Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to the "Y"

Last view of Canandaigua Lake...
Hey, world!

...And first view of the "Y" again!
If I told you everything I've been up to this week, you'd all fall asleep.  So, cutting to the chase, tons of things have happened!  Suffice it to say that I'm in Utah now, anxiously awaiting the start of fall semester at BYU!

I've also landed a job at the campus Subway, so I'm being paid for my "womanly sandwich-making duties."  Go ahead.  Stereotype me.  I'm making money while you do. :)

All of us coworkers have asked the general get-to-know-you questions, and I've been asked a bunch if this is my first semester.  Even though I already have three under my belt, I almost feel like it is!  Restarting college after not being in it since December 2012 and everything that goes with it has put some ants in my pants.  But through the mild worries of classes, time management, work, social life, etc., and maintaining a missionary mindset through all the upcoming things, it's just been another chance for the Lord to show me how aware of us He is.

Mission shoe collage!
Whether it's been through good advice from friends and family, words in a talk of a complete stranger in church this past sunday, comfort through the scriptures, or the happiness that comes from being kissed by a boy (my 3 year old nephew giving goodnight kisses...  Eat your hearts out, ladies, he's a cutie!), I've been granted so many tender mercies to remind me that He loves us and He'll take care of us, especially when we're taking care of what He's asked us to do.  In all my macho attempts at being a strong, independent woman who don't need no help, sometimes I let myself forget that people usually want to help, and our Father in Heaven especially does.  He wants to and He will if we just let Him.  He often sends help through "angels" here with people we interact with every day, and He also gives us that help through the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, as we seek for it.  And as I've remembered that I really can't do it all on my own, I've found strength far greater when I lean on Him for support.  Lehi in the Book of Mormon pretty well sums up the way I feel when he says,

The heavenly view out my plane window
"But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love," (2 Nephi 1:15).

Letting God into our lives is so much more than just aiming for Heaven and avoiding Hell in the afterlife.  It's about finding Heaven through His love here on Earth, too!  When we let go of our stubborn pride and just acknowledge that we can't do this without His help (or at the very least it'll be WAY more difficult than it would be with His help), we might feel like we're letting some of our strength go, but in reality, we're adding more strength to face the challenges of life than we could ever find through sheer willpower.  His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  Any time we rebel against Him, we're just adding a brick to our buckets--when will we realize we're just being ridiculous?

This week, I'd encourage anyone reading this to pinpoint some area of your life that you're trying to manhandle on your own, and then to remember that God will help you with it.  We all still need to put the effort in ourselves, but remember that He wants to and will help where He needs to.  His arms are always outstretched, and we just need to reach back.  Simple as that.  (Isaiah 19:21, 20:4).

I love you all!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Creatures or Creators?

Hey, world!

These past two weeks have seen fantastically fast-paced highlights and incredibly slow interludes (oh, the mundanity!  Haha, ha...), but that's life!  It's been a great intro back into the real world.  Not every day is going to be scheduled to the minute with soul-saving, deepy fulfilling activities, and that's ok!  I've remembered that winding down and relaxing is ok, and that I can still have meaningful experiences outside of inviting people to repent and such.  In fact, I still feel the Spirit in my life about as strongly as I did on my mission!  It's all in the way you view your situation.  Will we be creatures of our circumstances and allow the events of everyday life rob us of happiness or spirituality or other positive things, or will we be creators of our circumstances, and find the happy, make the good, and choose to move forward?  That's our decision.

Which leads everso silky smoothly into what's been on my mind, lately!  We are all accountable for our own actions.  Period.  Our circumstances may affect the level of difficulty of making decisions, or even the way we think, but in the end, no one can force you to do anything.  Options might seem limited, consequences might seem better one way than the other, but we always have our agency, or our power to choose.  Obviously, there are those with conditions that limit their accountability, which is understandable, and is a part of life.  For the rest of us though, there are no excuses!  It's right or wrong.  With the right, it's even broken down into Good, Better, and Best.  There are so many choices!  But they're all OURS to make.

Heeeeere pigdeon pidgeon pidgeon!
Tough guy.
Personal post-mission application: shooting guns.  On the mission: BAD NEWS.  Off the mission: cool!  I could choose to stay stuck in my missionary mentality of "we're breaking rules and wasting precious time when we could be sharing the restored Gospel with our brothers and sisters," or I could enjoy myself with family friends and develop a fun skill.  Another!  Going on a date.  On the mission: BAAAD NEWS.  Off the mission: cool!  I could choose to lock myself in a closet and take an oath of celebacy to remind myself of how much I loved my mission, and how I can't possibly move on from such an amazing event in my life, or I can buck up, act normal one-on-one with someone who's not another Sister (or as normal as I can be... not saying much), and move on.  Personally, I don't want to allow myself to be stuck in the past when I've been preaching about progressing eternally for the last year and a half.  We just have to choose to move ahead!

Totally hypothetical examples.  Totally just pulled them out of the air.  Totally not trying to brag about the fact that I got to shoot clay pidgeons with 12 gauge shotguns.  Not at all.

Super artsy sidewalk chain-link fence thing.
I also could have chosen to curl up into a fetal position in New York City with how un-missionary I felt there, but that wouldn't have been much fun, now would it?

So for this week, read 2 Nephi 2:26-27, and decide how you can decide better in your life.  Take personal responsibility for who you are, what you're doing, and who you want to become and do with your life, and choose to close any gap there might be!  Start today!  Nothing is holding you back.


Super artsy big city temple pic.  Eat your heart out, fence thing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Transfer

Hey.... world!  (I guess this isn't being sent to my family anymore.)

So.  I'm back.  This isn't exactly harvesting in the potato fields of Idaho anymore, but I will still continue the accounts of my harvesting on a less than full-time basis.  Just because I've successfully completed 18 blissful months of spiritual bootcamp doesn't mean I can coast to the finish; I've got the rest of eternity to go!  And Heaven knows that I'm still on a mission; I will always be seeking to invite others to come unto Christ, and I will always be seeking to better my own spirit.  I just got transferred, remember?

And what a transfer.  New area, new companion (or lack thereof), new language, new customs.  I've entered into a strange world of holding babies and hugging people of the opposite gender, and where people watch pictures move in magical, metal boxes.  I seem to be a bit out of my element, but as I study the culture of my new environment, they seem not to detect as much that I'm an awkward, scripture-preaching returned missionary.

Except for that one guy at a young single adult ultimate frisbee tournament who kept touching me on the arm that pointed out I kept backing away from him without even realizing it.  Oops...

Haha but other than that and just a few other minor post-mission quirks, I've been fine with the transition!  I've been blessed with wonderful family and friends to talk to when I feel like driving my head through the floorboards for lack of structured time, and I've also been blessed to find things to keep me busy to avoid the aforementioned feelings.  I know that the promises our Father in Heaven has made to take care of those who serve Him and His children are true!  In my personal studies, I've felt revelation pour into me of how to proceed and what to do, just like it did on the mission!  My questions are being answered one by one, and my concerns are being addressed, or at least given peace to counteract the stress.  I know I'm being watched over, and I feel the Spirit as strongly as I did while I was serving the Lord full-time.  It all depends on what you do with the time you're given!

With that said, I have seen a pull to gradually fall back into who I was before my mission.  To sink; to forget.  But as L. Whitney Clayton said when he toured the IPM back in February, "Success is doing the small things well."  I've noticed that as I start my days with a good personal scripture study, as I keep praying, as I seek the Spirit's guidance continually throughout the day, I can keep building up that spiritual armor around myself to keep from forgetting the wonderful lessons I've learned and the incredible blessings I saw and people I met on my mission.  Though it does kind of feel like my mission was just a dream, not only have I been able to see the change in myself, but mission memories come back and solidify themselves bit by bit as I do the small things and as I share those experiences with others.  The Lord has given me so many miraculous missionary opportunities since I've been back, and it's been such a tender mercy!

My mission wasn't a waste, and my life ahead of me, though not in full-time service, is not a waste either.  Now's the time to be "in the world, but not of the world," (John 15:19).  Though we all seem to focus on the second half of that statement, the first half is just as important.  Those with the light of Christ burning within them need to be a beacon to those whose light may have faded, but how can we do that if we avoid anyone who fits that category?

So, hello, World.  It's good to be back!  Even though I apparently have a hard time letting your boys tap me on the arm still (seriously, I had no idea!), I'm ready to take you on!  I know that I can do anything with my Savior at my side.


1. 4 hours of ultimate frisbee :)  It's good to be back!
2. The Sacred Grove: one of my favorite places in the world