Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Why do you ask for a friend when you have me right here?"

"Forgiven," by Greg Olsen

I knelt on my bed weeping. It had been "one of those days," the kind when nothing seems to go right, everyone seems to be hating on you and you feel utterly alone in the world.

"Heavenly Father," I pleaded, "please bring me a friend. I could really use someone to understand and just love me."

The answer I received stopped me in my tracks. "Why do you ask for a friend when you have me right here?"

Why would I need anyone else when I had the love and support of Jesus Christ? He had reminded me of the constant love of my family and my Heavenly Father. He reminded me that those most important people are pleased with who I am and what I am doing, even if the rest of the world is not. He did not leave me comfortless: He came to me, just as He had promised (see John 14:18). His love came to me in my darkest hour when no one else could reach me.Yes, why would I need to ask for anyone else to come to my aid when Jesus Christ had offered me all the comfort and strength that I needed?

I'm pretty sure that my challenges are still going to be there when I wake up tomorrow morning. But this time I will have my Best Friend to help me face them.

"Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and I am with you even unto the end." -D&C 100:12

Quotes to Start the Week by

"Life that day seemed so overwhelming, and the undergraduate plus graduate years that we still anticipated before us seemed monumental, nearly insurmountable. Our love for each other and our commitment to the gospel were strong, but most of all the other temporal things around us seemed particularly ominous.On a spot that I could probably still mark for you today, I turned to Pat and said something like this: 'Honey, should we give up? I can get a good job and carve out a good living for us. I can do some things. I’ll be okay without a degree. Should we stop trying to tackle what right now seems so difficult to face?' In my best reenactment of Lot’s wife, I said, in effect, 'Let’s go back. Let’s go home. The future holds nothing for us.' Then my beloved little bride did what she has done for 45 years since then. She grabbed me by the lapels and said, 'We are not going back. We are not going home. The future holds everything for us.'" -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Remember Lot's Wife"

"Do not be afraid of ridicule. The strength and peace that come from knowing God and having the comforting companionship of His Spirit will make your efforts eternally worthwhile." -Robert D. Hales

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being." -Goethe

"Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.' " -Mary Anne Radmacher

"I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down." -Nehemiah 6:3

"To be nobody but yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." -e e cummings

"Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." -D&C 64:33

"Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days." -D&C 24:8

Friday, January 29, 2010

An Uncommon Way

Photo found here.

"When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." -George Washington Carver

My new year's resolution has been to love everyone with less restraint, and I've seen it do wonderful things so far. It's so fun to watch the customers I serve at work - so many come to the counter looking glum or just average but leave with a smile on their face. And all I do is take their order with a cheerful heart and ask them sincerely how their day is going. A common thing done in an uncommon way.

So I give you a challenge, dear readers. How can you do your everyday tasks in "an uncommon way?" How can you leave the world a little better with the things you do each day?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Today was a cranky day. It was gray and cold. I was at school extra long because of my evening class. I heard some guys on campus using bad words and talking about girls like they were objects. By the time I got home, I was not feeling very cheery.

And that's where the gospel came in.

I got to talk to my mommy for an hour. We discussed the beauties of the gospel - the reassuring truths that not only anchor us in these trying times but refine us and make our daily interactions beautiful. We talked about the blessings the Lord has poured out in our lives and the blessings that will further come as we do our best to serve Him.

And after an hour of such uplifting conversation and unconditional love, my heart was softened and healed.

After all, my mom likes to say, "There are some people that like to throw cupcakes around, and some people who like to throw dog poo. If you keep throwing cupcakes at the people who are throwing dog poo, eventually they are going to want to eat a cupcake and will have to wash their hands off to do so."

(Don't you just love my mother? I know I do.)

And now, with soft guitar music playing and the message of the gospel running through my mind, the world looks a lot brighter. Thanks again, Heavenly Father.

(Oh, and this video doesn't hurt either.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

22 ways to Insult somone in German

1. Warmduscher - Someone who has to have a warm shower (freaks out if it's too hot or too cold)
2. Muttersöhnchern - Mama's boy
3. Weichei - Soft egg
4. Daumenlutscher - Thumb sucker
5. Toastkratzer - Toast scraper (too finicky to eat burnt toast!)
6. Hamsterbefreier - Hamster freer
7. Flugseuglandungklutscher - Someone who claps for landing airplanes
8. Spagettikleinschneider - Someone who is so OCD that they have to cut their spaghetti into small pieces
9. Teletubbieszurückwinker - Someone who waves back to the teletubbies
10. Letztes-klupapier-verbraucher - Last toilet paper user
11. Rolltreppensteher - Escalator stander (on European escalators, standers are on the right and walkers are on the left. This refers to someone standing on the left, therefore getting in everyone else's way,)
12. Pokemon-süßfinder - Great Pokemon catcher
13. Müllsortierer - Garbage sorter
14. Handschuhschneewerfer - Someone who is too much of a pansy to make a snowball with their bare hands
15. Sockenbügler - Sock ironer
16. Tofu-Esser - Tofu eater
17. Baby-popo-Trockenföner - Someone who blow-dries their baby's bum
18. Klofrauenbezahler - The lady you have to pay to use a "public" restroom in Germany
19. Dackel-bei-Gefahr-Hochnehmer - Someone who isn't secure without their Wiener dog
20. Mit-augstreckem-Arm-über-die-Zebrastreifen-geher - Someone who needlessly acts as a crossing guard when crossing the street
21. Pizza-mit-Messer-und-Gabel-Esser - Pizza with fork and knife eater
22. Gartenzwergaufsteller - Garden gnome putter-upper

I promise we learn real things in my class as well. Just not today.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pipe Cleaners and Shining Nights

Last night I was feeling very foolish and frustrated with my weaknesses. My wise mother gave me some good advice. "You know how James [my little brother] likes to make you little presents out of pipe cleaners?" she asked me. "To others they don't mean much, but they are precious to you because he has put his whole heart and the best of his ability into them.

"Sometimes all we can do is make a pipe cleaner creation. It is small and misshapen, not something that the world values. But to Heavenly Father it is precious, and it is enough."

He knows that in time my pipe cleaner creations will become great works of art. I just have to be patient with my pipe cleaner projects as well.

Last night I also listened to one of my favorite old songs, "Sure on this Shining Night" by Morten Lauridsen with lyrics by James Agee. I hadn't heard it for a while and was struck once again by the beauty of the music and the lyrics.

Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.

The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far
Of shadows on the stars.

Jesus Christ is my Savior. He "kindly watches" for me. He softens my heart until is "all whole" and "all is healed." He is so patient with me and my meager pipe cleaner creations. His gentleness and forgiveness make me continually "weep for wonder."

And so, on a shining January night, I was sure once more. Sure of the transforming power of the Atonement. Sure of my ability to create beautiful things in the Lord's time and with His help. And sure of His personal love for me.

May we all be "sure on this shining night" of those beautiful truths.

Why I love this school

"BYU is not here to help you make money. Any university in this land can do that....BYU has been established to extend to you the very glory of God, his intelligence, his light, and his truth....Money and fame and earthly glory are not our eternal standard. Indeed these can, if we are not careful, lead to eternal torment." -Jeffrey R. Holland

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Reviews: An Old Fashioned Girl and The Hiding Place

So I have a goal of reading more this year and forevermore, and the books I have read so far this year have been really great. I think everyone would benefit from them, so I figured I would write about why I love them so much and share my favorite quotes.

1. "An Old Fashioned Girl" by Louisa May Alcott
This is the story of a simple country girl named Polly who goes to visit her friends in Boston and is blown away by their extravagant and unhappy city life. She is able to help the family by her cheery attitude and good example during her first visit and when she returns to Boston to teach piano at the age of 20.

As usual, Alcott's engaging plot is intertwined with moral lessons so gently preached through characters who have become our friends. But it is these morals that made this book a treasure and left me a better person.

My favorite quotes:
"The least of us have some influence in this big world, and perhaps my little girl can do some good by showing others that a contented heart and happy face are better ornaments than any Paris can give her." -Louisa May Alcott, "An Old Fashioned Girl," page 44

"Polly had fully intended to be very miserable and cry herself to sleep, but when she lay down at last her pillow seemed very soft, her little room very lovely...So much to do in the great, busy world, and she had done so little. Where should she be strong, and beautiful and go round making music all the time. Yes, she could do that, and with a very earnest prayer Polly asked for the strength of an upright soul, the beauty of a tender heart, the power to make her life a sweet and stirring song, helpful while it lasted, remembered when it died." -Louisa May Alcott, "An Old Fashioned Girl," p. 169

2. "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom
Oh. My. Gosh. This book has changed my life forever. It is the true story of a courageous Christian woman who lived in WWII Holland. She loved people so much that she ended up as the head of the underground resistance for most of the country. This is her life story, from her childhood to her underground work to her imprisonment in the concentration camps. But mostly it is the story of how Christ's love can triumph over evil in the darkest of times. Corrie and the ten Boom family taught by example that "there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still."

Favorite Quotes:

"There are no 'ifs' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety - Oh Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!" -Corrie ten Boom, "The Hiding Place," pg. 84

"We would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, back into Dutch. they were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the lightbulb....and I would know again that in darkness God's truth shines most clear." -Corrie ten Boom, "The Hiding Place," pg. 213

"The real sin lay in thinking that any power to help and transform came from me. Of course it was not my wholenesss, but Christ's that made the difference." -Corrie ten Boom, "The Hiding Place," pg. 225

5 Things that Made me Happy Today

1. Yesterday some coworkers told me about a fabulous little ditty called "Pants on the Ground" by someone who auditioned for American Idol. And my life will never be the same.

Yeah, catchy tune, isn't it? So my roommates and I were singing it all last night and into this morning. The best was when I was praying by my bedside this morning before I left for class and I heard my roommate singing "Pants on the ground, pants on the ground" as quietly as she could so as not to disturb my spiritual moment. But truth be told, she put a huge smile on my face.

2. Today was a cold wet day in Provo, and in the library this morning I saw an Asian guy wearing shorts and a coonskin cap. So random. It looked something like this:

Except he was wearing a shirt and jacket and shoes. And not holding a beach ball.

3. This song is my new favorite. The other night my roommates jammed out to it while making cookies. Soooo great. I'm pretty sure you need it in your life.

4. I get to write a paper on the Betsy-Tacy books for my English class. I think it's one of my favorite writing assignments ever. I may post it when I'm done.

5. My Slideshow now has 199 hits on YouTube! Amazing!

Yep, life is good.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A survey of 2009

I know it's a little late for this, but I saw it on my friend's blog and thought it was a fun way to reflect on the past year and how I have grown.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Moved off-campus, worked at the SD County Fair, witnessed my brother's baptism, sent my best friend on a mission, served as a Girls' Camp tent mom, went to BYU education week, babysat two kids for a whole week, took clogging and folk dance classes

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I've made some new goals in my life because I needed to make them, not just because it was the new year. I have committed to read the Book of Mormon at least 10 minutes every day and to work on loving others without restraint.

3. What countries did you visit?
I still haven't ever left the country, but that's ok. There are enough people here for me to help.

4. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A greater portion of the Spirit, more selfless love, more missionary letters, more time with my family, more trust in God and His plan

5. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 20th Brian went through the temple on the 10th anniversary of his family's sealing and 2 days after my parents' 20th wedding anniversary, May 9th my brother got baptized, June 3rd Brian went into the MTC

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Learning how to be happy every day and acting on that

7. What was your biggest failure?
There are many little things I could have done better, but I don't think I had any huge failures! And those little things have just taught me to be better.

8. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
HSM 3 on DVD, my family coming for General Conference, being a tent mom at girls' camp, the possibility of going to Europe, my best friend's mission, a whole summer at home, applying to be an EFY counselor in 2010, my great-grandma's bread recipe, coming home to 80 degree San Diego for Thanksgiving and Christmas, trying out for several performing ensembles

9. What song will always remind you of 2009?
"Draw Me Nearer, Lord" by Meredith Andrews
"You Belong with Me" and "The Best Day" by Taylor Swift
"Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble
"Single Ladies" by Beyonce
"Hear You Me" by Jimmy Eat World

10. Compared to this time last year, you are...
Happier, older, stronger testimony, more confident, better understanding of who I am, less worldly, more independent, more old-fashioned :]

11. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Family History and temple work, appreciating the little wonders around me every day, looked for those who needed the love I could give

12. What was the best book you read?
I discovered the Betsy-Tacy books this year and read them all. They are fantastic! I also read my favorite book, "Little Women" twice. Guilty Pleasure :]

13. What did you want and get?
A better understanding of who I am, peace in trials, stronger relationship with my family, wonderful roommates

14. What did you want and not get?
Admission into Womens' Chorus, Folk Dance and Nauvoo Performing Missionaries. But looking back I am grateful I didn't get those things because I learned soooo much by not getting in that I will use for the rest of my life.

15. What was your favorite film of this year?
Most definitely Up!

16. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 19 and went to see Up with my family! It was so nice.

17. What kept you sane? The Gospel and my angel mother.

18. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
Give yourself over to the Lord and He makes your life better than you can make it, it's ok to give yourself a break and not be a perfectionist!

19. What are you looking forward to in 2010?
School, hopefully being an EFY counselor, meeting more people and serving them, Girls' Camp again, my sister hopefully coming up to BYU, hearing more wonderful missionary stories, finding new ways to serve!

20. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"For the mountains shall depart and the hills shall be removed and the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea, but know, my child, my kindness shall not depart from thee."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I can do more, but Christ can do the most.

"And so I struggled on with worship and teaching that had ceased to be real. Until one drizzly raw afternoon when just enough light came through the window to 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 wonder and miracles that followed his ministry could be due to his own virtues. It was all Christ's strength, never Paul's. And there is was. The truth blazed like sunlight into the shadows...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." - Corrie ten Boom, "The Hiding Place"

Yesterday I had a beautiful experience. I got an email from a friend who I have been worried about and was able to comfort them. They replied saying that the words and quotes I had shared with them had been a strength to them in a time of great need. I was pleased to have been able to help this person that I love so much, but I realized that I can do more, that I need to make more room for the Spirit in my life so that I can be prepared with even better answers when I am called to give them.

After that experience, my roommate and I went to see the BYU "Living Legends" show. It is an amazing celebration of Native American, Latin American and Polynesian music and dance. This is a video of the last number, entitled "Go My Son." I couldn't help crying through the whole thing. It shows children preparing to leave their families and make a difference in the world. It reminded me of why I am here at school and on this earth, actually. I am here to work, to get an education, and to serve others with what I learn. Not to get a job and make money, but to serve.

And after that inspiring show, I came home and read the Carrie ten Boom quote that I started this post with. And I realized that while I can do more, I need to do it in the right way; I need to do more in an attitude of leading others to Christ, for as Miss ten Boom wrote, "Of course it was not my wholeness, but Christ's, that made the difference."

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." -2 Nephi 25:23

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

So many little wonders!

What a wonderful day it has been. Good classes, new friends, silly times with the amazing people I work with, another letter from my best friend, a gorgeous sunset to the west and beautiful mountains to the east.

(Not a picture that I took, but the mountains look similar to this today.)

Little did I know that the best surprises were waiting for me at home. I had 3 packages waiting for me - an ebay purchase, a sweet package from home (including the coveted family heating pad - thanks mom!) and a large envelope from a special friend.

When I was home for Christmas, my mom and I were in Deseret Book and met the sweetest little old man. He overheard me talking about BYU and showed me his BYU class ring from 1954. He heard that I was an art history major and was very excited because he was an artist. He took me sweetly by the hand and said, "you can do anything that you dream." I started to tear up because, sometimes in this harsh world, I forget how high I can fly. He embraced me and kissed my hand and told me to keep working hard and that the Lord would bless me. He told me that he was pleased to see that his school was in such good hands. I barely knew this man, but he loved me without any hesitation, and for that he will have a special place in my heart forever.

Nicholas also promised to send me some of his artwork, which is what arrived in the envelope today. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined.

The sweet letter he sent me and a picture of him dressed up as Santa!

Nicholas' drawing of Christ

The Nativity

The Salt Lake Temple

Nicholas' depiction of President Monson

"Our lives are made in these small hours, these little wonders, these twists and turns of fate." - Rob Thomas

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Best of 2009

Ok, I know it's midnight, but I got a creative urge and had to go with it! My friend Ruth posted a slideshow of her year on her blog, and I knew that I needed to do one for my family. I had some time after all my homework was done and I was able to put this together. It's not very good since I am just a first timer, but it captures the sentiment I was going for and brings me joy every time I watch it. I'm not very good with art or dance or poetry, but this was something that I could create. And more importantly, it is a small way to give back to the family that has given so much to me.

So here you go, guys. The best of our 2009.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just me.

"To be nobody but yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." - e. e. cummings

I've realized lately that, as wonderful as BYU is, it makes me feel pressured to try to be someone that I may not be. Going to a school with 30,000 other ridiculously talented and beautiful people is very intimidating! Someone once told my mom that the only way to deal with the pressure of BYU is to graduate. I'm not quite there yet, but going home for Christmas was a good detox. Being away from it all helped me to get back to my truer, simpler self and to realize that it is ok for me to be that person!

It is ok for me not to have expensive clothes and look perfect every time I walk out the door. It is ok for me to be in the liberal arts, even though there isn't much job security. It is ok for me to want to be a wife and a mom rather than go to grad school. It is ok for me to like High School Musical, Miley Cyrus and Betsy Tacy. It is ok for me to stay home and watch a Disney movie on a Friday night. It is ok for my closest friends to be small children and middle aged adults. It is ok me to be silly and laugh. It is ok for me to be myself, no matter what others may think. And you know what? It's ok for you to truly be yourself as well. I don't think God wants us to spend our lives wishing and trying to be someone rather than who He created us to be.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Not in Vain

During the break I reached out to my struggling friend and tried, once again, to get her to return to some church activities activities. I never saw her over the break and felt that I had failed. I was so worried about her because I had heard that she has been having an awful time due to her break up with her fiancé. But Sunday I was blessed to some fruits of my labors. My friend texted me saying that she was going to go to the singles ward and wondered if I would come along. I wished so badly that I could have gone with her, but it wasn't meant to be. This friend's mom told my mom that I have been a big blessing to my friend; that each time I contacted her or dropped off a little gift she would cry in gratitude. I learned that even though my efforts didn’t seem to be doing much, they let this friend know that she is always loved and that I am always there for her, that when she was ready, I would be there to welcome her with open arms. I hope she can see the similitude of the Savior’s love for her. I hope she can know that since I love her no matter how she responds, Jesus Christ’s love is even greater and more healing. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father let me see how some small actions were able to help another person. I can’t wait to more completely give myself to Him and to be able to share my testimony of Christ in this way.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

Today I was feeling a little lonely, when a sweet little girl at church unexpectedly came up to me, threw her arms around me, and said, "I love you." Definitely a tender mercy.

A New Start

I'm back in Provo. Winter semester starts tomorrow, and while there is the prospect of the new classes, friends and adventures that the next four months will bring, my heart is back in San Diego.

Sometimes I feel like I am an old lady stuck in a young person's body. And life. I long for that which is eternal. Sure, I have fun in my singles ward here at BYU, but I feel more grounded in my home ward doing all the things I got to do with my mom over break - singing in ward choir, chatting with the middle aged women in Relief Society, taking meals and hosting play-dates to an injured sister in the ward, helping out with Primary children.

Making Martha Stewart crafts after dinner. Taking little ones for walks in the canyon. Reading to my brother and putting him to bed. Cutting out paper dolls with my sister. Hosting a New Year's Eve party for a gaggle of loud kids under 12, then crawling into bed exhausted by 10. Wearing jeans and a t shirt every day. Cleaning the table after dinner. Helping all the family members feel comfortable.

For the past 2 weeks I've been living the life of a mom, and I've felt comfortable and joyous doing it. Now I am thrust back into the world of the 19 year old that I am, and the transition isn't going so well yet. I'm tired of my college student life. I want to go back to being a pseudo-mom.

But of course, the Lord has other plans for me right now. So this is my motto right now:

Moroni 8:16. “Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear.”

I believe that God is going to put people into my life who need the love that I can offer them. I believe that He has a work for me to do that can be just as rewarding as the work I have done back in California. I believe there are no accidents, that there is a definite reason why I am here. I believe that there is a reason why He is asking me to leave my precious family: there is something else He wants me to do and to learn.

I wish I could just stay with these incredible people, but God has other plans for me. I can't wait to see what He has in store for me in this next year.