Grandma.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy, Barefoot, Vegan

I have always been blessed with a deeply rooted understanding of who I am: a daughter of God. Deeply entrenched in my religious beliefs as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (;, I know and believe each of us are sons and daughters of God with missions to fulfill in this life. This knowledge has always defined me, yet I have been and continue to be pulled by the forces of this world we share. With God, I always come off conqueror.

I'm too fat. I'm not pretty enough. I'm not smart enough. I don't work hard enough. I'll never do anything worth doing. People hate me. I can't do that. My values are messed up. I'll be happier if I lower my standards. If I do it just this once it can't hurt. Spoken, implied, or imagined, these are messages I've received from the world and sometimes believed. They aren't true.

Happy. I know I am happiest when I surround myself with friends and family who love and support me as I am. Living life with intention and excitement gives me joy. Most of all, I know my truest source of joy is my God. As I love and serve Him and each of you, my happiness blossoms exponentially and bursts. I love how contagious happiness can be. I love how much power happiness has.

Barefoot. Walking down a forest path, climbing trees, becoming lost in yoga and meditation, enjoying long road trips, walking around my house, playing my Grandpa's guitar, running to the mailbox in the dead of winter, sitting by a campfire, creating a fire with nothing but sticks, playing games in parks with friends and family, balancing on a slackline: all things I've done barefoot. Being barefoot is freeing to me. It grounds me, reminding me of my own divine worth as I reconnect with Mother Nature and the lessons she teaches.

Vegan. A more recent discovery. God sent, I stumbled across a principle that has changed my life: bioindividuality ( My body is unlike anyone else's, and laws of health are personalized just for me. When I love my body, it loves me back, and my body is happiest when I'm eating vegan. No, I don't necessarily think the world should join me in this, but don't be afraid to try it! Take the time and initiative to test things out and listen to your body. It's worth it. My health affects every aspect of my life and being.

As I walk through life, learning and growing and watching others battle demons I've won, my desire to share my lessons multiplies. I don't know if this blog will help anyone, but I hope it will. I know it will help me. Lessons are solidified as I write them down, so if that is the only good that comes from this blog, so be it! I will write.