Monday, May 31, 2010

Where did May go?

Image found here.

As I sit here just hours away from the first of June, I once again wonder how time passes so quickly. Sometimes it terrifies me.

Yesterday I sat in church hand in hand with my beautiful little sister. We haven't been very close in the last few years. Our differences and our pride kept us from being as close as we ought to have been. But in the last year both of our hearts have been softened. We have realized what a treasure sisterhood is and how much we both need one another. We pledged to work on our relationship this summer, and with the help of Jesus Christ, our hearts are knit together once more. As we sat in church with our hands clasped, I felt like a Frida Kahlo painting; the gospel has united our hearts once more. How grateful I am for the love of Jesus Christ that melts the ice from our hearts, freeing them to blossom once more. And how grateful I am to have an amazing, inspirational sister who is willing to open her heart to me.

I've experienced great healing, progression and joy in my stay at home, and now I am getting really nervous about the upcoming changes. I'm nervous to leave my family and return to BYU, nervous that I won't get to do everything I want to in my last 3 weeks at home, nervous that my brother will miss me. And then come the fears about the rest of my future - fear that I may never get to be an EFY counselor, fear at the thought of graduating in 2 years and saying goodbye to the university I love so dearly, fear of trying to find a job and the great unknown that comes after all that. I guess I just don't deal well with change at all. Even as a child I couldn't jump into the swimming pool; I drove my cousins crazy with my snail-like descent into the water, insisting that I needed the time to adjust. And I still do.

I think I fear change because it comes right when I've adjusted from the last curve ball God has thrown me and come to recognize the abundance God has given me. When change approaches, I wonder if the future can hold anything as wonderful as I what I already have.

Thank goodness for living prophets who remind me to have faith.

Last night, when the fears and anxiety started to surround me, I put on one of my favorite BYU Devotionals, "Remember Lot's Wife" by Jeffrey R. Holland. And even though he gave the address 18 months ago and I've already listened to it dozens of times, last night his words were just what I needed. He said:

I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been....Faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind....

Some of you [are] having thoughts such as these: Is there any future for me? What does a new year or a new semester or a new major or a new romance hold for me? Will I be safe? Will life be sound? Can I trust in the Lord and in the future? Or would it be better to look back, to go back, to go home?
To all such of every generation, I call out, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the “high priest of good things to come.”
I know that there is much good in my future. Whenever changes come, they are because God wants me to learn and experience new things. He will help me be ready and help me adjust. If I keep His commandments, I will be able to find peace and happiness no matter where He takes me.
We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh
"Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief." -Mark 9:24

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Productivity, the Hubble Telescope, and God's Grace

Photo found here.

Sometimes I measure my worth on my productivity. It's a nasty habit.

In a world so focused on appearances and earthly accomplishments, I often forget what is most important and get hard on myself for not doing or being everything I "should." And every time it turns out that my perceptions of what people expect of me are totally ridiculous. I expect so much more from myself than anyone else does.

So yesterday when I got off of work early, I started making a mental checklist of everything I should get done with my extra time. But when I went to do those things, I found myself tired and empty; I simply could not be productive right then.

So, I let go. I just sat and watched Saved by the Bell and did not worry about my to-do list. And I realized how much I needed to just be still.

Being productive and accomplishing goals is important. But for perfectionists like me, we sometimes need a reminder that it is OK to slow down and take care of ourselves, so that when the time comes to go to work, we can do it with a grateful heart and a cheerful countenance.


Last night I went to the science center with my parents and my brother to watch an Imax movie about the Hubble Telescope. Not being anything close to a scientist, I didn't know much about the Hubble Telescope or the fantastic things it photographs.

I was blown away.

The narrator described the unbelievable celestial phenomena depicted on the screen. Images from thousands of lightyears away. Cloud canyons where stars are born. Multiple galaxies with solar systems like our own. The vastness of the universe overwhelmed me.

But what was more overwhelming is the role I play in that universe. Despite my classification as a small, ordinary girl without much significance in anything worldly significant, God still loves me. The most wondrous, powerful being in the universe, the one who has created all the galaxies, nebulas, and supernovea also created me. Even though I am not as big or awe-inspiring as those celestial objects, I am His daughter, and He created all of those things so that I could return home to Him and receive exaltation. While astronomy is breath-taking, it is His children that He glories in (see Moses 1:39).

Even though I am a very small speck in the vastness of the universe and the eternal nature of its existence, Heavenly Father has a specific plan for me. He has given me unique gifts to accomplish a special mission during my time on this Earth and my life in the eternities after that. While countless other children and creations seek Him, He still answers whenever I call. I may not be able to shine as brightly as a mere star, but He knows that I have the potential to obtain a glory just as brilliant as His.

And the best part? God restrain me with a timeline. He doesn't base my worth on my productivity. He finds value in me merely because I am His daughter.

God's ability to simultaneously see the hairs on my head within the infinite nature of eternity baffles me. I so often find myself forgetting the big picture to obsess over details that don't matter. I don't want that; I want to have an eternal perspective like The Father's.

But I'll be patient. I know He'll help me develop it - one day at a time.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I love this boy.

Today I came home tired from a long day at work at the fair. In the last 3 days, I've spent 31 hours on the clock...and I am pretty exhausted! It all culminated when my sister mentioned that they spent the afternoon baking snickerdoodles with James' friends, and I burst into tears because I so wanted to bake cookies with those sweet little boys.

Tonight I got to lay down with him as he was falling asleep. "Tasha," he asked, "What are you doing tomorrow?"

"Going to work again. Why did you ask? Did you want to do something with me?"

"Yeah...I wanted to bake snickerdoodles with you because you missed it today."

And I cried all over again.

He is so thoughtful, so sweet, so selfless. And I get to be his sister for time and all eternity.

Yes, I have everything I need to be happy.


My little sister went to the prom on Saturday. (I can't believe it - I feel like I just had my prom!) She sewed her own dress, and it turned out beautifully.

I'm so grateful for these special women in my life!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Liken the Scriptures Week 4

So this week I start major work setting up the fair, and I'm going to need lots of divine help. Today I worked for 11 hours, and I have the same hours tomorrow. So my scripture for this week is D&C 4:3 & 5.

Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.

In this stressful situation, I want to make sure that I use this as an opportunity to serve those around me. I want to treat my patrons, coworkers and family members like the Children of God that they are, no matter how tired or stressed I may be.

I can't do it alone. Love and charity come straight from the Lord. If I want to possess those qualities, I need His help.

I know that God keeps His promises and answers our prayers. So when D&C 4 verse 7 says,

Ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you,

I know that is the Lord's way of telling me that He will give me the patience, love and peace I need at this time.

Heavenly Father is amazing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tender Mercy of the Day

Photo found here

Today has not been my best day.

I'm tired and cranky. I've snapped at my family and just want to go back to bed - but I have copies to make and a talk to write for church tomorrow. (Ahhh!) It's just not going to be the happiest of days.

I decided to put on some Mormon Tabernacle Choir music to bring my closer to God again. I turned on my computer and put on the sweet sounds of MoTab and went to check my facebook. This morning - before the crankiness set in - I posted this quote:

It is not easy to go without - without physical gratifications or spiritual assurances or material possessions - but sometimes we must since there is no guarantee of convenience written into our Christian covenant. We must work hard and do right, as Abraham Lincoln said, and sometimes our chance will come. And when we've tried, really tried, and waited for what seemed never to be ours, then "the angels came and ministered unto him." -Jeffrey R. Holland

It seems that it was just what some of my friends needed to hear today, because I had quite a few comments thanking me for posting it.

Yes, even when I am a brat, God is able to use me to do some good in the world. And that amazes me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"You Have Everything You Need To Be Happy"

I got a letter from my best friend the other day that taught me something profound. Sometimes among all the talent at BYU, I doubt the gifts God has given me and start to wonder if I really have any at all. Being my best friend, he sensed my self-doubt and shared a beautiful truth he's learned in the mission field.

I'm reminded of something they teach us as missionaries in learning the language - never compare yourself to someone else....For me, in learning Russian, I've discovered that as long as you're trying your best , you will be able at the exact level that the Lord NEEDS you to be at.

Lately I've found myself caught in what Elder Holland called, "our culture's obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are enough." My friend's observation taught me the key to escaping this miserable mindset - trusting that God gives us all that we need.

Not all that we want, but all that we need. He is omniscient and omnipotent; He could certainly give me all the musical, artistic, intellectual skills I have ever desired. But He hasn't.

He has, however, provided for all of my temporal and spiritual needs. Every time I ask in faith, He aids. And I know that despite my impractical, not-so-marketable major, my Heavenly Father will provide for my needs in His due time.

One of my mom's friends has a sign on her front door that reads, "you have everything you need to be happy." That little phrase made me wonder, would I really be any happier if I was thinner, prettier, richer, smarter, or more talented? No, I wouldn't. Happiness is based on obedience to the Lord's commandments and the attitude we choose to have. So even though I've thought that I needed all those extra things, I
not what we possess or who we impress. I don't need anything else to be happy.

I must remember to be grateful for all that I have and also be grateful that God in His infinite wisdom has not given me any more than He has.

And when I look at what He has given me, I feel the warmth of the Spirit confirm that yes, I really do have everything I need to be happy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Exploring the Canyon

The sun was shining, the flowers were blooming and it was a half day at school, so we decided to go for a walk in the canyon. And oh my, it was lovely.

The hills were covered with these purple and yellow blossoms. And with a gentle breeze rustling through them, it was like heaven on earth.

James wore his explorer gear and, of course found a walking stick.

The boys acted just a tiny bit silly.

And then we found a magical little stream.

The boys poked sticks in the mud...

...collected massive amounts of algae...

...and had a really great time.

I can't wait to go exploring with them again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Brother

Photo found here.

He'll snuggle up to Mom, but not to me.

At nine he should be a big kid, but to our family he is still the baby, and is expected to fill our daily demands for hugs and kisses and funny little one-liners.

Tonight my brother, my mom and I were snuggled up together watching a movie. "Come give us snuggles," Mom implored.

I thought the word "us" implied more than one person receiving the little guy's lovin' - but apparently he had other ideas.

James tucked himself under Mom's arm and wrapped his little arms around her in an embrace. While I watched expectantly, hoping my turn would come soon.

But it didn't.

He stayed there at Mom's side, quite unaware of the little wound he had placed in my heart. What did I do wrong? I wondered. Maybe being a sister just isn't good enough. Maybe he can only have this kind of love for Mom, and I'll just have to wait until I have little ones of my own.

But then he reached his little hand out to me. And I took it.

He squeezed my hand three times. That's code for "I love you."

I sent four squeezes back. "I love you too."

Two squeezes. "How much?"

And then one giant squeeze from me as a vain attempt to convey an amount that is constantly growing.

With a contented sigh, he closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep.

It may not be exactly what I wanted, but I'll take it.

He will be my brother for eternity, and that's plenty of time for our love to grow.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Liken the Scriptures Challenge: Week 2

"The Sermon on the Mount," by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Today marks the end of Week One of my four week challenge to apply the scriptures to my life - and it has been a beautiful experience. My scripture for week one was Alma 4:15; my focus was to have the Spirit and rely on it more. The experience was so wonderful! Having the Spirit helped me to deal with challenges in a more Godlike way, love better, forgive more freely, be happier and more productive, find more ways to serve, recognize God's hand in all things, and mostly come closer the my Father in Heaven. It transformed me and showed me many more ways in which I can improve and progress.

So now, on to Week Two!

This evening I finished re-reading one of my favorite books, "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom. (If you haven't read it, please do! It will change your life!) In it, she describes the horrors she witnessed in World War II and how Jesus Christ's Atonement can bring love and hope even in times of despair.

After finishing the book I sat for a moment in the rocking chair, looking up at this Carl Bloch painting of the Master. How is it that Christ can know all of the pain and suffering of this world, and still be so full of peace and love? How is it that He not only knows the evils of the world, but paid the price for them, atoning for some that may never even acknowledge or utilize the most painful of all human sacrifices? How is it that Jesus can freely love and forgive billions of people who caused His suffering? Oh, that I might be able to have such an ability to love and forgive those who wrong me in such small ways!

The miracle is, we can. Christ offers that gift to you, to me, to each of us. If you don't believe it, read "The Hiding Place." Read my last post. When we ask in faith, He provides. Or as Miss Ten Boom wrote, "When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."

One of the things I learned from this week of living by the Spirit and from reading "The Hiding Place" again is that I need more of this love.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said last October,

What attribute should define us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Let us be known as a people who love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and who love our neighbor as ourselves.

I don't think that love is the attribute that defines me yet. But I want it to.

And that leads me to my scripture for Week Two: 4 Nephi 1:15.

And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

There was complete peace and harmony in the land not because of a fabulous government, fancy clothes or even a Disneyland. This remarkably stable and happy society came because the people had the love of God in their hearts.

To me, the term "love of God" is two-fold. First, it means that we love God unabashedly, that we are willing to follow His will and keep His commandments no matter how long or hard the road. And secondly, it means that we have God's type of love for everyone and everything. In short, we love God and we love everything He has given us in a perfect, boundless way.

I admit, it is quite a daunting task, to learn to have this kind of love. But our God never forsakes.

I know without a doubt that Jesus Christ can teach me to love in this way. He learned how to do it when He hung dying on a cross. He taught Joseph Smith to do it when his family and followers were mocked, persecuted and driven from their homes. He taught the Ten Boom family to do it when all of Europe was scarred by war, famine, abuse and some of the most horrifying events in all of human history. He taught me a small portion of it last week when I asked Him to help me forgive those who had wounded me.

And I know that He will teach me to love in this way too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

God Tends the Broken Branches of This Tree

Well, I asked God for an opportunity to grow, and He gave me one right away. But I forgot that growing can be so painful.

Someone I trusted, admired and cared about has hurt me and rejected me. I thought our relationship was better than they thought it was. I feel embarrassed, misled and just plain hurt.

At first, that pain manifested itself as anger. I wanted to march right over to this person and punch them in the face. But remember the challenge? This week I am trying to do everything with the Spirit of the Lord, and the spirit of contention is of the devil (see 3 Nephi 11:29). I knew that if I needed the Spirit of the Lord to handle this situation in the way that God would have me do it.

And now, I can add my testimony to Alma's that the Spirit of the Lord did not fail me.

I went to God and asked Him soften my heart. I asked Him for the strength to get through this, for eyes to see the blessings amidst the hardships, for a new heart that would be able to forgive this person who has hurt me.

And He provided.

From Corrie Ten Boom, I have learned that God can help us forgive in the most terrible of circumstances. When she was rejected by the young man she loved, her father gave her this beautiful counsel.

Do you know what hurts so very much? It's love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.

God loves Karel - even more than you do - and if you ask Him, He will give you His love for this man, a love that nothing can prevent, nothing destroy. Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us the perfect way.

Like Corrie, I am asking God to help me love the person who has hurt me in God's perfect way. I know that God can replace my bitter, wounded heart with a heart full of Christlike love. I can feel the process starting. I can feel God's remarkable peace in my soul. It is beautiful.

Please don't think that I have fully healed yet. Countless times today I have felt my pulse start racing and my face get hot as my thoughts turn back to how I have been hurt. But then I catch myself, bow my head, and plead for God's grace once more. Sometimes it feels like I can only find peace for 10 minutes before my mind returns to the negative.

But I always find peace. No matter how many times I ask for help, my Heavenly Father always sends it.
He's helped me to understand that this person wasn't intentionally trying to hurt me, that they were trying to deal with the situation in the best way they knew how. It is an opportunity for both of us to grow. God has helped me to see into the heart of this person, and to recognize that I too made mistakes and own a part of this problem. God has helped me overcome the blindness of anger and see things as they really are.
It amazes me that He is right by my side during all of this. Most people have problems that are so much bigger than this little struggle of mine, and God has a whole universe of them to deal with! But He is my Heavenly Father, and I am His child. He comes to me whenever I call, even though I am so undeserving. His mercy overwhelms me.

This experience has also taught me about the importance of forgiveness. I've felt anger over this relatively small wound, and it makes me realize how angry others feel when they are faced with larger hurts like violence, abuse and killing. It is no wonder that our world is so full of hatred and war. The natural man in us wants to stay angry, hold grudges and get revenge. I am so grateful for the commandment to forgive and for a God who helps me do so. Without His divine assistance, I would not be able to forgive; bitterness and resentment would take over my life and prevent me from becoming the woman wants me to be.

It is because of Christ that I am able to find hope and joy in the midst of this trial. Even though my feelings are still hurt, I have found peace and so many reasons to rejoice. I have so many people who love me and some true friends who have stood by me through thick and thin. I have a testimony that "it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men," and that this challenge is truly part of God's plan for me. I know that Jesus Christ died so that I might be able to repent of my mistakes and use this experience to grow. I have faith that He will help change my heart so that someday I will be able to embrace this person and sincerely thank them for helping me become more like God. And most of all, I have a Heavenly Father who loves me perfectly, who never leaves me comfortless, who is turning my pain into a tutorial to teach me of His wondrous ways.

And so it is that I am able to smile through my tears and truly sing praises to the Lord.

And God tends the broken branches of this tree
He keeps His eye on every tiny leaf
And their love is a circle in ways that only God can see
As He tends the broken branches of this family tree

Monday, May 3, 2010

Liken the Scriptures Challenge

Image found here.

And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning. -1 Nephi 19:23

In my Book of Mormon class freshman year, one of our assignments was to choose a verse to apply to our lives for a week and write about the experience. I really loved it and became a better person from the experience. So...I've decided to do it again, and I invite you to join me!

I am starting my challenge today and extending it for 4 weeks. Each Monday I will pick a new scripture to apply for the week. At the end of the week, I will share my experiences with you and pick another scripture for the next week. I would love for you to share your scriptures and experiences as well. It was a fabulous experience for my class and I know it will be for you too!

The scripture I've picked for this week is Alma 4:15.

And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.

It sounds a little funky, but that last line jumped off the page at me and I knew I had to pick this one. So how will I apply this scripture to my life? I will seek the Spirit each day. I will have more faith that God will direct me to do good. I will act on whatever promptings I receive. And I think it will be fabulous.

Please join me! It's free. It's easy. It will bless your life. What do you have to lose?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I love...

*Springtime in San Diego
*Laughs with my siblings
*Watching my brother's group practice their dance to this song in the school play
*Sunshine and warm breezes
*Practicing this song and this song for the sign language performance (I promise to post videos of our performances, it will be epic!)

*Walking with this cute little boy in the mornings
*Reading the scriptures
*Skyping my far away friends
*Being home

What are you loving about spring?