Monday, December 5, 2011

Wind Storm

The area in which I live recently experienced some serious wind storms (gusts up to 100 miles an hour) which created over $8 million worth of damages to properties in one day. Looking out of my window it was in surreal to see shingles flying, fences smashed, and many, many huge trees toppled over. We were only without power for one day (I feel like a little bit of my sanity was restored when it went back on - blackouts with small children = no fun at all) and luckily there was very little damage to our property. Miraculously, there were no injuries during these storms and it is truly humbling to see damage all around and realize that amidst the chaos people were safe. However, when the winds stopped and our neighborhood began assessing damages it was evident that there was a LOT of cleanup to be done.

What I have seen over the past three days has truly made me realize the power and amazing organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. Volunteer crews were mobilized and every able-body person was put to work. Neighbors helped neighbors and all served alongside one another. Personally, I was able to make a connection with an older neighbor who has been distant as we raked and cleaned-up beside one another for hours. In a Saturday we were able to get almost all of the waste piled high in our church parking lot (which had brought in several dumpsters that were filled to overflowing). On Sunday another storm was predicted that night and the National Guard was mobilized to help with the cleanup. When they called leaders in our area it was reported that we had been able to clean up the day before, but the piles around the community needed to be secured as to not cause further damage in high winds. Churches all over the area shortened or cancelled their normal three hour time frame and all worked again to prepare for the storm.

I have often read about similar volunteer efforts happening in other places in the world, but I have never witnessed it firsthand. It was indescribably touching to watch old and young (my four year old worked so hard!) from all backgrounds working together under the church and municipal leadership in our area. LDS churches all over our communities had parking lots full of debris as a testament to the hard work and dedication of volunteers. Last night we weathered the second round of the storm and it seems that our preparation made a huge difference. I am grateful to belong to a church that teaches true doctrine and when it is time to work, lays aside church clothes for work gloves and rakes. I truly witnessed the gospel in action this weekend and am changed for the better.

Picture: My husband standing in front of the piles of debris at our church after a weekend of hard and amazing work.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Choose to be Happy Now.

This post was originally posted here. 

I remember when my husband and I were first married looking around our apartment and realizing we owned nothing new. Our couch had belonged to a member of my husband’s church. My mom had picked up our kitchen table at a yard sale and our washer and dryer were the ones that my parents had bought when they were first married more than 25 years earlier. We lived in a small apartment and hardly owned anything nice but we were really happy.

About a year into our marriage, the jealousy bug bit me. We went to visit a newly married friend in their new apartment and everything they had was gorgeous. They had chosen not to go on a honeymoon or have a reception, so they had a lot more money to decorate. I was suddenly no longer happy to just have a bed, couch and a washer of my own, I was bitter that my things weren’t as nice as theirs.

I eventually got over our apartment and went back to loving it for what it was, our first place together that we would always remember.

My husband and I have joked throughout our whole marriage that we are the unluckiest people we know. The star don’t align for us, ever usually. We worked hard all through college, often forgoing sleep to earn a little extra money or study a little longer, while many people we knew had parents paying for their college. Our jobs in college were both contingent on being students, so we lost our jobs the day we graduated, five days after we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world. The economy had begun its steep decline just months before, so it was more than 9 months before we ever saw another paycheck. I could go on and list the health problems that have plagued us and other misfortunes.

Now I don’t say any of this to make people feel sorry for us -- I am sure everybody has their share of misfortune -- but to help you understand how frustrated I was with our lives. We watch miraculous jobs fall into people's laps in their hometowns while we had to move thousands of miles away for my husband to get employment. So by the time we made it to our new house in Texas, I was bitter again. I had just left the state I had lived in all my life, my parents and my best friend to live in what I thought was the worst place in the world. After a couple of months of crying on the phone to my mom, she begged me to try to be happy. Pretend to be happy for a week and see how it goes.

That night when my husband walked into the house there was dinner on the stove and I was dancing with our baby in the kitchen. He stopped and searched my face for the tears he thought had to be hidden there but I was determined that he wasn’t going to find them, even though I was crying inside. We sat down at dinner and ended up talking and laughing for hours. As I laid down to go to bed that night, I realized that for the first time in Texas, I was genuinely happy.

Now in the two years since that night, I have had to choose to be happy over and over again.

The days that huge medical bills have landed on us, I have chosen to not let something I can’t change upset me.

On the days my child won’t stop being defiant, I have chosen to play with her and let her know how truly loved she is.

On the days I have felt like crying, I have cried and then picked myself up again and decided to be happy.

Happiness is a choice, sometimes a really hard one, but one that gets easier and more wonderful the harder you try at it. Is our life better now? In some ways, yes, but even if it isn’t, it SEEMS better because I have chosen to be happy about it.

Happiness is always a choice. Stop wasting your life away wishing for something in the future. Stop saying you will be happy when you get that raise, or you baby sleeps through the night. If you keep saying that when the deadline comes for being happy you will just find another deadline to push your happiness to. Choose to be happy and choose to be happy now. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Looking for People's Signs

This post is a little long, but it is a fantastic reminder to be kind to others because we never know what they're going through. Please check it out, it really is a sweet story.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Daughters in My Kingdom

Women in the church have always played a pivotal role, especially in caring for the temporal needs of those around them. I love learning about how important women have been in the restored church (since the time of Joseph Smith). The Relief Society leadership has just released a wonderful history, called Daughters in My Kingdom and I have been thoroughly enjoying the history and doctrine in this work. Here is a wonderful message from Sister Julie B. Beck about realizing the importance of our gifts and introducing this great book.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Great Welfare Plan

I recently read parts of Stacy McDonald's thoughtful 4 part series on "Grace Widows," or one who is an "innocent party in divorce."  Stacy goes on to say how those in the church (Christians) need to care for these women (or men) who have experienced this kind of trauma.  She also gives ideas on how to help.  I thought, yes, families surely need to be particularly supportive in this type of situation, both financially and emotionally (when able), and when that can't happen, the church needs to step in.  Of course after that, government and other community programs are very nice.

At church on Sunday, we were learning about Saul/Paul and the expansion of the early Christian church.  We were reading Acts chapter 6 verse 1:
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
What struck me was one of the reasons for the expansion of the church was the care of widows! 

Then I remembered what a great modern welfare plan The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has to care for  widows and others who need help.  I realized what a blessing it is that the organization of The Church has expanded the globe, so it is easily able to reach so many people, including widows.

I had the opportunity to work for the Welfare Department of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints for a span of 8 years.  What a marvelous opportunity it was to see the Gospel in action in this manner.  I was able to see Church work in Kosovo, response to Hurricane Mitch, the employment and food production programs, humanitarian aid, and so much more.  I will always be a "Welfare Girl," and the Welfare Department will always hold a special place in my heart.  What a wonderful program; what a wonderful place.

The Church Welfare program had it's 75th anniversary this year.  Here's a little video:

Lots more awesome videos here if you are interested.

Recapturing Beauty

Sunday was a beautiful day for me-- I enjoyed *every second* of my church meetings {which you know, as a mother, is a rare thing indeed!} but most particularly, we had a wonderful lesson in Relief Society about inner beauty. This is not a new topic, but it was presented so powerfully today, along with a challenge to participate in a 10-day recapturing beauty challenge. I have every intention of completing this challenge, and I hope some of you will consider it as well!

I know {or hope} that I am not the only one who struggles with self-image at times. We all do -- how can we not, with the media playing such a significant role in our daily lives? Of course I'm aware of those extra pounds, the freckles on my face, flat hair, etc. etc. etc. However, I have been really trying lately to see myself as the Lord sees me. He created me this way for a purpose, so I truly believe it is my obligation, and hopefully some day pleasure, to see me in the same Light that He sees me. I hope that we as women can recognize our incredible

nature, and rise above the messages thrown at us from a compromised world.

"The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It's the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years." -Audrey Hepburn

I'm excited to spend the next 10 days focusing on my inner beauty ... I hope you'll consider joining me!

Friday, May 13, 2011

We ARE Children of God

I recently learned of somebody dear to me treating themselves very badly. I'd like to avoid writing about the details but as I learned, I felt sadder than I may have ever felt in my life. I wondered what had happened to this person to make them even want to be so cruel to themselves. I cried and I prayed for their relief from what they may not even recognize as suffering. And I was beyond grateful for my understanding of the message in this simple children's hymn. We ARE all children of God. I don't know everything, but I do know that beyond any shadow of a doubt. And despite our different upbringings, trials, and circumstances... we can find peace in knowing that our bodies were not designed on accident. They were created in the imagine of God himself. They are glorified and powerful and deserve our respect.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I love this video and how inspiring this young women's simple idea is to help out those around her with a seemingly small problem. However, I know that being modest is not as easy as it sounds and I commend those that desire cover up more than the world is telling women to do so and by doing this becoming all the more beautiful. I'm not sure why the side of the video is getting cut off, so if you're having this problem, check out the original link.

Counsel with the Lord

Alma 37:37: "Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good..."

My husband and I just got married eight months ago and were living on our own for the first time. I was at the time playing tennis for a university in utah and was on scholarship when my husband and I realized that we were running out of money quickly and that my job teaching tennis and his part time job would just not be enough to carry us through the winter months. We started praying for answers and help because we did not know what to do. An answer came that was very unexpected. The answer was that I should give up my scholarship and quit tennis. We were very surprised by this and we decided to go to the temple to seek more guidance when again the answer came to quit tennis. My family is a huge tennis family, all my siblings have had scholarships in tennis to help them get through school and when I told them they were unhappy to say the least, but my husband and I felt like quitting is what Heavenly Father wanted us to do. So I quit and started my search for a job. We were very confused why i still didn't have a job almost two months later, why had Heavenly Father told me to quit tennis and not let me find a job yet? When one day I was on the job hunt when I had the idea to apply for a paid internship with a company based out of Utah, it just so happened that the day I had this idea we found out that they were hiring for a new store they were opening and needed interns to leave in less than a month. We applied for the job and I got my first interview since the beginning of the job search. As we were waiting to hear back from the company to see if we got the job or not we realized that even if we didn't get the job that there was no possible way that we could stay in our apartment, we were going to have to move out. The day we started moving out we finally heard back from the company and they said that we got the job! We were ecstatic, finally our prayers had been answered we had a source of income that we could actually build up a savings from. We set off for Florida a week later for our new job.

After we had been in Florida for a month or so we started to wonder why Heavenly Father had wanted us to get this job? Why couldn't I have just got a job in Utah? We soon realized that the Lord had a reason for us being here it just took some time to realize what it was. We thought we had it all figured out, we would go home in the summer and just go to school in Utah. Heavenly Father however had a different plan for us. I began to think about my career path and if it was what I really wanted to do or if the schooling path I had in my plans was right. We started talking about our options limiting ourselves to schools in utah because of the high cost of out of state tuition. When I found a program that would let me get my master's degree in nursing in shorter time than other programs I was interested but put off by the fact that it was located in Hawaii, and that tuition would be so expensive. When we had the idea of applying for BYU hawaii and to complete our bachelor's degrees there so that we could gain residency and then tuition wouldn't be so expensive for the master's program. Because BYU hawaii is a church school, tuition would be the same cost as going to school in Utah. The accpectance rate at BYU hawaii is a very low 13% and most of the students there are international. We had heard how difficult it would be to get accpected but we had faith that if this was the route that Heavenly Father wanted us to take we would get accepted and beat the odds. We prayed and prayed about what we should do and if moving to Hawaii was really the right move for us to make. We got our answer but not through a big, elaborate feeling but more from the feeling of peace that we felt through the whole process. Our answer we felt was confirmed when we both got accepted!

Our lives these past couple of months have been a little on the crazy side but we know that because we asked for and followed the Lord's counsel even when we couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel that our lives are going in the direction that He has for us. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to be able to get a master's degree or live in Hawaii but since we listened to Heavenly Father we are more blessed now then we have ever been. This has been a huge testimony builder for me and my husband on the importance of praying and seeking the Lord's guidance. Without Him and the gift of the Holy Ghost I can't imagine the direction our lives would be going in. I'm so grateful we have these tools and these ways to communicate with our loving Heavenly Father because I know he wants what's best for us and I know if we "Counsel with the Lord in all our doings, he will direct us for our good." Even though sometimes we do things we know we're supposed to without knowing 100 percent why we are, it will always work out for the best.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Broken Washer

"But behold, I ... will show unto you that the tender mercies of

the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their

faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

1 Nephi 1:20

A few weeks ago, after the expenses of moving to a new home we realized that our washing machine was leaking water from underneath. My brave husband checked the bottom of the washer and after discovering a plethora of bugs, he also found that he had no idea how to fix the problem. We decided that we should probably call a repairman since our piles of dirty clothes were quickly multiplying.

Our repair team soon arrived and after looking at the machine for about five minutes they determined that it was probably cheaper to buy a new machine than to fix the problem. While I was trying to muster the resolve to fork out more money, the repairman stopped and asked if we knew about the problem with our heating flue vent that was directly above the washer. After saying that I didn't he quickly explained that there was a sizable hole in it and it was probably leaking carbon monoxide into our home. Because of his willingness to tell us of a problem we were able to get heating specialists in our home that day and after the flue collapsed when they were inspecting it they were able to quickly rebuild a safe one.

After the initial shock of having a carbon monoxide leak and the extreme danger this posed to my family, I have been humbled to remember the hand of the Lord in my life. Even though I didn't initially see the broken washer as a blessing, I realize that this repair's timing was a tender mercy to keep my family safe. I am grateful that I am not in this life alone, but that Heavenly Father continues to watch over each one of us.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Earthly Tabernacles

A professor at Utah State University begins each semester by showing a series of architectural marvels. He speaks about the amazing strength of the design and the workmanship in the building of these masterpieces. This is probably not an unusual occurrence in a classroom, however this is for a class on human anatomy. He concludes his architectural showcase by explaining that however amazing these structures are, the human body is infinitely more complex and perfectly made.

It amazes me to think about the things our bodies can do, and just do do, all of the time. In this age when so many of us criticize ourselves for not looking precisely like an airbrushed magazine I think that we need to teach our children and ourselves to truly appreciate the amazing gift of bodies that we have been given (as these great researchers have pointed out, "negative self talk" about ourselves is not only depressing, but actually has other detrimental results).

I know I do not have the "perfect" body by the world's standards, but I have really started thinking about how blessed I am. Some of the small things that I have been noticing that I usually take for granted are: singing lullabies, typing, playing instruments, walking, hugging, tasting delicious foods, hearing laughter, breathing (I'm not totally taking this for granted after just having a baby with croup!), a beating heart, and seeing others' smiles. I am certainly not saying that we don't want to make our body as healthy as we can through eating right and exercise, I just hope that we can all take a step back and really think about the gifts given to us by our Father in Heaven.

Monday, January 31, 2011

We Seek After These Things...

The Articles of Faith outline 13 basic points of belief of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first wrote them in a letter to John Wentworth, a newspaper editor, in response to Mr. Wentworth's request to know what members of the Church believed. They were subsequently published in Church periodicals. They are now regarded as scripture and included in the Pearl of Great Price.

If I could leave one message for my children, I think it would be this. And I don't think I could say it any better. The message comes from the 13th article of faith which reads, "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous. And in doing good to all men. Indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul. We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." There just really is no room for darkness in our lives.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Daughters in My Kingdom

I was reviewing Sister Julie Beck's great talk from our last General Relief Society Meeting and I was struck with the warnings she gives. I know that this is a long quote, but I thought that it was very interesting, she says, "

Because we are living in the last days of this earth, there are signs of a great struggle everywhere. Myths and misperceptions regarding the strength, purpose, and position of Latter-day Saint women abound. Prevailing myths imply that we are of lower importance than men, that we are generally sweet but uninformed, and that no matter what we do, we will never be enough to be accepted by our Heavenly Father. As the Apostle Peter said, there are “false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denyingthe Lord that bought them.”

The Book of Mormon describes what is happening: “For behold, at that day shall [Satan] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security,that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.“And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains.”

In the growing climate of entitlement, excuse, apathy, and enticement, daughters of God who are not watchful, prayerful, and inspired are increasingly at risk of becoming what the scriptures describe as “silly women” who worship a variety of “strange gods.” Sadly, as a result of life’s difficulties and the world’s popular heresies, many sisters believe the myths more than the truth. Their misalignment with God’s plan is demonstrated in findings that many are not doing essential things such as praying and reading scriptures. The Lord Himself has said that “this is a day of warning, and not a day of many words.”"
Looking over those myths I have to admit that I have let myself believe at least some of them at different points in my life. Sister Beck goes on to say that reviewing our history with the great women that our church has had will strengthen us in these days. I know that for myself looking to other strong women has taught me more than just about anything else concerning who I want to become. I know that Heavenly Father expects amazing things from His daughters and I know that through the gospel we can deliver what he needs for us to do.

For Sis. Beck's full article check out this link.