Monday, October 21, 2013

Missionary Mondays and other habits I would love to create on this blog but probably won't because hey, I stink at keeping up with stuff like this

Last week, Tyler and I finally gave our first 'married people' talk.  As in, we both talked, and got to introduce ourselves and had the same topic and had to coordinate with each other so that we didn't say the exact same thing.  I was pretty grateful for the topic because it was one that I have been thinking about for a while now and it is something that I am excited to try and implement more in my life.  I managed to cry through 99% of it (shocker) and Tyler managed to work a story about hand guns and off roading in.  I'd say we followed the spirit.

I want to share an edited for blogging purposes version because when I finished this talk, I sat down and my heart was all, 'Nailed it.'  I can't remember feeling that way too many times about a talk.  I tend to second guess myself or sit down and think 'I should have said...' but this talk, this talk was different.

So here goes.

Tyler and I spent the summer up in Alaska working, and while up there, we had the opportunity to have a special conference with Elder Maynes of the seventy.  He shared a story that I have not been able to get out of my head.  Here is the reader's digest version.

This is Elder Maynes in case you wanted a visual.  You are welcome.

In the Texas, San Antonio Mission, the mission President was struggling with transfer calls.  He had made all of the changes, and ended up with these two cow boy missionaries from Utah being together.  He wasn’t so sure about that so he went about rearranging the missionary companionships again, only to discover that he was again left with the same two cowboys as companions.  After organizing the companionships a third time, with the same two elders ending up together in the exact same area, he decided that it must be the Lord’s will and let it go.

Around the same time, a widow, Angela (name changed for no other reason than I cannot remember her real name), who lived on a ranch in the area that these two elders were being called to, had recently returned from a vacation.  She could have gone anywhere in the world, but she chose to visit a dude ranch in Montana, which, of all things, was owned and operated by a member of the church, Brother Smith (see side note for Angela).  Angela had spent two weeks with Brother Smith’s recently returned from the mission field son and his nephew, also a returned missionary.  She enjoyed her time so much with them, that she sent a letter, along with a $50 check for a tip, thanking Brother Smith for her pleasant stay at their ranch.

 For whatever reason, Brother Smith had his missionary hat on that day. Perhaps he had just had a talk like the one I am giving right now, but he wrote her a letter back and told her it was a pleasure to have her at his ranch, and he sent her the check back.  He asked if he could buy an hour of her time with her own money and asked if he could send two missionaries to her door.  He told Angela she would recognize them because they would look much like his son and nephew.  She agreed and of course Brother Smith saw to it that two missionaries-these two cowboys from Utah, were to visit her.  They taught her, they served her, and she was baptized.

 I can’t quite explain why this story has been on my mind so much, except that I feel it has been on the mind of the Prophet and his apostles too.  We have been asked to step up our game, to prepare ourselves, and to share the gospel with those around us.  Just this last weekend, Elder Ballard said, “We are not asking everyone to do everything.  We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just ‘one’ between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And what a wonderful gift to the Savior.’

An essential part of being member missionaries is the gift of the Holy Ghost.  While He is the great comforter, He is also the great uncomfortable maker.  It is He who whispers to us in those uncomfortable moments that we should probably say something.  It is He who prompts us to speak up, to say something, to inspire and to defend the faith.  In an uncertain world, we need the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, not just our Sunday buddy.  While He will direct us to our own safety and for our own spiritual benefit, and that is important, He will also help us to know how to share the message of the restored gospel with those around us.

In Oct 2010 Priesthood session, Elder Eyring said the following- ‘As the humble servants of the Savior, we should pray for the manifestations of the Holy Ghost to come to us in our service and to those we serve.  Humble prayer to our Heavenly Father, in deep faith in Jesus Christ, is essential to qualify us for the companionship of the Holy Ghost.’  It is important that we are praying for opportunities to serve and to seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost in those service opportunities.

While attending school at BYU, I was called to be part of the presidency of the Relief Society in my student ward.  It was a very tumultuous time for me.  I had experienced some very trying things and deep heart ache in the weeks preceding my call and I felt as though the calling was well beyond my ability. My bishop encouraged me to seek the Holy Ghost in my daily life and promised me that if I did, I would be able to serve those around me faithfully and fully.  I began to make prayer and scripture study a part of my daily routine.  I was unsure if it was really working, but I continued to keep those habits and hoped that they would pay off.

    About a month later I came home from a particularly exhausting day.  I was in my senior cohorts before student teaching and there was a lot of work involved.  I had a paper due by midnight (which is a cruel thing to do to a university student)  and as I came home I thought I might take a little nap before tackling the paper.  As I laid down, the thought came to me that something might come up and I should just set about working on my paper so that I was free later that evening.  I was the queen of procrastination, but this thought felt important, so I went about writing my paper.  I finished around 6 o’clock.  About twenty minutes after I finished it, I received a phone call from a friend.  Something had happened and she needed me.  I did not know what to say, the situation was complex, but the words were given me.  In 2 Nephi 32, Nephi says ‘For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.’   While it was a simple act, I knew that because I had finished that paper, I was opened up to be able to serve her and while her problems were not solved that night, I was given the words to say to help her to feel the love of the Savior.  That entire year was filled with such experiences for me.  As I put the Lord first, as I sought after his Spirit and qualified for his blessings, I was guided to situations where I was needed.

When we have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we are better able to serve those around us.  It doesn’t mean that our To-Do list will get any smaller, but it does mean that our ability to share the gospel, to serve those around us, and to love our neighbor will be greater.  We will be able to perceive those perfect moments to share a testimony, and we will be able to lift others as we lift ourselves.

It can be difficult to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost if we are allowing other things to cloud our judgement.  When we allow our To-Do list to fill with mindless and meaningless tasks, we detract from what the Lord would have us do.  Sister Beck, in Conference of April 2010 said the following. “ The ability to qualify for, receive an act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. Qualifying for the Lord’s Spirit begins with a desire for that Spirit and implies a certain degree of worthiness.  Keeping the commandments, repenting and renewing covenants made at baptism lead to the blessing of always having the Lord’s Spirit with us.  Making and keeping temple covenants also adds spiritual strength and power to our lives.  Many answers to difficult questions are found by reading the scriptures because the scriptures are an aid to revelation.  Insight found in scripture accumulates over time, so it is important to spend some time in the scriptures every day. Daily prayer is also essential to having the Lord’s Spirit with us.  Those who earnestly seek help through prayer and scripture study often have a paper and pencil nearby to write questions and record impressions and ideas.”

 My uncle was called to be a mission president in the Brazil, Campinas mission in 2001.  In April of 2002, the temple held its open house and thousands of people walked the halls of the temple, took tours and spoke with missionaries.  In each walk through, a short video was shown explaining the importance of temples for Latter Day Saints.  In ever one of these viewings, the sister missionaries were instructed to stand at the back and watch the faces of those in the room.  My Uncle explained that they always had sister missionaries do it because it was so important a task that they couldn't trust the elders with it. :) They were promised that if they followed the Holy Ghost, they would know which people they should talk to, which families would be prepared and ready for the gospel.  They were not allowed to proselyte, but they could answer questions and ask if people wanted to hear more about the gospel. Hundreds of referrals were given to the missionaries all throughout the country. In the year following the temple dedication, hundreds were brought to the gospel because the missionaries, led by the spirit, spoke to those who were prepared by the Lord for the message that the gospel brings. Brothers and sisters, what if they hadn't been worthy?

We too can feel that spirit directing us to those ready for the gospel.  The prophet himself declared, “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.”

If we are worthy of the Holy Ghost, we will know when those precious moments will arise. I have fumbled my fair share of gospel conversations, don’t get me wrong, but if we are worthy of His companionship it won’t matter what we say.  I served in the great mission Chile, Osorno.  I would never describe myself as an amazing missionary.  I wish I could tell you that millions, or thousands or even a few dozen were brought to a knowledge of the gospel because of my service, but I can’t.  I learned one very important lesson on my mission though.  Struggling through culture shock and language barriers I learned that if it is the right moment, if those we are sharing the gospel with are truly prepared, it won’t matter how broken our language, how brute our words, or how awkward the circumstance, if we are speaking by the spirit, and they are listening by the spirit, than our words will be the right ones.

The Lord has said ‘And now verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good- yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;’  His thoughts are echoed by Elder Eyring, ‘Whether we are called to teach the gospel by the Spirit, or go with the Holy Ghost to those with feeble knees and hands that hang down.  Our...service will be strengthened, people will be blessed, and the light of heaven will be there.  The light of heaven will be there for us as well as for those we serve.  We may be tired.  Our own and our family’s troubles may loom large. But there is a blessing of encouragement for those who serve under the influence of the Spirit….We don’t have to use soaring language or convey deep insights.  Simple words of testimony will do.  The Spirit will give you the words for you to speak and will carry them down into the hearts of humble people who look for truth from God.”




I am so grateful for my testimony of the gospel, for the gift of the Holy Ghost and most importantly for missionary work.  If it weren't for two young missionaries knocking on my mother's door, I would not be here.  I know this is the work of the Lord.


Nailed it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Defining moments...and stuff

I started two Pintrest boards recently, one was called Baby Boy, and the other Baby Girl.  Under their description I wrote: "This is not an announcement, just cute ideas."  I wanted to be sure nobody jumped to any conclusions.  Not that I'm opposed to kids, but...you know...


I'm terrified.

When we moved into a married ward, it didn't take long for people to hint around our timing for having kids.  Nobody down right asks you any more when you want to have kids, but they will casually ask about future goals.  The answer I have stuck with (because it makes people uncomfortable and they therefore do not want to ask any more questions) is the following 'We will have kids when I don't feel like I will burst into tears the second I find out I'm pregnant'.  Yeah...I'm that girl.

The truth is I have been thinking about it since we had been married three months.  Tyler and I have talked about having kids- A LOT!  We want our timing to be the Lord's timing and we have prayed about it, but part of why I am so scared is that I am not sure what kind of mom I will be able to be.   Will I be too soft?  Will I be to mean?  Will I care too much and be all up in their biz-nass?  Will I be so focused on myself and what I want to do that I won't notice them growing up until they are gone?


Each question brings more questions which just makes me feel like I am not ready.

Then last April, the principal at my school asked me to stay after a staff meeting.  For those of you who don't know (or don't keep up with every intimate little detail of my life and keep a journal of your thoughts on my life choices) I teach for an online academy which means- I teach in my p.j.s!  Its great...sometimes, but this whole last year has been really difficult for me.  I miss being in front of students, I miss interacting with kids.  Heck I even miss yelling at classrooms full of unsuspecting wide eyes who thought they could get away with something.  I MISS interaction.  What is interesting is that my principal had been hired as the principal of a new high school in our district, the gifted high school and she wanted me to know that there was a full time, in school position available for a Spanish teacher.

I stopped breathing for a minute.

Its what I had wanted, its something I had longed for, it was something that was great...FOR ME.  But then my mind started racing through all of the conversations that Tyler and I had had about kids.  Being in a building was great, but it wouldn't have supported our choice for me to be home with our future children that we plan on having sometime before I turn 40.  With the online school I can still work full time to support our family while Tyler is still in school AND I can be home with our minions.  I agonized over this decision for about a month.  Externally I had made the decision to not apply, but internally I still thought about the 'what ifs' and the 'wouldn't it be nice ifs'.

I was asked to help with EOC testing (which stands for End of Course in case you didn't know) the next month and lo and behold it was being held at this recently completed high school.  I got my testing all set up and then took a few moments to walk the school.  It was beautiful, it was perfect and brand new and everything you could ever hope for in a work place, but as I walked the hallways of this dream, the thought settled over me until it touched every part of me.  'This isn't what is best for my family.'  And then all desire for me to teach there had vanished.

Then I thought 'Whoa...I just made an adult decision...based on what was best for my future children.'

Creepy.

I'm not saying that I now feel ready for child rearing- I still struggle feeling like I am ready to have children.  But that one intsy-teensy moment helped me feel like something in me would always help me to know what is right, that I would have that 'mom-spidey-sense'. I believe that in each of us there is an inherent capability to do the right thing and I am excited to watch as that capability becomes more apparent to me and more clear in my capacity as a mother.  I hope I will be the type of mom that I want to be, the type of mom that my kids deserve.

But just so we are clear, Tyler will be changing all the diapers.

What if my children look like this????

Monday, September 2, 2013

Moving in, starting over, and loving every minute of it...

So I've been pretty silent for quite a while.  I've been struggling to find my voice outside of single-dom, but I've decided not to let that stop me.

I have a lot to catch up on, but instead of trying to do that before moving on I thought I'd start from where I am! 

Tyler and I moved into a new place right before we left.  And by moved in I mean the boxes made it as far as the living room where they spent the whole summer collecting dust.  We spent the whole summer in Alaska, so there was no time to unpack before we left.  We drove the ALCAN (a subject for another post) and then have spent the last week (between school meetings and getting ready for a new school year) putting it all together.  We have been REALLY trying not to buy things that are specific to each place we live. (ie: This place needs a lamp, that place needs another bookshelf)  Its pretty hard!  But it is one way that we are trying to cinch our belts and live within our means.  And let me tell you, that is TOUGH!

Tyler all tuckered out after a long day of unpacking and working.
The place still has a lot of work that needs to be done, but its nice working side by side with the love of my life and my best bud.  Tyler and I have spent more time together in the last two months than the whole first year of our marriage, and I have got to tell you, I like it! 

Moving closer to Tyler's school so that we wouldn't spend so much time apart was a tough decision.  We liked our place, but we made the tough call last year.  Since we got here, we've spent quite a bit of time exploring, and quite frankly, we really like it!  The community is adorable, grocery stores are a walk away, several parks are near and we have taken to going on walks- something I highly recommend.

Life is good.  Our place isn't perfect, we don't have any friends over here yet, but we are hopeful!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

367 and counting!

Well we made it!  A year ago, we were doing this...


I cannot believe it has been a year.  It has been the shortest, most happy year of my life and I am so very grateful for every lesson we have learned together.  My husband is the most patient and forgiving person I have ever met and I am so glad that I will be spending an eternity with him.

I promise I will be posting more regularly, but for now, I just wanted to say publicly that I AM STILL IN LOVE!! :)

Puppies and candy canes y'all!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why I neglected my blog for over a month and other musings...

Okay so I've been gone for a while, and I have no legitimate excuse except that I have been busy.  How busy?  Well, I have been doing a lot of this...

Sorry for a picture of my foot...

And we also did this...





And while in Hawaii we did this...



I can't find a different picture that actually shows you the hike, but google Stairway to Heaven Oahu and you'll see it.  It is illegal, so you have to start at 3am in order to beat the guard that won't allow you up.  It is 3200 stairs from bottom to top, an elevation gain of almost 3,000 feet and pretty terrifying since you are right on the edge of a mountain the whole time.


It's okay, you can be jealous.

I'm not going to lie, my life is pretty amazing right now.  Tyler and I were talking last night and I thought out loud, 'You know, we have it pretty easy.'  Other than not having enough time to do everything we want and need to do, we don't really have any huge trials right now...which I know I should knock on wood about, but I want to be a grateful person, so I want to talk about it.

I feel so relieved by the life I lead.  For the longest time I had so many 'what ifs' and 'could have beens' and all sorts of worries, and the more Tyler and I are together, the more they slip away.  He helps carry the burdens of my life and makes me happy!  Or maybe he just makes it hard not to be...  Either way, it is great.

Do you have people like that in your life?  What is it about them that makes them the best partner in crime?

I am trying to get back in to the groove of life, so hopefully I can be more consistent.

But if I'm not, you should just assume I'm in Hawaii.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Its cool, I'm totally perfect

When I was single, I had a lot of misconceptions about what married life would bring.  I remember thinking what a catch I was (super humble I know) and thinking that the guys I dated must be morons, because I had everything to offer.  I can remember many a time crying to my mom, my sisters, my best friends, my roommates, and just about anyone else who would listen about how frustrating it was to know that I would be a great wife and not be able to prove it through action....I could go on, but the gist of it is, I was an idiot.

I am by no means a catch.  For so many years I hid behind the fa├žade of 'these boys don't know what they are missing' and used it to avoid doing what I should have been doing all along- fixing myself.  I was, for a long time, a chronic project seeker when it came to dating.  I would seek out men who were great, except for that HUGE elephant they would drag along with them whereever they went.  I would take one look at that elephant and say, 'I cannot wait to dress you up and make you look so attractive and talk myself into thinking that you are the only elephant for me!'  In dating men who needed fixing, I got to ignore the fact that I myself was broken.  It was easier than looking myself in the mirror and saying 'You aren't married because you have so many flaws.' (I am by no means saying that at the first sign of baggage you should throw in the towel because, lets face it, WE ALL HAVE BAGGAGE!)

When Tyler and I had been married for about a month and a half, these flaws started to rear their ugly heads.  Tyler has never said a word, he wouldn't.  He is the type of person who loves without expecting anything in return, but I could tell that if this whole marriage thing was going to work, I needed to do something.  (side note: I have the best husband ever and in my eyes he is perfect in every way)

In the last eight months, I have had to take a long hard look in the mirror and say, 'Okay...its time I do this.'  My flaws are quite simple.  I am selfish.  I have no self control.  I am horrible at creating spiritual habits that will be a strength to my marriage and my family. I tend to blame others when things go wrong instead of looking at myself and seeing the origin of the problem.  I hate to work out and I love to eat.  They aren't things that terrorize the neighborhood, but slowly, surely, the peck away at who I am. 
 

This video brings me so much hope.  We each have been given mountains to climb whether they be personal or mountains that we climb with others.  These mountains can seem so debilitating at times, so impassable that we just want to give up, but through the gospel of Jesus Christ, mountains are overcome, habits are changed, hearts are turned and people are redeemed.

Now I am not suggesting that we must be perfect creatures.  We all know how very impossible that is. I recently read this article about the girl who burned her hair off in the Youtube video that helped me to put all of this self reflection and work in perspective.  It is so easy for us to be so afraid of making a mistake that we fail to be human, but I love what Dr. Flanagan says at the very end

Our cracks are the place our light gets out. The world doesn’t need another perfect person; it needs the light pouring out of every one of your mistakes.
 So while we should do everything we can to climb those mountains, we should always keep in mind that whatever we can't do for ourselves, the Savior makes up the difference.  His sacrifice allows me, as imperfect as I am, to be with Him forever.  I am so grateful to have met a man who is blind to my flaws.  Without Tyler, I sincerely don't know what I would do.  He lets me win when he knows I need it, and he tells me I'm wrong when its important.  He sees me for who I will someday be, and not the mess of a person I am.  His love makes me stronger, and with his help and the help of the Savior, I can climb any mountain.

But don't make me share my Oreos...because that is a flaw I am not willing to give up...


Monday, January 28, 2013

Kids say the darndest things

 


My students are required to set goals at the beginning of each semester about how they will become 'Life Long Learners'.  I love the assignment, even though a lot of them don't take it very seriously.  At the end of the semester, they have to report on what they have done to become a life long learner, and what they will do differently.  While grading today, I got this response:


To become a life-long Spanish learner, I have been reading some Spanish picture books I got from the local library. Although I couldn't understand much sometimes, it did help me practice some words I knew. In the future, I want to converse more with my Spanish friends. They, after all, know much more of/about it than I ever will. Also, I have always wanted to visit Spain. I think that seeing these things firsthand and being able to be in a place where it's all about Spanish might really help me grow as a Spanish student. Another thing is, I really need help with my hearing. I am not as good as picking up Spanish words as I am at reading them. To get better at this, I think I'll watch some Spanish films/movies. I tried doing that before, but since I was a newbie, I didn't understand much. Now, I think I can watch some little kid movies where they go, "Hola! Queiro tu amigo! Lalalalalala." << I'm sure I can understand that. There are so many professions that require multiple languages. It's amazing how much you can do with an extra language. Jobs like translators (translating for people), missionaries (being able to talk to people in their own language is always a comfort), doctors (treating patients that aren't English), journalists (spying on people who are speaking a different language so nobody catches their secrets) and many more can use the help of an extra language any day. Also, if you know another language, your friends will double (probably - I'm not making any promises), because who doesn't like chatting with your friend and seeing people go "Whaaaaat?" You'll be able to converse with more people and also understand more around you - many people speak Spanish. Personally, it's cool to know another language. Almost all of my friends are English, Russian or Spanish - and now I'll be able to converse with all of them! 


You might not think it is that funny, but I could not stop laughing.  I hated the switch from High School down to Middle School, but the change is starting to grow on me.