Friday, September 12, 2014

A Long Road

It started out as a normal day. Normal morning. I actually was going to be on time! Class one was normal. Class two was normal. Lunch was awesome! And I was happy.

Class three started.
She is so cute, with her girly dresses, and tights. She's always smiling, her hands always waving. She always has to have a pen in her hand.

As she is waving her left hand, pen zooming with it, something caught my eye. Her wedding ring. It's bigger. It stands out.

And once again, my mind instinctively takes a trip down memory lane.
Only, this memory was not one I was anticipating.

It's just like the movies. Once you start thinking, you can't stop. Once you're there, you're not where you were before. Once that door is cracked, it will swing wide open, and it's hard to turn around.


I'm at the funeral again. Keegan's and Liam's casket were already closed. Tears had been welling in my eyes, and I had already pushed everyone out of my path and booked it out the doors, out the church building, and hid behind a wall. I sobbed... I knew that they wouldn't continue without me, but at that moment, I just needed to be by myself. No hugs. No tears. Just me and the cold air.
People found me and coaxed me back into coming back. I walked slowly. I let the tears stream.
He was there at the door, holding it. He had seen me run. He was a hug that I wanted at the time.
People put their hands on me.
"Please. Don't. Touch. Me." Release.
Next was Mom. She was still beautiful. Her nails were just done. Her hands were stiff, and still soft. Her left hand was over her right. Her ring was bigger. It stood out.
"Jensen, I think you should take her ring."
People began coaxing me.
"No, I can't! That's not right! No."
"You will want it later..."
They lift her stiff soft hand. They are tiny fingers. It takes a little while before they get it off. They hand it to me.
I hold it tight.

I force myself to remain in class. It's been almost 7 months. Just face the reality already.

But, that door has already been opened. Just a crack is enough.
And they are there again.
When I saw them for the first time. When the crowd was suffocating. When I saw Daddy. Mom. When I saw Keegan with his basketball teammates. Liam in his brand new suit that was bought for his first time to pass the sacrament.

And I cry.
It's all within seconds.

I still have a lot of life to live. Hopefully anyways. And that's a long time without them. When I think about that, it makes it harder to see the bigger picture.

The road to eternity is a long one. It's a specific one. And the steps must be thorough. There's not shortcuts. There's not breaks. It's just moving on, enduring on, and relying on faith.

It's not easy. Faith is just. Not. Easy.
But it's the only way.
So, that's why I take it.

Not because I'm so great and inspirational. Not because I want people to think I'm so strong. Not because it's easy.
Because there's only one thing that's important to me. And that's to be with them again.

Faith is not the easy road. But it is the road that gets you where you essentially want to go.
Faith is an action. It's a choice.
You can choose to be stronger.
You can choose to start now.
You can choose to change things that you don't like.
Life was not meant to be easy.
Don't choose the easy way out.
Do the hard thing.
Rewards are given to those who work. Those who try. Even better yet, those who stumble and get back up.

I've had to make changes. I've had to let things go. And it was very difficult.
But if you want the prize, you have to be willing to change.

And I know what I want.

"Grief does not change you... It reveals you." -John Greene

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sealings and Tears and Happiness

I went to Seattle this past weekend.
It's been years.
Last time I went, it was with them.
So many memories...


One of my best of friends got sealed to the love of her life. It was wonderful, being there, with her, and him, and with friends and family.

Two weeks ago, I went to my trainer's wedding sealing. They got married early in the morning. It was wonderful, being there, with her, and him, and with friends and family.

In three more weeks, I will go to my closest companion's wedding sealing. It will be wonderful, being there, with her, and him, and with friends and family.

While I'm there, in the sealing room, I tear up. Most people may think it's because I'm so happy for these guys. That is true! I am so ridiculously happy.
But, I also can't help but think...

My parents won't be there.
Will it still be wonderful, being there, with me, and him, and friends and family?
But not with them?

If I get sealed, they won't physically be there. And that is hard. Really hard.
And so, I cry.
I just let the tears flow.

But as I'm sitting there in that sealing room, I realize.
This is what it's all about.

My family is all good. They are secure. They are happy.
And thank goodness for saving ordinances.
Or else, where would I be?

Matthew 16:19-
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Happiness is not meant to only be temporal.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"That Girl"

Believing is just the first leap of faith to knowing.
Just let that sink in.

When I was on my mission, I became known as, what a lot of people called, "That Girl." I was "That Girl" who bore her testimony every fast Sunday since Primary days. I was "That Girl" who knew all the answers during the Primary lessons. I was "That Girl" who loved to go to Seminary, and, lo and behold, I knew all the answers there, too! I was "That Girl" who read her scriptures, and loved analyzing them, and knew all the stories, and understood doctrine. I was "That Girl" who gave a million and one devotionals, (all voluntary, by the way) and lessons, and whatnots. I was "That Girl" who never really questioned anything that was told to me.

I was "That Girl." That girl who never had a reason to question anything. I was "That Girl." That girl who never had any real trials. Oh ya, sure, there were those ridiculous moments when I thought I was ugly, or didn't have friends, or had a hard time during school. But, none of those ever made me second guess things or doubt things.

I had it good. There was no reason to. I just kind of naturally "knew."


I've been thinking a lot. I think more than I speak nowadays. Since everything has happened, I've been REALLY thinking about "The Eternal Plan of Happiness." How families can be together forever, being married with the right authority. How death isn't the end, but just another step in the grand spectrum of things. How there's even more to it that I don't even know.

That's the thing. There's so much that I don't know.

It's not a doubting factor. It's more of I just don't know a lot of things. I don't know where Heaven is. Ya, we as people fabricated this idea that heaven is the sky, but if that was the case, wouldn't we see angels all the time, dancing around in their white robes, playing their harps? And even then, do we know if that's what angels do? I, personally, have a hard time believing that. My father, as well as my mother, were not lazy people.

(Plus, none of the four of them know how to play the harp...)

The point of the matter is, I DON'T KNOW. I don't know EXACTLY where Heaven is, or what we do, or when we become resurrected, or yada yada yada.

I do, however, have faith. That those kinds of things exist and those kinds of things happen.

I was reading my scriptures the other day, in Mark. (I tend to jump around.) And something caught my eye. It was Mark 6:6. This is what it said:

"And he (meaning Jesus, as he is trying to heal people,) marveled because of their unbelief. And he went around the villages, teaching."

Understanding that the verses before that were talking about how he couldn't do any miracles because no one had faith, I footnoted the word "unbelief." This is what it said:
UNBELIEF: Lack of faith
I'm not really sure why, but my mind started racing as I continued to read. It's kind of ironic, really, because later on in the chapter, it tells the story about the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes, and because of the faith of the 5,000+ people there, Christ was able to feed them all, with just that much food! (Blows my mind, by the way.)
What was the difference between these two groups of people? The group that couldn't, or perhaps even wouldn't, be healed, and the group that was able to witness 5,000+ people be fed with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes? Well, when first reading it and thinking about it, the answer is the latter group had faith...
 But here was where my mind started going...
If you refer back to the footnote, according to this, and if I understand this correctly, Christ was dumbfounded by the lack of FAITH the first group had.
If you continue to read in all kinds of scripture, he always require people to have FAITH.
Miracles happened when people had FAITH.
He never reprimanded people that didn't have KNOWLEDGE.
He never marveled because of the lack of KNOWLEDGE that people had. (Not including people who had ALREADY RECEIVED that knowledge, who needed constant reminders. Which were a rare group of people.)
In short, He doesn't expect us to have FULL KNOWLEDGE. Not right now.
How could he? We are so imperfect!
Faith is a power. Awesome things happen when you have faith. Miracles happen.
And faith is developed when one BELIEVES first.
This life is all about believing and developing faith. More often than not, we will not have the FULL KNOWLEDGE of things here on Earth.
But believing, which develops into faith, will eventually become knowledge.
Will it happen while you're here in this life? Maybe. Maybe not. I cannot say.
To all those who may feel like you don't know things, you're not alone. You don't need to know everything right now.
But just exercising your beliefs to become faith is the first step.
I don't know exactly where my family is. I don't have that full knowledge. I don't know where Heaven is, or Paradise. 
But, I have a whole heck of a lot of faith that they are happy. And things are going well, wherever they are.
They were just those kinds of people. They make wherever they are a better, happier place.  
I believe I will see them again. I have faith that the gospel will enable me to have that opportunity.
And, I also believe that someday, I'll understand and know why things had to happen the way they did.
I'm not "That Girl" who knows all the answers.
I'm "That Girl" who believes the answers will come.  


Monday, August 11, 2014

Now, it is August

July was a tough month.

I'm not sure why that is. Maybe because it would have been the month that I would finish up my mission. The way that I planned to, that is.
Maybe it's because it would have been when I saw them all again. At the airports with their signs and smiles and hugs.
Maybe it would have been when I would come back to the life that I loved and left for a time, and I was would have been excited to be back.

I can't pinpoint exactly.
But, for whatever reason, July was hard.
Extremely hard.

And now, it's August.
And it's still hard.
Mainly because of how I was in July.
Angry. Depressed. Apathetic. Rude. Inconsiderate.
(I'm in that phase of grieving, I guess.)
I'll be the first to admit it. I've been a pain. I know I have. I've avoided people like the plague, for fear of hurting them or exploding at them, or just because I'm annoyed at them and don't want to deal with them. As those that I do indeed let in, I just become angry and frustrated when they try to help.

It doesn't matter how many words of advice I hear, or bars of chocolates I eat, or martini glasses I smash.
That helps the exterior me.
It does nothing for the interior me. And, unfortunately, the interior me is what demands the most attention. The most healing. And people try.
And try.
And try...

I've shut down. I've set a barricade around me. I want people to come in, but I don't know how to help them through the wall, because there is no door. I forgot to add that part when I was creating it. It's high, and it's hard to get out, and it's hard for people to come in.
And so, what do I do? Yell. Scream.
If they can't feel it, then I will let them hear it.
Which results to... confusion. More hurt. More fear. More exhaustion. And more helplessness.
And not just for me.
More importantly, for those who try to help.
And you can only try getting through a barricaded heart for so long before you have to just move on.

All the negative build up from July caused the most hurt and exhaustion I've ever experienced. The load is so heavy, but I don't know how to give it up. It builds upon me, to the point of exhaustion so severe that I shut down.
I stare at people as they speak to me.
I tune out a lot more than I take in.
It's hard for me to listen to other people's problems.
I watched people became lost for words, after hours of coaxing me. Counseling, spiritual experiences, opinions... nothing worked.

I became selfish.

And now, it is August.
And as I sit in the corner of my barricaded heart, I realize.
My heart is hard. It is not what is was.
I don't LIKE this me.
And, I highly doubt that they do, either.
Or them...

Why do I write this?
I'm sorry to all who have tried, and felt like they failed. Because you didn't. I love you more than you realize. And you help more than you will ever realize.
I'm deep into this. And it's the worse pain and worse feeling I've EVER experienced. And it's going to take more than a few days to get out. It's going to take a while.

A wise man once told me a phrase that forever changed my perspective on life. I forgot it for a while, but I'm reminded again:
"God doesn't do random."

No. No, he doesn't.
There is no growth in the comfort zone.
I'm going to get out of this barricade.
I'm going to start building a door.
It's not going to happen overnight.
And I'm not doing it alone. I'm going to require a lot of divine help. I want to be who I was before.
I take that back.
I want to be better than I was before.
That's going to require a lot of trust, a lot of change, and a lot of patience.
It's going to require the Atonement, which I know I need in my life again. I'm not a perfect person. I've stumbled a lot lately. But I'm going to keep going forward.

July was tough.
Now, it is August.
What better time to change?  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014

JULY 22, 2014
Best friend and I will be up all night, excited, maybe crying.
We will drive to the airport together.
We will sleep on the plane. Maybe, if we were up the night before.
Both our families will be there, together, with their balloons and "WELCOME HOME" signs.
We will sign. Throw them off.
When we can't stand it anymore, we will run to them.
I will run to them. Hug them all.
Probably Mom first. Mothers get first call.
Then, the boys.
Then, Dad.
Say goodbye to best friend. Drive home. Tell them everything.
JULY 22, 2014
Wake up.
Apply for classes.
No hugs.
No brothers. No Mom. No Dad.
Drive around alone.

Sometimes, you just want to escape.

No, I'm not talking about going on a trip, or going to another state.

I'm talking about that confinement that you feel by just being you.
The realization that you are you and you won't ever be anyone else but you, and you have to live with being you.
Your struggles. Your weaknesses. Even your happiness and triumph.
It's all exhausting sometimes.
Escape would mean just having a brief moment of freedom of being you. Almost like as if your spirit could just leave your body for a few moments.

Not like death.

More like a jump. A jump through space. Matter. Time. A jump through your story.
What will I become? I need to know the end of my story...

Or perhaps, more like a dream. An escape from reality.
I love dreaming. It gives me a chance to be away for a little while.

It's interesting how many forms that confinement can be.


This is a trial of faith.

I won't say the trial of faith. There may be more.

And from this, many things have happened.

The following does not happen in the above order.


"You're an inspiration!"

You'd think I'd be used to hearing it. But I'm still not.
I appreciate it very much.
Although, I am still trying to see it.

Very few people see what happens behind the closed door and pulled curtains. All the suppressed feelings that build up. Even all the "what ifs" and "whys". They still happen.
I think, to some degree, they always will.

How is that, pray tell, an inspiration??


I'm not the inspiration. As much as you all think.
It's not me.
Can't you see that? I'm just a normal girl, going through a crazy, unexpected ordeal.

The inspiration is the Atonement. The inspiration is that the crazy, unexpected ordeal can be fixed in due time.
No, they won't come back. Not anytime soon, anyways.
But we are a forever family.
THAT, my friends, is the inspiration.

Or, perhaps even, the inspiration is that we won't be completely and utterly alone. Ever. Although, maybe at times, we may feel that way.
You won't know how I feel, and I won't know how you feel. Even if we switched our circumstances, it would never be the same, because you are you, and I am me, and you and I handle things even slightly differently.
But we are never alone. Because that price has *touch finished* been paid.

Perhaps, the inspiration comes from that in a very small town in this gigantic earth, where things are becoming crazier by the minute, there is a girl who still believes that there is a God. One that can do miracles.
And there are so many more of the like.

Shouldn't that be SAYIING something?

My family were who they were.... who they ARE... because of the Atonement of Christ. My brother is back on his mission, sharing his experiences, regardless of how hard it may have been to leave, because of the Atonement of Christ. I am who I am because of the Atonement of Christ.

And when I remember that... I don't feel so confined anymore.
Because I know that Christ died for us, so that we wouldn't be.


Confinement takes on many forms.

But so does freedom.

The freedom of being happy. Being with family. The freedom of togetherness.


I wonder...

Maybe, it's like a homecoming.
Everyone is excited.
Maybe they have signs that says, "WELCOME HOME!"
I hope they are there. I'll run up to them and hug them.
Probably Mom. Mothers get the first call.
Then, the boys.
Then, Dad.
That would be nice... 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Amazing Bell Collection

When I was really little, I had a bell collection.

It all started years ago, in a random little gift souvenir shop in West Yellowstone National Park. I felt the need and desire to buy SOMETHING. Something that would forever remind me of this, in my little 8 or 9 year old mind, best trip ever. I walked up and down the aisles, searching and observing.

And that's when I saw it.

It was big. It was white. It had paintings of buffalo and deer and an eagle. "West Yellowstone" was printed nicely in yellow. The glass was thick. And I could even hear the jingle when I rang it.
It was perfect in my eyes.

In my excitement, I ran up to show my Dad. He could see how excited I was, and suggested that I start a collection. Anywhere that I go in the world, I would buy a bell, as a token and memoir.

Pure genius!

And thus, my amazing bell collection began! Anywhere we went that was outside of Pocatello, Idaho, I would buy a bell. Big ones, little ones, tall ones, small ones. Ones that rang, and ones that clicked. Ones made of metal, and ones made of glass.
The list could go on.

Soon, my whole family knew about it! Everyone was in on it. Grandmas and Grandpas knew, aunts and uncles knew. Mom and Dad clearly knew. I would get them for birthday presents. I would get them when people would go on trips and bring me back a gift. The collection grew and grew. And I loved it so.

They all were placed on a little pretty wooden shelf that was placed on the wall. If I rolled over onto my right side right before I went to bed, I would see them there, standing tall and pretty.

I had one bell that I especially loved. It was one from my grandmother, my mother's mother. It was pure glass, with some flowery printing on it, that was pink (back when I loved flowery pink things). I can't remember why she gave it. (Probably because I'm her favorite granddaughter. Or maybe a present.) But, regardless, I loved that bell more than all the others, because not only was it beautiful, but it was also the only one that I received from her. It was placed on the shelf so that I could reach for it whenever I wanted to...

... Which, as fate would have it, was towards the right end of the shelf. Next to the book shelf. The very high book shelf, in my little 9 to 10 year old mind.

And, as it turned out, was also in my little 8 to 9 year old brother's mind.

One day, for whatever reason, he decided it needed something from the top of the bookshelf. (I'm assuming he either wanted a book, or that creepy furby that Mom had placed on the top of the shelf.)

(Sidenote: Yes. I did own a creepy furby doll once upon a time. It was blue.)

For a little boy who hasn't grown into his shoes yet, the only solution to reaching an object that was about 6 feet above him, just so happened to be to stand on the rocking chair and climb.
He didn't mean to do it right by the shelf, I'm sure. That didn't even cross his mind. He didn't plan for the chair to rock, and fall backwards, bringing him with it, and knocking the Amazing Bell Collection.

And. Well...

Surprisingly, not a lot of them broke. I hadn't even realized that he was climbing the chair. I was alarmed to hear clamoring and commotion. Then heartbroken as I realized, my shelf was no longer on the wall, but rather, in the floor. Mom came down, and we started gathering the bells...

And that's when I saw it.

A piece of glass. With a pink twisting flower.
Then, another piece.
And another.

It was destroyed. Not broken up. DESTROYED.

I was so upset. I was angry. Of all my bells, THAT one??? Seriously?? I remember feeling the anger well up in me.
And it was at that point, I looked over at Ian.
Oh, the look on his face...

It's seems good to point out, that at this point, Ian and I DID NOT get along very well. You know, one of those sibling phases where you push buttons to the limit, and walked along the edge.

So, when I saw that face...
I couldn't take it.
I remember I walked upstairs while my parents talked to him.

I went into the hallway, and paced back and forth. Over and over. I was so mad. And I wanted to be mad.
But that face of hurt was sewn into my brain.
But I was so mad.


There was a full length mirror. I liked to look into it when I was thinking. So...

I'm pretty sure I had a primary lesson in church about forgiveness. Or maybe it was a Family Home Evening lesson. It's been so long, I don't recall everything. But for whatever reason, the term "forgiveness" was in my little brain.
And I already knew what I had to do.

It was hard. I've never really done something like this before. (The littler version of me didn't realize that forgiveness, was another word for, "It's ok.") I remember praying, asking for help.

Maybe it's cliché, but even at a young age, I understood that my relationship with my brother was far more important than a pretty glass bell.

I walked out of the hall, down the stairs, through the door, and there was our piano.

And sitting on the bench, head down on his arms, on the keys, was my brother.

It was super awkward for me.
But I walked up to him.
Placed my hand on his shoulder.
I forgive you. 

The rest is history.


Sometimes, I feel that we get foreshadows in our lives.

Almost like Heavenly Father lets things happen, then say, "Hint Hint, you're going to use this way later."

I'm coming to find that life is a collection of moments sewn together to create of collage of memories. And those memories become our eternity.
The collage of memories somehow fit itself into the deepest pocket of our brain and stays there, hidden. We almost forget about them sometimes.
Well, maybe not forget, but we don't necessarily go looking for them. Maybe we take them for granted.

And then, something happens.

And it's like the memory jumps out of the brain pocket and says, "BAM! Remember that one time you did yada-yada-yada? Ya, you need to use this."

And, for some reason, this memory jumped out at me a couple days ago.
The memory of the bell.
The memory of my first actual, real life, non-primary lesson of forgiveness.


It's kind of hard when there is no actual source for the reason for your pain.
There was no mindless drunk driver.
There was no ax murderer.
No stop lights.
No warnings.

Nowhere to direct the blame.
Just dumb luck.

And. That. Hurts.
I want to blame someone. I want to place my anger somewhere. But I can't.
So, it's directed everywhere. Anyone. Anyone who crosses my path. I yell at someone. I hit something. I run away just for the sake of getting away. I cry into the pillow. I break a plate. A martini glass.
But, in the end, it doesn't take the pain away.
And I feel worse later.

Why do I still feel this way? Why can't I just get over myself? More people suffer worse than me. My life isn't even hard.
Yet, it is.
No, it's not.

I know this is normal. I know there's no limit in the grieving process.
Happiness is a choice. I GET THAT.
But that doesn't mean that I won't have hard days. Or angry days. It doesn't mean that I won't get frustrated.
I hate the feeling.

So. Why the bell memory?
Perhaps, it was a foreshadow for later? Or maybe it has nothing to do with foreshadowing. Maybe it's a lesson I need to remember.

Forgiveness is just better. Maybe not necessarily easier.
But better.
You are happier.
Because, some things are just not worth the grudge.

Confliction will come up. Your mortal nature will fight with your spiritual nature.
It's kind of interesting how opposite they can be.
But also, how similar they can become.
And in the end, you can decide.
Over time.

Some things just take time.

Monday, July 7, 2014


"What are you up to these days?"

Living life. Figuring it out.

That's what I've started to say every time I'm asked.

But hey.
It's better than, "How are you?"


"Asking 'why' can be a frustrating, and even dangerous, thing to do."
Wise words of a wise seminary teacher.

The walls have started growing. I can feel them being built around me.
I don't know why.
Maybe because I'm tired of the questions.
Maybe I'm tired of the answers.

There are days when I close up. It happens more often than not.
I don't think I mean to.
It just happens.

There are days when after I've held it in for so long, I blow up. And scare people away.
I don't think I mean to.
It just happens.

There are days where I will randomly cry for no reason at all. A song. A picture. A memory.
I don't think I mean to.
It just happens.

And people get that. They understand. I think, in some ways, they are more patient and understanding about it than I am.

I want to be done with the grieving process.
I know some day, I will be.
It's just a matter of when.
In the meantime...


I used to think life was a chessboard.
We were pawns.
We were here, doing our thing, waiting for some higher being, (whoever or whatever that higher being is in your head) would tell us what to do, and where to go, and who to love, and what to study, and what job we should get.
You know, that we would pray and ask, and just be TOLD what to do.
He would place us where we needed to be.

How wrong am I.

I realized it one day.
We teach that concept totally and completely wrong.
Ok, maybe not totally and completely.
But slightly.

I've been home for... what? Almost 5 months? We will say 4 1/2.
I came home. Vulnerable. Terrified. Uncertain.
So many nights. So many prayers...
No direct answer.
Only comfort.

Everything that I had planned for myself was gone in an instant. As I am sure it was for a lot of different people. My future for myself, where I would go, what I would study, what job I would get...
Not gone, sorry.
But more or less put on hold.
As the days morphed into weeks, then months, those thoughts of the future started to take its toll on me.

What will I do?
Where will I go?
Do I go here?
Of course, I was there before.
I'll study this.

And it didn't seem right.
I adapted. Changed things up.
That is the key...

Here I am now. 4 1/2ish months later.
Different plans. Different directions.
But it's still good.


If there is anything that I have learned this week, it's that we are not pawns.
We will more often than not NOT be told what to do.
But we will be led.

At the moment, it seems that the world has stopped. And you're alone. And the road is foreverrrrrr long, with no shades and no resting places, and you feel inclined to keep going in order to catch up. And you want to run down it, get it done, get it over with.

But then you look back, and you realize... ya. The road is still long. It never shortened.
But you definitely had some help along the way.
Perhaps nudging.

You will always be led, even when you don't think so.
You're not stupid.
You have a brain.
Make the choice.

You may just shock yourself with how much you can do.
And you may just shock yourself with how much you can't do.
And that's ok.


4 1/2ish months.
I still have bad days.
I have weak spots.
But I am a whole heck of a lot stronger than I was.
And I have a much better idea of what I will do.

Not overnight.
But time.


Living life. Figuring it out.

That's what I've started to say every time I'm asked.