Friday, November 21, 2014

Serving in an unexpected way

So lately I've been a bit of a grumpy guss. Life has been throwing me some unexpected curve balls. All these add up to one thing: I am tired and worn out. School just needs to be put in time out for a while. Then, I was reading my scriptures. I don't remember what the verse was about, but I was pondering on service. Mainly, service to my spouse. I'd been feeling lately that my grumpy attitude was not very helpful to our relationship.

I wanted my outward expressions to show my inward gratitude for Stuart. I wanted to serve him. I simply felt like I needed to do more. But what more could be done? I was working, cleaning the apartment, baking cookies. Plus, the feelings of tiredness were overwhelming. How could I focus my efforts on one more thing? 

Then, and this is why I know that my Heavenly Father is aware of our needs, a thought popped into my head. "You just need to be happy. That is the best service you can give to your husband." At first I was a little shocked. But, I was happy! Yes, but was I showing it? 

For some, I understand this service seems daunting, especially when depression is playing a part in the situation. Depression becomes the unexpected scenario that is always present in your daily struggles. But, for those who are simply weighed down by everyday struggle, remember that it is better to look up.

So, I've been trying this experiment for a few days now and it reminds me of the love dare from the movie fireproof. I am simply trying to show my true feelings of happiness to Stuart. Honestly, even if he hasn't noticed, I have. I love him more. I appreciate him more. And I am more able to see the blessings in my life, while still acknowledging the dissonant tones that linger in the back ground.

In music, we need dissonance. It makes the resolution sweet. However, when dissonance drowns out all of the beautiful music, the listener can become anxious and feel unresolved.

I think I will listen more to all the beautiful sounds around me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Marriage as a building block

Today I stood in front of a class of undergraduates and explained the scenario. I am not a parent, and yet I am going to teach you about parenting. As I continued, I knew that all of the research would not help me much when my child was throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of awl-mart, or throwing cheerios on the ground in my kitchen, which would of course be immaculate, right?

However, I did realize one thing. I would have a very loving, very strong, and hardworking man by my side. We don't know what the plans for the future are. We have both learned to stop being quite so stubborn and let God guide us. After all, that is how we ended up in the frozen tundra of Logan, met, and married, all within a year.

Therefore, we haven't made concrete plans for when to have children. But one thing I do know is that not only will I have the support that I need, especially as we communicate more openly with each other, but also we can learn skills that will help us in our parenting.

In 2010, the PEW research center released some alarming statistics. Single mothering was on the rise, and not just because of circumstance. More women are choosing to go it alone, hailing modern technologies that allow them to become mothers with-out being married.

However, marriage does provide a solid foundation, if done properly, for raising children. In the few short months I have been married, I have learned how to communicate more openly about my day. My simple frustrations and joys. I have been more mindful of them. Seeing blessings can definitely help parents when, or maybe a while after, their child has thrown cheerios.

Marriage also gives us a wonderful place to see our imperfections. Why not work some of them out now, and allow Stuart to point them out as we are parenting together? Marriage also allows us to be co-creators with God as we work together to build the type of home we want. Stuart and I really love music. Good wholesome music is a building block of our home, marriage, and further family unit.

So, be proactive about your marriage and it will also help you to be proactive with your children.

Monday, November 17, 2014

He gave me cookies

So in case you didn't know, I love sugar. It falls just shortly behind my family and friends on my list. I think most of my headaches come from a sugar withdrawal. This is probably really true, because I often use sugar as a coping mechanism. I know, it's not healthy, but baking and eating delicious cookies just fills my heart with warmth.

I remember having a conversation with a set of roommates, informing them that baking was a way that I relieved stress. (Probably more as a way of avoiding my necessary tasks as a student). A couple of days later I found myself up to my ears in baked goods. It was finals week.

And then, there is today. After receiving some poor feedback on a paper, feeling as if my thesis is never going to get off the ground, and wondering if I'll ever be able to get a job that doesn't require me to ask, "Would you like fries with that?", I was finished. Walking, home through a field of ice mines, I silently wished that I could go back to Georgia. Taking Stuart with me, of course. I wanted to be done with school responsibilities.

As I walked into the apartment, and took my backpack off, my shoulders still felt heavy. Almost 20 years in some kind of schooling, and I didn't know if I could last another minute. I searched through the cabinet for something to eat. Secretly, I was hoping that the cookie fairy would appear. Gooey, chocolatey. Maybe crackers would do?

Just then, and I literally mean just then, Stuart walked in from his class. In his hands was a foil wrapped plate.

"I ran into a neighbor of ours. Do you know Camille?" I shook my head, "no". She must go to the other LDS ward. "Well, I ran into her in the parking lot. She wanted to give cookies to neighbors."

I ended up crying as I ate those cookies. Heavenly Father gave me cookies. Things will work out.

Even if I don't have cookies, I always have a loving Heavenly Father who is telling others just what I need. I simply pray that I can also be the one He is able to work through.

So, remember to bake a batch of cookies tonight. You never know who might need them.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Love is a gift from God

Writing a thesis, and currently doing another project, about relationship formation, has made me look back at the progression of mine and Stuart's relationship. I just came across an e-mail that I sent to him, just ten days after we were officially dating, not counting Christmas break. In the e-mail I call him my "sweetheart". He has been that to me ever since.

Many people are surprised at how quickly relationships in the Mormon culture can move. Most of the people in my ward dated for anywhere between 1-7 months before they decided to get married. So, why does it go so quickly? Many people outside of our culture, and even within, would argue that it is simply hormones. The Latter-day Saints church holds their members to very high standards of morality, which includes sexual purity before marriage.

However, I believe there is something deeper. Like many other religions, those of the LDS faith believe in deep communion with God. Form that communion we receive revelation from God and also gifts of the spirit. One of those gifts is love. I fell in love quickly with my sweetheart. My siblings and parents also had fairly quick love stories. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who bestows that love upon me, and upon my husband, even on days when I am grumpy. When we connect to God, He connects us, in His way, to others. Forever, and always, and no matter what.

Friday, June 20, 2014

It's all about them

You've been waiting, anticipating, this moment for a long time. It seems like you've dreamed about it for years. And you have. But there is someone else who has been waiting, anticipating, even dreading this moment. It's your wedding day, but it's not all about you. It's about them. It's about forming a new family, connecting your family to another.

I've heard so much advice during the last few months about how to go about planning a reception. Most of it goes like this:

"It's your day. Do whatever you want."

Sure. I could do that. I could also cause a lot of misery to the people around me. Or I could just let the most important people in my life plan it. It is still causing them a lot of stress. But in reality, my mom has been dreaming about, and again, dreading, this day for a very long time. I'm not sure how long, but I could imagine it starts before the child is even born. The anticipation for the life ahead. Good parents always hope that they give their children the best, but one day their children have to go seek it for themselves, and all of the sudden parents loose the control they once had.

So, the next time you think "I want to do that because it will make me happy, remember two things: There is long term versus short term happiness and long term happiness comes in creating connections with the people you love. I am definitely still working on this in my own life, but sacrificing, even small things, for those I love has brought about immense happiness. The opposite is true as well. When we are selfish, we often hurt those around us. Just a reminder.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Because life is so wonderful

That's why I'm blogging. This summer, although I'm not at home in Georgia, is just wonderful. Stuart and I are exploring Logan and finding out what a great (and exciting) place it is! Firstly, we've decided we have to be healthy so we have taken up hiking along  with our regular running routine. There is a reason why I will be so sore tomorrow! We hiked 3.6 miles of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. This is where Stuart proposed. It was so fun to reminisce that moment for just a second.

 The Logan, Utah LDS temple- my place of solitude.

 Sitting on our bench enjoying the beautiful view. 

We saw plenty of wildlife. PLENTY. Remember that time that a squirrel rang across our path and I thought it was a giant lizard? Yeah, good times. 

Stuart and I painted tonight. What a great date night! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

100 little Snickers bars

I see a Snickers bar very differently than most people. It all started back when I was fourteen or so. I had been having some not-so-good horseback-riding lessons, and this day had topped them all. I think I fell off twice, and couldn't get my horse to jump with good form. Because horseback-riding was such a big part of my life, and because of my status as a teenager, I was in sour mood. My dad picked me up from my lesson, and we stopped off to fill up the large and loud purple diesel truck. As we were pulling in, my dad handed me some cash and told me to go buy a candy bar. I stomped into the store, mad more at myself than anything else, and laid the cash on the counter in order to pay for the desired candy bar. Before I got to the truck I think I had already devoured half of the candy bar, covering my annoyance with chocolate- always a good option.

Now, you have to remember, I was fourteen. Not only was I enmeshed in the world of horseback-riding and piano, but I had begun to develop a love for nutrition and cooking.

I think my dad pointed it out. The candy bar I had so efficiently finished off was a king-sized snickers bar. There went any calorie counting I had been doing for the whole day. The laughter was well worth the extra calories though. The whole situation seemed comical, albeit a little annoying.

So nowadays, after long days at school or when I am disappointed with myself, I am not too surprised to find a Snickers bar in the mail a few days later. The responsibility of providing this support is slowly being passed to my Fiancé (first time I've used that word in a sentence in reference to Stuart!). But I'm beginning to realize life is full of little Snickers bars. Gifts from a Father to a daughter just to say, "I'm here and I'm thinking about you".

Today was a big-little snickers bar. If that's possible. It was a LONG morning. My usual 5 A.M. wake-up call came too early and I was unprepared for the emotional and physical exhaustion I felt. After a few hours of work I was still feeling unable to get it all done. But, Stuart got out of class early and stopped by just to say, "hi". It was a blessing for him- extra time to work on his big paper. But it was also a blessing for me. I just needed a hug. Someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay and that my Father was watching out for me.

I am so grateful for all the Snickers bars that my Father gives me.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Note to self

We've talked about it before. Those days where everything seems to go wrong. But that's only half the truth. The truth is, it may be harder to see all the good things that are going right. Last night, Stuart and I made pizza. The pizza crust was a new recipe for me, and I think we left it in a little too long. It was VERY crispy. Also, note to self- buy a pizza cutter. It took both of us to cut the pizza because our skills for cutting pizza apparently wouldn't "cut it" :).

It was good pizza though. I highly recommend using a white sauce. Second note to self- buy a broom. I have a hand vacuum, and that does the trick for cleaning up dust. But broken glass? Nope. Stuart swept me off my feet though, carrying me across the kitchen floor through all the little glass pieces.

Third note to self. Enjoy life. Laugh... A LOT. That's what I seem to do lately. Just laugh at life, because it makes no sense. Life is like a date night with crispy pizza, fluffy homemade ice cream that is just "off", and broken shards of glass. In the end there are still lots of laughs and great conversations. Love life.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day

Thursday was a very crazy day around here. Like always, I had class from 3:30-6:00. Research methods is one of those, "At-least try and look like you're interested" classes. When that was finished, I made my way to the institute building where the men in my congregation were making us pancakes for dinner. It was so good to spend some time chatting with the other women and enjoying their company. At 7:00 we had a fireside entitled, "Matters of the heart". It was amazing. They reminded us that Valentine's day, a day of love, can be about the greatest love in the world, Jesus Christ. When we turn our hearts to Him, through conversion, we can have miracles in our life. Really, miracles can happen everyday! 

Finally I headed home, a little weary and not ready for the hours of homework that lay ahead. Gratefully, Stuart said he would stop by for a minute once I got home. I am so grateful for this man. He makes my days a little easier. When I opened the door to let him in he had a beautiful bouquet of roses. 

                      The man is wise. What girl is expecting roses on February 13th? 

Early the next morning, I took the cookies I made, along with a C.D. of some songs I had written for him, and placed them on his doorstep. You should have seen the various text messages that Davina and I sent back and forth trying to figure out the best way to deliver these cookies. I couldn't knock on his door, it was too early. I didn't have any tape to leave a note on his door telling him to look to the side, since I didn't want him to step on them as he left the house. So, we finally settled on a text message drop-off. Turns out that Stuart got out of bed early to get them, so his room mates wouldn't step on them. I guess I can say that he's losing sleep over me. 

I had little joys throughout the day as I opened a package from my parents complete with a Snicker's bar. They know me so well!

Finally, Stuart came over and we made Alfredo chicken penne and ceasar salad. Complete with candles and beautiful placemats from my mom (thank-you!) 

I am so grateful for this good man and all he does for me. He helps me to see beyond the haze of graduate school and reminds me often of just how strong I am. What a wonderful life I lead. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Point me towards the temple

There seems to be something interesting that happens for a young, unmarried, LDS girl between the time she graduates from high-school, leaves young women's and enters relief society. We suddenly stop talking about the temple. It's a scary thing. Talking about a marriage that hasn't happened yet. It's scary being the girl (or woman) in relief society who says, "I'm not married... yet." It's scary to hope that you'll be married, because all of the sudden it makes you seem desperate. But, I have realized that there is hope. And it's okay to talk about your dreams. I had an institute teacher challenge us to write down an impossible goal. One of mine is to get married. Now, before all of you come back and say, "stop worrying about it" or "it's not impossible", I can tell you that I'm not worried about it and I know it's not impossible. Instead I've just realized I have to put in my own effort before I allow the Lord to bless me. Slight tangent, but now we're back on track. So, how do we encourage our 18-30 year old girls to still look to the temple, hope for a temple marriage and not get discouraged? There is something very special that I wear around my neck almost everyday.

My young women medallion reminds me of two things: A. The temple is the reason why. The whole book of Mormon is about the temple. Really, it is so amazing. Everything is preparing us to "make and keep sacred covenants". B. I know how to make and achieve goals. How do you think I got to graduate school? How do you think I get up in the morning to do yoga? How does anyone do anything of worth without a goal? So please, remember to point me towards the temple. I need to not only get there, but I need to stay there. I need to keep my covenants because I need my family for eternity. The Gospel really does fulfill the longings of the human soul and for that I am so grateful. 

Friday, January 10, 2014


You may hear it on the radio, a profession of love. I love you to the moon and back. You may hear it come from a close friend. I love you. You may see it in the actions of a significant other. He did the dishes. But one of the most interesting places to hear it is in the scriptures. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." or "Lovest thou me?" Why is love so important to the Savior? He understands us perfectly and therefore understands how powerful those emotions of love are. Think about the last time you were told, "I love you." It connects you to other people and increases your trust in them. That is what the Savior wants us to do. Trust Him. When we love Him and trust Him, we will do the will of His Father, our Father. This will lead us back to Heavenly Father, a place that will be filled with love. In the scriptures we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. So, take a little time to think about it. Do you love yourself? Do you take care of the temple that houses your spirit? Do you look at your life and see something of great worth? In the end serving others, serves God. So, when we love ourselves, we can love others, which serves God. He is pleased when we choose Him because, in the end, that choice will make us the happiest of all.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gratitude is working on me...

A woman in my LDS ward said something that is beginning to work on me, and changing how I look at my goals for the new year. "When I am grateful, I don't want more." This worked really well the other day when I went shopping with my mom. Shopping with her at Plato's closet is one of my favorite things about Christmas break. Quality time is definitely my love language, so I was excited to spend some time with her. However, when we got in the store my goal of finding a skirt was evidently going to be hard. Everything was way too short, way too tight. But I employed gratitude that I
A. Already had lots if clothes, B. Was out with my mom, and C. Had found some cute tops to keep me warm in Logan, Ut. So now when I get frustrated by clothes or when I really want to sleep instead of reading my scriptures, my gratitude can help me realize all that I have including clothing and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Recently, I started reading "Women and the Priesthood" by Sheri Dew and I realized that it is all about gratitude. I am grateful that I get to participate in Priesthood ordinances in many ways and that I get to employ my nurturing qualities by serving those around me. How can gratitude change your view?