Last night I was studying for my Byzantine Art final (with sweet Brandon by my side) when I realized that I was not prepared for two of my five essay questions. I have attended every class and taken notes, and I know I've heard the professor mention these topics, but I don't understand them clearly or feel that I can write an essay about them. And our textbook doesn't really explain them either. I got really frustrated and discouraged because I felt that my best effort would not be good enough.
My wonderful husband-to-be took me in his arms and just let me cry out my frustration. Then we watched these Mormon Messages videos-
PS- The bell player at 3 seconds in? That's my future brother-in-law!
- and I discovered something wonderful. This test won't really matter a year, a month, or even a week from now, but I have what matters most. I have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life and a testimony of its truthfulness. I have an absolutely incredible fiancé who truly knows how to comfort those in need of comfort, who treats me like a princess, who stuns me with his goodness every day, and who helps me be my best self. I have wonderfully supportive family and friends who love me unconditionally. And most of all, I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that they love me perfectly, no matter what grade I get on this exam. I know that they accept all that I can offer with open arms and loving hearts. I know that through them, I can receive redemption from my sins, eternal life, and a fullness of joy. I have what matters most - and therefore, I have great reason to rejoice.
I wish all of you good luck on your finals and a very merry Christmas. Don't forget what matters most and how very much your Heavenly Father loves you.
Well, in case you didn't know, being engaged is CRAZY! Especially in the midst of finals and the death of another semester. It's been just a little difficult to focus. I'm just glad I'm getting married in February so I won't have to be this distracted during next semester's finals as well!
I've been a little anxious about getting everything figured out in such a short amount of time, but God has been so merciful and helped so much fall into place. Last Tuesday we found a place to live in a great ward that one of my good friends happens to live in. Thursday we found out that Brandon's contract was sold by the housing office, so he won't have to pay rent for an apartment he's not living in. Saturday we were able to get a nice mattress and bed frame for under $600, and Brandon's mom informed us that she has connections with florists, decorators, caterers, and wedding cake makers, so basically she will take care of a lot of those reception details that have been driving me batty. How very blessed we are! This past week I have truly learned that things will work out however God wants them to.
And now some links: *This is the cake we are ordering. With funfetti inside. Ohhh yeah :) *Just discovered this website today and am loving it! *My hubby-to-be has me on a Jack Johnson kick, and I'm really loving thesethreesongs. *I just love this post. And pretty much every post on their website. *This describes how I feel about Brandon. And the acoustic version of the song is just lovely!
And now the countdowns: *1 1/2 days until I am done with the semester and get to see David Archuleta at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Concert! *4 days until we get to take the bed out of Brandon's van and move it into our little apartment! *5 days until the fabulous Moon family Christmas party, complete with small costumed children acting out the nativity! *6 days until I'll be home with my fam-bam for Christmas! *11 days until Christmas! *65 days until I become a wife!
Since many of you have asked, here is the story of me and Brandon. It's long and complicated at times, but it has a happy ending, I promise you. :]
Brandon and I met in our FHE group during the summer term. He had been living in a different complex for several years and felt that he should move to Sparks in the spring. I bought my friend Laina's contract for the summer and moved in because I felt that I needed to return to Provo for the summer term. Little did we know that the Lord was doing a great work with our lives.
Brandon was friends with my roommates and I got to know him through them and FHE. My first impressions of him were that he was quiet and shy, but hilarious once you got him talking and very diligent in his calling - always attractive to a Mormon girl! He remembers playing Settlers of Catan with a group of friends one Sunday evening and noticing that I wasn't competitive in the game, but was willing to trade with everyone.
He started coming over to our apartment more and more often, and I started to realize that he was interested in me. One Sunday he told us about his 7 year old niece, Adri, who had asked her mom why her uncle wasn't married yet. Brandon's sister-in-law replied that it takes a while to find the right girl, and Adri declared, "I know what kind of girl he needs. She needs to be modest...and calm...and not too fancy." That cute comment turned into this haiku:
Brandon accepted my application and I accepted his invitation for a first date. We went to fly kites at the park, which didn't turn out too well because there wasn't enough wind, but by then I was smitten so it didn't really matter. The next day he held my hand, and we've been inseparable ever since.
We've done all kinds of things in our almost 4 months of dating - hiking, camping, attending General Conference, tie-dying t-shirts, going to the Opera, going to the temple, his family holiday parties, cooking together, walking around Provo talking about the Gospel and the cute old houses we spy. But my favorite thing to do with him is cuddle up on the couch and relax as he reads me Betsy-Tacy books. To me, that makes him the most romantic man in the world.
About two weeks ago, I brought up the "M" word. The whole time we'd been dating, I'd been incredibly conflicted because I had a missionary who I had dated pretty seriously. Brandon had hinted at marriage, and I really really wanted to marry him - but I was so confused. I just couldn't figure out what was right. Finally, that night, I told him the whole story and all of my true feelings. He took it very well. "I knew this might happen when I started dating you," Brandon assured me. "But no matter what happens, it has been worth it. You have brought me so much joy and have changed me for the better. Whatever you decide, I am grateful for this experience." It was then that I realized just how incredible this man was, and how terrified I was to lose him.
After a lot of fasting and praying and counseling with the Lord, I finally received my answer - that I should marry Brandon. I told him right before Thanksgiving, and told my family when I saw them over the holidays. They have been so loving and supportive, and I am so grateful for them.
Yesterday we went to the Garden Restaurant at Temple Square where we had a beautiful view of the Salt Lake Temple where we are going to be married for time and all eternity. He gave me the ring we picked out, and tears filled my eyes. I am so, so blessed.
The decision to marry Brandon has brought more joy and peace into my life than I've ever felt before. Every day I discover more of Brandon's amazing qualities and fall more deeply in love with him. He is a good listener. He brings me peace when I'm stressed. He protects me and takes care of me. He's adorable. He makes me laugh. He makes me want to be a better person. He helps me to refocus on what really matters. He helps me feel God's love for me. He writes sweet, sensitive blog posts about me. He never criticizes me, or anyone else for that matter. He adores me and honors me and I know he will for all eternity. He is the perfect match for me, and I am completely, unabashedly, unequivocally happy.
We'd love to send you a wedding announcement! If you put your address in here, we'll get one to you at the beginning of January.
Well, after lots of fasting and praying and pondering and phone calls to my mom, I am engaged! I am marrying Brandon Moon in the Salt Lake Temple on February 18th.
Brandon and I met in our FHE group during the summer term. We became friends and started hanging out more and more until he asked me on a date to fly kites with him at the park. (How cute is that?!) The next day he held my hand, and we've been inseparable ever since.
Brandon is amazing. He is calm and steady, which helps me so much when I start to get overwhelmed and stressed out. He understands the introverted, homebody side of me and encourages me to slow down and simplify my life. He is incredibly loving and takes such good care of me. He has a burning desire to serve the Lord, to raise a righteous family, and just to do what is right. He reminds me so much of my sweet father. He is reserved and quiet when you first meet him, but once you get him talking you discover his tender heart, his great sense of humor, his integrity and then you realize - he is a treasure. He loves me and honors me even though I am crazy and sometimes ridiculous. He always sees the best in me. His gifts fill my gaps, and he is the perfect match for me. I am the luckiest girl in the world. :]
Remember how nervous I was to return to Provo in the summer? If I had not come back, I never would have met Brandon.
I have learned so much from this experience already. It has not been an easy decision; my choice will hurt many good people (including a certain missionary in Ukraine). But as I have counseled with the Lord, I have come to know with every bone in my body and every fiber of my being that this is right. His sweet peace guides me, sustains me, and fills me with indescribable joy. From this experience, I have learned that everything will work out just how God wants it to. We just need to be willing to listen and act on the promptings He gives us.
Thank you for your love and support throughout this journey. I look forward to sharing my many new adventures with you. If you want to know more about Brandon, you can blog-stalk him here. We will probably not be combining blogs because I want this one to tell my story - but rest assured that you will hear a lot about him and I will post lots of beautiful wedding pictures :]
Happy Holidays to you all!
PS- Brandon just wrote his own blogpost on the subject, and it's the sweetest thing I've ever read. If you need any more reasons to love him, read it!
Here are some fun links to look over while you try to survive the week before that much-anticipated break. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
*This post is AMAZING and so full of hope. We can do hard things. *Great mustache template on a bridal website. Not sure why you'd need mustaches for a wedding, but I'm all over it! *Went to see this over the weekend. Absolutely incredible. Brought me to tears. If you're in town anytime over the next 6 months, you better go. *This song is beautiful in both its musicality and lyrics, *Elder Scott is so rad. *I love this video about Christmas. Plus, my choir is singing the song they play in the background - and it's gorgeous. *Thesetwo articles from Segullah brought some tenderness to my morning. *This cheesecake recipe is so good! *One more reason why I love BYU. *Need a laugh? Start reading this blog. *My little sister turns 18 today. Happy birthday, sweet girl! You are amazing and I am blessed to be your sister. I love you.
Not everyone understands this dance and many argue that the American version is better, but I am in love with it. It reminds me of the sweet, amazing people in my life who have been there for me during hard times, who have been willing to overturn the tables and Ikea couches of their lives to be there when I just needed love, who were willing to put their arms around me and try to fix me even when they couldn't. Mostly, it reminds me of the miraculous mercy of my Savior who is the only one who can truly heal me.
For my final in my contemporary dance class we have to create our own composition. Guess what song I'm going to use? I'm excited to see what happens when I take elements from this beautiful performance and add my own style to it, plus the element of faith. I will keep you all posted :]
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Somehow Monday snatches me up and takes me far, far away from the spiritual world of Sunday, takes me to a place that is crammed with tests and assignments and deadlines and pressures and the unspoken but undeniable fear that you will never be good enough.
And there I stay.
I frantically run around in circles like an animal in a cage, trying in vain to accomplish my list of tasks with a perfection that I can never attain. I keep searching for hope and joy and meaning, but can never find it there. And then the thoughts of doubt and the despair fill my mind. Why am I so busy? Why is life so hard? Why can't I accomplish the simple things I need to get done? Will I ever finally be able to do it on my own? But then I remember that God doesn't want me to do it alone. He wants us to come unto Him and ask for help - but in running the frenzied race of my life, I have forgotten.
No, I'll never be able to do it on my own. I will always need Christ and His Atonement.
I love this insight from Corrie Ten Boom and have tried to make it the motto of my life. During World War II, Corrie and her sister Betsie were imprisoned in a concentration camp in Germany. They decided to use this opportunity to lead Bible studies and share their testimonies of Christ. But even while engaged in God's work, Corrie found it hard to fight her instincts of self-preservation and soon lost the hope and joy that she had previously found in her service.
"And so I struggled on with worship and teaching that had ceased to be real," Corrie wrote, "until one drizzly raw afternoon when just enough light came through the window the read by, I cam to Paul's account of his 'thorn in the flesh.' Three times, he said, he had begged God to take away his weakness, whatever it was. And each time God had said Rely on Me. At last Paul concluded -the words seemed to leap from the page- that his very weakness was something to give thanks for. Because now Paul knew that none of the wonders and miracles which followed his ministry could be due to his own virtues. It was all Christ's strength, never Paul's.
And there it was.
The truth blazed like sunlight in the shadows of Barracks 28. The real sin I had been committing was not that of inching toward the center of a platoon because I was cold. The real sin lay in thinking that any power to help and transform came from me. Of course it was not my wholeness, but Christ's that made the difference."
Every time I read that passage, I weep. I'm not sure why this is such a struggle for me, why I forget Christ and His transforming wholeness day after day when I have pictures of Him taped up in every room of my apartment, but I do. Such is the challenge of our fast-paced, technological society.
But the beauty is that I don't have to fight this battle on my own. I don't have to save myself. I have His arm of mercy to lean on, His Atonement to cleanse me of my sins, His heart full of love to heal me and His example to teach me how to become like Him.
Yes, I may have forgotten grace, but grace has never forgotten me.
So a couple months ago I sent this post to the Ensign...and today I got a letter back from them saying that they want to publish it in the New Era! I'm not sure when, but it should be soon. What a blessing! :]
"Those who drive steamrollers should know who they are," my choir director told us a month ago at the beginning of rehearsal. "But really, every one of us drives a steamroller. You may not have a powerful influence in my life, but what about your roommate's life, or your little brother's life, or your best friend's life? Remember that you drive a steamroller."
Some days, I fervently wish that I did not drive a steamroller. Sometimes I am afraid of my influence and of the consequences of my actions. Sometimes I feel that which ever direction I turn I am going to crumple someone's arm or leg or foot, and that whatever decision I make, I will always hurt or frustrate someone who has trusted me. Life is so painful and so messy that I go crazy wishing it could be another way.
But to ask God to give me a bicycle instead of a steamroller would be asking Him to make me something less than what He has designed me to be, and to ask for an easier life would be asking Him to change His eternal plan of happiness.
You know you have incredible roommates when you come home to a sink literally overflowing with dishes that have been your responsibility to wash for the past two days, and while you've been caught in the midst of the midterm whirlwind those roommates have not breathed a word of complaint. Oh, how I love them!
Today I saw a girl wearing a fake beard in the library. She said she was going to wear it to the testing center and see if they let her in. Brilliant!
I went to the Faculty Choreography Showcase tonight and was blown away. One of my favorites was a piece called "Portraits" featuring quotes and paintings from Van Gogh, Picasso, and Andy Warhol. It was amazing to see how the choreography blended so perfectly with the artwork and the message the artists were trying to send.
Another gorgeous piece was "Thought of You," a collaboration between an animator and a choreographer. This video only shows a few seconds of it, but it was just beautiful. And it made me cry.
I love walking home from school. Since my usual staircase of doom is closed for repairs, I get to take a detour through a little grove of trees down by the duck pond that is just magical this time of year. It's not too hot, not too cold, and a perfect time to wear sweaters. And I sure love sweaters.
I saw the most adorable little boy today on campus with his mom. I can't wait to be a mom and chase around a cute little toddler like him. Sometimes my heart longs for it so badly that I have to remind myself that I'm only 20 years old, and that I'm right where God wants me to be; but I look forward to that time when I'll have more opportunities to nurture and serve.
Do you ever have those days when you look in the mirror and you think, "Oh man, somehow I look cute today!" I got lucky enough to have one of those today. I'm glad to be me.
"You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. It is not for unsteady souls." - Merce Cunningham
It's true. Sometimes dancing is really hard. There are days when my muscles ache, my feet are all blistered, my arms are scraped up, the steps just won't click, and I wonder why I keep doing this to myself. There are days when I want so badly to quit.
But there are other days when I forget my battle scars, both physical and emotional, and I just focus on the movement. There are days when I can feel myself progressing and I dance with joy in my face and in every cell of my body. There are days when, as Cunningham said, I have that fleeting moment when I feel so intensely, beautifully alive. There are days when dancing helps me catch a vision of the divinity God put inside me and who He wants me to be.
And that is why I dance - not for a grade, not to be fabulous (because I am certainly not), but for those spiritual moment that steady my soul and help me catch a glimpse of eternity.
I made this video! We're having a Relief Society Activity in a couple weeks where we're going to discuss images of Christ and talk about our favorite ones. This slideshow is going to be the basis of that. (So if you're in my Relief Society, don't watch it yet! just kidding :] )
I love my Savior.
PS- Reading this made my Monday a lot less lame. If you're feeling discouraged with the stormy weather and your pile of homework, turn to Elder Holland's words for some encouragement. You won't regret it :]
This one I love because of the graceful lines of the figures, the reverent mood, and the symbolism. Each angel represents a member of the Godhead. The figure on the left is clad in robes of an urethral green and has a mountain behind him, signifying the place where men go to draw near unto God. He is the Holy Ghost. The central figure, representing Christ, wears crimson robes with a royal golden stripe. He places two fingers on the table to signify His dual nature as mortal and divine, and gestures to the cup on the table that alludes to His sacrifice. The tree behind Him references His death on the cross. These two figures incline their heads towards the right figure, God the Father, signifying their reverence and submission to Him. This right figure wears heavenly robes of blue and gold and sits in front of His mansion in heaven. And oh, His face! I just love that expression of divine peace and faith that is not aloof but full of faith. I love how this piece depicts the Godhead as three distinct beings with their own characteristics, and yet so united. I feel like this icon invites the Spirit and helps me understand the Godhead better.
I love this piece because it is so clean and simple. I love the gentle lines, the muted colors, the wide spaces without too much crowded in them. In an age where it was fashionable to add lots of secondary details and be melodramatic, this work is quite refreshing. It's true that Mary is probably too too large to fit through that doorway in the back, and that her stool is awfully big as well, but I feel that painting still works - and it is still lovely. I wouldn't mind living in a monastery if I got to look at this masterpiece every day.
Friday my roommate and I threw a hobo party, and it was epic. We made cardboard signs, ate hobo stew, told stories, raced shopping carts, and had a ball. If you've never had one, I highly recommend it.
The weather is lovely and the brilliant fall leaves are even lovelier. All I want to do is stay curled up in bed eating chicken noodle soup and listening to thesetwo songs - but of course, it's a week full of papers, tests, assignments for my calling, and trying to soak in all the October gorgeousness I can before it fades away into that beautifully terrifying time we call winter.
Wish I could say I took this photo, but sadly I did not.
Here's to you, October. Thanks for stopping by again. If you ever decide to stay longer, we wouldn't mind it at all.
Today's challenge is to list 20 positive things about yourself - 10 that deal with your appearance and 10 that do not. Here goes:
10 things I like about myself: *I'm not afraid to laugh. *I'm not afraid to express my emotions as I used to be. *I've been blessed with the ability to sing and opportunities to use it. *I am an active blogger who uses her blog to share her testimony and has been able to touch other people through it. *I'm loved by some pretty incredibly people. *I know how to work hard. *I am loyal and supportive to the people I love. *Yesterday I made a sculpture of Perry the Platypus! *I give a pretty mean bear hug. *I am a daughter of God.
10 things I like about my appearance: *This may sound funny, but I love my moles. I have tons of them all over my arms and legs and entire body, but I don't mind because they make me who I am. They are something special God has given to me. *I've inherited some cute little toes. *My eyes squint when I smile or laugh. It's kinda ridiculous and makes picture-taking a challenge, but I think it more fully expresses the joy I have in my life. *I love my long, blonde hair - especially when I have the chance to curl it! *I look a lot like my mom, my dad, and both of my siblings. I love being connected with such wonderful people! *I'm starting to develop dancer's feet with blisters and scrapes and bruises that testify of the hard work I've put into this art that I love. *I have small hands that fit snugly into large, kind, protective ones. *I have dark blue eyes with some crazy green and brown flecks in there. They're an adventure in and of themselves! *I'm not too short and not too tall; I feel like I'm just the right size. (Well...I feel that way most of the time.) *I have a healthy body that gives me opportunities that many people never have.
(I hope you weren't bored or annoyed by that. I absolutely hate writing about myself because I feel like I'm being narcissistic like one of these girls - but hopefully my lists helped you to think of things that you love about yourself because you are pretty fabulous and I sure love you!)
Anyway, as hard as those lists were to write, I am grateful for them. I didn't realize just how critical I am of myself until I had to think of those 20 things! I don't think God wants us to dwell on all that we lack; instead, I think He would have us focus on our strengths and build from there. I think I'll start working harder on that.
Tuesday's challenge was to research God's definition of beauty and read Elder Lynn G. Robbins' talk "True Beauty." He discussed how true, radiant beauty does not come from our appearance but from our hearts. It comes through living the Gospel, being cleansed by the Atonement of Christ, and growing closer to the Lord. And the people that do that have a loveliness that cannot be imitated, a light that cannot be hid.
There are some women who seem to be beautiful, who seem to be perfectly skinny and have all the expensive fashions, and sometimes I wish I looked like them. But when I think of the beautiful women in my life, these are not the faces I picture. The most beautiful women in my life are my heroes and role models, the women who exemplify Christ and are an example to me
Some of the most beautiful women in my life are my mother who teaches me about the Savior through her testimony and her example, and whose love is so powerful that I feel it even 704 miles away; my best friend's mother Diane who is one of the most selfless, stalwart people I know; my roommate Courtney who is so full of joy and love that it rubs off on everyone she meets; my sister who has great big dreams to change the world and a bright faith in the God who will lead her there; my friend Nicole who has faced incredible challenges but continues to push forward with a faith and courage that leaves me in awe; my dance teacher who sees the best in each of us and teaches us to be artists and dance with the Spirit; the many women in my home ward and stake who embrace their roles as mothers and nurturers, building up the Kingdom of God in their own unique way; and leaders in the Church such as Emma Smith, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, Elaine S. Dalton, and Julie B. Beck. These are the women who are truly beautiful to the Lord. These are the women who I want to be like.
In a world that shouts so many contradictory messages at us, I am deeply grateful for the knowledge that my Heavenly Father loves me perfectly and thinks I am beautiful just the way I am.
"True beauty can’t be painted on but is a gift of the Spirit. It is literally letting your light shine before men. When virtue is combined with obedience to the Lord’s laws of health and respect for the human body, young people truly become temples in which the Holy Ghost dwells, giving them a beautiful aura. It is this beauty that is most becoming and enduring."
Today's assignment for the Recapturing Beauty Challenge is to take 10 minutes to write all the things you are grateful that your body can do. I've been thinking about this all day and it has really helped me feel more confident and content with who I am.
I am grateful for a body that fills me with breath every moment of every day. I am grateful for a body that wakes up each morning. I am grateful for a body that lets me walk, skip, run, and dance. I am grateful for arms that can hug my sweet roommate as I leave the house in the morning. (And I'm so very grateful for that sweet roommate - but that's a post for another day.) I am grateful for hands that can tousle my little brother's blonde hair. I am grateful for eyes that can see the yellow leaves of autumn, the pink and purple sky of sunset, and the golden kiss of sunshine. I am grateful for ears that can hear music, and for vocal chords that can sing along. I am grateful for a nose that can smell yummy food, and for a mouth that can taste it. I am grateful for skin that can feel the warmth of sunshine, the cool drops of rain, and the embraces of those I love. I am grateful for a mouth that can smile, a head that tilts towards the heavens when I laugh, and eyes that squint up when I do. I am grateful for my toes that wriggle as I type this, and the ability to paint them pretty colors. I am grateful for my legs, strong and steady, that ground me. They carry me up those dreaded stairs and around campus every day with hardly any thanks. They endure lifts and kicks and turns in my dance class without a complaint. They anchor me and yet provide me mobility. They are amazing. I am grateful for a belly that receives. It receives breath, it receives food, and it takes those and miraculously turns them into life. That is a miracle. I am grateful for hands that can work, that can play, that can create. I am grateful for a mind that can think, and create, and soak in the beauty of this life and all that God has given me.