Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Place, Little Crownpointe

Buying a home has been such an amazing experience; A scary, difficult, gut-wrenching, proud, and amazing experience. I bought a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage, with fenced in back yard, cute little house.  She is 1260 square feet, with central air! Glory to the highest for central air! In this home I dream of having my own massage therapy private practice here. I dream of dinner parties and sleepovers. I dream of craft nights. I dream of celebrations. I dream of a plentiful garden full of beautiful flowers and fresh, delicious vegetables.  I dream that someday soon, perhaps in the next year, these will all be things that frequent my home.

As of now I have weird smelling carpets, a faulty stove, a haunted refrigerator, a garage door that needs a magic word and a blood sacrifice to open-or close, thousands of old “tenants” or spiders as most people call them, weeds as strong as the aspens in my front yard, and some very interesting quirks this old house wants to keep secret until the most inopportune moments.
Secrets like the communal water well that the neighborhoods water is pulled from, and how some days the water pressure is more a soft drizzle v. the usual random forceful bursts of a fire hose. The first time the neighborhood closed our water off I was in the shower with my hair full of lathered shampoo. The second time, I had the flu and zero plumbing for 3 hours.
My fridge likes to hum from time to time. Not the normal hum of an old motor, but the hum of a clairvoyant old woman pretending to be the daughter of a ghost played by Nicole Kidman in The Others type of humming.  I’ve killed more spiders over this summer than I have in my entire life.  It’s gotten to the point where they don’t faze me anymore.  (Well until they start to crawl on me.) I’ve hired 2 exterminators to come and spray my house. Both have failed to rid me of the horrid legged beasts. 
Every house has a water valve that needs to be turned on during the summer so your sprinklers run and then turned off during the winter so your pipes don’t freeze. My valve is under my house, smack dab in the middle.  What is the size of the opening to the crawlspace that is full of dirt and spiders you ask? About the same size of my friend’s 14 year old son who offered to climb in and find the valve, army-crawling to the center.
These are only some of the interesting things I’ve come across since buying my little home.  But with problems and trials come education and blessings. I have always had someone to help me with my questions or point me in the direction of a good business to work with or offered to come over and show me how to fix something so I can do it myself the next time. Not once have I gone to sleep for the night without having at least a plan on how to make my home better.  I can’t express how grateful I am for that. 
In this house I’ve had movie nights and dinners. I’ve slept safely and happily in my own bed and on the most comfortable couch I’ve ever owned. My furnishings are being set up and I’m planning for my business.  I’m picking out colors and fabrics and furniture and art and flowers and d├ęcor.
I’ve had friends come over and help me weed. I’ve had friends show me how to use my sprinkler system, how to turn that system on, how to fix a sprinkler head after you accidentally drive over it, how to open my garage manually, how to adjust my water heater, how to till a garden, how to plant flowers, how to clean grout, how to spray pesticides, how to lube an air conditioning unit, how to clean ceilings, how to deodorize carpets, how to make my own cleaner, how to dust out vents…the list goes on and on. I’m also currently writing this while my carpets are being cleaned and steamed. Everything smells like oranges and soap.  And I couldn’t feel more relaxed or happier with how things are coming along.
I moved 9 times in 10 years- it was exhausting. I’ve had a total of 8 roommates, 2 honorary roommates, I’ve lived with each of my sisters in their own homes, and I’ve had my own apartment.  I’ve made forever friendships from some of those experiences and I wouldn’t change anything.
It’s time for me to plant some roots. It’s time to settle into this part of my life.   Buying this home was one of my proudest and bravest moments.  And day by day I’m introducing myself to this house and it is introducing itself to me.  It’s mine. All mine. I’m responsible for it. I’m so proud of this life I’m building and that I can have my own place. I feel so blessed. I’m finally at home.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

This and that, and finding time for it all.

I’m embarrassed by how little I’ve written over the past few months.  I planned to keep track of my progress and trials while attending UCMT, but my schedule has made other plans for me.  Although busy, I have been finding time to write. About once a week I have been doing mini-creative writing assignments so I can keep my creative juices flowing.  They’ve been fun but this week I thought I’d update my blog instead. 

My life, as I know it:

School is amazing, exhausting, and most of the time feels all-consuming.   I’m still doing well in the night program at Utah College of Massage Therapy.  I made it over halfway with top marks and high attendance.  This past semester, I hit a wall, an emotional wall that I constantly had to motivate myself to get past it every day just to get to school.  I had a teacher, who is one of the coolest people I’ve met in school but teaches in a way that I don’t understand as much as I want to.  Actually, the whole class struggles.  We took a very long, quite hard anatomy comprehensive test at the end of our 3rd semester.  I got the highest score in the class…a “C”.  Our grading scale is “A”, “B”, “C”, or fail – this test was a self-esteem destroyer and I felt as though the preparation given for the test was...lacking.  I was extremely disappointed with myself and how the test was handled.  I received a “B” in the class overall and I’m proud of the hard work and effort I put into earing that “B”, but I can’t help but feel wounded with a ruined 4.0 that I have religiously and lovingly been taking care of. 

I’ve started my internship, doing Sunday morning clinic at UCMT.  I struggle getting up early, spending even more time that I don’t have at the school, and there are days where my nerve/muscle/bone issues cause quite a riot – but I love it.  I love massage therapy so much.  I look forward to having a successful clinic every week and I feel excited and blessed about my upcoming career.  There is something beautiful about being busy in the employ of comfort and healing.  People are always happy to see me when I’m working and that makes a HUGE difference in how I feel about my time spent in the program.  Every session feels like a pat on the back, every new client is a chance for me to share my education, compassion, and strength, and every compliment become words of encouragement as I struggle through my busy schedule. 

UCMT has helped me in many areas of my life, not just professionally.  There have been many frustrations, emotional/physical insecurities, hurt feelings, and inadequacies of mine that are addressed almost daily in school – all of them being worked on instead of being pushed aside.  It’s been a very raw, rebuilding experience for me.  I’ve been humbled, educated, and then empowered to be better in many aspects of my life and I know this program is helping me become the person I wish to be. 

I got a new car!  2012 Dodge Caliber… and I love her.  She is so beautiful, dependable, and a little bad-ass, if I say so myself.  I feel blessed to be able to afford this new car.  I named her Blackbird after the Beatles’ song. 

Halloween was peaceful and slightly uneventful.  I celebrated with my friend Jen Hoyt, and her family a few weeks earlier for a children’s party they threw.  Everything was really cute and her whole family went as Star Wars characters.  They all looked amazing.  I went as Cleopatra.  I borrowed a headdress and necklace from a friend.  On Halloween I dressed up as a Deer for work. I borrowed antlers from another friend.  Total money spent this Halloween…zero dollars.  :D  I made Caramel Apple cupcakes and everyone loved them.  I love caking and I was excited make some for work.

My new job is still going well.  I really love working at Pro Star. The owners are smart, kind, and very hard working.  I work in a small group of about 10 women.  We are all power-houses, alpha female- go-getters.  Hard working and tough, smart and experienced.  It’s really nice working with people that care about details and get things done without the need to babysit, or having to report to someone about my own responsibilities.  It’s generally busy and fun.  I’m very happy working there.

I do miss the free time I used have, spending time with my family and friends…just getting out of the house or office or school.  I “shop” at gas stations way too frequently. Florissant lighting, desks, and uncomfortable chairs are going to be the end of me.  
I have 2 weeks off school in December (Hallelujah!) and graduation in March will be here before I know it.  I’m beyond grateful for the support I’ve been given during this part of my life from my loved ones.  They listen to me complain about the dumbest things and they help wipe away tears of exhaustion or drama and they celebrate my small victories and keep me involved in the meaningful and beautiful parts of their lives.  They make all of my little adventures and experiences feel important and worthwhile.  I don't know what I'd do without them.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

overcompensations and belittlements

Going back to school has been wonderful.  I love learning about anatomy, different massage modalities, business, and all of the options I have in the massage therapy career field.   But along my path I’ve noticed a rather weird thorn that keeps getting stuck in my side. It was an irritant back when I was attending SLCC for cosmetology, in almost every singles ward I’ve attended, and I especially noticed it in high school.  The thorn that continues to prick at me are the odd expectations others have of my body type and the verbal, uncomfortable overcompensations and belittlements people give me.
During my first month of class I’ve had people tell me the following:
Don’t worry about your weight honey, you’re fabulous.
You are Be-U-ti-FUL no matter what size you are!
Do you want to test out the table to see if it will hold you? I won’t tell anyone if you’re worried. (This is referring to the 800 lb. capacity massage table that I was about to “relax” and receive a massage on.)
I know some really skinny people who are in much worse shape than you are.
We big girls need to stick together.

NOT ONCE were these statements a reply to my having personal inquiries about myself.  All of these were said to me because others were judging my confidence or my personality from my weight.  I find it incredibly insulting. People- get a grip! I’m a big girl, there is no beating around the bush here.  For the most part, I feel happy with myself.  Yes, there are many things I want to change, refine, or wish I didn’t have to deal with – but all together I feel proud of who I am, what I’ve accomplished, and generally comfortable in my skin. 

Granted, I had ZERO self confidence when I was age pick-a-number-teen.  I didn’t know who I was growing up and these labels were ready for the taking, and I quickly applied them to myself.  Fat. Blubber. Lard-ass. Bubble Butt. Lard-o. Whale. And then there is the nickname that I’ve sworn I’d never share with others, out of fear it would become a lasting joke at my expense, Sa-Rhino.  Kids in grade school use to salute me when I passed them in the halls, and then they would follow me announcing a huge “BOOM” with every step I took.  These nicknames were horrible, abusive, and belittling, and I let them become the defining words for how I thought of myself.  Thank the heavens that I am no longer stuck in that frame of mind.  Sure, I have bad days when feelings, insecurities, and emotional baggage gets the better of me but for the most part I love myself; I accept myself.  To quote The Silver Linings Playbook, “There's always going to be a part of me that's sloppy and dirty, but I like that- along with all the other parts of myself.” 

Now that I’m out of the bullying age, or at least I am able to leave any situation that I’m not comfortable in, I find it shocking that instead of making fun of me, people are applauding me or even “forgiving” me for my weight.  I don’t care what you call it – It’s harassment and I’m tired of it.  People are singling out my size and treat me as though my weight is the only thing about me with value. 
My personality is not linked to my weight- I’d hate to reduce anyone else to that. 
There are loud, big, and flamboyant parts of me as well as shy, graceful, and gentle parts of me.  I’m happy with myself and I work hard to refine the things I want to improve on.
My doctor and the world of western medicine calls me morbidly obese.  Fat activists call me a “real women”, whatever that means...  I’ve had guys call me “ugly” because of my size, or “pretty in spite of my size”- both are awful things to say to a women.  Bullies have called me many things.  In my adult life- I’ve never felt anything other than myself.  The only time that I wear these fat-labels are when others call me them. 

When I realize how ridiculous these judgmental pegs are or when I’m feeling down about myself, I try to remember how my loved ones think of me.  My genuine relationships have been a guiding compass to help me stay on track in loving myself.  I’m so grateful that I have such wonderful, kind, and strong people in my life that have a healthy idea of who they are, who they want to be, and that they invest in the same things I do: health, love, courage, education, family, change, spiritual growth, friends, laughter, rest and relaxation, service, and work- just to name a few.  They see me as, well, me.  All of me.  And that is the only way to be seen.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday is a special day…

Today is cleaning day.  And, man, do I need to clean. I’ve been in school for only 2 weeks and I’m already falling behind on my old routines.  I used to clean up the apartment every day after work, it was a way to relax after stressing all day about things I can’t change in the office.  I did 1 load of laundry every other day.  I took the trash out before company arrived. My bed sheets were in the washer every Saturday morning.  I took long bathes every Sunday morning.  I cleaned my fridge out every Saturday morning.  I’ve kind of turned into an old lady, and I loved my little life.  I love my life now, too.  School is changing how I do things, and change is good- until the fridge starts to smell every time you open it. 

I’ve declared this Saturday “Cleaning Day”, and as a treat I get to see Divergent at the theaters with my friend Gibbs later on.  (We had a “who can exercise the most in one month” bet: Whomever exercised the least had to pay for a movie night for the winner.  I’m paying tonight. Ha ha)

I also wanted to update my blog with the things I’ve learned over the past 2 weeks at school:

Reflexology techniques

Everyone has body issues.  I have 9 toes and a monster sized scar that wraps from the front of my foot, to the back; all from a tractor mowing accident when I was 7.  1992 -Navarre, OH, population approximately 1,000…and I wonder if that may have included tractors.  Anyways, my missing toe was stressing me out, so was the scar on my spine, my weight, my pastiness, my facial acne, my moles, and my entire body really.  I felt very self-conscious; little did I know that others felt this way too.  Everyone has their quarks.  Of course, there are the ridiculously beautiful people out there that have somehow bypassed the “awkward stage” in life, and for some reason, they are still hesitant about stripping down to their skins and laying down on a table so another armature student practitioner can drape sheets up and down their body, ever so close to personal “no go zones”.  Even while we are practicing foot massage, I am the one with the odd foot, yet my partner refused to remove her socks from what I guessed, and later discovered, perfect feet.  Us Humans, we are a weird breed.

Massage is 50% body work and 50% laundry.

Good hygiene is a must, for everyone!

Undressing, dressing, and turning under a twin sheet when you are the size of that said sheet is ridiculously hard- add in a bad leg with nerve damage and an inflexible spine…catastrophe.

Every class I’ve had to do with massage, my teacher (the cutest women in the world) has given me a wonderful compliment about my skill in massage.  Thursday she pulled me aside and told me that every once in a while she has a star-student that is a natural at everything they learn, that they feel completely comfortable with people and they know how to massage from day 1- and that I was that person.  I wanted to cry, granted I’m very sleep deprived, but it meant so much to me.

Anatomy is hard.  There are wayyy to many words to memorize.  It was a miracle I got a 100% on my first test. 

Massage Therapy is all about compassionate love for mankind and their wellbeing, plus tips.

I feel completely comfortable massaging all body types, genders, and I feel comfortable and confident while working.  When someone is on my table the only thing I feel is kindness and I have a sincere wish to help them.

When you work full time and go to night school sleep is put on hold until Friday nights/the weekends. Friday’s are my busiest days at work, I dread them.  Yesterday was a crap storm of trouble and when I got home, I didn’t care about going out or making plans with someone.  I took a 4 hour nap, watched New Girl, ate chips and homemade salsa from my potluck at work, and then went to bed at 11.

I love my family very much.  I think about them all the time.  When I’m at work I miss being with them. When I’m at school, I’m excited to share the things I’m learning with them.  I had a dream that I was giving Lera a pregnancy massage last night. haha!  She is not pregnant, not that I know of anyways ;), yet I’m dreaming about helping them in the future with these fabulous professional tools I’m adding to my belt.

People are very different.  I will be in this same class of people the entire time I’m in school.  Some of them I adore, some I respect, and some have personalities that I would not naturally migrate to.  I appreciate them all, and they help me every time we are together to know what type of business I want to run and how to understand and appreciate different walks of life.

My hips and lumbar spine hurt!  Sitting for 11.5 hours 4 days a week is hard. 

Giving a massage = Working out – I’m trying very hard to eat better and incorporate more exercise in my life so I physically meet my plans professionally.

The majority of people that hear about my education path volunteer for free massages. J  In school, the students practice on each other.  I’m hoping that later in the year I can do free massages at home for homework- and I will definitely take advantage of people’s offers.  I also hope they are feeling equally generous when I am building my clientele.

There is a lot to learn over the next year.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Massage Ever After

Tonight officially kicks off my education at Utah College of Massage Therapy (UCMT).  I’m excited to begin- to get my hands dirty, so to say.  I’ve thought a long time about what I want to do with my professional life growing up.  My problem was never knowing what interested me, but deciding and following through on one of the many career paths I admire.  I believe massage therapy will be a beautiful fit for my soul. 

I’ve been piecing some memories together that seem to fit into my education choice. I thought I’d list some of those today, so I remember some growing seeds that helped me get here.

Growing up, Lera was the good one, London was the creative one, and my Mom called me the nothing child.  It wasn’t meant in a cruel way, she said it as, “Sariah isn’t bad, Sariah isn’t good.  Sariah doesn’t care about excelling in school like Lera, Sariah doesn’t care about being social like London.   She’s the nothing child”, a.k.a. undescriptive.  I never understood my Mom’s thought process in this summary of her children.  All three of us were so much more than 1 descriptive word.  I misunderstood the description given to me from my Mother as something I was doing wrong, or as an emotional indifference from my Mom because of my own insecurities.  As I grew older and learned healthier communication I told my mom that this statement hurt me.  She apologized sincerely, and I felt better knowing I misunderstood her meaning.  She reminded me that she also called me the compassionate one.  I love that.  I’m so grateful that I could have a relationship with my Mom that was a compassionate one.  She served me, I served her, and I grew into an adult knowing I was loved.

Sleepovers, movie marathons, and roommates have been a solid building ground for honing my skill in massage.  I think I gave my first massage to a friend when I was in 5th grade.  My mom would give me massages after a grueling half hour of brushing my knotted hair.  Her hands became the example for me as I started “tradesies” with a friend.  (Tradesies: a “Rie-ism” for two or more people that switch giving massages to each other.) 

A close friend of mine is a massage therapist and I appreciate her healing hands.  I appreciate that I am able to relate with her, to reach out to her when I need empathy or even someone that I can be with; I can relax with no expectations on me except for me to just be.  I day dream about resting on her massage table when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

My family is not a touchy family.  We don’t hug when we see each other or when we leave.  We don’t snuggle on the couch or pull our chairs together.  We don’t tickle.  In fact, when I see other families do this it makes me uncomfortable.  However, in my family, I massage.  I rub the feet of my pregnant sister as she is in the delivery room of the hospital.  I give scalp massages to a head ache ridden mind.   I rub exhausted shoulders, and loyally find the knots that are causing pain.  I hug my sisters by embracing them with care.  This is one of my favorite things about our relationship.  We are not touchy, but we are healing.

I’m excited to share compassion with others in the healing arts of massage therapy.  Everyone needs touch.  Everyone needs a peaceful place of trust and relaxation.  I hope to provide that.  I want to be able to build a business that is full of compassion, full of well-being.  I want to be able to help others feel comfortable in their own skin.  To let others know that they can just be, and that someone will take care of them in a healing, caring way.

I hope to keep my blog updated through my journey.  I will be at school Monday –Thursday nights and for 5.5 hours on Saturdays working in the massage lab.  If everything goes smoothly I will graduate March 7, 2015. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Sacrament Talk from 2013

I've spoken in sacrament twice in my adult life.  I'm not talented at public speaking and I am terrified every time I have to do it.  I came across my last talk as I was cleaning out my bedroom.  It felt sad that I wouldn't have a copy of this in the future, so I thought I would share my studies, and talk on my blog: 

I was baptized at 8 years old into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and later felt converted at 19 after a lot of personal study and discussions with my family and friends.  I’ve looked into many religions and nothing felt right.  A friend personally challenged me to read the BOM, I told her that I grew up in a LDS home and there were many opportunities for me to feel it was true, but I hadn’t.  She asked me if I ever read the BOM on my own- I hadn’t. I promised her I would read it and I told her I’d let her know if I found it to be true.  She asked me to tell her when, not if.  Through sincere personal study and in small and simple ways, I have my answer that there is a God, he hears my prayers and that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Both of my parents were converted and baptized by missionaries. Granny, my mother’s mother was listening to a preacher on the radio in her attic, at a humbling point in her life she kneeled down and asked God to send her a witness of his church.  LDS Missionaries that were tracking, going door to door knocked on hers during her prayer.  She and my mother, a teenager at that time were converted and baptized.  My father was converted after he was married to my mother.  He went to church with her a few times and my mother introduced him to a missionary couple whom were serving in the stake.  He was converted easily and willingly through the missionary discussions. In my entire life I have never seen my father or mother waiver in their testimony that this church is true.

I have been blessed with wonderful and strong religious examples in my life; however that hasn’t made my own testimony and conversion in this church easier.  As I have grown older I have realized that my parents did not just receive confirmation of this gospel and then simply stay active as a result of a one-time testimony.  In my own membership and conversion in the church I now understand that my parents have personally studied this gospel, they have each made sacred and meaningful covenants with our Heavenly Father, they have both use the Savior’s example to mold their own lives, and they continuously build and strengthen their testimonies.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about conversion and testimony of this gospel.  In study, I read the following

Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. It is possible to be active in the Church and less active in the gospel. Let me stress: activity in the Church is a highly desirable goal; however, it is insufficient. Activity in the Church is an outward indication of our spiritual desire. If we attend our meetings, hold and fulfill Church responsibilities, and serve others, it is publicly observed.

We need the gospel and the Church. In fact, the purpose of the Church is to help us live the gospel. We often wonder: How can someone be fully active in the Church as a youth and then not be when they are older? How can an adult who has regularly attended and served, stop coming? How can a person who was disappointed by a leader or another member allow that to end their Church participation? Perhaps the reason is they were not sufficiently converted to the gospel—the things of eternity.

In the BOM 2 Nephi 31:19 he writes, “After ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done?  Behold, I say unto you, Nay”

The journey of conversion goes long after baptism and goes deeper than attending meetings.

What are the things of Eternity that will anchor us in this gospel?

Brother Brad Wilcox answered this to me by stating, “True conversion depends on obtaining an accurate view of life, the plan of salvation, God’s love, and Christ’s Atonement.  But it also depends on living in accordance with that knowledge in public and in private.  And when behavior lags behind beliefs, conversion means experiencing for ourselves how Christ’s strength is perfect in our weakness enabling us to “continue in patience until we are perfected”.  Sometimes finding hope and motivation to keep moving forward in this conversion process is as simple as going back to core doctrines and refocusing on them through new eyes.  Doctrine offers a firmer foundation than popular thinking or good advice.  Clear doctrine can help us identify and categorize problems.  More important it can be a tool to help us predict, avoid and solve them.”

The end goal is not to be baptized, go to the temple, and make it to the celestial kingdom; those are means to the end.  I believe that if we only focus on the steps, not the actions or the heart we put behind them, we will lose sight of what is ultimately important.  Our ultimate goal is to become like Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

David O. McKay said, “The true end of life is not mere existence, not pleasure, not fame, not wealth.  The true purpose of life is the perfection of humanity.”

In the book, The Continuous Conversion, Brad Wilcox gives 6 key points to help ourselves find this end.

The first is to OBEY 
This key point is the straight and narrow path.

We cannot outgrow the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; we can only grow in it.  Because I am imperfect, there have unfortunately been times that I’ve looked for an easier route.  I have looked for shortcuts and lazy ways out of being obedient.  I tell you today that there are none. 

Elder D. Todd Christofferson has said, “Sadly, much of modern Christianity does not acknowledge that God makes any real demands on those who believe in him. 

God requires our obedience, sacrifice, and commitment to live the gospel.  He calls for self-control, self-discipline, best efforts and hard work.  He wants our time, talents, and treasure. There is a list that Latter-day Saints are required to fulfill. We have been given these guidelines in the scriptures, general conference, church meetings, strength of youth pamphlets, personal revelation and the words of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “While understanding the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of the gospel is necessary, the eternal fire and majesty of the gospel springs from the ‘why’”

The question is not if God requires something from us or even if He should require something.  The question is “WHY”.

Which brings me to the second key, LEARN.
In Doctrine and Covenants 78:8 we find the words, “ For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world you must prepare yourselves by doing the things with I have commanded you and required of you.”

Brother Wilcox gives some perspective on this key, he said, “Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child.  Mom pays the piano teacher and because she pays that debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for practice.  Does the child’s practice help pay the piano teacher? No. Does his practice repay mom for paying the teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for mom.  Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used-seeing her child improve.  And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.

If the child sees mom’s requirement of practice as being too overbearing, maybe it is because he doesn’t yet see with mom’s eyes. 

In the same way, because Jesus has paid for the price of justice he can now turn to us and say follow me, keep my commandments.  If we see his requirements as being too much, maybe it is because we do not yet see through Christ’s eyes.

"A God who asks nothing of us is making nothing of us and that is not the case."
To paraphrase Charles F. Stanley, from Blessings of Brokenness, “In this symphony that is my life; God is not content to be a member of the audience or stage crew.  He is not even content to be the conductor.  He wants to be the composer.”

Imperfectly, but surely, we are practicing to live with our HF and our Savior once again.

The third key is CHANGE
God desires us to obey and learn so that we can make positive changes over time.  Referring to an explanation given by Dallin H. Oaks, he said, “the repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment.  Its purpose is change.”

If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change.  Think of friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance.  They do not want change.  They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God.  Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin.  If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the HG, then we would have no way to change.  .  We would have no access to God’s power.  We would be left forever with only willpower.

If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then we would not internalize those changes over time.  We may change on the surface but they would not sink inside us and become a part of who we are.

Brother Wilcox shared in his book, “The older I get and the more I understand God’s wonderful plan of redemption the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus to let him stay.  No.  He will probably be demanding, “get me out of here”.  Knowing Christ’s character, I believe if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it will probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “please choose to stay. Please use my Atonement-not just to be cleansed so you can qualify to stay, but to be changed so you desire to stay.”

Heaven will not be heaven for those who have not chosen to become heavenly.

Elder James E. Talmage said, “Any man may enter the highest degree of the celestial kingdom when his actions have been such that he can feel at home there.”

 IMPROVE and OVERCOME are keys 4 and 5
When the Savior healed the 10 lepers all of them were changed, however only 1 returned to thank the source of that blessing.  The 1 was made whole because not only did he change but he improved by turning to Christ.

We don’t pray because we’re worthy.  We pray because we need help. 

We don’t take the sacrament because we are perfect, but because we are willing to be perfected. 

We don’t go to the temple because we’ve made it, but because God is making us better there. 

We are not earning a treasure in heaven, but learning to treasure heavenly things. 

On the final page of the BOM we read the invitation to come unto Christ and be perfected in him.  This life is about becoming better.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen has taught that the Atonement is not just a doctrine that erases black marks.  It is fundamentally a doctrine of human development.

 The final key is BECOME
Learning and changing isn’t easy, when I feel overwhelmed in these areas I try to remember the times that I have succeeded and the moments I have seen Heavenly Father’s tender mercies touch my life.  I have to remind myself frequently to keep an eternal perspective.  I pray that I can become more like my Heavenly Father and my Redeemer Jesus Christ, that one day I can see things clearly and more so as they see. 

Real conversion happens when we stop placing so much importance on the habits in church and we start focusing on the reasons of this Gospel.  Conversion happens when we focus on living in ways that follow the example of the Savior.  Conversion happens when we allow change into our lives to purify and correct us. 

Today I’d like to challenge all of us to ponder the ways we can become more Heavenly, and then work on setting those ideas into motion.  I know that Heavenly Father has given us the keys to succeed and become more like him.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the living Redeemer. Through the Atonement, the Savior has provided a way for us to return to our HF changed and improved.  I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true Gospel of our Heavenly Father; that it can give us all we need to return to him one day.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A List Poem

Hi. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything, too long in fact.  I feel out of the written-word-loop and for some reason it’s been keeping me awake at night.  Yesterday I remembered how writing used to be such a positive outlet for me– so here I am.

I’ve been thinking about when I was on the Literary Magazine in High School.  I loved it.  I was grateful for the passage it gave me to express myself freely, without worry of guilt, embarrassment, or judgment.  I was thankful for the kindred souls that wrote beside me.  We all were able to share our intimate thoughts and feelings simply by strewing them across white parchment or by letting our fingers dance across keyboards.  Even though we were all different and had diverse backgrounds, we were able to offer criticism and advice on what has been written- we were even able to have everyone’s opinion on work that needed to be shared anonymously.  It was simple.  Everyone was accepted.  No one was put down for being overly emotional, cold hearted, or heaven forbid to any grammar-nazis out there, misspellings.

My sister, Lera, was involved in the magazine.   She is 2 years my senior and when she was about to graduate I told her I was interested in joining the club, she helped me figure out what type of written piece I should submit to her peers to be judged and hopefully to win me a spot in the class. I wrote a list poem.  I’ve never heard of one before and when Lera told me about it, I thought it wouldn’t come across creative enough.  I thought that way of writing was too, I don’t know, “simple” I guess.  But I wrote it, they loved it, and it opened a lot of doors for me. 

I figured, since it’s been so long since I've written anything, I should re-submit myself to writing.  I’ve decided to apply with a list poem, for old time’s sake.

I feel:

Sad- I miss my Mom.  I miss feeling a part of a family; to have a place to go that feels like “ours”.  There is no more ours.  There is only “their place” and “thank you for inviting me”.

Alone - It’s the middle of the night, I’m watching Dexter, and someone is trying to open my front door.

Depressed- I’m a failure.  None of this means a damn thing.

Scared- Steady blips on the monitor spike up and down next to me, undeniable proof that my heart is still beating.  I’m in the dark, crying silently so the staff doesn’t hear what a coward I am.  I’m staying in what one of the nurses called the “broken heart” floor of the hospital; everyone else on the floor is here because of heart defects or disease, but they don’t know what I have, or where they should put me. The doctors can’t tell me why I’m here.  They can't tell me why my entire left side has lost strength and feeling, why I’m being buried alive in my own body.

Excited- Starting a 2 hour pinning marathon on Pinterest.

Blessed- I’m walking up stairs, and across uneven ground, without falling.  My nerve damage is repairing itself, long after the needed recovery time that modern day science had given me. Now as I get dressed in the morning, I don’t worry so much about my misshapen leg muscles and the numbness that lingers- It’s a miracle that I’m healing! I’m healing and I’m giving myself time to adjust. 

Free- It’s starting to rain again.  I roll down the car window and let it all in. The crisp air smells of the ocean and the neighboring dense forest trees.  I was nervous about driving on this bridge.  It’s so high and the ocean is far below us stretched as far as the eye can see- my two worst phobias.   But I don’t feel fear from height or water; instead I feel the raindrops spray softly across my face.  I feel my heart pounding excitedly in my chest, singing with blissful and purposeful beats. I feel life fill my lungs as though I haven’t breathed in years. I pull my friends camera out of the back seat, turn off her windshield wipers for as long as I dare, and take a picture of this perfect moment through the windshield.

Exhausted- My work week is slowly killing me: 5 hours until my alarm clock goes off, 1.5 hours until I need to leave for work, 1.5 hours until break, 15 minutes is not enough, 2.5 hours until I can eat, 5 minute mini-break so I can get more caffeine, I need to get the reports out, I’m running on time- finally!, Maybe I have to stay for overtime, I’m 3 minutes over my break, 190 emails sent, 145 emails deleted, 15 calls received, 25 outbound calls - I only have 2 hours before I can leave, I have 40 minutes to get home, I have 5 minutes until I need to leave, Crap I forgot to follow up on that issue- I’ll schedule it for tomorrow, 60 total minutes on the road, 3 hours until I need to go to sleep for an 8 hour night, I should call her, I need to buy this, I want to help them, I need to get out of my house, I need to get home, 5.5 hours until my alarm goes off…

Embarrassed- I’m sweating like a GIGANTIC pig!  This treadmill is going to kill me.  Please stop watching me.  Why are there mirrors in here?  I look like jiggly mash potatoes. I’m going to rip my shirt if I don’t stop pulling it down in the front.  “One of these things is not like the others…” 

Peaceful- My head hitting the puffed-up side of the pillow and the window is open, letting a cool breeze in to my clean, stylish bedroom.

Happy- Playing board games into the middle of the night with my family and best friends.  I listen to my mother’s voice bouncing between roaring laughter, awkward pickup lines to any male in the room, answers to my Dad’s “just checking in” phone calls from the road, stories about her mother, and outlandish words she finds on the Scrabble board that only someone from the 1800’s would know.  My sister wins every game of intellect.  I win every game of stratagem.  My childhood friend wins every game of speed.  My mom is smiling at all of us, just happy to play- the real winner.  “Does anyone need a drink from the fridge?”