Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm feelin' good

It is times like these when I just need to remember to count my many blessings.

You know those times. Those days where your first class drags because the monotone speaker drones on and on and on about things that you can just look on a paper yourself. Those times where you forgot an important assignment, so you can't even be in class, because there is no point. Those times where you work most of your week, not being able to do homework until later, but then, being so exhausted, which already adds to the mental, and not to mention, physical exhaustion of just living.

There. That felt better. I needed to get that out.
I'm not perfect.
And I'm not great all the time.

I think that makes me secretly sad. I want to be great all the time. I want to feel the way that people view me to feel; spunky, lively, independent, adventurous, happy go-lucky. I want to be like my heroes. I want to always be smiling. I want to be positive.
But, more often than not, I'm just not.

I think, quite honestly, it's always been a struggle for me. Even when I was younger, I was not always the most positive. Mostly about myself. I always picked on myself.
But, I have this ability to "fake it till I make it." Which helps sometimes.

And then, I have days when I just want to crash and burn.
So, I do.
I crash and burn.

Sometimes, it comes in outbursts and angry words. Sometimes, it's holding in feelings of frustration when random people are annoying me with their constant prying into my life with questions while I am just trying to sell them some rolls. Sometimes, it's when I'm crying to my boyfriend about how sad my life is without them, and how I want to move on but I don't feel like I can.

So, I let myself feel those moments. I eat them up. Spit it out. Engulf in the moment.

And somehow, I always feel worse.
It's not necessarily a great way to live.

And so, I count blessings.
Here we go.
...

Today, I woke up in a bed.
Today, I have a car to drive.
Today, I am able to go to school.
I won't be going hungry today.
I have family.
I know what it is like to love.
I know what it is like to be loved.
I won't be alone for the holidays.
The gospel is true.
Families are forever.
I'm learning about something that I truly love to do.
I'm learning about things that I truly don't love to do, but I'm still learning, and that's what matters.
I have friends. Lots of them, that would do anything for me, and I for them.
I'm wearing clothes.
I have a phone.
I'm using talents to help people.
People are using talents to help me.
Music filled my ears today.
I don't have to work today, and I get to work to tomorrow.
Heck, I have a job.
I'm dating an amazing awesome guy.
I live with funny people who entertains me all the time.
I get to see my brother in 4 DAYS!!
We will be together during the holidays.
I can always start over.
I read scriptures this morning, and learned awesome things and got answers.
I'm warm.
It's Thanksgiving Break! HALLE-FREAKIN-LUJAH!
I survived school.
Heck, I'm living life!
I'm doing hard things that most people my age will never have to deal with, and I'm growing and developing from these things.
I have people who help me with these things.
God is patient, which is a blessing, because heaven knows he needs it with me.
Christ is patient, which is a blessing, because sometimes, I am a brat.
My body functions fairly well. Better than most.
I can run.
I can walk.
I can jump.
I can play.
Christmas is coming.
Outside is pretty.
I'm sealed to my family.
...

I did that just now, no pre thinking. Just sat and wrote for 5 minutes.
And now, the day doesn't seem so bad.
I really do have it good, don't I?
I'm feelin' good.

So, a cliche' (LOL, if you know me, you know how much I just LOOOOVE cliches'...) Thanksgiving challenge for you. Especially if you had a not so great morning like myself.

Set a timer. 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, I don't care. But set it, and start writing. Write all the blessings you can think of. Temporal or spiritual. Today or yesterday's. Whatever you feel.

See how much the Lord really does.
You'll be amazed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Realization

December 25, 2013 was the last time I saw them.

It was via Skype, for which I am eternally grateful. I remember being so excited to talk to them and see their faces. Keegs hair was out of control long and curly. Liam looked not so little anymore.

They wanted to talk to me the most. They wanted to hear all about the mission. I told them all that I could. I showed them their sign names.

I talked to Mom and Dad next. I told them about my mission. I updated them on things that they asked about.

But, I didn't tell them too much.
Because I knew I'd see them just a few short months later.

"Man, I can't wait to serve a mission." Words spoken by Keegan Parrish.

I realized something today.
Unless you have served a mission, it is more difficult to listen to the missionary stories. Maybe not hard, but I've come to realize that the people who have served missions are the ones that really connect to your stories. They know what you've gone through. They understand your "missionary vocabulary." They get it when you talk about the struggles. They really understand your joy when even just one person comes to church.
I don't know, they just understand.

And that was something that I was super excited to talk about with them.
Especially Dad. Because he would have understood.
Keegan and Liam were planning on being able to understand when they turned 18.
Dad and Mom were planning on being able to understand when the time was right.

It hit me today, how badly I had wanted to share those experiences with them. How badly I wanted to reminisce and remember and reflect with them. How much I wanted to tell the boys, and get them excited about their own missions. It was going to be so cool! We would have all served.

I wish I could have known that that was going to be the last time I would see them. I wish I could have known that it was my last chance to verbally tell them.

Patience is such a virtue. The unknown may frighten us. The possibilities keep us on our toes. And the yearning within us causes us to wonder. And sometimes hurt.
Patience is definitely a virtue I have yet to achieve.

I like this description of patience:

Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God's will and accept his timing, When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith- you must wait for the Lord's promised blessings to be fulfilled. (Preach my Gospel, page 120)

So, I'll wait.
And one day, I'll be able to tell them everything. And one day, they will be able to tell me about their missions.
Because that is what they are doing. They are doing missionary work.
That's what it's all about.
It's all about the work, and learning, and growing, and developing. It's a constant, strait path.

No, not straight.
Strait.
It's a one way road, and so narrow, and requires our absolute best. Not perfection. That's impossible. But our best.
And our best is always possible.

I can't wait to have that time again.

I can't wait when we are all sitting together, and we can share everything that we learned from our missions.

"And now my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience, and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions... But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions." Alma 34:40-41 

The longer the wait, the sweeter the reunion.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fish and Lambs

October is a lot like July.

Which is a shame, because October is my favorite month. It's so pretty.

We were sitting together, not saying anything for a while. I was too upset and depressed to talk. I had been crying a little. He asked, "What is going through your head?

My response surprised me.

Nothing you don't know. Just the normal stuff.

...

This is just normal me. The feelings I feel are becoming more and more "normal." The home that I live in is becoming my "normal" comfortable place of refuge. The thoughts that I fight everyday is just a "normal" everyday inner battle that I have within myself.

I want to defy this normal.

.......
 
A couple of days ago, I felt impressed to read John 21. I thought that there was something that I was supposed to get out of it, that some scripture would pop right out at me. Maybe it would be a life changing phenomenon that I needed.
 
 
But, nothing happened. It was strange.
 
I've heard the story so many times. I understand the concept of "Feed my sheep" and "Feed my lambs." I understood that Christ was telling Peter to be a missionary and to follow His example. But, I didn't really feel like that's what I was supposed to learn.
 
It kind of bothered me.
 
.......
 
October is another July. It's been kind of tough. I can't pinpoint why, although I do have my speculations.
 
November first is the start of Christmas for Ross Parrish. That's just how it is. Yes, we were that family that some people think is weird and start getting ready for Christmas before Thanksgiving happens. (Which, by the way, I don't understand why people are like that. It's the HOLIDAYS. I say celebrate what you want when you want.)
November is Ross Parrish's birthday month.
November is when the boys would eat lots and lots of food.
November is when Bill Parrish started putting up the decorations.
December is when the kids would watch all of those Christmas specials, regardless of how old we are getting. Because we are all still young at heart.
December is the big family celebration.
 
This November and this December, they are not going to be here.
Or next year.
Or the year after that.
 
.......
 
What am I supposed to learn about fish and lambs??
 
.......
 
 


Sometimes, you just can't help but ask, "Why?" It's just a natural thing to do. Humans have done it since the existence of time.
 
Sometimes, there are answers that we receive right away. (Why am I coughing so much? Oh, because I am sick, and I need to go to the doctor.)
 
Sometimes, there are answers that we don't receive right away. And those are the kinds that can eat away at us.
 
Which is probably why October is a lot like July. I've asked "why" way to many times.
 
And we all know that "why" can be a dangerous thing to ask.
 
.......
 
And then, it dawned on me...
 

... It's not about fish. Or lambs.
 
It's about Peter, and the disciples.
 
I love Elder Holland's talk about this story from the October 2012 General Conference. He said something that impacted me when I first heard it, and it came back to my mind as I was pondering out what I needed to learn from these scriptures. He spoke about the conversation that the Savior has with Peter.
Jesus asked, three times, "Peter, dost thou lovest me?"
To which, Peter responds, three times, "Lord, thou knowest that I love thee."
I add Elder Holland's words and insight:
 
 "To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”
 

That section hit me again today.

Now, if I may explain why this impacted me.

October is a lot like July. (I think I've pounded that enough.) Those unhappy thoughts, those feelings of depression, those days when I just want to give up, and give in... I've allowed them to take over me the majority of the month.

On my mission, I had learned the tools that I would need if and when these kinds of feelings occur. When I came home from my mission, I had received so much strength for me to continue pressing forward.

And yet, this October, I had forgotten these moments of strength and joy, and given in to my natural man to pity and feel sorry for myself.

That's not what the Lord wants for us. No, he does not expect us to be perfect all of the time. But, he does expect us to keep going. And when we do relapse, we need to remember that IT'S NOT THE END. We need to remember we ARE STRONG.  He needs people who are strong, who will rely on Him.

It is in our human nature to feel weak.
It is in our spiritual nature to be strong.

I feel that Christ does not want us to go back to what or who we were. He wants us to remember our progress. Sometimes, that is difficult.
Seriously, so difficult.

But, we were made to be able to master difficult things.

We can do hard things. Isn't that so cool?

.......
 
 

This "new normal" thing is difficult. And it might be for a little while longer.

And through difficulty comes strength.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Through a Father's Eyes

I believe in fate.
I don't believe in coincidence.
I believe that when something sporadically comes into your head, you're meant to remember it, and ponder it. There is something that someone wants you to remember.

So, last night, when this memory came into my head at 3 in the morning, I knew it wasn't just a coincidence.
And when it was still there when I woke up at 8 in the morning, I knew there was something I was suppose to remember.
It's one that I hold dear and near to my heart, one that I've shared many times, and feel that I need to share again.
I very well possibly may have shared this before. But I hope to share something new. Something that can help someone out there, as it has helped me today.

...

June of 2009

I was 17. It was my last ward youth conference for my church.

We were at Scout Mountain, Camp Taylor. There were a lot of youth, and a few leaders. Whoever was in charge that day had planned an activity. The activity was suppose to be a representation of listening to the Spirit, even when life is crazy and loud.

The Activity:
Blindfold all the youth. Take them into the big field. Have the leaders play different noises: tambourines, whistles, and whatever else.
Have one leader ring the jingle bells.
Allow the youth to find the jingle bells, despite all the other noises.
 
 
We were all excited to participate! It was going to be fun, and probably really funny to watch.
 
I had disregarded the fact that I am hard of hearing. I had also not thought about my hearing aid, and how it would amplify ALL the noises that would be played.
 
But, that wasn't going to stop me anyways.
 
We were all blindfolded. (Check)
We were led to the field. (Check)
The leaders took out their instruments and started to play them. (Check)
 
 
And we started to listen for the bells.
 
Everything was black. I couldn't see anything. But, happily, I started listening as hard as I could.
I listened...
And I listened some more...
And more.........
 
I don't remember how long I was out in that field, but I was definitely out there longer than everyone else. My hearing aid caught all the sounds, so much so, that it drowned out the bells, which was exactly what my hearing aid was meant to catch anyways! I tried to play it cool though.
 
No big deal, I'll find them eventually...
 
I realized that I was taking a while though, when some people played less of their loud instruments and the person with the bells was trying to be louder.
 
Embarrassment started to rise within me. I was the only one out there now, and I was beginning to feel like a failure. But, I would never show it...
Although I knew that I wasn't getting anywhere.
So, I tried to play it cool.
 
Um, help?? *Sarcasm*
 
And the youth laughed. Not sneeringly. Not in a mocking manner.  I think it was suppose to be encouraging in a way.
But, it wasn't helping.
I wasn't getting anywhere...
 
I should just stop now. They've been waiting long enough... It's time to move on.
 
As I was just about to take off my blindfold, I heard a voice. A voice that was the most familiar of all the teenagers in that group. It was coming towards me.
 
"Here, Jense, take my hand. I'll help you find the way."
 

And Ian did take my hand. He didn't take off the blindfold. But I knew that wasn't necessary.

He wouldn't lead me astray.

 ...

Most of those guys learned how to listen to the Spirit that day. They learned how to listen carefully, and to follow it.

I, on the other hand, learned that we can't do things on our own. We need a Savior. We need our older brother to guide us...

...

February 28, 2014

Ian and I sit side by side. The 4 caskets sat in front of us. Everyone was sitting behind us, listening to my dad's older sister speak.

She spoke about this story.

And she shared the part that came from my father's eyes.

*A conversation between a sister and a brother*
The Sister: "How could you stand not rushing out to help her? Wasn't it hard?"
The Brother: *Choked up* "I knew Ian would get her."
 
...............................................................................................................................................................
 
 
There was more that I was suppose to learn about that experience.
 
Perhaps, this can be a parable for a lot of things.
 
We are here. We are struggling. We ask for help. We do all that we can. And sometimes, we just don't feel like we are getting answers.
 
Does that mean that Heavenly Father doesn't love us?
No.
 
Heavenly Father is a celestial, immortal being. We are imperfect, mortal beings. And when we came here, we lost that ability to physically speak to him. We lost the ability to physically hear him on a regular basis.
 
It's not that he doesn't want to. I truly believe that if he could, he would. I truly believe that he hates to see us this way with whatever we are struggling with, whether that's financially, whether that's not knowing what career path you need to take, whether that's high school drama, or whether that's losing a family.
 
Because of the Laws of Heaven, he is unable to do that.
 
But... because of the Mercy of the Atonement, we have an advocate.
 
Christ came down to suffer those pains, so that when we struggle, we can be helped and guided.
 
What if my dad came and rushed to my side and said, "Oh Jens, you shouldn't have to do this. You have limitations, so it's ok if you quit right now. You did enough."? Why didn't my dad come to me, take off the blindfold and let me just walk to everyone?
 
Because my dad understood that regardless of my hearing impairment, I can still do it.
And even more importantly, he knew that my brother knew.
In his eyes, I was able to finish it. He knew I wouldn't quit.
And he knew that my brother would be there to help me when he couldn't.
 
And now, he is physically gone. He can't physically come to me, take my hand and say, "Oh Jens, you shouldn't have to do this. You have limitations, so it's ok if you quite right now. You've done enough."
Even if he could, he wouldn't.
 
Because he knows that Ian and I are quite capable.
 
Even moreso, Heavenly Father knows it, too.
 
I've got 2 fathers who have my back.
As well as 4 brothers. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blessings on an Autumn Day

Some days are hard.

Some days, the tears keep coming and won't stop. It's a never ending gush. There are breaks, but they always come back to finish the job.
Some days, the body is achy. Muscles are sore from walking, spinning, working. They scream for rest. Yet even rest doesn't seem to cover it.
Some days, the road of nostalgia is long and tiring. But it's impossible to get off that road. Because if you get off that path, where will you go?
Some days, even just to smile takes all the effort that is required, let alone being happy. It would be so much easier to just be angry and sad and depressed.
Some days, "Why?" is always going through the mind.

...

Today was not a some day day.

Today, the weather was beautiful. Autumn is here. One day, it will be winter. An entire cycle of seasons will have run its course, and the year mark will come.

But, it's not here yet. So, be happy today.

Today, the leaves were brown and red and orange and yellow. They are beautiful and fun. Some hang on for dear life, while others float to the ground.

But, I am stronger than those little leaves. So, be happy today.

Tomorrow may be hard. I might cry, or become angry. Maybe I'll stress over all that needs to be done. Maybe it will seem like more than I can handle.

But, tomorrow is not today. So, be happy today.

The holidays will be here soon. It will be hard not having them here. It will be a different holiday season, as will be the next one. And the next one. And the one after that. I'll be with other family members. We might cry. We will laugh. We will remember good times. We might ask why.

But, the holidays aren't here yet. And we still have each other. So, be happy today.

...

I drive down the road of my old neighborhood. I see the house.
It is empty.
It hurts a little bit.
I pass the house. I don't look back.
Because looking back stops me from looking forward.

Life moves on fast.
So, be happy today.
Someday, it will be ok.

"Men are, that they might have joy."



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.