Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter Magic

I'm awake far later than I ever should be, and I have a rather pathetic reason for it: I was bored, I didn't feel like sleeping, and so... I started making paper snowflakes.

I'm not the biggest snow person out there: it's cold and wet and turns into slush that soaks my jeans and shoes. But it's also undeniable how beautiful snow can be. Especially when it's falling and when it's laying on the ground, untouched. I was running errands on campus early in the evening yesterday and walked outside into a thick flurry of snow blowing through the air and already carpeting the sidewalks and grass. My breath caught at the simple, clean beauty of it. It was enough snow to make everything white without creating terrible inconvenience yet. I wanted to capture the moment, but I didn't have my camera on me; and honestly, I don't think the camera could capture it.

Hours later, in the warmth of my apartment, I started cutting out paper snowflakes. As I experimented with different shapes, I was often pleasantly surprised with the intricate designs that resulted as I unfolded each one. It was like magic to open each snowflake and see how the snips in the paper turned it into an individual creation in its own right. What do you then do with 30-something paper snowflakes? (Half were left from an activity earlier this month). I took some thread, scissors and scotch tape, and hung each of them from my living room ceiling. The variety is quite intriguing, and together they make for a lovely indoor snowstorm.

Now, I'm not sure if paper snowflakes are worth staying up until 6am for... They probably aren't, but it was certainly a fun undertaking :) And, I don't need to worry about decorating for a New Year's party!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The inability to "see the end from the beginning" is a frequently-used proverb about perspectives. It is true - back when I was 12, there's no way I could have pictured myself at the age I am now being the person that I am, and that's not even looking from the very beginning to the very end! Being able to move forward in faith when we don't know and can't see what lies ahead of us is a very important skill to learn, and one that needs constant learning.

Another truth that we often overlook is that we also can't "see the beginning from the end" quite yet, because we're not at the end! Looking at small examples of this can help illustrate the importance of this perspective though. There's only two men that I've ever been in a serious relationship with, but before them, there were several guys over the years that I had crushes on. The circumstances, however, were never conducive to anything more than mutual crushing (pre-serious relationships); naturally, that was incredibly frustrating at the time. I still enjoyed great (though even that was debatable at times) friendships with these guys, and I learned many, many things that helped me become a better person and that prepared me for future relationships. With "J", I learned about having pure motives, and I had to develop self-discipline and say 'no' to something I really wanted because it wasn't the right time. I also had to learn a bit of patience that that young man :) From "S" I learned a lot about loving people and he helped me to become more comfortable with myself. And countless others before and since have taught me different things that have helped shape me into who I am today.

Basically, moral of this post is that we cannot yet see our current trials/successes in 20/20 hindsight (or even less than perfect hindsight). So even if things don't seem to make sense as they're happening, just wait a while, and sooner or later you'll be able to see why something happened the way it did. Some things may have to be revealed after our mortal life, but we'll know, in time...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Biding (and Enjoying) My Time

The last post was about how I was feeling impatient for something that is still likely a week and a half away. But I've redirected my focus. Nothing major, but I'm having a lot more fun now :)

Instead of anxiously waiting and anticipating the future, I'm enjoying the moment I'm in for what it's worth (and each is a treasured moment). In the last couple days, I've been able to appreciate things like being outside in the evening during the quiet snowfall, getting fed at work, learning how to do new things and becoming more capable, savoring a pink peppermint milkshake, laughing with friends over goofy stories (both real and hypothetical stories), tickling my youngest brother and sister while they're hiding in sleeping bags, and really, feeling the Holy Spirit as I read the Book of Mormon. I don't know if I'll be able to meet my goal of finishing by the year's end (I started kind of late and got sidetracked), but I'm having a really good experience as I try to catch up. It really makes me want to ingrain daily Book of Mormon reading into my life, permanently (I've succeeded in making it a habit a few times over the years, but I get complacent and it wanes). It's made such a difference and my life is being slowly, gently, thoroughly flooded with the light, peace, love and righteous desire that come from and through Jesus Christ. For that, I am so grateful. My life has been blessed in countless ways, in every facet of my existence, and I owe it all to Him.

I bear this testimony that Jesus Christ lives! He loves each of us, and died for each of us as well as dying for us all (the Atonement covers all of mankind, but He willingly did it to save me. And you. And my neighbor and your neighbor and our "enemies". Everyone.) He is my everything; without Him, I'm like a hollow, dried straw that blows about lifeless wherever the wind takes it. It sounds a bit cliche, but I don't know how else to describe the feeling. My life, my happiness, my abilities and successes are all possible because of Him. If I were wise, I would never forsake Him. The good news is that He is there to help me learn from my mistakes and become wiser in the future; as long as I keep trying, He will never turn His help away. God is pretty much amazing :) Always and forever, He is my God - for that and so many more things, I am eternally grateful.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lessons in the Learning?

Waiting can be so hard sometimes. On one hand I realize that having time is important, and that rushing things can often make them worse. On the other hand, I'd really like to get things figured out so I can move ahead. Waiting and uncertainty... My mind is wandering tirelessly (or tiredly?) in the same circles over and over, looping back to the same things as before. Time will give me the answers I lack, and now I just need to sit tight and figure out my end. I guess those (patience and dealing with uncertainty) are lessons I need to learn. Can't I learn any faster? :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last Week of the Semester

Finals week scares me. Yes, everyone has to take the big, mean, ugly tests that are usually a comprehensive summary of the semester, but they strike a different kind of fear in me. I can't shove studying aside any longer to work on cleaning my room, grocery shopping, cook, plan Christmas presents, or do any of the other productive excuses I've used for my time so far this semester. I'm being called to account for the effort I put into school - what my parents pay for, teachers prepare for, and other students sweat over - and it's not pleasant. This fear brings a paralysis, a wrought-over feeling in my gut, unconsciously clenching my jaw, and lines of worry that knit themselves in furrows across my forehead.

It's not that I don't like learning. I do. And I could come up with a million excuses for not doing the work during the semester: initially it's things like that I didn't pay enough attention to the syllabus to realize something was due. Then it becomes fear and shame of going to class when I'm not prepared and the teacher expects better of me. Laziness and boredom in class also play roles; I just don't feel like doing the work or it's uninteresting and I lose motivation to do it. These excuses are all true, but they are also fairly pathetic. When the semester draws to a close, I remember my responsibility to get good grades (not that I ever really forgot it - I just ran out of room to hide from it), and because that's in serious jeopardy, I get scared.

And so this is where I find myself, on the second-to-last day of finals week. One scheduled final tomorrow morning, and a second to frantically study for before the testing center closes tomorrow night. The foot of my bed is covered in clothes I wore over the last few days, and my desk has been littered with letters, books, notes, and various things (mostly papers) that ought to be cleaned up. I'm not worried about dinner, fortunately - I've got plenty of options, and most shouldn't take long to make. Hopefully I know what to study now, I just need to do it.

As I resolved earlier this week after a disappointing test score (not bad, but not as good as I wanted or expected), whether I succeed or fail, my God is and will remain to be the God of Israel. I will not make my faith contingent upon test results.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No More Mystery

So, that desire I talked about in my last post... I feel like it's safe to be more open about it now. Long story short: after a month of separation, my boyfriend and I are back together. We both learned some things individually during that time that it would have been hard or impossible to learn any other way. And we're both very happy where things are now :)

Case closed, mystery revealed. Now, time for sleep.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Faith, Thoughts, and a Change of Heart

There's been a lot on my mind this week. Actually... a lot of it is just one person, and I'll get to that. But it's changed - what and how I've been thinking - in the last few hours.

I've been thinking a lot about someone this week, due to seeing him again (it had been a while) and hearing a really interesting perspective from a friend. Seeing him reminded me how much I've missed being with him, so spending time together this week has been absolutely lovely.

Tonight I re-read a couple months' worth of entries from my journal to look for a particular thing, but I ended up finding something else that is much more valuable. I mentioned in previous posts how the last month has been a hard one for me emotionally and on a spiritual level. Now that I'm looking back, I can see some correlations between things I hadn't necessarily connected before. It really does testify of what I described in my last post - that Christ is the only sure, stable foundation for happiness. I hadn't "lost my testimony" or anything in the second half of October, but my journal does reveal that during the time when I was struggling spiritually, a lot of other things became "more wobbly". Academics, self-esteem, relationships, general stress levels... At the very root of my problems, I felt like I was grasping at straws for any sign or feeling of God's love for me. I couldn't understand why He would (as my journal relates) "love such a sinner as me? He gives and gives and loves, and I just try and fail." I knew that He did (and does) love me, but didn't see why.

Like I said, I've been turning myself around as I allow Christ to take me by the hand and guide me. I'm really trying to be better, and my heart is being changed. This week I've been fixated on a specific desire that I think is possible (and perhaps probably); it's a good desire, and I think it's perhaps the right one. So, I've been wanting to make it happen as soon as possible... But tonight, I felt a change in my heart: I still have the same desire, but I'm feeling much more capable of being patient for it to come to pass. I would love it if I could find out right now what this other person thinks and if he wants the same things I want, but now may not be a good time. So, I'm relying on the Lord and trusting him rather than trying to do it myself or give into my own worries. I'm taking a leap of faith... As to my desires, "If after you release a butterfly [that you've hypothetically raised], it comes back, then you know it's yours. If it doesn't come back, then it was never yours to begin with." God will make sure it works out.

I'm glad for the change that Christ is working in my heart. Someday, all my weaknesses will be made up. Someday, as I continue to be faithful and try hard, I will be as Christ is. And in the meantime, He loves me and is helping me to do the things that I need to do. I just need to trust Him.

In the name of my beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Being Happy... Really

Life is a funny conundrum... Sometimes it seems really complicated, and then when you look at it a different way, it appears as simple as black and white. Sometimes you can say the same thing at two different times, and both are true, but both are different... 

Truth be told, over the last month or two, I've been more easily discouraged by different things. I still have things that make me happy, but it's a different quality of life, and not very fun. Some days I feel awesome, happy and grateful, and other days I feel like a failure at life and wonder why I even try. The happiness I feel during seasons like this is still a positive feeling, but it's not quite what I'm looking for. It's not what I had in mind as I started this blog. So, I apologize for the lapse over the past month or so.

I'm turning myself around though. The transition probably started 2 weeks ago - I think it was the Sunday before Thanksgiving - and it's still going. It was the night I got a priesthood blessing. It's strange and kind of difficult to relate the difference... I still went through many of the same motions before as I am now, but there's a different intent and quality to them. It's changing my mindset. Slowly, as I redirect my focus to trusting in Jesus Christ, I'm regaining the happy quality of life that I experienced before. 

When I make Christ my ultimate source of safety, peace, happiness and comfort, I have a solid foundation for happiness. Then on top of that, I'm able to better and more consistently find enjoyment in other things. I just can't make those "other things" the base because they're simply not enough for a strong foundation. They are bricks to be added on.

So, what is that meaning for me in my life right now? It means that I don't just read the scriptures because I'm supposed to - I'm reading the scriptures to feel the Holy Spirit and to learn. I don't just pray because it's part of the routine and I ought to - I pray for strength, and to bend my will to Heavenly Father's. I need to be interested in other people for more than just politeness' sake - I need to do it because it's Christlike (having charity), and I'm trying to be like Him. It means that I need to endure the end and enjoy the journey, not just suffer through it.

For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
Moses 1:39
...having no joy, for they knew no misery... But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that man might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
2 Nephi 2:23-25
 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
2 Nephi 25:26

This is what the Christmas season (and all life, really) comes down to: the "glad tidings of great joy" (Luke 2:10), for "unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given" (Isaiah 9:6) and "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Is not this enough reason to rejoice? "All we like sheep have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6), and because of the gift of our Father's Son, his great atoning sacrifice, we have hope for a new life. That is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is joyous. It is the only thing that will bring true, deep, neverending happiness; in this life and after. I testify of this in His name, Jesus Christ, amen.

Giving Thanks

This started out as a much longer post detailing the highlights from my Thanksgiving break. Then I decided I should be more concise, and just list some things I'm grateful for.

- I'm really grateful for my roommates. We're all really good friends, and we tolerate, support, love, and teach each other in turn. Mostly we love each other :) I'm glad that on days when I'm stressed, or times when I'm either excited or disappointed about guys, my roommates will be patient and let me gush for a bit. We all do so much for each other; our apartment is really a haven of love and security.

- Naturally, I'm exceedingly grateful for my family. It's a little harder to stay as close to them when we live so far away, but I love them just as much and appreciate them more than ever. My parents have set a beautiful example for me in how to live my life, make a positive contribution, and reach out to others. My siblings have been wonderful friends and teachers in their own way; I appreciate each one of them for the uniqueness they offer and the privilege I have to call them my family. The same goes to my extended family.

- I'm grateful to be at my current university - I'm grateful for the friendly atmosphere, for the people I've been fortunate to meet, for all the variety in educational opportunities, and the chance it's giving me to grow up and become more of who I want to be. I learn so much more here outside the classroom than in it, and that's no small feat. Being here has been a huge blessing.

- I'm grateful for talents and interests. It's something that's always changing and developing. It's fun to be able to take enjoyment, fulfillment and pride out of being able to do or value something. I think it's cool that Heavenly Father has given each of us different strengths, because then we can uplift each other in different ways, and everyone is benefited by it. If we didn't have things we were better at and things we're not as good at, it would all be a lifeless, boring monotony. For my part, some things I love are dancing, nature, good food, fantastic company, and beauty wherever it is found.

- I'm grateful for Jesus Christ, and our Father in Heaven. Of all the blessings I've been given, this one trumps all, because it makes all the others possible. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I can see my Heavenly Father again, and I have a hope and a way to live with Him again. Without Christ - His mission and Atonement - all would be fallen and lost. I will forever be indebted to Him for His selfless sacrifice made in love. He gives me blessings every day, and strengthens me when I am weak. When I get down on myself, He whispers to my heart and memory, "I love you. Look up - it's okay. Move forward! I am with you; you aren't alone. We can do it." He never gives up on me, even when I get distracted and falter. I trust Him; His promises are sure.

Paying attention to what you have and giving thanks for it is really important. There's many more things I could list, but they basically come down to these.

My home teachers (a couple guys who are assigned to visit with me at least once a month and assist me when I need help) had this to add about gratitude. Being thankful is good. It's even better to take the talents you've been given (Matthew 25) and multiply them by giving back. How exactly I'm going to do that through my life will be an involved process, but it's one that I'm going to do in order to bring my gratitude full circle (Doctrine and Covenants 42:38; Matthew 25:34-40). Being grateful = being happy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I got to thinking earlier this week about "commitment": what are the levels or degrees, what level am I at, and what does it even mean, particularly in regards to relationships? So I thought I'd do an analysis on here.

When you're "committed" to someone, what are the expectations that go with it? What does it mean to be "committed"? My thoughts are:

A commitment to CONTINUANCE. When you can safely trust someone to be there for you in the future just as much as they are there for you now, you can feel safe investing in them and moving forward. When you are committed to someone, you are promising that for them, and you expect it in return.
A commitment to EXCLUSIVITY/FIDELITY. Increasing the degree of commitment in a relationship acts as a funnel: the more involved you become with someone, the more exclusive your commitment becomes. Think about it - it's true in dating (as your interest and commitment to one person increases, you lose your interest in other possibilities), and it's even a religious truth (when you become more involved in God, there's less room for Satan to cut in). There's an increased expectation for faithfulness to each other as the commitment grows.
A commitment to EACH OTHER. As you truly become committed to someone else, your desires shift from yourself to their self. When you really do love someone, you want them to be happy, even if that means making some personal sacrifices. But those sacrifices don't really matter, because the other person is more important to you. You're invested in who they are - you want the best for them - and they become likewise invested in you. Two become one (Mark 10:8; Doctrine and Covenants 35:2).

That's all I came up with right now... But it's good to think about, both before entering a relationship and evaluating while you're in one. "What promises am I making to this person?" and "Am I reciprocating these promises to them?"

As for where I am, I'm working on building relationships with people. That needs to be my focus right now: making new friends, broadening my horizons, developing charity, and making people feel important. I've found that as I try the latter more, I get a lot of fulfillment out of it. We're all children of God; we're all unique, and we all deserve and need love. If I make my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ my highest priority, everything else will be added in (the right) time (Matthew 6:33; 3 Nephi 13:33).