Sunday, January 29, 2017

That's all.

I would deeply love a man who is:
  • Soft. Funny. Kind. Thoughtful. Supportive. Encouraging. Disciple of Jesus Christ.
Today in church it was said that the consensus from the men in my ward when asked about the number one quality in an eternal companion was, "A girl who's fun." 

What does that mean? Is this true?

Though I have a sliver of understanding when it comes to that response, much more I felt like standing up and saying, "Where's the depth here? This woman is the one who you are going to share EVERYTHING with. EVERYTHING. The highest highs, the lowest lows, the best of the best and the worst of the worst, and your top request is that she is fun?"

Here's what I am in addition to being fun:
  • Kind.
  • Worthy.
  • Understanding.
  • Beautiful.
  • Happy.
  • Joy filled.
  • Godly.
  • Supportive.
  • Encouraging.
  • Nurturing.
  • Funny.
  • Confident. (Sometimes women don't understand that softness is attractive. Like, I love my curves because they make me feel feminine and beautiful.) 
Often when I think about preparing myself for marriage and being a disciple of Jesus Christ, I come back to this talk about Eternal Families given by President Eyring:

"There are things an elder, as he returns from his mission, must do to be true to his commitment to seek eternal life for himself and for those he loves. There is no more important commitment in time or in eternity than marriage. You have heard wise counsel to make marriage a priority in early post-mission plans. The faithful priesthood servant will do it wisely.

In considering marriage, he will see that he is choosing the parents of his children and the heritage they will have. He will make the choice with earnest searching and prayerful consideration. He will ensure that the person he marries shares his ideals for family and his convictions of the Lord’s purpose for marriage and that she is a person to whom he would be willing to trust his children’s happiness."

That's all.

*Full talk here

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Deficient (Creative Writing Post)

Days I find myself wondering why some aspects of my life have to be such hurdles; the unreachable kind that invariably stretch and move without my consent. For once I'd like to answer and say, "Yes, I'm here. I made it." For now I'll have to keep it to, "Not yet, but I'm doing my best." Though that brief statement might often be followed by the internal scrape, "Why can't my best be good enough?" Understanding the steadfastness of a great difficulty inexplicably tied down by the refusal to move is bewildering to my well-being, to my soul.

Angels aren't going to sing parting the sorrows weighing on my heart, so somehow I've got to. But my throat hurts; I am too tired because all I do is sing and now my voice isn't enough either, and I am half-singing like a bird whose lost its will. Not the will to keep on living, but the will to keep singing.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Joy

Last Sunday was Fast Sunday, and honestly I thought about bearing my testimony, but I didn't end up going because right from the start, a crowed flooded the stand. In addition, one of my students was visiting my ward, so I let him have a break from hearing my voice... Today though, this early, early Sabbath Day morning, I've felt strongly about writing down what I wanted to say last Sunday, and really what I want to say and do the rest of my life. 

A quote keeps coming to my mind, one written by Henri J.M. Nouwen, which says, "We have to choose joy and keep choosing it." I've thought deeply about what that means to me, and what joy is to me. All of the things that bring joy to my life come because of Jesus Christ and true religion (doing as He would). Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by the crummy parts of life-- all of us do at some point-- however, I know that as we turn to Christ, we will discover joy and hold it close even in difficult moments. For me, Nouwen's quote can also be read, "We have to choose Christ and keep choosing Him." 

For some it may be hard to testify of truth, but I find great joy in doing so. In 2 Nephi chapter 25, verse six, an acclamation is given, "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." I love my Savior. I know He knows me and loves me. I will always choose Him and keep choosing Him because I need joy in my life.

Happy Sunday!




Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Always Want To Run At Life

Today was so full. This whole summer has been so full. It is days like today that I feel a deep devotion to God for giving me such a beautiful life and filling it with people who give and give and give.

My mother's dear friends invited us for an evening in Salt Lake City. These lovely friends are not members of the church, but were invited by a Mormon Tabernacle Choir member to be a guest and rehearse with the choir-- a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. Truly, it was an experience I will never forget, and I wasn't the one singing with the choir (I did hum along though...). I am still smiling like crazy because life just keeps unfolding these moments where I see God's hand and it fills me with perfect joy.

As we made our way to The Garden Restaurant for dinner, I was able to meet three other older couples, all of whom were so kind and genuine. (Aren't people the best? You know, I'm tired of seeing memes about how people are the worst, because they really are quite wonderful if you take the time to give them a chance, give them a listen, and love). When we sat down to dinner, all of the women were on one side and all of the men on the other. I was the youngest there by far-- by at least thirty years. Luckily, I got to sit the closest to all of the old guys. You know something? I had such an enjoyable meal paired with exquisite conversation. These kind men asked me all about my life pursuits, then complemented me on how beautiful I was, how lovely my smile was, and how rare my red hair and blue eyes are, how my shirt was the perfect shade. They refused to let the blue-eyes thing go. It was so sweet! I loved talking with them about their pursuits and hearing wisdom that comes only with time.

When dinner was cleared, all of us ordered dessert. I ordered something I would never ever choose because I've learned this summer that I want to run at life with my arms wide open and a smile on my face. All of the men asked me how I liked my creme brulee, keen on hearing my opinion. Caramel custard topped with fresh fruit is actually pretty scrumptious.

Somehow, the pleasant time spent together grew and grew. Our group was escorted through the conference center and seated on the front row to listen to the rehearsal. I was completely stunned and smiling so much my cheeks hurt. Hearing the choir and orchestra sing and play "Smile," "All Creatures of Our God and King," "Peace Like A River;" I am so grateful for people who share their talents. Seeing a dear friend living a dream was remarkable. I loved every single minute and was so starstruck about it all. Someday when I'm a mother, I'll get to tell my sweet darlings about everything. That's the thing about experiences-- they are meant for sharing.

On Sunday I was kindly invited to a delicious dinner, which surrounded me with brilliant people and great conversation. The evening was lovely and needed. I loved being there, just being... In those moments, the simplest of actions end up saying four exceptional words that everyone in any kind of relationship needs so desperately to hear: "You matter to me." Being human and living every day is such a gift from God, and the reality that the world is filled, and life is filled with other humans, makes this life an extraordinary one. Such moments deserve to be sealed up in a perfectly whimsical snow globe. And when life gets to be a particularly sorrowful shade of blue, you can take this perfect moment from the shelf, look and it, shake it, be reminded of it-- of all of the goodness and warmth of those memories. The ones that come from running at life with a smile and arms stretched out ready to embrace whatever comes.

In the past five months I have worked diligently to stride out of my comfort zone and to run at life, even if it means doing hard things and even if it means getting hurt in the process. If I intend to have a single drop of wisdom to offer my posterity, I must do. This evening reminded me of my intentions. A poignant Mary Oliver Poem comes to mind, one which explains how I've felt for several months. It's titled, "When Death Comes." This poem deserves to be a sturdy bookend to hold this piece of writing and reflection in its place, so here it is:

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ch-Ch-Changes

I'm sort of a stress basket.

Student teaching, graduating, no job, then a job, brother leaving on a mission, and sister moving to California, and first year of teaching ninth grade-- these are just a few of the changes that have happened over the last seven months. 

All of these hold such a weight because they mean that I'm plunging into a new phase of life. 

It's so hard.

SO hard.

But, I know that it'll be OK because I have a strong testimony. Jesus is my friend, and I know He will never leave me alone. I intend to keep my covenants and to cleave to eternal truth. This knowledge has helped me to understand that I can have peace with the upcoming transitions of life. For instance, my brother has one amazing, beautiful, kind, intelligent girlfriend. I love both of them dearly, and as a sister who's close to my brother, it's harder than I thought to accept that our relationship is changing because of this new phase.

I am not necessarily ready for that change or any other, but I know that Heavenly Father will help me to find peace through His word and also in His holy temple. When I attend the temple, I am reminded of the promises that I've made to the Lord and the promises He has made to me. I know that as I continue to keep my covenants and take opportunities to reach out in charity, I will receive all that Heavenly Father has in store for me. One aspect that I try to always remember is that the Lord needs me too-- He needs me to be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy ghost. He needs me to be able to recognize revelation and act. He needs me, above all, to love others and stand for truth at all times, in all things, in all places. I am willing to do those things because I love Him. 

In the April 2016 General Conference, President Eyring addressed the priesthood brethren, and I know I'm not a brethren, but I found so much peace through his talk. President Eyring said something that hit me so completely. He spoke concerning YSA Elders saying, "In considering marriage, he will see that he is choosing the parents of his children and the heritage they will have." This prophetic wisdom has helped me to continue on the path to strengthening my relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. 

During these difficult, but exciting transitions in my life currently, I find strength in my covenants and in the promises that Heavenly Father has made to me. How grateful I am for the knowledge that I have! I love the Lord! I am grateful that I have a Savior who understands me and gives me His mercy when I come up too short, who gives me His grace when I desire improvement.

President Eyring's talk here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An Elegy

For My Grandma, Beth by Maddie Hall

Fondly lingering in memory
are those long-winded afternoons
sipping red Gatorade
from dollar store cups
as we breathed;
breathed deeply
the freshness of Pine Sol
mopped linoleum.

Your wisdom poured
and poured,
warmth to a chilled
cracked heart.
Hands marked by age,
fingers loaded with jewels--
lined with crevices,
yet so beautiful,
full of grace.

Every afternoon spent,
listening, laughing, eating,
egg drop soup.
You in your pink satin,
me in my faded jeans.

Your white feathery halo--
glistening--
through it beams,
glints and gleams,
of strength, courage, faith,
an "Everything
will be okay."

Entombed I hear your,
"I love you."
The words shine,
unexpectedly tying,
pink ribbons
on our afternoons--
the ones where
soft, pungent,
gardenia blossoms hovered
over your hands.

Our last afternoon,
wrapped in traces
of sterile hospital coolness,
glowed with ethereal blues,
and I wore sparkly shoes
filling the emptiness
of your jewels.

Between each hand's fold,
I felt death.
His frost brimmed through
each crevice,
but your hands were
still warm, still offering
charity to a granddaughter.

In that last hour with you,
suddenly our memories
floated me back,
to lunch,
to sweet and sour chicken
between your painted lips;
the sharpness of Pine Sol
stinging our lungs.

I can still see your clear eyes,
and your wisdom
soothes my troubles--
melts them away.

Every time I sip red Gatorade,
I pour two dollar-store cups.
One for me, one for you.

Reaching between
the furrows of our memories,
Pine Sol greets my nose;
I breathe deeply,
and hear it sing,
"'Till then, my sweet."

Friday, April 8, 2016

Clapping Along

I've always been interested in such wonders that move my soul like a summer breeze blows small green leaves, lifting lightly, gently, but still lifting. Sometimes the pieces that stir my soul hold it close, watering and delivering sunlight, making my eyes and heart bloom with curiosity. Many times when I find myself enthralled and embraced by certain stirrings of the soul, chills spread over each of my arms and over every light brown freckle. 

There's a humbleness concerning my humanity when such stirrings whirl my soul about. I remember reading something written by Anne Lamott, which is directly on writing & reading, but I find it applicable to the stirrings I am speaking of. In her book bird by bird, Lamott writes powerfully, 

"Because of the spirit, I say. Because of the heart. Writing and reading [stirrings] decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life; they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again" (257).

The glistening warmth of the jumbled, miscellany stirrings are not exclusive to only one outlet such as literature or song-- but it's the world around me, each jagged, smooth, radiant piece of it freely dipping and stirring my soul.These are the things that keep me floating over life instead of being bruised by the black, clogged foot of it. These stirrers, the ones that whirl my soul about, are such that "deepen and widen and expand [my] sense of life; they feed [my] soul" (257).

Though it may seem trivial to rattle off a list of those things, I want to. These are few of the many, many, many stirrers, but they are recent-- some old too, I suppose.

Really good ice cream. 
Truth.
Southern cadence.
Highland Bagpipes.
"XVII" by Pablo Neruda.
Light.
Casadh an Tsugain. (From Brooklyn).