Sunday, September 23, 2012

Changing Seasons

Myself and quite a few of my friends hit birthday number 29 this year. The age we'll be for the rest of our lives! The different reactions have been interesting for me to watch. For example, I tell everyone my age...not a big deal for me, just another year. Some friends make jokes about how they're happy to be 29 because they'll never age another year in their life. Still others act as if the world has ended and refuse to admit their new age to anybody, including themselves.

I love growing older! Each new grey hair (and I have quite a few already!), each new wrinkle, each new ache or pain brings me one step closer to returning home to my Father in Heaven. Each is a powerful reminder for me to stay the course, to live my life in accordance with God's will, and to strive to inspire others to do the same. I am grateful for those reminders.

Mostly, though, I am excited for the Winter of my life. I feel as if I'm at the beginning of Autumn, with my "leaves" beginning to change colors in a very real way. Autumn and Winter have always been my favorite seasons! They feel the steadiest and appear the loveliest to me. When I think about the people who have left a lasting impact in my life, it has been the people in their Autumns and Winters. This is a humbling thought for me. I am entering my power years. People are watching and listening.

Will I be the type of Autumn that leaves warm and loving memories, or the type that's windy and cold and talks only of the dread of a coming Winter? Will I be the type of Winter that leaves graceful, warm, and lasting memories? The Winter when a person is fascinated by the unique beauty of each snow flake and how those snow flakes turn the world into something beautiful and heavenly? Or will I be the kind of Winter that is bitter and cold and makes a person ache for Spring and Summer to return?

I choose warm, loving, and lasting. May God assist me in becoming that kind of Autumn and Winter as I progress through the seasons of my life!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Still Watching

Two of my Great Uncles, men I love and respect, were taken Home to our Father in Heaven this past month. Thinking of them and attending their funerals has caused me to ponder their lives and what a privilege it has been to know them. I am grateful to have them for eternity! I'm blessed with some pretty incredible uncles, and this month has caused me to reflect upon the kind of men they are. However, some of them have made heart-wrenching decisions in their lives, and while pondering those decisions I realized two things: (1) I have two kinds of uncles--those who stand as steady examples of the kind of man I want to marry, and those who have taught me to be careful; and (2) I've yet to forgive those who have taught me to be careful for the impact their decisions have had on my life.

Again, shame on me! In the spirit of kindness/forgiveness in my previous post, I've made a conscious effort to forgive my uncles and am once again astounded by the weight that has been lifted from my shoulders. I can honestly say I have finally forgiven those long-time hurts. I have written a letter to each type of uncle, neither of which will be sent (though if you are my uncle you should know which letter is intended for you). Read on.

Dear Uncle,

I have been watching you. I know we don't talk often, but I have always looked up to you. I have always known I would one day choose a man to spend eternity with, and have always looked to the men in my life to determine what kind of man my husband would be.

When I was a child, I hoped he would be just like you. You always had time to play with me, to tease me. I knew you loved me unconditionally and always would. Your arms were safe, somewhere I knew I could run if I was sad or scared or just because I wanted to. I watched the way you loved your wife, and wanted my marriage to be just like yours.

I grew older and so did you. You became busy with your own family and we grew apart, but I've never stopped watching you. I've now watched you make choices that have scared me, choices that have broken my heart. Your family has fallen to pieces--that wasn't supposed to happen. I didn't see it coming. How could a man I've known, loved, and trusted allow such a thing to happen to his family? How will I know who I can love and trust if the man I've loved and trusted has become a man I do not know and cannot trust?

I don't think you realize how closely I've been watching. I don't think you ever thought your decision would impact me so deeply. I don't think you know how many others have felt the shockwaves of your family's destruction. What if you knew? You will know someday when the Lord causes these things to become clear. It makes me sad for you. What pain you must have to bear when you are no longer blinded by this world! Someday you'll know how many of us have been watching.

What you did was not right--I cannot condone your decision no matter how you tell your story. But please know I have moved on--it has taken time, but my heart is more open and trusting than ever and your decision no longer plagues me. It no longer guides my actions. I have been watching others too, and they have been steady. They have helped me to trust again. Please know that I forgive you. And I pray for you. I have learned from you--thank you for teaching me to be careful. I am still watching.

Your Niece

Dear Uncle, 

I have been watching you. I know we don't talk often, but I have always looked up to you. I have always known I would one day choose a man to spend eternity with, and have always looked to the men in my life to determine what kind of man my husband would be.

When I was a child, I hoped he would be just like you. You always had time to play with me, to tease me. I knew you loved me unconditionally and always would. Your arms were safe, somewhere I knew I could run if I was sad or scared or just because I wanted to. I watched the way you loved your wife, and wanted my marriage to be just like yours.

Life has not always been kind to you, yet you have remained steady. You have kept your family and the Lord close, and have taught me to do the same. I owe so much to you! Although I spend my time with others, I still know I can run to you. I still watch the way you love your wife, and want my marriage to be just like yours.

Thank you for being a constant and steady example of the kind of righteous man I should marry. Thank you for inspiring me to be the kind of woman worthy of a man like you. I am still watching.

Your Niece

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gossip meets Forgiveness

Last Sunday was a good one for me. For some reason, I felt close to the Lord and humble enough to allow His teachings to sink into my soul.

Some situations have risen at work lately that have really caused me to stop and think about the things I laugh at and the things I say about other people. The importance of being kind and refraining from gossip is another lesson I am continually relearning. I know I should never say, or even think, an unkind thing about another person. We are all God's children, and although I'm certain we often make Him sad, I guarantee you He doesn't go complain to other people about how we are hurting Him. I also know it is easy to say we should always be kind, and much more difficult to actually embrace the practice.

These thoughts were milling around in my head on Sunday as I studied the word of God and attended my Church services. Every now and again, it seems God themes my Sundays; every article, every scripture, every lesson, every talk, and every conversation all circle around one topic. This past Sunday the topic for me was forgiveness.

Perhaps this is not news to you, but it was new for me to have thoughts of gossip and thoughts of forgiveness cross paths in my head. As I went throughout the day, the relationship between the two became clear to me. If I am so hurt by what you have done to wrong me, whether real or imagined, that I say negative things about you or the situation to another person, I am not practicing forgiveness. If I hear an unkind rumor about another person and pass it along, I am not practicing forgiveness. If I think an unkind thought about another person, I am not practicing forgiveness. Shame on me! Who am I to judge? A myriad of people flowed through my mind on Sunday--people I suddenly realized I was harboring ill feelings toward for one reason or another. This realization gave me courage to act. I sat down and wrote letters and knelt to beg the Lord's forgiveness and purged my heart of those ill feelings. As I did so, I was overcome with emotion and peace. What a gift to have an unburdened heart!

I've never thought of myself as one to hold grudges or withhold forgiveness. Yet I find I too have cause to repent. May I always remember this relationship and strive to forgive before I open my mouth!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Forgotten Prayers

I love my job with all of my heart. Somebody asked me a few months ago, "If you didn't have to worry about money, how would you spend your time?" I really thought about that question, and as I did so came to an incredible realization. I would be doing exactly what I am doing!

I work in an environment that allows me to be myself. I am allowed to testify of my Savior, to laugh and tease, to be cared for and to care for others, to share sorrows and joys, to lift and strengthen, to be known, to be in the mountains, to increase my understanding of my divine nature, to work at something worth working at. I know I am so blessed to have landed where I've landed, and acknowledge God's hands in the landing.

I was perusing old journal entries tonight and came across an entry on 8 March 2011 that brought tears to my eyes. I was nearing the end of my graduate coursework and beginning to worry about my next steps.

"I feel caged most days in graduate school--caged by expectations, protocol, precedents, and egos. I want to be free again--to create and to write the way I think best. As I'm finishing my last class and really getting involved with my thesis, I am beginning to feel wind under my wings again. I am anxious to fly, still chained to the ground (though not for long). Yet there's this weight on my shoulders--I fear even when my chains are gone I won't be able to fly. Once again I'll be launched into the workplace--struggling to maintain my sanity and bolster my divine identity amidst daily encounters with people and situations teaching me to be coarse and vulgar like the rest of the world. I am a daughter of God! Life is short, and I cannot afford to spend my days pretending I'm not...I want to spend my time glorifying God through the use of the many talents He has given me."

God answers prayers!!

I'd forgotten I was even worried about this, but here it is staring me in the face: proof God answers my prayers, even the forgotten ones.

In Church a few Sundays back we learned about the power of prayer, and the lesson was just for me. The inspired teacher suggested keeping track of the things we pray for and answers received. Not a new idea, but novel to me. I am now writing down my prayers, enabling me to remember and recognize God's hands in my life. My hope is that it will help to open my eyes, strengthen my testimony, and increase my gratitude for a God who has never forsaken me although I sometimes forget Him.

Oh how I thank God for answering my forgotten prayers!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I got the best voicemail from Clair at BYU Graduate Studies the other day: "Hi Taralyn, I'm just calling to let you know we have everything we need from you for graduation. Congratulations!" Augh!!!

What now?

My graduate studies have consumed my life for the past three years. I feel like a palpable 500 pound weight I didn't realize I was carrying has been lifted from my shoulders. I might float away! After difficult classes, irritating professors, countless hoops to jump through, buckets of tears, incredible lessons, countless new friends, a whole mess of traveling, and expanded horizons, I'm done! I've arrived. It doesn't feel real. You may call me Master. :)

I think one of the greatest things I've learned over the past few years is this. There is so much I don't know!! Every single person I meet has something to teach me and the capacity to help me grow. Epic journeys are worth the battles, because that is how God teaches me and makes me stronger.

Who am I kidding? I haven't really arrived anywhere other than a new starting place. Off to the races!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Who I Am

I had the opportunity to teach a lesson to a room full of nearly 100 women about living what we believe. It takes my breath away to think about how much potential power that room full of women has if only they can do just that!

Alone, I can do incredible things, but together we can do so much more! In an effort to at least meet my part of that potential power, I've determined to be more true and consistent in who I am. See my personal creed below--this is who I am! This is the legacy I will leave.

Who are you? What will you intentionally leave behind?

1. Open door, open ears, open arms! I will seek to see the beauty in others and be a friend to everyone I meet, striving to help them feel God’s personalized love for them.

2. I will stand as a witness of Jesus Christ and His gospel in all that I do, say, and think.

3. I will stay close to the Lord via studying His word, communicating with Him through prayer, and worshipping Him through Church and Temple service.

4. I will be happy! I will spread joy and laughter.

5. I will take care of the beautiful body the Lord has blessed me with.

6. I will be known as a woman of integrity—one who is honest and true to her commitments, one who can be relied upon.

7. I will teach what I know, and always seek to learn that which I do not.

8. I will never stop fighting Satan in the battle for my soul. In the end, I will win!