Sunday, February 28, 2010


The seed of a Giant Sequoia, the largest living thing on earth. Image found here.

I went to a contemporary dance concert this weekend, and it was incredibly moving. There were dances about Mother Eve, strength, cultural diversity and womanhood, which were all wonderful. But my favorite was about growth.

This piece was choreographed and performed by faculty member Marin Elizabeth Leggat, and it was entitled "Expansive to My View." It was done to Arvo Pärt's "Spiegel im Spiegel." It was powerful. I have been thinking about it all weekend.

The dancer begins seated on the ground, arms crossed and her knees pulled to her chest. Slowly she tries to to extend her arm away from her body, but it doesn't want to move. After much effort and concentration, it finally snaps to the side. She feels freed and enlightened. She decides to try the other arm. It is also difficult, and the first arm wants to go back to its comfortable position, but she frees the second arm and is able to explore the beauty of her full range of movement.

To me, this piece represents my growth, a process that is can be very slow and very painful. Life can get so discouraging. I feel like every day there is a new challenge I must face, another battle that I have to fight. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get a rest. Some days I feel like I can't do anything right and I just want to run home to my mommy and watch The Baby-Sitter's Club under the electric blanket.

It is then that I remember that my Savior.

He is helping me in this progression, no matter how slow it is. Despite my setbacks and weaknesses, I am getting better. I am growing. Cell by cell, the Lord is transforming me from a seed into a sequoia tree. And He does it with a Master's hand. Being omnipotent, He could have me progress at the speed of light - but for some reason that is not His plan.

That's ok with me.


Patience is a willingness, in a sense to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe - rather than pacing up and down in the cell of our circumstances.
- Neal A. Maxwell

Saturday, February 27, 2010

You can be good, and you can try.

You may not be a genius. You may not be exceptionally smart. But you can be good, and you can try. And you will be amazed at what might happen when in faith you take a step forward. - Gordon B. Hinckley

Friday, February 26, 2010

Maggie Michael Soul

Sometimes I really want to write, but I don't know what to say.

There are a dozen ideas running around in my head,

yet none of them seem like the thing to write about tonight.

I try to write them out.

It comes out jumbled.

I know that nothing I write tonight will make much sense to my readers,

but I wanted to try anyway.

My soul needs to say something

but it's not sure what.

Hopefully my soul will be more coherent tomorrow.

But tonight, it's feeling kinda like this:

Maggie Michael, Hunter (Mars), 2006

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The Old Guitarist, Pablo Picasso, 1903

Do you ever have days when you feel sad but your'e not sure why? That's how I've been feeling today.

So I decided to look up all the scriptures about weeping. And they are beautiful.

Sorrow is a part of life. Isaiah prophesied that even "ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly," and Jesus himself had cause to weep during his perfect lifetime. I think sorrow is a blessing though, because it teaches us so much. It forces us to be more humble, to rely on the Lord a little more. It helps us to see the world more clearly. It helps us to be more compassionate.

But the beautiful thing about the gospel is that it helps us learn how to move through the valley of sorrow and return to the sunlight.

God recognizes our trials, of course; He would never discount them. He weeps right alongside us. His heart aches whenever He sees that we are in pain.

And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept. -Moses 7:28

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. -John 14:18

Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love. -Richard G. Scott

And then, when we have worked through our pain and learned what He wanted us to learn, He makes our burdens light. He gives us the distance of time to show us what a blessing that pain really was. And we are better people for it.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. -Psalms 30:5

Then sing, beloved ones,
Reach o'er the summer sea.
Pour forth thy boundless love for us living!
Sweep into ev'ry soul,
Make music of our tears,
Turn all our songs to joy and thanksgiving!
- David Warner

I had some major disappointments in September. I auditioned for women's chorus and the folk dance team, only to be rejected by both of them. It was really hard at first. I had wanted to join those organizations to grow and to serve. Why didn't the Lord want me to do it there?

Because the experience taught me so much.

I learned how to serve people in my everyday life. I discovered new hobbies and made friends there. I learned how to accept God's will and make it my own. I learned how to honestly say, "come what may, and love it."

When my dad gave me a priesthood blessing before I went back to school, I was promised that I would have disappointment but would be able to turn around and use it to help others. I think that has been the biggest blessing of all - having a testimony of the marvelous adventures that come when we trust in the Lord. His plans have always been better than the ones I come up with. Yes, with this knowledge I have been able to serve much better than I would have in women's chorus or the folk dance team.

So to you who are struggling, don't be afraid to weep. It will purify your soul. It will open the gate for blessings you cannot imagine. And the Lord will not leave you comfortless.

(And watch this video. It is beautiful.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Links!

Taken March 2006

A blog that I follow has a tradition of posting links to lovely things each Monday. I don't know if I would have enough links to post every week, but I have some wonderful ones I wanted to post today.

*This post is amazing and was just what I needed to get through yesterday.
*I love this photographer and want to buy his prints when I have a real house to hang them in.
*She is my favorite singer right now. Her CD "Grace" is incredible!
*This talk is amazing and helped me have more courage to reach out and help others.
*This recipe looks like the perfect way to cure my chocolate addiction. I sure hope so!
*This website is my favorite EVER. I read it every day without fail.
*This book looks like its gonna be awesome.
*This woman is absolutely amazing. What a beautiful story!
*This makes me laugh.
*These guys in my ward make me laugh even harder.
*I am going to this on Thursday.
*I am going to this on Friday.

Life is good.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trust in the Lord, and do good

Sierra Nevada, July 2007

"I felt at peace about this decision," I griped to my friend David, "but things haven't turned out how I thought they would. It has been really tough."

"What have you learned from this experience?" my wise friend asked me.

"Oh my goodness, I have learned so much! I grown closer to my Heavenly Father and learned things that have made me a better person."

"Then that is why you felt at peace with this decision."


Even with the peace of the gospel and the knowledge that this experience is for my good, it is still difficult at times. Recently I came up with a plan for how I would handle this person who tries my patience (see this post for some background), but whenever I tried to deliver my stinging and witty comebacks, I could not find the courage to do it. I prayed to God to have the strength to execute my plan...

but then realized that I should really be asking Him how He would have me react to this person's negativity.

And He gave me a plan that is much better.

My mom shared some stories with me about two amazing people back home who handled negativity with grace and love without condoning the critical remarks.

Example #1:
It was the end of the Ward Pioneer Day party. There had been many fun games - potato sack races, a 3 legged race, and a rousing game of tug-of-war. The kids were now playing with the giant tug-of-war rope, and Brother T, one of organizers of the event, was most unhappy. He chastised the kids and started angrily winding up the rope. A woman remarked to a friend, "oh, we always let the kids play with that rope." Brother F turned to the sisters and replied, "Brother T has put a lot of work into this event and done a very good job. We need to be grateful for the service he has done for us today." Brother F turned and went to help Brother T clean up his things.

Example #2:
Two women were talking with a new Temple Matron for the San Diego Temple. The Temple Matron was describing the plans for the Christmas Season on the Temple Grounds - lights, different choirs every night, inviting the community to come enjoy the spirit there. One of the other women remarked that these were great ideas and wondered why none of these things had been done before. The Temple Matron lovingly replied, "Sisters, the previous Temple Presidencies have done an excellent job, and we need to be careful that we do not say anything negative about them."

Oh, how I want to be like these amazing people!

I know that this person I am struggling with is not trying to be mean and negative - they just don't know any better. For some reason, they have not learned which comments are acceptable and which comments are hurtful. I have the opportunity to help guide this person as Jesus Christ would, to help them know how much the Savior loves them.

I'm going to need a lot of divine help.

Trust in the Lord, and do good...Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. -Psalms 37:3-6

You may have been the only one to sense by inspiration the warning cry. The others may feel, as you will be tempted to think, "Maybe the trouble I thought I saw is just my imagination. What right do I have to judge another? It's not my responsibility. I'll leave it alone until he asks for help." . . . Yet you are under covenant to go to a spiritually wounded child of God. You are responsible to be brave enough and bold enough not to turn away. -Henry B. Eyring

If you act in faith in the Savior and go to someone who is struggling or spiritually wounded, you do not go alone. It is the Lord's work. If you go prayerfully seeking the guidance of the Spirit, He will go before you and He will go with you. He promises you that the power of His atoning sacrifice will strengthen you so that those you seek to help will feel Him and see Him through you. You will help them feel and understand the nurture and the admonition of the Lord. -Kim B. Clark

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010


March 2006

My little sister just got accepted into BYU.

(Which is wonderful and makes me so excited, but has also been the cause of great reflection.)

I remember how clear everything seemed when I was a freshman. (haha...not like it was THAT long ago.) I had a plan all set up and couldn't imagine any cause for deviation. But then life happened, and my plans changed.

Now I'm not sure what will happen.

I still plan for the future. I still have hopes and dreams. But I am not as confident in my plans. I know now that things will not work out exactly as I expect them to. So as my sister prepares to go off into the great world with a future that seems so clear, I cannot help but wonder - what does my future hold?

I know one thing - I plan to make my life astonishing.

But not in the way you might think.

If life has taught me anything, it is that I am so weak. As Corrie ten Boom wrote, "it was not my wholeness, but Christ's that made the difference." If my life is to be something special, something useful, it must be dedicated to His work and His glory. Nothing else is as important, or as powerful, or as lasting.

I see incredible people all around me - people like the sweet girl in my ward who absolutely radiates the Spirit of Christ, my talented and selfless little brother and our sweet, sweet prophet. I see their goodness and feel of God's love through them. And I want to be like that. They are the type of astonishing that I want to be.

But as Louisa May Alcott wrote, "it's highly virtuous to say we'll be good, but we can't do it all at once, and it takes a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together before some of us even get our feel set in the right way."

I still have lots of pulling to do.

But I know without a doubt that as I follow my Savior, He will help make me the kind of astonishing that I want to be.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. -E.M. Forester

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It is not the critic who counts

"The Widow's Mite," James Christensen


Today, I’m struggling again. My best intentions have turned to disasters. I feel misunderstood and fallen and hated. What’s that quote? "Man will suffer no greater disappointment than that he is to himself."

Yes. Oh yes.

When I kneel to pray my thoughts are crowded with, "I’m such a fool!" "When will I ever learn?" "I make a mess of everything." God is there, but I’m covering my ears and shouting my failings.

But now, I’m going to lean back, like a child against a cool pillow, and feel God’s love. And I can already hear the murmuring words of comfort— "I understand… I know life is hard…I know you’ve made mistakes… but I’ve paid the price for you. Let me in." - Michelle L.


Yeah, it's been one of those weekends. I've been trying to handle my challenges the best that I can, only to be criticized and mocked and betrayed. My wounded soul cried out, "I'm doing the best that I can, why isn't that enough?" But not loud enough for anyone to hear.

Thank goodness for a Heavenly Father who hears my prayers that go unspoken.

Thank goodness for a merciful God who reminds me that my little pipe cleaners are enough.

Thank goodness for a Savior who gently whispers, "You don't need an earthly friend; you have me right here."

Theodore Roosevelt wrote,

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.

I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot please everyone, but the most important person to please is my Heavenly Father. Why should I waste my time trying to satisfy those whose opinions do not really matter?

My favorite teacher, Mr. Marcus of the Standley Middle School Band, wrote,

Tasha's gifts are many, but her greatest gift is that she is, and always has been, her own person in everything she does. She is never arrogant or mean-spirited, exhibiting an easy grace that is exceedingly rare in these times....I think John Ruskin, the 19th century art critic, summed it up best in the following quote which just happens to be my favorite: "When love and skill work together - expect a masterpiece." And that's just what Tasha truly is.

So I am leaving the critics behind. I am going to remember all the people who think I am doing things just fine. I am not going to let these negative voices stop me from being myself. I am going to be the woman God wants me to be.

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. - Elder Robert D. Hales

And by the way, this is my 100th post. Yay!

Friday, February 12, 2010


Photo by Sheena Jibson

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." - Helaman 5:12

This past week I have felt like I was in a whirlwind with a mighty storm beating upon me. Yet through it all I have felt at peace. I knew that with the Lord's help everything would work out.

I don't face all of my challenges this way. As my poor mother knows, sometimes I am a train wreck when things go wrong. Why was it different this time?

I think it is because I have been working on being more optimistic.

"Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works," King Benjamin says in Mosiah 5:15. That's what I've been trying to do these last couple months. But it wasn't until I read Ether 12:4 that I discovered the key to become someone who "abounds in good works."

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." - Ether 12:4

I couldn't be steadfast and immovable without hope. And I couldn't have hope without having faith in Jesus Christ.

For a long time I struggled with thinking positively and finding hope. I studied my scriptures each day but the world still seemed discouraging. Without realizing it, I was driving the Spirit out of my life by being pessimistic. I lacked faith in my Savior. I wasn't allowing Him to fully enter into my life.

But now that I've learned how to deal with discouragement in a healthy way, I am so much stronger. Because my soul is anchored by hope, I have a greater capacity to serve. Because I have taken care of myself, I am able to be "sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."

Pessimism is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It rejects and mocks His Atoning sacrifice. My negative thought processes prevented me from truly knowing my Savior, from fully partaking of His love.

I had to let the Lord completely into my life before I could learn how to share His love with other people.

It seems like such a small thing. I never realized that my sadness was preventing me from becoming like Christ. The adversary can be so subtle.

But Heavenly Father can be subtle too. And He has promised,

"If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." - Ether 12:27

Have faith in Christ. Let Him into your life. He will turn your weaknesses into strengths. He will give you a hope that will anchor your soul. And He will transform you into something beautiful.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Abstract Art

Morris Louis, "Where," 1960

"Do you like this painting?"

I had to restrain myself from whirling around and glaring at the student who had asked this question. Really? How could someone be so thoughtless, so prejudiced, so rude?

It was nearing the end of my Art History 202 class last semester. There were about 250 of us in the class, the majority of which were just trying to knock out a GE requirement. We had been discussing abstraction for a little while, and I had heard plenty of my classmates gripe about the material. I hoped that as they learned more about modern art they would be able to sense its beauty, but with this question it was clear that at least one student was not diggin' it.

My professor, who happened to be a specialist in modern art, answered very well. Much better then I would have in my angered state. But I was still annoyed.

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1952

I'll be honest; I struggled to understand abstract art at first. I remember sitting in a Humanities class in the summer of 2008 with this image on the screen. A girl told of how she had cried upon seeing this work in person. I simply could not understand it. As the only freshman in the class, I did not comment much, but for this I had to speak my mind. "I don't understand what it means!" I exclaimed. "It's just a bunch of blue!" My professor tried to explain that it didn't have to mean anything, that it was a new way to challenge the meaning of Art. The girl who had commented earlier tried to help by saying that the colors are incredible in person, since Rothko mixed his own paint. That helped a little. But I still left confused.

About a week later, our class went to the BYU Museum of Art. We saw an exhibition on conceptual art, and it all started to click. I realized that abstract art is all about getting people to think! As I stood in front of these monumental works, I began to ponder what they could mean to the artist, to other patrons, to me. I saw the beauty in the small details and the entire composition. I saw the artists' creativity being set free, allowed to run and jump and twist and turn in a world void of the fences of representational art. I saw the artists' souls being poured into their works.

And that's when I fell in love.

"Explosion" by Maggie Michael

The piece above was my favorite from the exhibition. I would go back over and over again to stand in front of this work and just think. It moved me every time. My heart broke when it was taken down at the end of the exhibition.

What I love most about abstract art is that it recognizes the intelligence in the viewer and challenges them to use it! I love what Theo van Doesburg wrote in the Art Concret Manifesto. "Art with a representational agenda, even a hidden one, is harmful because it tends to sap the mental strength of viewers, leaving them unaware of their own true powers."

So before you judge abstract art, open up your mind and think a little bit. Art has so much to offer.

If you will let it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I don't deserve it.

My little brother has always been a dancer.

When I was 12 and he was 2, we would dance to The Wiggles before I went to school. He is constantly on the floor trying to break dance. When music comes on, his body immediately starts to move. Sometimes we'll be watching a movie and we will notice his little foot tapping to the beat.

About a month ago my mom finally broke down and put him in a hip hop class. He was ecstatic. He had the biggest smile on his face whole time. And on the ride home he told my mom, "sometimes my life is so good that I don't think I deserve it."

I couldn't agree more.

Whenever I look at my blessings and am absolutely overwhelmed. I have the restored gospel, the scriptures, a Heavenly Father who loves me and a testimony of Christ. I have an incredible family who loves me and has taught me what is right. I have a mom who is my best friend and puts aside time to talk to me every day. I have a roof over my head, good food to eat and a warm bed to sleep in at night. I know how to read and write. I have a job during an economic recession. I have amazing friends, roommates, classmates and coworkers who appreciate my good qualities and inspire me to be a better person. I have an opportunity to receive a college education and get to do it at BYU, one of the best universities in the world!

I know Heavenly Father loves me, but I can't help but wonder why He has given me so much and others so little.

I know that what has been given is part of my tests and trials. All of my blessings are wonderful, but they bring certain hardships as well. And I know that Heavenly Father has given me these things so that I can serve others. But I'm not sure how to do that yet.

As Jo said in Little Women, "I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle - something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I'm dead. I don't know what, but I'm on the watch for it."

Fortunately the Lord has promised that "if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work," so I know that He will fill my life with opportunities to serve.

Even so, I don't think I will ever quite deserve all that Heavenly Father has given me.

I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day...I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said.
-Mosiah 2:21-22

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Trust in the Lord

"Be Not Afraid" by Greg Olsen

Tonight I was reading the account of Christ's Atonement and death for the first time in a long while. And, of course, I wept.

He was betrayed by friends.
He was condemned in court, having never sinned.
He was beaten and spit upon.
His precious and beautiful teachings were mocked.
He was humiliated.
And in the end, even God forsook Him.

And He went through this all for me.

When this man who suffered all of the worst pains imaginable promises that my tiny trials "shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good," I can believe Him.

When He says, "trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding," I know that I can do it because Christ did exactly that.

When He, who worked miracles and rose from the dead, assures me that "with God all things are possible," I know that He is telling the truth. Because He has been right there.

Even in my teeny-tiny struggles, the moments when I feel lost, He is always right by my side, just waiting for me to believe in His promises. Waiting for me to let Him lift me up.

Monday, February 1, 2010

An Almost Champion

Tonight was our Ward Nerd Fest! I wore my Betsy-Tacy shirt, high pants, a lanyard that I made myself, my favorite pair of glasses that I found in a gutter after they had been run over by a car, a bulky sweater, crazy pigtails and my giant men's moccasins. And I didn't win the costume contest. There were some very creative people out there!

But I was pretty successful in the Twinkie eating contest! I jumped in just for fun and was able to cram in 3 1/2 Twinkies in 1 minute! I made it to the finals but they were much harder because everyone was cheering and making me laugh. Jared got 2 Twinkies down in 30 seconds but I only got 1 1/2 down, so he was the champion. But I'm ok with second.

Moral of the story - you never know what talents are hidden inside you.