Saturday, December 8, 2012

To every thing there is a season...

I am not very good about making time to post too many things on here.  I feel like the last few months have really just been a whirlwind of events and emotions.  But I'll do my best to include a few highlights.

First, I've been thinking a lot about how important it is to give ourselves time.  I went to a fantastic teaching conference this week that focused on deeper understanding and how to help students truly be prepared for the real world.  It's not just about being able to rush through an assignment to be the first one done.  It's not about being able to talk about your ideas as soon as the teacher asks you to.  It's so much more than that--and for now, my feeling is that true understanding is about time.

When we are children, it takes time to learn how to crawl, how to walk, how to speak, how to hold utensils ourselves, and even how to understand our place in the world.  And for every child, that timing is different. 

When we are teenagers, it takes time to learn how to prioritize our time, how to perfect a skill or hobby, how to write a research paper, and again, how to understand our place in the world.  For every teenager, that timing is different.

When we are adults, it takes time to learn how to live on a budget, how to land a rewarding job, how to be a good companion, how to take care of our children, and again, how to understand our place in the world.  For every adult, that timing is different.

And yet I find myself every single day wishing I could measure up to so-and-so, wishing I had perfected certain skills at such-and-such age, wishing I were the perfect companion and the most inspiring teacher and the best mom in the world.  I find myself running from one event to another, one service project to another, one stack of papers to grade to another, one website telling me how to raise the best kids to another...and I find myself quite exhausted.

My point?  I'm recognizing--again, because if you know me at all, you know this is a recurring lesson in my life--that I need to give myself time to just BE.  Deeper understanding of myself is going to come if I give myself time to spend doing one thing, rather than just running from one thing to the next faster than I can even think about it.  Deeper understanding of my relationship with others is going to come as I spend more time with them--not just trying to make the perfect Christmas gifts for them.  Deeper understanding of my relationship with God is going to come through quiet and still moments when I get to think about Him, not running from one event to another and trying to be the perfect Christian woman.  Deeper understanding of my role in this world is going to come not just through trying to be perfect at everything all at once, but at working hard in the simpler, more important areas of life--focusing on my family, particularly.

I can so easily figure these things out for other people, and I am really great at telling others they should take a day off, relax, and let themselves enjoy the day.  And still I struggle with the same thing.  But this past week, after a major emotional breakdown--they weren't kidding when they said pregnancy hormones make you crazy--I realized I just can't do it all.  I can't keep trying to be perfect, I can't keep trying to do everything the way other people want me to, and I can't put other people before myself all the time.  *I realize that, out of context, this would seem like a very selfish statement...but I'm hoping it's understandable to those who really are reading...*

And as the year is winding down and I'm refocusing on the Savior, my family, and my relationships with them, I am really trying to work on taking real time to be with them.  There will be times later when I can run around and do whatever is asked of me.  But for now, I just need the time to be still.

One thing that always helps me feel calm and refocused is the reminder that Christ was born—simply and without pomp and circumstance—and that because of His deep and ever-growing understanding of His relationship with His Father and with others, He was able to bless the lives of every person who has ever lived.  

In other news, I feel SO excited about Christmas this year—more so than I have felt in a long time.  I don’t really know what else to attribute that feeling to than the fact that I am 7 months pregnant and feel so much more an understanding of what Mary must have felt like.  Certainly our circumstances are different.  But because of a few choice experiences I’ve had in the last two years, and especially during the last few months, I am gaining a much greater appreciation for her struggle and sacrifice.  The things I used to think about having children—which I’ll tell you were never negative, but full of excitement and sacredness—have all been added upon.  (Line upon line, precept upon precept…that’s really how we learn, isn’t it?)  I feel like I’m part of something so much bigger than myself, much bigger than anyone can understand without going through it themselves.   I am in awe every day at what a privilege I’ve been given, and my heart goes out to the thousands of women who want the same opportunity and just have not had it yet.  I feel so much joy when I can feel our little baby moving, and I just can’t imagine how incredible it will feel to finally be able to hold him in my arms.  I have this beautiful painting hanging in our bedroom, and it is called, “Hope.”  For me, it perfectly connects the power and majesty of Jesus Christ’s birth with the sacredness of all children.  Especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed at the thought of completely rearranging my life and changing so many things I’m doing, I am able to look at this painting and feel a sense of reassurance and peace that things are going to work out—and work out for the better.   What greater word could describe the feelings of a mother than “hope?”

We have also decided on a name for our little boy, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with it.  After long debates over initials and giving him the same name as several of my current students (ooooh boy), we finally decided on a name much more unique and perfectly suited for him.  And the drumroll please…

                                                    Audric Peter Singer

Some of you, like my mother, may be thinking, “Uh, so, did you make that name up?  How do you spell that?  Does it mean anything?”  So here are the answers:

No, we didn’t make the name up.  You can Google it yourself.  I’m sure you’ll find it.  We first saw it in a baby name book, and I was immediately drawn to it.  I’ve always loved Cedric, but Jordan couldn’t get past Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter…so that one was out.  However, I still wanted something more traditional but not as common as Henry and George and Oliver (which I feel like everyone these days is using!).  When I saw Audric, I got really excited…and it has just stuck.  We didn’t want his first name to have any connection to anyone or anything else…it should be his own.  So this was perfect. (But joke's on Jordan: Audric sounds like "Godric," as in Godric Gryffindor.  Harry Potter wins again!  Muahaha)

His name means, “wise and noble ruler,” according to the baby name book we have.  It comes from Great Britain, although some websites, I’m told, say the name is Germanic and French.  All the better.  Bring on the European culture ;-*

His nickname, of course, will be Audie.  Not ow-dee (like the car), but odd-dee (minus the “odd” part).  Jordan, however, insists on calling him Otter (say it out loud—it’ll make more sense).  We already read and sing and talk to him, and he seems to like his name.  When I read him Peter Rabbit for the first time, he actually started squirreling around…so I think he likes Peter, too.

Peter is a name that does have a lot of meaning to us.  We’ve decided all our kids’ middle names will be “legacy names” with some kind of connection to people who have made a difference in the world in some way.  Simon Peter, Peter Rabbit, Peter Pevensie, Peter Burke, Peter Jennings…the list could go on and on.  Some of these are obviously more important to us, but some are just men with a really great name ;-*  Either way, Audie has a lot of great role models to look up to.

So there you have it folks.  Get to know him—he’s gonna conquer the world.  I can already feel it.

I thought it would be a good idea in this post to include some pictures from the Sunbeam Halloween party we had at our house back in October.   Everyone knows a good Halloween party includes great costumes, donuts on a string, pin-the-bowtie-on-the-skeleton, fishing for candy, musical chairs, cookie decorating, and a mummy wrap.  This party had all that and more.  The four kids who came to our party were HILARIOUS, and it was so much fun to play with them!  Anyway, here are some pictures for your enjoyment:


Ah, we love our callings.  It has certainly been a learning experience for us to work with such young kids, but we're enjoying it.  

And with that, I will end this very long book.  Thanks for sharing a piece of our lives with us ;-*

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Changing Relationships

Pregnancy is a funny thing.  You hear all the time that it will make you moody and might even break out in massive tears for seemingly no reason at all.  But I'm here to tell you about what really happens when you have a little something growing inside you:

EVERY relationship you've ever had is drastically changed.

For example, my toilet has now become my best friend.  I'm getting to know him on a very close, face-to-face basis.  He no longer only knows me from the backside.  The toilet in our master bathroom is named Fred.  I happen to like him better than Billy-Joe, who sits in our front bathroom.  I only see Billy-Joe when I've had enough calories and a few hours since waking up to get me to that part of the apartment (which, mind you, is less than 1200 sq. feet).  On the other hand, Fred has been there for me through thick and thin.  We have our little get-togethers at all times of day--early morning, mid-afternoon, post-dinner-pre-dessert time, and yes, my favorite, it's-the-middle-of-the-night-and-I've-been-shaken-awake-again-from-my-sweet-husband's-shifting-in-bed-so-now-I-think-I'm-going-to-be-sick moments.  Truly, I think I see Fred more often than I see Jordan...and that's maybe becoming a problem.

Not only has my toilet gotten to know a different side of me, but I have developed a bosom-friend relationship with Mr. Bucket.  Yes, for those days when kneeling on the bathroom floor for so long has made my legs fall asleep, I crawl back to bed and let Mr. Bucket keep me company.  Much like Fred, Mr. Bucket knows me inside and out.  I'm not sure how many times he's been sprayed and washed clean with our lemon-fresh Lysol cleaner, but I do know there is a distinct lemony-yuck smell developing in said bucket.  I'm not sure if the lemony-yuck is more from lemon being too strong for me now, or if it has to do with the yuck that's been in there between lemon washes...

My toaster and my microwave have been pleased with my constant use of their masterful cooking abilities.  I think in the last two years, I have used the toaster a total of 15 or 20 times.  In the last twelve weeks, I have used said toaster about 4 times a day.  Thank you, Mom, for teaching me the BRAT diet--bananas, rice, applesauce, toast--which works great for nausea.  Unfortunately, the only thing in that list that sounds appealing to me in the slightest degree is toast.  So, Mr. Toaster, please don't break on me.  I need your toasting power.  Microwave--I can't live without my nightly Cream-of-Wheat, so please keep functioning.  It takes far too long to cook that stuff over the stove, and you're doing a great job.

My relationship with my couch has become one full of love as well as one full of hate.  The couch provides me with a reason to get out of bed.  It also provides me with hours and hours of Olympic celebration.  However, the footsteps from my bed to the couch are around 20--or 40 if it's a particularly slow and nauseas day--and that's only half the exercise I need to be getting every day.  (Please don't stress about this; I promise, I am fully aware that I need more exercise than 40 steps a day.  And normally I would be thrilled to do that exercise.  But under these circumstances...don't. mess. with. me.)  I hate that our couch isn't quite cushy enough to feel soft and cozy for naptime--but I love that it makes me take shorter naps.

Pajamas are a thing of the past.  I'm ready for nightgowns and mu-mu's.  I cannot ever get comfortable with layers and layers of clothes under layers and layers of blankets (which I need because I like to sleep in cold air), and it's starting to show.  I wake up countless times each night, and each time, I see that my pajama bottoms have crept lower and lower down my legs.  Sometimes they are even kicked off and hiding somewhere in the sheets.  Gross?  Yes, of course.  I'm pregnant and chubby and sleeping half naked.  But come on!  What else am I supposed to do?

The refrigerator has become meaningless.  It once filled me with ideas.  Now I just waste energy staring into it as though something with "value" is going to pop out for me.  Don't get me wrong--our fridge is completely stocked full of fruits, veggies, and pastas etc. we've made in the last few days.  But after Day 1 of any food, I can't take it again.  After leaving the grocery store with any vegetable, I can't take it anymore.  After picking up the fruit from the crisper drawer, I can't take it anymore.  When I finally realize the fridge is not going to offer any help, I move on to the pantry.  The situation there is even worse.  I wasn't kidding when I said the only appealing food right now is toast and Cream-of-Wheat.  Sometimes boxed Mac-n-Cheese.  YUCK.  I'm disgusted that I've eaten even a tablespoon of that stuff.  And yet, when I want something tasty and out of my "ordinary," I jump for joy when Jordan suggests Mac-n-Cheese.  And I've done that far too many times this summer.

My poor child.  She must be thinking I'm a nutcase.  And that I have no taste buds.  Oh no...I'm going to give birth to one of those kids who's SO picky about food they won't even try a different kind of bread. And it's going to be all my fault for not eating normal food during all this.  Oh my heck. relationship with human beings has been just fine.  So far, Jordan has not had any major injuries caused by my mood swings or pregnancy amnesia, where I forget completely that he's my husband and not an axe murderer.  (And don't worry about that either.  It hasn't actually happened.  Except in dreams.)  In fact, I'd say we might even be closer than before.  So regardless of the constant little reminders to husbands in pregnancy books we have that say, "Beware: your wife may not want to spend time with you or even speak with you for a while.  Be loving and let her be an emotional wreck..." I'd say we're doing all right.  The only real danger we have to worry about is my relationship with Fred.  If we keep seeing each other so frequently, I might have to start sleeping somewhere else.

In other news, I'm now in my 2nd trimester!  WAHOO!  Maybe soon my changed relationships will go back to normal.  Maybe not the pajama thing, though...

Happy week and happy life, everyone.  Thanks for sharing a little piece of ours ;-*

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First comes love, then comes marriage...

I think I'm making progress!  I am writing within 2 weeks of my last post!  Hooray!  This is a post I've been really anxious to write for such a long time, though, so maybe you shouldn't totally count on updates too often ;-*

I forgot to mention in my last post (not that it wasn't important...I'm just a little brain-dead sometimes) that Jordan and I celebrated our second (WAHOO!) anniversary earlier this month.  You might guess that it was a night of reminiscing over caviar and lobster, then sharing a straw as we sit side-by-side, enjoying a very expensive choc-choc-chocolate chip milkshake--which came after our cheesecake and molten lava chocolate brownies at The Cheesecake Factory.  You might even assume we got to snuggle up close and enjoy our favorite movie together in the comfort of our new home.

And you would be wrong.

That night, along with many nights before and many nights after, I spent most of my time curled up on the bathroom floor.  A lovely picture?  Something you need to know?  Absolutely.  We went to bed at 8:30.  We ate Life cereal and oatmeal for dinner.  We tried to get shakes at Steak and Shake, but I only got through a few sips--unheard of for me, huh??  There was no movie, nor a TV show to remind us of good times.  And there was definitely no snuggling.  It was far from what most would call the "ideal" anniversary celebration.

And yet, it was maybe my favorite day ever.

Why??? you ask.

Because despite feeling rather miserable, we had some fantastic news that makes it all worth it.  Finally (and yes, it really does feel like such a long time) Jordan and I have the opportunity to be parents.  That's right: we're having a baby.  And just that morning, I got to see him and hear his little heartbeat for the first time.

Do you know what this means??  It means that life is really changing!  We get to play real house now!  We get to do more than just smile and nod when people talk about their kids around us and we have to act like we totally know what all that potty training stress is about!  We get to have our own screaming-in-the-middle-of-the-night child to wake up the neighbors and keep them up all night before a 7am final the next day!  We get to "decorate" the house with outlet covers and baby gates and blocks and squeaky toys and rocking chairs and Johnny Jumpers!  We get to fill our house with Dr. Seuss classics--not just anatomy textbooks (although I'm sure those will keep coming ;-*)!  We get to tell our friends we can't go out tonight because it's the baby's bedtime--and then we get to read stories and kiss goodnight and watch our little miracle fall asleep!  We get to wake up at night every two hours for feedings and wash several more loads of laundry each week and lug around an extra 50lbs. of baby diapers and burp cloths and quiet books wherever we go!  

But we're so much more excited about the real stuff...first, that there is a baby--a human body that we created--growing inside me as we speak.  Second, that even with stressful schedules and difficult challenges to deal with, we get to turn our focus even more to our family.  We get to try our hand at that same thing Lehi and Sariah, Abraham and Sarah, Adam and Eve, Mary and Joseph, Erik and Debby, and John and Kathie have tried--and done so well with.  Who can deny that even with the trials and the heartache and the occasional feeling of failure that accompanies family life, this is where the greatest happiness is found?

And despite the illness, the exhaustion, the random breakdowns and the massive amount of tears from the physical pain I've experienced, I really do feel absolutely wonderful.  We could not be more excited, and we could not be more grateful for such a beautiful blessing.

Just in case you're interested in seeing photos, I have a few for you:

Two ultrasounds (nevermind that they are sideways) of our sweet baby!
A bit closer up.  Some (like my brother, Brian) would say this kid's head is too much like an alien's.  I just tell them it's because our child has Jordan's brains and they are obviously bigger than Brian's.  Besides, Megamind wasn't all bad inside, was he??

And, for the record, the baby is due in February.  I am still teaching school this year, but I'll get to take a few weeks off when the baby is born.  The future will happen as it happens, but we'll keep you posted as we make more decisions and as more falls into place.

Monday, July 23, 2012

So it's been a while...and Blogger has changed quite a bit.  So much that I'm not sure I want to keep using this.  But I do have some good things to share, and I would be so ungrateful if I didn't.

First, Jordan got accepted to dental school in Louisville, Kentucky.  That was way back in February, but it's exciting now because he started classes about 4 weeks ago.  He is LOVING it and he seems to really be getting into the swing of things.  So far the classes are not horribly challenging because they are a review of things he has already learned...the tricky part is just being prepared for tests (which happen almost every other day!).  It's going to get a lot more stressful when the fall semester starts, so this is a good way to get the students used to the rigor.  Jordan is doing great, and he's just so excited to be here.

Speaking of here, we are living in Kentucky--obviously--and we love it.  It has been awfully hot and humid just about every day since we moved in, but we're lucky enough to have plenty of cool air and shade in and around our apartment.  We also have a pool at our complex, so that offers some relief ;-*  The tennis courts have probably never seen such horrid players before, but we are loving the chance we have to try to learn a new sport together.  Nevermind that we've both played hundreds of times before...each time we go out there together it's like our first time ever using a racket.  We are not so good...but it's still fun.  We feel so grateful to be in a place that is comfortable and clean and full of people in our same situation and not breaking the budget!  We've been so blessed.

We're both getting really excited for the Olympics--which start on FRIDAY!!!  Oh my heavens, I get emotional even just from hearing the commercials and the music on TV.  I don't know what it is about the Olympics, especially considering I'm sort of anti-athletic and anti-sports of any kind...(I know, that makes me sound like a bad person!  I just don't ever get into the hype and the ridiculous amounts of money people spend on sporting events and the insane "royalty" status we give sports stars)  But when I hear the Olympic music, and when I see teams earning medals, and when I watch their faces and the faces of their parents in the crowd when they cross the finish line....oh man.  I am just a crying machine!  It's so powerful!  So, GO USA! ;-*

This week I've spent time with my family in Pennsylvania, and we even got to go to Delaware (my first time ever!) to visit my grandparents and my aunt and uncle (who just had a new baby).  It was so nice to have a change of scenery and to see what life is like on an Air Force base, and to be able to play at a real beach.  I love being around all the cousins, and we had a lot of fun together this week ;-*  In spite of all the craziness around here when there are so many people in the house, I'm grateful to be home for a while.  Yesterday Jessica and I made cookies--and I haven't made cookies in months!  Brenden and Brian and I played a ton of card games and I even taught Brian how to shuffle cards (and do the bridge!).  Then I got to watch Les Miserables with my dad--the Liam Neeson version--and, well, I still think he's a horrible actor.  But the movie and the story was great.  We also got to skype Nathanael and Saraiah in Idaho--so the whole family really was all together for a while!  CARAZY but fun.

Welp, I really don't have a whole lot more to post for now, but I'm just getting back into the swing of things here.  Maybe I'll write something delicious after opening ceremonies on Friday night ;-*  Maybe.  Until then, have a marvelous day and enjoy the week!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fix My Heart

Conference weekend gets me really excited.  I always love what the prophets and apostles have to say, and I'm especially grateful when I hear messages I know are perfect my life right now.  I've been thinking today about something that I'm not really sure what to make of...

I've always thought it was important to be constantly changing--growing, developing, becoming something better that what you were before.  And I feel like General Conference is always a time of rethinking our state of being and setting goals to become something better.   Unfortunately, I am not good at becoming something better.  I think I've actually sunk far below where I used to be.  It's a horrible thought, to be honest, when I realize again and again that I'm just not nearly as refined as I thought I would be by this time.  And knowing it is my fault is what really kills.

I think I've always been good at changing things, starting a new routine, moving forward, giving myself a new surrounding, yadda yadda.  I'm pretty good at recognizing when things have just gotten stagnant for me--when I'm not growing and when other people and circumstances around me are just dragging me down.  So I get myself out.  But really, I think things get better just because I have an outward change--not an inward, repentant change.  I'm starting to realize that even leaving a hard situation or changing my surroundings is not enough.  I have to do something from the inside...but I don't always know what.  I mean, the problem is never with me anyway, right?  (*Don't worry, I'm not that blind.)

Considering my "ability" to leave situations where I am not happy, I've always thought I was pretty good at setting and reaching goals.  I see that an opportunity is available and it can "make me better," so I strike out and take it.  And I pat myself on the back for being such a goal-oriented person who is clearly moving forward in life.

Enter: my husband, who kindly reminds me that if I'm not happy where I am now, I never will be happy.

*This is the part where you log off this rant if you're the kind of person who doesn't want to actually know what I'm thinking.  If you want flowers and sunshine, I'm not sure you're going to get it today...*

So here's my predicament: how do I find happiness when I honestly am so unhappy with a million things around me?   I know the standard church answers--read your scriptures, pray, go to church, go to the temple, serve people.  I got it.  But what if the problem is not just with feeling unhappy to feel unhappy? What if the problem is more like I can't figure out the purpose of all this, the part where I'm supposed to have something good to offer and it becomes my whole life mission?

I have always thought that in order to be happy, we have to be constantly setting goals and constantly trying to improve ourselves and the world around us.  Is this a false assumption?  I'm wondering if all this changing and goal-setting and striving to do something more is just sinking me and making me feel more and more like I'm never going to find IT.  What that IT is, I'm not really sure.  But it's like I'm constantly searching for it--hence the goals.  Should I really be letting myself stay put in one place for a long time just so that I can make it a wonderful place to be and I can force myself to be happy there?

Is this really all a problem with my heart?

This is sort of how my train of thought just went:

1.  If I don't change anything on the outside, I have to change something on the inside.  That's how life works.  Something has to always be moving.  "If you're not moving forward, you're moving backward."--haven't we all heard that a million times?
2.   What needs to be moving on the inside must be that part of us that motivates us.  For some people, that's probably the brain.  For me, though, it's my heart.  I have to FEEL driven, FEEL motivated...not just convince myself to be so because it makes logical sense.
3.  My heart has to go through a change.  Dictionary definition for REPENTANCE.
4.  Stop: hold it right there.  What in the world am I supposed to "repent" for?  Did I do something WRONG by moving to Spanish Fork?  By involving myself with the cheer squad?  By pulling myself away from people I knew were bringing me down?  By throwing myself into work so that I could help my students get the best education possible?   By accepting a calling where I feel little support and lots of pressure and stress?  By getting married and doing what I thought was best to strengthen that marriage?  By trying to change my daily routines so that I was living a healthier (and "happier") life?  I mean seriously!  These are not BAD things!  They could never be considered sins--and not even things that have been pulling me away from my Heavenly Father or things that are important in life.  So what am I supposed to be repenting for?
5.  Is something wrong with me because I can't see an obvious answer that must be glaring at me right here?
6.  What's wrong with my heart?
7.  Conference for me was all about changing my heart and looking to the Lord--to godliness.  I equate that with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual godliness. That's a lot of stuff, yes, but it's how we get to be well-balanced people who really are ready to live with God again one day.
8.  I'm never going to get there.
9.  I can't even figure out how to get out of my predicament, let alone get back to where and who I used to be...or beyond that, like I expected myself to be.
10.  What's wrong with my heart?

I have no solution.  I'm still left with that question.  I just don't know.

I do think I've concluded that maybe my way of looking at change and growth is just really different from other people's.  I don't really care what's going on on the outside if nothing is happening on the inside.  So am I wrong to set goals and to try changing things up as often as I do?  Maybe so--because lots of those goals are outwardly focused.  But how--and where--do I start to fix the inside?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Simple Divinity

Today I am grateful for simplicity, and I am grateful for divinity.  I don't mean just the idea that God is out there somewhere--although I do believe that.  What I mean is that I'm so impressed with the tokens and symbols of godliness around us, whether they are found in the beauty of nature or in the complexity of freckles on my arm or in the opportunity I knew would never be possible without heavenly intervention.  It is astounding to me that so many packages of divinity are out there to be found, and yet it is when I live most simply that I experience that divinity best.

Some days I feel a drive, invisible to my eyes but entirely perceptible, pull my vision upward.  It's like I'm seeking for a different source of confidence.  On those days, I feel a stirring in my heart to grow and to change and to leave behind all the things that have only burdened and chained me down.  These are the days my prayers seem to be the longest.  The days when my pleading is most sincere.  When my heart strings ache the most.  When I'm longing for something so unreachable without the help I'm begging for.

It's funny how we let ourselves go through all the motions of so many things we are expected to do, even when we know we are unhappy.  Maybe I only feel this tug-of-war because I'm a people-pleaser.  It's such a curse to feel like you have to make decisions based on how other people want you to act and feel and think.  Logically, I can think through this and see that it is clearly ridiculous.  But when I'm in the moment, I can never put my own needs in front of other people's.  I've realized, though, that this must be a big part of my "life test."  

Without question, I know that desires and dreams of mine are God-given.  They are so innate in me that I can't remember a time when these were not the things I wanted most...and these are good, righteous, divine dreams.  But every time I set out to fulfill those dreams, someone or something pops up and I feel this need make them the most important thing(s) in my life.  I try so hard to please everyone around me, and it's too late before I realize that I'm just pulling myself down further and further.  Luckily, I've been blessed with good people that help me pick myself back up and refine myself again.  But it often takes a long time before I start moving back in that direction.  

It's sad that I've done this to myself, but over and over again, I've let myself remain friends--and co-workers and associates--with some people who just drag me down.  I feel like the best thing for me to do is to "be there" for them and to "be a good influence."  But really, if I'm just being pulled down, how can I possibly expect to be confident and happy with myself, much less "be a good influence" on anyone else?  My point?  We have got to understand ourselves first, long before we try to please the people around us.  We have got to plant ourselves in our own garden.  We have got to refuse to do all those things the world and our elders and our peers and all those negative influences tell us we have to do to be better.  Life is much more enjoyable when it is simple.

So I made a decision this weekend to get back to simplicity.  After attempting to make everyone else happy with my decisions, I am focusing only on what my heart tells me...which brings me back to the beginning.  When I push aside the world and all the voices I'm hearing around me, I feel this pulling force that directs my eyes and my heart heavenward, and I see more clearly all those blessings and gifts and pieces of divinity I've been given.  And feeling divine sure does a lot for your confidence.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Patience is a Virtue, right?

Today I am grateful for patience.  Not that I have much of it, mind you.  But I am indeed amazed all the time with how patient other people are with me.  Co-workers have been patient while I've come to them crying or freaking out about lessons, unit plans, and students I just can't seem to reach.  Students have been patient with me as I try so hard to be part of their world and apply what we're doing to what they're interested in: and then I fumble and fail.  Friends have been patient with me as I have come to them with stresses and anxiety, with questions and a serious need for a hug.  Family members have been patient as I bug them to death through long Facebook conversations or late-night phone calls just because I need to hear that they're okay.  Jordan has been unfailingly patient as I nit-pick-ily clean the house and as I try--but fail--to make delicious food every night for dinner and as I beg him to watch Lost with me every single night because it gives me a story to follow and as I cry to him because I'm so overwhelmed with the hundred to-do-lists I have created for myself.  And I am grateful for the patience of my Heavenly Father, who not only smiles and reassures me when I don't make time to do the things I've promised to do, but who shows me every day that I am loved and I am important to Him.  

I feel like all my short-comings have been so magnified this last year, and I sometimes feel like I just can't take failure any more.  But still, through it all, I can sense that someone is watching me, someone is guiding me with tender mercy.  With each new day, I am given the chance to get up and try it all again.  I am given the opportunity to fix what I messed up yesterday and to create something beautiful today.  I am given hope.  Each day offers challenges and yes, it offers failures--ok, more like it shoves failure down my throat.  But still, with every new morning, there is something good to be sought after.  There is something quite powerful in it--the morning--and I think I figured it out today.  The sunrise this morning was stunning.  Breath-taking.  Miraculous.  And despite the rush I was in and the weight I felt on my shoulder, those few moments of looking at the beauty around me reminded me that my Heavenly Father is eternally patient with me.  He is continually giving me day after day, opportunity after opportunity to learn, to grow, and to change.

So I've always had this dream of owning my own business.  Not that I'm a real business-woman.  That thought kind of makes me gag.  But I have always wanted to own my own bookstore and stationary shop.  Over the years, this idea has developed quite a bit, and I've gotten really serious about it the last few months.  Maybe it's just because I'm feeling like a major change, but maybe it's because this is what would really make me happy.  Maybe it's what could help me feel like I'm contributing to the world.  I have so many ideas and so many cool things I want to do with the shop, it's just unbelievable.  My problem is that I don't want to get a business degree.  I really just want to take a few classes so I learn what I need to know to get started.  But is it that simple?  I'm thinking about buying a "Starting a Business: for Dummies" book.  But then that supports the competitors!  Ah!  Don't worry, I'm not that crazy...I think I still need to buy the book.  Has anyone out there started a business?  Opened your own store?  How did you go about it?  Where do you go first?  How do you get all the books you want?  How do I figure out--and buy--all the kitchen equipment I need for the cafe?  How do I get ceramic ramekins made especially for my shop?  Should I start looking at shelving costs and tables and chairs?  What about a lovesac?  Or two or three? What colors would I paint it?  Oh my gosh, my thoughts go on and on forever!  I laid awake thinking about this for two hours the other night.  And I constantly wake up in the morning planning and running things over in my mind.  And I know I can't do this for at least another 4 years.  But seriously, people.  I have a dream!  I'm just so darn anxious to get rollin' with it!

And in case you're wondering: yes, this idea spawned the creation of 6 separate to-do lists.  This can't be good for my blood pressure.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

For Saraiah

My little sister was asking me the other day if I "actually like being married."  A few weeks before that, I went to a Super Saturday event where several classes offered were on ways to make your marriage enjoyable.  Valentine's Day was two days ago, and so yes, I've had a little time to think about this.  And I just have one thing to say: WAKE UP, WORLD!  Of course I love being married!  Of course I love my husband!  Of course I am thrilled about spending this life and the next by his side!  Why in the world would I think otherwise?

Well we live in this funny world that thinks it's a good idea to plaster our minds with ideas like these:
1.  Marriages don't work--over 50% of them fail.
2.  You should try a starter marriage, like a starter home, to ease into it.  You can always change later.
3.  You're not living together?  And you think you can make a marriage work without trying it first?
4.  Men, go to work and spend your time at home focused on work so that you can find fulfillment.  Women, do whatever you can to be at your husband's beck and call, and then take care of the kids, the housework, the errands, and the bills.  And then, for heaven's sake, make yourself look like a model so that your husband is actually happy to come home to you.  No sense in trying to develop a real relationship now.
5.  Not satisfied?  Divorce is the way to go.  Or better yet--find someone else who makes you happy, but skip the paperwork and just live for the moment.

And I have a few things to say about those ridiculous notions that flog our televisions, the internet, magazines and newsstands.  I REFUSE TO GIVE IN TO THIS!  I was told all these things before I got married, time and time again.  In fact, I was told more often that marriage would be HARD than that it would be WONDERFUL.  And frankly, someone needs to smack those professors and those therapists in the head with a news flash: marriage is the greatest thing that God has given us to help us out here!  It's only hard when we make it hard--when we make foolish choices before and during marriage that end up leaving us with guilt, remorse, and trust issues.

I don't have the words to express my gratitude for an honest, affectionate, willing-to-try-anything-and-be-anything-and-share-everything man by my side.  I know without question that he is the perfect match for me...he has become my soul mate.  And I have no doubt that if he were to ever blog about the ridiculous notions of marriage in this world, he would also say the same about me.

So what do I tell my sister when she asks me if I "actually enjoy being married?"  I tell her with absolute conviction, "Yes!  I love being married, I love being eternally bound to my best friend, I love feeling the comfort that comes with seeing his face first when I wake up in the mornings.  I love feeling safe and protected--physically, emotionally, spiritually.  I love the times we are both laughing so hard we wet our pants.  And the times when we are so stressed that we just have to escape for an ice cream cone to get our minds off the problem.  And I love the tender moments we share together that only the two of us could possibly understand.  I love planning our lives together--and having it actually be permanent: a real future, not one marked by in-and-out boyfriends and heartbreaks.  I love cleaning the house together, making dinner together, shopping for groceries on a very tight budget together, playing games we've played a hundred times before--but can't afford to buy any more games because we're saving up for the future--together, staying up late to study for tests he has to take and the lessons I have to teach the next day together, waking up early to get to the temple because it's our favorite place to be together, building forts in our living room so we can feel like we're camping in the middle of winter together, dressing up for midnight movies like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games together, having our own Nerf gun wars in our very tiny apartment together, running 13.1 miles for the very first time down a very steep and very painful canyon together, graduating and applying for school and jobs and a future of promise together, staying up late (10:30!) just because we want to talk and cuddle together, attempting to make our house a home by singing and dancing and creating and laughing together...

Marriage is what keeps my batteries charged.  It keeps me confident in myself, satisfied with my life, excited about the future.  Marriage is what makes me feel such a need to do better and to be better.  It is what pushes me to serve and to love beyond the capacity I thought I had before.  Because of my marriage, my testimony is still burning and my love for others is still shining.  Could I do these things on my own?  Sure.  I did it for a long time.  But I can see now how my marriage has added a full measure of joy to my life--an entire piece of the pie I didn't realize I was even missing.

The point of it all is that alone, we would just be going through the motions.  We would certainly find joy in that phase of our lives--I don't deny that.  Life before marriage is full of beauty in its own sphere.  Following the world's standard, though, of living "without being tied down," would be miserable.

We have something different and something so much more celestial now.  Together, with nothing in our pockets but a bucket list of dreams to fulfill, we find joy that is simply divine.  It is what keeps us going, what makes us complete, what fills us with hope and faith in the future.

So do I "actually enjoy being married?"  You bet I do.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Great Gatsby

Today I am grateful for simple joys: most especially, the hug I get every night when Jordan comes home.  It's the kind of hug that envelopes me in safety and security, in peace and perfection.  I don't use "perfection" to mean flawless; instead, this "perfection" is wholeness and completeness.  I feel like the areas in which I am lacking can all be made whole because I'm not in this alone.  I have a loving spouse who not only deals with my scratches and my clumsiness, but who uplifts and inspires and reminds me that I am exactly what he wants.  And I have a loving Savior who also chooses not to just let my weaknesses slide by, but who takes me by the hand and promises to patch me up, creating something beautiful out of what I often feel is a ragged mess.  This perfection is what I experience every evening with that hug, and I am beyond-words grateful for such a small and priceless gift.

So I am teaching this great book to my juniors right now, and I have to say, it's going rather well.  And yet I'm noticing, time and time again, just how much of a "Great Gatsby" world I'm living in.  Not many people I associate with are actually that wealthy, and yet they continue to live so extravagantly that you would never guess they have thousands of dollars of debt to pay off.  It's like we're constantly searching for that "green light" in our worlds, and no matter how much we buy, how much we search, how much we turn down, we can never quite seem to reach it.  It's always just a little too far out of reach.

I'm sure I don't understand what some people's green lights are, but I think for all people, it's safe to say that happiness is what we strive for.  With all the technology, all the opportunities, and all the systems of support and encouragement that are out there, you'd think we could find it somewhere.  Really, though, I think the problem with not finding it is that people are looking too much through the fog above the water.  We've set our eyes on something so far away--not out of reach, but still, in someone else's backyard--and we refuse to recognize the fog that should be diverting our eyes to the light in our own yards.  We think, "Oh, it doesn't matter that I can't see the light too clearly.  I'm just going to jump in the water and swim around a while until I get to it."

Seriously?  Now I'm not one to say we ought to "always stay on the safe side; never take a risk."  Certainly not.  But when I look at people missing opportunities on their left and on their right just so they can shoot for the green light that only sinks them in deeper water, I just don't know what to do.  We have light--we have little drops of happiness all over the place.  And still, as a people, we continue to invest time, money, and fruitless energy on searching relentlessly for someone else's "green light."

I share this, not because I think I can change the world, but because I am trying to fight back myself.  I can find happiness in the smallest moments, in the tiniest of joys.  I've been taught this truth over and over again, and I still so often let the world convince me that I will be happy once _________ happens or once I receive ____________ or buy __________.  And so, at least for now, I'm doing my best to stop looking always at the green light through a hazy fog, but at the white light in my yard, whose light is already pouring down on me.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Purpose

I've decided to try something new.  Something special.  Something I'm actually nervous about doing.  Despite teaching school all day long, and despite my desire to publish my own novel one day, I have a growing fear about the fine details of my heart being put in a place where I could ultimately find rejection.  Yet I feel a burning need to try.

So today I'll begin.

Today I am grateful for sweet, soothing, uplifting music.  No matter how difficult life gets, the storms can always be calmed by the right melody in the background.  

Today was the kind of day we all have sometimes when we simply feel our world spinning around too quickly and nothing is really going right.  But I've learned something the past few days: even when I don't think my life is going "right," the ultimate Conductor of this symphony is leading me on to something better.  A fermata here, maybe, where I'm left thinking I have nowhere to go and no assurance of finality.  I keep hoping that this stand-still will end quickly, but I know it's just not the right time.  Perhaps the Conductor is waiting for his orchestra to notice he's still there.  Sometimes I forget I'm part of the music, and I forget how to play...I get so caught up in the lights on the stage, in the noise of the audience, in the distracting glances and pin drops I can hear from the others playing around me.  But still, I have an instrument in my hands and it needs to be played.  I think I've just lost the memory, lost the passion, lost the desire to try it all again.  Yet I know that as soon as I try just moving my muscles the tiniest bit, music will start moving again.  And soon, a gentle crescendo will show me that this song has all been planned.  It has been carefully organized by someone who sees the whole picture much more clearly.

When I hear gorgeous music, something stirs in my heart and reminds me that these things are true--that I've experienced them before and that I have no need to fear.