Followers

Christmas Thoughts

I LOVE the Christmas Season and everything it encompasses - focusing on the Savior, giving gifts, the lights, the music, the feeling! It just makes me so happy and also I love a good excuse to get together with people and to give gifts.

This Christmas season has been a little different for me this year - for a number of reasons. With going to Hawaii in November my regular "schedule" for Christmas got thrown off. I usually have my gifts planned out and purchased by about the first of December. That didnt' even come close to happening this year but the great thing has been that I've actually been less stressed out this year because though I love Christmas I usually get too stressed trying to do too much and worrying to much about things. Not having everything planned out actually made it so I could just go with things and enjoy time and people. And honestly when you focus on others the season becomes that much more enjoyable and meaningful for you.

The last month and a half or so have also been a time of some serious introspection. I've thought alot on contentment vs complacency. I don't think I do very well with being content as too often I equate it with being complacent. So I've thought, studied and prayed to understand the difference because too often not being content makes it more difficult to be grateful. I've asked myself repeatedly - how do I be content with what I have, yet continue to strive to improve myself? Is contentment only a matter of physical or material items and we should never be content about ourselves, personality or attributes? All of my introspection has led me to conclude there is no simple and easy answer to that question. But the best part of all the thought I've been into this is that through the process I somehow have gained more peace with myself. I feel like I've come closer to the balance of not beating myself up when I fail or because I have weaknesses but simply trying each day to be better and to really rely on the Atonement, which means I will USE it frequently.

I've also been reading a super interesting book. I've a very structured, fix-it, let's get this done type of personality and attitude. But I also love people - I think this is best illustrated in the fact I'm a Blue/Red personality, which is great but often frustrating because the main desire for each of those is often in conflict. Blue desires closeness and intimacy and Red desires power and control - those don't go so well with each other. Anyway, my personality leads to me often seeing people as objects instead of people - I have a goal, I want to accomplish that goal and people are simply objects or part of the outside stuff I have to work around to reach my goal. So I've been reading this book called The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. Now first let me say, I'm not a huge fan or advocate of "self-help" books but I've read The Bonds That Make Us Free, written by the same institute and it was fabulous and life changing and it appears The Anatomy of Peace has the same potential. The focus is on seeing people as people and not as objects and discusses what happens when we see other people as objects and how it affects us.

Lastly, I've really evaluated and decided I needed to refocus my life and having the Savior as my first priority above all else. Sometimes it is too easy to get caught up and focusing on other things that may be of some importance but would be better served if my first focus was on the Savior and then allow everything else to fall into place. The most amazing thing about doing that is that your circumstances don't change, the things that were hard are often still hard but somehow there is a layer of peace that helps you to know that everything will be ok and all things will work out for the best.

So here's to a wonderful and joyous holiday season and an amazing new year to come. May it be filled with learning, fun, laughter, joy, people, and most of all a closer relationship with the Savior. Merry Christmas to all of YOU!
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Hawaiian Adventures

A few months ago, I was discussing traveling with a friend. Both of us were like, "It would be great to visit Hawaii." Then we were like, "Well then why don't we plan and go since we both want to." The plans just took off from there, and last week we spent 7 days on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. It was kind of amazing how it all came together and we were both able to make it work despite a few bumps along the road and in the planning. So here is a rundwon of our adventures!

Day 1 - We actually decided to fly out of Vegas because it was much cheaper for both of us. So we headed out on Saturday afternoon to drive to St. George to stay overnight before driving to Vegas the next morning to catch our flight. The weather was a little iffy and we encountered a couple of snowstorms but nothing to bad. We did however see TWO semis jackknifed with one of them torn in half on the other side of the road....made us a little nervous.

Day 2 - Up EARLY, well not TOO early for the two of us since we often get up at 4:30 to go to the gym. We made it easily to Vegas, parked the car, got a ride to the airport and waited for our flight. The flight was super smooth, though who likes sitting for 6 hours after having just driven 2? If you are on your way to Hawaii though I guess you like it a little :P We arrived, caught a shuttle to the rental car place, had a duel with the car rental agent (they really try to scare you into getting their insurance), and then the fun began! We had decided beforehand that I would be the driver and Mindy would be the navigator. We got a baptism by fire as soon as we got in the car. Driving anywhere new, especially in a place where there is ALOT of traffic is like putting on a blindfold and wandering around a firing range. You are taking your life into your hands.

We had decided we were hungry as we hadn't had lunch, so after driving and trying to find a Subway, we found one that was closed at 2pm on a Sunday and one we couldn't even find. Finally we just decided to drive to the condo. With a few minor difficulties we made it. Our condo was great - spacious enough for the 2 of us and it included a kitchen!
 
 
We were tired so we just chilled for the rest of the first day, which was good given what we did the next day!
 
 
Day 3 - Today we walked over 16,000 steps, which is equivalent on average to 8 miles!! We did alot of walking. We visisted Diamond Head Crater and hiked to the top. We experienced our first Hawaiian rain and got to see several rainbows. When it rains in Hawaii for the most part, it rains very lightly for less than a minute and then stops but will turn around a half hour later and do the same thing. Repeat throughout the day. We then headed to the Koko Crater Botanical Gardens. The most beautiful thing was the plumeria groves - those flowers are so beautiful!








We visited the Valley of the Temples after that. They had several different temples but the main focus was the Byodo-In Temple. Mindy has been to Japan and she said it looked exactly like many temples you would see there. We then drove out to the North Shore, which took a bit of time. Let me tell you something about getting around Oahu - although the island is only 112 miles ALL the way around - it takes forever to get from one place to another. One of the reasons? The speed limit on the freeway is only 35mph - yes that isn't a typo, only 35 mph. After finally arriving we walked around and looked at all these cute little shops though most were too expensive for our tastes or a little too corny. But it was fun!
 
Day 4 - I was especially excited about today because we visisted Pearl Harbor, which holds a special place in my heart. The only problem with Pearl Harbor was there were SO many people there. And also any time I visit exhibits, which require reading I always run into a dilemma - I read quite fast, which means I'm always done before whomever I'm with - so I have to decide - TRY to read slow or just read and be done and waiting for awhile. Regardless, it was great to visit that historical site and we were able to go out to the USS Arizone and participate in the little memorial they do.

 
 
Day 5- One of Mindy's coworkers had suggested to us that we visit the swap meet they hold in the Aloha Stadium. So Wednesday morning we headed there early to take a look at what they had. Let me tell you - if you visit Hawaii the swap meet is the place to get your souveniers. Great prices and some great items. I think for the two of us, we got the majority of what we bought in Hawaii at the swap meet. We then headed to our day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was a fun and informative day. I loved that they have activities you participate in as well as things you watch. I however was not impressed but the luau dinner. I didn't think it was that great and would not do the luau again. And it was a little scary as we were driving home tonight at some point a light came on saying we had low tire pressure. Thankfully we made it back to the condo without any issue.
 
Day 6 - Because of the tire issue we had to head back to the car rental place this morning to swap cars. Given that we had had to come back they gave us the option of upgrading - I could have driven THIS -

But after some discussion we decided that wouldn't be great on gas mileage so we went with a smaller, more fuel efficient car.Then we hiked up to the Makapu'u Lighthouse, which was a great hike with a spectacular view at the end. It is a little strange hiking at sea level though - you feel exertion and your muscles tell you that you've worked them but you don't get out of breath - kind of a strange feeling! But it was WINDY - we got to the top and were trying to take pictures but it was hard to hold the camera steady enough to do so. Some of my favorite pictures are from this hike though!



 
 
We then went and stopped at Sandy Beach. The weather was rainy and windy so we didn't sit much on the beach. So we decided to actually play in the water a little. I don't have pictures yet from here because we just used Mindy's camera. But I had a bit of a scare while were were in the water. I had set my Chacos back on the sand and had gone out a ways into the water. All of a sudden, Mindy, who was behind me a bit yelled that the water had caught my sandals. Sure enough as I turn around here comes one of my sandals floating by me out to the ocean. It was a mad scramble to try and catch it before it went out further than I dared go! I'm sure it was quite a comedy show for Mindy as she watched me try to frantically grab my sandal - LOLOL! After that we were exhausted after several full days so we rented a movie and just chilled at the condo.
 

Day 6 - Today we headed to the Laie Temple and did a session there. It was beautiful and probably the most relaxed I had been all trip. The temple is beautiful and I love that no matter where you go, you can feel the spirit.
We visited Laie Lookout point after that - Mindy said it was her favorite place but sadly I only had my skirt on still and it wasn't the kind of skirt you could be out in windy weather without showing a bit more than you wanted to. So I got to sit in the car while Mindy did a little exploring. Here are a couple pictures I managed to get while frantically grasping at my skirt!

 
 
 
We then went and sat on the beach but of course the one day we had to sit for several hours on the beach they came and CLOSED the beach. We then decided to chase the sunset and I got some pictures that I love.



 
 
Day 7 - Today was a tough one because we had to checkout so we couldn't exactly go to something that would require us to get cleaned up. So after a bit of reading we headed to the swap meet again for some last minute items, got some shaved ice and headed to the airport.
 
Everything had gone so smoothly on our trip down we should have expected some issues going back. And sure enough we got them - they had to maintanence the plane and then cool it off so we didn't start boarding until the time we were supposed to be taking off!! We didn't love this because we were scheduled already to get back late and now it was going to be even later! And to top it off, there was a child on the plane that screamed - no crying, but screaming for at least the first 45 min to hour of the flight. Thankfully they weren't seated right by us! We then arrived in Vegas just after midnight. We had planned to just drive to St. George and stay there but given we were later already, when we hit St. George about 3 am we just decided to drive the rest of the way. I got to hear Mindy talk more in that ride that probably most of the rest of the trip, but she did a great job helping me stay awake!
 
Overall the trip was an EXPERIENCE with the only real downside being that I have yet to be able to adjust since getting back and my body doesn't seem to like me right now. But it was worth it to get to visit Hawaii!



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Laughter IS The Best Medicine

Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors. ~ Norman Cousins
Laughing really is great. And being with people that make you laugh and you can laugh with makes such a difference. Somehow it just makes everything brighter, even when nothing in your life has changed. So lets discuss laughter for a moment -

If for no other reason, we should laugh because it releases endorphins and as Elle Woods said - Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't shoot their husbands. They just don't!"

Laughing also reduces the risk for heart disease. Who knew one of the best things emotionally AND physically for your heart is to laugh.

I've always loved laughing - it is one of the reasons I read the comics whenever I get a chance. But there is an added element to laughing when you are with other people and you are all laughing together.

Life hasn't felt very kind the last few years, and definitely the last few months. It has been trial after trial that just didn't seem to let up and that can be discouraging. And when you are discouraged it is hard to laugh and find joy in the little moments of life. But I am really beginning to appreciate how the hard times make you so grateful for those moments or hours of joy and laughter.

Yesterday afternoon I got to visit a couple of new friends from my ward - we sat and visited and literally laughed for hours. And let me tell you - there is something about being with and around people that can just let go and really laugh. The deep gut laugh when something really is funny to you and you aren't afraid to just let go. I cannot tell you what a difference those hours of laughter made for my day and for my general outlook on life - if there is ever a time you wear rose colored glasses it is after a day of laughter for sure. And the great thing is - I now have a bunch of funny statements, discussions and stories as memories to bring me laughter and joy when I think about them at a later date.

How can you beat that?

And it made me so grateful for wonderful people who are open and friendly and you just instantly feel at ease with them. I have a bit of a sarcastic/joking side that often doesn't emerge for some time when I don't know someone. So it always makes me really happy when you meet people that you almost instantly feel at ease with - you exude a happiness for life and acceptance of others that you just help being yourself immediately. Makes me want to be that type of person.

So if you haven't laughed today - make sure to do it. And if you can - laugh with someone else! It makes any day brighter!!
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Let Me Tell You A Story

Once upon a time I wrote a book. Yes, an entire book about something I felt strongly about and thought was important to others.

Ok, this really isn't a "once upon a time" type of story, for it isn't fiction at all :) Probably aboutt 5 years ago I had a concept that I wanted to write a book about. And while my English emphasis is in creative writing, this book wasn't going to be fiction. I took some time and wrote a little bit, but just couldn't get too into it, so the draft sat for probably about a year. Then one day I had this really strong urge to work on and finish the book. From that point it was probably only 3 weeks until I had a complete first draft. I do have to say I'm pretty sure it wasn't just me working on the book - I had some inspirational help :)

From there I went through the process of revision and editing to a couple of months later I have a draft ready for submission. I submitted it to all the big publishers that I felt sold to the audience I was trying to reach. No one wanted to publish it - sadly they never tell you exactly why other than they don't think it will make them enough money :P However, I do feel strongly that the topic I chose has been a bit controversial and is still controversial and often times in the case of publishers I was approaching, they don't go for controversial. Especially because my book addressed feminism, yes feminism, and I often feel that is the Mormon 'F' word.

So my book has sat for over 4 years - I wasn't sure what to do with it and sometimes thought perhaps I had only written it for myself. But our society is amazing in the technological advances that happen and in the last year I found I could self publish to ebook  and perhaps reach a few people.

And I'm writing this blogpost to let it be known that shortly (hopefully by the end of this week) my book will be available for purchase on Amazon. Yes, this is self promotion but I do it only because I wrote the book feeling like it was something that needed to be said and could be helpful to others. I will post on Facebook when it is actually available but I do have to say I'm excited to finally be at this point. For a little teaser here is the book cover (this was what took me the longest to get it ready for publication - you have to design and create your own cover!). Any feedback on the book cover would of course be accepted and appreciated!
 
And I also hope some of you will take the time to read the book when it is available!
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Power of Choice

I've been thinking alot lately about choice and how much this entire life rests on choice and our ability to make choices. I've been thinking about it for a lot of different reasons. One main reason is because of a very prevailing attitude and belief in society that there are things about ourselves that are just "who we are," which gives rise to the thought or belief then that those things cannot be changed.

The biggest problem with this belief? It is SO easy to fall into! I've also been thinking alot about it because I've been thinking about the challenges all of us face in life - not the same challenges for each of us, but all of us struggle with something - that thorn in the flesh that Paul talked about in Corinthians. A struggle that you don't just overcome, that you work on, but it doesn't seem to get better. Something you often face or live with every day of your life. Sometimes it is exhausting and seems easier to just say - well it us just who I am - I can't change.

It is interesting though how insidiously this mocks and discounts one of the most important things in this life - the Atonement. When we say we cannot change, we are partially right (and oh does Satan love those little half truths) because many times on our own we cannot make the needed change. But to deny change at all, denies the power of the Atonement to give us the strength we need and the power to be able to change.

Sometimes though I think the true test is not in being able to change something completely - those thorns in the flesh but in relying on the power of the Atonement each day with the strength in your ability to make the right choice each day regardless of the struggle. Because at least for me, some struggles that I've prayed for years to be taken away or for me to be able to overcome, those specific things have not happened. So now I pray for the strength each day in my desire to make the right choice regardless.

One of the biggest reasons we are also here on earth is because of and for choice - I always think about the saying I've heard that agency was so important that Heavenly Father lost 1/3 of His children. Choice/agency was what Satan wanted to destroy - but it is also the thing that allows us to be able to learn and grow and then through the Atonement to become like our Heavenly Father. And so everyday Satan attacks our agency and perpetuates as many falsehoods as possible about our ability to choose.

I have also been thinking about choice in regards to the blogpost I posted only for a short time the other day. Very few of you probably even saw it, because after I posted it I wasn't happy with the conclusion I had drawn. I'm going to include that post now but add to it.

*Have you ever just not liked someone? They just totally get on your nerves and you can't stand to be around them? There are very few people in this world that I don't like. In fact, in thinking about it I can't even come up with enough people to quantify a "list."

So it is a little strange when I come across someone I just really dislike. I don't think I will ever hate someone but a very strong dislike is apparently possible :P However, because it is unusual I've been thinking alot about why I don't like this person. What makes it even more strange is that I don't know this person, personally, I haven't met them officially, and the only conversations we've ever had can't really be classified as conversations since they consisted of, "Hey. How are you?" "Good, how are you?" That is really quite minimal in the conversation department :P
You may be asking then, why I don't like this person if:
A: I don't even really know them
B: I haven't really interacted with them
C: I won't be doing A anytime soon and B also won't be happening

That really is then the million dollar question. I must say in my defense I've heard enough interactions of this person and also received information from a very reliable source to have formed an opinion. Granted I know the picture I have is not complete and my opinion is biased for few different reasons, but somehow that still doesn't change for me that I really don't like this person.
The scary thing is, that most often when you don't like someone it says more about you than it does about that other person. And usually when you don't like someone there are specific reasons you don't like them - I could make a list why I don't like this person but that is not the purpose of this post :P, and usually the things that make up this list are "secretly" things you don't like about yourself. And sometimes they are things you fear are part of who you are (hence the "real" reason for not including a list :P).

Kind of a scary prospect, huh?

The other million dollar question then becomes - "What to do, what to do?"

I should pray for charity towards this person, the problem is right now I don't WANT to have charity towards them. So I suppose that means I should pray to WANT to have charity. Hmmm - or I could work through all the issues about myself that this person somehow reminds me of. Yeah I'm sure THAT is going to happen. What would life be without a few issues and I'm not talking magazines here.

For right now, I'm going to be a hater and just work on being tolerant.*

Yeah I decided I totally wasn't happy with that conclusion :P I mean seriously, what kind of attitude was that? I would love to say that I didn't really come to that conclusion and decide on it, if even for a few hours, but that isn't the case. So I realized I do need to pray for charity but then I need to make the choice to do something different. The great thing about choice is what we can make things happen - we can be agents unto ourselves to act and not be acted on.

It was a good exercise though in thinking about choice and the choice I have to not necessarily decide what happens to me and sometimes the feelings that come but I get to decide how I respond.

And I choose a different response.
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The End

In a book, the ending can make or break how I feel about the story. No matter how much I enjoyed the last several hundred pages, the end can ruin the entire thing. And if it is a really good book, movie, speaker, or activity I don't actually want the end to come.

On the other hand, if I'm not enjoying the book, movie, speaker, presentation, etc. I long for a quick ending, which of course never seems to come fast enough.

Sometimes I'm ambivalent about an ending - for example, back in the day when I served as RS president in the BYU singles ward I was attending, I had mixed feelings when I was released. Part of me was happy, part of me was sad - I would miss it but I also wouldn't.

This is how I feel about a pretty major decision I've made that has brought about an end to something I've done for the last few years. When I made the decision to start grad school a couple of years ago, I began to look for volunteer opportunities because "everyone" says that looks great on your CV or resume. I looked at a lot of different opportunities and applied for several. Thinking back now, I'm not even sure why I actually picked the place I eventually started volunteering for. It wasn't a cause I had given a ton of thought but somehow it was the one that worked out.

So for the last few years I've volunteered/worked for The Center for Women and Children in Crisis, which provides support and resources for victims of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault. Not your typical "feel good" type of place to spend time at. I started as a volunteer, volunteering just one day a week for 2 hours. Somehow as the months passed I became the volunteer coordinator, handling all of the volunteer responsibilities and overseeing the volunteers as well as teaching a weekly psycho-educational class on domestic violence and even helping with a children's group for a time.

Some times it was hard - you don't hear very nice things when working with those that have experienced domestic violence or rape/sexual assault. But I wouldn't change the experience for anything. I often feel as if I learned and grew more than any of the people I interacted with, helped or worked with.

But as of Tuesday of this week, I handed over all of the responsibilities I've had and beyond helping with a final volunteer training in September, I've finished my time at The Center for Women and Children in Crisis. And it is a little bittersweet - and it feels a little strange. I don't think it has sunk in all the way yet. I will miss the challenge and also the wonderful people that I got to work with and interact with.

One of the hardest parts about it is that I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be filling my time with instead. For those of you that know me, you know I have a hard time not being busy most of the time. Relaxing sometimes makes me feel lazy. Perhaps the Lord is trying to tell me something? :P

In other news - I'm excited to be moving in a few weeks - ok, I'm not excited for the actual moving part but excited for the new opportunities this move with bring. I've moved more this year than in the past 6 years combined and at this point I really question why I own so many books? :P Also, in SUPER exciting news, I'm going to Hawaii in November. I cannot say how excited I am and how much I'm looking forward to the trip. And November should be a great time to be in Hawaii!
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Murphy's Sneaky Little Sister

Some might call  her Karma - but regardless of her name, sometimes she makes like interesting. Murphy's Law is pretty well known and I know I've cursed this law many a time - because there are periods in life when if something can go wrong it will and does. But his sister's law seems to happen more frequently and in a sneakier manner. What is this law I speak of?

I googled (it often kills me these days what we take nouns and make them verbs, but I still do it), to see if there was another accepted law connected to Murphy's Law but couldn't find anything. I also googled karma to find out a more precise definition. Too often I hear words thrown around that I think the majority of the population really only has a vague idea of what the word means, but they still use it, but that is a discussion for another post. The definitions of karma are mainly dependent on religion, but for the sake of this post I'm going with, what you send out is what you receive.

Where I've seen this happen, and the situations I now dub with Karma's Law or Murphy's Sister is if you say, "This _______ has never happened to me" then inevitably a short time later, the thing you just gloated about having never had happen will happen. Usually it is little things, but always things you are GLAD have never happened to you.

For example, just last week, I was discussing the parking situation at my current place of residence. I live in a group of townhomes, all of which have two car garages, plus 3 additionally parking spots in the cul-de-sac area that are free game for whomever parks there first. So I was remarking on how I had never had to park out on the street as I had always arrived home to find one of the 3 additional spots available.

But you will never guess what happened the next day!?!?! Yep - I arrived home to find all 3 of the spots full and with lots of joy I got to park my car on the street. Now of course this isn't the end of the world, as it simply means I had to walk a little further and worry a little that since we live at the base of a hill someone might come over the hill not paying attention and hit my car.

It is the irony that kills me - that it seemed simply because I had said it NEVER had happened, it happened the exact next day and the exact thing I had mentioned. And it doesn't seem to happen with good things - I was discussing this issue with my roommate and we both agreed that saying something you wanted never happened doesn't cause that thing to happen. So me saying, "I never win a million dollars!" does not somehow have me win the lottery the next day or have a rich relative die and leave me a million.

So Murphy's sister, I've got my eye on you.
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Experience the "World"

Here's to a double-header blogpost. Lots of fun things to report so enjoy!

So my grand experience of the world was to little ol' Fernley, NV. I imagine most of you don't even know where Fernley is in Nevada. Never fear, geography was never my strong point either, though even if it was, I still probably wouldn't have randomly known where Fernley was. In the past 2 weeks however, I spent 4 days there and 2 full days of driving between there and Utah. Yay for summer vacations :P

The lowdown -

My dad grew up in Fernley and my aunt (my dad's sister) still lives there. So we had a semi-family reunion type of vacation where my uncle and aunt and a couple of my cousins and one second cousin came as well as my Grandpa. My little sister was "lucky" enough to be able to go with my parents and myself to our little family reunion. It was nice to be able to see this side of the family because I can count on both hands the number of times I've seen any of them in the course of my entire life (which given my advancing age is a large number of years). :P

We headed out bright and not quite as early as planned on Wednesday morning. My parents had decided we would take the lesser traveled route to get there, which gave us the great opportunity of driving on the road called "The Loneliest Road in America" and let me tell you it really is the loneliest road. Nothing to see for miles and miles except sagebrush, dirt and dust devils. You are lucky to even see other traffic. The most exciting part of the drive was having to stop for road construction, seeing things move on the side of the road - lots of things, which looked big and brown and a little creepy. After sitting there for almost 20 minutes with no sign of us being able to move I got out of the car to see what actually was crawling around out there. It ended up being this -

A whole bunch of Mormon crickets crawling all over the land to the side of the road. And once we got driving again, we hit a section of road that was almost completely brown from squished crickets! Lunch anyone?


Highlights -

* Wednesday night when we arrived we got to have dinner with my cousin and her family along with my aunt. After dinner we went over to a field across the road to watch my cousin's son show off his jumping skills on his bike. And low and behold lying in one of the bushes was a not so crisp but completely valid $20 bill! Not everyday you randomly find $20 you get to keep because there is no way to find the owner.

* Seeing family that I rarely get to see. We had lots of laughs and good times.

* Visiting Virginia City and the Nevada State Museum in Carson City. Here are a few pictures from both!
And you thought todays sewing patterns were complicated!

* After ALOT of quarters, winning the jackpot on one of the arcade games at Circus Circus, resulting in a winning of over 500 tickets! It shouldn't feel like such a win when you have to spend so much money on it but somehow it does. Hence one reason I will never gamble (other than on arcade games I guess :P).

* 26 mile bike ride with my aunt in the 96 degree heat of Nevada. I'm proud to say that is my longest bike ride yet and with only on flat tire (with a less than 20 min. turnaround for a tire change) was a successful bike ride.

Lowlights  - because let's be honest, what trip would be a trip without at least a few lowlights.

* We arrived at Circus Circus an hour and a half before it opened (not on purpose), and then after waiting for it to finally open, they only opened half of it - the LAME half.

* Driving over 16 hours in less than a week. It wasn't horrible, I just don't love lots of driving so it wasn't a highlight for sure.


Overall, not my #1 summer vacation ever but it was a fun trip and I got to see a little bit of the "world"
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A World of Experience

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
~ C. Joybell C.

Life is always full of experiences - experiences that bring about change, experiences that make us laugh, experiences that make us cry, experiences that add joy, etc., etc.

Last Saturday I went with my roommate Mindy to see the Beauty and Belief exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art. The exhibit was showing all kinds of things from the Islamic culture both past and present and explained much of their significance. Mindy was a good sport to go along with me and it was nice to laugh, discuss and talk about the different things we saw. I will admit that I know very little about the Islamic culture and was very happy to learn some new things and have a glimpse into a different experience.

It was fascinating to learn the importance Islam places about words and the written word. Being an English major I feel like I have a little bit of insight and appreciation for the written word but not even close to the emphasis in Islam. Almost everything, from a bowl to a wall or floor tile had written words on them, some with so ornate of designs we both marveled at how long it must have taken them to complete them. In addition, not only is there an appreciation for the written word but also much of the culture and religion works to express the written word through art as well.

We also discussed how it was a little sad that if there were an exhibit of our current time, period and culture how there wouldn't be much to see. An Iphone in a glass case isn't very exciting because it just sits there. Overall, I highly recommend going to see the exhibit. It was a great experience.

Another "growing" experience was I sang a solo in sacrament meeting on Sunday. Now I've sung for people before but in singing a solo in church I've always sung the same song. "Consider the Lilies" has been my go to song because I know it so well the nerves are more easily overcome. But I decided it was time to branch out and push myself, so I practiced and practiced "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul." It is such a beautiful song and it is about the Savior so I think it would be hard to mess up but I was very happy to have it go smoothly even though I was so nervous. And the people in my ward and my roommates were very complimentary, which made it better. I also know the little prayer I said beforehand asking for help and for the spirit to be there made a difference. It would be nice to get to the point where I don't get so nervous when singing in front of people because I really enjoy singing!

And lastly sometimes I get a little disillusioned with people - in general more than specifically. So I love those experiences that remind how wonderful people can be. As I mentioned in the previous post, I moved a few weeks ago and am so happy to have two wonderful roommates. It really does make such a difference! And I just wanted to share what my one roommate Mindy did because it was so thoughtful. I had written Mindy a little note to tell her thank you because she is an awesome person and awesome people should be thanked for being awesome :P The next morning, which left little time between when I had given her the note and she left for work, she gave me a little bag that had individually wrapped "portions" of chocolate covered cinnamon bears, which are one of my favorite treats as well as a cute quote from President Hinckley tied to each little portion. Here is what they looked like -
I mean how cute are those! And Mindy is a very busy person, which made it even more thoughtful that she put that time and effort into this to tell me thanks as well. I don't get teary-eyed too often but I will admit when I opened the bag and saw what she had done I did. It is so nice when people let you know they care. It makes such a difference. I'm sure you all can recall a time where someone's thoughtfulness made a day or a time in your life a bit brighter. Aren't those moments wonderful?

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Small Things

It is interesting how much of a difference the "small things" make.

Just a few short months ago, I felt it was time to make a change and so I moved from the place I had been living for 2 1/2 years. I was ready for somewhere a little quieter, with less roommates, which meant (hopefully) it would be and stay a little cleaner without me feeling like a maid. Unlike what usually happens for me, things happened really quick where I found a place that seemed ideal - one roommate who was quiet and clean. It all started well - the roommate really was clean and quiet and I never had to worry about having to clean up after her or loud get togethers or movies going until 1 or 2 in the morning. And while she wasn't the friendliest person in the world we chatted a couple of times and exchanged pleasantries in passing - so not exactly balmy California or Florida but not like the Arctic or anything.

Sadly, it only took a few weeks for things to go south - or north because things got ALOT cooler and even ended up being downright frigid. I'm still not sure if something specific happened or she just really didn't want to have a roommate, though from things I've learned since it does appear to be the latter and not due to the fact that I didn't rinse the bathtub out well enough or use only exactly half of the fridge. Needless to say I quickly learned in greater depth than I would have like that people really do send of vibes - and when they are negative vibes it isn't very pleasant. So even when she wasn't at home, there seemed to be a pall surrounding the place. And it was a small enough place that you couldn't go anywhere in the apartment and not feel it. It has made me much more aware of the vibes or aura or whatever you want to call it that I project at different times.

This has led me to be extremely grateful for the small things. Thankfully, I've been able to move to another place that has already helped to lift the dark cloud I've felt surrounded by the last couple of months.

So I am grateful for small things like -

* Sitting next to your roommates in church feeling uplifted and edified as they share a spiritual experience, but also at another point being able to all laugh at something funny you just observed during Sacrament Meeting.

* Chatting with your roommate for a few hours while your doing something or she is cooking in the kitchen.

* Having both of your roommates say have a good day as they leave for work.

* Knowing when you come home your roommates will be happy to see you and you are happy to see them.

* Knowing if you needed something you could ask them. It really brought things home as far as how  things had declined or how bad it was when I had a blowout early one morning while out ride my bike and I was about 7 miles from home and I didn't even consider calling my roommate for help because I knew she wouldn't come.

* You are made to feel a part of living there rather than an intruder.

It stinks living somewhere that is difficult but I can see how living there has helped me to see and understand the things that are important to me and that I really am grateful for. I don't think my current roommates read my blog but if either one of you ever does read this post, I hope you know how grateful I am for you! It makes me want to be a better roommate and not fall into some of the not so great habits I did at the last place I lived as far as being much more aware of those around me and always striving to be welcoming and friendly.

In other news  - I'm leaving to go on vacation tomorrow and I'm super excited. It seems like it has been FOREVER since I went on vacation since last year I had to use my PTO on having surgery, which let me tell you is no vacation :) So here's to the small things - paying attention to them and being grateful for them because they really do make a difference!
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Time is a great teacher....

but unfortunately it kills all its pupils ... - Louis Hector Berlioz. As time passes and certain things have left my life and others that I expected to come into my life, haven't, I have found it necessary to find and try new things in order to keep life interesting and to continue to strive to improve myself. One of the best things about trying something new is when you find that you really like it. So here are some new things I've tried and my feelings on them.

Just over 3 weeks ago I started guitar lessons for the first time. I calculated it and I've had my guitar for over 22 years and I'm just now learning how to play it. But better late then never right? I've tried picking it up several times over the past 22 years and just haven't been able to stick with it so I did wonder if I would enjoy it and want to continue to do lessons. But good news! I LOVE it. At least right now I'm have a lot of fun. Part of that I'm sure has to do with my teacher - it isn't always a good idea to take lessons from a friend but in this case it has been a good experience and lessons are always interesting, fun and I learn things! But my favorite part is being able to practice - I enjoy being able to see progress even if it is small. And right now things are coming pretty easy because I do know SOME things about music. And the tips of my fingers on my left hand are getting some nice callouses...LOL

Something else I'm really enjoying that isn't quite as new but I still consider new is my road bike. Last October I bit the bullet and spent a bit of money on a road bike. One of the best investments EVER. I didn't get a lot of time to ride it before it got to cold but since we've had such a mild end of winter and spring I've been able to do quite a few 15-20 mile rides around various areas. And it is quite the thrill to be able to cruise down the road or down a hill at 40 miles an hour on the bike or kill a big hill that you would never have been able to ride up with a regular bike without going into cardiac arrest.

However, I've come to realize something the more I ride my bike. I don't have "road rage" in my car, I get it on my bike and that isn't a safe time to have it! Since I have a road bike, I of course ride on the side of the road, which I have to point out, I am legally allowed to do. And did you know that as a motorist it is illegal to ride closer than 3 feet to a moving cyclist? Now sometimes I recognize the road isn't wide enough for the car not to drive a little closer to me than I would like. I understand that is a risk I take riding on the road. But when I get mad is when a car that has plenty of room on their left side, drives as close as possible to the white line and in turn to me!! And that is when my "bike rage" comes out and I want to yell and wave my fist at them. Given that I am courteous as a rider and follow the law it would be least others can do to do the same! But since everyone follows the laws of the road SO WELL I guess I shouldn't expect anything else. I just need to remember that my bike can't take on someone's car :)

The last thing I wanted to share that I've tried is a ste aerobics class. It has been a couple of months now but when a class at the gym wasn't quite what I wanted anymore I let an acquaintance talk me into trying out the step class held at the same time. I must admit I've been pleasantly surprised how much I actually enjoy it. I must admit my stereotype was that step was for old ladies as I fondly remember my mom's Jane Fonda aerobics tapes. Step aerobics also make me think of the eighties and while I was born in the eighties there are some things about that time period I just can't appreciate.

I did find out though that step is like learning a new language!! You know the feeling when someone speaks and says the first word and you are so busy trying to translate that you miss everything else they say afterwards. Step sometimes feels alot like that. I guess I shouldn't have expected to know this, but I didn't know that all the steps and things have names. And of course given that I hadn't ever been to a step class I had no idea what the ham curl, figure 8 or soldier step was supposed to look like. After a couple of months I still sometimes feel lost and if a move involves switching the position of your feet or spinning around, I just throw my hands up in the air.

But overall it has been FUN and a great workout. And I now feel like I speak a second language.

So before time kills YOU off what have you been doing fun or new lately?
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Happiness isn't supposed to creep

Life has felt pretty tough for too long - unmet expectations, plans that don't work out how you plan, uncertainty in too many aspects of life, a forced change of dreams, etc. So I've thought alot lately about happiness and while I've always had the mindset that happiness is what you make of it rather than the circumstances you are in. But as many of you can attest to if this is also a mindset you strive for, it is MUCH easier said than done :)

But a few weeks ago, I got a new calling since I moved and am in a different ward. And while I don't normally share what was said in the setting apart, he said something that I was a little surprised by but have thought alot about it and wanted to share. He said that I would be blessed with an abundance of happiness - so not just that I would be happy or find happiness but and ABUNDANCE of happiness. In my book that is ALOT of happiness.

Given that life has felt tough for so long, though, and abundance of happiness seemed a little far-fetched. So I've been waiting, looking, watching, seeking that abundance of happiness. But in the weeks that have passed that abundance hasn't seemed any closer than the moon.

However, I was just sitting at work this morning, tired because this week has been crazy and yesterday was non-stop and I suddenly realized happiness had somehow crept up on me and I haven't even realized it. And as I analyzed it (because everything deserves a good analysis) I realized I'm excited for what life has ahead even though for some of the biggest things in my life I have no idea what they are but I'm excited for the challenges and the different things I've become involved in. And I just wanted to share a few things that have contributed to my abundance :)

* The miracle and power of the Atonement. I recently read Elder Bednar's talk again that was in April's Ensign that he gave at a devotional awhile ago about the enabling power of the Atonement and it has been such an inspiration in making the power of the Atonement more real in my everyday life. If you haven't read it, go read it now!

* Those people in your life that just always provide support and encouragement when you need it. Who are always willing to provide a listening ear.

* Laughter - especially shared laughter. There is nothing quite so cathartic as laughing together with others. I went to a luncheon yesterday with women from the shelter agency I work with and the entire hour or so I was there we talked and laughed and I cannot tell you how much better that makes any day.

* New people in your life that you are getting to know who are amazing and accepting and help you to feel apart of something and who inspire you to want to be a better person.


So I would not have expected happiness to be creepy :P Or to creep up on me but somehow it has and an abundance of happiness really is amazing and can be found and enjoyed even in the rough times!
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Fun and Other Things

I know I need to get my next post done for my "life history" but I'm going to take a quick commercial break because I know how much we all LOVE commercials:) Hopefully, this "commercial" will be on the same level as those great Super Bowl ads rather than the duds.

First some fun things I've done lately -

#1 - Went to the Tulip Festival on Saturday. I've never been to the festival and even though it was rainy and a little cold and windy at times it was alot of fun and the gardens at Thanksgiving Point really are beautiful. Tulips with pointy ends are probably my favorite type to look at -

However, I couldn't get over the weirdest type of tulips they had (I had to look them up to know what type of tulip they are). These "beauties" are called parrot tulips -


So weird but fascinating at the same time. In addition to being able to walk around the beautiful gardens, a friend was performing as part of the festival so I got to hear her play. She is amazing so you should check out her stuff by clicking here - kattingey.com. And it was great because the rain and wind stopped and held off for the entire time she played. All in all, it ended up being a great way to spend a couple hours of my Saturday!
#2 - Also on Saturday, I finally went and saw the Hunger Games. I've read all the books but I have been waiting until the craze died down before I went to see it. I was very pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed it and felt they did a good job adapting the book to the movie. There were some funny parts, tense parts, heart wrenching parts, and a couple where I couldn't look at the screen. But it kept me glued and I was totally engrossed so I'm looking forward to the next one, unlike a certain other series that went from bad to worse.


#3 - For those of you who know me, you may or may not realize that one thing I've never been into is crafts. I don't consider myself very "crafty" or creative. Lately though for some reason I've had a greater desire to do something crafty. However, knowing my limitations I tried to find crafts that I felt I could do and actually have them turn out. So for two Saturdays, a couple of my sisters, and sister-in-laws worked on some Easter crafts. Here is what we did (sadly I don't have pictures yet of the actual ones we did but here is an idea) -

Both turned out better than expected, at least for me so I was very pleasantly surprised and a little bit more willing to do crafts in the future.

And lastly,somethingI just don't understand. If you understand this, let me know

 One-ply toilet paper. I DO NOT understand the use of one-ply toilet paper. I know most business, schools, etc use this stuff but I don't see how it saves money given the fact you have to use at least DOUBLE the amount for it to even serve it's purpose. Someone needs to do a study and see if it really is more cost effective because I don't see how it could be.

Well folks, that has been my fun for the last few weeks. Hopefully you enjoyed this little break :P
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When I Was Young

I don't know how it is for everyone else but my memories of when I was young are just kind of a big conglomeration with no real linear timeline assigned to the things I remember. One little addendum to my previous entry was something that happened when I was still young enough NOT to remember it. Sometime when I was approximately 3 or perhaps 2 1/2 I had the chicken pox along with my other 3 siblings alive at the time. From what my mom says I scratched alot but HELLO - when something itches are you supposed to scratch it? Especially when you are that young and just don't understand! I'm grateful though I don't remember it, and that my oldest sister was kind enough to bring it home from school when I was still young enough not to remember. And I'm pleased to report that having them that young did make me immune as several times during grade school, beginning in kindergarten I was exposed to them but never had them again. I do remember being a bit worried though that I was going to catch them because one of the cases I had just played with the kid at recess only to come in and have the teacher diagnose him with chicken pox and send him home. But nothing ever happened from it, other than my worrying - even back then I was a pretty conscientious little thing about wanting to avoid being around someone who is sick - it is still something I struggle with!

One thing I do remember from my childhood and it began pretty young because there is a picture of me holding it - but I LOVED He-Man action figures. No Barbies for me! He-Man was awesome and I had pretty much the entire collection of characters that went with He-Man - Skeletor, She-Ra, Metenna, Orko, Evil-lyn, Prince Adam, Sorceress, Battle Cat, etc, etc. They were my favorite toys and like I said I have a picture of me sitting out on the front step of our house holding He-Man. I'm thankful my Mom didn't make me play with Barbies and probably with a little reservation got the He-Man toys I wanted.

When I was around 3 also, we moved from St. George back to Payson. I don't remember much about the house we lived in specifically but I remember there was a tree that often had the big, fat, green caterpillars on them (it says alot about me that several of my memories from being younger are of bugs and things). We also lived just down the street from my grandparents and one of my favorite things to do at my grandparents house was to ride the big wheels they had. They had a couple of different ones and I loved to ride them around my grandparents house and occasionally when I got brave enough, down the "big" hill that was also by their house.

Another interesting tidbit from when I was young that occasionally is still around is that I used to smile all the time - enough that people commented on it and my mom called me her little sunshine. I sometimes still get comments that I smile alot but if you know me pretty well I definitely don't smile all the time but I can smile quite a bit especially if I'm around people I enjoy being around. And of course when I was younger my hair was super curly. If only my hair longer and curly looked as good as it did when I was 3-5 years old! But of course I suppose I still don't want to look quite like I did then - THAT might be a little weird.

That's all today folks - my next post will document my memories of starting school and moving again to a different house in good ol' Payson!
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And So It Begins

Once upon a time, back when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth...ok, ok...it wasn't THAT long ago :) It all really began on December 7th, 1981 during the morning I believe in Payson, Utah. Whenever anyone asks my birthday I always tell them it is Pearl Harbor Day - to all of you who didn't know December 7th is Pearl Harbor Day I hope you remember it from now on. I haven't ever been told specific stories about my birth so I assume for the most part it was uneventful. However at some later point, not in the too distant future I was diagnosed with Port Wine Stain. For more information about it click here - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002446/. Thankfully, I don't have any port wine stain on my face or anywhere where you can actually see it given the clothes I choose to wear :P However, the Dr. was concerned about my development as it can contribute to developmental deficiencies. My mom told me after this for a couple of years they pushed me harder than normal always telling me - "You can do it." I'm pretty sure this is the foundation for why I always try to find some other way to do something if at first I can't figure it out or it isn't working. In addition, though never technically diagnosed by a Dr. given that it didn't manifest the rest of the symptoms until later, I don't just have port wine stain but actually a syndrome called Klippel-Trenaunay (you can find more information here - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002446/. For those of you who have never seen my hands held up in comparison ask me to show you sometime as my left hand is about 1 1/2 inches longer and bigger than my right. My left leg also has the privileged of dealing with all of the symptoms such as abnormal bone or tissue growth and varicose veins. However, for the most part the syndrome doesn't affect everyday functioning and hasn't inhibited me in anyway.

I am the 3rd oldest in my family with a older brother and sister. Obviously, the majority of the first couple years of my life I don't really have any memory of but a couple things of note - sometime in my 1st year I caught pneumonia. My mom says she came in to check on me and my lips were blue. So they rushed me to the hospital where I spent time in air tent. Thankfully I fully recovered from the pneumonia and have no memory of dealing with it. Also, when I was about 2 years old and we were now living in St. George and my younger brother Adam had been born, I was pushing him around in the baby walker and pushed him over by the stairs that went down. Needless to say I left him there, which resulted in him tumbling down the stairs, biting through his tongue and have to be rushed to the Dr. My family and brother still give me a hard time about this, saying I was trying to get rid of him :) but obviously at that age I didn't quite have a grasp on what would happen by leaving him there unattended. Nor do I even remember the event.

My first memories though are from St. George where we lived until I was about 3. My main memory is of the large snails that inhabited our yard that my two older siblings and myself would throw into the road and wait for a car to drive by and squish them because they made quite the crunching noise - makes for an interesting first memory. I also remember we had a fabulous playroom in our house and I remember the older lady we stayed with while my mom had my younger brother. But each of those memories is pretty fuzzy with just a vague recollection.

So those are the first few years of my life. Not a whole lot of detail but obviously with more memories comes more detail so stay tuned for the next entry!
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In Which I Try to Figure Out My Life

By my ripe old age I had thought I would have my life figured out at this point. I would not only know "what I wanted to be when I grew up" but would BE there! I would make great plans, follow those plans and everything would work out nicely and neatly (can you tell I have a SLIGHT preference for order and control?). There has only been one small hiccup in my planning - that moment in my life when I decided that I would trust the Lord to direct my life, because hey, I'm SURE His plans must be the same as mine.

Insert hysterical laughing

Needless to say, none of my plans have come to fruition and I find myself looking at my life thinking, "What the...!!! THIS is not where I wanted to be!" Not only have things not ended up as I planned but even sometimes as I think I wanted at least at the time. But I guess this is why we have this wonderful thing called faith.

Anyway, just over a week ago I moved to a new place. It all happened in a whirlwind and I packed, moved, cleaned, and unpacked more quickly than I ever have. It was a crazy weekend. It seems when I'm like, "Ok Heavenly Father, I'm ready to go" He says, "Now hold on just a minute. It isn't time yet." Then when I actually have some patience and sit back to wait, He suddenly yells, "GO! GO! GO!"

I like change though (most of the time at least I tolerate it :P) and so I'm really enjoying my new place. It is a bit of a change from where I've been living for the past 2 1/2 years. It is a small 2 bedroom place and I only have one other roommate. So the difference in quietness and cleanliness make me REALLY happy! I'm also now in south Orem so only a few minutes from my work. My challenge now is to push myself to get involved in my new ward and meet new people (never something I love - I love people but don't love that initially effort it takes to meet new people and make friends).

Because things haven't worked out as planned and the goals I thought I would be working together aren't working out, I now have to set other goals in order to have something to work towards. The last several months I trained for a half marathon but now that I accomplished that goal I need something else!

So I'm going to share with you my next two goals - the first is to train for and complete a triathlon. The running and biking parts shouldn't be too difficult though doing them consecutively will be a challenge but my biggest challenge will be swimming! I have never really learned how to swim and as a friend told me while observing my "swimming" - "You look like you are drowning," I know the swimming part is going to take a bit of work. But I'm committed! So I'm looking for a swim coach and now working towards making this goal happen.

My other goal, which was suggested to my by an institute teacher I greatly admire, is to write my personal history. This one makes me laugh a little because I don't think my life interesting enough to record, but as she said - we've been commanded to do it! So for the "few" lucky people who actually read this blog, I intend to post my personal history here as I write it - hopefully to keep me motivated and it is just as easy to record something here.

So here's to the next two goals and having something to work towards, even if it wasn't what I planned!
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Writing This Post Is Like....

I love analogies - most often in the form of simile but not always. I haven't always know I loved analogies. In fact it was just this week I realized how much I love them and how often I use them. I love them mainly because when used appropriately, correctly, and with proper application they provide another dimension or way to look at, understand or compare something. I think I realized my fondness for them because in teaching the domestic violence class on Wednesday I used ALOT of analogies. I do this because each person's experience and level of understanding is different and so to make something clearer I can only do that by comparing it to something else. Maybe I've also been thinking about it more because I've been reading Jesus the Christ again and there is much discussion in there of parables and their application and uses and to me, a parable is just an extended analogy. Which means if Christ used them often they must be great teaching tools!

I give this whole explanation though, not because I am suggesting you run out and use analogies all the time, though that wouldn't be a bad idea. But rather as a preface to some insight I received this week in the form of an analogy! (Analogies are like opening a box of chocolates, biting into one, and finding a GOOD tasting filling inside!) Anyway, on Sunday during Fast and Testimony meeting I was pondering the things that were being said and also the current stage of my life. I feel like I'm in a waiting stage where the Lord has told me something is coming but I don't know what or when so I just have to wait on the Lord. This is not easy for me because I like to plan things, move forward with the plan, and get things done!! So as it were I chafe at the bit a little bit :D But during the meeting the following thought came to me -

My life is a puzzle always in the process of being put together. When I'm impatient it is like I'm grabbing one of those 10 piece puzzles and exclaiming - "Look, I know how this goes together can I just put it together already!?!" To which the Lord replies - "Well, you can if you want but I have this beautiful 1000 piece puzzle that has amazing detail and beauty that you can't find in that 10 piece puzzle, but it will take some time to put together and you won't be able to see the full picture until nearly the end. And in fact you won't even be able to clearly see the arranging of the pieces and how it is going to fit all together but I promise it will."

So I have to ask myself - do I want the 10 piece puzzle or the 1000 piece puzzle. I want the 1000 piece one of course!! So I continue to wait, praying that the Lord guides me so the pieces end up where  they need to, to all come together. It reminds me of what a wise Institute teacher said about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the whole Restoration. 100 of years before the events actually took place, things were happening in order to make it possible for the Restoration to take place. For example, this land being preserved and then later found, having it be a land of religious freedom, etc., etc. Who knew way back then that those things were vital parts in the piece of the puzzle to make the Restoration possible.

I also was thinking about the puzzle pieces because again while sitting in Sacrament meeting I could look back and see how for my half marathon training and race there had been many tender mercies from the Lord. But it wasn't until after the race that I could see how they all came together to illustrate the Lord was aware of me and things do fall into place once the pieces are in place. So while all of that happened rather quickly (a few months rather than a couple of years) it reminded me that things do fall into place when they are right. And that something as seemingly small as running a race, the Lord let me know He was there, is aware of me, and does bless me in things that are important to me.

Ultimately, I can take a small step back realizing that if I want the beauty of a 1000 piece puzzle I have to be willing to wait for it and trust that the Lord is doing and helping me do the arranging that will make it possible even if I can't see it!
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