Sunday, December 21, 2008

Daddy and Mommy

Today was the Christmas Program, and I love that my ward does an almost-entirely-musical presentation. My Mom is in the choir, so she was sitting on the stand. At one point, my dad leaned over to me and whispered "Your mom is the prettiest one up there."

True or not, the fact that he thinks that and said it to me made my day. I want a marriage like that. One that, after 23 years, is still full of love, affection, and attraction.

I want a love like my parents. A love like Gordon and Marjorie Hinckley.

In Relief Society, we talked about deriving strength from knowledge. I am so thankful to have a knowledge of eternal families. I would feel so hopeless if I thought that I would have to give up my future husband and my current family at death. The beauty of my parents' marriage would be cheapened if were only temporary. Thankfully, I know that their love can endure and grow for all eternity. That their marriage can be celestial.

That's what I want.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The worst day ever... that worked out perfectly

Th. Dec. 18

Ok. I'm writing this while sitting in the Denver, Colorado airport. I'm actually writing it as a draft in my email account, since the internet here won't allow me to access any blogging website.

Here's the story.

I left my apt with My Beloved Roommate this morning at 5AM in order to get on my 8:00 flight out of SLC. The drive was icy and scary but everything went well. I made it to Denver without incident and got on my second flight - the one from Denver to OKC - and after a little bit of a delay due to an unaccompanied minor, we took off. "Sweet," I thought. "I'm home free." And I promptly fell asleep.

Well, I was awakened to the Captian telling us that there was zero visibility in OKC due to fog, so we were being put on hold - meaning that we would circle above the airport for a while and see if the weather cleared up. I suddenly felt a little panicked - I was supposed to be going home, not playing games with the weather! I reassured myself that bad things don't happen to real people, just in movies, and that they would tell us any minute that we were preparing to land.

Wrong. After about an hour of circling the airport, we were told that we were going back to Denver, because there weren't any airports closer to OKC that were accepting planes to land. Great, just great. I still didn't know what was going to happen, however, so I went back to sleep (side note, I don't really love flying. I mean, I'll take it over driving any day, but I make myself sleep through my flights so I don't have to endure the trip).

So we got back to Denver and headed to customer service to check out our options (another side note, I made a friend from my same hometown on the plane, so now I had a buddy). After looking at everything possible, we were able to get a confirmed flight for... dum dum dum... 7pm, TOMORROW NIGHT. That's like 30 hours in this airport. Sheesh.

Fortunately, after assessing the situation and accepting that I was stuck here, things started looking up. My Dad recommended that I head to the USO office, a place for military personnel and their families. This place is sweet. All I had to do was show them my miliraty ID and fill out my Dad's info, and now we have access to this whole office - leather couches, big screen TVs, X-box and movies, food and drink, computers and internet... the whole shebang, all for free. God bless our soldiers.


Fri. Dec. 19

Well, after spending a little time in the USO office, we decided to head back to the customer service line and check again to see if we had any other options. After waiting forever and trying to explain the situation to the poor, clueless lady behind the counter, we were able to get confirmed for a flight to Dallas at 5:55am. Well, anything is better than 7pm. The only downside was that our luggage would still be coming to OKC the next night.

While she was trying to figure out how to print our boarding passes, I got a call from my friend (who was also heading back to OKC) telling me that if I RAN to the gate she was at, they had a seat for my friend and I. Well I grabbed our passes off the counter and booked it across the airport. I've never been so assertive in my life - weaving in and out of crowds, running up escalators and down the moving sidewalks. I left my friend (a basketball player for his college in Kansas) in the dust :) and made it to the gate, completely out of breath and concerned that I might have a heart attack. She smiled at me, looked at our passes, and told me that I was able to board the plane.

Well I had to hold back tears as I got on the plane, realizing that I was going HOME 24 hours earlier than I was expecting. The flight was just fine, and when we got to the airport, there was my luggage!!!! What started out as a terrible situation had worked out perfectly.


Now, sitting at home, I've realized a lot of things.

First off, I'm extremely blessed. There's no way things just happen to work out that perfectly. Finding a friend so I wasn't alone in a strange airport, the USO office, making it home WITH my luggage... Heavenly Father was watching out for us that day.

Second thought, this can be a great analogy. And I love analogies.

Sometimes, in life, we think we have reached the point where we are guaranteed to make it and don't have to put forth anymore effort - that we don't have to worry about it anymore. We get complacent and assume that things are taken care of for us. Then, something major happens that sets us back... like way back. And we feel hopeless, frustrated, and incapable of making progress to get back to where we thought we were. However, if we are willing to humble ourselves and ask for help, the Lord will give us comfort, strength, and blessings... often in the form of people that help us. If we work at it, exploring our options and accepting the help given to us, we can not only regain the ground that we lost, but things can turn out better than we ever expected.

AKA, we can't do everything on our own, and we can't always control our situation. The Lord is in control.

Third, we are loved. We are blessed. We are created with the potential to have joy and happiness. No matter what our situation is, good can come from it.

Last thought, there are a LOT of good people out there. People who want to bring about the happiness of others. It is so easy to assume the worst about people and their motives, but what if we tried, instead, to assume the best? I mean, we're going to get burned occasionally, but overall, there is a lot of good out there and I have been blessed via other people quite often in my life. Which makes me want to help others more... I want to be the one that turns someone's miserable situation around.

Life is beautiful :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waymarks on my spiritual quest

I am curently taking an advanced writing class at BYU called "Writing: Waymarks on the Spiritual Quest." It's a sweet class and we got to do a lot of cool and enlightening projects and activities. For our final, we are supposed to present to the class the progress we've made on our own spiritual and intellectual quests.

While pondering my spiritual quest (because, quite frankly, my intellectual quest is all over the place), there were a lot of seemingly unconnected ideas that kept running through my mind. Rather than let them remain in their state of chaos and distract me from accomplishing anything else, I decided to start writing what came to mind and see what happened.

First off, something I believe very strongly and see examples of daily – happiness is a choice. Our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be happy, and He has set up a glorious and perfect plan for us to do so. While He has laid out the framework, however, it is up to us to take advantage of that and do what is necessary.

Another thing I have a huge testimony of is free agency. We make our own choices and are made to endure the consequences of said choices – good or bad. They say blessings are brought to pass through others. President Kimball told us, “The Lord answers our prayers, but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” I think the same holds true with tribulation. One person’s personal tests in life result in another’s joy or heartbreak - depending on if the first person passes or fails. The example that comes to my mind is rape – it isn’t that God is punishing the victim, it’s that one person made a horrible choice and another person is made to suffer the consequences. While this may seem unfair, it is the only way that agency can work. In order to make good choices, there must be an option to make bad ones.

Next, the subject of service has been on my mind a lot lately. Every time I feel unproductive, unhappy, or frustrated with the way my life is going, I always seem to realize that, if I did more service, I would be happier. This logic is twofold – first, we are told that blessings come from service, and second, when we focus on others rather than ourselves, we always seem to find that we are more upbeat, have a better attitude and perspective, and feel better about ourselves. The result: service equals happiness.

After looking over the written manifestation of the workings of my brain, my initial thought was, “wow, back to square one, this is just a bunch of random concepts, not material for a presentation.” After a little more reflection, however, I began to see the connection – and the connection suddenly made perfect sense with the progress I have made this semester.

Here we go. Try to stay with me.

The Lord has given us all individual talents and abilities. Each of us has the ability to help people in different ways, and there are things we can do for others that no one else can do. Often we find that the ways in which Christ strengthened us are the ways in which we can help others. Based on our experiences, knowledge, natures, and blessings from the Lord, we are more sensitive and in-tune with those needs in other people, and we have the desire to do our part to fill that need.

It’s like a triangle, with “God”, “me/you,” and “others” as the vertices, with whatever our talent is filling in the center. Christ strengthens us in whatever area we need, and we, in turn, can help others in the same way.

I've been trying to fill my triangle with empathy. The Lord has been so kind, loving, and understanding to me throughout my life, especially in a few particularly memorable situations. Because of this, I feel like I have a heightened desire to relate and empathize with friends and acquaintances that are having a hard time. I have been blessed with the ability to recognize many problems that people are having and figure out subtle ways to provide assistance.

As I have recognized this extra sense that I seem to possess, my next step is to put this blessing into action. It is one thing to recognize a need but quite another to actually do something about it. However, where much is given, much is required, and I am starting to realize that, if I let this God-given talent go to waste, I will be rejecting Christ and what He has done to strengthen me in this area. It’s my job to uncover these talents and build upon them – asking the Lord for help, exerting effort, and putting them into practice.

I guess that’s the point, really. Christ helps us in ways that we don’t even recognize. But when we do recognize His hand in our lives, we learn from it and are grateful. That gratitude and newly acquired knowledge inspire us to improve ourselves and help others in the process. Because of the assistance that we are given, we are able to pass that assistance on to others… and the Lord’s love, empathy, and mercy are spread to all His children.